Sunday brought out all kinds of awesome for the penultimate race of 2014 Chicago Cross Cup. Thanks to a great race put on by Garner Cyclery. The continuing rain throughout the afternoon made for a slippery start for the Men’s Cat 4 race and made the course continually more challenging. By the end of the 4/5 race, a good amount of water was starting to pool and collect at the bottom of the last climb out of the basin. Climbing, straights, high-speed barriers, sand, twisty-flowy sections and mud, lots of mud. Ironically, although I chose to run all of the sand, I still managed to wipe out spectacularly in the sand. As it turns out, if you don’t have your left foot on the pedal, it is a bad idea to go ahead and swing your leg over the saddle to dismount. I went sprawling into the long sand after the descent on the second lap in the 4s race and packed enough sand into my helmet vents that I was still shaking it out well after the race ended.
The course was challenging but because I started mid-field, there was a lot of traffic to deal with the first lap. The course was still fully rideable for the 4s race, but congestion in the first two climbs out of the basin made running a good alternative for portions. By the 4/5 race those sections became almost unridable at the end because the were so slick. I picked up quite a few places in both races by just choosing to run. The other place that I think my running helped was the barriers. If I concentrated and kept my stride long, I was able to make only two steps in between the barriers. This helped because I was able to carrier a lot of speed into and out of the barriers.
My only other mishap on the day also came on the second lap, but this time in the 4/5 race. On the second descent into the basin, on the last right turn before the bottom, my bike washed out. I slid from the top side of the course near the tape all the way to the bottom. I was actually worried at one point that I was going to slide all the way to the bottom. Luckily I stopped right at the tape and was able to stand and remount. I had a couple of guys close behind me, but was able to maintain my position even after my spill. I can only assume they had some trouble negotiating the corner also. Melas was a good example of a course that the worn line definitely wasn’t always the fastest. As the rain kept falling, the worn line started to become slicker and slicker because of the slick mud it created. To top off a great day, my dad attended his first cyclocross race along with my wife and son. Unsurprisingly given the conditions, my dad thinks we are all a little crazy.
I was happy with how I raced. Even though the conditions were deteriorating as the day went on, I was actually a little faster in the second race:
Lap 1st Race 2nd Race
1 11:37 11:07
2 11:42 11:53
3 12:01 11:55
Total 35:20 34:55
I believe all of the difference is due to starting position in the two races – 8th row in the Cat 4 race and 2nd row in the 4/5 race. I finished 32nd in the Cat 4 race and 10th in the 4/5 field.
CCC#5 ABD Sunrise Park
Another weekend of racing and I had another weekend of unspectacular consistency. Outside of the first lap in the Cat 4 race, all of my lap times were within 10 seconds of each other. The lap times for the second race were all within 3 seconds.
Cat 4 4/5
First Lap 8:24 8:09
Second Lap 7:59 8:06
Third Lap 8:05 8:07
Total 24:28 24:22
No wrecks, a few competitive rubs, but nothing dangerous and it was an awesome setup. The first time this year I’ve really had to think about cornering. (Disclaimer, I missed Hopkins Park.) Caldwell Woods and Dan Ryan Woods were fast and great on a file tread. Carpentersville had gotten enough rain during the week by the end of the day the wetter areas were really tacky so there were no traction issues. Between the off camber and patches of dry, loose soil you really had to concentrate this week if you wanted to carry speed through some of the turns without washing out.
Last year I bunny hopped the logs every lap. This lead to me endoing on the last lap when I was tired and didn’t quite clear my rear wheel over the log. I had no issues hopping them on my pre-ride, but keeping last year’s experience in mind, and generally being around other riders every lap I decided to just run them every time by. This paid huge dividends when on the second lap of the Cat 4 race, two riders went down in front of me as I was getting to the barriers and I was able to pretend I was a running back carrying my bike through the hole and dodge the carnage without breaking stride. The rest of the day was uneventful, but a ton of fun. I was in and around other riders the whole time in both races and felt good.
Links to videos:
Cat 4 Race – 31st at 13:42 you can see me weave my way through the two downed riders
Now I’m going into seclusion to prepare for Woodstock. I’m so focused that I’m skipping Campton Hills this year. (Translation – my wife and son indulge me in this racing thing a lot and they prefer to have me around for at least one weekend out of the month.) I’m looking forward to mixing it up again in two weeks. The racing, courses and participation have all seemingly taken a nice step forward this year and I think I’m having the most fun yet.
Cross is delightfully brutal. The ChiCrossCup is a series that brings suffering to life in always changing ways. This year, the season’s first race changed venues from Jackson Park, in downtown, to Caldwell Woods on Chicago’s Northwest side. I initially liked the change in locations because it cut about a half hour off my drive. After racing the course, I like it because it was awesomesauce.
This course had a little bit of everything: power sections; a little bit of technical; fast, sweeping sections; off camber; climbs; and a big, steep run-up. The only section that seemed like it offered a chance for recovery were the few tight turns after the run-up. That section was fairly short and then you were directly into a little power section into a downhill and then a short, steep climb. Just enough to catch your breath a little before cranking it right back up again. One of the things that I really liked about the course was it was super fast. Turns were tight enough that you couldn’t stay full gas, but if you chose good lines you were able to carry a lot of speed through turns and maintain speed. The layout also presented plentiful areas for passing safely.
It may be a euphoria just from CX season returning, but Caldwell Woods has immediately jumped toward the top of the list of courses I like. Great job by the xXx crew and our USAC officials. Awesome way to start off the season. From a racing perspective, my races were fairly uneventful. My only close calls were skimming my right foot over the barrier next to the beer garden on the second lap of the 4/5 race and hitting my rear canti arm with the outside of my right knee at some point during the first race (counts as an official race because I drew my own blood). My fitness isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, but I was encouraged by the consistency I had during the day. All six laps were within 18 seconds of each other and my overall time for the second race was 1 second slower than the first race. My last lap of the day was only three second slower than my first lap of the day. 34th in the Men’s 4 Race and 18th in the Men’s 4/5.