Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Everybody else is doing it so why shouldn't I ? Or, what I learned about Cyclocross in 2009
If you look close you can see the "Chismis" lights on my bike
Hank confided that when Russell Stevenson was teaching him about Cyclocross he said brakes and tires matter, everything else on your bike is secondary. In September when Sam and I were under the tutelage of our personal coach Ryan Trebon; I asked him about how to take corners faster, he smiled and said one word, “tubulars.” After Starcrossed, Kevin was jumping around like he was about to explode he was so excited about how his tubies had worked. He said he felt like he was cheating. He insisted I put his front wheel on my bike and ride around the field and see what it was like. I couldn’t get the tire to slip. It was simply amazing. I found some rims that were a steal and laced them to and old front hub and a used rear I picked up on eBay and after all of the research I could handle, I glued on some tires. Soon I was groovin’ on the tubies.’ They are the real deal. A couple riders on the team ride clinchers at 65 psi. and swear that is the way to go. They also think scars are cool.
Yes Virginia, I finally understand chatter. Leonard Zinn waited until the last week of my season to explain the root cause of front brake chatter on cross bikes. I now realize all of the fixes that are cross folklore are really just ways to make your front brakes less effective thereby reducing chatter. If you want to kill chatter and have good brakes you need to not use your noodle. You need to use a travel agent and V-Brakes. The difference is amazing. Like the tubies, I feel like I’m cheating now. If you happen to have the stiffest front fork ever made, you can ignore this and enjoy your braking as it is today.
Don’t think that listing her way down in third is a reflection of her influence. I raced in sixteen races in 2009 and she was there for all of them. Because she was photographing other races before and after mine, I would guess she photographed close to a hundred races. My Teammate John called her the hardest working photographer in the business. She is my biggest fan and I am darn lucky to have her on my side.
I sure worked hard in 2009. I now look back and realize my training was incredibly counter-productive. I am just glad there isn’t anyone named Bif to give me a noogies and call me McFly. I have designed training plans for runners for thirty years. They all have hard days followed by easy days. To get better you increase the intensity of the hard days. In 2009 I tried to go hard all the time. I felt tired and kept pushing. I only rested when the wheels came off the bus which they did many times.
5 Focused Training
I read that someone had a power meter on a cross racer and the maximum length of a hard output in a race was 23 seconds. Cross is a series of bursts and rests (perhaps technical rests, but from a power perspective, rests none the less). If you want to be good at it you need to mimic these bursts in your training and when you have to put in a big effort in a race, console yourself that the push will be short in duration.
It was sure fun to be on a team. I enjoyed training with the guys in the off season as well as having people root for me during the races. There were guys to swap stories and opinions with about course conditions, equipment and life. The discount on bike equipment and clothing was also pretty sweet. For Nationals a dozen of us made our way to Oregon and the camaraderie was wonderful.
7 Curtlo Frame
Carbon smarbon. Steel is so real. I loved the way it hooked up and was compliant and stiff at the same time. In Bend I rode where others slipped. When the pros were racing in Bend I noted all kinds of carbon frames slipping and sliding. That isn’t to say that steel or aluminum wouldn’t, but I know the carbon frames were several times the cost of the metal frames and while they were probably lighter, weight is a few rungs down on the list of important cross frame characteristics. I wanted to say I learned how to handle my cross bike in 2009, but the credit goes to the tubies and the Curtlo. I’ve got my frame, do you have yours ?
8 34 degrees
The first three months of 2009 the majority of the Sunday morning rides with the team were between 33 and 37 degrees. Through repeated trial and error I was able to perfect the ultimate outfit to combat that range of temperatures down to the Holy Grail of cold weather riding; gloves. Head to toe here is what worked best: Helmet, thick earband, optional thin skull cap, LS baselayer, thick jersey/jacket, vest, bibs, thermal tights, wool socks, shoes, toe covers and shoe covers. On the hands: liner gloves and Swix XC ski gloves.
9 Warming Up
I was resistant to using a trainer for some reason. When I did I was able to settle in to a fast pace in my races quicker. The race to the first corner seemed easier when I had warmed up on a trainer. If anyone thinks there is any point in the race more important than the first minute, let me know. I also received a monster jacket from work that has become my peel-it-off-at-the-last-minute-in-the-starting-grid jacket. It saved my shivering bacon in Bend.
Hottie saw dividends from her kindness on the photography end of the sport as her fans became her promoters. At a cold race this season as our juniors were shivering as their parents raced I dug out no less than three beanies to keep their heads warm. At Nationals Andrew battled hypothermia every day and he welcomed our propane heater with a level of gratitude usually reserved for those liberated from POW camps.
11 Pit Wheels
If you bring them, you better practice swapping them. That is all I am going to say about that.
12 Low Pressure Clinchers
This is the way to go if you want to visit the pits or end your day early.
If you get this number honor cycling tradition and pin it on upside down. The cycling Gods will show their gratitude.
I had always avoided glasses because of my fear of fogging them up. I realized that because I don’t stop until the end, this isn’t actually a risk. Mud in my eyes in more than one race led me to try it in Bend. It worked. I guess that is why, like the trainer, everybody else does it. Duh !
I did the Single Speed World Championships in Portland, and the Clydesdale Championship of the Universe in Bend. Both were silly, and as much fun as a guy can have on a bike.
Steel cut oats are so much better. Go ahead and add buttermilk. I know it sounds gross, but it is the best (don’t forget huge amounts of brown sugar of course).
Look for Cyclocross to continue to explode. We are on the verge of reluctant acceptance in the cycling community and the sport is growing faster each year.
18 Lexicon growth
Heard this year relating to Cyclocross:
“I was praying for a mercy mechanical”
“I am groovin on the tubies”
“(There is a) Hurricane of pain heading for the finish line”
“I rode that corner with an outrigger”
“I was digging deep into my satchel of grimaces’”
“This was an expensive season for me”
19 Hot packs
Hot packs in my shoes made Bend tolerable for my feet.
20 Running on Ice
If you think you can carry your bike and run on ice, you’ll find yourself screwed.