Monday, September 29, 2008

Battle at Barlow

This was at least the 3rd year in a row that I've raced at the Battle at Barlow. I'm pretty sure I raced it back in the day when it was still a cross crusade race as well, but I do at least know I've raced it the past 4 years anyway.

My whole point in this 'history' lesson, is that it was as hard as I have ever remembered it. Possibly because it was so hot and dry, possibly because it was just really fast and possibly because I was riding without a rear brake for the entire race...

During warm up, the bolt on my rear brake loosened itself and managed to swing into the wheel... Thankfully, my wheel was spared any damage... Unfortunately it ripped of my right rear cantilever post...

What's missing from this picture?

In case you can't figure it out

Back to the race. After 20 minutes I was wishing it was over, after 40 I felt like I was moving backwards at 60 I was done. I ended up in 13th... A place higher than last year, though I am unsure of how accurate that is as a big part of the field was racing in the open As as opposed to Masters. All in all it was a good race, but I will be thankful for the rain.

As far as the bike goes, it is a steel frame and I have an appointment to get it looked at/fixed. I'm hopeful it will be fixed by this Sunday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's in your (cross) bag?

Part 2 in the 'series'... This one cyclocross related vs. mountain bike related...

First cyclocross race of the season is coming up, so I thought I'd review the pre-race ritual I personally go through. I like to do this the night before so I'm not running around like stressed out crazy man the day of the race. First of all, I want to make sure my bike(s) are in working order the day before the race. There is nothing worse than last minute bike fixes. Also riding a 'just fixed' bike in a race isn't always the best idea either.

After I have gone over my bike(s) to make sure each one is working properly I then move on and spend some time putting together my "race bag". My "race bag" begins with the basics: race license, helmet, jersey, shorts, socks, gloves, shoes, etc. With the basics packed I then consider the weather and other gear I will need to make myself the most comfortable pre-race, during the race and post-race. My list would look something like the following:

  • Helmet
  • Shoes
  • Cycling cap
  • warm (winter cycling) cap
  • Rain jacket (waterproof)
  • Rain pants (waterproof)
  • Base layers to wear underneath
  • Long sleeve jersey (or Skin Suit)
  • Short sleeve jersey
  • Arm warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • Socks (2 pair)
  • Gloves to suit the weather conditions. I usually like to bring at least 2 pairs... It's always nice to start a race with dry socks & dry gloves... The preride can soak your first pair pretty quick.
  • Glasses with different lens options (this is optional for me. If the weather is bad, I typically don't use glasses and just pull my cap down)
  • Race towel for cleanup post race
  • warming cream for legs (this is a new item for me this year)
  • Chamois cream (i'm actually really liking the DZ Nutz product, btw)
  • Pre race food
  • Post race food
  • Water
  • towels (body & bike)
  • Towels
  • Post race clothes (apre race)
  • Tools, etc.
  • Beer (if allowed at the vendor). Nothing beats a cold one after a hard race... Unless of course it is 32 degrees and sleeting...

With my "race bag" packed and ready to go I like to make sure I have good directions as to where the race is happening and the race times of each category. Generally, I typically print off the race flyer from the Internet and stick it in my bag as well. It's nice to have to be able to refer back to it while you are at the race if you need to check race times etc. Also, I like to set out my water bottles and food stuffs that I will be needing as part of my pre-race and post-race.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kruger's Kermesse Farm Crit Series: Race #3

I did my first 'cross' race of the season this past weekend. In actuality, it wasn't a cross race it was a Farm Criterium or "Kermesse". Basically a dirt crit on gravel and dirt roads in and around Kruger's farm on Sauvie's Island. It was the 3rd and final race in the series (I missed the first 2). The only thing that really made it 'cross' like was that I was on my cross bike, it gave me 'cross BAR points and it was on dirt. There were no barriers, run ups or even changes in tempo. It was basically full on 100% for 60 minutes.

There's me in the middle (3rd from the left)

I raced in the Master A category and ended up doing fairly well. I led for some of the race and then was pushed back to 3rd then 4th place as my energy levels started dipping. I rode alone for a couple of laps just trying to stay ahead of the main pack of riders. My saving grace came when Sue Butler (local female racer extrodenaire) came up (the women As ride at the same time as the men in this particular series). I jumped on her wheel and basically rode with her (trading pulling duties) until the end of the race. This helped put me back in 3rd place (final result) however I was not able to catch up with #1 & #2. I'm pretty happy with the 3rd place finish, though, it's not really as impressive as it seems as the field was way smaller than a normal race. It was a good practice race though and gave me the confidence that I can push a high output for the full A race.

After the race was over, there was a ultra team relay. Cyclepath fielded a team so I did lap. We ended up in 2nd to River City. We had them at the beginning, but alas it wasn't meant to be. Close, but no cigar.

Simon (in the blue & white stripes) jamming to the band

The family came out and watched, but left after my race so I got to do a warm down riding home. All in all a great day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

aaahhh, SNAP

You know what sucks? Being half way through a 27 mile mountain bike ride and having your seat post bolt snap. Yeah, that sucks...

I was doing a night ride this evening with teamie Nelson. We were in Forest Park and almost to firelane 5... I was on my single speed. I briefly sat down and SNAP.... suddenly no seat. I looked around on the ground and found my seat and seat post components. Apparently the bolt snapped.

At that point, my options were to either turn around or proceed. We were almost to FL 5, so I opted to press on to at least enjoy the short fun part of the ride (the only legal single track). We did opt to return back after FL5 though instead of pressing on. 9 miles later my legs were screaming. on the way home I stopped at Nelson's house and we jimmy rigged a bolt into the seat post clamp. It was loose but at least got me home.

This is btw the best time of year to be night riding...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gear combinations

Like every other crosser, I constantly debate gearing choices. I've been debating the single ring thing for quite some time now but have been convinced otherwise by the guys at the shop. My problem, is my bike was designed around a mountain crank, so only a really small inner chain ring works.

I currently run a Ritchey WCS crank with a 34/50. The 34 is just to small and the 50 is to big for most courses. Basically, I end up staying in the 34 most of the time and end up spinning a whole heck of alot.

I'm not sure why I didn't think of this myself, but I was reading Brooke's blog the other day where he was discusses his gear choices and it hit me... instead of going single, why not compromise and put a smaller ring on the big side. I went and picked up a 44 today (I have a 46 & a 48 in my parts bin) so I have a variety of combos to experiment with.

I think the 34/44 is going to be a good combo. I really doubt I will need to drop into the 34 much anymore as the 44 will suffice for almost all courses.

Thanks Brooke.

Tis the season

I took a ride in Forest Park today at lunch... I saw almost as many cross bikes as mountain bikes....

'cross season is in the air!