This Place Has My Number….

CX Nation

Like the 49ers at home on Thanksgiving…home is not the place to be.  Their old stadium  has my number this year.  We have had two races at Candlestick Point, across from the soon to be demolished stadium of the SF 49ers.  Both races have proven to be mechanical nightmares.  Not only are placings lost when you crash or have a mechanical, but so is money out of your pocket.  At first the cross racer is bummed to have a mechanical and get knocked out of a race.  The cross racers second thought is, “How much is this going to cost me?”  This year has been a spending year for me.  Wifey loves it. haha

BASP Rain

Rainy day set up – soon to come down due to high winds

I got to the venue at the crack and got a good spot for the race.  I knew it would be muddy and I wanted to try out a bunch of pressures before race time.  The course was thick and once the wind picked up it got really challenging to ride around.  The promoters had the whole finish structure crash down due to the winds….and it was during a race.  Luckily no one got hurt.

Due to this thick mud I had a decision to make.  I have a tubeless set on the “A” bike and a tubular set up on the “B” bike.  I was thinking that I would probably ride the “B” bike so I could drop the tubulars way down for the mud.  My pre-rides and theories proved correct.  I got the psi down to 26 psi on the tubulars and they were floating in the mud.  The only problem that you run into in this venue are the transitions between mud and the sidewalks that are littered on the course.  They are sharp edges and the organizers don’t soften them up.  During warm up I made a quick pass of a junior and got off the “proper” line.  Bam…into a curb and then my rear went flat.  I took it to the pits and Dan from Marin shot it with a bunch of Stan’s.  The hole was right where the base tape and the rubber met.  It was not sealing very well. Bye-bye tubular.  $$$$$.   Bummer….guess I am doing tubeless.

We lined up for the 35+ A’s in the dirt, which again seemed weird.  Why we weren’t on the pavement was beyond me.  It made for a slow start.  I started further back since I didn’t do the last race.  The first 1/4 lap was the usual cluster.  I got taken out into a pole, but managed to only lose a couple places and battle back up to the lead group as we entered a fast section on the rear of the course and then……psssssssssst.  Rear tire flat.  I ran a long ways to the pits where Dan from Marin got me set up on a Marin cross bike.  Thanks Marin!  I actually had been wanting to try their bikes out.  Off I went…in dead last place.  It is always a tough go when you are riding an unfamiliar bike and these were the worst conditions…super thick mud.  I had SRAM and clinchers to contend with, which was quite a challenge.  Never ridden SRAM before.  Lots of “which way did I just shift?” going on in my head.  I ended up 29th, worst placing ever, but I didn’t quit (never will), I actually passed a couple guys, and I didn’t suffer the worst humiliation ever, getting passed by the leader.  Not a bad race….

Brian BASP 2014 3

Rocking the Marin bike in the mud

The rest of CX Nation struggled a bit too.  Brij ended up 20th in his race, the 45+ A’s, Sage was off his usual pace and ended up 9th.  Kristin was the most consistent and finished 6th in the Elite women’s – one step off the podium.  The next day I heard brought some better course conditions and Miles got 9th in the B’s.  I forgot the mention that the promoter had a two day event where each category had the course all to themselves.  So some raced on Saturday and some on Sunday.  Not a bad idea….

Brij BASP 2014

Brij going for the running pass on Cesar Chavez

Kristin BASP 2014

Kristin through the mud as the storm pushed out to clear skies

Brian BASP 2014 1

The only two guys I lead all day

Sage BASP 2014

Sage pushing on….

Miles BASP 2014 2

Miles on Day 2 with some “hero” conditions

Jingle, Jingle, Jingle Cross

I got the word last year that the Jingle Cross race in Iowa City, Iowa, was one of the best.  John Mundelius of Cal-Giant convinced a bunch of us crazies to travel to the middle of Iowa in the dead of winter to ride our bikes.  What could be more sensible?  In reality I went there for several reasons…to see a new venue, to support the sport and most importantly to get some points for Nationals.  Since we don’t have USAC cross races in NorCal this is what elite master riders are forced to do if they want to get a better starting place on the grid.

A polar vortex hit much of the country the week of the race.  I flew in on Thursday and even the locals were saying that it was cold.  What would all us Californians think of it?  We were fish out of water.  To add insult to injury..the first race on Friday night. You heard correct, NIGHT!  20 degrees is not cold enough.  Let’s have the race at night in 0 degrees.  I brought all the clothing I had.  No joke…

Clothes for Jingle Cross

Clothes took up the whole bed. Ready for Brrr….

