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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 10-06-11, 12:38 PM   #1
perspiration
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I did my first clyde CX race and learned....it's dangerous! (with pics)

NOW WITH PICTURES


Last Sunday I did my first cyclocross race with the Chicago Cyclocross Cup at Hopkins Park, DeKalb, IL.

I haven't done any competitive sports since I was a (bad) thrower in sophomore year of high school, but I decided to sign up for the 4B race on a whim with my work buddy. I've been getting better on my bike all summer, and I go fairly fast on my way to work (18-20mph) so I figured I'd have a chance. I also got a Cross Check this year, which isn't an ideal CX bike, but it's close!

Someone else's video of my race:
[video]http://www.youtube.com/user/opatal01#p/a/u/2/Ok_FiiOZda8[/video]

I spent the night at my buddy's place and woke up to a big breakfast before riding my bike as a short warmup over to the park. Registered, pinned my number, and headed down to watch the races (Cat 3 Mens, I think?). This track featured a flyover, a lot of technical turns, and two barrier sections including one going uphill. The flyover looked intense but the racers made dismounting and remounting look so damn easy...

Anyways, the time came for me to line up in the pack and get going; my first mass start. It was a little hairy, seeing as we were the 4B (read: noob) crowd and there was a lot of short stopping and unclipping and restarting.



Eventually it thinned out a bit and I stayed with the main pack through some tight turns and a muddy forest section, but I eventually dropped back at the flyover. I hadn't practiced dismounting or remounting at all, so my remounts took at least 15 seconds each time....HUGE loss. I ended up pretty much by myself at some point, save for two 12 year olds that were kicking my ass in front of me, a fact that the hecklers REFUSED to let me forget. I eventually passed one of them up, but the other one beat me.

The flyover:


Me sucking on the flyover:


ACTION SHOT! Here, I was giving freighttraininguphill a run for her breathing volume...


Me afterwards...I know I could have gone harder because I'm standing up


The barriers gave me problems for dismount/remount problems and the run-up with barriers was brutal. It ended at the top of a hill, went into a 180 back downhill. At the bottom was this 270degree turn and then a 90 degree turn back uphill. It was RUFF! A lot of hecklers were hanging out there as well, but I just used their taunts as motivation. People say heckling is equivalent to cheering in CX, so I'm trying to keep that in mind.

I ended up coming 70 out of 82 (with about 10 DNF's) which is by no means great, or even good, but it was one hell of a great time! I couldn't stop thinking about it the next day...how much harder I could've pushed myself...how to practice for the next race...and it's needless to say, I'm hooked! Got my second race this Sunday,a nd I'm hoping to at least beat a few children to the finish line! I've been practicing running up this huge hill with my bike and dismounting before it, but I'm still bad at getting back on it in a timely manner.



Any other clydes participating in the CX season this year?

Last edited by perspiration; 10-06-11 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 10-06-11, 01:07 PM   #2
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...I ended up coming 70 out of 82 (with about 10 DNF's) which is by no means great, or even good, but it was one hell of a great time!...
I'd have to disagree. Sounds like you did pretty damn good to me!
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Old 10-06-11, 01:18 PM   #3
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Shoot, I was in DeKalb last weekend, I had no idea there were racing.
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Old 10-06-11, 06:48 PM   #4
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Shoot, I was in DeKalb last weekend, I had no idea there were racing.
If you're in the area, there's another race at Dan Ryan Woods this Sunday!
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Old 10-06-11, 06:51 PM   #5
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thanks - I'm heading to Lake Powell AZ tomorrow morning for some relaxation. I grew up in DeKalb though and that's what caught my attention.
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Old 10-07-11, 02:03 AM   #6
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Someone else's video of my race:
[video]http://www.youtube.com/user/opatal01#p/a/u/2/Ok_FiiOZda8[/ame]
That was a great video! I liked the rear camera mount.

Good job! Have fun at the next race!

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ACTION SHOT! Here, I was giving freighttraininguphill a run for her breathing volume...
Video or it didn't happen!

You mean to tell me you were louder than me here..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfFz6LUgDNE

..or here?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH50nWaGg4s

Those are my loudest videos ever. They were the most difficult climbs I've ever done.

Now you've gotta get a Contour or a GoPro and make a vid so I can evaluate your gasps.
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Old 10-07-11, 06:08 AM   #7
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the video was cool, when the guy gets to the top of the stairs you see how much time he gains by being able to get right back onto his bike and clipped in, people are right behind him but suddenly he long gone and they are nowhere in sight
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Old 10-07-11, 01:20 PM   #8
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I really liked the course design on that race! The stairs would have been helpful on our flyover ramp at the Rapha/Focus GP last month. The organizers opted to route us around the flyover since the ramp was incredibly slick in the rain/mud, even with the grip deck paint on it.

So, it looks like you're having fun with 'cross which is the important part for getting started; get a couple races in the beginner's series under your belt and decide if you enjoy it before figuring out your next steps.

- If they offer a full Beginner's series, maybe race that for a season and see if you can start moving up the ranks. For example, the MFG Cyclocross series has the Cat-4 which is the noob scoring race, but also a true Beginner's category for people with zero racing experience. You can race the Beginner's all season if you want, but it's not a scored race (for the series team standings). It's great for bringing people into the sport; 20 minute race, so you're in enough to feel it, but it's not a real suffer-fest.

