Va Du Mar Cyclocross

Sunday morning was the Va Du Mar cross race in Spartanburg. Driving up from Columbia, it was raining cats and dogs and the winds were around gale force. The clouds were a gray black and the temperatures were in the low 30s. No worries as the conditions would be prime cross weather and also provide an excellent testing ground for my new "run the lowest tire pressure possible" theory. I showed up at 30 psi, but after a brief walk around the course, I lowered down to a little over 20. The ground wasn't too slick on the backside because of pine straw but the frontside of the course was a mixture of mud and red clay that was quite saturated. I sat in my car with the heater on and listened to NPR to relax my mind. The race was at 10 and it was only 9:15. I texted Eric and he said he was snowed in so no race for him. Ah, such is life. At 9:30, I got out of the car and ran over to registration. I signed up, ran back to the car through a driving rain and continued to stay warm. As "Morning Edition" wrapped up, I pinned my number on my jersey, kitted up and finally got out around 9:55. 10 of us lined up and the race official was laudably brief with his instructions. From what I had seen, the opening pavement would 90 degree into a lefthand turn onto mud and clay. Not wanting to eat it hard at the opening, I started gingerly, in 5th position as we entered the slick section. A roadie from Charleston gapped the other 4 riders in our group as we entered some mud/grass off camber turns. More hairpin sections and it was into a 5 step run up. After the run up, a slow, wet climb and then a quick hairpin into the woods. The roots were slick in this section not to mention my wheel bottoming out several times. I assumed if I flatted, it would be here. At the end of the woods was one barrier that fed directly into a steep ditch. You had to run up it then remount, only to dismount 50 yards later at two more barriers. After that, it was a long but not too steep climb (through red clay) back to the pavement and the start finish. By the end of the first lap, we had regained contact with the roadie and had sadly dropped our friend Justin (a kindred soul from Columbia). On lap 2, it was me, some guy on a Specialized and another guy in a NCCX kit. We rode together until the grassy, off camber hairpins where Specialized and I dropped him. After the five step run-up, Specialized kicked a little on the uphill, constantly looking over his shoulder. I guess he was feeling good and probably thought I was in trouble upon hearing my labored breathing. He was correct in his assumption, but my legs felt great and at the start of lap 3, I rode in the front as I noticed NCCX was trying to bridge up. The thought crossed my mind that I would rather bonk but finish second than relax and have to duel for 3rd. I noticed Specialized was dismounting and running the grassy off-camber hairpin while I was riding it. I realized that this was where I could open a gap on him. After the 3rd lap, they told us one more lap as our times were pretty fucking slow because of the conditions, not lack of trying. Specialized jumped in front of me on the pavement and accelerated into the mud. I stayed with him and when we got to the grassy, off-camber hairpin, as soon as he started his dismount motion, I clicked up a gear, ducked inside and stomped up the hill past him. I looked over my shoulder when I arrived at the run-up and didn't see him. Huh! I was surprised that my asshole move worked but stranger things have happened. I rode through the woods carefree as my rim clanged against roots, my tubes happily bearing the brunt. I got to the second set of barriers and heard my Mom on the side jingling her car keys in lieu of her beloved cowbell, still clad in her church clothes. I rode up the long clay ascent and rounded onto the pavement covered in a mixture of bog water and a nacreous layer of clay goop. The best part of the race was the pressure washer they had. Completely awesome! I went over to the race officials tent and as I checked the results, the race organizer handed me a giant bag of Cameroonian roasted coffee and some tall wool Globalbike socks for my 1st place. I thanked him, said bye to my 'rents and sister and then realized I still had two Handel "Messiah" gigs to play later that day.

Mud Sweat and Gears CX finale



Decided to stick a little closer to home this past weekend and head up to Unicoi, TN for the MSG season finale at the Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens.



I would imagine the course would be turbo awesome with a mix of really fast sections and a decent amount of elevation change. I say "imagine" because Saturday was 3o minutes of sleet, rain, deep mud and 35 degree temps.



However, there is something romantic about trudging through 4" of mud in the sleet on a cross bike with guys drinking from a keg on the top of the course. At least that's what i told myself as i tried not to eat shit.



