Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sac CX #3: Penn Valley

Some mornings you get up and you feel like you really shouldn't have gotten out of bed. And today, I should have listened to myself.

After arriving home from the Bay Area late Friday night, I got a late start for my 1+ hour drive to Penn Valley (outside Grass Valley). After missing my turn off, I got to the race at 9:36. Unfortunately, the C mens race started at 9:30. Crap. Not willing to just pack it in after the long drive, I signed up for the Men's B (Under 40) class and waited around until 12:30 PM. I got a little pre-riding in and watched the 'A' Men's for once. This was entertaining, and Junior Cody bunnyhopping the uphill barrier was pretty sweet.

The course was longer and more challenging than the two previous Sac CX races. It clocked in at a normal 1.93 miles with 70' of climbing per lap, but it had a little bit of everything: 3 barriers (one double set), 1 sand pit, 2 run ups (although they were ridable) and a few gulleys (but no whiteknuckle descents).

The course went like this: Singletrack, barrier in the woods, more singletrack, crap loose corner, uphill barrier which I ran up and remounted, pavement (with speedbumps), down into the sandpit, steep climb to get out, more pavement, back across the grass field, through the woods, up to race official and then double barrier. I've marked the map above with some of the obstacles (click to see it larger).

My race can be summed up with one word: outclassed. Or maybe 0wn3d. Even, suck*ss. From the get go, I was off the back, struggling to keep touch with a MTB guy ahead of me and fighting off a lone staggler behind. Through three laps this race within a race continued, until I lost my chain riding up the pavement. The MTB guy charged ahead and lost me here, but the straggler was nowhere to be seen. I continued on through the race, not riding bad, but certainly not competitively. The extra 10 minutes started to wear on me and I was crying for the bell lap, when I heard the lead peloton gaining on me. I kicked it up to finish with them -- but they were on the bell lap so I got pulled, down one lap. A nice little DFL was my prize, as the lone straggler evidently DNF'd. Overall, I finished with 5 laps at 00:43:33 (but down one lap) for 12th place.

I ran my usual cyclocross bike since I was travelling all week. However, the tires were a good choice for the wide array of terrain we faced today. And I was especially pleased with the sand performance.

I haven't seen the results posted yet, but I got a quick picture of the "leaderboard" that the organizers had posted. Click the picture to get a high resolution version.
Post race beer: Spaten Oktoberfest. A classic, drank in honor of the start of one of most favorite months, October. Malty Martzen brewed by the originators. Nice. 5/5 stars.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sac CX #2: Vacaville

This morning was the second race in the 2006 Sacramento Cyclocross series. Hosted by the Monticello Cycling Club at Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville, California, the weather was perfect for the C league race (but I wouldn't have wanted to be racing after noon in the A league). Registration for the race was a little bit more of an adventure than last week, and overall the atmosphere was definately low key.

The 1.41 mile (130 feet climbing) course was really two separate courses: the fast, flat path and the sketchy climb/descend MTB section. If you are looking at the satellite picture below (courtesy of Google Earth and Motionbased), the right side (south) is the flat path and the left side (north) is the MTB section. The races went counter clockwise, starting midpoint on the path closest to the lake.

We started on the flat section taking a few turns over sometimes loose but predictable doubletrack dirt. There were multiple turns and one dismount obstacle (with the barriers really close together). The second section started with a big climb out of the saddle (90' or so), followed by a harrowing downhill with a hard right bottom turn, then a hard left gulley descent, a short run up and a steep but rideable down and up gulley.

I had a pretty good race, with no major mishaps. We began with a normal start (after our military drill sergant UCSF official did a roll call). The field of 31 racers made from a crowded start but everything quickly thinned out by the first barriers and then really spread at the hill climb. I started towards the back of the lead peloton and was doing pretty well until my downhill. The rest of the peloton took off with abandon while I slid into the riot fencing at the bottom hard right. I got right back on and only slide out once more (sorry race official on the gulley turn !). I made my time back up on the climbs and eventually moved into a netherland between the leaders and the rest of the group. By the time I had completed my third lap, the drill sargant was signalling bell lap, so I kicked it up a notch and passed one last rider.

In the unofficial results, I scored a 8th place finish. However, that was somewhat tainted by the fact that the second place finisher was DQ by the race official due to "outside support." The starter had said that there was no resupplying or free lap before the start, but I think the racer didn't hear. I thought a time or lap penalty would have been more appropriate as this was beer league . . . Overall, we had a high DNF rate - it looks like only 23 of the initial 31 racers finished.I ran my usual equipment today with the substitution of slimed innertubes for my usual racing tubes. I drive by this course commuting into the Bay Area and presumed that goat heads would be prevalent. I was correct. However, I wished I had changed out my tires (Ritchey SpeedMax Comps again). Although they worked well for the straight aways, it was a little dicey on the loose corners and downright dangerous on the downhills. Thinking about investing in some Maxxis tires.

Full results have been posted over at Sacramento Cyclocross. They also have the "A" league coverage. Some good photos from SinglespeedGuy on Flickr too.

Post race beer: Warsteiner. Yes, life is too short to drink cheap beer. Another 4/5 stars.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sac CX #1: Folsom Rodeo

Last weekend saw the kickoff of the Sac CX series at Folsom Rodeo. It appears to be organized by the same people behind the PCRS MTB series with some of the same racers. The course was a 1 mile loop with 4 barriers and 2 run ups. The racers ran a variety of bikes, from hardtail MTBs (about 1/3) to Redline Conquests and higher end Ridleys and Lightspeeds.

It began with a Le Mans style start (over a ten foot woodchip mountain!), then hammering and running for 30 ("C" class) to 1 hour ("A" class). I was slow in the run (bad knees), last to my bike and had a hell of a time picking my way through the pack. I eventually made it to the mid pack before the bell lap (last lap) to finish 14th.

Equipment-wise, I think that the tires that I choose (Ritchey Speed Max Comp 700x35) were a good choice for this course. Might have been able to get away with something a little narrower (I didn't need much tread) but some of the gravel sections would have been dicey. People on mountain bikes probably did pretty well, but they certainly weren't a major advantage.

Photos have been posted here and the results are here.

Post race beer: Widmer Drop Top Ale. Malty, tasty and they have bike jerseys (nice). 4/5 stars.