I really wanted to see how well I stacked up in the Elite B’s field without a flat tire being part of the equation. I had been riding pretty kamikaze previous to my flats, and now found myself a little shellshocked, riding more carefully, and…….slower. WTB was kind enough to send me a pair of their new tubeless compatible Cross Wolf tires to try out, and when they mounted super tight on the rim, my confidence started to grow. A quick session in the park the day before the race at really low pressures confirmed a good seal, and I felt ready to shreddy.
The weather was perfectly sunny, not too warm or cold. We had a nice big squad at the tent, and the vibe was right. A couple pre-ride laps behind Cameron and Rick opened my eyes to some good lines, and our team lined up 6 deep in the B’s field! Lining up right where I wanted to ended up being less than ideal, as a surge and merge left me stuck behind a big group on the first long section of the start, and I had to get crafty to find an open spot to move up before the dirt, putting me around 8th place. I picked off a few guys, and found myself in a long drawn out battle between 4th and 5th.
The bike was riding good, and the tires were really hooking up nice, but there’s some fast guys in the B’s and I got picked off near the finish, landing me a 6th place. YAY NO FLATS! I had a really fun race, and have to say the ride-up/drop-in/baymud/flyover stuff was pretty good times. Big thanks to Bryce at WTB, everybody on our team for all the help, and you guys out on the course yelling encouragement!
Like the title said, Summercross today in the burbs of the state Capitol. Travis, Kurt Wolfgang and I rolled out to the valley for what turned out to be a mighty fine race at a great course. Orangevale probably used to have orange trees, now it has tract houses and this big grassy park. Cool venue, we don’t get grass much here in the Bay and it is a treat now and then. Lots of traction, the kind where you feel the knobs digging into the roots of the turf. Just enough fun technical stuff to make it interesting but mostly fast. Fast. Travis was riding away with the B win until he flatted, got a wheel from Kurt and chased back into 8th. Seriously hot result, flying by fools and looking like death. I lined up with a pre soaked jersey to fight the heat, rode with a bottle too, can’t remember the last time I did that. The field was small but stacked, serious shave legged roadie showing, a pro, a former pro and some cat 2 and cat 1 guys, I was going to pay the man big on the pedalling. Kurt hole shotted which was awesome then it settled down into this brutal fast line of six, then five. This race was interesting in that every time it would get sofuckinghardithouhtiwasgoingtopop there would be some course feature that I could catch up on easily. A hoppable barrier, a sand horse corral and some downhill ribbon esses were my best friends today and kept me in the group. Fast forward to two to go (I think we did 100 laps) and things started to split up, top three went up the road and left me with Kurt Wolfgang. Kurt is rad, Kurt is a good friend but Kurt is a cat 1 on the road so I wasn’t totally happy to have to deal with him as things started to get spotty and my legs began turning to veal. I hopped the little barrier, he ran, I chased him onto the final paved bit where burned what little I had to get past him, hit the last grass, he stabbed a pedal and that was it, fourth for me. Good day, although in the interest of full disclosure Kurt said after that he “would have worked harder if it had been someone else ” I will take what I can get. Next weekends Surf City will be the polar opposite course wise, with any luck the relentless climbing and technical stuff will work in my favor. Cameron
BASP Candlestick: A rough course for sure with a couple sections of tire-eating concrete chunks. Warm but not hot. I got a good start, was in 3rd for a little while, then settled into a nice back-n-forth battle for 5th with a guy who was good in the dirt, hopping barriers and shredding corners. With one lap to go, I was following him through the dirt, waiting to make my move on the road section leading in to the finish where I felt fairly confident I could get past him. PSSSSH! What the hell, rear flat! I kept riding. The wheel was still rolling so I kept pedaling, praying I could get to the neutral wheel pit. The tire flopped off the rim and was flopping around all over the bike as I rode the sh1t out of the bare rim. Finally the tire got jammed in the brakes and locked it up, so I had to run. Bleh! Got to the wheel pit finally and got a wheel on to begin my chase.
Chased HARD to pick off as many people as I could, and got 16th out of it. Still had a REALLY fun time! Amazing how true my wheel still was, Walter builds REALLY GOOD wheels!
Sacramento Cross #2: A super grassy, grippy course with a section of field switchbacks, a horse pit, a 180 in dirt, and a barrier to a gulley. It was pretty hot out. A lot of grass and pavement though, good for a roadie…..
