Category Archives: cyclocross

Tongue-wagging and flying in Richmond

Raced three times at Bryan Park on Saturday the 9th, first in the masters 35+, then a one-lap time trial and later in the B’s. In the 35+ field, I was quickly dropped on the fast course, which featured a lot of road, due to a poor start and my own lack of form. I ended in 11th on my old geared Giant. An hour later I raced the time trial for the weekend omnium and finished 6th in 4 minutes, 53 seconds. Maybe I should be racing better or maybe my issue is endurance.

Later I raced the singlespeed Raleigh in the 3-race, which also featured the collegiate Bs. I felt better in this race and actually was dueling with a few guys rather than riding alone. I was shocked to find myself spinning away from guys on the road with the singlespeed 42×18 gearing. The other guys must have had some tired legs. Loved how the SSCX handled too. Much more sure footed than the Giant. Unfortunately I also experienced a dismount fail, missing my saddle on the jump and landing with my inside thigh on the rotating tire – big cut and bruise. My Tripower teammate Mike Park captured these images.

The next day we raced at Chimborazo Park on the other side of Richmond. My result was much the same on a very different course. The starting third was atop a flat plateau, which was followed by a screaming, weaving descent to the bottom of the park and a long grind of a climb, including stairs, back to the finish. I got 12th in 35+, which ,thanks to the time trial the day before, settled me in 7th for the weekend. These are some cool shots over the super tall barriers and on the off-camber downhill turn from teammate Tami Cole.

But this is my favorite image from Park on that day – bunnyhopping over the short barrier:

Me likey

Raleigh is showing a new SSCXWC frame at Interbike 2010. It’s carbon goodness with a belt drive. Mmm. That’s not a great picture of it. There’s more of this eye candy on CX magazine’s site. Wish I could figure how to afford and fly to Seattle for this year’s Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships in late October.

Perhaps the Singlespeed Intergalatic Championship at Staten Island CX in mid-November will have to do.

Charmed by CX in the City

No, I haven’t been blogging. Facebook and Twitter have proved distracting, but I raced the season’s first cyclocross race Sunday in Baltimore: Charm City CX.

Since the masters race was sold out, I signed up for the 2/3/4 “B” race at noon. As the 104th person to register, I was called up 104th and could see the front row of the race about half a block in front of me. That was the last time I saw the front.

I raced singlespeed by choice. I wanted to test my new rig – a Raleigh SSCXWC – to see how it would do and just have fun. The start was the typical large cluster with 125 guys trying to make it to the first corner. At each of the first few turns, traffic jammed up and we were brought to a standstill as the front of the race rode away. At one early off-camber chicane, I was able to dismount and squeeze a pass by about 15 or so guys.

I settled in and started trying to pick off a guy here and there. The 42×18 gearing proved fine for the course. It was fast, dry and very dusty. There was one power hill that made me wish for a lower gear and a few flats that required me to spin my arse off.

I powered through the sand pit when I could without running into traffic and railed some corners on a few sweet, swoopy downhills.

I did more passing than being passed until the very end of the race when a group of five guys I’d just spent the last lap working my way through sprinted past me on the flat paved finishing stretch. I did want a few gears there.

My finishing place was 68th, so I made it up through about a third of the field. I felt good enough that I wished I’d had a better starting position, though I might have still run the singlespeed. It’s nice not having to think about what gear to shift into.

And I had fun in the dirt:

Special thanks to Ellie, my oldest, for the fine photos.

Virginia Doo

I had high hopes heading into the Virginia Duathlon at Chippokes Plantation in Surry County last Sunday. I was running well and had borrowed a time trial bike and felt pretty comfortable on it.

Then Wednesday night before the race, some nasty GI bug crawled up inside me. I stayed home Thursday. Feeling somewhat better, I went to work Friday and got stuck for 12 hours. Saturday I felt like crud again. But Sunday dawned a new day and I remained optimistic as I drove the 50 minutes west to the plantation, a gorgeous state park nestled up against the James River.

