Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Just cooking a bunch of good food that we should have more often and hanging with friends and family. Pretty simple. Really enjoyable. Going for a long ride before the afternoon meal. Hopefully you all do the same. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
I just got back from the North Carolina Gran Prix in Hendersonville, NC. Catherine Walberg and myself flew down to Greenville, SC Friday and back on Monday. We did the same races last year. It was super fun and professionally promoted. Tim and the guys there know how to design and promote an excellent event. How about the refunding of entries to every Elite rider that pre-registered. That is something unheard of nowadays in cycling. It is so expensive to travel around the country collecting UCI points. They understand the situation and are into the sport, not the $$$. Anyway, the course was excellent. Dry, fast, and technical at speed.
Saturday it was pretty chilly. In the upper 30’s, during the race. The Elite women’s race was right before the men’s. I have a hard time not watching the race and warming up properly. But, alot of the enjoyment I get out of cycling is spectating, so it is what it is. Catherine got knocked down almost immediately after entering the grass. Then again at the barriers and once more again on the first lap. That is a recipe for disaster in cyclocross. She played catchup the whole 40 minutes and ended up finishing 9th. She has points in 5 C2 cyclocross races, so any result in a C2 will make that a throwout.
In the men’s race, I got a horrible start even though I was in the first row. Jeremiah Bishop and I were talking when they blew the whistle. I was 15th or so going into the grass. It took me almost two laps to get to the front of a line of 12 guys. I attacked on a wooded climb and opened up a small gap. Jeremiah chased and caught me a half a lap later. My rear wheel had been washing out on some of the tighter corners. Right after the pit I realized that my tire was flat. There were only 6 guys left in the front group after the attacks. 4 or 5 more guys passed me after riding half a lap on a flat and half a lap on a borrowed spare bike. I was out of the UCI points. I got back to 10th pretty easily. I saw Will Black riding in a group of 3 up ahead. Will had told me he couldn’t get any UCI points because he was going to Master’s Worlds in February. They dropped one guy and on the last lap Will sat up to get 11th like a good boy. When I caught up to him, he took a huge pull and got me back up to the guy in 7th. I dropped him on the last climb and that is where I ended up. Jeremiah Bishop outsprinted Russell Stevenson after Jonathan Baker pulled his foot out in the sprint.
Sunday I knew I was going to be going pretty well. Same course, warmer weather. Catherine’s race went much better. She got a excellent start, never rode too far back in the front group and sprinted for first. Even though she finished 3rd, it was a redemption somewhat.
I got a much better start. I got into the grass in 2nd and just sat there. 3/4 of the way into the first lap I took off again. I felt better and didn’t want to mess around with so many guys. Russell Stevenson came after me a little later and caught me. Jeremiah Bishop let us get up the road a bit and then bridged. We rode together pretty much for the next half hour. I felt pretty good. I never got too winded. Bishop fell during one attack. Russell ramped it up for a while. I just sat. We kind of started messing around too much for my liking after Jeremiah got back on. I took a 1/2 lap pull and put in a few efforts. With two to go, on the pavement, I pulled over to swing off and Bishop jumped. Russell and I just watched him ride away. I felt good. I blew it. We didn’t do hardly anything to even fake chasing him. With a half a lap to go, he was completely out of reach. Russell and I jumped each other a few times, got a little tangled up a couple times and ended up coming to the last 100 meter pavement stretch together. I was in the lead, but took the last U-turn wide and he smeared me in the sprint.
Anyway, I was going way better than I have been. Jingle Cross in Iowa City this weekend. Todd and Troy Wells, Tim Johnson and a few more good guys are coming. It should be a good test a couple weeks before Nationals in KC.
November 23: Elite Men
1 Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Trek/Volkswagen 1.00.46
2 Russell Stevenson (USA) Redline Bikes 0.23
3 Stephen Tilford (USA) Trek 0.27
4 Bart Gillespie (USA) Monavie/Cannondale 1.11
5 Nathanael Wyatt (USA) Carolina Fatz pb Santa Cruz Bicycles 1.14
6 Travis Livermon (USA) Cannondale / CCN 1.16
7 Jake Wells (USA) MafiaRacing.com/Pabst 1.19
8 Charles Pendry (USA) Inland Construction Cycling Team 1.23
9 Michael Gallagher (USA) C3-Sollay.com 1.45
10 Eric Thompson (USA) Lees-McRae 1.56
11 Will Black (USA) Moots 2.21
12 Mitchell Peterson (USA) Monaviecannondale.com 3.01
13 Bradford Perley (USA) Lees-McRae College 3.08
14 Nathan Chown (Can) 3.20
15 Andrew Applegate (USA) cannondale / ccn 3.48
16 Greg Wittwer (USA) ALAN North America Cycling Team 4.19
17 Robert Marion (USA) Kenda/Titus/Hayes 4.57
18 Justin Hines (Can) 6.10
19 Alex Ryan (USA) Cannondale/CCN 6.32
20 Andrew Reardon (USA) Krystal Cycling Team 7.10
A few photos.
