Tag Archives: Cyclocross

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.


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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)

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.