Cyclocross Update

25 11 2007

Well, it has been a while since my last post about my ‘cross season, so the time has come for an update. As I’ve just returned from my muddiest race of the season thus far, here’s a couple of photos to set the right ‘cross season mood:




After my first race back in September that featured some decent fitness, but very little cyclocross skill, I entered a period where both continued to improve, but I was cursed by mechanical problems with my tire/ wheel. Ironically, unlike the issue that was my undoing in my June Ironman, when I could not remove a flat tubular tire from my rim, now I was faced with the tire removing itself at a very inopportune time… the middle of the race!

It seems that 32c tubular ‘cross tires don’t stick to carbon rims as well as smaller road tires do, so the ‘normal’ approach to gluing the tires were inadequate. Unfortunately, it took 3 races before I could back on track and ‘reach the bottom of my fitness’ each race… instead of needing to make yet another major mid-race repair.

Bike mechanical issues aside… the highlight of the season thus far has been the weekly ‘cross ride (thanks to Greg at… local ‘cross blogger extraordinaire), that assembles without any real formality at 8 am each Wednesday morning at Amante on Walnut. Most weeks there are 75+ riders of all abilities and we roll out in a massive pack to the park west of the Elks Club on 36. After an easy ‘fore run’ of the course, when the ‘honchos’ determine where the dismount obstacles are located, we then do about 5 hard laps… or as hard as you want to go. I’ve been learning a ton at these sessions, as sometimes I’ll try to hang with the faster riders for a lap or two to pick up some technique… like where/ when to dismount as we approach an obstacle… how hard they hammer after a technical section to get back up to speed… how/ when to shoulder the bike and the best ways to remount. Other times, I’ll go a bit easier and just try to focus on nailing my skills w/o concern for my place in the peloton.

After about 20-30 minutes of this sort of action, some head off to work, while most ride on to another location for more of the same… i.e the 2nd session. Sometimes, I’m able to make these, while other times work beckons.

The other part I’ve enjoyed the past couple of months is the season long ‘points’ battle within my category (4 35+). Some of the races are designated as BCR (Best Cross Rider), where the top 20 gather points that go toward the season-long championship, but also allow you to get preferred start position at ensuing races, which I’ve found out is pretty crucial in ‘cross racing. If you are not toward the very front when the gun goes off, you have very little chance of finishing with the leaders, as the course becomes narrow and technical, and passing is hard to do and requires extra energy.

Due to my decent race at Breckenridge back in September, I’ve been able to start near the front in most races and continued to gather enough points to stay there. Here are the results and highlights from each race thus far:

  • 9/16- Brecktoberfest– 7th place
  • 9/29- Boulder CX #1 at CU Research Park– 11th place. I arrived about 4 minutes before the start after attending the F4 Denver Workout, then ironically battling CU Football traffic on my way back to Boulder. Liz pinned my # on as I rolled to the start area… missing my very first call-up, but still got to go up near the front. Had a very solid race on a technical course, but a crash on the last lap allowed two riders by… knocking me out of the top 10.
  • 10/13- Gunnison– 3rd place. A ‘breakthrough’ race for me. Although the field was small, I got in the lead group early and the three of us put a good amount of time on the chasing riders. I took my turn at the front for a lap or two, but otherwise was trying to save up some energy for the final lap and a shot at the victory. Unfortunately, along with the inevitable fatigue, came a lapse in focus and I crashed on an off-camber leafy section, and Trent and Dave were gone. Fortunately I had built enough time over the others and I held on for 3rd place.
    • As I’d driven several hours to get here, I decided to also compete in the Cat 4 race an hour later. Thing went about the same as earlier, and I was sitting in 3rd when we came off the grass onto a high speed paved section and suddenly I was sliding on my ass. I got up quickly to inspect the bike, and noticed about half of the rear tire had come off of the wheel. Surprisingly, it popped right back on, but 3 guys had slipped past in the meantime. I hammered to get back on to that group, but had little left in the tank at the end for a sprint, and had to settle for 7th.
  • 10/20- Boulder CX #2 at Interlocken- 15th Place. A huge field of about 100 guys on the start, and I was in 3rd at the first corner! I was sitting on Trent’s wheel (new friend from Gunny) on lap #3, when I ran the barriers and remounted on an uphill section, only to find my rear tire hanging off again. It took a bit longer to get it back on and I didn’t really trust it. I rode cautiously from there and was disappointed despite finishing 15th.
  • 11/3- Redline Cup at Boulder Reservoir– DNF. After my 3rd rolled tire in a row about mid-way through the race, I left the course and went straight to Colorado Multisport, where Aaron and Ryan spent the afternoon re-gluing my tires, which have stayed put ever since. Thanks guys!
  • 11/4- Boulder Cup at Platts Park/ Southern Hills Middle School 35th place. This was a UCI race with over 100 guys in my category (they combined the Cat 4 35 + with the Cat 4’s). With a start position of about 70, I was pretty pleased to move up into the front 3rd by the end.
  • 11/17- Pikes Peak Supercross in Colorado Springs– 10th place. Not the friendliest course for my Spot/ Carbon Drive Single Speed bike, but I hung tough and made a solid pass at the end to claw into the top ten.
  • 11/24- Boulder CX#3 at Louisville Rec Center 12th place. My first taste of ‘true’ ‘cross weather… about 30 degrees at the start with snow on the course, which started melting about halfway through giving way to slick mud! Another course that did not play to my single-speed, but a solid day with no tire issues… so that’s always nice.
  • 11/25 Foothills Cross in Littleton- 8th place. Another snowy, muddy track that required a lot more bike handling skills than any previous race this season. I spent most of the race sitting on David’s wheel (other friend from Gunny race), alternating between relaxing some on the techy sections, and doing all I could to stay with him whenever the course opened up and he turned on the power. At the end I couldn’t quite catch David, but I did hold off a hard-charging Kyle, who’d won last week’s race in C. Springs.

I’ll likely race one or both days next weekend, then State CX Championships the following weekend, then its off to Kansas City for my first taste of Cyclocross Nationals. I’ll be racing the 40-44 Open Division (about 150 guys), and I’ll be lucky to crack the top 100. I figure I have four more years in this division to see how far I can move up. Stay tuned for another report in mid- December with a recap from Nationals.




One response

27 11 2007

Scott, great recaps and the pics of your recent race certainly provide a true cross “visual”. Way to hang tough in those races! Best of luck at Nationals.

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