La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Winter is knocking at the door…

I havent been doing regular race reports – CX racing, while fun, is not all that interesting to write about. Most of my races thus far would go something like this:

I started sprinting then stared at my stem for 45 minutes while I buried myself in the pain cave.

And that’s usually all there is to it. My legs have started to come around though and I’m getting used to the high intensity efforts. I pulled off some good results last weekend:

  • 3rd place at the Blue Sky Velo Cup. A relatively untechnical course with lots of straight out power sections – suited me well. Kept my place despite having my Maxxis Raze tire blow clear off the NoTubes rim on my front wheel – luckily i was right by the pit and was given a loaner front wheel and somehow held off 4th place. The collateral damage was minimal: a sore shoulder and the complete destruction of my handlebars; the drop bars were bent beyond repair.

  • 2nd place at Loisville Rec Center. I spent the morning overhauling the bike with a new front tire (Michelin Mud2 – awesome!) and flat bars.

    The flat bars are vastly superior to drops in every way – I’m convinced that the only reason CX racers still use drop bars is fashion-consciousness and adherence to ridiculous tradition for tradition’s sake. Anyways the Louisville course had a few nasty steep long run ups which I freakin’ LOVED – everyone else seemed to hate ’em. Was 10 secs behind the leader for most of the race but just couldnt bridge that gap.

And this week, for the first time since April, I’ve had to dust off the old rollers and do some indoor workouts. The weather is quickly turning cold and nasty and the first snow feel imminent. Soon I will come to embrace this fact (once I can strap on my skis and snoeshoes) but for now, I will grumble and keep hoping for a few more weeks of fall.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CX Season begins

So far I’ve jumped into 3 CX races in the last week (two at New Belgium Brewery here in the Fort, another down in Boulder yesterday – the Boulder Cup #2 at Interlocken Park). I’ve gotten trounced in each race.. but I’m hooked. It’s a blast, really cool people and a whole different challenge to throw down everything you can muster for 45 minutes.

My biking legs are just not there yet and it certainly shows as I’m getting crushed by guys who I beat during the MTB season. Who knew taking 2 months off of serious bike training would hurt my cycling fitness?

Well the bad news is the CX season is short and there isn’t much time to build a proper base and build up my fitness the ‘traditional’ way. The good news is that I have lots of room for improvement and there will be lots of CX races to test myself – I plan on simply racing myself into shape by the Colorado State Championships.

Here’s what I’ve got on the calendar for the rest of the season:

10/12/10 New Belgium Cyclocross, Fort Collins
10/16/10 On the Cross, Denver
10/17/10* Aspen Lodge Cyclocross, Allenspark
10/19/10 New Belgium Cyclocross, Fort Collins
10/23/10 * Blue SkyCup, Longmont
10/24/10* Boulder CX Series #3, Boulder
10/26/10 New Belgium Cyclocross, Fort Collins
10/30/10 * Colorado Cross, Boulder
10/31/10* Halloween Boulder Cup, Broomfield
11/13/10 US Grand Prix – New Belgium Cup Day 1, Fort Collins
11/14/10 US Grand Prix – New Belgium Cup Day 2, Fort Collins
11/20/10 * Rosalie Race To Educate, Bailey
11/21/10 * CycloX, Boulder
11/28/10 Boulder CX Series #4, Boulder
12/04/10* CO State Championships, Boulder
12/05/10* CO State Championships, Boulder
12/18/10 Boulder CX Series #5, Boulder
1/1/11 Hangover Cross, Denver
1/22/11* CycloX, Longmont
1/29/11* Boulder CX Series, Boulder

(* = Part of the Colorado Cross Cup)

I’m very psyched to have all these great races with seriously stacked competition so close to home. Especially the US Grand Prix race, the New Belgium Cup, which brings a top-level national CX event right to my hometown!

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Race Report: Blue Sky Trail Half Marathon 2010

This was the culmination of 8 weeks of post-MTB season training focussed almost purely on running (with a wedding and a 2 week backpacking trip thrown in 🙂 ) As an “off-season”, it was sort of a fail – my training volume did decrease a bit but I definitely did a solid amount of training in the form of long trail runs, lots of hills and hillclimb TTs and 1mile and 800m repeats (on grass in a park – I cant stand running on a track).

