Monday, December 15, 2008

KC Day #3

I was expecting an exciting race from the UCI Elite Men at Cross Nationals and I was definitely not disappointed with the show that I watched yesterday. The warm weather from the previous days racing had disappeared by the start of the elite UCI Race, but the course dried a little more, giving the elite riders super fast conditions. The usual group of top contenders in the sport pushed the pace to unbelievable speeds at the start and quickly had the pack strung out in a single file pace line. By the top of the first climb, a lead group of about 7 riders had separated from the rest of the field, which became the decisive move of the day. The biggest surprise of the race was Jamey Driscoll holding on to a second place overall finish behind eventual winner Ryan Trebon. Cross racing in the US has a bright future with young riders like Driscoll and also Jesse Anthony progressing as fast as they are. It was amazing to watch the speed and tactics of the race up close and personal like I did. To me, being able to watch cross nationals live was like being able to watch the super bowl in the front row on the fifty yard line. It was truly an awesome show of talent and determination.

The Elite Womens Race was also exciting to watch. Katie Compton pretty much dominated the race from start to finish, with Georgia Gould and Rachel Lloyd chasing hard, but unable to match the pace of the five time national champ. Below is a video of the womens

Saturday, December 13, 2008

KC Day #2

What an exciting day of racing!!! Things went well for me, with a 9th place finish today. I was actually as high as 7th for about a lap midway through the race, but I just didn't have the power to maintain that spot for the remainder of the race. Andy and Ernesto had good races as well, finishing 20th and 18th respectfully in the 35-39 age class.

Compared to the day before when we warmed up on the course, things were much faster. The higher temps in the mid 50s and the strong wind really helped to dry up the course. I don't think the course conditions could have been any better. I found the course to be one of the better cross course I have been able ride. It was fun, somewhat technical without being stupid technical and allowed riders to pass without difficult. As a matter of fact, the winner of my race, Roger Aspholm, started about 6-7 rows back and was able to work his way to the front of the group by lap number two.

Today's racing is going to be spectacular with the UCI elite men and women racing. I have my cowbell ready for the action, along with my running legs to cover the whole course. I will be carrying my camera to record the action.
Update to come later. - Gerry
Check out the crazy start of Andy's and Ernesto's Race on the video below.

Friday, December 12, 2008

KC Day 1

I arrived at KC today to find sunshine and blue skies. This is a much better sight than what was forecasted earlier in the week. They did get some snow out here I guess on Monday or Tuesday, so the course is muddy, but it is only bad enough to stick on the wheels and nothing more. The course is the perfect for someone that can put out a ton of watts. It has more vertical climbing than any cross course that I have ever witness and is probably on the biggest hill in the KC Area, too. The course kind of serpentines up the hill to the top and then does the same coming back down. Don't get me wrong it is a fun course, but it is going to make racers hurt real bad. There are three dismounts per lap; one set of double barriers and two separate sets of steps going up steep inclines.

I did get to watch the end of the womens 30-39 masters race and the entire mens 45-49 masters race. Betsy Shogren rode to a 10th place finish in the womens race and her husband, some guy that very few people have heard of, Gunnar Shogren was 7th in his race. I put a picture of each of them above. There is also a picture of the first uphill run-up on the course.

There are tons of people here like there are every year at cross nationals. It is like a big party with bikes, mud and cold weather all thrown into the mix...always a good time. If you have never been to cross nationals, make a mental note to yourself to do it sometime in the future. Not much more to say for now, hopefully my race reports tomorrow will be a little more exciting. Later - Gerry

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spin Class

No, I did not enroll in a new gym, decked out with a room full of lycra wearing MILFs riding spinning bikes. Instead, what I did was get schooled at picking the right gear on my single speed at a cross race. When you race cross on a single speed, the most important thing is gear selection. I learned this very clearly yesterday when I raced with a gear that was way too low, a 34x18 to be exact. I guessed that the course at the final Bike Authority Cyclocross Series Race in Copley, OH would be a mess from the snow and all that the weather forecast was showing. I planned to race with an easy gear on the bike, so that riding the snow would be no problem. Well, I guessed wrong. The course did have snow on it, but by the time the elite race went off it was hard packed and fast. Unfortunately, I also did not bring a higher cog along with me to the race, so I knew from my first warm-up lap that I would be doing a lot of crank rotations to keep pace with the other geared bikes.

I definitely could not generate the power and speed that I needed with the gear I had on my bike, but I don't necessarily think that this was a bad thing. Spinning that easy gear gave me a great workout, albeit a completely aerobic workout. I just didn't have enough of a gear to give my legs a hard effort type of workout. But, from what I understand, this should be a good thing going into Nationals next weekend. My heart and lungs were still tested and they did feel good, even after my nasty cold that is waging a good fight with me. At the same time, my legs did not have to really work too hard with all the spinning, so they should be primed for a hard effort at the Nationals. Another thing I noticed about doing 100+ RPMs during an entire cross race is that it does keep one warm on a day when the temperature is in the mid 20's at best.

Spinning like a possessed mad man, I was able to finish 6th overall and win the 40+ race in which I was entered. The 40+ win was enough to give me the overall 40+ series victory as well, so I guess the race was a success today even though I was not at the front of the pack like I would prefer to be.

I am flying out of PIT early Friday Morning for Kansas City, MO to compete in my final race of 2008, the 2008 National Cyclocross Championships. I am not too sure if I am more excited about doing my 40-44 masters race on Saturday or watching the elite men's race on Sunday. Both of these races plus many others over the weekend are going to be awesome events to watch. At last count, my race had 138 riders registered. Many of the guys in my class are the top master racers in the county, so my thinking is that a finish in the top 20 would be a good result. Of course, my plans are to do much better than that, so please do wish me luck.

I will try to give an update of the course, venue and the race atmosphere when I arrive there on Friday. I will also add a recap of my race, Andy's Race and Ernesto's race after the battle is done on Saturday. As of today, the weather has a Murraysville Cross Race look to it. Lovely! - Gerry