After an over enthusiastic holeshot and 2 really bad attempts at cornering in the mud i settled into 5th place. Taking Kenny's advice (attack on anything resembling a hill) I "attacked" (hardly) on an uphill section, moved into 4th place, and then got attacked by some dude on a singlespeed the next lap. Tried to chase him down, and got close, but it was not to be.



I managed not to crash or flat, which the way this year has been is a win in my book, and rode by myself most of the race, finishing 5th.

I Messed Up (Broke) My Shifter 2 Laps In...

But Joshie got some fucking raw ass footage of me goofing around on the last lap. You can't see it but I was stuck in my smallest cog for the final two laps. C'est la vie.

CHARLOTTE CX REPORT!

Not much to report. I started in row 3 or 4. The start was slow for those of us in the back. Rolled through the first straightaway and then hit the steep downhill and got in where I could fit in. Grabbed a bunch of easy spots on the first run-up and then reeled in 4 or 5 riders over the course of the next 3 laps or so. Realizing everybody else was out of reach, I called it a day. How fortuitous. I was 30 yards from the finish when I made that decision, so it goes. The sandpit was fun and according to Josh, quite bonkers at times with riders flailing here and there, to and fro. The only set of barriers was on a slight uphill after a sharp turn so that wasn't too sketchy. First cross race I've ever gotten to lap somebody. Weird. You end up feeling a bit like a jerk. Eric and I are doing Hendersonville this weekend so that means serious racing Saturday and then some sort of hangover-centric recovery race Sunday. Wish I had the foresight to order that skinsuit. Feels too much like Amateur Night At The Apollo in a standard kit. Don't let me forget to switch out the latex tubes before Saturday. Pretty sure I have a Spanky DNF in my future if I try and run that set up one more time. Things of interest: Dropped my I Pod outside Josh's car. Was still there after the race. I refused to hug Eric's mom (I was filthy). 68 degrees or warmer is the cut-off temp for water bottle hand ups. Riding by yourself in headwinds is dumb. Attacking on anything resembling an uphill is smart.





USGP New Belgium Cup Photo Dump

There was snow, it was COLD, it was MUDDY, it was SLICK!!!
Colt from Cyclingdirt.org doing his interview thing.


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Elite men start

USGP New Belgium Cup

This weekend is the USGP New Belgium Cup up in Ft.Collins. After my recent back problems (probably suffered while playing extreme frisbee at work) I've decided not to race. Instead the plan seems to be head up north, do a brewery tour or two, grab some lunch, check out some rad ass cross racing, more breweries, dinner, then maybe, possibly head home. Most people know that I would rather race/ride my bike any day of the week rather than watch but this time I think it best to leave to the serious folk. Don't worry I'll update later with all the goodness.

Colorado Cross Week

Halloween weekend marked the biggest cross race weekend here in my new home of Boulder, CO. The Colorado Cup NACT (thats North American Cyclocross Trophy series for you noncrossers out there) #5 was Saturday out at the Boulder Reservoir and the Boulder Cup NACT #6 was Sunday out at Interlocken Mall in Broomfield. I'll be the first to admit I was in full nerd mode. As some of you know I've been waiting a looonnnngggg time to see a pro level cross race and man did these two deliver. Let me tell you the story via pictures.

The Boulder Res and it's infamous sand pits.
My buddy Justin England, who many years and lbs. ago raced pro for Toyota United, Cal Giant, among others. He had the in and let me tag along and meet all the elites. Thanks buddy!
Compton leading Gould
TJ through the sand
Your winner Jeremy Powers
and new NACT series leader
The Boulder Cup (racin at the mall)
Elite Woman's winner Georgia Gould.yea cross is kind of a big deal here
J-Pow out front... Again
Kabush
Wells leads TJ through some sketch off camber. Pretty much the entire course was off camber technical actually and the laid down grass made it super slick
Elite men's podium: Wells, TJ, Jamey Driscoll
New NACT series leader
It just wouldn't be cross with out a bag-o-beer
and Halloween costumes
please note the Yeti
NACT champion's belt. True WWF style. Thing must have weighed about 15lbs. too
Boyah!

