La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Hometown ‘Cross: The US Grand Prix comes to Fort Collins

It was a cool weekend – got to see and participate in a huge national event right here in my backyard – The US Grand Prix of Cyclocross.

This past week saw rapidly dropping temps and some snow so the race courses have finally transitioned from hot and dusty to cold and muddy.

The SingleSpeed race went off at 9:30 on both Saturday and Sunday. All the big dogs were there and it was definitely time to throw down. The course changed drastically as we rode it, going from frozen ruts to a muddy sloppy mess as the sun came out and temps started to climb above freezing. Saturday turned out well – 3rd place. I had a good groove going, made relatively few mistakes and felt strong.

Covered in mud – time to clean up with high pressure hose applied directly to the freewheel (in retrospect a very poor idea)

Sunday was just not destined to be my day apparently. I was fired up and felt strong but as I was warming up, my drivetrain felt a little less responsive than normal. The freewheel was not engaging properly. Then it stopped engaging all together –freewheel completely destroyed as I could freewheel with the crank spinning in either direction. With 30 minutes until my race start, I ran back to the car and floored it to get home across town where I threw the SS mountain bike on the roof and drove back. Luckily Joselyne was with to me prevent a complete a psychological meltdown on my part.

Anyways, I got to the line with 3 minutes to spare. Phew. Time to breath, answer everyone’s questions about my bike swap (“Hey Matt whats with the Mountain Bike this week?”).

I grabbed the wholeshot and gained a decent gap on the frozen techy downhills. But then the weight of my bike and my 32×19 gear started to slow me down and I settled into leading the front group.

Bu the end of lap 2, the course started to defrost. MUD. My 2.2″ tires were picking it up and not letting go while the CX tires were slicing right through it.

By the end of the race my bike was well over 40lbs. Which made riding uphill tough and any portaging sections very tough. I rode/bunnyhopped through the barrier sections since my bike, now roughly twice the weight of my competitors, could barely be lifted.

The mud impacted my handling as well and I was slipping and sliding all over the place. Frustrating day. Still I held onto 5th place which was better than I felt.

Lessons learned:

  • CX tires are 32mm for a reason – wide MTB tires SUCK on a sticky muddy course.
  • CX bikes are super light for a reason – the suspension and beefy design of my MTB were not appreciated today
  • Don’t buy cheep-ass freewheels – go for the best

After the race, Jos, japhy and I went for a good trail run down at Devil’s Backbone. A nice easy 3 miles plus another 3 at tempo pace. 6 miles of running after a CX race – I am cooked. Just enough energy to catch the USGP video stream and watch Katie Compton and Tim Johnson kill it in the Elite races. So tired.

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November 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where the mountain bikers and the antelope play…

November, you say? The weather was strangely un-November like .. time to chamois up and hit the trails.

I drove up North for about 25 min (almost to the WY border) to the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. The area and the adjacent Red Mountain Open Space and Cheyenne Open Space are easily 35+ square miles of open prairie with barely a tree in sight. It’s within sight of snow-capped 11k ft peaks but it feels like a world away from the Rockies.

Instead you get some nice grassland, endless views and sagebrush canyons with a surprising amount of elevation gain.

The trails are buttery sand over hardpack, lacking any real technical features but the singletrack sections have endless flow.

Some nice views up on the Cheyenne Rim trail.

Good place to crank out some base miles on the singlespeed.

And yes I saw plenty of deer and antelope playing too. 30 miles in 3 hours (with still 10+ miles of trails there left to explore).

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment