Lightning Stirkes

Sage and I lined up for Round 3 of the Sacramento Cyclocross series.  The race took place at Maidu Park in Roseville.  Man, Sacto has it so nice when it comes to parks.  This park was huge…even had an indoor soccer rink, plus batting cages.  Not happening in Santa Rosa, that’s for sure.  The numbers have been a little down for the 35+ A’s.  I am almost thinking of racing the A’s next year so I can race against someone.  After a couple laps I end up riding by myself for 45 minutes or more.  Boring….

The norm for me this year has been start fast and fade.  The fade has been coming at various times in the race.  It seems to be getting later in the race, so I guess that is good.  I lead for he first 1/2 lap, then Sage surged and I followed.  I didn’t look back, but it seemed like it caused some damage.  We made it to a twisty section of the course that flowed through some redwood trees and had some off camber.  Around one tree I got struck by lighting…and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Something, like a root, seemed to grab my rear wheel or get caught in it.  I am not sure.  But the next thing I knew my rear tire was leaking air.  I looked more closely and the top half of my extender valve had been torn off.  What!???  I have never even heard of this.

So I ran to the pits and grabbed the “B” bike.  By that time I was in last place by a long shot.  Oh well, I just rode my race and tried to battle back.  I think I took 5th and, of course, Sage took the “W”. He has been so close this year.  It was good to see him get one. Overall a great course with a large run up and lots of grass and dirt trails.  The weather calmed a little, but I still needed a bottle on the bike, which makes it not seem like cyclocross.  I can’t wait to take all my water bottle cages off.
Brian Sac #3 2015 2

Shouldering up the hill on the first lap…I know this because my “A’ bike only made it one lap

Sage Oakland 2015 1

Sage with the shoulder

Brian Sac #3 2015 1

Over the barriers.  I’d sure like to stay on my bike more in the Sac races…

Sage and Brian Sac #2 2015 (2)

Relaxed at the start

Sage and Brian Sac #2 2015

Following Sage on Lap 1

Race Update From Down South

CX Nation

CX Nation racer Brij Kunine gives us an update of racing the 45+ A’s down in Monterey at the CCCX cyclocross series…..

CCCX#3 Manzanita Park –The View from Mid-Pack 9/27/15
My first race after a bit of a rough late-summer/ early fall.  I love Manzanita Park–it has a long uphill paved S/F and several levels of baseball fields connected by dirt roads and paths with some nice rooty off-camber tree sections in-between.  Started in the middle of the small field (16 riders).  I got off to a decent start and managed to work my way up as Rob Meighan (Giant Berry) took the hole shot and hung on for what might have been a wire-to-wire impressive victory. I got up to about 5th but had no hope of catching Meighan or Mark Howland (Family Cycling) after he had worked his way up to second.  I teamed up with Stacey Sell (Family) after he dropped his chain and then Tim Watson (Rock Lobster) who was riding strong and smooth.  Each dropped me eventually with Tim ending up an impressive third.  Despite being discarded by Tim and Stacey I was feeling happy to be at it again and stoked to be in sixth (Matt Shelton listed as riding for DFL this year was up there riding super well too).  Last lap I could see my buddy in his first race back after his own wire-to-wire Rock Lobster Cup victory, Mark Acker (Nest) hunting me down with his wife Hiroko, brother, and folks cheering us both.  I was pooped.  Done for.  I tried but I cramped on a tough u-pick ride or run I had done pretty well on until the final 500m.  I tried to save a little to outsprint him but cramps don’t lie.  Not only did he best me at the finish Chad Rosser (SJ Bike Club) worked me over too.  Eighth it was.
CCCX#4 Toro Toro Toro 10/4/15
Another great venue and course.  Toro Park, Salinas, has actual green grippy grass and the usual Central Coast dirt & hills.  Nineteen of us towed the line and once again I had a third-row start.  A missed pedal led to a nasty crash right off the line.  I was lucky to get around it and heard there was another one shortly after.  I settled in mid-pack again and made it around a bobble in the deepest duff section.  The course features a really fast dirt section which leads up to a tough short climb.  I gave it full gas and got up to sixth.  To be honest, the more hectic the start and the more chaos the better I seem to do–must a size thing, I can get through the small holes.  Anyhow Meighan was off the front again!  And with a decent gap.  Howie had a great start in second chasing hard, and Stacey, a Team Super Pro Racer from France (so I hear) Youenn Colin and I were third through sixth.  There was a lot of jockeying around and riding through the back of the 35+ riders who had started thirty seconds in front of us. It was a really fast course and super windy.  I had mentioned to Mark Acker and Eric Bustos (Giant Strawberry) that us little dudes can really draft.  And I did.  I felt much better after actually training the past week and was happy to sit on Stacey as he pulled me around and around.  M. Colin was dropped and I was thinking I could try to work Stacey over if there were maybe two laps left.  I looked at my watch, we had only been racing 22 min.  B Plan–hang on as long as possible and don’t let Mark, Chad, Eric, etc., right behind catch me once dropped.  Stacey finally forced me to the front, but I just slowed us down I was so dizzy in all of the grass turns.  He took it up again while I concentrated on hanging on for dear life.
With two to go he made me pull for the better part of a lap.  I felt a little better and got in a rhythm.  There was a tree barrier which was ridable, but Stacey played it smart and moved in front of me to keep me from riding it while he dismounted.  We entered the long sidewalk straightaway and sure enough he punched my ticket with a really big attack.  I managed to go with him but after section with lots of grass turns we got back on the sidewalk and I had no answer for Effort #2.  Bock Dickie (Buy Cell/Ibis) racing the 35+’s and back after two bad crashes was with us and easily bridged up to Stacey.  (Brock and I roadSaturday and I knew he’d been through a lot with broken ribs, a hurt ankle, booty hematoma, etc.)  One more lap with those dudes 5-10 seconds in front.  I was really worried I’d get hosed again.  I could see Chad and a dude named Travis Ma (Penn Velo) with a lot of fans cheering him right behind (although I didn’t know he was a 45+ at the time).  But some previously passed 35+ racer caught back up to me and that bit of draft was all I needed to hold them off.  Howie had gotten on Meighan’s wheel and almost beat him after Meighan clipped a pedal in the final barriers just before the finish.  Those boys are riding really strong.  Stacey was 18 seconds behind them and I was 8 behind him with each person just a few seconds back of the next.  A wily fourth.
Brij

