I think I’m getting old. Sunday was my 3rd race in 4 weeks,and I just don’t feel all snappy like I used to after multiple races in a short period. I am also training through these races, so I hope that is also contributing to the fatigue, (not to mention the ton of work/travel I’ve had going on). But even with the little more than normal tiredness that I usually have, I have been feeling pretty good for the most part and can feel the fitness getting better. And of course, when my fitness is growing and I’m getting good results, it’s easy to keep the mojo flowing and the training going!
So my two part blog…
Week of 4/22….training has been going really well. And because of the 2 races coming up, Coach<http://www.coachdrewedsall.com/> had me go into a semi taper. The week was mostly recovery rides with openers, and only one really hard day on Wednesday. The weekend’s forecast was nasty, and I knew that I would be facing some muddy conditions. Because of baseball duties, I was unable to leave until well after lunch. And losing an hour on the way over, I knew we were going to be pressed for time. Jerry and I rolled out of town and made rather good time to Ft Yargo<http://yaba.homestead.com/Trails.html>. Despite the rain chances being well into the 80%…it managed to hold off for our pre-ride<http://app.strava.com/activities/51278608>. We railed the trail and had a blast. It was fast and flowy, with not much climbing at all, and I really enjoyed it.
SERC/US Cup #3<http://www.goneriding.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=43&Itemid=69> Race day greeted us with wet grounds from the night’s rainfall, and a strong chance for rain by mid race. This time the rain would not disappoint, and started falling pretty steady after one lap and throughout the end. My age group had 15 dudes and I was kinda unsure of how I would fair against them. Things started pretty fast, but we had a decent drag to the start of the trail. So there was plenty of time to get positioned. I would end up about 8th in line. But, within 2 min into the trail, a guy hit the deck, and I would scoot around him and one other guy. Once the trail opened up and we hit the first climb, we surged and went around one other guy, and dropped the rest
of the field. So, one guy was off the front and I was in the 3 man chase group. The 3 of us would battle for the next 2 laps and were all really well matched. I seemed to be faster in the tight trails, but they were climbing a bit better. As we came through for the last lap, the pace increased slightly and I started to get antsy. I would put the first dig in as we entered the woods, but I didn’t go anywhere. Then, as we hit the climb, they both put an attack down and I couldn’t respond. I was able to pull them back once on the next little bit of trail, but they would again ride away as I faded more. I rode in for a very happy 4th place<http://www.goneriding.com/images/pdfs/SERC/results/13serc3y.pdf>.
Week of 4/29…training for the most part was on the down low. Again, coming off a race and going into another race weekend, the week was mostly recovery. However, as mother nature continues to elude us this spring, the forecast was gloomy and lots of rain predicted. So my desire to race was fading about as fast as my effort in the last lap of the last race. For some reason on Friday, I decided to hit up some hills on my ride and pushed it a little too hard. I felt great! The legs were ready for sure. Sometime that night, I decided not to go to TN to race, but to head south to avoid the rain, and race another MORCS<http://www.morcs.org/> race. (plus the wife was there and that kept her happy). Hattiesburg greeted me with beautiful sunshine, but unseasonally chilly temps for this time of year. Once in town, I headed out for a little trail riding, a little road riding, and then enjoyed some grub with the family and had a pretty laid back evening.
