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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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Chicago Cyclocross Cup #9 and 10

16 Nov

Mondays are hard enough by themselves but following a weekend of cyclocross in Chicago makes them almost unbearable.  A weekend of CX is like a caffeinated sugar infused adrenalin rush that can’t possible be sustained, poor Monday doesn’t stand a chance.

I don’t know how they do it but it every weekend Chicrosscup is more fun and crazy than the week before.  People are lining up for the rush, just between the 4A’s and 4B’s there were 200 racers!

Speaking of lining up, spectating at CX never disappoints.  Supergirl via Velogrrl:

After having my absolute worst result of the year last week (16th) on the geared bike I was hell-bent on kicking some ass Saturday at day 1 of a 2 day weekend of cross racing.

I did everything right during the week; nutrition was in check, rest days observed, sleep was priority #1.   I lived and breathed my training to a “T” (what does “T” mean anyway?) There was no stopping me.  I lined up Saturday knowing I was going to get a top 5 for sure.  Tasha and girls even came out to cheer me on, nothing motivates like family hootin’ and hollerin’ for you.

The conditions for a stellar race couldn’t have been better, yet, I sucked worse than I could have imagined. I got 23rd which, barring a Leadville placing, may be the worst placing I’ve ever had.  I seriously thought about bailing on the rest of the series.

But I don’t always listen to reason which was shouting at me to “rest, take a race off, a week off.  It’s been a long season Mr. B, You should be sucking.”  I lined up and did it again on Sunday but brought the single speed.  Same course, same competition, same, same everything but the bike.  Oh, and zero expectations.

It’s good to be home, moved from 23rd the day before up to 13th even with a flat tire on the last lap.  Results so far:

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

I’m all over the place on the geared bike, I know it’s only 3 races (I actually did 5 races with gears 2 of which were “B” races on the same day and placing in the high teens ) but I’m throwing out the geared bike in favor of the SS.  The consistency of results with the SS would be reason alone but the #1 reason I’m staying with the single speed, It’s more fun.

Gears Are Stupid

11 Nov

Or maybe I’m just stupid.  After extolling the virtues of gears last week I had my worst race of the year Sunday on the geared bike completely negating my positive experience with gears the previous week.  This supports my original hypothesis that it just doesn’t matter, you’ll do how you do based on your ability and fitness and not on your bike.  I mean, I already knew this from mountain biking having equal if not better results on a SS. I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, gears might make a difference in cyclocross.  Nope.

I was kinda pissed about it too.  After pre-riding the course at Woodstock I was sure I would clean up.  It was very mountain bikey with lots of dirt and climbs and rough sections, for sure I was going to be at an advantage.  Ended up 16th with nothing left over for the 30+ race that I had signed up for.  I whimpered away with my tail between my legs.

Was it the gears?  Am I not training hard enough?  Am I training too hard?  No warm-up?  Too many encased meat products consumed?  I can go on.

I’m not throwing in the towel just yet on gears, I’ll give them 1 more chance. This weekend is double cross weekend at Chicago Cyclocross Cup and I plan on riding the geared bike for both days.   Of course if I really stink it up on Saturday I’ll have no problem turning my back on the geared bike on Sunday, maybe forever.

7th, 9th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 11th, 8th, 16th (italics for geared races)

Single Speeds Are Stupid

2 Nov

I could be jumping to conclusions here but after 7 consecutive cross races this season on my SS and just 2 races with gears (both yesterday) I’ve decided that single speeds are stupid.  To be more specific, single speeds are stupid for cyclocross.

On the SS just when you get wound up to speed you lose it all in a tight corner, chicanes or an uphill.  A constant battle of winding up to only be unwound again moments later.  The thing is, I had no idea this is what was happening until I jumped on a geared bike.

It was a revelation.  I didn’t feel like I was battling the bike, the bike felt great, I felt great.  Traction was better not having to stand and mash on the pedals constantly.  I could stay seated through the slow stuff keeping the rear tire digging. I had my 2nd best finish of the year, moving up a few spots from the last couple races.

In keeping my geared experiment as scientific as possible here are the results so far:

7th, 9th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 11th, 8th (italics for geared races)

I realize its only one race into my experiment but I’m sold. To all you SS’ers out there, join the hoi polloi and give it a go.

Chicago Cyclocross Cup #3,4,5,6 and 7

26 Oct

Officially there have only been 6 Chicross Cup’s but at race #6 I decided to nut up and do back to back races. More on that later.

There have been so many races in such a short time span that I am starting to forget the names of all the venues.

One of the things not helping my memory is the consistency of the race series and one of the many constants at the Chicrosscup races is the sheer number of racers every weekend.  I think it speaks volumes to the high level of organization, great promoters and growing popularity that the women’s 4 class is one of the 3 biggest fields week after week with 60+ racers.

Here they are on the run up at stop #3 Dan Ryan Woods.

And coming back down. Down.

The first double race weekend of the series started at Wauconda for race #4.  I have no idea who this guy is but must admit I have a little thigh envy.

Speaking of envy, the following picture will cause no small amount of flyover envy.  Replete with a faux slate roof.  If you want vert in Flatlandia you have to build it.

Day 2 of the double cx weekend had us out in Carpentersville for race #5 of the series.  They had live polka music, dancers, food court, beer garden and dirt rollers.

