2013 Cyclocross Worlds!!!

Through the kindness of a fellow cross racer I got the chance to go to Louisville and see worlds in person. It came together on Friday and lead to a really great day for me. I got to see friends who had raced masters worlds and watch the worlds best cross racers with them.  Seeing Sven win was unbelievable and more than made up for feeling let down by Katie not getting to race for the win. Yeah, I was probably a bit unrealistic there. I can’t believe I had voluntarily decided that I really didn’t need to go watch what turned out to be an amazing day.

Here is what I think is the best cross video I’ve seen. If you went to the race I expect you may agree. However if you weren’t there maybe it will be just another cross edit? I can’t seem to separate how it reminds me of a great experience when I watch it over and over. Make sure you watch in HD and full screen.

Here’s my short video of the Elite Men riding a technical section on the first lap.

And a link to some great photo from the event.

http://cyclephotos.co.uk/2013/02/2013-cyclocross-world-championships-louisville-ky/


Cross of the North 2012 Colorado State Cyclocross Championships

The big day, States.

I got there too early but got to see both Harold’s kids win their first State Championships.

After having too much time initially I was in a hurry to warm up before the race. I had a goal of top 10 but there would be 2-3 guys who would normally make that really tough plus other guys.

After starting poorly at State for the past two years I was ready and got the start I wanted at 7th or 8th.  All was well but the pace was hot and I couldn’t really hold the wheel in front of me throughout the first lap. We expected a big group with the long straights but Winkler was serious and put the heat on early.

At the start of the second lap I had Miller’s wheel but couldn’t hold it after that Hall and Cassan came by putting me in tenth.  Then in the second chicane coming back from the far south east corner a small rock sliced my rear tire and I flatted.  I had a long run and am still sore from running that short distance but made it to the pits after 24 guys passed me. Once on my other bike I realized for the first time that I would get a shot at repassing those guys.  I had a good points margin on Todd who was behind me in 8th in the season long Cross Cup points series but every guy I could pass might be the difference that could keep me in the 7th place I wanted.

statesart2

At first it was easier to catch and pass guys but then the gaps got bigger and the racers I caught were faster. I gave it everything and on the last lap coming back to the west I could see a farmiliar jersey with Joe Paulson in front of me.  I closed slowly but he saw me and didn’t let me close it down all the way. Good work Joe!

After crossing the line there were a lot of guys catching their breath so I knew I was still pretty far back and figured I hadn’t done enough to hold 7th in points. However it turned out that Todd didn’t have the best day either and I was only 9 spots behind him in 22nd. I had caught half the guys who passed me.  Ironically I could have Dnf’d and still had enough the points to hold 7th in the Cross Cup competition. However I’m so fortunate to have not known that and think I was racing for critical places.

I’ve had great luck with not having mechanicals in races all season and getting very few flat for years so I can’t be too unhappy about getting a rare one.   I would have like to have seen how I would finish. Would I have gotten the top ten I wanted? Would I have faded? I’ll never know how the rest of the race would have unfolded and if that’s my only disappointment I’ll take it. Maybe I just felt fortune for all the good Cross in the season.

Using the video I figured out that I lost 1:30 running compared to riding the same section the lap before. IF I had finished 1:30 further up I would have been in 11th.

Shawn Lortie did great to get second place. I know he’d like to have won it but he still had a dream season with a bunch of wins and 2nd at states.

John also did exceptionally well to get 6th after his big crash two weeks ago and not doing great in last weekends races. The whole Rally Sport team, guys who where here and not here today were great this season.  I’m honored to be a part of such a high quality group of  racers.

Personally I have a lot to be happy about.

I did 16 races

Only one in-race mechanical.

No dnf’s.

Maybe 2 minor crashes all year.

No big injuries, No real colds all season. I know too many people with injuries or health issues right now, I’m thankful to be healthy.

The team crushed 45+ Open. I got a 4th and a pair of  5th place finishes while getting stronger as the season went on for the first time.

Even with all that good stuff, Unquestionable the brightest part were all the people I get to race with. Thank you.

2012 States run up

 


Boulder Racing #5 Reservoir Sand 12/8/12

After a full cross weekend last week and with the season winding down I was fully motivated to rule on one of my favorite terrains, sand. But that was on Tuesday. By the time we got to Saturday my head was elsewhere. Then with the coldest warm-up of the year so far I couldn’t get in the groove. I had even been out to the res on Wednesday to practice in the sand but on Saturday morning I didn’t really know what I planned to do in a few of the sand sections when the race started.