Race day came early, as I had an hour30 drive to the venue. Plus, I had to register, so I needed to get there a little earlier than normal. I also ate McDonald’s for breakfast which is, I think, a first ever for a pre-race meal. But my parents had zero to eat, so I had to make do. I got some hot cakes and coffee and off I went. The day was full of sunshine but chilly still. After I got there and got myself signed up, I suited up and headed out for the warm up. Some friends took me on some of the beginning sections of the course, and it was about like I assumed it would be…rolling, twisty, tight, and fun. I warmed up for about 20min and then headed to the starting line. But I was very disappointed when I rolled up to the line only to see Andrew<https://www.facebook.com/#!/andrew.b.sorey?fref=ts>, my buddy from Jackson, at the line. I had anticipated there being several other guys from MS and LA there but it was not to be. Andrew lead for the first 2 laps and kept things very honest for us. We pushed a good pace but it wasn’t quite as intense as I wanted. On the 3rd lap, I put a dig in and started to ramp up the pace but would end up having all sorts of issues with traffic and with the course getting slick, and made tons of mistakes. I crashed twice and had a pretty good chain suck problem going on. I managed to ride hard though and build a good lead on Andrew by the end of the race. It was a fun day for the most part and the event was really great and run spot on by the Mt. Zion<http://www.singletracks.com/bike-trails/mt-zion-bike-trails.html> boys.
The next possible race for me would be the Skyway Epic<http://www.bamacross.com/2013/02/skyway-epic-mountain-bike-race/> in mid may. Not sure on it yet but either way I will be doing some mega training over the next month in prep for Bump N Grind<http://www.bumpngrindrace.com/>.
Thanks for reading!
2013 marks my latest start to the racing season since i began racing in early 2000! There are multiple reasons for such a late start, but i guess they are all just part of life! My time continues to be absorbed by travel due to work, WORK, and family duties. So, after missing the first two races that i had put on my schedule because of work and bad weather, i finally got lucky with both and had a chance to sneak over to Oxford, MS and race there second race of the newly formed MORCS.
A couple things to note…
- This was a true test for me as i really have no clue as to how my fitness is. I know I’m getting stronger based on my workout numbers but you never know how things will play out when you’re going full gas for 2+hrs.
- I was also on a loaner bike that i had never been on until Saturday before the race. Jonathan @ Cahaba Cycles hooked me up with his own Santa Cruz Highball 29er carbon hardtail for the race since my race bike is injured.
The weather for the weekend was perfect with sunny skies and warm temps. Clear Creek Rec Area has great campgrounds with clean bathrooms, so it was an easy decision to camp and be right by the race start. With everything in full bloom, the green on the trees is a brilliant emerald green and really is beautiful to be surrounded by while in the woods.
Race day morning greeted us with cool temps and a very laid back vibe. after an lite breakfast of granola and milk along as a cup (or two) of coffee, we slowly broke down camp and got ready for the race. After i was dressed and spinning around warming up, i thought about what my plan was for the race. I knew the compo was slim and that really, Andrew Sorey was probably the fastest guy on the line. He’s also young and i know he is always wanting to beat me, so i knew he would try and set the pace early and gap me. So, my plan was to let him do just that…lead the first lap and if my legs were able to respond after lap 1, I would put some work in on the 2nd lap. Each lap was 13 miles, so longer laps than normal but we were only doing 2, so overall the race was shorter than normal! (thank goodness) I warmed up for about 25min with a few openers and toed the line with about 10min to spare.
Once the gun went off, things went exactly how i expected. Andrew went hard and took the hole shot. I slotted in behind him and stayed tight on his wheel. we quickly created a gap on the rest of the cat 1′s and continued to distance ourselves from them. we were going hard but i was very comfy with the pace and just tried to stay steady in my efforts. Andrew is tall and pretty powerful and was really pushing the pace on some of the flatter sections of the trail but every time things went uphill, i would quickly roll right up on his wheel. As we quickly railed the super sweet flowing trails of Clear Creek i started to thing about how I wanted lap 2 to go.
as we came through the transition area Andrew pulled off the front to grab his feed, i rolled through to the front. i didn’t accelerate though and kept the pace the same. we were together as we entered the woods for the second time and were rolling fast. on the first climb, i punched it just a tad to see what would happen and immediately got a 5 sec gap. i decided to increase the tempo just a bit and within in 5min of steady riding, Andrew was out of sight. I knew i had the gas to keep it going and just rode. Things were pretty uneventful after that and i would ride solo for the rest of the race to take my first W of the year.
I love the unique awards from races these days!