Again I got a really good start and was 3rd wheel for a minute, then picked them off and was…..leading!!! It felt good to have an open course in front of me so I could ride whatever lines I wanted. The grass was hooking up like velcro and I was feeling good.
I was feeling elated and took a corner a little too hot. My rear stepped out through dirt by about a foot, before grabbing into some grass at the edge of the corner and hooking up. I kept it upright and kept hammering, smiling that I pulled it off. But my tire wasn’t happy. I had yanked the tire bead out of the rim, and the innertube was slowly squirming itself out as I felt the tire start rubbing against the brake. My heart sank. I was SOOO far away from the neutral wheel pit. It was still rolling but the rub was slowing me down and I could feel it getting worse.
Finally it blew, and I found myself riding a flat for the second race in a row. I flew in to the pit still in 1st and yelled “rear flat!”, but the mechanic stayed sitting on his ice chest. There weren’t any neutral wheels, and we hadn’t brought any spares. I stood there looking around, gears turning in my head…………So many wheels, none of them mine….what…should I take somebody’s else’s wheel? No.
I scanned the crowd…..people were riding past the pit. A full minute passed…….I guess it’s over. I started taking off my helmet and walking to the car. I heard Kurt yell my name and saw him roll up to the start area. Wheel! We jammed it on and I took off chasing. Two minutes had passed, but today had been fast for me so I went for it. I went into the burial zone, and flogged the sh1t out of myself picking people off all over the place. I had to pick through the singlespeed field then the open B’s. Cameron yelled at me, I was almost top 10, so I drilled it. I knew I was over the red limit but kept putting people in my sights, and picking them off. Kurt’s wheel was narrower that mine, so it was interesting to do the rest of the race without a rear brake, but there was lots of traction. Clawed myself up to 8th, and felt happy that I got a full effort in, and had left everything on the course. Whew! Then we had burritos in Davis which was awesome, but sat in traffic for hours which was not awesome. Looking forward to my next race!
Great Saturday afternoon at the first NorcalCx race. I was a bit concerned when the car thermostat was reading 86 as I pulled in to park. The faces of Kyle and Fred during the A race only raised my anxiety. Got a call up since I registered for the series. Got a decent start and settled into a pace I thought I could maintain. The low humidity made my sweat evaporate immediately and by lap two I was unable to generate enough spit to even swallow. Leah saved my ride with a bottle hand up. Thanks Leah. The low slung bottle cage bosses designed by Rick Hunter made for flawless shouldering even with a bottle in the cage. Thanks Rick. Most of all, thanks to whomever brought the cooler with the water. Hung on to finish midpack which is what I generally do. The Garmin calculated 1200 feet of climbing during the 45 minutes of racing. I never thought that a 200 foot hill could be so fucking cruel. Now imagine that course in the winter after some rain… Lastly thanks to Daryl for manning the tent and wrenching.
What a way to start the season. I had a great race from start to finish. I made an effort to be smarter about things like getting enough sleep and calories, and warming up properly before the race. Turns out that stuff really does matter. I had a bit of a panic situation at the start - a race official insisted on re-pinning my number as the A women were being called. We all know start position is crucial, so I was freaking out thinking I would be started in the back. The A women only make up two rows of racers, so it’s not the end of the world, but this was not what I wanted to be dealing with so close to the start whistle. Luckily for me, she realized it was too late and let me go, and moments later I got called up to the front row (no idea why that happened but I’ll take it). With all that behind me, I focused on staying calm and visualizing a great start.
At the whistle, I found myself third wheel behind Karen Brems and Rachel Lloyd. Not bad at all. Emily Kachorak passed me early on, and later Kristin Drumm did too, no surprises there. What really shocked me was that no one else was passing me. I’ve had good starts before but I’ve never been able to back it up! Towards the end of the first lap, I had the tiniest hesitation remounting after the 90 degree barriers, and those ladies leading me were gone! I knew I was unlikely to catch them, so I focused on who might be behind me.
