Catherine Walberg and Gary Crandell, Chequamengon Czar.
On the front row of this race was 4 out of top 5 finishers at Nationals last year. Jonathan Page, Tim Johnson, and Todd and Troy Wells. Then there is Bjorn Selander who won the U23 Nationals. Plus a bunch of Swiss guys. A pretty good field.
I finished 12th again. I wasn’t going that badly. I just never got going that good. I think I was just kind of pooped. A couple bobbles and things go badly in cyclo-x when you’re not really on.
Jonathan Page won again, but had to work for it. A few bike changes and almost sprinting with Todd for the win. Tim Johnson faded badly to 6th. He didn’t really recover from food poisoning a couple days earlier I guess. Bjorn rode good. He passed Johnson on the last lap to finish 5th. I was in a group going for 6-10 for half the race. Made some mistakes and ended up riding with Adam Bergman 20 seconds back the rest of the race. I didn’t sprint since it was for no UCI points and he’d pulled the last 3 laps pretty much.
Jumped into the car and drove the 9 hours back to Topeka. It was a pretty exhausting 10 days. 2171 miles driving, 5 cyclo-x races, 1 criterium and 2 days for flying. Plus all the bike packing, race preparation, Las Vegas Bike Show, etc. Too much to do to really expect any different racing results. But, it was fun and that is mainly what it’s all about.
Hi. Got to Madison, Wisconsin and slept 10 hours. Woke up late in the morning and felt like I was jet lagged. But, the first day of a two-race weekend in Madison, called. It was the Planet X MadCross Jonathan Page, something like that, officially. It is held north of Madison at Angell Speedway in Sun Prairie. The course is pretty good, but sketchy, again. A lot of tight corners on gravel or loose dirt. But, plenty of good riders. Jonathan Page, Todd and Troy Wells, Jon Baker, Tim Johnson(DNS food poisoning), LaLonde brothers and the rest of the best.
Anyway, I had a mediocre day. I got a good start and was in 3rd most of the first lap. Then, Todd rolled his tire in front of me. I got gapped a bit and tried to make up some of the deficient in a corner and washed out my front wheel. Something like 15 guys passed me before I got back into line. Then I made way too big of an effort trying to move back up to the front and kind of blew. Todd passed me in the mean time, after he put his tire back on. He switched onto a spare bike and passed me again the next lap, only to blow out his tire and get another bike change. Of course, he rode by me again. I didn’t really even try to get on him at all. Probably a mistake, but I wasn’t in the best mind set at the time. I kind of settled into 12 place with 3 or 4 guys right behind me.
I thought I should quit if I wasn’t in the top ten and save it for tomorrow. I was hoping that the guys behind me would catch me, but no, they kind of kept fading back. Then I thought, “screw it. You decided to do this stupid schedule and you’re not going to get out of it that easily.” Eventually, Jon Baker must of crashed badly because he was out with the paramedics. I guess he cut his leg on a chainring. He’d been giving Jonathan Page all he could handle, so that was too bad. Anyway, then I was in 11th and only 15 seconds out of the top ten. I was riding around with this Swiss kid I’d raced in Detroit last weekend (that seems so long ago) and Adam Bergman. I thought if I rode hard the last lap, there was a chance for the top ten. I went pretty hard 2/3 of a lap and got him within 30 meters, but it was too late. The Swiss guy came by and I told him to go. He came within a few bike lengths of catching 10th, but didn’t. So, I finished 12th.
I actually am not too disappointed in the result. I kind of ran out of juice the middle part of the race and was going OK at the end. Tomorrow they are running the course the opposite direction and it’s supposed to rain tonight, so that should be interesting.
Note to self. Don’t try to do a month’s worth of ‘cross races in the first week of the season.
Start on the race car track.
The USA Criterium Finals are held in the Madalay Bay parking lot at 10 pm the day after Cross Vegas, Thursday night. My lungs are pretty jacked up still from the cross race. I haven’t talked to a rider that raced Wednesday night that has any different feeling. I rode a couple hours in the morning and didn’t feel too bad except the coughing of nodules ever few minutes.