A couple highlights for me…
1. I loved the Santa Cruz Highball!! very nimble and snappy in tight trails and climbed great!
2. After a couple months of consistent training, my fitness is starting to return and that’s very rewarding to see. Thanks Coach!
3. This is my first XC win in quite a long time and it felt great to stand atop the podium again!
4. The Clear Creek trails are super fun! They were very well built and flow great!
We arrived in Saint Francisville around 10PM, which was taking into account the daylight-savings time change. Knowing that we had an early morning, we checked into the hotel did what any good athletes would do… We went straight to the room to foam roll and we were off to bed to the nearby pizza parlor and quickly inhaled giant plates of lasagna and two pitchers of beer. In my carb-filled stupor, we returned to the room and I decided that running a 25c tire on the front would be advantageous. After making sure that nothing on my bike was going to catch my attention the next morning, I was off to bed. I had thought about this race non-stop for the past two weeks. I have even lost sleep thinking about each and every variable Heather and I have discussed leading up to the day of the race. I knew my body was prepared, so the most important factor the next day was keeping my head about me for the duration of the 106 miles. Since my cross-country trip this summer, I haven’t put in a 100 mile-day, or anything close. Once cyclocross season was over, my riding became almost entirely lactate threshold and VO2 intervals, with a 3.5 hour ride with tempo intervals here and there. My base is strong, but the kind of intensity I had anticipated undergoing for 4.5+ hours was intimidating me a little. Luckily, I have a great coach. I knew that Heather had more than adequately prepared me to push myself beyond what I ever thought to be physically capable of. My numbers reflected this. So, the rest was ultimately going to come down to eating, drinking, and not flexing my muscles too early.
We woke up at 5:44AM (because I have OCD and don’t like numbers that aren’t divisible by 4). We lumbered down to the main lobby of the hotel to pick up our packets and bib numbers, and naturally, my number was 113. So not only was it an odd number, but it was a prime number: my other numerical pet peeve. Kyle, Heather, and I made some waffles, drank the last drops from one of many pots of coffee, and returned to the room to get prepped for a long day.
Kyle and I watched the Pro/1/2 group roll out and decided to hop on the line. We carried our bikes down the stairs, and I followed Kyle as he did a cross-style mount on his SuperSix. I clicked in my left shoe and when I put my weight into my right shoe, nothing happened. I pushed again, but it felt as if my speedplay was sitting flush with my cleat platform. I stopped to see what was going on with my cleat and then I saw it. No spring.
My jaw hit the pavement. I was in such a rush at the shop the day before, I dropped my shoe while installing a shim between the platform and spring bracket on my cleat. I thought the metal area and plastic area had stayed together, containing the “C” shaped spring that lies between them (the piece that enables the cleat to serve any purpose). It must have fallen out and I was in too big a hurry to pay any attention to its being gone.
Needless to say, I had a little bit of a panic attack. Not like hyperventilating or pants wetting or anything like that (pants wetting happened later on), but I immediately went to the first team tent I saw. I asked for a mechanic at the Kona tent, and he looked totally blindsided when I asked if they had any spare Speedplay cleats in their van. The mechanic said they didn’t bring much of anything in way of parts. So I turned around it seemed that Heather and Kyle were both asking around too. Kyle rolled over to the USAC official and asked him where the director could be found. Luckily, he was standing feet away, talking into the microphone! Embarrassed, but completely desperate, I said to him “look, I did something really stupid. I lost the spring in my Speedplay cleat and need a replacement cleat or I can’t race.” Without hesitation, he calmly said, “Zero? X2? What are they?”
He picked up the mic and says, “Okay, everybody. Listen up, this guy needs a Speedplay Zero cleat. So if you have a spare pair of shoes or a cleat handy, this guy could really use it. Thanks.”
Literally, at that moment, I felt a hand on my back and someone say, “Hey man, you need a Speedplay cleat? I’ve got some extra shoes in my car. You want to throw it on real quick?”
