Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jingle Cross - Day 3

The last day of Jingle cross combined most of the hardest parts of Friday and Saturday into one course. Oddly slick sections on both ends of the course, plus a big climb and a big descent right into the side of a barn. I did like the course, but felt held back by my own lack of mad handling skills.

Right off the gun there was another huge wreck. I lined up on the inside for the first time and it was actually much better than I expected. In the cat 2/3 races i've done, the whole field collapses into the inside line, leaving the outside open. Here, people were using all of the course (but ended up crashing to the outside every race - I don't get it)

Friday night, I felt best on the climb up the back of Mt. Krumpit. I passed most of the people that I was with on that climb, so I was hoping that it would work out well for me again. On the first lap it was evident that I would not have the legs to be super aggressive here. After a couple of laps, things started to fall apart. I starting to catch Bill Stolte and feeling ok, but then I crashed hard when some of the course tape blew over and hooked my bars. I was totally not expecting it and last 2 spots to guys that I had past and was gaining ground on.

Then on the big descent I caught a weird line in the sand at the bottom and almost endo'ed over a hay bale. When I finally made it around to the finish line, I got pulled. It was only 36 minutes in. Ouch. This was probably for the best as I was not mentally "in it".

Anyway, still a good experience. Lots of things to work on for next year. Up next are the MO and KS state races.

Don't hit the barn!

Getting mooned on the run up. Apparently, there were $1 bills in there. I didn't notice.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jingle Cross - Day 2

Same starting position as Friday night - 4th row, on the left. There was another crash on the left just off the pavement that I managed to miss. The main additions to the course were a couple of crossings of a muddy ditch, a rutted section leading into a descent into the barn, and a long muddy run up.

I had to run around before the race to find a new RD hanger for my crux. It turns out that neither the SRAM guys or Specialized guys had anything, so I had to go buy one from a local shop. What is odd is that my bike is new for this season, but the Specialized guys said they didn't have any more because the hanger was an older style. Hmm.

I felt like I had a better race than on Friday, and I didn't get lapped, but I finished further back, in 26th.

Racing in these really fast races magnifies any weakness you have as a rider. I have struggled in the past with my starts, but here you hesitate for a moment someone will jump past. If you bobble anywhere in the first couple laps, you've lost a spot or more. Letting a gap open up to the rider in front of you will be very hard to close.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jingle Cross - Day 1

First Elite UCI race for me. The start was insane, I started on the 4th row, but after the first turn I got my front wheel taken out. I got back up and my RD hanger was very badly bent, so I pulled it back so it was at least ridable, then hobbled over to the pits.

At this point, I was in dead last. The back side of the course had a good climb and a technical descent. I heard there were lots of crashes and rolled tubulars on the switchbacks down the hill. Some of the ground was frozen and slippery too. I was feeling alright about my line down the hill, so I as able to catch and pass quite a few riders here. Otherwise, I just tried to be efficient and not spend too much energy. I ended up being the last rider to be lapped by Jaime Driscoll. He passed me just prior to the climb on the back of the course.

I ended up in 23rd out of 50+ registered riders, so that was ok. Hopefully today will go better.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Manion's CX II

I haven't gotten around to blogging about Manion's CX II yet. With JCR CX coming up this weekend, there have been lots of odds and ends to tie up before the race. As it turns out, all my tires sans my 8 yr old Michelin Muds are too wide for the 33mm UCI std. No worries, I got some brand new Challenge rubber that will fit the bill just fine.

In any case, Manion's turned out to be tough. All I had heard about V1 was how much climbing it had. I missed out on that weekend, but figured that this would be a good final tune up for JCR.

I thought the course was pretty cool. Very tough, lots of climbing, a few technical spots. The Le'manions start was kind of crazy, but fun. There is photo evidence of all the 1/2/3 riders smiling as we run off to get our bikes after the giant firework start bomb went off.

 Running is a good way to start for me. I was second to Steve Tilford onto the course. After a section into the wind, Britton took off and Steve and Shadd followed. They got a bit of a gap to me, Brian Jenson and Justin Grist. After another lap it was just Shadd, Steve and I. Shadd sort of slid out on a corner of one of the descents. Steve jumped and got a gap on me, then Shadd came back and we rode together for awhile until I slid out in the same corner as Shadd. When I finally got back together, Shadd had a good gap on me too. That was the race, in a nutshell.

Great, tough venue. Lots of good food and drink, and awesome rowdy fans.

Looks like the elite field for JCR is going to be stacked. Over 50 guys signed up so far. That is almost as big as some of the USGP fields. Should be awesome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DeStad Cup

The St. Mary's course has been one of my favorites over the last few years. It often features a good mix of technical sections, power sections, and climbing.

This course had all the typical elements of St. Mary's. Cobbles, winding through trees, downhill barriers, bumpy climbs, some tricky ride ups, gravel, loamy grass. It was great. There were a couple of tricky ride/run-ups that were ride-able as long as you took the right line and kept your speed up.

Ride up

I got a fair start, was about 4th coming off of the cobbles. Jeff Winkler and Brian Jenson were at the front, so I worked hard to get up to them as quickly as possible. After about a half lap or so, I had made contact with them and was trying to figure out a game plan. Brian attacked by the baseball field near the end of lap one and got a little gap. I tried to follow, but couldn't match his speed.