I arrived early and my prep seemed fine. I started the race well, running the first mile in about 6:40, a little faster than I wanted, but not unsual for me in  adrenaline-fueled mass starts. About midway through the 5K, I started cramping, something like a side-stitch only lower. I slowed significantly and finished in about 22 minutes, a minute slower than I wanted.

I jumped on the TT bike, gasping for breath, and immediately started passing faster runners, but slower riders. For the first half of the 22.5-mile bike, we fought against a tough headwind, but I felt OK and was passing others. Making the turn into the tailwind, I brought the speed up and started hammering along, but every time I pushed even faster that cramp clawed into my side. I also discovered that I had the bike saddle a bit too far forward and was favoring one side. I fought through it and finished the bike in just under 1:03 about three minutes slower than I’d hoped.

The transition to the second run was excruciating. Between the side stitch and riding to one side of the saddle, my left hip locked up. I shuffled out of transition to the road, then stopped to stretch for a minute. When I started jogging again, guys I’d just passed on the bike came by me one by one. The run was brutally painful. The cramp took up permanent residence as I ran/walked uphill and trudged along the river. The run took me nearly 27 minutes, my slowest 5K ever, I think.

I’d really hoped to finish in about 1:45, but instead crossed the line in 1:54:43. I don’t know if I could have achieved my goal, but I’d sure like to have raced healthy. The difference between my goal and my results were gaping in the 40-44 age group. A 1:45 would have put me close to first, but the best I could do was 8th. Tough crowd. That night I felt really sick again, so the bug was still hanging around. It really was about two days ago that I started feeling better.

Kale Running did another fabulous job with the VaDu even if I felt like doo. Tripower teammate MikeP almost hunted me down and other friends did fabulously as Karen took second in women’s masters and RobD and Melissa teamed to take the mixed relay. And the very pretty location would make a fine cyclocross venue if the state didn’t mind us mucking up some of the grass fields out there.

Southern cross culture on the skids

Is alive in southeastern Virginia.

n1602330515_30138786_9809

A wacky cyclocross culture appears to thrive on the West Coast mixing serious racing with good times, parties, costumes and bonfires. You can see it at Cross Crusade in Portland, Ore., and in the hilarity surrounding Single-speed Cyclocross World Championships.

The East Coast in comparison seems almost too serious. It’s a race: Break out the skinsuit, the embrocation and race face.

Well, the serious season ended two weeks ago with VB CX, then last weekend assuaged my fear that we’re too damn serious. The Barhamsville Billy Cross put on by Creedence Shaw (below on the start/finish jump) and assorted JRVS friends on a farm just west of Williamsburg was as much a costume party as cross race. It was a hillbilly-themed blast.

n651311353_2108315_1504

The entry fee was a six-pack of beer with the winner taking whatever was left.During a parade lap, Creedence showed off the bourbon shot short-cut – take a shot and skip the twists and turns up the field.

dsc02466

A pre-race, one-lap time trial started with chugging a beer (hadn’t done that in more than a decade) then shooting the beer can with three rocks fired from a wrist rocket/slingshot (Mugler shooting above). If you scored a hit, you could go or you had to fire all three. The time trial was supposed to give us seeding for the race with the fastest strating from the back, but the organization was already breaking down.

dsc024731

The race started with Kevin (chasing turkeys above) taking the hole shot around the barn by the turkey coop. I chased but traffic delayed my move up to second. After two laps, Jerry, who may have been in the parking lot when the race started, came steaming by and I lost his wheel removing my leather motorcycle jacket. Meanwhile Kevin was doing shots and getting father ahead. I waited to do a shot, not wanting to puke early in the race. Creedence, riding a sweet bike from Hunter Cycles, was doing shots and slipped ahead of me, catching Jerry. Finally, on the bell lap, I did a shot and tried to bridge up to Jerry and Creedence, but the gap was just a little too much. K-Dawg (or was it Kev-Dizzle?) took the W.

After the race, everybody looted Kevin’s winnings and enjoyed a great spread of chil plus awesome cornbread and brownies. A bonfire was burning, but I had to skedaddle home.

It was a West Coast-style scene with a distinctly Southern twist.

