Buy a bike, race a bike. I’ll get my monies worth. So far this would make ride number three on the new Redline. After racing my Superfly last weekend at Bradbury, I was feeling good about racing cross. Last November I did Shedd Park CX on a borrowed Kona at slightly slipping out of shape time. Last year I started in row ahh….last, and by the end moved up to 54th out of 96. This year at Sucker Brook I started in row three with 84 other racers. Love the large field of riders at the start. Bike handling would be key.
My take on CX racing. Go as fast as you can and don’t plan on a rest for 40 minutes or more. The Mountain races all have Recovery sections. Take the Pinnacle for example. Sure the DH sections you still crank, but not under pressure, and it’s more physical than cardio on the downs at a mountain race. The Sucker Brook course is flat with features such as, stairs, a slippery bridge, standard barriers, a newly added horse jump, and the sand pit. Grass, pavement, double track, minor roots, and a couple little punchy climbs were all strategically placed to make you hurt more.
Lined up 3rd row and looked around me. Wow, (I said to myself) I don’t know anyone in this 80+ rider field. Road guys, all of em, and all of them looked pretty fit. I like the start too. No countdown! “Within the next 30 seconds the horn can go off at any time, so be ready”. Works for me as there’s no time to build up any nervous energy. I had a great start. Top 15 through the first corner. Ride smart I told myself, no silly mistakes. Full sprint was still on as we lined up for the first downhill to an 80 degree turn that leads you into the S turns. Speeds were slow, toes were dabbing, no issues.
The first run-up was a set of about 8-10 stairs. No issues with the dismount here, bike by my side and planting my foot hitting every other step. Great, jump back on and get in the pedals. Click, click, in. Next up Wooden bridge over the brook. Take it left, cause I almost bit it hard on one of my practice laps with Gould watching from behind. Good, no issues, get through the next two small punchy bumps and it’s barriers time. My first screw up was here. My timing must have been off as I left my pedals too late and only got my right hand on the top tube, hit the rear tire as it skipped off the first barrier. Ok “don’t do that again”. Here’s where the SPD’s can be a problem. After you re-mount you hit a nice stretch of double track where you need to get some speed, otherwise the guys behind see you as bait. Right clicks in, left? nope. Loosing places as I kicked the pedal before finally getting back in with some force. Now for the newly installed horse jump. Time to show off the mountain skills. In practice, my first attempt was really slow and I clipped the back tire. To do this one, you’ll need speed, and that wouldn’t be a problem during the race. Gould told me nobody would bunny hop it in my group, and he was right. Rider after rider in front would dismount and do the run up. One of my shining moments was cleaning it on all 6 laps (win #1 for the good guys that ride fat tires). Of course, the last challenge was the sand pit. Every race course has a spot where the carnage happens. Riders trying everything. Ride it, run it, run the whole thing, run half of it. Definitely not easy on skinny knobby tires. I followed whatever line was most pronounced. Riding it was fun, but didn’t really give you much of an advantage. So that was lap 1. Made it through with no issues. The rest of the race I would bothered by SPD’s, a slow leak in the rear (prob due to something in the bead), and new bike syndrome. The dreaded cable stretch!
Most of lap 2 through 6 was fiddling with keeping it in the gear that worked. Cable was loose since the chain kept dropping down a cog and rubbing. No need to stop just ride it out. I ran about 44 psi. I remember 10 years ago running 40 psi on my mountain bikes. Not anymore. Lots of money at the race. 1500.00 carbon wheel sets are all the rage these days and never mind the bikes. All in all, it was a great race and will be on the To Do list next year as well.
46 minutes 24th place cat 3/4. Since you can do multiple races I guess both 3’s and 4’s were in my group. This is where I’ll stay this year. Since Cat 4’s are allowed to purchase one day license’s it works out.
Sand Pit Pics. Complements of my wife. Somehow she managed to snap a few good ones while trying to watch the little ones.