Friday, October 8, 2010

'Crossed Out: its too early to feel this beat.

photo by Zoo

The greatest part of New England cyclocross is there are so many good races. The toughest part of New England cyclocross is that there are so many good races & racers.

Last weekend was the biggest event of them all, Gloucester. The course is not the toughest, but the competition is, and so I am always at my limit racing Gloucester. But more on that later.

The season has started fast and furious this year. Quad CX was intense. Then I raced three doubles in a row; Catamount 1&2, Loon/SBX, and Gloucester. Loon was hard both for the course, and that I ran around helping out all day. Sucker Brook is just a shoulder to shoulder speed fest, seemingly more so every year.

And this year we add to the mix a mid-week night race, Nacht von Weasel. This race is scheduled in between Gloucester and Providence to make NECX Superweek. I wanted to rock the Weasel. But I couldn't rock the Weasel. Family commitments take precedence during the week. I had a commitment on Columbus Day weekend before the season started, so no Providence Cup either.

I'm o.k. with this, really. I felt like I had been dropped from the top of the rock the day after Gloucester. My poor old aching left knee needs some rest. Especially since there are 9 weeks left in the cyclocross season AFTER Columbus Day. I expect that some guys are going to be burnt to a crisp next Monday. I don't want to be one of them.

Back to Gloucester. I had a startlingly similar weekend as last year, only this year it was dry and fast. I started much better on day 1, up in the top 30 where I hoped to stay. But my knee blew up after 2 laps. After going backward about 20 places, I decided it was better to live for another day. So I stepped off the course and went to find an ice pack for the knee.

photo by Zoo

Day 2 also started very well. I moved up 20+ spots coming off the pavement to the top 40. Then the whole bunch compacted on the run-up off the sea wall. At the top the guy ahead of me tripped and I ran into him. I knocked myself off course and my chain off the bike. I got back on at the very back of the bunch. So I lost about 30 spots in 30 seconds. I chased hard up the group for the next lap getting back 20 of those spots. I was closing in on the top half of the field, but could not push my knee any harder. I pedaled as easy as I could without slowing down too much for a lap. In that lap, the 4 guys chasing me bridged up, including my arch nemesis G-Ride. As we drafted along the far straight away he flatted, so it was just me and the other two guys. I attacked hard with 2 to go into the hillside chicane. I opened up a quick 10 second gap. I kept pressing on the bell lap. I could now see two of the guys ahead of me that I let go on lap 4. But I could not get to them before the finish. I did manage to keep my spot. 50th. Not what I had hoped for, but a wee bit better than last year, and a minute closer to the leaders.

photo by Todd Prekaski

The best part of Gloucester this year was that the party afterward was bigger & better than ever. G-Ride is correct, club tent row made for a better party. Chip Baker throws one premier 'cross party (Hup Hup Hup) Plus they had more good beers at the sponsor tent. To top it off, I got to meet the man behind THE blog, monsieur metro critique himself, BSNYC.

So I had a good Gloucester, and 5 days afterward I feel almost recovered. Plenty of more racing left in this season. I'd rather enjoy it all, than be 'crossed out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Merry CX-Mas & Happy 'Cross Chanukah

Bike racing is a gear intensive sport. Once I started racing I also started wanting multiple wheelsets, tubular tires, cassettes, saddles, and new kit every year. I end up getting a whole lot of stuff all at once before the season begins, so that everything is ready when needed. Once when I was at my sponsoring LBS picking up the pre-season big box of parts and tires, a customer looked over at my haul and said it looked like Christmas morning. Getting spiffy new gear is a bit like being a kid on Christmas. But when I get my road or mtb parts, I usually have to wait a few months to enjoy them; I don't get to play with all the new toys right away. So its just not as exciting as Christmas

Cyclocross season is different. I get parts and clothes specifically for cyclocross in September. Its a second round of new gear excitement for the year. Plus, the cyclocross season is right on top of us, so close I can almost smell it. Its like getting gifts on Christmas Eve!

I know I am not alone;

I read the excited FB and twitter posts from my 'cross racing buddies about their new gear.

Whether it's just stocking stuffers like new pedals, brakepads, or hoods.

or if you've been pretty good, fancy tires and new team kit

or if you've been really good St. Niklaas brings you zippy new wheels or a whole new bike!

even the best masters and pro racers get excited for their pre-season presents;

So I'm calling this season of new toys and childlike excitement CX-Mas

or as Maestro Myerson suggested, 'Cross Chanukah

regardless of which you prefer, I hope you get all you wished for. See you at the big race.