Back to the Stick

For those that don’t know…I’m talking about Candlestick Park.  Well, I guess officially it would be Candlestick Point.  After a couple year hiatus the BASP was allowed back to the park.

CX Nation at the Stick
CX Nation at the Stick

It was good to see that BASP didn’t pack it in after last year.  Now they are back for 4 races with the first one last Sunday at the Stick.  They course was a similar layout to years ago with a little twist – The Go Pro Flyover.  After a couple years of trying the fellas at BASP rolled out the flyover – run up the stairs on one side and ride down the other.  Then, you get to ride underneath it.  Euro class….

Good warm-up, watched one of my athletes race and then lined up on the front row of the Master’s A’s race.  This year I have had some early success, but the BASP is really where all the great riders in the Bay Area come out to play.  3 National champs in the front row and 3 “not” National Champs. I was one of the “nots”.  Doesn’t matter though.  I was going out hard.
BASP

Brock Dickie got a great jump, along with Coats; but I was right on their wheel.  On the second turn Coats went in hot and crashed into a pole.  Amazingly we avoided him and then he got ride back up and was right there with us.  I heard there was a crash behind us and after the first lap the three of us had a huge lead.  Coats went to the front and started drilling it.  I tried my best to just hang on, but by the end of the second lap I was off the back.  Myrah passed me going Mach 10 at the end of the second lap.  Then, came Hoefner.  Each time I tried to latch on, but got popped off each time.

So I was sitting fourth and eating tons of dirt.  The course was very bumpy and I lowered the pressure in my tires down after a pre-ride.  Because of this I really had to pay attention in the turns.  Getting squirrly, look out.  Hoefner broke his seat, so now I was sitting 4th in the race.  Murray Swanson of Pen Velo got past me and I was starting to get pissed.  When will people stop passing me? Come on, stop it!

At this point I was looking behind me.  Always a bad thing to do.  I saw Hoefner and his teammate Jon Mundelius charging hard.  They were actually drafting each other and pulling me back.  Ugh..I thought this was cross and not road racing.  How could they?  Eventually Jon caught me and we battled for a couple laps.

BASP2

He ended up dropping me on the last lap and I finished gasping for air in the 6th place.  You would have thought that the air would be moist when riding next to the SF Bay.  Not the case….  So all and all a pretty good race for me.  I finished a little higher than last year and I will only get stronger as the season progresses. Hopefully the rest of these guys get weaker.

Cross Crit Racing

CX Nation

Round 2 of the Sacramento series was the exact opposite of Round 1.  While #1 was a bumpy, rough cow pasture, Round #2 was a smooth, soft stick of butter.  It took place in Henry Renfree park.  The course consisted of Bermuda grass that was without ruts or bumps and hard, fast, flat  single track.  A power course – right up my alley.  We started out with close to 20 of us.  It was fast and furious from the gun.  I have had good starts lately and this was no exception.  I settled in to 2nd wheel and just followed wheels till there was just 4 of us.  Our lead kept growing as the laps went by.  I saw that one of the four was a little weak – sitting at the back, not taking pulls.  Smart guy I guess, but I can’t stand that. So I attacked every other lap.  But I couldn’t get rid of him, mostly because the others wouldn’t keep the pace up.

So we went round and round – lap after lap.  60 minutes of drafting, 60 minutes of crit riding and this was going to come down to the last lap.  As soon as we came to the start/finish for the last lap, the guy who was “punching his ticket on the train” made his move.  I immediately got on his wheel and then I heard music to my ears – a crash behind me.  I guess one of the other 4 had pinched John M, Cal Giant rider, into the barriers and they both went down. I told the guy in front to punch, then my plan started to take form.  I would wait until he had taken us into the final stretch and then I would attack.

