Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sacramento CX #1, Oct 6, 2010

On the warmup I flatted my front tire. I fixed it then started getting paranoid about my rear tire going soft. I checked it and it hadn't lost any pressure so I lined up to race the 35+B's (with teammates Jim, Rocco, and Scott in the 45+B's behind).

The course was pretty easy. I don't necessarily need a cyclocross course to be full of swamps, alligators, blizzards and bees but I do like a course that challenges my skills at least a little bit. Not this one.

I pretty quickly realized I didn't have "it" on the first lap. I was staying with the pack pretty easily but there wasn't any zip in the legs. I got myself yelled at when there was a bottle neck at the only challenging obstacle on the entire course - a barrier before a stream crossing. All I did was pass the line on the left coasting cowboy style. After dismounting, I cut across the line -without slamming or hitting anyone- at the barrier and passed some more people on the right through the stream. I really don't understand what the complaints were about. This is supposed to be a race, right? These guys would get their asses handed to them in the East (or Europe from what I've heard) where grabbing jerseys, pushing and shoving are all part of the fun. Hell, I had a guy grab my rear wheel and literally pull me back onto my butt on a run-up one time in Maryland.

Anyway, that was about as exciting as the race got. On the fourth lap my rear tire went flat and that was that since I didn't have time at home to put together a spare wheelset before coming to the race. I spent the rest of the race yelling at my teammates and giving up the rest of my bottle.

Not so much fun given the lack of fitness and the flat but still fun. Cyclocross rules!

Klamath Falls Cyclocross (Sep 26, 2010) Race Report

Okay, I'm probably breaking a record for late reporting of a race no one really cares about anyway but I've been enjoying everyone's race reports so...

September found me driving back from Richland, Washington in a US Government van full of my work. The joy and beauty of traveling for work in this fashion is that I managed to find space to cram in my cyclocross bike. On my trip back I hit some trails in Bend, Oregon and followed up that evening with a quick internet search to see what racing was going on in the area. Lo and behold there was a race in Klamath Falls, my stayover town! Woohoo! My first cross race in two years (I lost the 2009 X season due to two broken wrists...) was going to come earlier than planned this year!

Given the lack of plans to be racing at all, I only had my 40-spoke wheels with MA-40's (and 14 straight-gauge spokes!!!) with fatty 38mm wire bead tires on hand. In other words, I lined up to race with about 10 pounds of wheel and tire! At least I knew my wheels weren't going to collapse...

Racing out of the district is alot of fun. A few sideways glances and shrugs met me as we placed our bikes 50 yards down the field and lined up for a Lemans start. I was the king of the 50-yard dash in grade school so maybe I was a little over cocky when I placed my bike on the absolute outside farthest from the first turn (or maybe it was just lack of confidence and not wanting to ruin a local's day???).

The start went off cleanly and I found myself mid-pack on the first lap. The course was in a local park so was almost all on grass. The first section was a series of 90 and 180 degree turns which some people couldn't seem to get around without slowing down ALOT or skidding out. Maybe my fatty tires helped here. After a section past a playground (where some pretty funny kids were doing some heckling) there was an un-ridable sand section, more grass and a ~1/2 mile uphill on pavement followed by a fast narrow bikepath descent that ended abruptly at a wall with a narrow stone staircase going up about 8 feet. Luckily it was dry conditions or I could imagine easily plowing right into the wall or endo-ing into the staircase. Next there was grass and two more stone staircase sections before a grass false-flat section (easily the most painful part of the course given the running section that preceded it). All that in about 5 minute laps!

After a few good battles won and lost here and there (experienced cx racers will know what I mean here) I found myself unable to shake "Andrew." Every time we went through the sections of cowbells and people yelling in our ears it was "Come on ANDREW!" or "Pass that guy ANDREW!" (me being "that guy"). This encouragement obviously was working for Andrew since I could easily drop him everytime we got out into the less populated portions of the course only to find him panting back up on my wheel just before the cheering sections came up again. I wasn't sure what Andrew looked like since he never failed to just glue himself to my wheel without giving me a breather. I heckled him a little bit and he gave back so it was all in good fun but I really wasn't looking forward to the inevitable final sprint wherein I would probably finally get to see Andrew.

As we went through the start/finish on the bell lap I thought I heard a "Go DAD!" mixed in with all the other "(positive encouraging statement for Andrew at the expense of 'that guy' comments here)" I bobbled the sand section on purpose to line myself up behind Andrew before the paved climb and finally got a chance to stare at HIS ass (that really doesn't sound right at all...). On the climb he kind of blew up and started pedaling squares. Well call me an old softy with no competitive spirit but I put a hand on his butt and shoved him hard up the hill as I said, "Dude, I'm not gonna do this to you in front of YOUR people." This gave him a second wind and he ripped us around the rest of the course and I was happy to ride in on his wheel without offering up a sprint.

Having set myself up as some kind of nice guy let me now say that I did that thinking we were way out of the running for places. Had I known we were racing for fourth place, I probably wouldn't have been as kind. Oh well, it was still alot of fun and I enjoyed chatting with folks after the race wondering either where I was from or why was I in a big Government Van at a cyclocross race...

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. On about the third lap I was passing a guy who gave me the inside line on a squared-off horseshoe turn. Turns out he wasn't really giving me the line so much as avoiding the low hanging branch that I managed to hit with my head at full steam. THAT took a few minutes to recover from while racing!