Down By The River….


The West Sacramento Gran Prix was last Saturday and what cool place to have a cyclocross race.  We are literally right on the Sacramento River.  So close you just want to jump in and float down to the Golden Gate Bridge, which isn’t a crazy idea based on the time of year and the heat.  Hades has nothing on Sacramento in the summer time.  This year was predicted to be off the chart with the heat, but it didn’t really pane out the way it was predicted.  Would you say I was crazy when I was relieved it was 90 degrees?  Smoke from a fire in the Sierras and some cloudy muggy weather made it almost bearable.

The course in West Sac is one that I really like sometimes and dislike at other times.  Lots of grass (typical for Sacramento races) which I really like, but a lot of turns.  Makes it like a roller coaster.  Not my strongest suite because you can never really get going.  Great crowds, bands and a festival atmosphere make one race not to miss.  Plus it USAC, so we get points for Nationals.

First official race of the season and it is like a reunion of sorts.  I haven’t seen a lot of these folks since last year and the social aspect is one of my favorite parts…catching up with all racers.  I set up the CX Nation tent on the promenade next to all the others and settled in to watch the chaos of cross.  Granted I also had to sit down and rest because the drop off and the set up area seemed like miles apart.  What a trek….got my lifting workout in before cardio. I am not sure that is the correct order.

After previewing the course a few times we lined up for the 35+ A’s race and we were off.  Now I pride myself in begin a fast started…and an even faster fader as the laps go on.  I got a great jump off the line and made it to the first turn in first.  Then another rider started coming on the left and I thought…”who is this?”  He blew right by me and I began the chase.  Halfway through the first lap I wasn’t making any ground, then Sage came around me and starting hunting the guy down.  I was blown.  A group of 3 of the usual suspects came up to me and I joined them – Mundelius, Steve O and “Benny” Benford.  I just sat in and waited.

Brian 3 West Sac 2015 (2)

Chasing Sage on the 1st lap

The 4 of us took turns beating each other up until the elastic broke on lap 3 for me.  Jason attacked and left me with John and Steve.  Then John took off and Steve just sat on my wheel…until I took a drink of water.  Then, he attacked (cheap shot 🙂 and I was blown.  An Alta Alpina rider had bridged up to us and he left me in the dust too.  I just tried to pace myself to end, but maybe I should have tried a little harder because on the last run up the AA guy fell on the steep hill.  If I was closer I would have taken one place.  That’s why you should never give up.  You never know what might happen in a cross race.  Lesson learned…..  Sage came in second as the unknown guy dropped him on the last lap.  Turns out that guy is Jonathan Baker, ex pro from Colorado who got 6th in the Elite race after “warming up” on us.  I guess he just moved to Chico.  More strong competition in NorCal.  Kristin had a strong showing in the Elite Women’s race, scoring an 8th place.  After a strong road season that saw her win the NorCal crit championships in her age group, she is just getting her cross legs.

Brian West Sac 2 2015

Mundelius and I over the Barriers

Sage West Sac 2 2015

Sage leading Baker

Kristin West Sac 1 2015

Kristin driving it on the grassy hills

Sage Podium West Sac 2015

Sage on the podium



Ready, Set, Lobster….


And with it comes the beginning of another year of cyclocross.  With the season starting earlier and earlier each year it brings a new set of questions…. Do I race this early?  Will I wilt in the heat?  Will I peak too soon?  Should I carry a water bottle…you know cross bikes don’t have bottle cages?  What will wifey say?  But this race was for a good cause…the Rock Lobster cyclocross team.  Paul Sadoff, creator of all things Lobster and all things cross, legendary frame builder and all around awesome guy, came up with a unique way to fund his team.  Instead of dealing with some corporate sponsor that calls all the shots, he decided to have a cake sale of sorts.  It was a fundraiser based on a cyclocross race.  I had to go, even though it is still August.

The family and I made our once a year pilgrimage down to Santa Cruz to soak in the sun, sand and cyclocross.  After renting a nice place near the beach I woke up Saturday morning and decided to ride to the race.  It’s kind of a novel idea for cyclocross.  I mean, we have all this gear – two bikes, wheels for snow/ice/sand/hurricane, trainer, food, water, beer, brats, dogs (the fury ones), etc….  There is no way we could ride the SAME bike to a race and then race.  It would just blow your mind.  Hey folks, I did it.  I couldn’t resist.  I got to ride through my old alma mater, UC Santa Cruz to get to the race.  It was a walk down memory lane.  Go Banana Slugs.

