For me cyclocross is a string of memories dating back to 2nd half of the 90s, living in the Bay Area with each winter bringing a worse El Niño than the last. Cross was an ALL day event, most of which was spent after the race, tearing bikes apart to clear out the Santa Cruz mud deposits. A very critical piece of equipment that was in every car that showed up was a roll of duct tape…to literally hold your shoes on as you hupped through mud bogs lest they get sucked off your foot, forever trapped in the terra firma.
Moving to Colorado was a shocker. Entirely different racing which amounted to dirt crit racing. Faster tempos, faster courses, cool temps and maybe ‘Colorado Mud’: Snow. But for us it is a typically dry and fast affair.
Until this weekend that is.
Week 6 of the ACA circuit brought us one new course and one old ‘standard’.
Saturday-Castle Cross, Castle Rock CO
Saturday I awoke with a smile. The crappy weather the day before…a combination of snow and some rain….would surely not disappoint…and she didn’t. The only unknown variable was the course, a new one put on by the Green Mountain Sports crew.
I pre rode with Timmy the Truth and honestly I felt flat. Not, bad, just flat. The course was really fun, albeit long and not even remotely a course in my kill zone as it had mad elevation gain. I make no claim to be a climber and these were fairly sustained climbs. The weather had created super greasy corners and slippery off cambers so I was confident that if I rolled, I could flow and try to stay away from folks to maintain my position. I ran Typohoons at stupid low pressure, 30 front and 32 rear which proved decent…although I kind of wish I had Rhynos for the day.
The course designers had us do a start circuit, never used again in the course. It was tight with a 100ft parking lot sprint to a sharp left, into trail, back onto pavement and finally onto the course for good. I punched it a bit to win the hole shot only so I would not be part of any mêlées that would ensue (luckily there were none). I carried on for a bit not necessarily going hard…just hard enough to put people into difficulty. I could hear breathing behind and Timmy likely did too. He punched it and Chris P jumped to cover. It went like this for two laps until the climbs started taking their toll on me and I could not push it up those things. Powerless. I decided to forego placings and let folks fly and save a matches for what I thought would be a harder race the next day, the Boulder Reservoir. All in all I’d call the day ‘OK’ with an 8th place. Timmy had a good day taking 2nd to a strong Phenecie. I had some mechanical issues that I needed to work out with the bikes but no real bearing on my ride. No pictures from the 35 A’s. Sorry!
Sunday-Boulder Racing No. 3 ‘The Rez’.
(All pictures below from the lens of Dave Weber unless noted)
The town watched the weather roll in Saturday with temps dropping by 30 degrees and rain and snow in the forecast. The weather and the brutal course would make for an epic. Talk to any racer in the Boulder/Denver area who've raced here over the years and they will tell of their love/hate relationship with this Resevoir or 'Rez'. It’s literally 45% sand…super tough on the bike, body and minds of the competitors. Compound that with the terror of Colorado, the goat head weed, and your tires are bound to get toasted either wrecking your winning ride with a flat or perhaps providing you the mercy head shot you needed to DNF.
Pre-riding the course effectively had the same lay out as some of the Boulder Cups of years past. It has everything…and sand. Did I mention sand? The warm up felt pretty good with my legs coming around after Saturday’s efforts and thanfully saving some for Sunday. Even with the potential threat of goat heads, I ran my Tufo File treads and had my backup bike with an old pair of Dugast Typhoons, both pumped with 20ml of Stans. Giddy up.
I took the line and given the massively long straight away, did not want to be out front. The ACA official blew the whistle and Timmy nailed the hole shot with my main Oz-meister Michael Robson sitting behind and with me 3rd wheel.
We flowed nicely and evenly around for a 1/2 lap pushing a nice tempo to separate us from any danger..until I heard a pile up. I nudge Timmy and Michael to punch it and we have a gap and we carve out almost 10…who would effectively dice it for the rest of the race (some more at the dicier end of the dicing than others! Ha!). Brian Hludzinski, Michael Robson, Timmy Faia, Jon Cariveau, Jeff Hartman, Ryan McFarling, Mike Hogan, and yours truly.
By the sand on the first lap we are all still tight. My teamie Brian H takes a flier and Timmy and I back it off. We come in to lap 2 and I can see the pace push. Coming into the barriers I was able to get around Jon C, Robson and Timmy as I know it was going to happen right there. Jon was licking his lips (I got som eon me...). I cooked the barriers, got to the front and proceeded to sloooooow down. The Moots powerhouses, Jon C and Robson and I had a laugh with Robson saying “Ooooh! So that’s how it’s going to be!” True team fun at the front.
For the next few laps it was attrition. Like WWI Ypres Salient attrition. Timmy Jon C, Ryan and Michael Robson pushed the pace and broke away for 20 seconds. Hogan and Jeff bridged to me and I sat in until I felt over cooked. I did feel fantastic through the sand running but would lose momentum on the some of the straights and that got compounded. I floated between 6th and 9th over taking some, then being over taken. I still need that extra wee bit of fitness to make the breaks then stay there. Right now, it’s just within reach. I’ll see if I can get there without putting the three part teeter totter into a bad spot.
By the last lap I put in an effort with Dubba screaming at me in the pit to grab Hartman. I bridged to Jeff who was suffering a bit. There was a group if 3 coming up behind us so I thought it best to bridge to Jeff then continue to punch it to try and break free as the sand was coming and I knew everyone was dying. Jeff turned turned himself inside out and was able to stay within 20 feet or so of me in the sand. As we exit I punch it on the pavement to determine if he would settle or fight. The quiet big man decided to fight. I sat up and and he closed the gap when we essentially slow to a crawl. Full on cat and mouse. It was clear it was going to be a drag race and so it was. We started our sprint at a few hundred meters sharing pedal stroke for pedal stroke with Jeff taking 8th in a throw at the line. I forgot I was going up against one of Colorado’s best sprinters. Oops. It was as fun as hell though.
So 9th place on the day which belies the effort. These races are insane with the same crew flogging each other week after week. Knife fighting in the trenches as I like to say. I am convinced it some of the best racing to watch as it is incredibly fun to be in it. Pumped that Timmy pushed hard for the win with a savage Jon C never making it easy.
Up next: Colorado’s BIG cross weekend! The Xilinx and Boulder Cups which are guaranteed to go off!
(See photos from the Rez through the lens of Bryan King here. )