Not From Around These Parts

In an endeavor to further my racing abilities in my newly minted “Favorite Sport Ever”, I ventured across the Georgia Straight two weeks ago and into the American wilderness to race this past weekend.

Cross on the Rock (Vancouver Island is the rock) is one of the best organized series out there.  Seeing what we have on the mainland (don’t get me wrong it is good) and comparing it to the COTR series isn’t fair.  It was explained to me by one of the locals that the fact that you had to take a ferry off the island kept all the crazies there.  Judging by the community that was there I could try and explain it better but it is not worth the virtual ink.

Kelly and I headed over to a buddies house in Brentwood Bay late Saturday night after the first BC Cup in Abottsford so we could be at Gorge Park in the morning to prep for the race.

Photo-Steve Pukesh

As this is my first year of racing I am a Cat4 Masters, or that is what my licence says on it.  I walked up to the registration and filled in my name under Masters.  Controversy was brewing without me knowing because as it turns out the Masters field on the Island is 40 plus.  At the ripe old age of 33, that gave me 7 years on the youngest guys in the field.  The race started and I powered through, sitting at the front of the pack the entire race.  I crashed once, wiping out in some tall grass.  I got up, looked around and again there was no one there.  Luck?  Brute strength?  The next Tim Johnson?  Obviously I was beyond happy.

Photo-Steve Pukesh

It was only after they had assembled the results that it was discovered that I was a baby to the field so my points didn’t count.  They gave me the win because they are nice people, but I was told that next time I race there it has to be in Expert.

Needless to say my first experience on the Island was amazing.  The course was killer, the people were great and for a smallish event it was world class.  If you have a chance get over to the Island for one of these races, you will not regret the ferry trip. (Okay you might, but the memories from the event will make the ferry more than tolerable.)

So I was a sandbagger.  I had to whikipedia the meaning behind it and this is what it means:

Sandbagging: deliberately qualifying slower than what the individual can actually perform.

So actually, as it was unintentional, I am free and clear on all charges.  Next time I will read the categories better.

Photo-Steve Pukesh

Next on the list was an MFG race.  These guys are the pros and the race this past Sunday illustrated it well.  Amazing course, amazing vibe, amazing people, the race was top notch.  In an attempt to trump any thoughts of possible sandbagging I registered in Cat 3.  I read the rules and the series is self-seeding and it noted that sandbagging wouldn`t be tolerated.  Sounded scary so I upped my cat by one!

I will admit to being a bit freaked as this was my first big time race.  So I ate well, and prepped well, but my worry had kept me up the night before so I was a bit tired.  I worked on warming up and then headed to the start for the race.  With true Gronross Family luck I ended up at the back between the call-ups and last number call-ups.

But when the horn went I was off, head down, full tilt, and all pistons firing.  I did discover that one of my downfalls is my inability to run in the sand.  There was an 80 meter stretch of sandy beach and due to the large number of racers riding through it was not an option.  I lost a tone of speed there and people passed me like I was walking backwards.

In the end I came in a solid 19th of 58 other racers.  Not what I was hoping for, but great result none the less.

This weekend you will find me attempting my luck at the New Brighton BC Cup on Saturday followed up Sunday with the Vanier Cup BC Cup.  Swing by and see the kids race!