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Upper Campus – Great Trails – Lots of Interesting Things Happening Up There

The course for the race was on private property that had an airport runway on it.  The Rock Lobster folks set up a nice track that had 4 log barriers, a flyover, pump track and more dust than the Sahara.  The weather brought fog initially and sun later, neither of which could knock down all the dust on the course.  Ah, NorCal cross at its finest.  I hope they are right about this El Nino thing.

I didn’t have too many expectations going into this race.  Hence, the two hour ride up to the venue before the race.  I was just going to use it a pre-season race and see what happens.  I lined up in the second row and off we went.  After lining out in 6th or 7th we hit the dust cloud.  Pigpen has nothing on this cloud of choking dirt.  I couldn’t really see what was ahead so I just hoped the guy in front of me knew what he was doing.  After a half of lap it kind of thinned out.  I got gapped a little in the loose singletrack (not my strength) but then tried to ride hard up the second group on the course.  That’s where the wheels dropped off.  I tried to ride over that group and just imploded.  One lap in and I was running on fumes.  Not good.

Brian Lobster Cup 2015 (5)

Pump track action – BMXer = not me.

Brij Lobster Cup (1)

Brij in the dust bowl for the 45+A’s

The rest of the race was just a blur.  I tried to hang with guys that were catching me and I just couldn’t.  Hopefully that is a good sign and I have not peaked yet.  I did essentially interval training on the whole  course.  The people were great.  Lots of support out there and I heard almost 300+ racers came to the race.  That is pretty awesome.  A couple of the athletes I coached had great days.  One scored a  3rd place and the other got the last step 5th, racing in various categories.  I did do something that I have never done in a race before – beer hand up.  I know, I know…I am a promoter of all things cyclocross, but I am not really a drinker and to have a beer during a race might put me into a coma.  It was so dry and dusty out there that I literally needed any fluid.  Beer it is and the proof was captured by photographer Jeff Namba.  Thanks Jeff.

Banana Beer

The perfect red cup hand up from the banana

Cheers Lobster Cup

A little salute and down the hatch

Unfortunately there was only a little beer in the cup.  They were being pretty stingy with their Mickey’s I guess.  I rode the whole race with a smile on my face and even heard my little girl cheering me on, which is the best.  Thanks for the good time Lobsters.  On with the season!



Time To Get Fat


It’s that time of year again…cyclocross season has come to an end.  Spouses and families are rejoicing while we are crying in our skinsuits.  It comes with a mix bag for me.  The season does wear and tear on me  both emotionally and physically, especially with all I do with CX Nation.  I am not just a racer anymore.  I run a business, a team and I have coaching clients who rely on me.  It can be exhausting.  So while there is still one more race for some in California (the NorCal vs. SoCal Showdown this weekend), unless you are racing pro in Europe…the fat lady is singing.

I did manage to get one more race in after Nationals.  Nats usually marks the end of the run for me, but the 8th race in the Sacramento series was held last Saturday and it looked intriguing.  The course was set to run through Old Town Sacramento, which is a bunch of old brick buildings and looks like the Wild West.  Center to it all is a pretty grand train museum.  There was the lure for the family to come.  Having the family come along is both good and bad.  I love seeing my girls at the races – they are my best fans – but it can be stressful for warming up, setting up the CX Nation stuff, etc…  I went “light” and just decided to warm up on course and not bring any of the other accoutremants.

Old Town Sac Cross

Riding the train tracks in Old Town Sacramento

Old Town Sac Cross 1

Jeff and I over the tracks

The course started on a cobblestone street, wound its was through a grassy knoll, over a bunch of railroad tracks and did an “out and back” on a bike path.  There was off camber, sand, pavement and a section up and down the old boardwalk.  Lots of cool fixtures.  Attendance was low, but Sage and I lined up in the 35+ A field with a couple of the regulars, who turned out to be battling for the overall; more on that later.  Sage took off like a bullet and I slotted in close behind.  Once we reached the bike path section he took off.  He said he was battling the flu, but man….I could barely keep his wheel.  I then realized that I was dragging the whole field in tow, so I let up on the gas and just sat in.  That was the last we saw of Sage.  He was gone.

I settled in with Robert Braun and Jeff Mitchell.  Robert has some pretty good skills, but he kept making small mistakes in the turns, which is uncharacteristic of him.  Eventually on lap 2 he went down.  Jeff and I took off and immediately started going…really hard.  After a few laps of this Jeff turns to me and says, “I am not racing you.”  I thought, well I am right next to you and if you are not racing me, then who are you racing….oh wait, I get it.  Jeff had a one point lead on Robert for the overall.  If he held him off then he would take it.  I know this isn’t road racing, but I pulled a Vinokourov and said that if he let me take 2nd, then I would help him beat Robert.  So that is what we did….although a few times I had to wait for him, so I might have just dropped him anyways.  But then karma got me and I dropped it on the boardwalk and slightly rolled my tire.  Jeff waited and we rolled the last lap together.

