Monday, February 06, 2006

Masters Cyclocross Worlds Report from Blackmarket Racing

Mark Howland (a.k.a. Howie) sent us his race report from the World Masters Cyclocross Championships in Belgium. They brought back some great results including a podium finish for Trina Baumsteiger. Congratulations guys, and thanks for the report.

Thank you one and all for your support of our team. Without such
support, I am sure that the kind of success that we have consistently
had, would be impossible.

Just in from across the pond. Now that I have had a day and a half to
get the cement out of my ass from sitting on a plane for 11 hours, I can
actually make contact with the outside world. Our trip was just
fantastic, aside from just a few blips. The briefest of race reports as
Jan 15th: Wiekevorst, Bel.: front row call-up, nailed the start; rode in
the front group of 4 for several laps before making one too many bobbles
on the totally frozen gopher mounds littering the course. Lost contact
with the front, and was passed by one more before the finish. 5th place
on the day.
Edwin and Bruce started the 45+ race and did pretty well. Edwin rode in
the top 10 for much of the race, but slipped to12th by the end; Bruce,
riding well until a crash on the icy stuff, bent his rear der. hanger.
Upon trying to bend it back straight, it broke off, ending his day
prematurely. Trina was the only woman racing, and they made her race
with the junior men.
"Winning" that race, they still did a podium appearance for her, where
she was presented with the junior men, with flowers and ceremonial
jersey for her efforts. Little did we know that this would be Trina's
theme for the entire trip.

Jan 21st: Masters Worlds: Trina started the day off with a stunning ride
to finish in the silver medal position behind a former world champion.
She nailed the start (#2) onto the beach-head, and although she
masterfully ruled the technical single track, she would be outgunned by
the sheer horsepower of the leading woman. The two of them tore a swath
through most of the younger woman's field that started a full minute in
front of them.

My race started with a once-in-a-lifetime front-row call-up. I nailed
the start and even led half way down the start straight before two
riders slipped underneath me into the first turn onto the beach. Still,
third onto the beach was perfect position to launch my assault on the
race, or so I thought. The #2 guy augured right in front of me, and I
endo'd right over him. I was promptly run over by the next 20 or so
guys, and I couldn't even pick up my bike until they had passed. This
went from a best-ever day, to total shit in about 30 seconds! I came off
the beach #38. After making my best effort not to burst into tears in
front of all these Belgians, I rode my ass off in the total chaos that
is the back of the group for the remainder of the race, not even knowing
where I was. I came up on two riders as we entered the finishing
straight, but they started sprinting it out, and I couldn't get around
them. Unknown to me, they were 14th & 15th places, and I had made up 22
spots during the race. I don't know which was worse: being on the front
a losing it, or seeing just how far I had come from the back- and
thereby recognizing that my goal of a top ten finish would've been well
within my grasp without the crash.

Edwin and Bruce had very tough races. Bruce was called to the front row
as well, and from there made little-to-no mistakes to finish solidly in
41st place, without a single mishap or bobble. Edwin had a back row
starting position, and spent the whole day fighting the traffic from the
first round through the sand, to the last. "I've never been so anaerobic
in the first lap of a race in my whole life," was about all he could say
after his first taste of euro cross at the championship level. All other
things being equal though, the 45+ group has a tough row to hoe. They
get to ride through not only their own traffic in tight, fast single
track, but through the traffic of the back-markers of our race that
start a minute in front of them. The passing is difficult at best, and
attempts to pass "off-line," are usually met with a crash or bobble-
negating the effort altogether. Edwin ended his day in a respectable
33rd position.

Jan 22nd, Wilrijk, Fort 6: Hoping for some kind of revenge for the day
before, the thought quickly evaporated as I was called to the last row
of a smaller, but talented field. I had to ride like a madman for half
the race just to make it to a respectable position of 8th. A crash
mid-race had me losing several spots, and put me back on the chase.
After riding back to 8th, it looked like I would catch #7 in the last
lap, but a lapped rider forced me off in the technical wooded section of
the race with just a half a lap to go. This put my chasers right on my
heels, and on coming into the finishing straight, one of them slipped by
me as I was wary of the place I had crashed heavily just several laps
earlier. Still, 9th on the day is still a solid result.

Edwin and Bruce were having about as much trouble as I was with a back
row call-up. Bruce flatted and was out of his race before he could even
really settle into his groove. Edwin fought traffic and the courses
steep, twisty, technical sections to secure a solid 16th place (but just
out of the money!
DAMN- Oh yeah, we get paid 15 deep at these local races... SWEET!)

The burden of the podium was again firmly placed on Trina's shoulders,
as the boys in the team seemed to fight at every turn for the scraps.
And again, Trina would have to race with the junior men, although the
difference between them and chiseled, seasoned, fit pros in their
primes, was hard to distinguish. Trina put in a hard race, and was again
rewarded for her efforts with yeah, that's right, another podium
appearance. Seemed Trina had really charmed all the UCI officials from
her very first appearance in Wiekevorst, and they wanted another excuse
to plant a few more kisses on her cheek!

By the end of our last day of racing they had put all of us who
finished, on the podium. Turns out Americans who train all year just to
make the journey across the pond in the middle of winter, are few and
far between, and are thus, good for the "international image" of their
races. Since spectators pay to watch us, our novelty is something they
like to sell. They had a 5 place podium; the top three riders are
presented along with the top rider in the race from the town itself, and
then an American, for flavor. We had next to us, the mayor of the town-
who was very interested in us- and another city council member. All of
us clad in ceremonial jerseys similar to those used at the Tour de
France, that have the races sponsors on the front, and zip up the back.
Very slick, very official.

All in all, a very successful trip for the team. Wrap of the wrap:
Wiekevorst: Trina 1st, Howie 5th, Edwin 12th, Bruce DNF (mechanical).
Worlds in Mol: Trina 2nd, Howie 16th, Edwin 33rd, Bruce 41st. Wilrijk
Fort 6: Trina 1st, Howie 9th, Edwin 16th, Bruce DNF (mechanical). Janel
(J-LO) and Carol
(Cheffy) provided countless hours of support for the team. We have had
as a team now, the most successful season in the team's 10 year history.

Thanks for reading,

-- Mark Howland
Team Director
Blackmarket Racing
Santa Cruz, CA


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