The new and improved BSC are tearing it up in April. Two days and two podium finishes, I grabed a cat 3 podium spot at the Lawrence River Trails Mountain Bike Challenge Saturday, and newly acquired member Craig Piburn kicked asses and took names sunday at the God’s Country Duathalon against the 2’s 2nd place. Both of us brought home some new shiney medals too, always nice!!
I for one keep screwing up races at the LRT and somehow come out smelling like a rose, that is if roses smell like blood and sweat. Last year I nearly missed the race, getting signed in and all with minutes before my start time, plus it was my first mtb race ever. Despite my misadventure / painful encounter with a flying mtb bike I managed to finish 5th, not bad for my first mtb race. This year I had plenty of time, but thought I could make it to the car in back before my race started to change out gloves and grab another water bottle. I was able to get to the bike as the race began but i still had my keys and bottle in my hands, franticlly trying to get them into my jersey pockets. It got to a point where I had to stop because I just couldn’t get them stowed away. Duhh!! I’ll be damned if I’m going to get beat by the guys in the baggy shorts and flat pedals who just got by me while I was stopped.
This cost me a ton of time, putting me towards the back of the field. Catching the field wasn’t as easy as it should have been. There were multiple groups on the course at the same time; men, women, marathoners… I had to assume everone was in my filed and pick them off one at a time regardless of their race. This is when I think mtb racers should wear numbers on their jerseys, not just on the front of the bike, you can’t tell who is who, except for the women and juniors.
Oh, did I mention that i was doing this on a cx bike? There were many there last year, but I was the only one saturday on a cx bike.
The river trails are perfect for cx bikes, almost no rocks, just a few roots and stumps to navigate around. There is plenty of allowing you to get some speed and fly by everyone on their heavy and undergeared mtb bikes. Oh sure there are a few hinderances with a cx bike, but nowhere near enough to make one consideer this a bad idea. Plus, I don’t even own a mtb bike, so I didn’t have a difficult choice. Many looked at me with some degree of couriousity when we were lined up, but when I’m battleing for a podium spot with a few hundered meters to go and I’ve got a lighter bike that will out run your heavy ass mtb every day of the week and twice on sunday.
Craig chose wisely too, he rocked his cx bike on the God’s Country Duathalon, the next day and the same venue too.
P.S. To top the day off I won two grude matches at the KC Sprints at Buzzard Beach!
So here goes, my thoughts on three days in Iowa.
- Hand-ups a plenty. Beer of course, Pringles, Spray Cheese, sardines, summer sausage, wine, cookies, animal crackers actually, more beer.
- Climbing Mt. Krumpet over and over again in ankle deep mud, with you bike over your shoulder and pedals digging in your back.
- Racing in and out of fair ground buildings, really fun.
- Tandem bike with girls in bikini’s!
- Seeing people race and not caring how well they did.
- Racing bikes down hotel hallways, Friday Night 3rd Floor World Championships.
- Stopping up hotel room showers with mud when you try to wash you, your kit, shoes and a bike, well not the bike it wouldn’t fit. (I feel so sorry for the housekeeping staff, we really trashed those rooms and hallways, dirt and mud everywhere.)
- Realizing you entered a race way beyond your skill level seconds after the start.
- Having to stop to remove mud from your bike because the wheels will no longer spin.
- Over 1000 entries, huge fields.
- Deliberately flaunting USA cycling and UCI rules and regulations about hand-ups and glass bottles.
- Watching the KCCX / Verge kids school riders twice their age in the elite race.
- Finding good Mexican food just down the street from the race venue.
- Starting a race with an 18 lb. bike and finishing with a 30 lb. bike.
- Watching the pros make the hardest thing you have ever done look alarmingly easy.
- ‘Cross team kits are the best looking kits in cycling.
- Finishing a race soaked in a disgusting mix of beer, cheese, and mud.
- Getting a standing ovation after eating it in the mud while descending Mt Krumpet.
- Driving five hours to race for 45 minutes.
- Christmas themed race, hell yeah!
- It’s not so much the mud that gums up the works it’s the grass that binds the mud together.
- Cyclocross people are the best people in cycling!
- Sandbaggers exist everywhere.
- Finding mud on you even after taking a shower, how the mud got in my ears I’ll never know.
- They change the course every day, you’ll never race the same race twice.
- Watching KU loose to Mizzou in a room full of KU fans, priceless.
- Getting a bit of recognition by the course announcer. “…There goes 113, Christopher Thomas of Black Sheep Cartel, racing out of Kansas City…”
- Mud, oh god, the mud. Thick, deep, wet, slick…
- F*#@ing awesome, it’s a must if you like cyclocross. DO IT!!
- Iowa and Missouri are really bleak this time of year.
- Marriott actually has a catalog in each room selling the same mattress, bedding, and shower accessories. Just incase you want your home to look like a hotel room.
- Always hoping that the officials will screw up and place you higher in the results, aka “pulling a Chasm” getting placed 5th after getting lapped twice.
- Race above your level so you can experience the full experience of Mt Krumpet. The mens and women’s 4 don’t make full use of the entire course.
