#cyclocrash world championships
Midwest Regional Championships
I was at a USA Cycling clinic last summer that former pro and Masters Cyclocross World Champion Pete Webber was running. He was explaining how everyone and both their aunt and uncle start cross season every year but with each weekend, as the temps get colder and the weather gets wetter and things generally get more miserable, the turnout at the races drop. By the end of the season all the road racers that are totally burned out and looking for a break choose any reason to stay home from the races. All the racers who don’t like to get wet, be cold or put up with the mud start blowing the races off. Pretty much the only people you are left with are the cyclocross die hards and nothing short of the apocalypse would convince them to stay home from the races.
The message from Pete was, if you want to be successful at cyclocross from the start of the season to the end, you need to totally and wholeheartedly embrace every possible race condition and fully commit to 100% effort. You can’t fake it, you have to learn to love it. But once you do then it won’t matter the conditions, you will be ready. As a matter of fact, as the day of the race approaches and the conditions deteriorate you will find yourself salivating over the possibility to race in a situation that most normal cyclists would consider intolerable.
It’s taken me years to get to this place. Even last year there were days where I was slowly filling with dread as the race conditions began to decline. At the National Championships and the Masters World Championships I lined up and was ready to be competitive in race conditions that were far below ideal. I raced hard and was competing against guys that perhaps had better fitness than I did. But I believe the real advantage that these guys had was that they had raced cyclocross more years than I have, have seen far more horrible conditions than I have, and not only are they unfazed by what they saw, they were actually excited to race in it.
Last weekend I went down to Chicago for the Midwest Regional Cyclocross Championship. The night before the race the venue got about 5 inches of snow and there was no way that they could get the course cleared in time. It reminded me of the Minnesota State Championships in 2009 when we got about the same amount of snow the morning of the race. The event turned into a slog through the deep snow and I started the race but dropped out after two laps in frustration. But last weekend I took one look at the course conditions and was ready to go. The lesson I eventually learned from 2009 is that the conditions were the same for everyone and the only difference was the attitude of the guys that kept racing. They weren’t miserable, they were having fun racing bikes. And that what I did from the gun in Chicago, just had fun racing in the snow. Honestly, it’s also what I did at the Minnesota State Championships weekend before last when it was -5°F. I was ready and excited to race in that condition, in any condition. Sure, you can go out and be in misery and ride hard and hopefully get a good results, but why not have a good time instead? That way if you don’t get the result at least you still had a fun time!
Anyway, the race in Chicago was great. The course was fun and would have been challenging in the dry but the snow added a really fun element and I had a great time. I misjudged my race prep a bit so I did not have time to pre-ride the course figuring it was more important for me to get warmed up before the start of the race. So for the first half lap I was following wheels before I started to work hard to move up. Two races had already taken place before mine and, while those two races had ridden a narrow “single track” line into the snow, there was still deep snow on both sides of the main line. The only way to pass people was to drop back a bit and then come at them fast and move into the deep snow for the pass with enough momentum to get by before getting too bogged down. Just about the time I would really lose momentum I would switch back into the main line having made the pass successfully. I must have done this about a dozen times during the race moving towards the front and then dealing with lapped traffic but it worked every time. Other than that I spent the race riding hard on the straight and fast open sections, hitting the runups as hard as I could, riding slow in the slick corners and taking it easy on the down hills to avoid crashing. No problems and the race was a big success for me.
So now it’s three weeks to get ready for the National Championships. The plan is to fly in the night before my race as I did for the Boulder Cup weekend in October and try and avoid any effects of jet lag. It worked great last time so fingers crossed. One more race and the season is over!
Cocoa isn’t thrilled with my footwear choice, prefers park boots.
Typographical Poster Made With Bicycle Parts by Studio on Fire
Putting the cannondale evo through some of my personal tests! via
The low lake levels are revealing some amazing old ramps, parts of piers, stone that hasn’t seen air in years.
Office work is so tiring.