Saturday, April 28, 2012

Equipment Test

One of the worst things you can do going into a big race is use unfamiliar equipment. It doesn't matter if it's a new bike or new shoes, when you are making split second decisions at top speed the smallest things can distract you. One distraction could make for a bad choice, the loss of a position or even a crash.

On Friday night at Sarasota BMX I used the local race as a way to test the equipment that I will be relying on at the SSA Sarasota Qualifiers.

Goal number one was to learn the lesson of the High Springs qualifier. My three rider crash resulted in a swollen knee and limited mobility. Days later on my honeymoon I was limping around the cruise ship. Unfortunately two of the ship's elevators were broken so I had to limp up and down the 9 floors.

To counter this effect I made sure to visit the gyms at both the resort and on the ship. By the time we got home I could walk the stairs again. The lesson was simple - I need to wear knee pads.

The problem before was that my knees pads didn't fit underneath my race pants. I tried it with my Fly F-16s and my Answer Rockstar pants, both were too tight. Luckily I just got some Corsa race pants. The owner of the company Stephen Gerardi told me that he had designed the pants so that there would be enough room for moderate sized knee pads.

During my race at Sarasota BMX I wore the knee pads with my full Corsa Racewear kit. Not only did they fit well but the pants comfortably held the pads in place during the entire night. With my equipment test complete and my knees better protected, I'm ready to dive back into the division battle.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

The best laid plans can go to waste if you're lacking in luck. At the SSA High Springs Qualifier #7 I probably could have used a four leaf clover. What I needed to accomplish was to earn better than 4th in four motos to lift my score in the Florida Cup series, what happened was completely unexpected.

My nerves might have got the best of me on the gate as I mistimed it terribly. After spending the entire moto trying to find a way to pass, I found an opening in the rhythm section and went for it. This video will show you what happened.

After the crash I was pretty beat up but I had come in forth so I wasn't out of it yet. I manned up and forced my way through three more motos managing to use the rhythm section to pass at least one rider each time. I took forth place across the board despite my injuries which was a victory in itself. However, I didn't earn a single point towards my goal.

The clock resets here. Now it's a matter of healing up, training myself on the Sarasota track and taking aim at Qualifiers #9 and #10. If I want to win this division or at least better my chances, I'll have to make a stand at America's oldest continuously running track. This is not over yet.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Mysterious Cruiser

As we walked up the hill at Tampa BMX I studied the riders I would be facing. I honestly didn't recognize any of them. One was my age, the other two were kids in their twenties. Then I spotted something odd. One of these kids was riding a Cruiser.

Why was there a Cruiser in my 20 inch class? It was a mystery. A couple other people noticed the oddity but didn't say anything. Personally I didn't care, at first. The truth is I wanted to watch him ride and see if he was going to be a threat on the track. If not then who cares but if he was fast, that's another story.

Before you assume me shallow for such a small slight, it is important that you know the details. In the SSA Florida Cup series I'm in a tooth and nail battle for the Overall Number One spot, an honor I have not yet had the opportunity to achieve. Last year I won the Championship race (Almost scoring a perfect) but I lacked the points to become the best in my class. In 2012 I was not going to make the same mistake.

I planned ahead, accumulated a huge number of locals and competed in 4 of the first 6 Qualifiers with decent scores. I'm currently Number 2 going into the High Springs Qualifiers, behind by barely 100 points. At this level every single point is going to matter.

So when this kid on the Cruiser inched away from me at Tampa I started to get a little peeved. Had he been in the proper class instead of being in mine I would have taken 2nd place to an Expert which is equal to 1st in Intermediate. This would have given me 1 more point towards my goal.

Do I complain about 1 point? I decided not to. I wasn't mad at the kid for being placed in the wrong moto, I was mad at the SSA for making locals so meaningless. All 20+ of my locals this year only adds up to 148 points. It is for this reason that lots of people fell behind in their locals and are scrambling to qualify for the Championships only weeks before the end of season.

Had this one race been worth 50 or 100 points then no one would have blamed me for protesting. I can only hope that next year the SSA corrects this problem. In the meantime I'll just have to prove my worth at the Qualifiers. It will take more than poor rule making to keep me from becoming top dog.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chasing Dardini

When you race in a small age group like mine, you never know who you'll be up against. At the Sarasota Race for Life it was the ultimate mixed bag of young rockets like Joey O'Connor, my good friend female rider Jada Webb and a man who helped teach me how to ride BMX - Larry Dardini Sr.

Larry and his son Pro racer Larry junior were both assistants at my very first skills clinic. The two of them introduced me to jumping and pumping and learning some of the basics. Back then I was very squirrely but at Sarasota this past weekend I was reminded that I had come a long way.

Larry is an older Expert who has tons of experience. On the first moto he blasted out of the gate and I found myself struggling to keep within 6 bike lengths. It was one of those nights were I used the motos to warm up and get used to the faster pace. Since I was relegated to 4th place, my goal was to catch Dardini. 2nd moto, 5 lengths back, still not warmed up. 3rd moto, we were even up to the first hill then he started pulling away.

Sometimes you have to change your expectations mid race. Thomas kept telling me that he was making minor mistakes but even so, I wasn't gaining by much. In the main I decided that there was no risk is going for broke. I tore out of the gate and chased him as hard as I could. The added speed sent me airborne over the double and again on the 4th straight. Despite the bonks I made headway staying within 3 lengths.

My race philosophy held true - No race is ever a waste,
there is always something you can learn.