Thursday, November 15, 2012

Turkey Cross Weekend

Despite a minor setback, Turkey Cross weekend was a blast. Cross season has been super-fun so far and I am continually impressed with the race organization and race venues here in Boise. I believe there were 96 racers in attendance Saturday so I am not the only one feeling the cross stoke.

Rewind to 11:59 AM on Saturday morning. I was staged at the start with my fellow 35+ Masters Racers and ready for the one hour of glorious suffering that was about to commence. The Men’s Cat I/IIs would go first, and then the Men’s Cat IIIs and then a 30” stagger before the Masters. Finally the race official turned us loose and I actually had a descent start for a change. We powered up the pavement and jockeyed for position before having to slow down to enter the first tricky turn on the grass which forced the field into a single line of riders. I was sitting comfortably in the middle and we were all wheel-to-wheel as we ripped through the opening twisty grass section…until I went down. It was a silly fall. I simply lost my front wheel in a 180 degree grassy right-hander and I went down on my right side in an instant. I heard the “snap” when I hit the ground and when I scrambled up quickly to remount and continue I noticed a piece of my right shifter fall out and land on the ground. Yep, I broke another SRAM Red shifter. Un-Friggin’-Believable. My race was over in 4’.

I have crashed twice this season, both on grassy corners, and I have broken two SRAM Red Shifters (a left and a right):
Should a slow-motion crash on soft grass do this much damage? I realize that I crashed, and when you crash you stand to break things, but really?

The broken lever and the piece that fell out onto the grass. Oops.

Did SRAM shave too much material out of the shifter body in their quest to be the lightest?

The lever body looks like Swiss Cheese on the inside

Did SRAM get a bad batch of molded plastic shift bodies (because they sure seem brittle)?

Does the outward angle of their lever design promote breakage because it is the first piece of the bike to hit the ground?

You can see how the end of the shift lever would be the first thing to hit the ground in a fall to the side

Is it simply bad luck?

For Sunday’s race, I mounted a pair of Vittoria XG TNT tires on my Scott Scale29 and I was back in business. The Scale29 makes a great substitute cross bike… what I am trying to say is that my result on Sunday had nothing to do with the bike and everything to do with the engine. My fellow 35+ racers are fast and they are rude. Yes, I said rude. I say they are rude due to the way they rode off and left me to ride alone in no-man’s land for much of the race. That is just not polite at all.

The weekend still had a couple of highlights. One highlight was hanging with Gabe and watching him take 3rd in the Men’s Cat III races each day. Fiddee Cent made the trip from snowy Jackson, WY to get his “cross” on and get a little taste of Boise. Gabe’s weekend totals: Two Cat III podiums, a delicious burger & beers at BitterCreek Ale House, a short mountain bike ride Sunday afternoon, and a huge breakfast burrito at Big City Coffee…I’d say Gabe had a pretty darn good Boise weekend.

Fiddee Cent might be the only gansta' in the world to ride tubulars and use embrocation

The other highlight was watching my little buddy “H” finish the kid’s race on Sunday despite going down in the first corner and shedding a few tears before remounting and finishing strong like a true hard-man of cycling. Nice work Henry!

Henry and I discussing race strategy during his warmup

This weekend is Eagle Island Cyclocross, Race #3. Hup Hup!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cyclocross-ically Challenged

I see myself going so much faster in a cyclocross my mind. What the hell am I doing in a sport that rewards those with a naturally high VO2 Max and plenty of fast-twitch fibers in their body? Each week I line up and hope that I can overcome these genetic shortfalls through sheer will and stubbornness… but I continue to get absolutely killed. Yet, for some sick reason, I am addicted to cyclocross.

I really am trying to suck less. Photo by Cory Bolen

I love the different parks, the social nature of a cross race, and geeking out over tire pressure. I love those few minutes at the beginning of the race when I am wheel-to-wheel with my fellow 35+ racers and jockeying for position into the first few corners. In those first few minutes hope is still alive. But even after the fast guys have snapped the elastic and are making the race at the front, there are still battles to be won or lost further back in the field.

Last Friday I tweeted that “I am going try very hard to suck a little less at cyclocross tomorrow”. However, I did not miraculously transform into Sven Nys and surprise the field on Saturday at the SICX race in Nampa, ID. I rode smooth, ran the barriers well, thought about each tricky corner, and absolutely rode as hard as I could for an hour. While I don’t think I sucked, I was not fast. My engine feels like a U-Haul rental truck that has an accelerator governor installed. I “want” to go faster. I simply can’t right now. But it is not over. (Insert Dr. Evil laugh here)

The Byrds Team is a force at any Boise cross race. Photo by Reed Cycle

Mark Schafer airs it out over the barriers. Photo by Reed Cycle

The SICX Flyover is a huge hit. Photo by Reed Cycle

Next up is a double-header with Turkey Cross presented by the Idaho Waffle Cross Series! Mmmm, waffles.