Sorry we're a little late getting these posted, and as a result, we'll just each post our updates en mass, instead of a separate one for each race, here we go! Have to lead off the updates giving our newest member, Rob Gilbert, the props he deserves for starting the season with a bang! So far, he has a 6th, 3rd, and 5th place in his 3 races, and in 4th place in the overall points competition! Rob’s Reports
Three races into the season already and it’s not even October. The legs seem to be coming around, but the cross skills have not arrived. The new equipment has been great though. The American Classic 58’s took a beating last weekend at Xilinx, including a badly mis-timed bunny hop on the curb and a steering error into part of another curb, and appear to have survived relatively unscathed.
Thanks again to Carl, a top-notch racer and director-sportif, for doing such a great job gluing those sweet Vredestein Typhoons onto my 58’s. I would still be fumbling with the first coat of glue if I had done it myself.
After a brutally hot summer, I’m looking forward to some cooler weather and more traditional cross racing conditions. Plenty of good racing on tap for October, including nationally recognized events like the USGP series race in Fort Collins on the 13th and 14th and the Boulder Cup at Valmont Bike Park on the 28th.
Kick It CX TT
This season to start things off and set call ups for the initial race, a time trial was created. This was a short, 3.5 mile course, and riders did a single lap, intended to be somewhere around 14 minutes in duration. Since ‘cross races are usually multiple laps, this was definitely something new. Usually we get a few preview laps to check out the course, and then by a lap or two into the race have most of the turns dialed at race pace. With only a single preview lap, and then one lap for the race, the stakes were considerably higher. Riders would be sent off individually, 30 seconds apart.
On my preview, I was impressed by how balanced the course was—it had a long, paved start allowing riders to get to speed before getting into any technical stuff. Throughout, it had a good blend of bumpy straightaways for the fast riders, and tight, loose turns for the bike handlers. We raced in the morning, which meant the course was less ‘burned in’, so times were a bit slower. I ended up catching 1 rider, and finishing 1 second behind another. My time was 13:13, which at the time put me in 10th place overall. By the end of the day, plenty of riders would beat that as the course packed down, but I was still happy with a result just outside the top 20 in my category, since that would give me a good callup position for the next day.
Boulder #1 Valmont
I was excited for this race—this course is twisty and technical and suits me well. I felt I had one of my best rides of the year here last season. I got there early to make sure we had a good parking spot next to the back side of the course, and set up our tent and racks for the team. We had good traffic of friends all day and it was fun to see everyone again.
Soon enough, it was time for my race. I was heading over to staging when I heard my name called. It turned out Nick had crashed just after the finish line of his race and was being patched up by the EMT’s just off the course. It turned out to be mainly road rash on his knee and elbow, but that definitely stings! With lots of gauze and a fair number of tears, he was finally ready to head back to the van just about the time my field took off. Oh well, guess that’s parenting! An hour later, he was back riding around with his friends, so it was definitely a relief to see he was okay.
Boulder #2 Xilinx
As anyone that followed us last year knows, the Xilinx campus is a frequent venue for cross races. I like the courses there, although I don’t do so well at them since they tend to favor power riders instead of technical. On this day, there was deep dust and sand on much of the course, due to the extended drought we’re experiencing in Colorado. This made the turns more challenging, but also made the straight sections even slower.
I got a 3rd row callup based on last year’s results. Unfortunately, the rider in front of me dropped his chain twice at the start, forcing me to brake and lose ground. When we left the pavement, I was able to dismount and run past a bottleneck that was forming where there was only a single rideable line to gain back some places.
After that, I concentrated on digging hard whenever I could and recovering in the twisty sections. I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard in a race, but felt that slow! I finally rolled in 28th, having lost 4 or 5 places in the final lap after running out of gas. Not as good as I wanted, but better than usual for the early season when my fitness is always a little lagging.
Queens of Cross
This race is in its second year, and is focused towards getting more women to try cross. As a result, they run more women’s categories and mix up the schedule a bit, so I raced the 45+ Open instead. The course was VERY bumpy and loose and featured 1 big, steep hill that was barely rideable in warmups.
At callups, I was pleasantly surprised to be the 3rd name, so took my place on the front row. In perhaps karmic comeuppance for any thoughts I had about yesterday’s start, I pulled out of my pedal just as I moved into the hole shot. I barely managed to stay upright, but had to ditch it off the side of the course as most the field went by. I knew I had my work cut out for me, as there were 20+ riders ahead of me and few places to pass, so I really dug in. I made plenty of aggressive passes and managed to ride the hill every lap, ending up in 8th place overall. I feel pretty good about that, figuring I could have been at least 3-4 spots further up without the starting sprint screwup!
It’s been a mixed bag of results so far but I’m trying to keep my head up and things in perspective.
The season started with the Kick It CX TT. A CX TT? Cool. I had a good ride and fun pushing myself for the short 14ish minutes it took. The race would determine call ups for the next day and I finished 5th, so happy with that.
The next day was Valmont Bike Park, a popular venue in Boulder so always a great turnout. My women’s field had almost 40 women! Wished we raced with those numbers all the time. In the field we had the 2012 Olympic Mountain Bike Bronze medalist, along with many top level pro racers so I knew it would be a fast field. I got a front row callup and a decent start. I felt pretty good the first 2 laps, fizzled a bit for the next 2 laps and then got some wind for the last lap. I finished 12th, so not great but not bad for the beginning of the season and in a huge field.
Later that week I headed out to Vegas for Cross Vegas. I had done this race a couple years ago and didn’t have a good race so I was hoping for a better result. It’s an all grass course so definitely plays to a very fit racer, so not me right now. I warmed up and felt ok, not great, but was hoping I was working through fatigue and heavy legs. I had a great start and things seemed to be going okay until about a lap in. I just couldn’t seem to go AND I realized my front tire was going flat. I got to the pit on the next lap and received a quick change from the neutral support. Back out on course I was feeling even worse, stomach, head, body…everything hurting or weak and not in the typical “race hurt” kind of way. I decided to pullout and recover for the weekend. DNF, not the way I wanted to start the season.
Back home I geared up for Xilinx on Sat. and Queens of CX on Sun. The Xilinx race went pretty well, I was feeling recovered and like I managed to “race” most of the time.
Sunday’s Queens of Cross race meant the first back-to-back race weekend. I was definitely feeling Saturday’s effort but come race time I was feeling pretty good. It was a small but fast field. The course featured lots of bumpy, twisty, dusty terrain. I felt like I put in a solid race both technically and physically, even managed a 3rd place podium spot!
I’m really excited for the season and looking forward to this weekend’s races.
Thanks for reading!