- People dig the pink kit!
- I wish I had a pit bike, dealing with the mud is crazy.
- It’s faster to go to a car wash in town rather than wait in line to wash your bike at the venue.
I’ve had a less than stellar ‘cross season so far. I felt I was getting worse instead of getting better, not even a little bit better. I was seriously wondering why the hell I keep doing this to myself, $25 or more flushed down the drain every weekend. I finally came to and understanding with myself, I’m not worrying how well I do, I’m now trying to focus on the fun that I’m having rather than how miserable I feel while racing. Cross is miserable for everyone, gotta’ find the fun in it somewhere.
Boulevard Cup was the final race with the all the negativity floating around in my brain. Last week at Smithville Cyclocross Fest saw a more positive performance, and I did much better than the previous races. It was a fun and fast course, especially the beach section, the fastest line was actually in the water, go figure.
I actually wrote out a blog about it but it was just a woe as me essay and didn’t want to bore everyone with it so I didn’t post it. Nobody wants to read someone bitch and moan about how bad they are. You can thank me later.
I finally had my cx bike fit a few days ago, and it looks as if it was the best thing I’ve done since I started racing ‘cross several years ago. Has it really been 3 seasons? Who would have guessed that moving things a few millimeters up and down would make such a difference. The weather has been lousy the last few days and I didn’t have the chance to ride the bike and see if things got better.
I nearly missed the start of the Masters B race, when my left Egg Beater pedal broke, the spring just snapped while I was warming up. Oh shit!! Luckily Joe lent me the pedal off of his pit bike, we got it on just in time. I would have been screwed without it, lots of climbing and it would have been rough with only one shoe clipped in. That’s the second set of Egg Beaters I’ve broken, I’m that powerful!
The whistle sounded and I found myself near the front of the pack, not that big of a deal, I’ve been good at starts lately, my finishes are a different story. I was sitting in third or fourth for much longer than ever before, easily passing people and keeping them behind me, this never happens. Laps came and went and people I passed earlier were still behind me. Again, this NEVER happens. I ended up making a few bike handling issues and several were able to sneak past, but not as many as usual. I’m hoping the difference was in the bike, it might be a bit psychological too, but I’m not too worried about this. What ever it was it seems to have made a hugh difference. 9th place, not to bad.
As is the case with athletes who tend to be a bit superstitious I’m going to see what I can do to keep this new found ability around. I’ll be back in the 2008 State of California Championship skinsuit, same socks, same shoes (new shoes actually Mavic Razor), same pre-race meal… What ever it takes, look out for the California champ, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The California Champion skinsuit was found on ebay, after spotting one when I was in San Francisco in the spring. Yeah, I know I didn’t earn it, but it was a find that was too cool to pass up, $30 and was like new when I got it. Regardless, it made for a great Halloween race costume, plus a blond wig and a puka shell necklace. (hopefully someone has pictures and will be posted when found) All bets and norms are off when it comes to Halloween costumes. I was glad to see others raced in costumes too; there were roller girls, lots of tatts and fishnets, Clark Kent, several skeletons. I wish there were more, but it was better than nothing. It seems like the lower your classification the higher the odds you would see someone in a costume. I was the only one in the 3/4 race, and there were none in the open races. Lame!
Speaking of superstions, I haven’t washed my bike or my pink Black Sheep kit since the season started. I’m not sure if this has helped or hurt my chances or if I’m just lazy.
Speaking of the 3/4 race. I was feeling so good about my first race I felt that a second race was in order. I missed the window for the mens 4 race, so I signed up for the 3/4 race instead. I soon had a feeling that this was a really bad idea. That feeling turned out to be true as soon as the race began. I was in last place in seconds, and would be there for the next 45 minutes. After getting blown away at the start my hopes of anything good quickly disappeared, it became a personal challenge to see how I could do against guys who are much better than I am. I held off getting lapped for about half the race. By then I was hopping to get pulled, but each time I rolled past the officials they kept showing me the number of laps left. I’d yell something, but they kept showing me the lap board. I realized that they weren’t pulling me, despite how slow I was going but short of stopping they were going to make me finish. It was a small field and I wasn’t causing any traffic jams. I was in it for the duration, and I couldn’t bring myself to quit. I was positive I was getting a DFL but somehow finished 16th out of 18. I’m not sure how that happened, and I don’t care. I might revisit the 3/4 category in the future, but it will be some time before that happens, I’m sticking with the Masters B, maybe a Masters A here and there but it’s B races for now.
* I didn’t make it to Lawrence, I went out with friends, two robots actually Halloween night and didn’t make it home until quite late, even including the extra hour with the time change. Getting up early and driving all the way to Lawrence just didn’t sound like the thing to do this morning, catching up on some well needed sleep seemed to be the wise thing to do. There is plenty of racing to do this season and missing one race isn’t a big deal. The race next Saturday is at night under the lights at a race track, it sounds really fun! Then the Destad Cup continues Sunday and I’m working my way up the points list, so I’ll be there too.