Sac Finale – Night, Drag Strip, Party, You Get It

As I was driving to this race I realized that this would be the 4th night race that I had done this season!  It used to be a cool little anomaly…night racing in cross.  Typically not the first choice of promoters and racers due to logistics (see lights) and weather (yes it’s cold).  However, promoters are constantly looking for new ways to bring new people into the sport and get the ones they have coming back for more.

Sacramento threw down their first cross race at night this season.  They have been doing Rodeo cross at night for years, but this was a first for the Sac series.  It was held at the Sacramento Speedway, which I didn’t even know existed.  I decided to register for the 45+ A’s, which I now qualify for.  The past couple races the 45’s have had more people than the 35’s.  We have been racing with 4 to 5 people in the 35’s and there have been at least 15 in the 45’s.  Well I am not sure what happened but that was flip flopped this race.  There were 4 guys in my group.  Booo…. Oh well, Sage was in the 35’s with about 8-10 guys.  So we are dividing and conquering.

Sage Sac CX Night Race 2015 (1)

Sage at the start

We started our 60 minute race with the light tree used for the drag racers.  Nice touch.  Then we proceeded to do the longest paved start in the history of cyclocross.  I think we did the whole 1.5 miles before turning off the pavement.  We immediately went into the Gheto CX heckling/party section.  They entertained all night and it was really motivating charging through their pumping sound system.  The course was well lite except for a few spots.  There was a deeply rutted left turn and I hit it hard on the first lap.  My front wheel hit something and then I was stopped.  I thought I flatted or broke something.  Turns out my tubular had just rolled off a little.  I was very surprised, considering I have never had this happen before.

The rest of the 45’s passed me as I fiddled with the tire.  I got it back on and decided to keep riding on it.  I had a spare bike, but was unsure I wanted to pit.  After passing the rest of the group in the next couple laps I decided to grab the Rock Lobster.  It is always an interesting switch when you have your main bike with disc brakes and the back up with cantis.  It takes a little of getting used to, especially when braking into turns.  You really have to brake a lot earlier with the cantis.  After a couple laps I was dialed and felt like I was in a great rhythm.  I started picking off people in the 35’s, single speeds and A’s.

Brian Sac CX Night Race 2015 (3)

They built a ramp over the K-rail

Brian Sac CX Night Race 2015 (1)

Through the heckle section – there was some mud out there

Conditions were pretty muddy, but it was mostly slick rather than “stick to the bike” mud.  The course was a pretty good mix of turns, small rollers, a steep run (nothing like Jingle Cross) and slippery mud.  It was quite good.  Both Sage and I managed to take home the wins.  I think I might try out the 45’s next season and try to win the series.  And that was it for me with NorCal racing this season.  Amazing to think we were racing in 100 degree temps in Sacramento just a few months ago.  Another great season for NorCal cycling and CX Nation.

Sage Podium Sac CX Night Race 2015

Sage on the podium

Brian Podium Sac CX Night Race 2015

My podium – bottle of wine for the wifey

Jingle Cross

Sage and I made our annual pilgrimage to Iowa City, Iowa for Jingle Cross.  Last year it was freezing cold with high of 5 degrees.  We were happy when it snowed on Sunday.  This year we saw that it was going to be in the 40’s and were excited.  Little did we know that it had been raining for 5 straight days before we arrived.  This would be  “game changer”.

As usual, flying with bikes is a mess.  I am about to give up on the airlines and go a different route. Problem is the “different route” is not that much better because you have to ship them and then you don’t have your bikes before leaving, they could get lost, etc….  The price of travelling and being active with a bike is just not cutting it anymore.  $160 one way for my two bikes….  Sage was worse off because he had two single bags for his bikes.  Can you say $$$$???  He almost didn’t make the plane due to haggling with super friendly ticket agents (insert sarcasm).  It was the first time I had to check in and then tag my own bags.  What next…we have to fly the plane?  Airlines are out of control…

We made it to Iowa and then proceeded to give Justin Robinson (big and burly) a ride from the airport to his rental.  Three dudes, 4 bags and 6 bikes in a van….crazy.  I wish I had taken a picture.  Bike builds went great and on Friday was the first race – a night race.  My plan was to do the 35+ A’s and then jump in the UCI race to get some points.  That plan ended very quickly after we saw the conditions of the course – muddy, muddy, muddy.  Bikes were caked with tons of mud and grass.
Sage Bike Jingle 2015

Sage’s bike post race

I ended up 4th row after call ups.  Not a great position, but it had to do.  The beginning stretch is quite long before getting into the mud and there was plenty of chances to pass.  The only problem was the greasy, muddy turn at the end of the stretch.  It was chaos as riders slid everywhere.  I had my tire pressure down to 20 psi, probably the lowest I have ever had my tires.  It worked great.  I got to Mt. Krumpit in good shape, but just like last year I faded on the run up.  I guess I need to do some more running.  It was embarrassing, especially in the later laps where at times I was literally walking.  Because of the mud we were off our bikes 6 times during the race when we should have only been off twice.  My bike weighed 40 lbs by the end of the race.  Not a good showing.  I think I ended up 24th and Sage in the high teens.

Mt Krumpit - Jingle Cross 2015

Even the pros had to run Mt. Krumpit

The next day was a little better.  We didn’t over Mt. Krumpit but skirted up the back side then went down the face.  It was a constant battle to keep the mud off the bike and off the shoes.  I had to stop several times and waste a lot of seconds dealing with this.  I wasn’t the only one, but if you had a bike change every lap and pit crew you were set. We had neither.  I was actually afraid to change my bike because I didn’t want to trash two bikes.  Not a good excuse I know and I asked myself all the time why I even brought two bikes.  I love these conditions, but when you are travelling it can be pretty tough.  On Friday night we raced for 40 minutes and I spent 4 hours cleaning my bike.  Ridiculous…

Mud Jingle Cross

Mud pit

Sunday became even more of a stressful day as we had to prepare to leave after racing.  We got a late check out and even had the hotel set up a hose for us so we didn’t trash their rooms.  It was actually a little too late for that.  My room was a disaster.  We rode the race which was one lap shorter than previous days, due to the distance of the lap.  I finished right around the same place.  I felt goo din some sections and worse in others.  Sage was pretty disappointed too.  He didn’t have mud tires on both bikes and that killed him.

We lucked out and a hose by the car was left unattended, so we had a great chance to clean our bikes at the venue.  Everything else just fell into place and we made it out of Iowa in one piece.  Next year the race might be a World Cup to take place in September, which will be just the opposite of what we had.  It will be hot, muggy and the course will be fast.  Lucky guys…. So long Iowa….