We walked over to his car and started removing our respective cleat bolts, and Heather said, “Wait. What size are those?” They turned out to be a 45 Bontrager RXL, and fit me better than my Sidi Ergo 2s. In fact, they were the most comfortable road shoes I have ever put on my feet! He told me to race in them and just find him when I got done! This guy has some majorly good karma coming his way.
Now, I’m not a religious person, but I feel like I should be when these moments happen in life when it seems like something in the universe is changing the world around you JUST to save your ass.
I got on the line and my heart rate was already 110BPM. The group was quite large, and I pulled in five rows back in the 64-man 3/4 Category. Kyle was on the far right in the row in front of me. We started out, and I made my way to the right side of the pack. I wanted an easy out if the road became rough early on. The group was gathered fairly well spread out, but once the 1-lane country road started, sections became narrow and riders had trouble funneling through.
I thought a few of us were going to end up in a pileup on the second wooden bridge (not even 8 miles in), when the bridge was at the bottom of a short hill and a group of riders had nearly stopped in the middle of the bridge, causing several of us to lock up the brakes and hold on, while riders behind us had been going equally as fast. Two riders brushed me coming around, nearly barreling into riders in front of me.
I stayed in the middle of the peloton going into the first gravel section. I knew that the gravel would separate the pack quite a bit. I wasn’t looking to blow it out whatsoever, but I did want to get in the front of the group, just in case there was a promising breakaway and I had an idea of who was off the front. I used the first gravel section as a time to make worthwhile passes that would establish my place in the front of the pack. There was one pileup at the beginning of the gravel, when the course took a sharp right-hand turn uphill. The turn was littered with large rocks atop loose gravel, so those out of the saddle lost their line and caused everyone adjacent to lose theirs as well. I saw riders stopping and getting tangled up, so I took the turn way to the outside. I was almost track standing, waiting for the bodies to clear. Then, right when the group started to move again, it stopped. I put a foot down, but got back on and pedaled through the rest of the gravel section. I rode past someone who was running up with their bike and asked them if they were also having cross withdrawal. They didn’t reply. J
I was in a pack of twelve or so riders after the first section of gravel which consisted of 4 riders from the 4th Dimension Team and a smattering of other clubs. But the lead was short-lived. Minutes later, a group of 30 or so riders worked their way back up after the gravel turned back to pavement. It was obvious that a major strategy of doing well in this race was to avoid being held up by other riders, whether it be getting stopped behind them on technical terrain, or having your line obstructed when just trying to keep your wheels straight in loose sections. I ended up staying towards the front of the pack, often spending more time on the front of the line than I wanted to. But the wind had not gotten bad yet and this was good time to get my legs to open up a bit, so I just spun around 22mph until someone else wanted to set the tempo. There was one rider who went off the front SUPER early. He was a rider for 4th Dimension, and I could see he was really digging in. I thought to myself that it would be stupid to chase this early. I looked at a guy next to me and said, “We’ll catch him. No way he can sustain that for the duration.” The guy replied, “I don’t know, man. I think that guy competed in RAAM last year.” (This sentence should go in with the Shit Cyclists Say video.)
He also said that during some crit last year, he did his laps faster than the pros as a Cat 3. In other words, this dude was strong. When I looked up, he was already out of sight. I still didn’t have any interest in chasing or trying to make a breakaway of my own. I wanted to have a good finish, so I wasn’t about to risk that for a fighting chance in hanging with him even if I could catch up.
We hit the second gravel section, which was the longest and definitely most challenging. It was a combination of large, loose rock gravel, deep sand, and long steady climbing. Picking your line was tough through a lot of it, and people were having trouble putting enough trust into digging in their front wheels and plowing through. You had to anticipate which way riders were going to fishtail so to not get caught up or run into. This was impossible to do, however, when you were right next to someone when they lost control of their bike. I was subject to this twice, once in the second section in the middle of the road, and once in the third gravel section, putting me in a runoff ditch, bikes and all. Luckily, both of these happened going uphill. So, I lost some momentum. But this was much better than had I been bombing down at 33mph and run off the road.
