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.

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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.

Utahhh!

20 Sep

It’s been just over 2 weeks now and I’ve finally cone to grips with the fact that I pedaled the PCP2P 2 hours slower than last year. 2 freaking hours!  Yeah it was hard but last year was even harder.  Enough about the race you already know it’s a bitch.

On to the PCP2P ride.  The first 3 hours were complete single track bliss.  I spent the whole time riding with Dave Harris and Fatty.  Just tooling along having a good time singing songs and possibly irritating fellow racers.  What could be better than Utah single track with friends for 3 hours? Pretty much nothing and certainly not the next 7 hours.

This is what I do in a feed zone, get on my bike and ride.

This is what Elden does, looks for sympathy.  For what? His hands hurt. Whatever, sac up!

I really wish I would have felt better at the finish so I could mingle and schmooze with everyone that I haven’t seen for several months but I was too busy curled up in a ball trying to recover.  It took me almost 10 and one half hours to finish.  I’ve become a soft and pale city boy.  It is what it is.

The weekend came and went too fast.  I did manage to squeeze in some Corner Canyon dirt, Bayou and a visit to the lab.

Mountain bike racing is OVER! I am pretty excited about that since no matter how hard I look there just aren’t any mountains to be found in Chicago.  I am hereby declaring my official new cycling discipline to be cyclocross.  I even have the first race of the Chicago Cross Cup under my belt and I couldn’t be more pleased.  More on that tomorrow.

WORS Alterra Race Report

31 Aug

I’m up to 3 races now in the Midwest each in a different state.  They all share two things in common, lots of tight twisty single track and hot, wet heat.  I’m slowly but surely acclimating.

I Finally got a WORS series race under my belt and it did not disappoint.  It was the Alterra Coffee Bean Classic at Crystal Ridge, Wisconsin.

WORS puts on a well organized, professional race. ICUP ain’t too far behind though.  In the bang for buck category WORS wins hands down with bigger turnout, just as stiff competition, equally great venues and medals for everyone on the podium all for a measly $25.

This was the first race with some serious climbs, steep enough to hurt but not long enough to get much distance on anyone.  Alterra offered up the twistiest, tightest and most single track of the 3 races I’ve done.  My single track skills are progressing but not once in the 3 races I’ve done have I ever felt like I was in any sort of rhythm.  I did however, pass way more racers in the one track than passed me.  Progress.

Alterra was also the hottest, by far, of the 3 races.  More CR before the race was key to feeling great the entire race with no fade. Or it might have been Half Acre riders Jen and Paul-Brian cheering and dumping ice water on me. There were 19 in my 40+ category and I ended up 5th.  I’ll take it but think I could have moved up a couple places just by getting to the front before hitting the single track.

The Pro Men’s podium.  Guerra 1st, Braun 2nd and Matter 3rd.

Any good race day is not complete without some good food.  All road trips that pass through Wisconsin now require a mandatory stop, the Mars Cheese Castle.  A little bit of kitsch and a whole lot of killer sandwiches.  Try the 3-cheese and tomato grilled cheese.

Thursday I fly to Salt Lake to ride the Park City Point 2 Point and fill racer’s water bottles with CR.  Yes, I said ride.

Palos Meltdown Race Report

24 Aug

Saturday was race #2 for me in the Midwest and I’ve learned a couple things. First, don’t pre-ride the course by yourself because you will get lost.  Second, if you forget #1 remember to take everything with you on the pre-ride that you’ll need during the race.

With 45 minutes to start I thought I’d get in a nice warm up then come back to camp and get my bottles and instruct my crew on hand-ups etc.  While I had actually pre-ridden most of the course the week before the organizers hadn’t quite got the start finish area dialed in at that time so I needed to go scope that out.

I kept thinking the trail I was on would double back on itself and take me right back tot the start, nope. I started to get nervous that I was going to miss the start when I passed a spectator out on course and asked directions.  He said its a couple miles away and the race starts in 5 minutes, Doh!

I came out of the woods about 50 yards behind the start just in time to hear, “5,4,3,2,1”  I was already gassed from the effort of trying to make the start but somehow managed to still roll out with the group. Oh yeah, no bottles on the bike. Have I mentioned it’s really hot?

The course at Palos was non-stop single track, really tight and twisty with the just the right amount of technical.  It was about 8.5 miles long with some grassy hill sections near the start-finish to break things up.

From what I’ve heard hey had a record turnout of 500+ racers across all classes.  The classes were pretty big which led to a lot of congestion and multiple pile ups on the first lap.  By lap 2 and aided by the dense single track it seemed like there were only 5 or 6 people on course.

In spite of my botched start and lack of bottles on the first lap I felt pretty good all day mostly just passing racers and thought I had finished a lot better than I actually did.  Got 4th Expert 40+ and 24th overall.

pic by Brian Coggin

Some of my deep thoughts after the race:

  • I’ve  fallen off the racing bandwagon harder than I thought.
  • The dudes in Chicago are faster than the dudes in Utah.
  • Maybe I’m just getting old and slow.
  • I am so going to suffer at PCP2P.
  • 2:30 hour xc races are too much for me.
  • Rolling single track is more fun to race than monster climbs followed by monster DH.
  • Rolling single track is harder to race than monster climbs followed by monster DH.
  • Am I really craving a duck sausage and foie gras dog?

Deep thoughts aside it was a great day at the races. Thanks CAMBR for putting on a 1st class race at an incredible venue, I’ll be back for sure.

Chicago Aint So Bad

22 Aug

It’s actually pretty awesome.

Several people enjoying the beach. I had no idea Chicago had a beach.

Luckily you can get away from everyone without even leaving the city.

I like to think we traded mountain views for city views.

Living in the city has its perks, you can go from this.

To this, all in one afternoon.

I’m digging it.

Tomorrow or maybe Tuesday Midwest race report #2 Palos Meltdown.  Is it  harder and more fun than an ICUP race?

I’ve Got Some Serious

16 Aug

How much serious? This much serious:

Enough serious about the upcoming cross season that not only did I sign up for and complete a cyclocross camp, seriously I did, but I also now have a skinsuit, a very limited edition, very serious skinsuit. Thanks to the fine folks at Revolution especially, one Mr. Stupidbike .

Can you think of anything so serious as skinsuits and cross camp? Didn’t think so, it’s next to impossible.

Not just any cross camp would qualify as serious but a camp put on by pretty much the best cross racer in the Western hemisphere Mr. Jeremy Powers.  You might be asking where JPow’s serious went in the following pic, I think it’s pretty obvious that I took it from him.

I’ve got the bike, I’ve got the skinsuit, I’ve got a few skills (including a super secret JPow hole shot move) but most importantly I’ve got some serious.