Flack's 'cross journal #3 (fwd)
mtbiker at u.washington.edu
Sun Oct 24 10:56:18 PDT 1999
John Flack is a 'cross racer from Oly and a general all 'round good guy.
Here is his take on racing back east.
Hope you all had a great weekend.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 09:15:20 -0700
From: jfreek13 <jfreek13 at gateway.net>
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Subject: Flack's 'cross journal #3
Yesterday after an easy ride with Jed in the morning, we set out for
Ossining, just north of "The City" -that is, New York.
I've had a great week of training this week with Jed's parents. My
training rides ended up being longer than I'd planned each day because I
couldn't seem to get the hang of the roads out here and would end up
lost without even so much as a phone number to call if it seemed
hopeless. Oh well at least the weather held.
To get to Ossining, we drove down through the Catskills, the
traditional weekend destination for New Yorkers since the early the
early twentieth century.
Okay, so imagine the amazing fall foliage and every couple of miles on
the highway, we pass the coolest looking old-time forties diner. All
stainless steel, neon and probably the most supreme jukebox on the
planet. I think I could eat a hundred years' worth of breakfasts up and
down this strip and never eat at the same place twice.
Today on our way out to Long Island I saw the New York skyline for the
first time in a dozen years. I still truly believe that it should be
required that every American,
in an effort to acknowledge its greatness should get on their knees and
bow down in the direction of New York City at least once a day.
This week we are treated to yet another fine circuit on which to do the
thing that hurts so much but we love so well. Because there are so many
people crowded into such a mall place, New Yorkers must have to have
their parks as huge as possible. Cedar Creek Park is a huge park near
the town of Seaford. It's so big there are facilities for just about
everything. You wouldn't even know that such a huge urban center is
just minutes away.
The course has a lot of straight tarmac road sections but mostly
centers around three little hills and does a good job of winding back
onto itself. But the cool thing about the twists and turns is they
don't immediately double back on each other. You can be halfway around
he circuit and pass people going the other way who are on the other half
of the circuit. I guess this way I'll be able to see Pontoni slowly
creeping up on me.
Oh yes Daniele Pontoni is still around. The Super Cup people must be
paying him a ton of money to stay here. He missed the first round of
the Superprestige series last weekend which for a name like his means a
pretty good chunk of change just for showing up. But I must say that I
hope the amount of interest he's brought to these first couple of races
is good for the future of cyclocross in america.
Tonight Jed and I went out to dinner for the first time this whole
trip. I feel very lucky to have a teammate whose entire extended family
likes to make homemade dinners from scratch every night. Eating in
restaurants is nice and so is cooking for myself, but having someone
make a homemade meal and set it right down in front of me without having
to raise a finger is bordering on sublime. At least I tried to
reciprocate by doing the dishes.
I'm not sure how I'm feeling this weekend. The anticipation of the
first race is gone and I'm feeling a little tired still. I'm gonna have
to go over my mental preparation in my mind to get myself in an
agressive mood to attack the start tomorrow. We'll see.
Today wasn't one of those days where I wake up and wonder how I'm going
to make it through. But I thought it was going to ne better than it
My preparation for the race was relaxed. I didn't feel rushed at all.
These are the kind of days when my racing tends to go well. Everything
seems to fall into place like I have some kind of surplus of good luck
that needs to be used or it'll go to waste. I couldn't be more wrong.
I got kitted up a couple of hours early and spun around getting in a
few more practice laps snd watching what lines people were taking. When
my race got called to the line, Jed and Jesse had a place for me in the
third row. By the time the leaders were staged and we were all ready to
go, I was still miraculously in the third row. When the gun went off I
So much for a surplus of good luck. From the very first pedal stroke,
my chain was skipping on the front chainring. I didn't understand, I'd
been riding the same bike all week long, yesterday and today as well and
NOT ONCE did my chain slip like this. Every time I tried to press hard
on the pedals, "Ka-CHINK!" my crank would slip foreward. Undaunted I
kept going, because by now I was back where I'd have been if I hadn't
had such a good place on the line, and this course is wide enough that
there's plenty of room for passing. But I didn't even make a full lap
before it got worse. On an uphill section where you really have to
apply the power, I was standing up almost all the way to the top when my
chain skipped again (it had been skipping continuously the whole time so
far) and came off on the outside, jamming between the crankarm and the
uter chainring. I pulled and pushed and even stood on the chain while
pulling my bike upwards to try to free the chain but it would not come
I was deflated. I hate, I mean I really hate quitting races. I feel
so empty when I'm watching a race that minutes before I was taking part
in. To make it worse, I realized I had more emotional investment in
this race than I'd known previously. Thinking back now, the last time
I'd reacted the same way to quitting a race was at 'cross nationals in
1996 at Sea-Tac. I hate facing people when they ask, "What happened?"
Anything I could say would sound like an excuse and that's not how I
like to face my racing. So I did the healthiest thing I culd do given
the situation. I went back to the car, sat down and cried. It may
sound like it's not that big of a deal and I know it's not. It's just
racing. But I guess I needed to cry and be done with it so that's what
I did. Besides, it wasn't the last race in the world and there's always
When I was thinking about what to write for my journal today, I wanted
to leave out the disappointment I felt from not finishing. But I
believe a journal is about all aspects that make up racing so I decided
to leave it in. Soon enough I'll be writing about my next triumph.
Jed, my teammate, had a really good race and rode strongly in a pack of
about eight riders fighting for seventh place. The group contained
Tobias Nestle (Focus) from Germany, and Johs Huseby (Independent
Fabrications) who were riding well, perhaps glad they hadn't raced the
day before, as they had before last week's Super Cup.
Jed put in a good attack with five laps to go, stretching the elastic.
The next lap was gruppo compatto. On the next circuit with three laps to
go, Amos Brumble, a local New England rider attacked right before one of
the course's short steep hills and got a gap. Soon Tobias attacked and
quickly bridged up to Brumble. Jed saw the initial attack but was in
poor position to respond. The two escapees joined forces, widening the
gap. With no organization in the pack behind it looked like Nestle and
Brumble had slipped Jed's group for good, leaving just two more spots in
the top ten.
The gap seemed to get so big so fast that the rest of the group was not
willing to work, gambling on their sprint instead. At the final, Jed
finished fourteenth, the second espoir behind Damon Kluck, who'd
unexpectedly made the trip out from California. As Kluck was not at
Boston last week and Tim Johnson, the espoir series leader had left to
ride for team VKS in Holland this winter, Jed took over as leader of the
Now all Jed has to do is find a way to get to Boulder, Colorado to
defend his jersey when the Super Cup picks up for round three on
Tomorrow I spend all day flying back home to Washington to get back to
the daily grind, trying to fit in my training between my other
commitments at home. My vivit to New England this week-and-a-half has
reminded me a lot of driving around Europe a couple of winters ago.
Especially looking out the window of the van seeing tons of open
hillsides and side roads that would be perfect for a 'cross course. I
think the locals know this too, 'cause they sure seem to be able to pick
some good locales.
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