The rollers caused more than their fair share of problems across all categories. A flawlessly executed superman endo if I’ve ever seen one.

Race #6 at Bartlett with another sellout category, the 4b’s.  Every single week the 4a’s and 4b’s reach their max field limit of 75 per class-150 total cat 4 men!

I’m constantly learning new CX tips and tricks from my fellow racers.  Here’s the HTSP (head tube seat post) carry which I’m going to practice on Wednesday.

Spaghetti and marinara hand-up or is it mouth-up? Gross. And I think I see Darth Vader in the crowd. Cool.

I started the series out strong and thought I’d just get stronger but every week I seem to finish one spot lower than the week before.

With the season half over I thought I better step up the training so I did 2 races back to back on Sunday focusing on the 40+ race since it goes off first and using the 30+ race for a good work out.

Having never placed higher than 7th in any race I got the 6th place call-up. Just showing up every week has its rewards, I get to line up with the fast guys and watch them pull away.

My 2nd race of the day had me lining up with the 30+ crowd and with no call-up and no expectations I sorted myself towards the back.  It was a lot more fun picking people off than being picked off and not nearly as hard as I expected it to be, definitely doing it again next week.

Starting next week I plan on mixing things up a bit while conducting an experiment.  I’m dusting off the geared bike for the last half of the CX season to confirm my hypothesis that is doesn’t matter whether you have multiple gears or just 1 gear.  I predict similar results for the last half of the season.

My results so far, notice the trend, 7th, 9th, 9th, 11th, 12th, 11th.  I’m not keeping track of my “b” races.

Chicago Cross Cup #2

5 Oct

Not really a race report, more of a, “why isn’t everyone at the cross race?” kind of report.  This could apply to any cyclocross race anywhere but it’s abundantly clear in Chicago.

Flyovers rock!    The flyover did not disappoint anyone – unlike the new UCI rules –  multiple pile ups across all classes provided constant entertainment.  I hereby cast the first vote for the UCI to enforce a flyover obstacle at every race venue instead of their silly new rules.

Racing CX is exquisite, painful fun where spectating CX is just exquisite fun.  I mean, where else are you going to see a bacon stuffing pepper?

Or a man in leopard tights or an aero helmet? Oh wait, triathlons.

Just because you happen to be a big time CX star doesn’t mean you have immunity to the heckling.  If anything you may be subjected to more heckling, at least in Chicago.

Of course, the real reason to take the whole family to the CX races – faceplants!

Get the kids up, pack a lunch, skip church and head out to your local cyclocross race.  Good times guaranteed.

My race, the Master’s 40+ class, goes off bright and early at 8:45 every week before any one else.  The crowds haven’t shown up yet, only a few people are drunk and not too many hecklers.  If you were to watch my race and leave and then come back for the last race of the day at 3, the 4B’s, you’d swear you came back to the wrong venue; crazy crowds, drunken hecklers, tampon & twinkie hand-ups.  Yeah, I want to race 4B’s.

No hole-shot for me this week.  Luckily, I preserved my call-up for next week.  I had actually resigned myself to finishing outside the top 10 after battling what I thought for sure was a tapeworm for most of last week.  That’s all I’m saying about that.

Next up: Elvis Cross, sure to be a barn burner, better clear your calendar.

Chicago Cross Cup #1

21 Sep

Sunday started early for me.  7:00 a.m. at Caribou Coffee picking up 5 gallons of coffee for the race, I drank my share and gave away the rest.

Did I mention that Carborocket is sponsoring the Chicago Cross Cup? As if there weren’t reason enough to stop by the CarboRocket tent on race day I present one more, live ukulele music.  Oh, and coffee from Caribou.  Make that 2 reasons.

having heard tales of the professional heckling at cross races in Chicago I expected hecklers for the later racers but Adam was up at the crack of dawn setting up his heckling station and didn’t disappoint.  The Masters 40+ is the first race of the day at 8:45 a.m.  and it’s never too early to heckle in Chicago.  I actually looked forward to his derisive comments each lap and got a much needed morale boost, akin to boot camp I guess.

After my race I thought I’d try my hand at heckling.  I suck at it.  Do not put a microphone in front of me and expect anything but words of encouragement.

Pulling off the spectacle that is the Chicago Cross Cup is no easy feat and requires many people and many hours.  I’m glad I’m not married to Jason, the director, that’s him with the megaphone.  I bet his wife hates him.  Thanks for pulling off a kick-ass season opener though! Oh, and he races in the Cat 1,2,3’s as well. Sounds like someone else I know.

What is the best way to judge the local cross scene or any cycling scene for that matter, the women’s race.  Here are 50+ racers in the Women’s 4’s. Awesome!

Back to the most important race of the day, the Masters 40+.  I paid close attention to J-Pow and it paid off, I got the hole shot on 70+ racers. Yeah. Really.

OK, it might have been the skinsuit from Stupidbike.  I loved how that thing slides off and on the seat so effortlessly.  I’m still wearing it as a matter of fact. Or it might have been the luck of the call-up draw, either way I’ve made to the call-ups for race #2 and that’s what matters.

I may have gone out a wee bit hard as I started to fade a bit on the last lap, ended up 7th. Very pleased with the result and can’t wait to go after team Verdigris that swept the podium.  Speaking of ChiCross, it’s a pretty big deal out here in Flatlandia, next race is 2 weeks out and already over 300 pre-registered with several classes sold out.