Early on

Brian held a little gap to Jeff and I, but dropped his chain on the bumpy descent on the backside of the course letting us back on. He sat on for a little bit and then attacked again by the baseball field getting another gap. Istalled out on the ride up forcing a dismount and letting Brian get a little more time.

I led the chase back around the cobbles and into the barriers. Brian wasn't gaining too much time, but then over the barriers he dropped his chain again. I went by with Jeff in tow, thinking I needed to get us as much time over Brian as possible since he was riding very strong.

At some point just before the big ride up by the baseball field, I got a few second gap to Jeff. I'm not sure exactly where this happened, but once I noticed it I decided to just go and see what happened.

I've not had great races locally for some reason. Maybe it is lack of focus or something. I've just made lots of dumb mistakes with crashes or not being aggressive when I need to or just being complacent during races. Anyway, once I realized I was at the front of the race, that sort of went out the window. I was very focused on the technical parts of the course. I tried to power out of every turn. Ride smooth and fast over the bumps and up the climbs. No dumb risks.

No mistakes

Over the next couple of laps I saw my lead grow ever so slightly. With one to go I had a good handful of seconds advantage over Jeff, and Brian was trailing even further back. I was getting pretty tired by this point, but I made myself focus hard on one last lap of riding smooth and fast. No dumb mistakes.

I ended up winning. Pretty fun. Hopefully I'm taking some good form into Jingle Cross. Thanks to Chris Locke for a sweet course and some very nice pictures!

Grand Prix HPT

Last year this was one of the fastest courses of the season. I was looking forward to some of the same this year. Despite the rain, I was thinking that the course would be fairly dry for racing. Not so. It turned out that most of the course was muddy. The infield and the pit area had some really sticky mud. I saw quite a few people that had forks and stays the were completely jammed up with mud after their races. Watching the cat 4's run much of the infield, it was apparent that this was going to be interesting.

I didn't even bother pre-riding the course, I figured things would sort themselves out pretty quickly. Sure enough, before we were even half way through the first lap Steve Tilford went right to the front and had a huge gap out of the mud pit. By the end of the first lap, I was in 2nd with Luke Linnenger in tow and we had a gap to Jeff Winkler, Travis Donn and the rest of the chase group. Steve was gone, it looked like he was not having any issues with mud accumulation.

I pitted on the second lap, rode back to the grass and my derailleur sucked up into my cassette and blew to bits. I ran a few steps, then realized how far I still was from the pits. At that point, I decided it would be better to save my legs for Sunday.

I've been quite lucky as far as DNF's have gone, this was my first in 3 years of racing cross in the midwest. I'm guessing it has to do with how little mud we see for most of the season out here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joules Cross

Joules CX was on a new dedicated CX and grass track venue northwest of Lawrence. The course suited me fairly well, lots of elevation change and not too many technical spots. After a fairly moderate start, I was sitting about 8th.

On the first uphill section, I saw Shadd was getting a gap and Brian Jenson was moving to close it. I jumped hard out of the group to chase and we quickly had a sizeable gap. I dangled about 3-5 seconds off of Brian and Shadd for the rest of the lap, finally closing on a long uphill section before the start/finish area. I rode with them for about a half lap before taking myself out on a not-technical corner when I clipped a pedal. I also dropped my

Top of the climb - my leg is freaking out, apparently.

Brian and Shadd were gone, but I had enough time to get up, put my chain back on, and get going again and still be in 3rd. Bill Stolte was charging hard, but I decided to try and keep my gap as best I could since he was saving time by hopping the barriers. Paul Bonds and Adam Mills were just behind Bill but were battling each other, so they weren't closing the gap too much either.

So I rode the last 7 laps on my own and ended up being able to hold on for third. Unfortunately, my wreck took its toll on my knee, which looked like a grapefruit after the race. By the evening, I realized I shouldn't race on it Sunday. I was very pleased with my form overall on the day. Hopefully some fine tuning will have me ready for Jingle Cross at the end of the month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Boss Cross 3

Janelle's family was in town for Boss Cross 3. Her little brother just started doing cross last fall, and brought his bike so he could race too. It was very cool. He races in the junior class in the Santa Cruz CA series, but I suggested he should probably race Cat 4s here since the Jr category is not too competitive.

He raced very well. After starting on the 4th row, he rode aggressively and made his way into the top 10 after 1 lap, then off the front on lap two.He continued to gain ground on the field, but then got a flat and ran half a lap to get back to the pit. I let him use my B bike, since I didn't have any wheels with 9spd, so he finished on a too-big bike in 17th.
On the front row
I got a front row start, but my slow starts continue to be an issue. I'm not sure why that is. I've only had one good start this season. Anyway, Brian Jensen and I were the chase group after about a half lap. Joe, Jeff, and Jon were ahead and were gaining. I was hoping to ride up to them with Brian, but he was dropping me on all the open sections and I would claw back up on the technical parts. Unfortunately, Brian had some bad luck with a broken shifter and a broken pedal.

All alone
This left me on my own for the rest of the race. With about 3 laps to go, I could see Adam Mills chasing up to me. I put in a little more effort to keep him away and that was it. I ended up 4th. The course was really fun., I liked it a little more than last years course.
Barriers plus sand
It was also cool to have friends and family on hand. I had my own little cheering section, which is always nice. It was also nice not to race in a huge dust cloud. Maybe November will bring some mud?