Tag Archives: Cyclocross

Norge & TEDTA

22 Nov

Otherwise known as, Norge Ski Jump CX  & Ted’s Excellent Double Track Adventure CX.

Norge was a last minute call Saturday and it turned out to be the best last minute decision I’ve made in a long, long time.  If you missed it, well, you missed it.

The pics by Ali Engin do justice to the course, it was as awesome as it looks.

Looks like a game of bike polo where everyone has their own ball.

Super technical with lots of off-camber, up-hill 180’s, logs, drops and super steep, loose climbs.  Which is to say, I loved it. Funnest course of the year. The venue at Norge is tailor made for a cross race,  hopefully, it will become a regular stop.

Sunday I dragged the girls to Volo, IL for Stop #11 of the ChiCrossCup, TEDTA.  I didn’t do as well as I did on Saturday but loved the course.  It had the best sand and run-up of the year and gets my nod as toughest of the year.

It’s a little blurry but if you look closely you can see that everyone on the front row, (10 racers wide) is racing Zipp 303’s except me.  I wish I could say that’s why they all beat me.  303’s would be so rad on a steel single speed.

Bonebell!

I ended up 2nd at Norge in the SS class and 11th at TEDTA in the 40+.  Next up Jinglecross on Friday and Saturday.

Fail Moab

16 Nov

I missed Fail Moab Fall Moab this year for no good reason.  I so wanted to get back to the desert and ride with the team but I’m old, kids are busy, dug, Rick and Rick bailed.  Not to mention a Chicrosscup double header weekend for crying out loud. Wait, those are all good reasons.

Oh, and the debut of the CR skinsuit, front row!

Day 1 was awesome because the family came out to heckle and take pictures.  Kendra captured my favorite moment of the entire series – Cassidy running along side me heckling, “You suck, is that how you ride a bike? Can’t you pass me?”  The daughter heckle rules!

Day 2 was awesome because I finally got to zip on a superhero suit, I left it on all day – ask Tasha.  Thanks for the pic Duane!

Maybe it was the new superhero suit, maybe not.  All I know is I was riding out of my head, hanging with dudes I have no right to be hanging with. Finished 6th on the day, tying my best finish at a Chicrosscup.

Zero Carbon Footprint

21 Oct

Not a single strand of carbon fiber.  If  Jon at Sabrosa or Tony at Pereira were mass producing bikes in Taiwan I imagine they’d look something like the All-City Nature Boy.

Internal cable routing, integrated seat post collar and sexy drop-outs will now be mandatory features on all my future bikes.  The lugged fork  and head tube badge are unexpected bonus details.

 

You get a lot of cool stuff for about as much coin as a fancy carbon crankset.  And, most importantly, I find myself looking for any excuse to take it out for a ride.

The only niggle to all the swag: it’s heavy.  I don’t really want to know how much it weighs.  Admittedly, I only notice the weight when hefting it up and down 3 flights of stairs every time I go for a ride, which, seems like several times a day now.

Available at your NBS (Neighborhood Bike Shop) in my case, the awesome crew at Roscoe Village Bicycles.

ChiCrossCup Double Header Weekend

18 Oct

My car battery died at the coffee shop on the way to Wauconda Saturday. At first I was bummed that I would miss my 8:45 start, which I did, but the prospect of lining up in a totally different race category quickly got me over my bummedoutedness.

Race start would now be 11:45, plenty of time for AAA to rescue me and still make it to the race.  I’ve never had so much time to set-up, get ready and warm-up – loved it.   Maybe a permanent category change is in order.

Being new to a category has at least one disadvantage – lining up DFL.  Game face time!

Photo by Amy Velogrrl.

Game face worked pretty well for me, moved up from DFL to finish 16th. Or, maybe it was the new bike.

Next stop: Carpentersville.  Jeff and the gang from Main Street Bicycles  and North Branch Cycling put on a fantastic day-long race alongside Carpentersville’s Oktoberfest.  Polka music, brats, brews, mud, cross = damn fine day.

Muddy woop-de-doos through cornfields are like straw bales, they should be mandatory course features.

I dug as deep as I could and managed to pull out an 8th place finish.  Two days in a row of cross racing hurts.  Bad.  New CX goal for the year (down from podium finish) crack the top 5.

No More Magic

13 Oct

The magic ratio worked well for 3 races.  Even starting with new hardware, by race #4 the chain started falling off .  The magic ratio is supposed to let you run a single speed on a bike with vertical dropouts and no tensioning device.  It works. Briefly.  Here’s my temporary solution for last weekends race:


While it worked OK, it’s ugly, really ugly.  I don’t do ugly, it must go.

New solution:

Zero magic and 100% purty!

