Back at the Stick

The 49ers might have left the Stick, but we didn’t.   Cyclocross is in full swing at this former dump site.  We got a little rain this last week, emphasis on little. It did nothing to make the course less “Sahara-desert like.”  It did knock a little dust down.  Things got started early as I drove down in the darkest hours of the morning.  Got my usual spot for set up and then hit the course.  I like to ride a course 3-4 times before the race.  Gets me dialed in.  With the team now in full swing and all my athletes I also like to leave enough time to chat/ride  with all of them at some point.

Being a USAC race meant that NorCal riders were going to be getting some points. This is only important if going to Nats.  Every year us NorCal guys start at the back and it would be nice to move up to be more competitive.  Hooray for USAC and points…I guess.  If you figure out how they tally all these points you might be up for a Nobel Prize in Economics.  What this meant to me….lots of racing.  I entered 3 races.  Ambitious or dumb, not sure which.  The Cat 2,3,4 race was first up.  Two warm up laps on the new bike and I was ready to go!

Focused 2.3's BASP 1 2014

“In the zone” waiting for 100+ riders to be called up

Start of the 2,3's

Got a pretty good start and was sitting third wheel

After a good muffed start where I missed my clip (gotta practice that everybody) I got up to 3rd by the first couple turns.  Then, I couldn’t take the slow pace and I took off.  Halfway through the course I looked back and there was no one.  I got overly excited and did the same thing I did at the first race – took a turn too hot and crashed.  Only this time the consequences were worse.  I thought I had just rolled my tubular.  I limped to the pits with only 3 or 4 guys passing me, got my spare bike from WD40 mechanic guru Dan Horndasch and was off chasing.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get up to the first place rider and I ended up second.  Miles ended up in the 18th.

It wasn’t till after the race that I realized the full gravity of what had happened to the rear wheel on the first lap.  As I got to the pit Dan met me and with a solemn look (like his dog had just passed) he handed me my broken baby.  The dust had caused all my tear glands to shut down, otherwise I would have cried.  The rim was cracked clean through.  Carbon wheel, bye-bye and after just 1/2 lap.  Oh the tragedy of racing.  I saw Chris McGovern from Real Wheels and just handed it over.  He also was in shock and Corima was not going to replace it.  I am not sure what happened.  Maybe I hit a rock or maybe when the bike flipped up it hit something on the way down.  That’s racing…tears

Let the tears begin

Next up was the 35+. Again a front row start and again I messed it up a little, although not that bad.  After the race I figured out why I was having such bad starts….I was on my “B” bike and the front chainring is smaller than usual; hence, I was spinning out.  Check you gear and practice with it.  Missed out on that lesson.  On to racing….I was sitting top 6 or so into the first turns when Don Myrah did his usual “pass on the inside”.  While he is very skilled at it I wasn’t about to give up my position.  He had to adjust and down he went in a heap.  I was able to swerve around him, but I had to slow down enough that I got gapped.  After that it was chase, chase, chase and at the end I had nothing in the tank.  I had to settle for 14th.  I got some decent points, but I should have focused on this race more if I wanted more points.  The elite race was out of the question.

