This entry was posted in Racing on by .

I’m a pretty okay cyclocross racer. I’ve won the Elite Nationals twice, the Pro Nationals twice, plus Masters a few times. That being said, I don’t feel much like a cyclocross racer.  And it is a little hard figuring out what to do about it.  

I hadn’t raced cross for two years until last weekend. And last weekend was pretty much a bust.  I didn’t have good luck, but I’ve done well at races with horrible luck.  You can make your own luck sometimes racing bikes.  Starting at the back of the field in a cross race usually only invites bad luck.  

I know I have to pay my dues in cross.  There is no free ride.  But now that cross is so popular, even regional races have over 50 guys in them and I’ll be lining up DFL each race until I get a USAC ranking that gives me an okay start position.  And that is going to take a few weekends.   

I have no patience for it.  It is bad enough getting smeared by the best riders in the country.  It is going to be hard getting beat by a bunch of guys that aren’t normally on my radar screen.  But, I understand the situation.  

The real problem is if I’m really ready to race cross at a level I’ll be happy with.  I think I’ve done an alright job getting back to race fitness on the road and MTB. But cyclocross takes a different skill set. And some of those skills are a stretch for me right now.  

Specifically, dismounting to run up steep pitches or stairs is difficult.  Plus, lifting my bike with my right arm isn’t so good either.  Long runs would be close to impossible.  And I’m not so sure, no matter what I do the next couple months, I’ll get better enough at those things to be competitive.  At least competitive at a level I’ll be happy with. 

Yesterday, I was repairing the doors of my house in Central Topeka.  It deserves a post on its own.  Some guy threw a brick through a window and had been “living” there.  He stole all the heater covers and door knobs for recycling dollars.  

Anyway, I was making sure the garage was secure, climbed a 6 foot fence to check.  When I jumped off the fence, my right knee, good leg, hurt instantly at the patella tendon.  This morning it aches still. I guess I can’t be jumping off fences anymore.  At least until I’m trained for it.  

This is just another thing that might or might not be a factor.  There are a bunch of good cross races in the Midwest the next month or so.  I guess I’ll just play it by ear and see how things pan out.  

That isn’t how I normally do things, but I’m sort of in new territory here, so it is going to be a learning process.  

  Back when running, and riding in mud didn’t worry me. 

18 thoughts on “Decisions

  1. Nick Hoefer

    Love to see you up at JingleCross. Lots of racing in a weekend. Though it might not solve the problems you describe, it’s also a chance to see some old friends and IC is not a bad place to hang for a weekend.

  2. Jim

    Consider a few races at lower competition level to get back into it. The Derby City Cup uses the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series races, which includes Cat 1/2/3/4 45+ & 55+ fields. Mark Legg Compton raced in the 45+ last year and Peter Webber has dominated it this year and last year. Regain your cx legs and your confidence, then return to the Elite race if you feel up to it.

  3. SB

    Steve I know you’re always active generally, but I don’t recall ever seeing you post about any kind of specific off the bike training you do… you know, yoga, core work, weight work, calisthenics, plyo etc… do you ever do that kind of stuff? Might be a good idea for overall resilience and general health and injury prevention.

  4. Krakatoa East of Java

    I remember the Sorrento Cyclocross in 1984 (San Diego). Not long after the S/F, there is this long, steep, rutted, bumpy downhill (on hard-packed dirt, embedded with smooth rocks) and then an immediate steep uphill. Everyone “I” knew would take the downhill slow (taking care to stay upright), dismount at the bottom, and then run up the other side.

    YOU, on the other hand, BOMBED down that hill and just rolled-over the other side, with maybe a crank turn (or two). You were fearless. You literally decimated the rest of the field. One of my friends broke his collarbone on that downhill. That was my first true experience of seeing the difference between “the rest of us” and the truly elite riders. It was humbling to watch.

    I think you need to sit back and take some friggin inventory, dude!

  5. El Tejan

    You can get reasonably low USAC points (<160) by doing regional masters races for a bit without the effort it'd take in a P/1/2 race.

  6. Jason Walker

    Thankfully, Steve, you live in probably the best location to very quickly/easily/cheaply reverse your ranking situation. If I was your CX coach, I’d tell you to go to Jingle Cross and plan on doing 4 races. Do all 3 UCI races and pick one of the old guys races (given the # of racers and amount of points floating around the Midwest, you could probably do 3 old guys races and 1 UCI race and have a similar outcome but by doing the UCI races you could tell yourself: “Steve, you are going to probably get your butt kicked; try not to break any equipment, or yourself, have fun and make sure you finish.” It would be much harder to stomach getting beat or broken by some random 58 yr old guy).
    Given your 2 results in Louisville, you could very easily come out of Iowa with 5 total races with points less than 175.
    When that is done, and assuming you are having fun, target some old guy races (Colorado has some many guys with low points this would be a logical choice). Odds are you’ll start in the first 3 or 4 rows, which is close enough to win those races given your background. Before you know it your ranking will be around 140 or lower, which would put you in position to do well or win Nats if you get serious (and probably a disc bike). Godspeed.

  7. Mike Rodose


    Keep racing cross and pick theones you like.

    Now. Whaaaaat happened to your home in East Topeka? Holy house-squatting! Please tell us more.

  8. mike crum

    this post sounds like all u wanted was a bunch of your follwers to tell you dont worry, you’re still great…
    you been racing 40 years.. you should know what to do..

  9. Carlos F

    Something wrong with cx courses if your starting position has such a strong influence on finishing place. Any win-competitive cx racer should be able to start at the back and finish top 10, or start in the middle and finish top 5. This isn’t the chicrosscup.

  10. JD

    I’m pretty much with Krakatoa. I lined up in your heat at Masters in Louisville and even though I was doing good for me, you still lapped me. That was frustrating – do go from top 10 placing in my local races to getting pulled.

    Jason was pretty on point, except for the disc comment (unless he was giving you some crap).

    Understand about the hip, too. If it’s not working for you, then just take some time to re-think cross.

  11. JB

    You didn’t do any regular PT after your shoulder and hip injuries/surgeries, did you? You just rode your bike, so those are the only muscles that “came back.” PT would have worked all of the muscles, not just the bike riding muscles. Go to a PT twice a week, and race some cross too!


Comments are closed.