ChiCrossCup #2 (DeKalb) and #3 (Dan Ryan Woods)

11 Oct

My first race of the day last week at ChiCrossCup #2 (Masters 40+) went off at 8:45. Strategy was simple, go as hard as possible and see what happens.   While the hole shot and first lap victory were my reward, 6 laps were far too many for that strategy to work.  I faded fast and finished 11th.

All photos thanks to Amy Dykema aka Velogrrl.

The second race of the day for me, OUISSSCXC didn’t start until 4:15, no wonder the family didn’t want to come out.  But as you can see below, it was well worth the wait.  With so much on the line for the winner, all the fast dudes showed up.

Including this guy.

Hay Straw bales!

Hay Straw bales should be mandatory features in all categories at cyclocross races, let the petition drive begin!

I got 6th in race #2 of the day but more importantly James Lalonde won.  What does that mean? That Chicago will be well represented at the 2011 SSWCXC. No pressure James.

Huge thanks to Half Acre Cycling, North Central Cyclery, ChiCrossCup and Robots Powered by Love – they put on a stellar race and the course was my favorite of the season until this past weekend.

ChiCrossCup #3 – I wasn’t prepared to like Sunday’s course with lots of flat, straight, grassy, power sections, but there were enough climby, off-camber, techy sections to more than make up for it.  Bonus points for the giant log in the middle of the course, just big enough to scare 95% of the racers into getting off their bike but not so tall as to intimidate like a regulation barrier.  My favorite CX course so far this year, will be very hard to top.

Wait for it, wait for it…Money!

My strategy was to not go out as hard as last week and to hopefully ride with the lead group for as long as possible leaving enough in the tank to finish well.  Problem was, backing off just hair at the start of a CCC race doesn’t mean just a few people get in front of you it means 25-30 racers get in front of you.  Chase on!

Not starting at the front resulted in my best CCC placing ever, 6th out of 70+ registered.  Note to self: new strategy needs to be somewhere in-between the two previous strategies.

Big thanks to Beverly Bike-Vee Pak and Region Racing for all their work and especially for the free spicy chicken!

My Plan For OUILSSSCXC

29 Sep

Sound it out…ewls-kuck-sk. Or, Official Unofficial Illinois State Single Speed Cyclo Cross Championship. Ewlskucksk is easier to say.  This is a big deal. What is on the line? Check out the prize list here. Yes, you read right, not just the OUILSSSCXC on the line but an entry into the SSCXWC…scuks-wic, (Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships) in San Francisco along with round-trip airfare! Damn!

I’m all over it. Problem is, so are a lot of faster dudes and dudettes in the Chicago area. OK, so I don’t really have a plan, more like lots of hopes.  I hope a certain person rolls a tubular.  I hope another certain person doesn’t show up on their SS SuperX.  And I hope someone else  keeps trying to race cross on a SS mountain bike. Lastly, I hope it snows because that would be rad.

That’s what I’ve got – hopes. Oh, and I have this:

After getting my Cannondale CAAD9X stolen last month I cobbled this together from stuff on my back porch.  I think out-of-pocket I’m into it about $100, which may be too much for a dirt bag single speed bike.  See you in DeKalb for ChiCrossCup #2 and the OUILSSSCXC!

Double Feature: ChiCrossCup #1 And US Gran Prix #1

27 Sep

Cyclocross season has been underway here in Chicagoland for a month now.  3 races already under my belt and it’s still Sept; Relaycross, Chicago Cyclocross Cup #1 at Jackson Park and even one U.S Gran Prix race in Wisconsin.

living in the center of the cyclocross universe in North America has its benefits, where else can you race a ChiCrossCup one weekend then drive 2 hrs the next weekend and race a  U.S. Gran Prix? Nowhere. And it just gets better every week.

CCC #1 at Jackson Park marked the start of the series and the start of the chase for call-ups and standings. I’m pretty sure last weekend set a record for # of racers at a CX race in North America, 680!

We had about 70 racers start in the Masters 40+ (most classes sold out at 100) No lucky call up for me this year, I just put my head down and pedaled.

Pics by Nick Gajewski

I ended up finishing 7th, exactly the same placing as last year at Jackson Park.

As much fun as it was racing, the most fun of the day was had cheering and heckling Cassidy.  She raced the Junior race and did awesome, finished 4th out of the girls.  She came to the race wanting and expecting to get heckled and heckled she got.  I don’t know who the megaphone girl was but we got her to chase Cassidy along the course shouting, “Hey, Cassidy Utah, you suck!” Cass was laughing so hard she could barely get back on her bike.

Fast forward 1 week and U.S. Gran Prix #1 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin served up exquisite CX conditions.