I’ll take second, thank you very much

If you’d told me Friday, I’d get second in my cyclocross race on Saturday and in my age group in Sunday’s duathlon at the VB Winter Endurance Challenge, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. After an injury-plagued and otherwise busy fall, my form was truly suspect. I had no idea how I’d race. Even now that I’m back on the bike and running again, my training opportunities are hit or miss because I’m so busy at work.

I raced Bs on Saturday because the 1pm start would be at the warmest time of the day and it was frigid. The arctic air mass pummeling the eastern U.S. delivered highs of about 25 degrees. The start was a typical sprint, I was 4th wheel into the stadium and up the tall berm behind the soccer field. Then Tyler slipped out on the off-camber turn and I rode beneath him into 2nd and was on the lead rider, who was already fading. I went around him on the pavement and hit it hard, figuring I need to put distance on everyone before I blew up too. The course was much faster than I’d expected because it was mostly frozen.

dsc_3454

I rolled almost two laps solo when Tyler finally bridged. We worked together and put more distance on the field. The young man (he’s 17) was really strong. I was better on the technical sections, but just holding on the rest of the time. (Pic above as we cross the barriers, from teammate Mike Park.) He attacked me a few times, but I was able to scratch back to him. We caught Kevin, from the A-field, and rode with him for a while. I made my mistake on the second to last lap. I’d been letting Tyler attack me and resting between the attacks. Going into the big berm, I stupidly decided to attack and slipped out in the same place he did. He gapped me there. I almost got back to him right after the barriers with a lap to go, but the effort cooked me. I should have been more patient. Lesson learned.

I rolled the last lap and finished second. Tyler is riding strong and I wish him luck with the Hincapie junior development squad.

Sunday dawned slightly warmer (a bit over freezing), but more overcast and windier, so it really felt just as cold. I’m an OK runner, but definitely felt Saturday’s effort in my legs as I ran. I turned my first 5K in 23:18, about a minute slower than last week, then had a slow transition. I initially felt good on the bike and passed a bunch of people. Then Justin Raynes blew through me and my hamstrings started to tighten. I noticeably slowed. A few more people came by, including NCVC’s Greg Faber, who came by me like I was standing still after I beat him the day before. Ouch. But then again, he didn’t run; he was racing on a team. I lost a contact on the second lap, which made reading the ground a lot more difficult. I lose my depth perception.

img01398

Still my bike was 12th fastest, but not what I’d hoped. (Photo of the end of my bike by Kevin.)  Back out on the second run I kept a steady pace until the 3rd mile when the wheels came off. I passed one guy and was passed by another guy, but that was it. Toward the end, as I slogged the last few hundred meters, the first place woman was closing in on me, but she ran out of course. I finished the last 5k in a slow 25:49 for a total time of 1:32.27. I do wish I ran better.

Results from the weekend are here. Props to my Tripower teammates Mike Hosang (pictured below by Mike Park) and Tim Starkey for winning the 35+ and 45+ cross races on Saturday,  young Zach (now on Siegler’s junior squad) for his 3rd in the Cs and Lynn for a strong 2nd in the women’s field behind DeeDee.

dsc_3312

On Sunday, Sally schooled me on the runs as team McSilly ran away to a second in the coed teams. JimmyD‘s woman Karen was 3rd overall. Ryan H and Dinterman duked it out for 1st and 2nd overall with Ryan taking the W. It also was nice to see Mr. Russell down from Staunton tuning up for his Xterra season.

Much to my surprise, this fun weekend was the idea of Beach tourism officials. They deserve props for it and for ponying up the cash for what was one of the richest cross races in Virginia this year. Thanks to Kale Running too and Kevin for their hard work in making the Virginia Beach Winter Endurance Challenge happen. (And thanks to all those who made the long drive from DC, Maryland and even New York to race.)

As for me, I’m happy with second place (for now).

Across the frozen tundra at VB CX

With temps promising not to rise above 30 degrees tomorrow, the VB Cyclocross Winter Endurance Challenge tomorrow promises to be a race of a different kind of endurance. More who can endure the cold than who can withstand 45 minutes on the rivet. The sodden ground at the Sportsplex also will be frozen solid, at least for the early races. It may be beyond Belgian and more Canadian, eh?