Between the second and third gravel section spills, they not seem like huge setbacks; however, they allowed for two more riders to make their way out of the gravel a little faster, and get that much more of a lead once their tires hit the pavement again. At this point, the official told me that first had 3 minutes 30 seconds, second around 2 minutes, third and fourth had around 1 minute 20 seconds. And then I crested the small hill after the third gravel section and saw the fifth place rider only 20 seconds in front of me. This was around 84 miles in according to my Garmin, but I had been having issues with my GPS auto-pausing on and off all day, along with issues reading my power meter. So I didn’t know if my distance was accurate. I closed the gap, but during this time, I was all alone for a short time so I could re-search for my power meter. It turned out that we only had 15 miles or so, so my Garmin was off by 7 miles. He and I traded pulls for a bit, but I could see he was hurting. Another rider had worked his way up to us, which was a godsend for the guy I’d been working with. Me and our new comrade took 30s pulls for 10 miles or so, and somehow, a guy named Dan who none of us had seen since mile 25 came rocketing up into our line. Dan had chased for 70 miles, and still had the gas on. I was so damn impressed. Towards the final 2 miles, there was a shallow, but very steady climb. This was my chance to take a bit of a gap and secure a top 10 finish, so I powered up and dropped the group by 100 feet or so. Then, Dan did it again. He rode up on my wheel, and we traded long pulls until we saw the 1km sign. Then I decided that I was going to bury myself into the final climb and try to drop Dan. This failed attempt ended up in me continuing to pull Dan up the hill, and once it leveled, he hammered down and pulled away in the final 20 feet. I rolled in; legs on fire, in 6th in the 3/4s. Found out at the post-race dinner that I had finished 3rd in the Cat 4s, with a time of 5:07:43. I would have been happy with a top 10 finish, but was absolutely beside myself to find out I not only had come close to top 5, but had managed to earn a spot on the podium and still had an absolute blast! I will absolutely do this race again next year. The course was far more fun than I had expected, and I had pretty high expectations from everything I had read and heard from those who have raced it. I would even go as far to say that this was an easier undertaking than Southern Cross; however, for this race I had gears, so I understand that its not a fair comparison. Kyle Boudreaux was the race director (and guy with the microphone who helped save my race) and did a phenomenal job inside and out, along with everyone involved. Definitely want to send a big thanks to the organizers, volunteers, support team, and that random guy who lent me his shoes for the race. And most importantly, to the team I traveled to Saint Francisville with: my mother, who chose a pretty crazy weekend for a visit, my stellar teammate, Kyle Campbell, who had some issues early on in the race and still finished strong in the top 10 of the Cat 3s, and of course, my coach and teammate Heather for her unwavering support in everything I do.
Now that the cyclocross season is over, it is time to turn my attention to the upcoming mountain bike season. While getting my gear ready for a ride this Sunday I noticed that my Maxxis Ikon (pictured below) tires have worn to the point of meriting replacement. This got me thinking, “What tires should I put on?”.
Last year I did all of my racing and riding on Stan’s Crest wheels with Maxxis Ikon tires and I liked the combination as a do-it-all set up. Somehow a couple of weeks ago I snagged a pair or Bontrager RXL wheels in great condition for $49 so now I have another set of wheels to set up, too.
So here is my conundrum:
With two nice, lightweight sets of wheels, should I set up one wheelset with very aggressive, knobby tires, maybe Maxxis Ignitors (see below) or something similar, and set up the other wheels with some fast-rolling, low-profile, ultra-lightweight tires like the Bontrager 29-0 (see below)? (Thus giving me some options on how to address different courses and conditions)
Am I better served putting two sets more sets of Maxxis Ikons on each wheelset…dedicating one wheelset exclusively to training and another to racing? I already know I like the tire and I’m drawn to the idea of being intimately familiar with the way that the Ikons ride.