I arrived on an early flight to Iowa City, Iowa…the heartland.  I do have some roots here in the Midwest.  See, I was born in Columbus, Ohio.  My father was a professor at Ohio State in Horticlture, so I have fond memories of he Buckeye State.  Iowa City is home to the Iowa Hawkeyes, a Big Ten rival.  So I get what it is like in a collage town.  College sports is everything to these people.  I was not disappointed as I rolled away from the tiny Eastern Iowa Airport and saw a whole house dressed up in black and yellow, Iowa’s colors.  I got my bikes together and went out for a quick “shake down” ride….making sure everything was in one piece.

A Lobster in Iowa

The Iowa River and a Rock Lobster. Most water I have seen in a long time.

FRIDAY: NIGHT RACE

The next day arrived and since it was night race I didn’t race till 4:20 (insert jokes here) for the Master’s 35+ and since I was being totally crazy this weekend I was going to enter my first UCI arc at 7:30.  Why was I doing this?  Well, NorCal doesn’t have many promoters that do USAC races; therefore, if a rider like myself wants to go to the National Championship (run by USAC) I need to do some USAC races where I can get some points.  That’s what brought a group of around 14 NorCal riders to Jingle Cross.  I’m not looking to win Nationals, but I would like to ride with riders of my ability.  Last year I started dead last in Boulder and guys who did two races in Colorado were starting in front of me.  It is a broken system to say the least.  Cross Results actually takes all your races, whether they are USAC or not and gives you a score.  Way more fair, but not the the Big Brother, USAC.  I was also excited about checking out some new venues, which I have a tendency to do each year, vista some new places and finally race in some cross weather.

I lined up front row in the first race and we were off.  I had a great start and hung with the front group until we hit the face of Mt. Krumpit, as they called it.  It was a short, steep 10% or so hill that a lot of guys were riding up!  I was surprised, but some of the best riders were here.  This was my Achilles the entire time here.  I thought I was running it pretty well, but always lost places during the run up.  The rest of the course had a great mix of flowing grass, barriers, a set of stairs/ramp and some mud.  It was a great course.  I ended up 14th that night, but was within sight of the 10-13 in the finish.  We only went for 40 minutes and I could have really used another lap.  I was just feeling my fingers after the 2nd lap.  It was cold, but once we got going I was fine.  I just wore regular socks and some liner gloves with my mtb gloves.  Not too bad.  Sage ended up 15th.  So not a bad day for CX Nation.

Up Mt Krumpit

The face of Mt Krumpit – its all Grinch themed at this race.

I went back to the hotel and fueled up for my UCI debut.   I got a random 5th row call up but my plan was to go to the back of the race and just try and survive for a few laps in order to get some points.  I made it 4 laps before getting pulled and almost got as many points for 45th as I got for 14th in my Master’s race.  I know, it doesn’t seem right or very sporting of me, but if that is the USAC wants to play.  I’ll play with them.

Results 1st UCI Race

First UCI race…finished…sort of…

SATURDAY:

Saturday dawned extremely cold again and we lined up for a different course than the day before.  The interesting part of these organizers is that they had different sections for different categories and skill levels.  This makes sense unless you don’t tell riders which way they are going in the pre-rides.  Low and behold on our first lap we hit this 50 yard long sand pit that wasn’t on the pre ride.  Surprise!  I actually rode that pretty well, but again Mt.Krumpit was my nemesis.  We went up the back side this time and I lost the front group on the first lap again.  We went down this sketchy face on the front side where I really excelled.  But it wasn’t enough to make up lost ground and I ended up 18th.  I must admit I was a little tired from the day before.  Maybe not the best choice.  I opted out of the later UCI race and just sat around and watched the pros tear up the course.  It was fun standing around Mt. Krumpit and not having to go up it.

Brian Jingle Cross

Lots of clothing there….

Sage Day 2 Jingle Cross

Sage picked up some camp gloves and balaclava at a hunting store.

SUNDAY:

As we were watching the pros race Saturday afternoon there were snow flurries falling from the sky.  It turned into a major snow storm as the night wore on and in the morning there was 3 inches of snow not he ground.  This made for different conditions out on course.  It was slick but not too bad.  The bikes were picking up mud though and with a wind chill around 10 degrees the mud was sticking to the bikes – making them heavy.  I had flashbacks to Louisville and the world championships.  Both Sage and I had our best days.  Sage hung with Mark Savery (ex world champ) for several laps and ended up 6th due to pedal problems.  I was 10th.  Again I wish I had another lap, but oh well.  After the race it was a quick race back to the hotel to get the bikes cleaned and packed.  I destroyed another hotel bathroom with mud and what not, but made it to the airport with plenty of time.  So long Iowa….till you thaw or refreeze again next year. It was a successful trip.  I brought my points from 380 to 177.  Now I might be in the middle of the pack at Nationals.  Now I am racing!

