Tuesday, December 5, 2017

NBX GP of Cyclocross

My second and last cyclocross race has come to an end.  After doing Secret Squirrel, I gave it a few days and decided I would give cyclocross one more spin before the season was over.  At least the season in terms of races I could do.

The NBX GP of Cross is a bit more “serious” event than the Secret Squirrel, but being in the “I am going to fall down” division, you don’t really notice.

This race started at 8am, so Warren and I hit Goddard Park on Friday night ot check out the course quick.  It was nice to have an idea before the next day…and that idea was, this is not a Bob Friendly course.  Too much twisting and turning and bike handling stuff for me.  I need a course with long climbs and rides that have less turns, because I run, I don’t bike!  With that said there is a 100 meterish beach run in which I could use my lungs and pass some people.

Race day…it was chilly, 30ish degrees.  I got my number and Warren and I headed out to do a warm up lap, my hands were numb!!  I got all that figured out and geared up for the start.  It was a bigger race with around 120 riders.  I was near the back again, but I could at least see Warren this time.  My hope was to keep Warren in sight the whole race and hope to beat his ass.

The race starts, I have a horrible start, I could not clip in and these guys just sprinted away.  It was short lived though, because there was a crash that stopped lots of people, then another incident 100 meters after that.  This definitely split the field up early.

I was able to keep Warren close and on the run on the beach caught up.  Through all the twists and turns of the first loop I was right near him and then the tightest shittiest turn on the course there was a tight pack and Warren fell and I went by.  I was able to get a decent gap on him, until the 2nd lap when I fell and dropped a chain; he caught back up and had a great third lap which put him out of sight.  My last lap was faster than Warren’s though, so that was progress.

The race for me was a struggle in bike handling and having a bike that is WAY too small for me.  I was not pleased with my finishing position of 102nd of 120.  It is weird being in a sport that I am sooooofar back in!   I look forward to having my own bike and riding a bit before next year’s races start up!

After the race, I went out and ran 8 wobbly miles around Goddard Park and then hung out watching the real riders do what they do.  Then straight from there I went ot the bowling alley to get in some practice, averaging 225 for 6 games.  I was back on the roads Sunday morning for 15miles with Bronson, Dave and Zak.  It was a pretty productive weekend.

Check out some footage from MY RACE.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Secret Squirrel CX Race

It started with a tagging on Facebook.  I feel a lot of stuff happens that way these days.  I got tagged in this post from Warren Angell.

I said what the hell.  And I ended up signing up for my first cyclocross race.  This is odd, because I have been wanting to do one for about 5 years, since the first time I saw a cyclocross race in Roger Williams Park.  I have looked at bikes over the years, I would then forget for a year and then go to another event and want to do it again, but it would be the end of the season, so why do it now etc.  This pattern went on and on.  So, after all that all it took was the words Donut Relay.

I only had 3 weeks to find a bike.  Warren had a spare bike that was too big for him…but it would be a bit small for me.  I tried to find a bike through a few different avenues, but in the end I ended up grabbing Warren’s bike from him the week before the race at the Lil Rhody Runaround.  His bike size is 53 CM, my road bike is a 56.  I was able to make a few adjustments to make the bike not feel too small.  In the end I think it worked out fine.
I rode the bike two times before race day, both short 3 mile jaunts to see how the adjustments I made felt and the day before the race to test out the clipless pedals that I have never used before.  What could go wrong?

Race day.  We were racing at 10:30am, so we got there at 8:15 to do a course ride through.  This is always a good thing to do, so you can see where the obstacles are etc.  I rode one loop with Warren and even though the course was not stupid technical, I was like “oh fuck” I was breathing heavy already, my quads already hurt.  What did I get myself into?
We went back to the car and got stuff together and road part of the course one more time, this proved essential since the cleats on my shoes were coming lose, leaving it so I could not get out of my pedals.  When I went to get out, the cleats would just rotate and pop out.  So, after some hard love to my shoe and pedal, I got the shoe off and then had to find a new screw for one of the cleats as it fell out!!  That would have been a disaster on the course.
All that aside, I was ready?  They start cyclocross races based on rank and since I have never done a race I was starting on the back row of a 100 person race.
And here is the short version of the race itself.  100 meters, stop for the bottleneck at the 90 degree turn, 100 meters, stop for the bottle neck at the neck turn.  This is what happens when you start last.
After that there is some grass to open up on, 2 barriers to jump over then a flat very rideable section, I would say around ¼ mile.  I passed some people here, but since I do not bike, this was probably my weakest section later.  I rode well, but I lost time here compared to others.  After that stretch, there was a pretty solid quad burning uphill.  I rode up this every time, many people around me dismounted.  Short down, around a corner and another up to another steeped down and then the sandy run up.  I did well on this section later in the race; I do run….so running in the cycling race works for me. 

After that section there was a short down and up to a fire road that was rolly, but rolly in a good way.  After that you popped out to the “other side” of the course, both sides were very different, this was more technical and wooded; roots and another bitch of a climb, followed by roots and a down and roots and an up.  Two logs to jump over, some more roots and a drop off.  Wind your way around the final little stretch and through some sand and back to the start finish line!  Phew….now do that 3 more times.

The loop was around 2 miles.  I definitely got stronger and more confident with each loop.  The fun part was picking people off and getting in a little bit of a battle with one guy, in which I beat.
I finished 62nd out of 95 officialfinishers.  There were 100 signed up.

My quads were like jello, but it was fun…and also horrible. 
So, that was over, but the day was not.  I replenished with two Mayflower IPAs.  I asked the beer guy why he did not bring the Porter.  He said, they thought people would like a refreshing beer, like the IPA or their Golden Ale.  I said “I would have liked a nice refreshing Porter!”  Haha  It was in good fun…but I really did want that damn Porter!  After grabbing my first beer I got a chourico and pepper sandwich, all solid food choices before racing again.  We had like 4 hours to waster.  So, we hung around watched the other races and enjoyed the 55 degree day.
Now, for the reason I got roped into this in the first place.  The Donut Relay.  This was all for fun and I was not ready to ride again.  Basically it was a half mile loop.  Warren ate a donut and then headed out to ride the loop.  While he rode I ate a donut and then I rode and he ate a donut.  We both consumed 3 donuts and he rode three times and I rode twice.  We finished 12th out of 22 teams.

After the races were over and the sun was setting, I stopped at 2 Jerks BBQ for some dinner and you know what they had?  The Mayflower Porter. 

So, cyclocross.  It is tough, it is very different from running, but it sways closer to snowshoe racing, when the courses had a lot of variety.  The nuance of having to work up in categories to be better placement at the start is cool.  It gives you something to shoot for.  The crossresult.com site also makes you want to race more.  There are stats, predictors, ratings, rankings stalking, you name it, it is there!

So, will I do any more cyclocross?  Well, not until this coming Saturday!  I will be at the NBX Grand Prix of Cyclocross in Goddard Park.  I am only doing the Saturday race, so I can get in a long run on Sunday.  My race is at 8 in the morning and there are currently 136 riders!!  The race is also 15 mins shorter in time.  So, I guess I need to be more aggressive!

Check out some media from the Secret Squirrel, there was plenty of it!