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Barton Park -- Mud, Rocks and Gravel(2 posts)

Barton Park -- Mud, Rocks and GravelGripped
Oct 20, 2003 10:31 AM
After a few nice days in the Pac NW, it dumped buckets Saturday night, just in time to turn the Portland Cross Crusdade course at Barton Park into a soupy mess. At least race time temperatures were in the low 60's -- perfect for riding. For the first time since the Hood River race three weeks ago, everything went smoothly for me. I got to the race in plenty of time for a liesurely warm up and had no last minute mechanical issues. I managed to preride the course and stage with plenty of time to spare before that start.

The course ran through and around a gravel quarry which meant plenty of gravel. The grass and dirt sections were strewn with field stones. There was standing water all over the place. The Beginner and C races had ground some sections into a soupy mess. The dismountes were two run-ups, one "barrier" (big rocks across the course), and a water filled ditch. Actually, the water filled ditch was only 10-20 yards in front of the loose, rock strewn run-up so they collectively count as one dismount since no one was foolish enough to remount after broadjumping the ditch. There was also a 10 ft. deep dry ditch that had 45 degree entry and exit angles -- with no real flat spot at the bottom before it went back up. There were a couple of screaming descents. Overall, it was a pretty fast course.

I got my usual crappy start and began by bringing up the tail of the B field. There was a long section of pavement/hardpack that strung out the field pretty well before the first steep drop that made a bunch of people balk. Then more fast leading into a sweeping curve, some mud, and some nasty chop. By then, the field was pretty well strung out and there were only minor bunches at the dismounts. On the first lap, a guy in front of me flatted and I knew how he felt since the same thing had happened to me two weeks prior at the Alpenrose race.

I settled in and started picking off riders. At the top of the nasty rock strewn run up, there was a mostly burried rock garden. I bottomed out my rear tire remounting there on my second lap. I was nervous that I might pinch flat but all was well. Subsequently, I remounted more carefully in that section. By the third lap, I was racing a few people. The course played to one of my strengths -- being able to descend loose, crappy stuff at full speed. I acquired this trait when I lived in Chicago and mountain biked out at Palos. Often, I would pass someone on one of the descents, just screaming by them, and never see them again. Sometimes, they would grind on by me a little bit later. Early in the second to last lap, my front deraileur quit working. I could pull cable but it wouldn't shift into the big ring. Then a little later, both (BOTH!) my cleats got clogged on a dismount and it took me a long time to bang the rocks loose. That caused me to lose three places and I think I only manged to pick up one of them. I rode the deep-V ditch everytime except on the first lap -- there was a buntch up and it was quicker to hop off and run around the riders queueing to ride it.

The finish was anticlimactic -- I couldn't catch the guy in front of me and I had a big enough gap on the riders behind that they weren't going to catch me. I'm sure that I finished in the middle of the pack somewhere but I'm still wating on results. I had a Tufo tubular clincher on my front and I was happy I did because I smacked some rocks pretty hard and didn't pinch flat. I would have had a Tufo on the rear except that the valve stem was defective on one of the two I got. I should have the replacement by the next race. I felt pretty good the whole race even though I was pushing redline the whole way. There was only on point, where I was pursuing a guy up a hill back to the starting straight, where I had to back off because my whole body was saying "no way pal."

I heard a guy say that there was no way he would race the Barton Park course again. I think that he was crazy. Sure, it
Cleat issues here too...KonaMan
Oct 20, 2003 12:45 PM
That was the only part that was starting to drive me nuts... otherwise I liked that course.

each lap the grinding noise grew louder and louder... I had to laugh at the guys dismounting on that first steep descent. Just get behind the seat and hope no one gets in your way!

That loose, larger rock was a bit of a pain, but it made for an interesting challenge.

I raced beginner this time and battled with a guy for most of the race, making up a 200 meter deficit on the last lap to pass him on that last ditch. No flats, and I passed a guy on the final section... it's all good!