Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Cyclocross Season - Week 4 - Waffle Cross #1 & #2

The Idaho Waffle Cross series kicked off this past Saturday at the Eagle Bike Park under sunny skies and pleasant temps.  Over 110 racers showed up to tackle a challenging course and enjoy the festive atmosphere created by the Waffle Cross crew.  In addition to an awesome, technical course, we had Bob's Red Mill waffles and delicious adult beverages from Payette Brewing to look forward to post-race.

My Waffle Cross almost didn't happen.  I woke up the Wednesday prior with the first signs of a nasty head cold and I tried to nip it in the bud by taking Wednesday off of the bike and keeping the rides short on Thursday & Friday.  I REALLY didn't want to miss Waffle Cross, but I also didn't want this cold to go "nuclear" on me and leave me unable to function the following week.  Armed with a handful of Hall's Menthol cough drops and embrocation, I decided to give it a go Saturday morning.

Dropping In! Photo by Reed Cycle
Masters 45+ Race - Waffle Cross, Day 1
The Waffle Cross course at the Eagle Bike Park is no grass criterium race...and I dig that!  This venue rewards bike handling on a variety of surfaces and forces you to think about what you are doing out there.  After a couple of recon laps, I felt good about my strategy for racing this course. 

With a front row call-up, I decided to step on the gas and try to stay in front of the inevitable carnage that was going to take place in the first tricky section.  Rob Burke was glued to my wheel and made a quick pass when I bobbled in the sand early on. Rob and I would be locked in a tight duel for the remainder of the race.  I was able to make a pass on the 2nd lap but Rob was always right there, waiting for me to make a mistake.  And this course was a mistake waiting to happen!

As we rode through the finish line and I saw "1 Lap To Go", I got a little nervous.  I am not used to being at the front of a bike race.  I needed to stay smooth but also stay on the gas.  I made it through the trickiest sand sections and steep hills just fine but Rob was still lurking a few bike lengths back.  Into the grass section, I ran the big double barriers pretty well and was feeling good about my gap over 2nd place...and then I crashed.  I lost my front wheel on a grassy downhill, left-hander and went down in a splat! Shit!  I scrambled to my feet and remounted as quickly as possible and was relieved that Rob did not pass me in the process...but now the gap was tight.  I stomped on the pedals, bunny-hopped the final section of short barriers before the paved finish straight, and crossed the line in first place. Holy shit, I just won my first bike race! 

Masters 45+ Race - Waffle Cross, Day 2  
We would race the same course, but in reverse, on Day 2.  The reversed course presented several new challenges because there were now several sections that were possible to ride, but potentially faster to run.   

Pushing! Would a shoulder carry have been faster? Photo by Reed Cycle
We also had a new rabbit to chase. Ron Miller, who didn't race Saturday, line up with the Masters 45+ on Sunday. 

Ron Miller, smooth like butter. Photo by Reed Cycle
I took a similar approach to the start on Sunday and was the first rider onto the grass and through short double barriers.  I was able to bunny-hop these each lap and keep my momentum through the following corner.  Ron was kind enough to let me lead through most of the grass but then flexed his quad muscles on the grassy climb-to-pavement and passed me handily.  Ron is wily veteran of cross and was riding really smooth. I think he made one small mistake, on a very tricky course, the entire race.  Speaking of mistakes, I tried to ride the steep, loose "S" turn on the first lap and paid for it. I bobbled mid-turn and had to dismount while losing all momentum. Ron's gap instantly went from 10" to 30"...and I would never get it back.

Lurking not far behind was my nemesis from Day 1, Rob Burke. Every time I looked back, Rob was not far behind so I had to stay smooth and on the gas.  Day 2's course kept you on your toes and made you think on every lap. Should I try to ride this section?  Should I run it?  If I run it, should I push my bike, suitcase carry it, or shoulder my bike? I have a lot to learn in terms of which technique to use at a given time during a race.

Ron Miller opened a solid gap by the end and easily won Day 2. I finished in 2nd and Rob Burke placed 3rd on the day.  I am looking forward to several more close battles when the Waffle Cross series resumes on Nov 9th & 10th. 

Random Gear Note:  The 10spd SRAM S-700 Hydraulic Levers appear to be more durable than the carbon 2012 SRAM Red Levers I rode last season. I crashed a couple of times over the weekend and I am happy to report that I did not break a lever! I broke two SRAM Red Levers last year crashing on grass and their fragility led Tim to nickname them "SRAM Breakaway Levers".  

Post-race recovery waffle!
The registration tent...PRO
Eastside Cycles was onsite with a full arsenal of Ridley Cross bike to demo
Take your Cyclocross cheering to another level with a bell from Donger Mfg
Huge thanks to the Waffle Cross crew for putting on a GREAT event.  This year's Waffle Cross was unofficially the biggest cross race to date in the Treasure Valley and I think that trend will continue.  It would be great to see my friends from Sun Valley and Teton Valley / Jackson make the trip over for Turkey Cross in November.

4 comments:

Fiddee said...

Again, congrats on your first W! I'll definitely be there for Turkey Cross.

Lynda Wallenfels said...

Congrats Dave! Way to HAMMER out the W!

You were racer #100. I love that number.

Carey Lowery said...

Got your fast on, fo sho'! Congrats on making it to the top step. Wanna see more of that now.

Rob Burke said...

Nice write-up, and nice riding. Congrats! I'm glad I could keep you honest, and look forward to the rest of the series.