Archive for October, 2010

A rainy start for the 35+ B Men at Manzanita Park

Category: Men’s 35+ B
Place: 1st
Tires: Hutchinson 34C clinchers @27 psi F/R

When one conjures images of cyclocross, its usually wet, cold and muddy conditions where dirt and water have penetrated every part of oneís body and bike, and only a hosing down at the end would make it even remotely possible to get back into your car for the journey home. CCCX #5 at Manzanita park was wet and muddy, but luckily it was pretty temperate except during some of the downpours.

The course was a fairly long, flat course with several 90 and 180 degree turns, complete with muddy corners and slushy double-tracks, which basically circled a few baseball fields. The start/finish is on the only significant hill of the day, and even that was not more than 350-400m long at about 3% grade.

Having done dry, technical courses with lots of elevation change, this layout did not seem to suit me all that well. My first warm up lap on the course confirmed my suspicionsóI was working pretty hard just to get myself around the course, and there were no real rest points that I could catch a micro-recovery in. Without the fast, technical downhills to help me open a little space, I knew this was going to be a hard day.

So we lined up for our start in the rain, and I prematurely threw my rain jacket aside thinking weíd be starting momentarily. Well some delays were afoot and 15 minutes later we were all shivering and thoroughly soaked through. The good news was however I was 2nd row this time around, no more repeats of

First lap madness as I take some alternate lines to pass

BASP where I spend the entire race trying to make my way around people instead of actually racing to be competitive. A few guys shot off the front, but I was able to hold myself in about 6th position going into the first set of 180 hairpins. We were powering pretty hard and I did my best to hold off any challenges from behind while taking advantage of other riderís hesitations as we hit the first muddy sections. Throughout the first section I took some more

challenging but faster lines and passed the leaders one by one until I was in front about Ĺ way through the lap. However, I was borrowing heavily from my meager lactic acid savings account, and knew I would have trouble keeping this pace going for another 45 minutes.

So I pushed the first lap really hard and opened about 15 seconds on the leaders and started to

Working my way up single track mud climb

catch people from the field that started ahead of us. I tried to strategically pass them quickly so that they would clog up my chasers on the more technical parts of the course. This seemed to

work in my favor and after 3 laps, I had opened it up over 30 seconds, and that was when I was ready to simply die. I would have given anything for the race to be over,

and if I wasnít leading, I probably would have slid under a tree and took a nap instead. My glasses were virtually opaque and I just didnít have any more gas in the tank, so I focused on riding clean lines and staying upright. My last few races when I get far into the race, I get so tired that my handling skills go down and I begin to make mistakes. Luckily, this time around that wasnít the case.

The last few laps are a blur, and I sort of lost track of where my chase groups were. I tried to listen to them

Uncorking my astounding sprint...but it was good enough!

call off numbers after I went by, and could tell that I had a good 40+ seconds on the next guy. So my last lap I just concentrated on surviving it and making sure that horrible sound coming from my drivetrain was not going to leave my stranded and running the last half a lap. I passed a few more folks and then hit the hill on

my last time up and gave it my all. In my delerium, I thought suddenly that someone was catching me, so I gassed it even harder until I simply passed over the line, unable to put up my hands or anything. Turns out it was someone that I had passed a half lap earlier trying to make contact again. I heard the sounds of the heavy breathing and could think only of holding them off with my fearsome sprintÖrightÖ

Anyway, it was my first win since something like 1995 and it felt great to do. I watched the A riders go by the next hour and saw how fast guys go, so I have a long way to go, but Iím enjoying the ride, which is all that matters.

Category: M35+ B
Place: 18 of 77 finishers

BASP #1: Menko carry

Having ridden successfully the week before at CCCX #4 at Toro Park to a 3rd place finish, I was jazzed to do this race.† Since I had flatted at the end of the last race, I even ponied up for a set Fulcrum Racing 5s with some 34c Hutchinson tires so I would have a backup set of wheels.† After watching the first race of the day I was sure glad I did, as rider after rider punctured on the sharp rocks all over the course.

The course was a new one at Merritt College in Oakland, and presented riders with a combination of sand, single-track and sharp objects: thorns, rocks and some glass.† Unlike the two previous courses Iíve raced, there was no significant stretches of downhill or uphill (these do seem to go together) but there were a few technical sections made challenging by the loose sand and obstacles.† I was excited to try it out on my wider tires but put a very conservative 38psi in my tires to insure I didnít puncture.