Like many other racers, I’m particular about the tires I ride on the trails. I’d be interested to hear advice from those of you on the team.
What would you advise me to do? What tires do you recommend for cross-country racing?
This pretty much sums up my fall 2012. A slog. Through the mud and through finishing my PhD work. Less than stellar on the bike, but I am a doctor now! Thanks to Team Momentum for picking up my slack. I think we have had an awesome team performance!! Very proud of the team. Thanks to all the sponsors and thanks for the encouragement!! Many thanks to Ken for his good advise and cheers!
Another Bamacross weekend flies by; and again, I’m speechless. The Anniston Double-Down was quite possibly the most fun course thus far. With a fast start on the pavement on the backside of the course, racers came in hot to a big, sweeping turn into the shoot to the first set of barriers. Then, racers encountered a good amount of tight, grassy twists and turns, some uphill barriers, and of course the buttery smooth goodness of the most randomly placed beach volleyball court in the history of public parks. The course was rad and the crowd was incredible. The music… not so good, but it gave me an opportunity to think of worse songs that could have been on an 8-track playlist. This has definitely been one of the most epic weekends since joining this great cycling community in August. Hope y’all will let us stick around.
I participated in four races this weekend: singlespeed and Cat 3 on both days. Luckily, the race schedule had a nice gap between heats. I couldn’t have done a repeat of Cullman! Saturday’s singlespeed race began around 4:45. I had warmed up with two practice laps and a spin around the pavement, but between the time we arrived and race time, the temperature had dropped at least ten degrees! And it only went down from there. I went from 9th to 6th, and went back and forth with Hardwick and Stuart for around a lap and a half. I had just put a new tire on my monster cross machine (Redline Monocog 29er w/ Woodchipper bar J) and burped it completely out of air with around 3 laps left. I was inadequately prepared for such an event, as I left my 15mm wrench, tubes, and CO2 in the car. So, I rode the last three laps on my rim. I still managed to place 7th, but was a definitely bummed not having the opportunity to compete. At that point, there was a lot of racing to be had, so I got over it pretty quickly.
There was a nice break between the first heat and the 1/2/3 race. I managed to eat some chili, drink 2 beers, and re-hydrate and still have time to sit on my trainer for 40 minutes with breaks to sit by the fire! It was around 40 degrees by the beginning of the 1/2/3 start. I can officially say that I’ve acclimated to the South again. 40 IS freezing. I don’t care what any of those Yankees in Missouri have to say about it…
The 3s went out of the gate hot, and I stayed around 6 back for the beginning section to see how everyone faired on the uphill barriers. Little did I expect, however, I endo-ed (sp?) when two racers decided to dismount in front of me instead of riding over them. I approached the first with too much speed to dismount, but not enough to make my rear wheel over, and I went ass over teakettle, getting my wheel tangled with someone’s handlebar. It probably looked a lot cooler than it felt… After losing around 8 or 9 spots, I put my head down and rode smart through the grass, parking lot, and powered through the sand. I moved back up to 4th or 5th by the line, and kept it going, having to go head to head with Kyle Campbell and Thomas Swann to earn a spot in the front. Those two guys both laid down a good race. Kyle placed second, and Thomas fourth. Michael Enervold was close behind in fifth. Everyone brought their heads and legs for the night race. Of course, this goes without saying for master Dufour. Great race, boss.
After half of a large pizza and six more… I hit the mattress like a compression-wrapped brick. We woke up at 8, pounded some go-go juice, and suited up for another day of hardball racing at the softball fields. Heather and I both raced at 10, each with a pretty happy-go-lucky mindset from the beginning. We lined up with our respective start groups and hit the course once again. I had lined up with Stewart, knowing that he would be a likely candidate to push me through the first half and help me get my legs back from the night before. And that he did; even after trying to convince me that he had nothing left. It turned out that neither of us had enough in the tank to contend with the North Carolinian singlespeed animal. He had pulled the pack for a while in the 3s race the night before, but bowed out with a mechanical. I was glad that he got a strong race in after coming such a long way. After seeing his 30-second lead, Stewart and I sat back and held our own 30 seconds on the 4th place. He made one true attack, and then I attacked later to return the favor. We separated before the long stretch of gravel road on our second to last lap, and I held a small gap all the way to the finish. I finished second, Stewart third. We can both attest to the claim that carbs DO make you faster. It also helped to have a rear tire full of air!