I’ve always said I’m a fair weather racer and would shake my head in disbelief when other crossers prayed for rain and mud.  I get it now. Mud rules! Ended up getting 4th in the SS class.

ChiCrossCup #2 is on Sunday in DeKalb and the Masters classes need some hecklers.  Come out early to heckle and and I’ll reward you with coffee.  I’m bringing 5-gallons of coffee and 20 gallons of CarboRocket. last week the coffee was gone by 10:30 and the CarboRocket was gone by Noon.  The early bird gets the worm.


Barry Roubaix 2011

28 Mar

What is Barry Roubaix? Like the website says, “A Killer Gravel Road Race” or as I now like to say, 65 miles of Leadville, just replace the 5 big climbs with 40 little climbs and subtract 10,000 ft of altitude.  40 little climbs translates to zero recovery, non-stop pedaling.

Much like Leadville you see all types of bikes; mountain bikes, cross bikes (yes, always someone on a cross bike at Leadville), tandems and even a few road bikes (not so many road bikes at Leadville).  Even like Leadville – 1000 racers.

I got out of bed at 4:15 am on Saturday, picked up Todd of TenSpeedHero slash HalfAcreCycling fame and headed to Michigan.  While waiting in line to park (20 min  just to park, I’ve never been to a race where there was a line for parking) I noticed the outside temperature read 18 degrees, not so excited to be in Michigan all of a sudden.   Luckily, packet pick-up was a breeze, shout out your number and you got a plate.  No I.D.  No license.  No fuss.  Took all of 10 seconds.

Did I mention it was 18 degrees? We had a police escorted neutral roll-out (Leadville style) before hitting the dirt.  The initial dirt 2-track felt so good.  It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been in the dirt and Immediately felt right at home.  After the first couple of  grunt climbs I reached down for my bottle and noticed that I had already lost one in the rough stuff and the nozzle on the  bottle  that remained was frozen shut. Great.

It’s been forever since I’ve done any climbs on a bike and Barry Roubaix did not disappoint.  The climbs are not the long, get into a rhythm grinds found in the West but non-stop short grunts that really wear you down.

I was so beat after 1 lap of the 2 lap race that I almost bailed.  Lap 1 was very much a pack race where road tactics and drafting either helped or hurt you,  I’d jam up a climb passing the riders around me only to get sucked back in to the group on the flats.  Lap 2 was all about attrition and I frequently found myself riding along all by myself.  There was a small pack that I rode with for part of the last lap but they shed me pretty fast on the last 5 miles of pavement, I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:48, 49th in the 65 mile category.

Barry-Roubaix is a race worthy of a road trip or flight from anywhere in the country.  Huge turn out, well run and well organized, great early season endurance race, awesome people, raffle and FREE flowing Founders.  Highly recommended! Oh yeah, a Canadian dude won on a cross bike.

ChiCrossCup Wrap Up

16 Dec

Chicago Cross Cup is over. I did 16 races in the series, more CX racing in one season than all previous years CX races combined.  I learned a few things about CX and Chicago CX in particular.

  • Just because it’s Chicago doesn’t mean you’ll have cross weather.  9 of the 10 weekends were pretty warm and dry, only the final race could be considered cross worthy weather.
  • Heckling is a respected and honorable activity.
  • 9a.m. is not too early to start drinking, it’s 5p.m. somewhere.
  • You want run-ups? You gotta build ‘em and no expense is spared.
  • No matter how hard you are pedaling it’s not hard enough.
  • Full body contact is expected and encouraged.
  • I still can’t re-mount with grace, someday.
  • Cyclocross was taylor made for single speed bikes.
  • My legs are still sore the Thursday after doing back to back races on same day, I can only do that a couple times a season.
  • You really can race the entire season on the exact same tires, maybe not smart but doable.
  • Ghetto tubeless (zero burps) works better than Stan’s rim strips.
  • Some days 45 minutes is actually 55 minutes and other days 45 minutes is actually 35 minutes.
  • Bib shorts snag, skinsuits do not.
  • A few pounds of tire pressure in the wrong direction and you are screwed.
  • I have the biggest POS cross bike in the Masters class.

Cross has been so much fun I’m thinking of treating the mountain bike race season as CX training next year.  As much fun as it was it would never have been possible without the great people and promoters at the Chicago Cyclocross Cup.  Huge props to ring leader Jason Knauff and all the other promoters, how they manage to make the magic happen week after week and still race is beyond me. Also big thanks to fellow racers, especially my Masters group, hecklers, volunteers and new friends its been a great season of racing.  The biggest thanks goes to Tasha for helping me out the door every weekend and cheering me on.  Thank you!

Finished 8th overall in the series.

7th, 9th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 11th, 8th, 16th, 23rd, 13th, 10th, 10th (bold italics are geared races)

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