On your marks, get set…GO! We’re off folks. The Colorado cyclocross racing season got underway with a fantastic back to back weekend of racing. Colorado Springs Pike’s Peak ‘Cross and VeloCross…a new course right here smack dab in the middle of Boulder literally on and THROUGH the Boulder Indoor Cycling Velodrome’s compound!
I’ll get to the racing action in a bit but it’s amazing that we’re ‘here’ again. Unbelievable. For the last month or so I’ve started to ramp things up and get the corpse used to the high end efforts. I’ve entirely changed my focus on how I train this year by putting ENJOYMENT at the front of everything…where typically that enjoyment came compliments of fat knobby tires. March through May consisted of weekend after weekend of 4-6 hour MTB epics. By mid summer I dumped any and all gears and rode my 29’er Roshambo single speed until I felt like my legs were going to explode (all the while smiling wide at how sick and simple that bike is). Finally by late summer it was time to get geared again and I threw my leg over my cross bikes and got used to the new equipment while torturing myself sadistically interval after interval. Racing as training? Meh…it’s all about the‘cross so why do a crit any more. Why pay to ride mountain bikes…although every now and again it’s fun to throw down on nice courses. Flowing in the woods with my friends is about all I need. On to the racing….
Pike’s Peak – Saturday 9/12/2009
The boys came back all fired up and lined up to kick off the 2009 season. Mark Legg, JJ Clark, Chris Phenecie, Michael Robson and a slew of other hard men lined up to do battle in the elite master’s group. It turns out it was the race of the day given the throw downs and balance within the field. The course was classic Colorado with lots of dodgy loose dirt corners, pot holed grass sections and undulating terrain. I ran my Ridley’s with 34 Dugast Typohoons at some low pressure which helped hook up in the nastiness.
Everyone raced clean and put out. I felt really pretty good for it being so early. I need you to appreciate how vicious the attacks guys like JJ Clark and Mark Legg can put down. So difficult to cover as these are two unbelievable bike racers but I maintained myself in the front as best I could and just waited to try and work with folks to reel them back…until a true Colorado racing moment occurred:
Tumbleweed. Yup: through and in between every gear in the rear. Dunno how it got there but when it stopped any turning of the rear wheel or shifting, I sat there and laughed for a second until I hupped the bike to the pit and grabbed the freshie to finish the race. Hilarious. No one was catching JJ or Mark who went on to win. I grabbed 7th place after losing 3 places outright fetching the other bike. Portland may have its mud, but we’ve got some serious high desert drama to contend with. Ha! Have a look here at some of the fantastic photos my main man Rob from www.ultrarob.com took of the race as well.
VeloCross – Sunday 9/13/2009
Let’s just say that this may be a race that sticks. I tweeted a bit about my concerns about this new and untested race being listed as a ‘BCR’ event (the regions points competition for ‘cross). As it turns out, the race was super fun and well spectated. The course essentially wove itself around the Boulder Indoor Cycling compound, an area down in a very industrial/warehouse-y part of town. A true ‘urban’ course which could likely be used as a model for inner city promoters who may want some help on how to lay out courses with limited space and limited grass. The course took us from grass featuring 180 degree turns to pavement sections…up stairs and directly into and out of the Boulder Indoor Cycling facility itself. In one door and out another! It was a unique course and the racers I spoke with all agreed it brought smiles.
We had a great field again and I felt that my legs were good after Saturday’s opening salvo and it was a course that if I could win the hole shot I could likely hold off and work with the strongest to sort out the rest of the race. I truly felt like I had a shot. So as the gun was sounded what I wanted came to pass which was to get to the front and first to the 180 degree turn around. I wanted to make it super difficult for everyone and try and shake out who would play. My homies, Chris Phenecie, Mike Hogan, team mate Brian Hludzinski and my mate from Oz, Michael Robson all came to trade and work. On an off it went; the race changing leadership 6 times I was told.
Bombing into and out of the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center was pretty fun. You’d run into a door, remount, then power back a 180 through and over the obstacle course (just a part of it actually). The fans were hollering and it was super fun.
We kept the pace hard and with leaders taking turns crashing or having mechanicals, I found myself out front in the last part of the race. I’m thinking that if I keep the pressure on and ride clean, maybe, just maybe, I could have some hands up action. Unbelievably Chris Phenecie and Mike Hogan used their super powers to bridge back. I was in awe with their fantastic riding. I ended up taking a 3rd place, in the money and happy to have an understanding of where my motor is these days while having a boat load of fun at the race.
On to the fun stuff: The 2010 equipment! Pike’s Peak was the debut of the Ridley X-Night duo under fire…and BOTH had to be used during the race as I mentioned due to the lovely tumbleweed attack.
The Boulder Cycle Sport crew cranked out the second bike for me in time for finite adjustments and dialing in of the new 2010 SRAM Force group. Immediately I noticed how the Q-Factor of the BB30 was in comparison to the SRAM Red with Truvativ BB30 inserts to run my normal bottom bracket…
Here’s the SRAM Red with the Truvativ inserts for utilizing the normal SRAM Red bottom bracket.
Now here’s the SRAM Force. Note the narrower profile of the crank arms. Narrower but not so narrow that it is causing me any issues. It actually feels more comfortable!
Overall the Force grouppo for 2010 is fantastic. It’s essentially Red for all I can tell. The bikes weigh the same and the shifting is as tight if not tighter than it’s Red counterpart.
Ergonomically speaking, I like the feel of the Force levers better than my Red levers. While similar, there is less of a outward flair in the levers themselves which is noticed when you have the hoods a bit higher for cross than you would for road.
I am running 175 length cranks married to 46 x 39 front rings with either 12 x 27 SRAM PG 1070 PowerGlide cassettes or 12 x 25 Dura Ace Cassettes (simply due to me having a gaggle of these and they work OK with my SRAM drive trains). See some close ups shots I took of the bikes and new 2010 Force. Yum.
Both front and rear are Force. Given the Ridley’s internal cable routing, barely any cable shows so shifting through some muck thus far this season (Sunday) has been spot on. I’m looking forward to some real crap weather.
Well, it looks like SSWC09 in D-town followed by a road trip to VEGAS! (baby..). Stay tuned….