Cross Off the Old Year Cyclocross

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What I like most about watching the Belgian crosses on the internet is appreciating that there is virtually no indecision ever by any of the leaders. Indecision in cyclocross costs you time. They’ve all raced so, so many cross races that they innately know how to go the fastest under ever changing conditions.

I’m pretty good with this, I have to admit. I’m a little under raced, mildly rusty, so my decisions might be a tad slow. But, under normal circumstances, I think I have the ability to ride fast in most conditions in cross. I’m not too good on sand, but sometimes I surprise myself.

Monday’s race in Kansas City was slick and tight. I’m a little sick, ear ache, headaches, etc., but am surprised that it hasn’t gotten any worse, which is a very good sign. So, the course being less fitness, and more skill related ability, suited me fine. I was so bummed I couldn’t race on Sunday after hearing the course was slick with a fine layer of mud. Monday, there was the same mud, but covered by a couple inches of new snow.

I can’t really complain about my race. I rode pretty well for all but a few costly corners. I got a good start and got into the lead after a couple turns. I slowly got up to about 10 seconds ahead of a trio of friends, good cross riders, Joseph Schmalz, Shadd Smith and Aaron Elwell. And that is how it stayed most of the race. I rode pretty flawless the first 40 minutes. Aaron rode up to me after 3 or 4 laps, but got gassed and dropped back to Shadd and Joseph. Finally, with a couple laps to go, I got up to 15 or 20 seconds ahead.

But, I was having a terrible time getting my feet back into the pedals after dismounting. It is only the second time I can remember that I’ve had any issue with Shimano SPD pedals. Sometimes on the pavement, after the barriers, it would take me a couple hundred meters to clip in. I know the guys riding Crankbrothers pedals were having some problems, but nothing like I was. It rattled me.

Joseph made a big effort to shell those guys and try to bridge up to me with two laps to go. I made a very costly mistake sliding out on a corner before a short climb. I knew I wouldn’t be able to clip back in, so I ran the hill. Joseph made up a ton of time on me here. So, with a lap and a half to go, we were together. I was okay with that, the 2nd half of the course, before the finish, suited me better. But, I never got there. Joseph gapped me, riding away on the concrete. I came back on early, but slid out again and finally fell doing a U-turn on the pavement. I pulled the plug there. Shadd and Aaron raced to the line, with Shadd nipping Aaron in the end.

I think it would be so cool if I could get everyone’s take on what they did wrong, or right, during this race. I only fell once, but it was at the completely wrong time. I know that Shadd and Aaron each fell at least once. Joseph, maybe twice, but I’m not sure.

My issue for not winning wasn’t a lack of ability. The fitness part didn’t come so much into play. I started getting frustrated by not being able to get my shoes attached to the pedals. I never had that big of a lead, so I didn’t think that I had much time to clean the bottom of my shoes after each dismount. That was a mistake. So, I tried to go faster through the corners and started making other mistakes. Each time I slid out, I’d plant my inside foot on the ground and it would get clogged full of icy mud, so I’d lose more time.

I’m sure that Joseph, Shadd and Aaron all have their own thoughts on why they went fast or not. I’m normally a lot better in those conditions than I was on Monday. But, I’m super stoked that I got to race a slick race so close to Madison Nationals. I can’t image that it is not going to be a technical affair up in Wisconsin next week. Last report I heard was that there was 22 inches of snow in Verona and they had plowed the whole course, but were having issues with blowing snow.

It is bad weather here in Kansas now. High’s under 20 yesterday and slushy roads. I rode inside. I’m trying to decide whether to race a local race here in Kansas on Saturday, and then head up to Madison, or go up to Chicago and race the UCI race on Sunday and just stay. There are only 25 guys registered in Chicago as of now. I was hoping for a much bigger field.

We don’t do any stinkin’ 8 across here in Kansas. Nearly everyone gets a front row start.

Joseph got the hole shot, but I passed him after a couple corners. Shadd and Aaron are 3rd and 4th.

I was riding a Dugast Rhino in the rear and FMB with Michelin Mud 2 tread in the front. They were hooking up pretty good.

We spent New Years Eve at Tellers in Lawrence. It’s good food in an old bank building in downtown. There were 14 of us at dinner.

The bathrooms at Tellers are in the old vault.

5 thoughts on “Cross Off the Old Year Cyclocross

  1. Gianni DeAngelo

    I had a blast racing this weekend. I will say the conditions Sunday suited me a little better than Monday’s. Monday’s race was all about not falling over and using the concrete to catch big gaps or open big gaps. Sunday, in the mud, there was still a lot of power that could be laid down, despite the slick mud. I used Challenge Limus clinchers both days around 32psi and 34psi. I was very happy. From what I could the conditions in the 2:15 race changed more throughout the race than the 1:15 race. At the start of the 2:15 race, conditions were pretty close to my pre-ride just prior to the 1:15 race. The first two laps, I rode the little hill up around the tree. I was in the top 5 my entire race and jumped to 2nd for a bit. When I did get caught, I got sloppy trying to close things back in the wrong places of the course and caused myself to wreck on a slick right turn coming off the hill next to power box by the tennis courts but before the up and down around the tree. The last three laps I had to run the little hill because I just couldn’t shave enough speed in the slick & short down hill. Running the hill wasn’t the bad part but getting clipped back in was the hard part. I was stomping and kicking my egg beaters and sometimes didn’t get clipped in until after the u turn next to the pit. The only other tricky spot of the course was after the slick 180 over near the barriers that sent you back towards the town and then went left up the hill to the tennis courts. The lane was super wide. On Sunday, that area was pure bumpy rutted mud. It was great, powering that turn never having complete traction on the rear wheel and using it to steer you where you wanted to go. The pre-rides and first two laps of my race were just fine. But the last three, the ruts ether got filled or smashed down and slick. Little bumps like a reversed golf ball pattern. Never having traction in the fast turn sent me wider than I would have liked. All in all, I loved both days but will gladly take mud over ice any day HAHA! I was disappointed to see a smaller field in every race, Besides the Juniors cause we can all admit, most kids are more hard core than us adults, with these conditions being few and far between, you need to take every opportunity to ride in this stuff. No better way to learn.


  2. KU

    I’m in Madison now. The course will probably be a shit show of iced ruts turning to mud, then back to ice. You’ll likely have the same problems clipping in. Most of the course is not technical, with only a short section before the sand having tight hairpins. The remount after the run up is particularly treacherous if you can’t get your feet in proper (and there isn’t much space or time to get it done).

    Standard snow racing.

  3. jon

    I learned over ten years ago that for cross Time ATAC pedals and then Crank Brothers egg beaters were it for cross. Rarely a problem clipping in in any condition with those pedals.


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