Gettin’ learned in cross

I wasn’t even sure if I even wanted to do any CX races this year, but after racing in downtown LA I was all in.  I forgot how fun a cross race can be, once you get over the whole suffering part.  I decided to try to make as many cross races as I could the rest of the year.  Next stop spooky cross!

Spooky cross is the first local UCI race, which attracts top level riders from across the country (and Canada) Just lining up with these guys was intimidating.  I got up to the venue a little late on saturday the 20th, and barely registered in time.  Not to mention I had to buy my UCI license online beforehand, thanks Ellen for navigating US cyclings terrible website and getting that done with minutes to spare before registration closed.

Got my numbers, suited up and warmed up, made it to call-ups only to have bad luck of the draw and be last row, I expected nothing less.  My main goal of these UCI races was to try to sit in as close to the front and learn more about cross.  I was one of the last guys into the first corner after the bell, i did a little work on the stairs and other straightaways and managed to get into around 15-20 place, which would be awesome but considering there were only 30 or so starters, not that great.

On the second or third lap somewhere through the sand pit I managed to unhook my rear Canti brake.  It was decision time, i had decent position to possibly finish top 15.  Stop and hook-up the rear brake, possibly loosing a lot of time, or ride with only a front brake.  You don’t need brakes in cross right?  I decided to be safe and pulled over on possibly the darkest part of the course (did I mention this was a night race) and started to try to re-attach the cable.  I must of pulled the cable to get it into the stop 15 times with no luck, ok what the hell is going on, I couldn’t see anything and could barely breathe, and having gloves on trying to move little metal parts around didn’t help.

FInally got everything re-attached and was in dead last.  I caught a couple guys initially, then pretty much road 4 laps by myself.  I kept thinking about dropping out, but what kind of experience would I gain doing that?  All I wanted to do was catch someone!  With about 3 laps to go I finally reeled someone else in and ended un in 24th, woo hoo $17!

Sundays race went a little better, I rode up with Gordon from Velo Hangar and he brought some challenge tires with him which made a big difference!  I had a bad start and raced mid pack with my buddy Gareth Feildstein with him and I doing most of the work out of a few other guys.  Gareth put a nice move in on the last lap and I got trapped behind a few other guys, he ended up 15th and I was stoked with 18th and $28.

This past weekend we had another set of back-to-back races, this time down at the San Diego Velodrome.  It was nice to get to see so many familiar faces down there racing.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a huge turnout for the Elite race on Saturday, but still plenty of fast competition.  Anton Petrov ended up taking first, in front of myself with Brent Prenzlow finishing behind me after getting a flat on one of the first few laps.  Anton did a nice little write-up of the race for cycling illustrated here

Only a dozen or so riders at the start
Riding the velodrome

After riding the course on saturday and seeing Prenzlow put an amazing performance on his mountain bike to go from last to third, after his flat, B Gritters and I decided to start the race on our mountain bikes.  I had originally brought the mountain bike for a back-up pit bike, but after talking to Brandon and doing some laps on the mountain bikes we agreed it would be fun to start the race on them.

There were a few small differences between the CX bike and the Mtn bike.  The MTB was faster over the bumpy infield of the velodrome, and the rocky singletrack around the outside, but they didnt accelerate as quickly out of turns compared to a cross bike.  The deciding factor came down to the fact that  mountain bike should have less chance of a catastrophic failure.  If only.

Flat Bars…

After 8 laps completed with two to-go Prenzlow, Gritters and myself had a significant gap on the rest of the field.  I was content to sit in at third and watch them two duke it out as I continue to learn more about cross as it is my first year racing competitively.  After the log hop, which was only about 50 yards past pit area, I broke my chain and watched the leaders ride away from me.  I thought for a second about going backwards to get my bike, but was pretty sure thats not allowed so I had to run almost an entire lap to get to the pit.  All in all ended up 6th.  Phil Beckman did a nice little write up about the races.

Heckling at the barriers

Cyclocross is a ton of fun, and great for all skill levels, I encourage everyone to go out to a race and check it out.  Its been a fun little season so far and I am excited to be able to race at this level and learn more about the sport from our local hammers.

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