The race is pretty sketchy. Only one true 90 degree corner. The rest are sweepers that are mainly off camber. I got a call up and lined up on the front row. They announced a $500 prime to the winner of the first lap. I thought I’d go for it. I clipped in perfectly and then proceeded to throw myself onto the pavement 10 seconds later. Then another 10 guys threw themselves onto the ground another 10 seconds after that. And that is pretty much how it went the rest of the night.
I’m not usually one to get rattled by crashing, but a couple corners, the first and last were pretty weird. I’m not sure if it is from the lack of rain to wash the roads or what. But I felt my tires slide a fair amount of times. It was like racing a wet course, but it was dry.
I tried to move up the last couple laps. Made a big move and got chopped pretty badly and ended up 18th. I’d won a couple primes, so the night wasn’t a complete waste.
Then the rest of the evening went badly. Mainly the problem was the road rash. Normally, after cleaning out the wound and putting tegederm on it, there isn’t any more pain. But, something is going off differently this time. I packed bikes until 2am. Went to bed, but couldn’t sleep because every 30 seconds or so I had a shooting pain on my hip. It was weird, but pretty painful. Finally around 4:30am, I walked a mile down the strip and went to a 24 hour pharmacy and bought some antibiotic creme with lidocaid in it. I got back to the hotel at 5:30, just in time for a nap, for leaving for the airport at 7am.
So, we fly into Chicago, where I left my car, and proceeded to get stuck in Chicago Friday night traffic for the 4 plus hours drive to Madison for MadCross. I feel pretty wasted, but I knew it wasn’t gonna be pretty. 4 stages down. Two to go.
Good friend Michael Aisner (Coor’s Classic promoter, announcer, good guy all around) at the start.
Cross Vegas. I had high hopes for a good result. But, in the back of my mind, I think I was still shell shocked from last year’s experience here to be too comfortable with any thoughts of success. It didn’t go too well.
The Cross Vegas course is a pretty unusual cyclo-X. It is mainly on 3 inch super thick grass. Super resistance. No technical aspect at all. I actually just rode road tires on my ‘cross bike. The photographers had a field day with that.
Last year I started so hard that I coughed little nodules out of my lungs for a week or so. It wasn’t only me, it was a lot of the riders who had the same problem. I’m not sure if it is the dry air or pollution or fertilizer on the soccer fields, but it isn’t a normal thing. This year I thought I’d try to start slower, after warming up harder. It only shuffled me further back in the field as far as I can tell.
Lance showed up to race. Rumors had him coming and he came. He lined up on the 4th row, and got a pretty good start, I think. Because before a lap was over, I heard the enormous crowd yelling for him pretty close behind me. I was in his group for the next couple laps. Somewhere between 20 and 30th places. Then, a guy in front of me crashed in a corner and I hit him straight on. It took me a while to untangle our bikes and by then I was completely out of any kind of mix I would of been happy with. There are only 15 places for UCI points and I was not going to get anywhere near that place. And, I took a systems check and realized I had already hurt myself, lungwise, pretty substantially. So, I bagged it.
I hate quitting races, but I paid for that last year. For a couple weeks. And I’m racing the USA Criterium Finals tomorrow night and then flying to Madison for two more UCI ‘Cross Races, so I actually don’t feel so bad about the decision.
Anyway, Thomas Frischknecht was here doing his last race in the US. He and I travelled together the first season he came to the US for MTB racing, so I’ve known him for a while. I had only raced ‘cross against him once, in California, a few years back and he crashed and I finished 3rd, so it gave him a chance to even the score. He was in the front group of 14 all race and finished somewhere in the top ten, I think. His statement to me was that if I did one more race then I would “survive” him in the sport. I thought that was a strange way to put it, but you know how foreigners sometime use English words in a weird context and they sound good. That is how this came out. It was great to race with him one last time.