I waited and waited, and then I went.  I didn’t look back but I knew I had him.  I started to catch the Pro 1,2 group and I was still going fast – way too fast.  Mostly due to adrenaline.  I hadn’t won a cross race all last year – not even close.  And now I was going to take two in a row.  But it was not to be.  On literally the 2nd to last turn a lapped rider pulled up next to me and was going to “race” me to the end.  I told him I was the leader and he started to back off, but it was too late.  He had distracted me and I lost the good line into the turn.  I went down in a heap, rolled my tire and lost my chain.  I actually got up and didn’t even know what was wrong until some guy yelled that my front tire was coming off.  I didn’t have time to get it back on, so I just ran.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that a person on a bike is faster than a person running with a bike.  In those last 100 meters I went from the penthouse to the outhouse – although I did manage to run to 3rd place.  Ah…those are the breaks.  I have to remember to bring my camera next time too.  Not many photogs are giving up their pictures for free anymore.  I don’t blame them.  They need to make money too.  So I have no pictures this time around.  BASP round 1 next weekend.  I should really find out in this race where my fitness is because all the big dawgs will be there.  See you then…..

 

Lion of Fairfax

CX Nation

Great course, great people and a great cause. All the proceeds are donated to the school.  I presented this concept to a few school in my area and they all turned me down.  I don’t understand it.  Don’t schools have a lack of funding, yet they don’t want money.  I don’t get it.  But White Hill School in Fairfax gets it.  Fast, hard course with a good run up, followed by a quick fast downhill, lots of technical cornering and riding through the halls of the school = lots of places to crash and get seriously hurt.

I wasn’t sure how the legs were going to react.  I felt a little slow during warm ups.  I just needed to be in the top 5 at the first corner because it really narrows after that.  Fast start in the Master’s 35+ A’s race.  I got the hole shot and then slipped back to 2nd by the second turn.  Perfect.  Buy Cell.com Aaron Welcher  took the lead and really started to pour it on.  I dug deep and caught him at the single track.  Not a lot of places to pass in this course, so I had to stay close to him.  I noticed that he was slowing down in the single track sections.  Not sure why, but I kept note of it.  I also noticed that he shouldered his bike up the hill.  I am not a fan of shouldering the bike if you can get away with pushing the bike.  One extra step that you can get ride of.  I was able to seek by him a couple times by pushing my bike up the hill.  Hmmmm….might have to use that later in the race.

We slugged it out the entire race.  On the final lap I passed him on the uphill and never looked back.  I poured it on in the uphill riding section along the street and rolled into the finish line in first place.  At first the officials said I had one more lap, so I started to go again and then they said stop.  Missed my celebration.  It was nice to get my first win in a couple years.  In fact, first win in the Master’s A’s.  I hope to keep this good form going for the rest of the season.

Going Local

BMX racing – without the bike

First local race of the season happened for me in Sacramento.   I have done a few of the Sac races in the past, but not a ton.  Since I haven’t done many races this year in any discipline I have decided to do more of the Sac races.  This one I probably should have skipped.  It took place at a farm that is owned by a local bike shop.  There is a really cool pump track and various jumps for the kids. They put the pump track into the cross race.  This was fun, but I don’t really consider pump tracks legitimate course material for cyclocross courses.  Yes, there are some courses in Europe that have rollers, but not a whole track.  Believe me though, the pump track was the best part of the course.

The rest of the course consisted of a bombed out tractor path filled with goat heads.  I was more worried about a flat than competing in the race.  Throw a 20 mph headwind on the way out and that is misery.  That did mean it was a tailwind on the way back though.  I guess there is always a silver lining.

We were off at the gun and I actually got the hole shot.  I poured it on for a quarter of a lap into a headwind, then I zigged when I should have zagged and I was off course.  Four guys passed me and  had trouble getting going again.  I pretty much was all alone the rest of the race.  A 59 minute time trail. Great for training – little else.  No flats though….until  I was walking both my bikes back from the pits.  I got two rear wheel flats, one clincher and one tubular, on the way back to the car!  This race just got expensive.

BMX racing – without the bike
BMX racing – without the bike
Bump, bump, bump, bump – you get the point
Bump, bump, bump, bump – you get the point

How about some racing?

The Flyover at Lake Sammamish

I love sharing my passion for cyclocross through clinics, but it was time to actually put some of these skills to use and do some racing.  So I headed up to Seattle for some early season racing and hopefully some rain and mud.  This year I decided to drive up.  I am not sure that was a smart decision.  It’s a long way from Santa Rosa to Seattle – 800 miles one way.  Luckily I had my trusted traveling companion Zoey along for the ride.

