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SoCal Cross Race 4 - Cross Convert, Ventura

I missed the 3rd race in the series last week due to being in China on business travel.  I wasn’t supposed to be back in time to race the 4th, but I ended up with food poisoning in China and was sick for three days.  I came back on Wednesday and fought through gastric problems and the 16 hour time change enough to go out and race today.  I didn’t have high expectations as I haven’t had any quality riding for almost 2 weeks.  Sunday morning I felt good though and loaded up for a 3hr drive to Ventura.

I am currently 2nd in the series so I got called up 2nd for the start.  This basically assures me a good position in the front row so I don’t have to fight through 35+ guys to reach the front.  Given my “pole” position, I decided I would rail it on the start and stretch as much of a lead as I could.  This was working well until about half way through the first lap when I thought I had taken a wrong turn and sat up - letting the 2nd place guy lead the way.  I shortly thereafter passed him and lead the race until the last lap.  The only eventful thing during the race was a dog on the course that tried to bite me on the last lap when I rolled past him – I understood his reaction as I tried to bite the guy passing me….

On the last lap, Didier was behind me as well as a third guy on a mountain bike.  Typically mountain bikes are a disadvantage but this particular course was very rough.  The guy pedaling it is also a semi-pro xc mountain biker…  This should have been an excellent situation for Didier and I to alternate attacks to wear him down, but I think we were both too tired.  The mountain biker came around me and I jumped his wheel - holding on tight.  I had saved enough for a sprint so I didn’t mind letting him work hard on the last lap.  With about ¼ of a lap to go, I bobbled remounting after the barriers.  I lost several seconds and my teammate passed me to try and close the gap on the leader but it was in vain.  I hammered as hard as I could and caught back onto Didier’s wheel just before the last corner.  He was flying and I dropped a few gears and leapt out of the saddle in full sprint for the line.  A near photo finish with me ahead by about half a wheel.  I hit a max heart rate of 197 – 8 beats faster than I have seen this year and netting me 2nd place!

Next weekend is a big two day event in Bakersfield that will be 2 races worth of points in the series standings – important indeed!

Pictures – huge thanks to Claire Campaigne for taking all these lovely shots

Same guy I chased to the end of the last race…this time he had some trouble.  I heard something about a crash and flat tire.

The lead three with a lot of room to play.

This dismount was blind after a fast turn – not one lap did I arrive expecting to see them (see the surprised look?)  

Digging deep just before the sprint.

And the sweeping turn just before the finish line.

And the winners – plus a guy in red shorts ;)
Photo by Roberto Jourdain