Miles 2.3's BASP 1 2014

Miles ripping through the sand

Sage in 35+ BASP 1 2014

Sage rolled out to a 7th in the 35+

Kristin Running BASP 1 2014

Kristin running the beach. She finished 6th in  stacked women’s field

 Saturday’s CCCX 45+ race  and Sunday’s BASP Race by Brij Lunine

CCCX #3 CSUMB

Great course.  Keith has it really dialed in.  My goal was to get a better start than last week and try to get a rhythm despite the tail end of a nasty cold.  Scrubbed warming up only to realize I had flatted my front sew up.  Scurried around and was offered some Stan’s which seemed to hold (thanks to Mike from Fresno!).  I got the hole shot more by accident than anything else but stupidly decided to go with it, but only at about 75%–I was feeling sketchy in the corners not trusting my last minute “repair”.  The field was was small but strong:  2-time national champ and nicest guy ever Todd Hoeffer was there, along with his Berry teammates Norm Kreiss and John Mundelius, so was Sacto season opener winner Tao Bernardi, now racing independent, and so were Family Cycling regulars Howie and Stacey Sell along with one of my favorite dudes to race with, Ibis Buy/Cell’s Caesar Chavez Jr.  Everybody played it a bit cagey, I don’t remember exactly but I think Howie and I traded off some pulls lap one.  I think it was the beginning of lap 2 Hoeffer put in a nice attack.  I was on the front like a dummy, legs hurting, not getting in a groove whatsoever and watched him get a nice gap.   Awhile later Mundelius made the move to bridge up to his teammate.  I went with Big John and took the free ride up to Todd, but struggled out of some turns to hang on.  Right as we were about to make contact I screwed up a bit in a tight sandy section and missed the boat.  No Man’s Land.  I was shortly chased down but the main group and the real suffering started.  Through a wide open sandy downhill I followed wheels and hit a bush pretty hard somehow releasing both BOA buckles on my shoe. So I peddled as best I could trying to think about where to tighten it.  Tao went to the front and made things tough and that was all she wrote for me despite Stacey’s words of encouragement.  Alone I focused on getting in that elusive rhythm, and riding hard.  Once I recovered the course was so good I couldn’t help but have fun. By the last lap I had Norm in sight.  Mundelius held on to Todd for dear life and worked him over to remain undefeated, Caesar took the best of the rest with Howie, Tao and Stacey in tow.  Sometimes you get what you deserve– 8th.
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Hole shot for Brij at CCCX
BASP #1 Candlestick
Was at a party Saturday night and had left the bike in the car and kept checking the Stan’s–it was holding.  Got to the ‘Stick super early to get on the course.  No usual pavement section had me worried.  Whereas the CCCX races have been featuring about a dozen racers, this race was going to have about 100 with secret arcane call-up protocols.  I registered late and don’t have many USA Cycling Association points (it’s a race sanctioning/lack of travel and big results thing) so I was expecting to have to try and move up as best I could.  Top ten was the goal.  Low and behold I got called up to the second row.  Sweet!  Really sketchy start set up with a few feet of wide pavement on to a narrower gravel left.  But I watched Cal Giant barely 45+ eligible rider Brian Finnerty absolutely fly off the line followed by the usual suspects–all Berries!:  World Champ Henry Kramer, John Mundelius, Norm Kreiss, Gannon Myall, Eric Bustos, and Rob “Buckwheat” Meighan.  After getting around Bustos and Norm I got on Myall’s wheel and we made it up to Kramer.  I was super stoked to avoid the chaos and slot in 5th place as I passed Gannon briefly.  I hung on for dear life hoping I’d come around but after several laps the elastic finally broke.  No Man’s Land again. This is a cardinal sin but I knew those dudes were faster especially right now.  I road as best I could but Alto Velo rider Chris Gaffney and Ibis Buy/Cell boss Tim Cannard (the only non-Berry on the front row) caught me with two or three laps to go.  Gaffney is a powerful rider and I was worried.  Tim and I did what we could but he got a small gap and made it stick.  The battle with Tim was on again, just like last week.  I was suffering but managed the perfect attack before the final S-turns to stairs to ramp to finish line.  Made it through turn one but “left the door open”–didn’t turn quite tightly enough and Timmy came in my inside putting me in the fence with a nice bodycheck. We both knew whomever made the stair first would probably beat the other one and he did–I was cracking up, it was a crowd pleaser.  All things considered I was stoked with 8th this time.  Finnerty won by a mile, as he did the very next race (35+) I think it was Mundelius, Gannon, Kramer, & Meighan but I could have a couple transposed.  

Round 2 – Ding Ding

CX Nation

The second week of cyclocross was quickly upon us.  Some took the weekend off.  Others traveled far and wide to race.  Sage headed out to Colorado to contest the Boulder Cup.  Things didn’t go as planned for him with a Top 25 finish on both days.

Sage and Craig Etheridge in CO

Here Sage is hammering with Craig Etheridge at the Boulder Cup

Brij managed to get down to Monterey for yet another round at Fort Ord.  Here is his race report…..

CCCX #2 back at “Ft. Bored,” but thankful there’s a race to be contested.  Promoter Keith DeFiebre put together a different course which was pretty fun–supper twisty turny, relatively flat, with two “your pick”–ride or run–sections I thought were great.  As John Mundelius said, warming up it seemed like it was pretty straightforward but at race speed the sandy tight corners were super sketchy especially riding close behind.  