Ryan Trebon won easily again. He has an enormous amount of horsepower. Tim Johnson was 2nd, sporting his National Championship jersey and Adam Craig had a good ride for 3rd.
OK. Got on the asleep at 2 am schedule again. I like the late night racing, but it kind of screws up the day a bit. Better get to sleep.
Thomas and I at the start line.
Lance from behind. Pretty good definition, huh.
Drove the million miles up to Davisburg,Michigan for the first cross races of the season. It is always a reality check. Cyclo-X is really a hard sport. Especially the first couple. Jeff and Robert, the promoters for these UCI races have promoting down. They treat the riders super nice and everything is perfect from registration to course prep.
This is a two day race. There were only around 40 guys in each race, but a fair amount of pretty good riders. Johnathan Page. A trio of Swiss guys. Canadian National Cross Champion, etc.
I was supposed to be on all new equipment, but it was not to be. I ended up putting my Eriksen back together again on Thursday. It’s a perfect cyclo-x bike, so I have no complaints. I only brought one bike because I’m flying to Las Vegas today and have my road bike there already.
But, I did have some problem equipmentwise. Saturday I was having problems with my chain staying on. It came off double digit times. Last season, same setup it never came off once. Go figure.
It was really hot, mid 80’s. I got a good start and was in a small group of 3. On the 2nd lap, my chain popped off for the first time. Page attacked. I got frustrated. Whatever. I ended up 6th. I was mildly lucky getting that place. I took myself out of the mix fumbling around with my bike. I should of been in the hunt for 3rd. Page won easily. He was in a league of his own. Then Swiss guy. Canadian.
Sunday, it was much cooler. Lower 70’s. Much more enjoyable. I got a good start again. Page got away on the first lap. I’d put on a front derailluer and shortened my chain a link. I was riding in a group that was going for 3-6th. I washed out my rear wheel on a off camber section and was separated from a group of 3. Then I noticed my rear tire was low. I rode nearly a lap on virtually no pressure. I hadn’t put my wheels into the pit, so didn’t know where they were. Dumb mistake. Anyway, I got to the pit, found my wheels after a while and got going sans rear brake. My spare wheels didn’t have the same width rim was my race wheels. Dumb mistake two. I took me awhile to figure out have to ride the course with only a front brake. I’d already been passed by one guy and was caught by the group going for 8th through 10th. I though, “shit, I’m going to get only 1 measly UCI point.” Anyway, I got going prettty good on the last two laps, dropped the group and caught back up to the guy that passed me when I was in the pit. So, I had to sprint. I totally smeared the guy by about 3 inches. Maybe less. 6th again. Pretty lucky again I guess.
Catherine Walberg, who is riding for Trek now with a few other midwest ringers, got 3rd both days. Something like 24 UCI points. Pretty good. She wasn’t near her best, so that is a encouraging sign for the rest of the season.
So, I can’t complain too much. I was riding alright. I’m at Midway airport waiting to fly to Las Vegas. Racing the Vegas Cross Wednesday night, USA Criterium Finals Thursday night, then fly back to the Midwest for the UCI Cross races in Madison this weekend. That is 6 races in 9 days. With 5 being cyclo-x races. Right. Doesn’t sound that smart to me either. Guess you don’t know until you do it.
Sprint 2nd Day between Mike Sherer & myself.
A good friend of mine, Keith Walberg-Gizmo Pictures, is making a film of Cyclo-X Nationals in Kansas City last year. He had a full film crew filming the whole 4 days in the epic conditions. Zero Traction is a feature-length cyclocross film that was shot entirely in high definition over the four days of competition. DVDs of the film will soon be available for purchase in both standard definition and HD. The film will also be shown in Kansas City during the 2008 Cyclocross National Championships (located this year in Missouri’s Tiffany Springs Park). Here is a trailer he made to preview the film. It’s an expensive affair, so if anyone would like to get involved sponsorshipwise, just email me and I’ll forward it. Anyway. Enjoy!