Charm City Cross day 1, Men’s C race: Drove down early in the morning and was there at the venue around 7ish, early enough to get a decent parking spot close to the course as parking gets kinda crazy the later you get there. Ate a honey stinger waffle and a banana while waiting to get my number and while i waited checked out the course. The last time I did Charm City was in 2009 so it had been a few years since i had ridden the course but it was still the pretty standard course for the location. I had also forgot how many obstacles there were with a sand pit, stairs/run up, and the planter barriers around the large tree and the standard barriers. So after i get my **** together and have a friend pin my number on since i suck at doing it myself i head over to the start and hop on the course to get a warm up lap in. Like i said before, no major surprises here, only thing is that its a little warm and humid for late september but thats not out of the normal. I drink some water and stretch before hopping back on the course and doing another half lap, basically skipping the back half with the run up and focusing on the barriers/planter. I dont have a watch so i do some riding down and back on the prologue/start area and wait to get lined up, i get lined up around the 5th or 6th row back. The race starts and no major incidents that i see but there is a lot of rubbing elbows and people trying to make sketchy passes so i just hold my lines and put my elbows out to deter people from doing that. i make it through the sand pit and there wasnt any major incidents that i saw but i heard there was one behind me apparantly. Racing is racing so i do my thing, im a slow starter so i hate the first lap and a half and start making my moves after that as people start to fade. I see a couple guys not to far ahead so i try and reach them and then ride their wheel for a bit till i decide to pass. i keep doing this for the next couple laps till the lead riders come around and lap me, no surprise there but im used to that. But as they come past a guy comes by who looks like someone i had just passed but i think to myself “nah, cant be him” but then i see him fade again and blow by him. All in all the leaders did 6 laps and i did 5, but i wasnt the last rider, if anything i was a lot further up than i normally am. The results though have me finish in 25th place which is wrong although id love to have that result! Only reason they have me there is because i came through lapped and the judges are confused but after i tell them the judge tells me after some calculating that i came in 78th out of the full field of 125. Much better than i thought i was going to do seeing as coming through the start one lap i thought i had 2 laps to go but was pleasantly (sarcasm) surprised to see 3 haha. All in all a fun race at an awesome venue in a sketchy city.
Whirlybird CX Bensalem High School September 29 2012: New venue for whirlybird this season, no longer at Bryn Athyn College but I think i like the new venue of Bensalem High School better. Course was a decent amount of off camber turns that were pretty easy to ride if you didnt have any dingus’ in front of you that couldnt ride them. Pre riding the course i was kind of intimidated but once we lined up and started racing i thought it was a really fun course. I was one of the first to register so i had a sweet(sarcasm) front row call up, not that i wanted it. Bing bang boom we’re off and the prologue isnt anything special, sweeping left turn to a straight and then a chicane and over an asphalt bridge onto the actual course. Once again im a slow starter so a lot of people pass me but i pick people off later in the race. The first lap is the usual cluster **** at most of the bottleneck spots, the first off camber S turn has a barrier in front of it so you have to either bunny hop(which only one person a couple races later did) and ride it or dismount which most people do. People get ******** and try and remount at the apex of the turn with the rest of the 125 people behind them so i pass some by just running that section only to have then pass me on the straights not to long later. The first lap keeps going as people settle into their tempo/positions, etc etc. I find myself feeling pretty goodand keep battling people that pass me or catching people as they fade and so im never really alone for a lot of the race.I catch up to josh from the firehouse bikes team and we trade back and forth and my friend tim day is right on my wheel for the 3 and most of the 4th lap until he passes me. Then i spot max knee, my apparant nemesis and hes riding really well so i decide to pass him and drop the hammer to bridge up to him, and in so doing blast by josh. i reach max and pass him 1/2 way through the last lap and gap him. I ended up 85th out of 125 which im very happy with.
Townhall CX: Bethlehem, PA October 6, 2012
The first race in the PACX series, aka pennsylvania cyclocross series, was in Bethlehem, PA on a warm October morning. The C race was at the standard 9 AM start time, so I arrived around 8 to pick up my number and to pre ride the course. Having done this race last year I kind of knew what to expect with a lot of climbing including a run up called the “St. Lukes Stairs” which are not stairs but a very steep section of the course right before descending back towards the start of the course. In addition to the climbing the rain the couple days before had soaked into the ground and made for slick conditions over most of the course which so far this season in the mid-atlantic we haven’t seen with predominantly dry conditions.