I was the eighth call up and took the last opening on the very inside left of the front row. I probably should have taken the right side of the second row instead but maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. I was probably 15th on to the dirt for my worst start in some time. I haven’t been stuck in traffic at the beginning of a CX race in a while but it sure is different from getting a good start.

I was slow to move up but kept at it and caught the back few of faster guys after about a lap.

I made lots of mistakes including two pair in the same spots but it wasn’t a day to expect to be perfect.  I knew I had a tire advantage in the sand. I got a gap on 6th and 7th places where on an average day I’d be behind them. Then on the last lap I saw John M coming back to me. I’ve chased him on the last lap earlier this season and just making the catch that day didn’t mean it would go my way. But knowing he was still not 100% from his crash last week and that I had an advantage in the sand I was able to open a gap and finish 5th. Is it ironic that I pair one the seasons best results, being only 45 seconds behind the leader, with one of my worst starts?

I’m happy to have a good performance late in the season as I achieved a goal of finishing the season stronger than last year.

What is usually my favorite phase in cross, ONE TO GO, today means the season is almost over. In mid November ou season sometimes seems endless but now I know I’ll miss all my cross friends after next week’s State Championship race.  I expect most of the guys above me on the USAC list to be there including a few from the 35+ group so a top ten finish would be spectacular for me. No mater what happens I’m looking forward to eating lots and lots of food I’ve tried to avoid starting on Saturday afternoon.

By the way, it’s fully worth checking out the detail in Lennard Zinn’s cross bike preparation at the link below. The details below the pictures were terrific.

http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/12/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/technical-faq-lennards-cross-setup-in-detail_267426


Castle Cross 12/2/12

I’m happy that this is the last double race weekend of the season for me. I haven’t been sleeping as well as I’d like and getting up at 4:30 like this morning doesn’t help.

One drawback to the 8:15 race slot that I didn’t foresee this season was having no one out watching to cheer for you. I do miss hearing familiar voices yelling my name while I suffer. Is a warm part of cross for sure.

John Haley has put a lot of time into building this course and I really liked it. I think it had the fastest downhill cornering section we’ve seen this year, yahoo that was fun. There was also a challenging technical section so an overall good course.

The long uphill start here is interesting. From experience I know that I can’t go full bore the whole way up it.  I chose not to go whole hog in the middle of it and drifted back a bit before punching it right at the end to be more or less where I wanted, toward that sharp end of things into the first turn.

About that time I realized that I hadn’t ridden all the way up that hill at all in warm ups so I hadn’t seen the details of the first turn before hitting it in the race which while it didn’t bite me, wasn’t good planning.

I stayed with the front group for  a lap then was gassed after the riding the steep run up followed by more climbing and a few guys got by right before the long decent started. A little later I had a minor front tire wash in the second grass 180 turn by the pits. It only necessitated a minor dab but was enough to let Cheek and Hall slip by and open a small gap that I really suffered to close by the barrier section.  After the effort to close the gap I couldn’t stay with them and was again alone for the middle of the race.  Somehow today I had a little more fight in me than other times. I stayed on the gas hard and saw Dave Weber not too far ahead on the last lap.  I closed to within a few seconds but couldn’t get on his wheel before the finishing straight where I saw my teammate John on the ground and bloody.  Note to self, don’t lose your focus even for a minute.

I was much happier with today than with yesterday because I was only 1:10 from a surprising Darren Cheek in first and caught one of the group in front of me.

I could ride the steep run up initially but it took a lot out of me so I ran it toward the end of the race. I’m using a 40t front single ring with a 12-27 cassette. For next season I’m planning to switch to a 39t front and 11-28 cassette.  I’ve frequenly though sooner or latter I’d lose a finishing sprint becasue I don’t have a big ring,  That hasn’t been a issue but there have been a lots of rideable but challenging sections at different races and I’d be smart to make them less taxing and more certain with an easier gear.


Louisville Bowl of Death Cyclocross 12/2/12

Last year the Louisville race was super fun in fresh snow. It had me looking forward to course I hadn’t prefered in the past. While we didn’t get the memorable weather of last year we did get a fun new course thanks to the Without Limits group and Kappius racing who put in a lot of time to make a very solid course at a previously slightly stale venue. The course had little rest with one punishingly hard short steep hill. It came after a long run up and my legs were toast from the run up each time I got to it.  I did like the off-camber chicane on the South gravel straight. I ran a big tubeless front PDX for extra grip there and it saved me some time each lap for sure.

I got another strong start and raced with the front group for almost two laps before going…. backward to my assigned race finish behind the front group. I finished 8th which of course matched my call up although there was one shuffle in and out of that eight

My boring consistency continued with another 1:30 gap at the finish to the incredible Shawn Lortie, winning his 6th? in a row with John Mansell right behind him in second.