Podium at Sac 1

Addie shared the podium with Sage and I

I could hear my daughter the entire race and that made me so excited.  I even shared the podium with her.  We got a train whistle (how appropriate) for getting on the podium.  My brother was there too.  He lives in Sacramento.  For his efforts he got a big beer from sponsor Yolo Brewing.  Everybody wins!  Now the off season…..

End of the Season

Burgers and Fries at Gott’s Roadside after racing – Let’s get fat.



NATS!


The year end bash that is called Cyclocross Nationals is happening this week in Austin, Texas.  I had been to Austin a few years ago and really enjoyed myself.  It was sunny and 80 degrees one day and then snowing the next, so I knew I had to be prepared for anything.  The whole saga did not start out without drama.  Scott Chapin of Team Rock Lobster had offered to take down bikes for a bunch of us NorCal folks.  What a dream offer!  All we had to do was bring our bikes to the race in Monterey the week before.  Well…best laid plans….Scott’s van broke down and he couldn’t make it.  So the plan was to pile all the bikes into 3 pickups and bring them to him, while he fixed the van.  Being a little of a “control freak” or maybe I just like to be in control of my own actions, I couldn’t let go of my two bikes.  I decided to send the single speed with them and fly with the geared bike.

After packing and loading up the bike bag (for anyone who does not do this on a regular basis, it is a pain) I headed off to the airport.  While waiting for take-off I received a text from a local father who was driving down to Texas.  I guess he could have taken my bikes, but we never connected.  Oooof….  well maybe on the way home, was our parting thought.  When I got to Austin, it was cold….really cold, but again, not Iowa cold.  I went out for an early morning pre-ride before my noon race.  What a great course!  There was grass, some long straights, lots of off camber power turns and two limestone staircase run-ups.  Crazy good.  Plus, I was able to run my file tread Chicanes.  Bonus!

Nats Pins

Thousands of pins needed to get the double back and two arm numbers.

Sage and I lined up for the non-championship race.  I had never done this race before, but now that they moved my age group race to Friday this was a nice option to stretch the legs and check out the course at speed.  The first lap shook out and I was in a “peloton” of riders – 10 of us.  Chris McGovern took off and I should have followed, but I didn’t.  We chased for some time and I got so cross-eyed that I planted myself into one of those big wooden poles that they drive into the ground.  The pole won, rolled my tire and bent my bars.  After 10 dudes rolled past me I was back on the bike, but lost a lot of ground.  The rest of the race was a war on attrition and I ended up 24th after all that.  Sage blew his rear deraleur to pieces, ended up on a neutral bike and got pulled.  Worse day for him.  I was so sore that I just skipped the single speed race.  I think I had the gearing wrong too. I would have been a grind.

I spent the day off as a food tourist and we (Sage, his wife, his baby and I) hit up the “best bbq in America”- Franklin BBQ.  It was even featured in a Chase credit card ad.  So we froze out butts off in a line that was 2.5 hours long before we ate.  I am not sure that the line was worth it, but the food was excellent.  Stuffed is an understatement.

BBQ

That’s two pounds of brisket with ribs, plus some fixings – I didn’t eat all that!

Race day dawned and we had a little rain the night before.  It was really cold and there were some loose sections on the course.  I switched out to the Clement PDX and it performed like a dream.  Unfortunately before I entered that dream I was in a nightmare.  I now call rows 4-7 in Nats the death zone.  Every year there seems to be a crash at the start.  This year didn’t disappoint as I got rolled into the mess.  Bikes and bodies everywhere.  There is video all over my Facebook page.  I couldn’t find my bike at first and then located it 5 feet away.  Ugh….race over.  Nope by some dumb luck my bike and I landed on so many people that the chain was just off.  Nothing else was wrong.  I jumped on and was literally dead last, aside form the guys lying on the ground and heading to the hospital.  I chased and chased and probably had my best race ever.  I caught and passed around 80 or so people, didn’t get pulled and had a full race.  Silver lining…..

Nats 2

The carnage – There I am getting my chain back on

Nats

And finally some racing. 36 degrees and still going Belgie – no leg warmers.