It seems like the weeks are going by soooooo…. fast. When traveling all day Mondays and Fridays there seems no time to do anything else. Including much training. Which is weighing heavily on my mind. Not doing the stage race in New Zealand this year kind of puts me more at the mercy of the weather for fitness the next few weeks until Nationals.
Anyway, The Mercer Cup weekend was a new event for me. It is in Princeton New Jersey. A very old nice town. The course was pretty flat. But, not flat enough for the conditions. The mud kept getting deeper and deeper. It was pretty unrideable in sections both days. Running downhills because of the mud depth isn’t something anyone wants.
Saturday went badly. I got a pedal in my wheel early in the first lap. I stopped and unhooked by brake straddle cable and kept riding. I was pretty far back in the 20’s when I got to the pit. But, I only had wheels there, no bike. So I decided to just keep riding since brakes were virtually not needed. The riders going through the pits and exchanging bikes were gaining an enormous amount of time. Maybe 10 seconds. Probably more. The pit was rideable and the parallel course was walking in ankle deep mud. It pretty much destroyed my motivation for racing. I figured it was over 2 minutes at the minimum. Half way through the next lap I convinced myself that it would be the best thing for the weekend to stop and go and try to find some spokes for my light carbon wheels. I hate quitting races, especially when there isn’t any real reason to stop, but I didn’t regret this decision.
Sunday I arranged to get a spare bike from SRAM. I only had to supply some Shimano pedals. But my mistake was to not set the bike up myself. I got a pretty cruddy start, but I knew from the day before, the race was going to drag on for ever. The course was better in some places and worse in others. There was a pretty long run, over 100 meters up a slight grad and then back down the other side. It got a bit better the last few laps and you could ride most of it. Switching bikes after half a lap was a disaster. The seat was way too high and the brake levers way to low. I flailed the next half lap and lost a ton of time. By the time I got back onto my bike I was barely racing for any UCI points (top 15). I got going a few times, but kept destroying any chances by throwing myself on the ground or having help throwing myself on the ground. Anyway, I had some epic contact with the mud. The most memorable would be the guy that was cutting one of the wind blown banners down and had it wadded up in a ball. Right when I got up to him, he was in a rush trying to cut the last zip tie and decided to throw the rest of the banner right between my brake levers and top of my front wheel to free up his hands. Needless to say, that didn’t go too well for me. Whatever. I’d already broken off my fair share of plastic post holding the ribbon. The only line on alot of the course was where the ribbon was blowing off the course and it allowed you to ride out of the deep mud. But you still had to come back and ride around the posts. Sometimes that didn’t go as planned. I ended up finishing 17th. I was OK with that. Better than I should of done. I was riding/running pretty good. I just made a thousand mental errors. That isn’t a good thing cyclocross racing in the mud.
So, I’m OK with the results. Bill Marshall and Chris Wallace helped me out a ton in the pits on Sunday. It is much harder working the pit than racing. And Chris had already raced the junior race. He is leading the USGP series after the first two weekends. That is pretty cool having a local KC rider leading a prestigious National series! I’m off to North Carolina Friday morning. It’s amazing there are only 3 weekend left until Nationals in KC.
I flew out to the USGP weekend in Princeton a couple days early to race the Thursday night 5th Street Cross. I can’t really describe the event without photos. It is super cool. A 1 mile course on the property of Bill and Beth Strickland. Awesome course, at night, racing with headlamps, consuming alcohol (PBR shortcut), around fainting goats, kids, dogs, and hanging with friends. It is what cycling/especially cyclo-x is all about. A bunch of people that share the love of the sport getting together and having competitive fun. It has nearly outgrown their yard. I did the race once last year. It was the first wet race of the season. This year the same. Every year more and more riders come from further and further away. They had to start giving out numbers this year to score. And, they do a better job scoring the race, even though it is at night, raining, etc. than nearly every UCI race I’ve been to in the last 4 years. There are official medals (which I now possess) and leaders jerseys (for 6th place). Below is a array of photos that doesn’t do the experience justice. Check out their website. Under commentary on the left column, there is video from the previous races. Fifth Street Cross
I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself this weekend. I’d committed to coming up to Toronto over a month back. It’s not that I”m not in OK form, it just that I’m in OK form. Whatever my thoughts were a month ago, alot has changed, so they aren’t really pertinent now.
They field was pretty good, but not super deep. Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers were the cream. Then Andy Jaques-Maynes, Matt Shiver, plus most of the best Canadians. And a bunch of others that have been going fast so far this season.