So I head to staging to get my sick second row call up (which i dont really enjoy since i know im a slow starter), somewhere behind me is gary who is having a really good first season and is kicking my ass on his all city nature boy zona single speed! unlike last season, they have the start on the mushy grass instead of the asphalt of the parking lot, so its slow from the start. right into boggy muddy climbs heading to the switch backs running into the st lukes stairs, with the barriers thrown in right in the begining of the course after the 3rd turn in addition to the scrum of the first lap. needless to say the first lap seemed to take forever even though the field seemed to spread out pretty quick. to shorten this up, people are sliding out everywhere trying to take the turns to fast and choosing bad lines. i settle in to my pace and people pass me but starting on the 3rd lap i start to reach back to some people and make some passes with people fading while i come into my groove. coming to the end of the 4th lap i come up on a guy who doesnt hear me and i try to sneak up and pass him but he hears me and starts to speed up and we sprint to the finish, out of the saddle shredding the drops for 74th place.
2013 Kona Jake, 2008 Kona Major Jake, 2013 Kona Jake the Snake, 1999 Kona Muni Mula, 2012 Ridley Excalibur, 2008 Surly Long Haul Trucker
I did David Douglas CX #2 today. This one has a ridiculous death march "run" ups -- steep, muddy and oh-so-long. I guess the promoters were feeling bad for the Clydesdales because we started with a donut eating contest to see whether the Clydes or the C's would start first (guess who won) PLUS they were offering donut hand-ups at the pit.
The big thing I learned today: donut hand-ups are fun but a huge mistake -- especially if you have trouble breathing through your nose. But hey, I was probably going to finish DFL anyway so why not eat the donut?
Non-stop rain throughout the morning made for outstanding CX conditions. Twice each lap the course descended into the woods for a bit of really fun singletrack. That would have been even more awesome if not for the climb back out. And here's a tip for you lightweight riders: go easy on the brakes on muddy descents when the guy right behind you outweighs you by 50+ pounds. Gravity treats us big guys a little differently. Twice in four laps I thought I was going to have to run over one of those little C's.
Saturday October 27th, 2012: Independence CX, Bridgeton NJ
This was just Beacon CX renamed seeing as the MAC series dropped it from it's schedule. The fields seemed to be smaller and the race schedule was kind of wonky with it now being a New Jersey Cyclocross Series race with the masters races being first and the A. B, and C races being the last races of the day, also with the weird and semi-useless 40+ cat C race seperate from the regular one. The one good thing about it was the course, the same as it ever was with a lot of the ruts left over from last years **** show in the storm there, fun sandy corners, the beach run which now rather than fronting a body of water was now an overgrown lake bed, and the always torturous ampitheater of pain. The races were also a little behind schedule so the C race didnt start till 1PM which I'm not accustomed to. I like being the frist race so that I'm warmed up and I know when and how much to eat, I have my schedule/race dayt ritual all planned out so racing this much later kind of messed me up. Anyway, they lined people up with call ups from the NJCX points list which only ended up being the first two rows, and then everyone else just had to jump into the start grid and where you ended up was where you started from so as luck would have it I was in the back row. SWEET! Not that I enjoy being in the front row but a little fruther up would have helped seeing as the field was maybe 50 deep. The whistle blows and everyone is sprinting up the asphalt to the first turn, I see some people buzzing eachothers tires and steer away from that almost disaster and start on the first lap. The course has been the same for years so even if I had't pre-rode the course I'd know what to expect, so a lot of the corners are sandy which is kinda sketchy but also fun at the same time. I set into my pace and just keep trucking along since I'm a slow starter, I'm on a guys wheel for a lap and could have passed him right before the beach run but there isn't to much room to pass there so I stay on his wheel till the sand and he gaps me a little on the sand, but I get back up to him and stay with him till the log barriers. At that point I run past him and remount and take off and he cant catch me! Next person I come upon is Maximum Knee and we battle back and forth for a lap or so until the barriers where im faster over them and on my bike quicker and move on from there. Then I see my next target, some guy I've never seen before who looks to be losing steam, but as soon as he hears/sees me he gives it a little more speed but im working on passing him till we get to the sand again, which he is quicker through than I am. Blah blah blah, i catch him and he chooses a poor line in the sand at the bottom of one of the climbs and almost eats it, so I pass him and drop him on the climb. At this point its getting to be close to the end of the race, and I see one more target, Bob Myaning. I sneak up on him and catch and pass him right before the ampitheater of pain, but he passes me back at the quick, steep uphill before it and gets there first. I can see him in front of me, he isn't that much in front of me but the last time up those "stairs" is brutal! I hop back on and try and catch him, and as I come down onto the asphalt start/finish stretch I get in the drops and drop a few gears in the back and stand up and sprint to catch him with the whole B race screaming at me! Alas I needed to drop it a few more gears down since I started to spin out but didnt want to break my momentum and so Bob crosses the line maybe a bike length or two in front of me. Feel the burn, woo, so I finished up 41/44 finishers, not exactly sure how many started but a great fun race put on by Independence Cycling Team, thanks for keeping Beacon CX going!
