Holy Moly, W.A.R. #1 in Lacootchie last weekend did not disappoint, and not only because I ended up on the podium. See, Hayes, I told you I’d find a way to mention that in the first sentence. You owe me a trip to the tiki bar. Actually, as an aside, Tim is getting ready to do his podcast live onstage in front of actual people as I type this, so he’s probably super nervous and awkward with flop sweats right now, so you all owe me for painting that mental picture for you. You’re welcome.
Wow, there was a lot of digressions in that paragraph. Where were we? Oh yeah, Lacootchie. So Josh Thornton managed to top himself again with one of the best courses ever in FLCX. It was simply brutal. And not just because of the heat, which was bad, but not as bad as the first week. The course was a masterpiece of bumpy grass fields, tricky downhill to uphill zig zags, more grass, some super sticky sand that was alternatively rideable one lap and then quicksand the next, some more grass, some more downhill, the best run up in Florida, (which was almost a non-factor this year) some super bumpy lumpy woods riding, a ditch crossing with a little mud at the bottom, a little deeper mud that kept getting deeper, some shallow but sticky and thick mud for about 20 meters, some soft grass, another muddy ditch crossing, a 100 meter SLOG/run/waddle through ankle deep cowshit flavoured mud, some more soft grass, another short section of soupy mud that was ridable if you hated your drivetrain, then this crazy toilet bowl off camber sequence that ended up forcing you to driveside dismount, some more slow lumpy bumpy woods, finally coming back out of the woods and dropping into and them popping back out of the ditch, all super off camber, then back onto the grass, out onto the pavement for a second, over the barriers, and finally back to start finish. I know I didn’t break 10 minutes a lap, and it probably took me less time to ride it that it did to write it, so you get the idea. I thought it was too much during my pre-ride. I loved it at 20 minutes into the race. It was hard, it was tricky, and it made you drive your bike a lot. Kudos’s, Josh.
Looking back at the volumes of data, one thing becomes clear, and that is that the Power Rankings™ have utterly failed to predict who will even show up that the next race, much less who is going to win, other than Ryan Woodall, and how hard is it to predict that happening right now? Historically, we’ve based them on the previous weekend’s racing. But that only paints a picture of the past. We’re trying to look into the future. What I do know is that the data is gibberish. Guys who were cat 3 last week are racing P12 the next and then back to Cat 3, Ava Sykes, a 12 year old girl, is winning the P123 woman’s race and coming in third in the Men’s 4/5 race, I can’t even figure anything out anymore. But I will pull out the magic Power Ranking™ eight ball, drink the blue juice inside, and give you my predictions.
These rankings are 100% officially unofficial, infallible, unquestionably questionable, and obviously 1000% accurate. If you disagree, you’re probably wrong. If you are angry that you weren’t mentioned, or angry that you were mentioned, we suggest that you take a deep breath and remember that we’re totally kidding about pretty much everything we say here. This is for your amusement as much as ours, and when I say ours, I mean every one of you. As always, please, no wagering.
1. Ryan Woodall (Top Gear / MuMu) | Pro1/2, SS | Last Rank: 3
Two convincing wins over Josh Thornton at Josh’s home course are more than enough to vault Ryan back to the top of the heap. Still the nicest guy out there. Still our best hope at Nationals…
2. Ava Sykes (Wizard Racing Development Team P/B Wizard Coaching Services) | Junior women, W123 | Last Rank: nr
Except for Ava, who might be an even better lock for a stars and stripes jersey in Asheville. As mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, I have no idea how Ava did what she did in Lacootchie, winning her own category and coming in third(!!!!) in Mens Cat 4/5(!!!) on Saturday, and following that up with a win in her own category AND Women’s 123 on Sunday. That’s four races on the toughest course we’ve ever raced on, and four podiums. And she just adopted a greyhound. D’awww.
3. Clint Gibbs (unattached) | Masters 45, Mens 3 | Last Rank: NR
Clint stacked up a couple of more wins this past weekend in M45. He only needs 5 more for a perfect season… If anyone can do it, it’s Clint.
4. Steve Noble (Sarasota Cycling Club p/b SeaSucker) | Masters55, Cat3 | Last Rank: 8
Two more wins in 55 plus makes Steve the second most consistent Master’s racer so far. Don’t look now, Steve, but your nemesis Dan Sullivan was second both days.
5. Tic Bowen (B3 Cafe) | Master35, Pro1/2 | Last Rank: 1
Tic missed out on Lacootchie, so he plummets down the rankings, but he’s pre-regged for Sunday, so I’m still predicting great things. And he makes sweet art you can buy if you like it!
6. Reed Legg (Unattached) | Junior 12-14 | Last Rank: NA
Reed showed up and beat the usual strongmen on both days in juniors, and that’s good enough for me. Is he related to Mr. Katie Compton?
TIE 7. Chase Forman (Colavita) | Junior 15-18 | Last Rank: NA
TIE 7. Thomas Barbazuk (Unattached) | Junior 15-18 | Last Rank: NA
Chase and Thomas are mostly just beating on each other so far this year. Chase won on Saturday, and Thomas on Sunday. Thomas also beat me on Sunday. I passed Chase on the last lap as he was suffering from a nasty asthma attack, and he sounded like a million times worse than I did, wheezing and coughing and I pretty much figured once I went by him that he was gone. Alas, he wouldn’t let me go, and indeed began pressuring me on the few remaining corners of the course. I led him through the concrete and over the barriers, and figured that as long as I got out of the final corner first that there was no way he could hang with my hopefully semi-impressive 42-11 sprint what with all of the hacking and choking and coughing and wheezing there was going on over my shoulder….
Sure enough the little jerk came around me with 10 feet to the line. Yeah, it wasn’t for position, but still. Jerk Junior kids. This is going to be a fun race to watch the remainder of the season.
9. David Hahn (Steady Spin) | Cat 3 | Last Rank: TIE 5
So David was racing and winning/coming in second in the Cat4/5′s the first weekend, and made the barest mention of sand when I included him in the power rankings, and then the guy just goes ahead and upgrades to 3, and then he even wins on Sunday! Impressive, in a field that has suffered from lack of interest the past couple of seasons. Seriously, guys, I’m a cat 3. You can beat me. It’s not that bad.
10. Darla Woodall (Top Gear / MuMu) | W123 | Last Rank: NA
Up and coming. Fast connections. Nice.
We See You: John Will Tenney (god, do we see you); Stewart Mackie; Josh Thornton (sick, just got braces (how old is he?)); Mallory Bryan; Mark Chandler; Vitor Alexandre;