Men's B 35 Start

All of that was for not, because as I made my way over to the start, I saw a large field of attendees already arrayed for the start.† You can just barely see the side of my head on the left side here, about 5 rows back.† Not a great place to start from, and I knew I was in trouble.† Nevertheless, I pegged the first two laps but was held up by the congestion on the single tracks and the leaders just kept opening up space.† I successfully passed several more people over the next few laps, but never did get a good sense of where I was in the field.† Considering that I was only passed by one person, I figured I was in good shape, but the final results put me in at 18th place.† I am not sure thatís accurate, and as it turns out, there has been a lot of trouble with the timing chips used so who knows.

However, I did start to lapse into oxygen debt so severely that I started making mistakes near the end.† I took some big chances passing on even narrow sections, and had some fun two-wheel skidding through some corners.†† However, the 2nd to last corner added some new holes and shredding to my skinsuit, as I lost traction on my front tire momentarily and hit the deck at high speed.† Undetered, I just got back up and rode, but was frustrated to crash with only 1 lap to go.† I need to work on riding a little more conservatively, which will come if I ever find some fitness.† Click the photos below to look at the gallery of pictures.

Gallery of Photos

Photos from BASP


My first foray into cyclecross

Why do you have to carry your bike??? Photo by Scott Mosher

While cyclocross has been gaining prominence in the last 5 years and moving from the odd-ball cycling sport to a rather popular winter undertaking, I have been sitting on the sidelines about it for more than a year. Not wanting to try it because I was afraid I’d enjoy it, and not wanting to try it because I was afraid I would land wrong and really mess up my nerve. But I put my fear aside and did my first race last Sunday, the CCCX #3 at Ford Ord, CA
While still pretty unfit from all of my time off recovering from the achillies injury, I was able to crank out 50 minutes above LT and survive, so I’m carrying a little fitness into winter season this year, as compared to last.

Event: CCCX #3
Category: M35+ B
Field: 30ish
Place: 6

Two weeks ago, I hopped on a cross bike for the first time, and I was instantly hooked. The thrill of sliding around through corners on skinny dirt tires and wondering just how far I push them before they slide out. Iíve always avoided cross because I didnít want to go through the whole dismount/run/remount routine, because really bikes are for riding, not carrying, right?

But over some finely brewed home beer, Erik and Ross convinced me to come out and give it a try. So we headed out and I lined up to do the Mens 35+ B race. After test riding the course, I knew the start was going to be entertaining. It went downhill for about 200m, then went to a near U-tern left hander. I was in the third row, and all I wanted to do was get a decent start so I could get moving. Sadly, the guy in front of me had other ideas in mind. After missing his pedal a few times, he seemed to panic, started swerving, and before I knew it he was full on endo-ing, right in front of me. I tried to break out to go around him, but being elbow to elbow with everyone else and going full out I was resigned to slam into him. So 5 seconds into my first race, I was on the ground staring at the sky and cursing.

I got up, straightened out my handlebars, and wondered what was broken on my bike and body, and I see Erik, Ross and Dave S. all looking at me wondering if I was going to get up. Then I got angry, because I had just dropped $30 for 5 seconds of riding, so I hopped back on and started chasing after a field that had disappeared from sight. My knee was in a fair bit of pain, so my first lap I was only 80%. The course was a great combination of semi-technical singletrack, sandy straights, and great downhill chutes. The climb was short and had two tracks up it, so I was able to reattach myself to back of the field fairly quickly. I made the mistake of looking down to see my HR pegged up around 190, so I quickly put my eyes back on the line instead. I was able to pick off about 10 people by taking some risks and then settled into a rhythm. I was still exploring the limits of the cross bike, so I had a few close calls but kept going. I ran up on Joe from 3rd Pillar and he cheered me on, which helped me dig in a little deeper and just focus on the riders in front of me.

the aftermath

Each lap afterwards, I worked hard not to puke or crash, but felt like I was getting the feel of the bike and the course, and was able to steadily pass other riders. On the downhills I consistently went faster each lap and passed people on the climb and singletrack sections. Our field had started 1 minute behind the Mens B race, so I really had no idea where I was in our field of about 30 or so riders. The last lap I pushed as hard as I possibly could, flew through the downhills and corners, which almost had me on the ground several times as my handling skills went down as I got more tired. Finally, I ]cleared the last hurdles and began to sprint to the line only to hear the announcer say ďand here is the 6th place finisher.Ē Surprisingly, that was me.

Overall, for my first cross race I was happy to get a feel for how a cross bike handles, remount without killing myself, and finish the race smiling. While Iíll hardly become a cross addict like the rest of you, Iím certainly going to come along for the ride!