And for the second week in a row I ALMOST caught someone in front of me napping on the way to the finish line. This time it was Jeff Hall going less than half speed toward the finish line after a mishap or mechanical.  I went for the the stripe with all I had but came up a 2 tenths of a second short although I thought I got him at the time.

This was another race where I slightly wish that 45+ open had more depth at my mid level as I finished in no mans land with a 30 second gap both in front and behind other than Hall.

One of my great Rally Sport teammates, Jeff Ofsanko, has been doubling up and racing 35+3′s after 45+. In Louisville he was 30 seconds faster in his second race which really surprised me.
Did the course get faster after being ridden in?
Did he get faster in the corners?
Were his legs better after having a race in them?

I can’t figure it out because the few times I’ve doubled I felt slow as heck in the second race. What do you think?

Anyway after Louisville I see that I have a good shot at finishing 7th in the Cross Cup points despite being 18th on the USAC depth list for our age group. I’d been further back earlier in the season so that is a nice bonus and my team could claim 3 spots in the top 7 of the Cross Cup points in 45 Open.

 

 


Big Ring Cycles in Parker 11/24/12

This is some great video of 35+3′s pandemonium from the run/ride up right in front of the pits. I didn’t ride it but the guys who did made it look easy and you’ll see here that you were much better off riding it than trying to run it.

I hadn’t raced Parker before but figured it was the year to give it a shot. It turned out to be a fun course with tight cornering. Maybe there were several straight section in a row as well but if was still much better than last week!

Coming into the race I expected the front group of 5-6 would be together for a least a lap. My goal was to stay with them and I was willing to give it all I had. Well my expectation that it would stay together like last week was wrong, it split half way into the first lap and the first three, Hall, Mansell and Cassan were quickly 5 seconds while I was fighting to stay on the wheel in front of me.

I was holding fifth on Ron’s wheel for a while until Cheek came past. The he past Ron  and I wasn’t confident enough to think I could stay with him so I didn’t pass Ron right away. By the time I realized that I could, Cheeks had 5 seconds and although I tried, I couldn’t catch him.  Then after I gave in he seemed to just disappear? Funny how that works. Anyway I had a small gap to Ron at the start of the last lap but couldn’t hold it so we were together coming to the finish. I was able to get by him from behind in the sprint to finish a satisfying fifth, beating my call up by one spot and finishing only 30 seconds behind the winner, Jeff Hall. John Mansell also had a good race and just missed the win in second.

Maybe I couldn’t have done any better today with a different strategy and I’m happy but I’d like to learn to put myself in a better spot for the next time I have good legs.

I learned two things, that I need to shoot higher and be closer to the front early to not miss an opportunity. I should plan to be strong every race.  Although it seems obvious I also see that  I need get Cheeks or anyone elses wheel right away when they comes by from the back mid race. That hasn’t been among my best moments in the past but it’s the right thing to do and I’ve certainly surprised myself before.

Next weekend is my last planned double with Louisville and Castle Rock. I’m hoping for snow again this year in Louisville.


Alphagrass

 

The course certainly wasn’t worth paying extra for.  Thick, heavy grass with almost no interesting corners that took skill.

An 8:15 race in South Denver had me leaving home before 6:00am but it really wasn’t a big deal.  It was also a warm, beautiful day so the early slot was fine other than having to wear a line into the thick grass. I’ve discovered that it also means fewer photographers are out that early in the day.

I was able to stay with the front group for a lap and a half which was nice but after the first sand sections on the second lap I couldn’t recover from the effort. I had skipped Valmont the day before but my fresh legs weren’t enough to keep me with the lead group.

For various reasons including feeling whipped last week I hadn’t been excited for a third trip to Valmont on Saturday. However I heard that it was a great course. I shouldn’t be surprised that Without limits pulled out a good one.

Anyway after I lost the lead group I had a solid 10-15 second gap on the pair behind me. I worked to maintain that to finish 8th, matching my call up.

So why was that race $10 more than normal?  The registration tent was the only thing I saw that they had over a Without limits event. Well that and the pancake vendor who is my favorite race vendor.

After the race I lent my camera to John Haley so he could shoot a video of the Castle Rock course he’s worked so hard on. The cross community is lucky to have guys like him without whom we’d be sol. I’ll have the race video and his course video later in the week after I get the camera back.

Four weekends to go in my cross season and Parker is next week. After resting last week I have two build weeks and two taper weeks to go.  Some good motivation and this weeks beautiful weather should help me stay on course for a good finish.


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