Monday, November 20, 2006

Who Was That Guy?

Pilarcitos BASP #4 - Golden Gate Park
2nd Place, Cat. A

(photos stolen from Lauren H's Flickr collection)

Everyone was asking me that after the race. That guy is Brian Astell - Pro XTerra and MTB racer turned newbie-crosser. He's been there at the other races, just off the pace from the winners, so I figured it was a matter of time before this kid got his due. Of course, it had to come on what may have been my last chance to ever win an Elite race in my life. So, in the end, I got beaten at my own game by this fast kid, and barely beat Mr. Rich "tough-as-nails" Maile on his friggin' Single Speed.

the king and I

I've been getting amped up for this race, being in my back yard and knowing the big boys were up in the Northwest getting muddy. I did well here back in '04 (2nd behind AJM) before the back injury, and I love these fast courses.

Saturday I went over to the course and did a few laps. Fast and tacky fun. No run-ups. Practiced hopping the single barrier with no problems, although it was a little terrifying that it was a pretty fast approach - it's always a little unnerving approaching a barrier at speed.

Well, rode the 15 or so blocks down to the race on Sunday - got some funny looks since I was riding TWO bikes. Got to the race and did some warmup laps, and watched some of the Masters race. Steve Reaney and Alan Coates were embroiled in another battle, and Steve seemed to be holding Alan off by 15 seconds for what seemed like an eternity - it was quite a battle of wills.

Finally brought my spare bike to the pit, and decided to do one last practice on the hoppable barrier. Came in with a good head of steam, wheelied up, and...oops my right foot came out of the pedal...and...


Slammed rear wheel into the barrier and head-over-heels on the gravel. Good thing I know how to fall off a bike.

Ugh, ok I'll admit it's been on my to-do list for weeks to replace my cleats and now I've paid dearly for it. The suckers have been ready to go for months - I've been popping out of my right pedal from time-to-time lately, but never at such an inopportune moment (god, it's so hard to find time to fix my equipment these days...). So now a good part of my strategy is shot, because there ain't no way I'm gonna risk doing THAT during the race. Spent the last 20 minutes before the race (a) letting Lauren console my broken ego (she saw the whole thing) (b) letting Cameron true my rear wheel and (c) letting the medic dig gravel out of my hand (thanks a ton Lauren, Cameron, and medic-lady!).

Tried to forget about it and got a decent start and sat on Robert Mau while he did his Kamikaze first-lap thing. By the early part of Lap 2 Rich Maile and Brian Astell had both joined me and the game was on. Heading into the single barrier on lap 2 Brian comes by and cleans the barriers, probably a good 1-2mph faster than I was doing it in warm-up. Damn! Rich and I dismount and dig deep to get back on him. A couple more laps of that and I'm trying not to curse myself for not getting those new cleats, because it was a good advantage and Brian would open up 30M every time on us. Rich and I managed a few times to keep Brian behind us into the barrier, but for the most part we just resigned ourselves to digging to catch him over and over again.

Brian Astell schooling me 'n Rich

Oh, and a word about Maile - superlatives don't do the man justice. I used to enjoy watching him kick M35+ butt in Clif days a few years back. He is so strong, so skilled, and truly a class act. Rich and I have never been able to finish a battle before and the only reason I got him in the end was because of the SS - I attacked with 2 to go in a place where I knew Rich's gear was his weakness, and I was hoping I could get Brian caught up behind him. Well, Brian made it back up to me quickly, so quickly, in fact, that I missed the bus and was already a bit behind when we hit the single barrier - where he opened up the final decisive gap and held it for 1 1/2 laps to the finish. It was impressive to watch this kid race. I tried not to look back because I could feel Rich breathing down my neck.

So, I got 2nd, I guess I should be happy, but it would have been nice to win a race and get this monkey off my back. I think Rich knows this monkey (the Funke Monkey?), because he actually tried to offer his help to me during the race, but I guess I really wanted to win or lose on my own terms.

As consolation I increased my lead in the series. The final race will be very interesting, though, because it is Districts and I don't think there are any major races that day so the big boys should be on-hand to fight for the district title, and I'll be back to fighting for a top 5.

After the race I cheered Lauren on in the Women's race, where Shelly Olds rode off into the sunset, holding Stella and Lauren off at ~0:30 and 1:00, respectively.

Congrats to the Sycippers for great rides. Rich Blanco did a great ride in the SS race. Mattias won the 35B race again AND got 5th in SS. Lauren was solid again for 3rd in the Women. Oh, and Aron just missed the top 10 and moved into 9th overall in the A's - yay team!

Thanks also to the Pilarcitos crew and the Roaring Mouse gang for puttig on a great event. Thanks also to Julie Barrot for the feeds!


Anonymous said...

Nice job Funke!


mor.ganj said...

Yo Funke,
As someone who has never met you but felt the need to yell for you during the race, and who has never actually stuck around to watch the real stuff before this week, let me say thanks for putting on such an exciting show. Are the Mens A's races always that good? An epic battle to say the least. Hats off to the three of you.

Anonymous said...



funkdaddy said...

mor.ganj- the A races have all been pretty tight, but there has to be at least as much excitement in the M35 races this year. Oh, and stick around for the final BASP race as the Big Boys will be back and duking it out for the District title. Expect the likes of Wicks, the Jacques-Maynes brothers, Chris McGovern, Josh Snead, Justin Robinson to beat the rest of us into a pulp just for a silly medal. Also, Kerlin and Lloyd will be back to give Shelley Olds a run for her money. And all those Cal Giant Masters fighting for the that may bring a little in-fighting...

velogirl said...

My friend, you never came to get that spoke wrench. If you had, I probably could've given you new cleats. Don't you wonder what all the "stuff" in my car is? I've got just about anything you could need or want in the subaru.