My front row start turned into a second row start–got squeezed at the line–and it took some time and a lot blown lines and sketchiness to make my way to the business end of the race.  Definitely my bad. I watched as Mark “Howie” Howland led it all out for the first lap with Mundelius in second.  By lap two Mundelius was absolutely gone with a solid gap. And so went Howie and my strategy of trying to hang with him. I had made my way to Howie and he and I were taking up the chase (well mostly him at first).  I think it was coming through the start/finish for lap three he slid out in the tight turn one on the dry grass and sand but made a brilliant save.  I told him so and took over the chase.  When we got to the tight sandy turns I started to feel better with a clean shot at them.  I could tell Howie was riding smart giving me a little room just in case I botched one.  Sure enough after a tight section I came into a righthand turn too hot and hit the deck.  I got back on and Howie wasn’t too far up the course; I felt confident I could catch him.  But then I botched another turn trying to bridge and was standing in the weeds for minute.  Oh well, Howie was gone.
Of greater concern was a trio of riders hot on my tail (Buy/Cell Boss Tim Cannard, “Ducky” from DFL and my buddy Matt Shelton . I worked pretty hard to hold them off but Timmy made it across to me.  It was cool following him on his super fancy single speed mtb.  Great course for his set up and he was fun to ride with.  I was pretty cooked and sat on mercilessly after awhile. I had visions of us getting caught but thanks to Tim by the last lap I was more focused on trying to figure out where to try and make a move on a course that didn’t feature many places to pass towards the end than Matt and Ducky.  There was the deep sand to ice plant run-up but that was pretty far out.  I went in thinking I’d give it a go but Tim ran the whole thing whereas I stuck with mounting halfway up and grinding up the ice plants.  After a little downhill I jumped him before the last couple sections and the second you-pick right before the finish (where I had planned to attack if necessary) for third.
So it was Mundelius undefeated at CCCX in ’14, Howie riding super strong and me scrapping it out again for third.  Timmy was gracious.
Brij 2 CCCX
Brij on the run….
Brij 1 CCCX
Brij rollin’ it….

And So It Begins…..

CX Nation

Someone famous said that, but I can’t remember.  God maybe or was it Dickens.  My 10th grade English teacher is not happy now.  I am, of course, talking about the cyclocross season.  Seems like it is happening earlier and earlier each year….referring to the start of cyclocross season.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  I have always loved cyclcross (and so has my wife) because the season is relatively short, compared to the road racing season, at least in California.  So it is over in a flash and I am back to fixing things in the house that I have no business fixing.

And so it begins with Sacramento.  Our state capitol and birthplace of the gold rush.  There is a gold bridge there and that is where they decided to have a race, next to a gold bridge and on next to a big river – the Sacramento river, of course.  It still the hot season in California, as opposed to other season here, moderately cool season with some rain, emphasis on “some”.  We are in a drought and the weather was going right along with that feeling as it was probably 100 degress at my 1pm start time.  It was the West Sacramento Gran Prix or something along those lines.  A USAC race in NorCal.  Yeah.  I can use this license that has been sitting in my wallet since Nationals in January.  And points…another yay!

I arrived, set up the tent and met with all the gals and fellas from our close knit family – NorCal cyclocross.  Our greeting was “Happy New Year”.  Like the Chinese one it is not on the 1st of January.  After all the incidentals I dialed in some pressures and warmed up on course, which wasn’t hard considering the weather.  The course was up and down with a lot of tight turns on the bank of the river.  I enjoyed flow and felt pretty good at the start.  It was the new team’s first race and Miles Daly, our junior, already put us on the podium with a 2nd place in the juniors 16-18.  Steller….

We all lined up on a side street and it was chaotic.  The 2,3’s were before the Master 35+ and I knew that this was going to be a problem.  Master’s racing in NorCal is pretty awesome.  We have some really fast guys -National and World Champions all around.  Two in my race on Saturday – Don Myrah and Henry Kramer.  We go fast.  The 2,3’s went off and then we 35+ers lined up 12 wide.  You heard right.  We were literally 12 wide on this road.  I got a great start and was quickly 3rd wheel behind Ana Flores.  Then, Ana decided he didn’t want to go fast and dropped his bike in the first grass turn.  By elimination I was now leading the race.  Excitement overcame me, even though there was 44 minutes and 33 seconds left in the race.  I think Ana’s disease was contagious as I dropped my bike in turn 4.  Up and at them, but something was wrong with my rear derailluer.  The hanger was bent.  No pit bike.  Great.  The bike was still moving so I pedaled on.