I also managed to get my bikes a ride home with a local from Santa Rosa, John Haley.  I did have to leave them next to his truck because I couldn’t find him and I had to get to the airport.  That was a little scary.  But he got them and now it is time to lick the wounds and prepare for next year…oh wait…there is another race next weekend in Sac…and it is supposed to rain.  Not packing it just yet…..

Austin Weird

Keeping Austin Weird – my hotel sign looks like a – well you know. It’s the red one in the distance



Countdown to Nationals


After a two week layoff for the holidays it was “back at it” for the CCCX race down at Fort Ord.  It is always pretty hard to stay motivated for racing in January now that Nationals has moved to January.  Nationals used to be  in December, before the Christmas holiday.  USA Cycling changed it to better help the US pros that go to Worlds in Europe at the end of the month….all 12 of them.  It really never made sense to me.  99% of the people that are racing in Nationals are not “going to Europe” for Worlds.  Hello, USAC we are amateurs with jobs and families.  I am sure our families would love it if we ended before the holiday period.  I know, it is our choice to continue with the season past December 15th, but how about we do what the majority wants to do?  I expect to see a petition for a change in the near future.  We shall see….. and now on to racing.

I rarely get down to Monterey to race in Keith Defibre’s series.  It is just too far.  6 hours drive, round trip.  But since it is the only show in town on Saturday, I went for it.  I have only been down to Monterey twice before and one of the courses was the exact same course as Saturday’s.  Oh well….It consisted of a long uphill, followed by a screaming downhill through banked turns.  Keith throws in a little of his pump track/downhill building skills.  Unfortunately I don’t really have that skill set for riding it.

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Beautiful day at Fort Ord, Monterey

What this series lacks in numbers of racers it makes up for in quality.  Myrah, Coates, Dickie, Robinson and a host of others were there.  I started a little towards the back and with only two lines, then one line, to get up the hill, the separations began immediately.  Plus since I could not  see much in front of me because of the narrow track, I hit a cone straight away.  Nice way to mark the course…out of sight of where we are looking.

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Sage and I at the start

Sage was with me when the split happened and he made a great effort to bridge up to the lead group.  BMX skills for sure.  I just settled in and blew up time and time again on the hill.  The 45’s passed me, so I just cruised with them for quite some time.  One of my coaching athletes, Mark Howland, had a great race and ended up 2nd in that group, losing in the sprint to Cesar Chavez, who has been killing it this year.  Brij nabbed a 4th place.  Sage ended up riding to a 5th place finish in the 35+ A’s.

While my fitness wasn’t really great, I was able to beat out two guys that I was racing the entire time.  I knew that the first one to the barriers, right before the finish would probably take it.  I accelerated on the pavement right before the barriers and won the sprint…..for 10th.  That is the great thing about cross, you can get a race in with just about anyone.  Two more days and then off the Austin, Texas.  Looking forward to some racing.  I am going to race a single speed bike for the first time ever….and in Nationals.  I figure if I am going all that way I should just race as much as I can.  See you in Texas!

 

Future CX Nation

The future of cross – Paul Haley. Santa Rosa local, who has two older bros that race

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Sage on the podium with Coates, Myrah and Dickie, plus Brock’s dog

Howie @ CCCX 8

Howie in 2nd and Brij with a 4th place

 



Laaste Ronde – Bay Area Superprestige


The last round of the Bay Area Superprestige took place last Sunday at Coyote Point Park in Burlingame.  This is a classic course and since Golden Gate Park was taken out of the series, it is my favorite.  Like all good cross courses it has a little of everything – ups, downs, sand, off camber and some very fast sections.  The key to this race has always been the hill and it comes into play immediately after the start, so separation comes very quickly.

Race #5 in the series was my tire disaster, so my start position for this one was horrible – 3rd row.  I managed a good start, but just wasn’t aggressive enough on the hill and ended up behind a couple riders who weren’t on good days.  They added a very deep sand trap on the upper part of the course this year.  In warm-ups it was unrideable, but after a few races a line formed and it made for a powerful, yet makeable section…for some.  The hill and sand forced a gap to form between the lead group and myself.  And just like that, they were gone.