As I rode through the start finish straightaway to start my second lap, Courtney Dimpel caught and passed me. Unfortunately for her, she missed the changed first turn immediately (the sharp, gravely left was too sketchy for the first lap mayhem) so I used that as my opportunity to attack and get a gap. She didn’t give up easily after that, and worked hard to close that gap. I kept trying to race smart and look behind me, something I often forget to do when I’m hanging on for dear life. I hadn’t raced with Courtney before, but I remembered that she was podiuming a lot when I was racing in the Bs, and had done some road racing, so I knew I couldn’t sit up on those straightaways. I tried to attack the straightaways like she was right on me, figuring it was better to keep that gap than to let her catch me and leave it to chance. I managed to hold her off for 5th place, but as she was only 5 seconds behind, who knows what would have happened if she hadn’t missed that corner…
As many noticed, the leaders of the women’s race were only out there for 30 minutes! I’m not sure what that is all about, but I’m surprised the officials didn’t send at least the faster riders out for one more lap. I’m hoping we’ll get our full 40 minutes of race time in the future. Can’t believe I’m asking for an extra 10 minutes of suffering, but it seems only right to run the women’s race the same as all of the men’s categories.
First podium in the As! Pretty big for me, and kind of nerve wracking too - not sure how many near flawless races any of us get in a season. As many of my teammates found out the hard way, half the battle at Candlestick is not flatting, so I felt lucky on that one. Stoked to see some other awesome results from the team, including Cameron finishing in 9th in the A race, and HP’s magnificent first lap before her untimely flat! Can’t wait to see what she pulls out next week…she’s been riding super strong and I think she has some tricks up her sleeve this season.
Fred’s race report:
I had a good warm up with my buddy Mat Gordon before the race. We related our stoke and trepidation about the start of the cx season over a shared Thunderbirdbar and then lined up at staging. Jaques Meynes and Eckmann and Scotty Chapin and some other famous guys were there and then a huge squad of Rocklobsters…. so….
I went for it. I tried really hard. And I had lots of fun. I tried not to know that the podium was futile. I crashed right after the start and was last place for a bit - overlapped my front wheel with someone in a turn. But I got to try out my mean, try hard face and gunned it on every straight and uphill that I could. The field had some pretty serious racers and my goal was not to get lapped. And I didn’t get lapped! Oh happy days. 11th place. Just out of top ten.
I didn’t race cccx #2 but I’m headed to #3 and then the BASP starts. Stoked.
I’m on my third glass of wine here, sitting in my kitchen about 50 something hours after my first ‘cross race of the season. Still getting my head around that, still am, so bear with me here.
Thinking back to the start line of CCCX #2 at Fort Ord this past Sunday. A few pros, people talking about riding in their drops, a meek crowd gathering around the group of me and the other 10 women signed up to race the A’s together. My nerves were smooth that day, which was surprising but awesome. The weather was balmy and sunny. The course was straightforward, perfect cake; sweet, textured, enough depth but not overkill.
An anti-climatic whistle trills and we’re off. How many times can I rotate the crank arm before I lodge my cleat into the goddamn pedal? Three! Cost is seconds, literally, but more than that mentally. Rotate, rotate, rotate, I’m watching the group and finally manage going a good click. There’s a turn about three quarters of the way into the course that I don’t see anybody around. I’m slipping back, plain and simple.
Come the fourth lap, I slow down a moment to listen to the whispers of my quads begging to cramp. They’ve done this before and pulled the plug, dialed back the efforts, plenty of times before but I’m going to override it today. I have nothing to lose and a bit of water (with ions, science shit) at the ready, so I listen for a moment and then plow through it, take a nip from my waterbottle, and carry on.
The agreement I had made with myself for the day was simple: remember what it’s like to go hard like this. No pussyfooting. There’s plenty for me to work on, absolutely, but I’m glad I’m getting the first one out of the way. The first race always rips me from the calm world I’ve been riding in. It’s a storm that comes tearing through, leaving things in me a little unrecognizable, shifted, tattered.
Last lap. Last lap! I’ll show you, last lap, I’ll show you that I can still motor this mother and finish strong. Out of the saddle on the flats, up the kicker, pedal thick down that flowy singletrack on the backside there, out of the saddle up the last bit of climbing, and then down down down down to the twisty gravel turn, around the picnic tables with kids fiddling around on their bikes, around a few more turns, off, over the barriers one-and-a-two, hop back on, and finish line. That always feels good, the finish line, but I make note here that I can still go. Should have left that out there, I think, but there’s no going back so I’ll put that in my filing system.
No patience to talk, I make my way back to the car and sit down. Heart palpitations, and lots of them. Not sure what that’s about, and who cares anyways. I make myself decent, grab a banana, coconut water, and cherry Coca Cola, and carry on to watch the men race. There’s some tough competition out there. I’m glad to be on the other side of it right now, glad I already put my bid in and fought a little, and keen to the idea of fighting a little more this season. It’s funny that us racers do this but I’ll laugh along and keep at it, because why not?