Today I’m giving up trying to open a CX blog post with something other than the weather. The reality is the weather defines a CX race. It defines the equipment, it defines the approach, and more often than not it defines where you finish. This was highlighted in an array of race reports from across the Bicycle Heaven team after the two day Indian Lakes race weekend. This weekend we saw soaking rains and hail that produced a saturated slippery course on Saturday and then 24 hours later the course was dried up from a persistent 35+ MPH wind that reminded us how to draft on Sunday. These reports showed the beauty of CX in that every race is different. Everyone races THEIR own race with their personalized obstacles.
Here are some of the highlights from this weekend.
Shon Zeller in his first race as Cat 3 describing some teamwork –
Wind, Wind, and…..oh ya and more wind, pretty much summed up the 3′s race on Sunday.
I parted with my cat 4 points and once again started in the back row for my first cross race as a Cat 3. It was cool to look up from the back however, and see Matt Paradis and Chris Enockson and know that if I got a good start that I would have some team mates to keep me company. In the second corner there was a pile up that stalled Chris and he managed to stay upright, with a bit of maneuvering, and I managed to clear my way through. I did feel a bit bad as I had to step on one of the downed riders wheels ( Just the tire, no spoke damage ) before leaving the scene. At that point I was with Chris and just followed his line for a bit as we moved through the crowd. Matt must have had a great start and was riding well, yet when he looked over his shoulder and saw me behind him he gave me the line and a “Go BH!!!” followed by a bit of blocking ( did I mention how awesome having great team mates was?). Going north it became clear the key was to draft going into what seemed like a wall of wind and then try and pick more riders off once we turned south. After the first lap riding the hill was doable and became a way to pick off a few riders that chose to run. Running; however, was required on the set of barriers that were off camber in a serpentine, and were far enough apart to force a shouldering of the bike to get through. By the third lap that run made the legs feel a longing to get back on the bike a pedal. The sand pit was hard packed, and while lacking that gear grinding, leg loading suffering that has been the slow motion heckle fest in years past, it more then made up for it by rattling the arms and legs preventing any real rhythm. Then it was time to find a wheel and head back into the wind.
I was impressed to watch Eric Christ as he slugged it out in the 1/2/3 ‘s. He was gapped a bit early, and yet proceeded to crush it without the benefit of a wheel to draft off for most of the race. Every lap he came through with the same look of determination and I never saw him let up. Way to go Eric !!
Matt Paradis with some unique challenges – Anyone have a frame for Matt?
“I wish I could have helped for longer.”
Saturday was a mudfest, and a much different course to ride. A lot of success was based on staying up right and keeping your weight over the rear wheel – Katie said I forgot to mention the blood – luckily no stiches, but real Cyclocross should have a little bit of the red stuff once in a while.
Sunday I was feeling the previous day so I made sure to get a good warm-up in. It was nice to have company in the 3s and the start went well, I was right next to the wreck, but snuck by on the left, gapping everyone that got caught behind. This did not last for long, as neither my legs, or my frame were going to stay together it seemed. Chris must have jumped on it, as he closed that big gap during the first lap. It was nice to have some encouragement as we worked through the many twists and turns. He had a great hill attack, and that was the last I saw of him. Shon was great to work with as well, but I could not hold on. The next wind section alone just plain sucked.
After 3 laps, I thought maybe my legs were causing the bad shake in my bike, but decided to blame it on the bike. Got off once to check it, got off twice, checked wheels headset. Crank - nothing loose. Road some more, and if I shook the handlebars, it was like the back wheel would wander all over. Hmm – keep riding and do a big endo when something snaps?? Stopped in the wheel pit, and while the mechanic started his check ,I saw it – huge crack in the down tube. Later Chris said he never saw anything like it (and no, it was never on the roof rack when I tried to pull into the garage). Anyway ,the pit bike was fun, seat a bit low, but a 56 is a lot easier to handle though the snake sections than a 60 cm frame. When the guy behind me said “leader” I bailed over the tape for my first DNF.
It may not have been pretty, but it was great being out with the team, and hanging with Chris and Ara to watch Eric race the 3s.
Rob Kelly – in the market for a bike with disc brakes
I lined up for the 1/2/3 race on Saturday, thinking i’d do well in the mud and with a good starting position. The end result was like a comedy. The start was good and I was thinking I’d come out of that first turn in the top 5. But when the field slowed I was still on the gas and when I hit my brakes the bike sped up because the rims were so wet. Wound up crossing a guys wheel, going down and hip sliding a good 100 yds and off the course! It didn’t hurt at all and the slide was pretty fun but when I made it back to my bike, which had stuck in the middle of the course, the field was gone. Got back on, caught the field and kept crashing in the corners because I was unwilling to be careful and wanted to get back up there. After the 4th or 5th crash, and after only 5 or 6 turns, I got back in the car and drove home thinking best not to destroy a perfectly good bike with mud and sand for a lack luster result. If it hadn’t been so darn funny I would have been really frustrated. Whoever created that sport has a good sense of humor
Eric Christ – Searching for the impossible in CX – The perfect race.
Yes it was definitely a crazy weekend of racing. Thanks for all of the support out there, I don’t think I have ever heard my name so many times during a cross race. We had BH everwhere! I only ended up racing on Sunday and got out to an okay start from the third row only to have to almost stop around the first turn to avoid hitting other riders and all of the sudden I was toward the back. So then I started to move back up in the field and came to some early switch backs where I tried to squeeze through the inside of the turn with some success the first time and the second time I turned my wheel too much and flipped over my bars. By the time I got back on the bike I was DFL and I started riding like crazy trying to catch back up, but the combination of not having good legs and exploding from basically sprinting caught up to me and I wasn’t able to make up as many places as I wanted to. I’m looking forward to having a race where everything goes my way again like at Dan Ryan Woods, hopefully it happens this weekend at Jingle Cross Rock. But thanks for all of the support and it was great to see everyone else out there racing.
These reports were so awesome that Fuller and Swims jumped in with their running race reports. Now we know why we don’t run.
Here are some pictures of the 4a and 4b races.
Thanks to everyone that contributed pictures.
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