11/18/12 Kutztown, PA
Fun race yesterday, obviously I raced the mens category 4 race aka the first race of the day. Was pretty chilly upon arrival to the venue but that’s to be expected in mud November. Grabbed my number and got changed inside the car for a change, I was solo today since Eileen had other stuff to do that morning do I had Mr. Dudek pin me up before I pre- rode the course, which was still nice and frosty.
I did this race last season so I kind of knew what to expect and wasn’t really surprised, although apparently the day before they had a spiral of death but had removed it for the second day of racing. Kinda bummed since I always kind if enjoyed those. Anyway, the course its flat with two sets of barriers and some decent twisty/turney sections and a lot of straight aways, a very roadie oriented course. In warm ups the course wasn’t very slick but with the rising temperature and more riders on the course the first lap was a little tricky.
I was in the third row which is about where I like to start, and I had a decent start but once again I’m always a slow starter but I manage to maintain a decent placing in the first lap but people are still working their way past me. This one u19 juniors racer apparently doesn’t know how to turn his bike in the grass and seriously falls like every third turn or so. At that point we hit the first set if barriers and someone goes down but it’s not that big of a deal. Then it’s into the little wooded section with done tricky turns and it into some straight sections right before the second set of barriers where there’s a tricky turn that I saw atleast four people go down on. No other incidents in the first lap really. just surprising how many people are riding the muddy worn area and skidding all over the place where if they had ridden right next to it could have stayed upright, although loose some speed but staying up balanced it out.
In the next lap right in the tricky corner right before the second set of barriers a junior rider tries to pass me and ends up snagging my bars in his and takes us down. I manage to kind of dive over him as best as possible but still kind of land on him. I hop up and grab my bike to make sure I’m still in business and I’m gold, so I take a few steps and hop back on. The rest of the race went pretty standard with me passing three to five people in the last two laps trying to bridge up to my nemesis Bob myaning but no dice, he was still a couple places up on me. I come into the finishing straight and drop it into high great because I feel this guy coming up on me to try and get me at the line but I hold him off while shredding the drops for 39th out of 47. I thought I was further back than that so I was a little surprised. Only downside was that this was my last cross race till after my wedding and the sidewall of my rear tubular is tearing from rotting out but they lasted 3 seasons so I’m happy with them. Great cross season!
So Raced the C Class U39. Conditions were wet, the course got muddier and muddier through out practice, but a good, if rather flat course. First lap, Got a decent start fell into 6th wheel into the first few turns and was feeling confident. There was a transition from dirt to tarmac in the middle of a 90 turn and the bike decided I wasnt allowed to ride in anymore. Jumped up rather fast grabbed the bike but the front brake was jammed into the front wheel. Spent 30 seconds getting it out and got back on, but not before being DFL in my class. Spent the next 1/2 a lap trying to get past 2 idiots on fat tire bikes that couldn't turn them on the narrowest portion of the course. Managed to get past them in one of the sand pits and Started targeting the 600 class numbers infront of me(U39 Numbers).
Was picking off guys pretty regularly through out the whole race, managed to close down all but the 5 guys that where infront of be before the race. finished with 5th place 100 feet in front of me but couldnt close the gap, needed another 100 feet of course and it just wasnt there.
Ended up 6th place in the C race. Pretty good considering.