 

Sacto Round 1

I’m lovin’ me some Sacto grass cross.  Last weekend was the opener of the Sacramento race series.  I’ve made it my focus this year.  Round 1 was in Orangevale, a suburb of Sac.  They brought this course in a couple years ago and I always love coming back.  Lots of grass, mostly flat, sand, sun…you get it.  Saturday was a toasty one.  90+ degrees and East Coast muggy.  It also saw the return of Brian Finnerty to racing.  A phenomenal rider who, it seems, could win any race at any time in any category.  Fortunately for Sage and I he signed up for the 35+ A’s.

There was a huge crowd of racers for the lower categories, but by the time the A’s rolled up to the start it was a small showing.  All the A’s go for 60 minutes, which is great training, but can be very hard.  There were only 7 of us in the 35+.  Sad.  Very sad.  A lot of the usual suspects don’t seem to be riding this year.  I have yet to see Coates, Myrah, et al.  Finnerty was enough though.

I got off to a great start.  It seemed like everybody else was relaxing a little too much.  I know George (the announcer) is a quick starter, so I was ready.  It seems like the start of the race is the only time I am doing well this year.  I have the hole shot in 3 or 3 races this year.  Then it is all downhill.  Same on Saturday.  I lead for 3/4 of the first lap and I only knew it would be a matter of time before Finnerty came around me.  He did and so did Sage.  I had nothing.  Ugh….  Then I lost 3rd place.  Double ugh….

So I just spun around and tried to pick off as many people as possible. After 4 of 10 laps I began to feel the heat.  Chills gave way to a slow dehydration.  I did manage to get some bunny hopping practice, which I am horrible at.  They had a smallish plank in the middle of a sand pit.  The sand was rideable, but if you bobbled the hop you lost all momentum to get out of the sand.  I only sketched out once,on the last lap, so it didn’t really matter.  Finnerty won, Sage second and I was 4th.  Hopefully the endurance is coming…..

Brian Sac Orangevale 1 2015

Great jump off the line

Sage and Brian Orangevale 1 2015

Sage and I together on the first lap

Sage Orangevale Sac 1 2015

Sage hops….

Brian Sac Orangevale 2 2015

Brian suffers

Nats, Altitude and Hay Pits

How excited I was when I heard months ago that Nationals for cyclocross in 2018 was awarded to Reno.  Drive to a Nationals?  Home court advantage, yes!   Drive to the race.  No flying, breaking bikes down, hurting my arms dragging said bikes through airport, rental cars that don’t fit the bikes…you get it.  Winner! I can’t wait.  In the meantime, the organizing committee is putting together some racing in the park where Nats will be held.  Sort of a practice run.  Very smart, after last years debacle in Austin.  Granted this race was in September and not in January, but at least it is something.

Now Reno is a long drive for just one race, but I want to support this organization and all that they are doing.  Rancho San Rafael Park is an easy venue to get to, very close to the main freeway running through northern Reno.  The venue is huge with lots of parking, plenty of places to set up and very centrally located to everything in Reno.  I set up the CX Nation tent on the grassy area and went out to check on the course.  Granted this is trial run and some things might change, but the course was well set up and had lots of tough obstacles.  Pro rider Teal Stetson-Lee of Scott Racing is the main hancho (or is it honchette?) and the mad creator of this course.

The course begins with a long and wide packed dirt start/finishing stretch.  The dirt was a little bumpy and slightly uphill.  A box scraper might make this a little better start and reduce the bumps.  I felt like I was on a mini pump track.  From there it’s into a small bark section and then into the grass, which is all uphill.  The grass puts you into a sand pit which was made unrideable by all with two sharp turns.  Then it’s downhill and into the Hay Pit, which at first I felt was a little dangerous.  It is basically a trough of hay with two planks that stretch across it.  You can ride the planks, bunny hop the barriers holding the hay in or dismount and run.  Of course it is fastest to ride the planks, but being my conservative self, I just dismounted.  After that it was into a very steep flyover, through some trees and to the back side of the course.  On the backside the main feature was a huge loose dirt run up, then down a loose, tricky off camber downhill.  So what I am saying, it was “loose”.  Back to the front side and over some double barriers to the finish.  Whew…  Oh, and did I mention that it is at altitude.  I believe a few thousand few at least.  Dry and dusty too.  No biggie….

In my race I started out well and got the hole shot.  From there is was all downhill.  I just didn’t have the power and felt like the altitude was really hurting me.  I just couldn’t get into a rhythm and get going.  Field sizes were small and I ended up 7th…out of 7.  Doh!  Sage fared a little better in 4th, after washing out on a turn and losing 2nd.  Our new local Jonathan Baker, ex pro, took the “W”.  Gotta beat that guy this year.  Nats here we come….

21601988022_43e7f5c68a_z

Back side, sketchy downhill.  Looks like I am walking

Sage 2 Reno 2015

Sage out of the hay pit. He chose to run also.

Brian 2 Reno 2015

Double barriers on an uphill.  No rest for the weary.

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.

IMG_0159

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!

CX Nation

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

CX Nation

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….