I spent around 25 minutes on my trainer between races, but my legs were quite swollen from the previous three races, and I opted to foam roll rather than turn my cranks. For those of you who foam roll, you know that this is no normal decision. I then massaged my ego with a cheeseburger and a dark beer and enjoyed watching the 4s duke it out. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to race. By 1:30, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sun felt great. Brad Hood came in with a set of fresh legs and destroyed the 3s field. I fought hard at the beginning to compete for the second place position, but eventually dropped back around 10 seconds and enjoyed the remainder of the race at a comfortable pace. Mike Enervold rode a strong race, and gave me a run for my money right before the final sand pit when I saw him trailing by only 30 yards! I finished third, and Michael fourth.
Welp, after two weeks in the 3s, it looks like I will be joining the 1/2s next race. Dangit! At least I got my fifteen minutes of fame this weekend. A big thanks to Heather for being such a supportive girlfriend/coach/teammate, and another to everyone who came out and raced, supported, grilled-out, beered-up, photographed, wrenched, heckled, and everything else to make this weekend such an incredible time.
Until next time! Cheers.
After a couple seasons of pinch flatting clinchers and burping tubeless tires, I decided to go all in with tubular wheels and tires this Cyclocross sesaon. I’m running Clement PDX tubulars and so far I’m extremely impressed with the performance and reliability.
It was my first time gluing tubulars and I used the Belgium tape from Cyclocross World and three coats of Mastik One glue on each surface. Some people argue that this is overkill, but my theory is that overkill never killed anyone. As you can see in the picture, it’s not the prettiest glue job, but I “rode em like I stole em” during three races without a hint of rolling off the rim. I even felt the tire roll onto the sidewall on a fast grippy corner where I had to lock up the rear wheel to avoid running over a downed rider. None of my previous tubeless setups would have survived that scenario without burping.
Besides increased reliability, the other benefit is the ability to run extremely low pressures without pinch flatting. So far, the sweet spot for my 80kilo is 36psi rear and 33psi front. The low pressure makes the tires feel extremely smooth on grass, and combined with the aggressive tread of the PDX, the grip is outstanding through mud and loose gravel. They do howl a little more than some other tires on pavement, but there is far more time to be lost in mud and loose gravel than made up on paved sections during a CX race, so I’ll take the tradeoff.
Four Momentum teammates are also using the same tires. The overall consensus is positive, but two of them did manage to puncture both front and rear tires during the first CX race this season. Three of the punctures are holding well with superglue and Stan’s sealant, but the other had to be replaced. None of the others have had issues after 3-4 races, so it might have been something on the course.
Thanks again to Cahaba Cycles.I’ll post an update at the end of the season.
Raced the Cat. 1 19-29 race today in Auburn, AL.
About Time Events held a cross country race on 10 miles of fresh hand-cut singletrack in Auburn’s Chewacla State Park. While you could tell the course was pretty newly built, it still rode fast like a trail that had been ridden a couple years. Kudos to the guys in Auburn for creating a tight, twisty course that still rides fast and lets you carry speed. That’s a tough thing to do.
On to the race…
I started the race with a big effort and got the hole shot. The course was tight and twisty with a few straight and flat sections that could really be hammered. I rode easy on the twisty stuff and tried not to touch the brakes at all. On the first lap I attacked on pretty much every open section that could be ridden fast for a prolonged period.. The first lap went very well. I did lose my way on the trail once (a theme of this season for me) but still finished the first lap as the leader.