Glad to say that it paid off. I somehow rocked the Blue Sky Half today with an 8th place overall which was good for 1st place in the 30-39 age groupers. My time was 1:47:12 which was pretty decent given the terrain. Not bad for my first half.

Note the delirious expression – yes it was painful. The effort was similar to a XC MTB race where its just a bit too long to rev up the engine to threshold pace but too short to really “pace yourself”.

And Jos rocked it too – working a new job, backpacking and planning the wedding she barely had any time for training but still pulled off a very respectable 2:30 finish.

The course started on a nice flat dirt trail for the 1st 3 miles then turned to a relentless series of ups and downs along the rocky Blue Sky trail and Indian Summer trails. Not too many huge climbs but there were a lot of them. And the footing was sketchy in spots making it difficult to hold a steady rhythm. They are fun fun trails though and I dont think I’d want to run 13.1 miles on anything but some primo singletrack.

I kept up a good strong effort for the first 11 miles, enough to gap my nearest competitors on the climbs, only to crack on the final descent. My legs just turned to jelly and I lost all my “spring”. I put it in cruise control and got passed with 400m to go by #7.

Legs feel ok now but we’ll see how tomorrow treats them. For now its time to rest, drink a beer and get my CX bike ready for action. Can I put away my running shoes now?

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Project SS CX

I felt a strange urge to build up and race a singlespeed cyclocross bike this season …

It’s been a while since I’ve done any serious racing on a bike (mid July) and looking back at my training log I was appalled to see no cycling workouts at all for the month of Sept. (despite 170 miles of backpacking and 75 miles of running since August).

So needless to say I’m itching to get on the bike. And with fall coming on strong, cyclocross will be my outlet. Unfortunately, before the wedding/honeymoon I noticed a crack in my Bianchi CX bike. Long story short, they wouldn’t warranty it but I ended up finding a sweet deal on a Ridley Crosswind frameset.

And just to make things interesting, I wanted to go single speed on the cross bike to reduce maintenance headaches. Colorado snow and mud screws with your drivetrain something fierce – best to keep it simple and single.

So here she is:

The specs:

  • 56 cm Ridley Crosswind
  • 4Za Python Carbon Fork
  • Stans 355/White Industries Eno Hub Rear w/ 18T freewheel
  • Stans Arch/American Classic Hub Front
  • Maxxis Raze Tires set up tubeless
  • XTR crankset with 42T Salsa Chainring
  • A bunch of other boring stuff…

The real gem is the White Industries Eno hub which is has an adjustable eccentric hub axle to move the rear axle relative to the bottom bracket allowing for chain tensioning and single/fixed applications.

First impressions?

Ridley’s are sized BIG .. I typically ride a 58-60cm road bike and the 56cm Crosswind is a good fit but I could probably even drop down to a 54 and be comfy!

The frame and XTR cranks make for one stiff and responsive ride. Stomp on the pedals and this thing just flys. The steering is super quick and the bike feels tall but nimble … it turns on a dime with very little input like you’re ready to zip through a tight obstacle course – which is essentially what CX is. The geometry is comfy to sit and grind the pedals too but it really encourages you to attack out of the saddle. In short, Ridley’s pedigree as the best CX frames in the business is well deserved. Not entirely sure if it will make a good all-around bike but it sure is a zippy race-specific machine.

The Python fork is nice and light but you gives some godawful brake shudder unless you really dial in your brakes. I ended up toeing he pads A LOT .. the front of the pad hits ~ 4mm before the rear. Makes the brakes a little squishy but eliminates the brake shudder.

42×18 might prove to be a little stiff of a gear. It’s great on the roads/flats but we’ll see how it works in mud, grass, climbs and slow corners. I’d rather push some low RPMs or just jump off and run if it means avoiding spinning out on the fast flats though.

We’ll see how it goes this Tuesday when the New Belgium cyclocross series starts up. I am stoked. And, oh yeah, tomorrow I’m racing the Blue Sky Half Marathon which I am clearly very focussed on 😛

October 2, 2010 Posted by | Cyclocross | Leave a comment