Both courses were awesome, but completely different. Saturday’s was a pretty flat course with lots of off camber riding. And some rain came down on top of the 40 degree temperatures. That made the course pretty slick from the start. And it got slicker the whole hour. Luckily, I’m alright in the mud. But, unluckily, I wasn’t having the best pedaling day of the year. It wasn’t be any means the worst, but it could of been better. I got myself all the way up to 2nd after half a lap, but that wasn’t to be. They was a pretty long steep climb that became a run up the first lap and nearly all remaining laps. After Tim Johnson had punched out and Jeremy Powers messed around in the pits changing bikes/wheels/ whatever, then punched out, there wasn’t anyone really left to race with. Nicolas Weighall was in no-mans-land behind the CyclocrossWorld.com riders and then Andy Jaques-Manes and Matt Shiver and I riding around behind him. Molly Cameron was hanging tough for a while, but never gained much ground on us. I fell only once, hard on my right shoulder. Then I screwed up a couple times and got gapped from Andy and Matt. Finally, I decided to try to ride all the climbs instead on run, thinking I was going to be crippled for Sunday if I didn’t. That was way slower, but lots easier on the legs and back. It didn’t really pay off, I was still pretty sore Sunday morning. I ended up 6th, which is OK UCI points. 18. Nearly the same as 3rd in a UCI C2 race.
Sunday was completely a different race. Up and down a small ski hill. Nearly the most climbing possible in a cyclo-x. I got a pretty miserable start. I realized that my right arm wasn’t working that well in the morning, but lifting the bike the first time over the barriers was nearly impossible. I wasn’t worried because I thought the race was going to be one of attrition and I could manage the torn rotatorcuff thing. Then it started to rain. The climb had two steep pitches in it. Both just 30 meters or less. They got so greasy that you had to climb on your seat and pedal very fluid. That’s not something I’m good at. Probably actually a better description would be that is something I’m bad at. And it showed. I was out of the top 15 the first two laps, but within striking distant of 5th still. Then, just when I started figuring out the whole situation and got going, I broke a spoke in my rear wheel. In retrospect it was a mistake, but at the time, I thought I could still ride into a good position without changing my wheel. I thought it was going to take too long and I wouldn’t have enough time to pick off enough riders. I hardly picked anyone off at all. The last two laps it started drying up enough so I could climb the hill with my pedaling ability. I started going pretty good, but I was way too far back. I caught 3 or 4 guys and ended up getting 12th. Finishing, I spun my wheel and it was hitting one side of the brakes pretty seriously. Whatever. I wasn’t really out of energy, I just couldn’t allocate the power I had properly. Tim Johnson made up for his 2nd place finish to his team mate from the day before and won handily. Then Jeremy Powers, Andy Jacquest-Maynes, etc.
I felt pretty good today (Sunday) and am alittle disappointed that I didn’t have a better finish, but that is cycling. I’m thinking about going out to the East coast to the New Jersey UCI races next weekend. I need to race more. And I want to see how fast everyone else is going. Obviously Tim and Jeremy are going real fast. Ok. Monday is flying all day, so it’s a write off. Hopefully the weather in Kansas is alot better than Toronto. I’m not ready for winter just yet.
1 Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworls.com – Cannondale) 1.02.20
2 Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworls.com – Cannondale) 0.51
3 Nicholas Weighall (Radracing Northwest – Hagens-B) 2.03
4 Andy Jacques-Maynes (SSpecialized – KMC p/b Cal Giant) 2.51
5 Matt Shriver (Jittery Joe’s Pro Cycling Team) 3.00
6 Steve Tilford (Trek) 3.21
7 Molly Cameron (Vanilla Bicycles Cyclocross Team) 4.10
8 Benoit Simard (Bluberi – Martin Swiss-Specialized) 4.35
9 Matt White (Bikereg.com)
10 Osmond Bakker (Emd Serono – Stevens) 4.48
11 Aaron Schooler (Team H & R Block) 5.02
12 Mark Batty (Team R.A.C.E. Pro) 5.52
13 Tim Heemskerk (United Cycle Racing) 7.20
14 Derrick St. John (Stevens Cross) 7.23
15 Nathan Chown (Handlebars CC) 7.39
1 Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.Com / Cannondale) 58.27
2 Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.Com / Cannondale) 0.59
3 Andy Jacques-Maynes (Specialized/Kmc Pb Cal Giant) 1.09
4 Dan Timmerman (Reynolds) 1.22
5 Matt Shriver (Jittery Joe’s Pro Cycling Team) 1.34
6 Andrew Watson (Norco – Evolution Team) 1.53
7 Matt White (Bikereg.Com / Joe’s Garage) 2.36
8 Davide Frattini (Team Colavita/Sutter Home) 2.51
9 Molly Cameron (Vanilla Bicycles Cyclocross Team) 3.01
10 Derrick St. John (Stevens Cross) 3.28
11 Nicholas Weighall (Radracing Northwest / Hagens-B) 4.02
12 Steve Tilford (Trek) 4.14
13 Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta / Cannondale) 4.23
14 Aaron Schooler (Team H & R Block) 4.28
15 Osmond Bakker (Emd Serono / Stevens) 5.17
Photos compliments from Jon at Cyclingphotos.ca