The second lap was mostly good but I started to become aware of the fact that I was about to be extremely dehydrated. Since I’m a pansy who easily cramps, I try at least two bottles every hour…which is tough when you don’t have someone in a feed zone…lesson learned that I need to prepare with a Camelbak when the feed zones are too few or far away for me.
Third lap was terrible. I was very dehydrated and cramping constantly. I had been leading the entire race, but one of the experts in another age class passed me on the third lap. I was fading mentally and physically the entire third lap. However, I had enough of a lead from the first two laps that I was able to hold onto first place despite riding my last lap about 4 minutes slower than I would have liked. Pedaling into the finish line, I felt as if I might be about to have a heat stroke. I had powerful pains in my kidneys for several hours after the race…which scared me a little…
Good race overall…I need to ride in the heat more. I’ve been doing a lot of work on the trainer which paid off as expected, but the heat was causing me some undue fatigue.
I’m glad to have another win under my belt. Now I’m looking forward to racing in Fort Payne. Then it’s on to cyclocross training.
There are times that I would forget my head if it weren’t attached, so I have systems to help keep up with stuff. For general training rides and mtb racing, I always pack my tools in a zip lock bag encased in a neoprene sock and stick it in a jersey pocket. The zip lock keeps my sweat from corroding the tools and the sock keeps the tools from impaling me during a crash. Also, I switch between road and off-road bikes so often that it’s easier to keep tools on my body than attached to my bike. My tools consist of a multitool, chain quick link, tire lever, 2 CO2 cartridges and a minipump. During mountain bike races, I replace the pump with an extra CO2 cartridge. I keep a spare tube strapped to every bike that I ride.
I typically use water bottles and can carry up to three depending on the heat and length between stops. For multilap mountain bike races, I try to minimize extra weight by carrying no more than one bottle and having someone hand me bottles during the race. I even have a home-made stand for mtb races where I don’t have support to hand off bottles. Fortunately, support is never an issue during CX races. I’ve even grabbed an entire bike from a spectator to finish the race!
This weekend, Omar Fraser and I had the opportunity to head out to Coldwater Mountain and put in 3 laps on the new, highly-touted 10-mile trail. The following is a brief synopsis of my impressions of the trail.
The trail is easy to find off the interstate and it took about 45 minutes for us to arrive. When you get to the trail, there is a small gravel parking lot with a trail map and it is quite clear which way you should go right off the start. In fact, the entirety of the trail is very well marked and it is easy to find your way around the loop.
The trail begins with about 1 – 1.5 miles of slightly downhill whoop sections – think Jekyll and Hyde and Flow Trail mixed together. This part is easy and quite fun. The next 4 miles are entirely uphill on mostly smooth trail with several switchbacks. This hill can be ridden with some ease due it not being overly steep, but it is also built in a way that you can really push yourself on it from bottom to top.
Following the completion of the climb is about a quarter-mile of trail similar to Boulder Ridge at Oak Mtn. This section leads into a prolonged downhill that is the main attraction of the trail. This downhill is not for beginners. The 3 or 4 miles of downhill are essentially one long flow trail with tall berms, jumps, and dozens of whoops. And it is fun. It is an absolute blast. But it also may be dangerous for those who struggle to control their bikes on these sorts of trails. For everyone on the team, I don’t think riding this downhill would be a problem, but I would not suggest sending someone brand new to the sport to ride this loop. And your first time out, ride the downhill easy and don’t push it on your first lap.
After the downhill, the trail is mostly uphill with a couple flat, fast sections. The very last part of the loop is quite short but seems to go on forever due to it being a bit of ‘false flat.’ I constantly felt at the end like I was putting in a lot of effort for very little speed.
The trail loops back into the parking lot where you began after 10 miles and it makes it easy to refuel when doing multiple loops. I plan to return this summer to do repeats on the long climb, it’s great training for racing at places like Fontana Dam.
Overall, the trail is great. Just be ready to climb and ready for a downhill unlike any other in Alabama.