I wasn’t doing any favors for my drive train, but I grinded it out for 44 more minutes.  It was like being on a single speed except worse.  I just tried to maintain.  After my great start I settled for 5th, which was a miracle in itself.  Sage powered to a 2nd place.  So a great day for CX Nation in the 35+.  So nice to have a partner.  I think people were in shock of how well he did, but I saw it last year.  Glad to have him on the team.  This year is going to be exciting.

Kristin Sac River Race

Kristin powering up one of the many short climbs

Miles doubled up and finished his second race of the day in 8th place.  Kristin tackled a stacked elite field and ended up 11th on the day.  Interesting fact…Kristin has a USAC number with 5 digits.  She has been racing for a while.  A great weekend for CX Nation in Sac.

Miles West Sac 2014

Miles tearing it up

Podium Sage West Sac 2014

Welcome to big leagues – Sage on the podium with Myrah and Mundelius

Brian Sac River 2
Over the Barriers

Brian Sac River 1

And the Remount – Hitting that Inner Thigh

Sage Sac River

Sage Over the Barriers

The CCCX Opener via Brij Lunine

Central Coast Cyclocross kicked off Sunday at the standard Ft. Ord venue.  The drought and lots of use has this spot extra bumpy, sandy, and gravel strewn, with the descent featuring bad brake stutter bumps–in other words extra sketchy.  (Rumor has it the promoter, Keith DeFiebre, lost the CSUMB site for 9/20–I might have to take a pass in a couple weeks.  I think I’ve raced this course about 40 times; enough is enough.) 

Anyhow, the masters featured small but selective fields with a number of riders having raced a great sounding Sacramento race Saturday.  Between discovering cracks in my seatpost the night before (and finding my spare post would change my position too much) and a huge endo through a new sand section in practice (resulting in a jammed shiftlever which took some doing to get functioning again), as well as the normal first race of the season apprehension, I wasn’t feeling too stoked.  So I was psyched to slot in 4th off the line behind Keith DeFibre and Giant Strawberries Norm Kreiss, and John Mundelius, with their teammate Rob Meighan behind crowding through the corners as well as Family Cycling riders Mark “Howie” Howland and Stacey Sell, Mike’s Bikes David Allen, plus a few others in the queue.
It quickly became a tactical affair, the Berries were trying the team game, opening up gaps behind a strong Mundelius with Kreiss and Meighan taking turns trying to stay on his wheel.  I closed down a few gaps, gave Keith a hard time for opening one up (before he blew sky high), as did Kreiss eventually, with Sell and Howie moving up and getting in the mix.  In other words, the first few laps were really animated.  Three-or-four laps in Mundelius put in a big effort on the climb and only Meighan and Howie could cover it.  I was the first one popped off resulting in being in No Man’s Land for many laps in the wind.  I kept the lead three within 15-20 seconds, with Kreiss about 10 behind me.
I figured fourth was decent but I’d have to work hard to fend off “Uncle Norm.”  I lost focus a few times and the gap to the leaders grew, but I saw Meighan was off with Howie hanging on for dear life.  My thinking at this point was to try and keep up a solid pace because Meighan, while in great shape, is prone to mishaps and you never know.  Sure enough he went into the pits and came out with a new bike which allowed me to get right on his wheel.  Two laps to go and it was clear he was stronger but I could try to outsprint him if I could hang on.  The second-to-last time down the descent he came into a sketchy 180º turn way too hot.  I had already backed off and saw him slide out badly, breaking a course post with is torso.  Ouch!  No looking back–he actually made a good recovery but ended up behind Norm–who was breathing down my neck the last lap and half.  Third with some luck–I’ll take it. Mundelius took the opener on this course again (as he did in ’12) with CX Nation-coached Howie riding super strong.
Podium
Brij on the 45+ Podium at CCCX #1 2014