Picasa Web Album: Colorado Cup

Picasa Web Album: Boulder Cup
be sure to watch the videos of Adam Craig riding EVERYTHING. Seriously I don't think I saw him dismount all weekend.

Cross RULES!!!

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NCCX #3, Boone Cross, aka DNF Train


(circular thingie)

Spoiler for those who dont have time to keep reading...i flatted on lap 2.5 while in 10th place, DNF'ed, and drove my ass home.

Kel and I decided to get out and mosey over to the defunct Hawksnest ski resort to enjoy some leisurely riding along old cart paths and greens formerly known as Hawksnest golf course. Despite our best efforts at arriving early we still didn't get there in time for me to pre-ride the course. We watched some pro's get their pro on, then i straddled a trainer for a little bit, got bored, put my number on, lubed my taint up, and headed to the start of the 4's race. Don't even think about being late for the start of a 4's race around here. If you aren't toeing the line the second the they let you, you're fucked. I rolled straight to the front, put my shit in the big ring, and upon hearing the start whistle, pushed off and couldn't find my pedal to clip in. Sheesh.


(coming out of the litter box)

Anyway, all was not lost so I threw some 'bows in the narrow starting straights, and hit this big circular thingie in 9th place. Jesus, thank dog i was near the front because the shit hit the fan behind me. Kel has awesome pics...it looked like I-95 on a holiday weekend. Mother f'ers blowing through tape, crashing, walking. It was insane. Anyway, made it through the tallest barriers ever, up a super aggro off camber section, through some serious whoops, then through a section called the litter box (aka sand trap), up a steep ass hill, up another hill, through an awesome sand pit, ANOTHER circular thingie, and then a totally rad DH back to the start.


(start of aggro off camber section)

Lap 2...I'm winning 10th place, getting my I'm blown the fuck up on, make it to the 2nd circular thingie, begin shredding the gnar on the DH, then decide to jump the little bump at the bottom of said DH. Pop off the jump, land, then hear my tire almost roll off the rim. Note to self, no more rad getting in race situations... I continue my race, roll past the start finish for my 3rd lap, into the 1st circle and poof, flat ass fucking tire, on a really nice latex tube no less. Guess when i almost rolled the tire, the tube squeezed in there and pinched.


(end of aggro off camber section)

Seems like every time i do a cross race I screw up. I used to enjoy crashing real hard, but now i have flats to look forward to. Oh well, the course was rad and the atmosphere was great...beer was everywhere, DJ, fireworks in the course you had to ride through, and a tandem category.


(steep ass, loose hill)

A parting booty shot for all our fans.

BlueSky Cup and Boulder Cx #3

This weekend I had the nerve to get my first dual days of racing. Saturday was the BlueSky Cup. It was, I must say, the most organized/pro style race of the year (so far). There was a high school marching band jamming during the races, a heavy metal band on the far side of the course, an announcers trailer/stage all in all pretty rad. Check it here. Of course like the idiot that I am, I left my camera at home. My buddy Aaron decided to come mix it up in the single speed class. Aaron is the man behind Mosaic Cycles (rad ass custom Ti and steel bikes). Be sure to check him out on Facebook to see what he has been up to lately. It was really nice to have someone there with me instead of being by my lonesome self as usual.

Sunday was the Boulder Cx Series race #3. The course had two huge run ups that were a killer, especially for the non-runner like yours truly. Check it here.

Amanda Miller-Subaru Hudz the woman who took both days (at least I'm pretty sure)

Jake Wells-Subaru Hudz the man that took both days (I'm positive)

As for my races... Both went equally mildly crappy. I finished about 30ish both days in a field of about 50. I've come to terms that I'm not going to be mixing it up at the front of the 3s like I did back east. It really is another level on the front range. It won't however keep my from racing or trying to do my best but I'm thinking of this season as gaining knowledge base. Not to mention the courses here are back/shoulder/kidney jarring bumpy.

On another note, I'm more than stoked to be heading into the most exciting part of the season. We have the NACT series rolling into town next weekend for the Colorado Cross Classic and the Boulder Cup. Then the USGP series coming to town mid November for the New Belgium Cup. I'm so excited not only because I'll finally get to see some of the best crosser in the country but my race will be held earlier in the day so I can finally have some beers and watch the pros!!!