Frozen Bike

The bike with frozen mud.

Salt in Urinal

So cold they had salt in the urinal so your pee didn’t freeze.

Frozen Shoes

Mud and snow made it difficult to clip in.

Velo Toze Midewest Run

My buddies started a company called Velo Toze – disposable and inexpensive shoe covers. They made their UCI debut at Jingle Cross

www.velotoze.com

Double Up Again – Why Not?

This past weekend brought the CX Nation cyclocross team more opportunities to double up on racing in NorCal.  Saturday was the 3rd and final round of my own race – The Santa Rosa Cup.  Again not sure why we call it that because Round 3 was at Maxwell Park in Sonoma.  We discovered this park last year and it is truly a great race venue with lots of room to expand.  We have used similar courses the past two year, adding more single track riding in the back half of the course this year.  A little rain during the week made for excellent track conditions and very tacky mud.

Of course the weekend began for me on Friday, as myself and two others set up the course.  It was pouring rain in the morning, but then cleared up and gave us a respite for the afternoon.  Race day was cold and clear.  Riders were stoked on the course and we hope to build on it again next year.  This course has a lot terrain to offer – sand, single track, ups, downs, stairs and barriers.  Miles drew first blood and won the Open Men’s B race.  This is the first top step placing for CX Nation this season.  At 16 years old, Miles is just living up to his potential.  If he sticks with cyclocross he is going to be a force in NorCal cross very soon.

Miles SRCup

Miles and his signature tongue out – a la Jordan

Sage was next up in the program in the 35+ A race.  He dominated at the start and put his main nemesis Ryan Greiner of Velo Fratello on the ropes for the first part of the race.  Then it appeared as if he went out too hard and Ryan reeled him in with “two to go”.  Eventually Ryan put the nail in the coffin and Sage succumb to another 2nd place finish, finishing 2nd in the overall also.  Kristin struck out in the woman’s race and had some stout competition from the series leader Caroline Dezendorf of the Marin Factory Team and Kathleen Hannon, nee Bryan of the Hunter/Fresh Air Cyclocross Team.   Krisitn fought hard and ended up 3rd on the day, 2nd overall in the series.  I did my usual and jumped into the Elite A’s race and scrubbed my way around the course, just trying to survive after being on my feet for two straight days.  The scrappy ride got me 10th and hopefully opened my legs for the next day.  CX Nation coached athlete Mark “Howie” Howland won an old school battle of former teammates with him and Dan Harting (both teammates on the mega cross team Rock Lobster years ago) taking it down to a sprint finish.  Mark prevailed.

photo

Howie on the podium with “Hard sack” Harting and “Buckwheat”

Brian Maxwell

Into the TRP Brake Zone with Tart Ryan Rinn and MASH Rainer Schaefer

Kristin SRCup

Krsitin over the barriers

Day Two split the CX Nation squad up with Kristin and Sage going to Stafford Lake in Novato and myself traveling to Lembi Park in Sacramento.  I have always loved the Lembi Park venue although this year there was a lot more turning and less power sections, which don’t play into my strength.  We had a good crew for 35+ A’s with James Coates taking the lead on the first lap and never looking back.  A group of 4, then 5 held onto one another for many laps, but was finally broken up with 4 to go as I fell off the pace.  Two days was a little much for me, especially with putting on a race.  The course had a tons of turns and off camber sections.  It was really tricky.  I ended up 5th.

Brian Lembi #1

Off camber at Lembi

Menawhile back in Novato Sage got in another epic battle with Ryan Greiner.  With Murrey Swanson taking first just a few seconds ahead of them, Ryan and Sage went into the final turn and according to Sage, Ryan made an aggressive try at a pass and crashed them both out.  Ryan managed to get back on his bike and ended up cutting the course for 2nd place…or so he thought.  Officials ruled that was illegal and sent him back to 3rd with Sage in second.  The rivalry is really heating up.  I hope to race with these guys this weekend and see what is happening.  Both are strong and tough riders.  Should be interesting…..  Kristin kept up her consistent riding and claimed another podium with a 3rd place in the Elite women’s race.  That 1st place is on the horizon.