- Roll with the Cat-4 gang and spend a lot of time on skills drills. I race Cat-4 and I'll tell you this much; it's the most diverse group of fundamental skills as well as athletic prowess. Everyone from the race leaders (who should probably be upgrading after 3 podium finishes, but they'll sandbag the season until the series organizers Cat 'em up forcibly) to the midpackers like me, to the dudes gettin' lapped at 15 minutes.

- Skills drills: This is where you can make up a ton of time in the 4's. If you can run the barriers at the speed of sound without pulling a Joey (sorry, Joey) you're going to make up time on the guys who skip over the barriers like little kids playing hopscotch. Build a practice barrier out of PVC and take it to the park for 30 minutes a week until you're smooth.
It's the perfect way to get good with dis/remounts, too. Ugh, if I had a nickel for everyone I saw come to a dead stop and dismount like the race was over because someone put up a roadblock... Watch some videos online and learn to do it fast. Practice the speedy remount (I need to work more on this one!) and clipping back in. There's a guy on our team who isn't the super fastest rider, but he takes the barriers faster than the Elites.
Tight turns, loose terrain, and off-camber. Embrace it. Love it. Get yourself some practice cones and take them to a gravel parking lot for some slalom practice. Set them up in the mud and go at 'em. Put them on an off-camber straightaway and do it again. Play around with tire pressures, your weight balance forward and rear on the bike, and speeds to learn your traction. Get comfortable with a little bit of slipping.
Do not be afraid to fall. It will happen, you will fall down. You will most likely not die. You will probably not end up with anything more than a couple of scrapes and a bruise because most CX falls (outside of a starting sprint bung-up) are slow. A wheel slips out in a hairpin muddy turn, you wind up on your bumside on an off-camber 90-degree turn at the bottom of a hill you rode your brakes down. It's gross and wet out and you slide when you hit the ground anyhow. Unless you're wiping out on gravel or a grass-to-pavement transition, you're probably going to be OK.

- Strength and speed. Work on your intervals; since that's pretty much what a CX race is for the duration. Sprint, tech turn, tech turn, hammerhammerhammer, tight turn, barricade, hammerhammerhammer, hammer a runup, tech turn.
If you can hammer harder out of the turns than the guy next to you, then you'll get prime positioning on the next turn.

- Runups. Crucial part that's often overlooked in the 4's; running. Sooner or later we have to shoulder it and waddle our pudgy selves through something gloopy or up something steep. If you can actually run fast, you will pass people. <-- Do that. I've been practicing by taking my bike to the local park before it's crowded. Ride a lap (about 1k) then shoulder it and run the length of one side (the park is a big city block, so 1 side is a couple hundred yards.) Hop back on and keep riding for intervals of 3/4 ride, 1/4 run.
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Old 10-09-11, 06:32 AM   #9
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Nice job on the race! That dudes video was pretty cool. I've been itching to go watch one of these locally.
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Old 10-10-11, 01:11 PM   #10
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be careful, doing your first cross race can be very addictive. Way to go! Simon Burney's book on cylcocross has some great info on dismounts and remounts. I have 3 races in so far this season and hope to do 4-5 more. This is my 5th season of cross racing and I am more than "hooked". The most fun you can have on a bike, IMHO.

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Old 10-11-11, 09:51 AM   #11
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Thanks for the tips, Clifton! My remounts are DEFINITELY my worst part. Some guy told me mine was the worst he'd seen all day and I told him he should've seen me remount his mom last night.

I've been practicing my runups at the local park, where there's this big hill. I'll ride up to it fast, dismount, run my bike up it, and then try to remount and ride back down, repeat (literally) ad nauseum.

I did another one this last Sunday and almost DNF'd....lessons learned this time? Show up early enough to warm up. Don't burn all your matches the first lap. PRACTICE DISMOUNTS/REMOUNTS. I almost barfed afterwards but it eventually receded into weary euphoria.

More clydes should try this out! It's a great motivator to keep pushing and get better at riding!
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Old 10-11-11, 11:59 AM   #12
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Cool video, I really liked the camera angle. Looks like a lot of fun
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Old 10-11-11, 12:19 PM   #13
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Thanks for the tips, Clifton! My remounts are DEFINITELY my worst part. Some guy told me mine was the worst he'd seen all day and I told him he should've seen me remount his mom last night.
There's heckling, and there's just being a prick. That guy wasn't heckling.
Heckling should be good natured, and if it's mean sounding it should only be from your friends and teammates and preferrably be some kind of inside joke.
Great comeback, though.

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I've been practicing my runups at the local park, where there's this big hill. I'll ride up to it fast, dismount, run my bike up it, and then try to remount and ride back down, repeat (literally) ad nauseum.
Sounds like you've got the idea. Build that muscle memory and hone your technique. Over and over, until you're sick of it. Then do 5 more.

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I did another one this last Sunday and almost DNF'd....lessons learned this time? Show up early enough to warm up. Don't burn all your matches the first lap. PRACTICE DISMOUNTS/REMOUNTS. I almost barfed afterwards but it eventually receded into weary euphoria.
Show up and throw up. If you don't barf of pass out when you cross the finish line, you could have gone harder. Not everyone is going to follow that mantra, because some people are there to have actual fun instead of attempt to destroy themselves every week.

There's some really great tips in this month's CX Magazine regarding warm ups, course recon, dis/remounts, etc. Check it out.
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