The Long Line BASP 2014

The line in the sand (not really that much sand) on Lap 1

But the race wasn’t over by any means.  The inner grumbling and coaxing your body to go faster was just beginning.  All racers must go through this…yelling at yourself, whether out loud or in your mind, trying to make yourself go faster.  It works, right?  I ended up hooking up with Sage and we rode a cyclocross, 2-man team time trial for the rest of the race.  But drafting doesn’t really work that well in cross, as we didn’t catch many people.  Sage has been running good all year, but he wasn’t hitting on all cylinders for this race.  Isn’t it annoying when a fellow riders says “I’m not riding well today” or “I’m sick” or “I just got off the couch, eating bonbons and haven’t been training”…and then they beat you.  That’s exactly what happened.  Sage ended up 8th and I was 9th….and I was completely healthy and running on all cylinders.  Some riders are just better than others. haha

Brian and Myrah BASP 2014

Ahead of the World Champ?  Not for long…

Sage and Brian BASP 2014

Sage and I hooked up for a cross paceline

The rest of the CX Nation crew also had a good day…with a mix of bad luck.  Kristin finished up 6th, just off the podium again, in the Elite women’s race.  Brij had a great result finishing 4th, just behind the Cal Giant Berry train that was 1,2,3.  Miles was sitting in 3rd on the first lap in Men’s B’s when he flatted.  A run to the pits cost him some places and he wound up 14th.  Double sided pits would be helpful. Yes, they have two neutral service areas on the course, but imagine how much faster it would be for a racer to just grab a bike rather than waiting for a wheel change.  My only gripe about this awesome venue.

Miles BASP 2014

Miles coming out of the sand

Kristin BASP 2014 2

Kristin on the downhill – on her way to 6th

Brij BASP 2014

Brij on his way to 4th….

So that’s it for the biggest racing series the SF Bay Area has to offer.  They tried some new things this year.  Some I liked – the separate days of racing, and some I didn’t like…3 days at the Candlestick bump fest and two days at the dust bowl.  Till next year BASP….

 



Brush-X


I used to have a neighbor, who will go nameless, that would bring his mountain bike over for some minor repairs.  I didn’t mind.  I have a full repair shop in my garage and I enjoy working on bikes, other than my own.  The thing that I did mind is that he never cleaned his bike.  It was so bad that I don’t think he took his seat post out in 5 years and then when it sheared off he had to buy a new frame…or so he told his wife.   Nothing is more aggregating to a bike mechanic than bringing a dirty bike to the shop.  People, at the very least, hose your bike down after your muddy ride and put some lubrication on the chain.  It takes all of 5 minutes and will probably save you hundreds of dollars in the long run…or the cost of a new frame for my neighbor.

Being a cyclocross rider means that cleaning bikes is just part of racing.  Now in Northern California we don’t get that much foul weather.  But towards the end of the season a couple of Alaskan whoppers will come in a dump copious amounts of the wet stuff for days.  Cross riders love racing in mud, but when it comes to cleaning the bike….not so much.  Enter the Brush-X.  Founded by some passionate innovators in Sacramento, CA; Brush-X takes cleaning to a whole new level and for you lazy bike washers, makes washing your bike much easier.

The Brush-X design is pretty simple.  It is essentially a 6 foot piece of flexible tubing that attaches to your garden hose and on the end is a stiff bristle brush in which the water flows through.  So as you are washing your bike you are scrubbing the dirt off as you go.

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The Brush-X design taken from their website

I had a chance to really put it to the test last weekend when we had our first major storm of 2014 roll through NorCal – StormWatch 2014 as the news people call it.  We had some really sticky mud and my bikes got covered.  I got home and immediately went to work on cleaning.  Keep point – don’t wait till the next day or the next week.  I hooked up the Brush-X and we were off…or should I say the mud came flying off.  I initially used the Brush-X to get the thick mud off the frame and wheels.  A quick pass was all it took.  This thing is powerful.  Then I sprayed some WD-40 foam bike spray, along with some soap in a bucket, scrubbed everything down and then hit the bike again with the Brush-X.  After a quick towel off and quick lube of the chain it was all over….5 minutes in all.

One thing that I did use was a shut-off valve at my hose.  This allowed me to use the Brush-X, turn the water off, set the Brush-X down and do some more scrubbing.  If you don’t have a shut-off valve the water will continue to run and you will have to go back to the hose bib at the house in order to turn the water off.  Might be a nice addition to the Brush-X to have a shut off built in.  Otherwise the Brush-X does the job.  The bristles seem like they will last a long time and it is gentle on all moving parts.  The days of power washing bikes needs to be left to the pros.  They get free parts so they don’t need to worry about hitting bearings with 100 psi of straight stream H2O.  Not so for us amateurs.  Brush-X offers a nice medium.

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Simple packaging

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The Brush-X giving the Lobster some love

Brush-X

You can use it to wash up after a race too. Who says bikes are the only ones to get cleaned?

Brush-X: www.brush-x.com

Price: $24.99



This Place Has My Number….


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.