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The Ring: A Collection of Voices

Down But Not Out In Jersey

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This past weekend there was another C1 race on the East Coast, in Rochester, New York, and I didn’t go — but that’s not to say the weekend was a waste.

Words by Dan Chabanov // Image by Tim Willis

I woke up the Monday after Providence, held the previous weekend, feeling fine. The plan was to take it easy. Providence was my 10th race in five weeks. The form was good, but good legs don’t last forever, especially if you try to push too hard.

So I was going to chill and hopefully stretch the legs another two weeks until HPCX, when the East Coast finally has a weekend off from the higher-level UCI races.

But my body had other plans.

On Wednesday, when I normally do most of my midweek workload in training, I woke up feeling like a pile of garbage. Thursday might have been the worst of it, and that’s when I had to pull the plug on the weekend in Rochester.

The only thing worse than being sick is not racing.

I was bummed to miss Rochester because I’d been going to it since the first year it was a UCI event. It’s where I scored my first UCI points, and the promoters put on an excellent event.

Fortunately, I woke up Friday feeling a lot better. Part of getting over sickness fast is resisting the urge to push through feeling crappy. It’s easy to wake up the first morning you’re feeling off and plow through your workout. Sometimes that works out, but more often it makes things worse. It’s better to miss one race and a few days of training than to risk dragging it out and then missing a whole week. Since I was back to feeling good enough to train, I figured I should head out for a few hours on the bike.

The weekend finally came and it was either drive to a local race or head out and do intervals on my own on Sunday. Racing is more fun than staring at my power meter, so I borrowed a buddy’s car and headed down to South Jersey for a little race called Cooper River CX. I met the promoter years ago when I was getting into cyclocross, and I was happy to go support his race.

I had enough points in the NJCX cup series to line up on the front row. The one guy in the field I knew could give me a run for my money was Cole Oberman. But I’ve had good luck with gapping him early, so I figured I should go for the holeshot and ride the first half lap hard at the stairs on the far side of the course, then I figured I would look around and take stock of the situation. If Cole got right on me early then we would probably fight it out for the full hour.

I took the holeshot and rode hard, and after going through the first few 180s, I noticed Cole was fifth in the line of guys chasing me. So I rode a little harder. At the stairs I had a few seconds. Then I noticed that John Minturn was now at the head of the chasing train.

This is one of those times when it pays to know the guys you’re racing and know what they’re good at and not good at. John is really good at pedaling, but not that great at turning. So it was going to be hard for guys to pass him on the straights, yet he wouldn’t be able to corner as fast as me.

So I hit the next section of tight turns hard and put in a real good dig coming out of them. Knowing who was behind me and taking advantage of that turned my three-second lead into 10. At the end of the first lap Cole had finally separated himself from the chase group and was in full pursuit mode.

For a few laps the gap held steady at 20 seconds. Out front I focused on nailing all the corners. I made line adjustments where I thought I could go a little faster and tried to keep sprinting out of everything. It worked out and I took the win by a comfortable margin.

Local glory is sweet, and it was good to know that whatever illness I’d had earlier in the week hadn’t affected my legs too much. Racing bikes is always hard, and enjoying the small victories is important. Even at a smaller race, no one’s just giving it away.

Now I’m looking forward to getting back to getting my face smashed in the UCI races.