Zoey likes to sleep a lot
Zoey likes to sleep a lot

I was headed up to Seattle to race the Starcrossed race, which is part of the “Cross After Dark Series”.  This race was on Saturday.  Strangest part about it was I don’t think anyone actually raced at night.  It was still light when the last group set out.  I got a pretty bad call up and was starting 5 rows back.  The course is a good one on the shores of Lake Sammamish in Issaquah.  Don’t ask me how to pronounce either of those names.  Being on a lake there is quite a bit of sand.   In fact two beach sections were all present and accounted for.  The first one was rideable, the second was totally unrideable.  I battled throughout the day with Slate Olson, head of Rapha North America.  How ironic…no contact with Rapha and then I do a clinic for them and meet the president in a span of 2 weeks.  Quite the competitor.  He got me by 2 places on Saturday.

On Sunday was the Rapha Gran Prix at the same location.  It was weird they didn’t change the course up at all.  Same thing as the day before, except a little rain softened up the course.  Belgium nationals Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters used these two races to get some UCI points for Europe.  It was pretty cool that these guys are starting to come over and race in America.  They now know what it is like for the Americans to come over to Europe and try to race.  It isn’t easy.

I rode near the Belgium camp to pick up my water bottle at the start line, said hello to one of the mechanics and he said, “I am from Belgium.”  Reminded me of Austin Powers.  “Isn’t that weird?”  I think that was all he knew of the English language.  It made me laugh. The second day was much like the first.  Started in the back row this time and again battled with Slate.  He got me again so now we have a rematch set for USGP in Bend…if he shows.  He might be a little scared now.

 The Flyover at Lake Sammamish
The Flyover at Lake Sammamish

CX Nation Clinics – Part 2

A cross skill all should have – picking up money from a PBR can.

And while the first clinic brought medium response, the second clinic at GGP brought a full house.  The hardest thing about having a business has to be turning people away. But that is exactly what I had to do because I want people to get some sort of personal experience.  If there is only one of me and 20 students, well then that is not fair to them.  So I try and limit the number of students in any clinic to 12.  I managed to break that rule right away with this clinic and took on 14.

It was a great group.  We had a range of skill levels and ages.  Old and young, master’s and juniors.  It was great to see.  No Outer Lands this time too.  I set up the EZ-UP where I wanted to this time.  Coffee again was provided by Taylor Maid Farms and croissants by La Boulange of Mill Valley.  It is the best way to start any clinic or class.  I know if I have food and drink in my stomach I can sit through any boring class, which this was not.

This day was going to be exciting though.  No sleeping here.  Everybody made it through the class with minimum damage.  It is amazing how we cyclists crash on our bikes.  We get all twisted and rolled into a ball – chainring marks on our shoulders, fingers into the wheels etc…  Lucky for us we were on grass.  Hurts a lot less.

A cross skill all should have – picking up money from a PBR can.
A cross skill all should have – picking up money from a PBR can.

After 3 hours of bedlam I bide the attendees “Adieu” and we all headed our separate ways…or so I thought.  I received an email on Monday from Dante, an student in the class and manager of the Rapha store in San Francisco.  Rapha is an English company (from England, duh) who specializes in all things cool for cycling.  Their clothing is very clean and sexy, plus they sponsor a cyclocross team in the States.  How awesome is that.  Well, he wanted to do a clinic out of the shop and pay me to teach it.  Ummmm, let me think about it – yeah!  I had wanted to check out the shop in the City, but I thought I missed the boat because it was originally set up as a temporary concept store during the TdF.  The “temporary” turned to “permanent” when the store did so well.

So I cruised down to the store on 9/11 and was even more excited to see that they had a coffee bar in the store and two flat screen tv’s showing the Vuelta. Does this store get any cooler?  I met the group and we rode out through the Presidio and over the GGP.  Another great clinic occurred and the best part is I met 12 more people who are psyched to race their cross bikes.  I hope to see these people out on the courses during the season.

The Rapha Store in San Francisco
The Rapha Store in San Francisco
What’s for dinner? ….Uh…cycling.
What’s for dinner? ….Uh…cycling.
Barrier training with Cross Propz
Barrier training with Cross Propz