Went to Spokane, WA to race in a couple sanctioned races this weekend. I almost changed my travel plans at the last minute due to weather, it started freezing rain right when we were loading the Yukon on Friday early afternoon for the 3ish hour drive east. We decided to go since the roads were still just wet. Arrived in Spokane and went out with a friend for pizza. Got to bed early enough for a good night's sleep. It rained in Spokane Friday night and then froze. The drive to the race was exciting with my rear tires breaking traction often on the ice covered roads. We arrived at the race course early. I took care of checking in and jumped on the bike for a lap to pre-ride the course. The course was nearly identical to last years course at the same place. After the start there is a right turn then a nearly verticle 3' uphill followed by a couple of sharp turns and then some mostly single track before going back onto a dirt road. The ground was frozen hard. I went about 100 yards on the dirt road when my bike came out from under me and down I went on the ice, non drive side hard. Tore my jacket sleeve and bib shorts left leg cuff. Later I would discover that I had road rash on my elbow and knee both about the size of a quarter and lots of scrapes on my hip. My plan for Saturday's race was to start at the back, race safe and pick off as many as I could. In about the middle of the course was a monster run-up, steep and pretty long, guessing 22°+ for 40 yards. 92' climb per lap and the runup was probably 2/3 of that. The course featured mostly flat forested terrain with lots of tight turns and several ridable ditch crossings. A set of barriers right past the finish line and a 12" thick log at the bottom of the run-up. Some puddles that they broke the ice off, others that were still ice.
On the start going up the little 3' wall I did something wrong and fell, again on my left side, dropping my chain in the process. All the Cat 4/5 masters finished one minute behind us and sure enough they all caught and passed me while I was trying to fix my chain. This has me rethinking using a chain catcher, maybe I need to move it closer to the chain ring? Finally got my chain back on and the chase was on. I was DFL on the course and in spite of my race plan to not race at 100% I no longer had a choice. I Caught a couple of the masters and raced them and finally found a spot to pass. Right after the pass I slipped again on some ice, this time it was frosty grass. Jumped back on the bike and finished the first lap DFL. I kept charging and soon caught back up to the two. Made a pass and kept going. Lots of slipping a sliding and the course conditions changing every lap. Before the end of the race I not only passed some more masters, I think but also some in my own race. I finished 10th out of 15, one lap back. Only the winner lapping me. It was a fun race. After the race met my cheering section, several classmates from HS including my BFF. Chatting with them my wife looks at me and says you're bleeding, sure enough the knee and elbow was showing a little blood. Toes were about frozen as well.
Changed into dry clothes and warm socks. Patched up my wounds and was chatting with one of my buddies. He was thinking about giving CX a try. He asked if he could go for a spin on my bike and I said sure. I think he'll be racing next year. I showed him the difference between my clincher back-up wheels and the tubbies I race on. more about that with Sunday's race report.
Sunday was the State championships. Due to my race the day before and the small field size I must have earned enough points or something but I got a front row call up. I still lined up in the back.
As I was doing a warm up lap something did not feel right. It dawned on my that I was not wearing my helmet, back tot he car I went. i restart my warm-up lap and kept hearing a scraping sound.... figured it was the frozen ground. Going around a 180° turn I hear a loud pop and my front got real squirrelly, wtf! Saturday when I replaced my wheel after demonstrating to my buddy the weight difference I must not have fully seated it in the fork. The brake pad was the cause of the scraping sound it wore enough that the sidewall split. These tubbies had only 7 races on them. Owch. Back to the car for a second time. I had enough time to finish one warm-up lap but not much more. The course was in much better shape than Saturday and they re-routed it around some of the more dangerous parts. The muddy tracks though had frozen making for rough conditions in several places where anything close to speed was simply not possible.
Like I mentioned I lined up in the back and had a race plan to race safe, pass who I could and keep my wheels under me. Not getting lapped was also real high on my list. Due to USAC rules (read dumb rules) my oldest son was in the same race as me. He is a strong rider and was top ten at our CX series Cat 4 but was still competitive in Cat 3. He had a good shot at winning the race but since he does not have a license it would not count. the field stacked up at the 3' wall right after the start and so I jumped off and ran it. Did not gain any spots but I had to come to a stop anyway. The field quickly strung out. I raced hard. Got passed by the leader of the 35+ masters who just happened to be our area Specialized rep. His field started 1 minute behind us. A half lap later I think I was passed by maybe the rest of the top ten of the masters fields. Then it was just me battling back and forth with two other riders. I kept my wheels under me the whole race and ran the run-up as hard as I could. Finished 17th out of 20. Once again, like Saturday the course conditions kept changing each lap. All things considered a successful weekend of racing although all things considered an expensive one. I'm sure I will be doing a better pre-ride check of my bike in the future. I really should have caught the brake rub.
After Saturdays race I received kudos from a competitor who told me I looked great out there, real strong. On Sunday a collegiate rider who I was battling most of the way remarked that my technical skills were great and he didn't think he could do any better, he beat me in the final lap. It is good to hear that kind of feedback but I know I've a long way to go before I am even close to mid-field competitive.