20 November 2009

16 November 2009

St. Mary's in the Mud

Great day for cyclocross! It was raining for most of the night and morning before the race, setting the stage for slippery and muddy conditions. It was probably about 40 degrees for the 1pm start. The race preceding ours, combined with the continuing rain, tore up the grass and churned up the mud for the Open race.

We rode up the bricks for the start with Shadd and Brian leading on to the grass, while I sat in third. The first grassy section was a left then a right on a slight uphill to the pit. Right away Shadd started to pull away so I moved by Brian after the second turn at the wheel pit. The next section was cool with a slow-speed, muddy, slippery, left-then-right turn combination. This was followed by a gradual fast-but-straight downhill section. I was within a few seconds of Shadd here and it looked like a gap was developing behind me.

After the downhill there was a tricky high-speed right-hander. I had tested this turn during the pre-ride and it could be ridden without brakes if you got the line right. This turn was followed by a slimy mild uphill and a few sharp 180+ degree turns. The next section was defined by downhill right-hand turn followed by a sweeping left. This was tricky, but again could be ridden without brakes and pretty fast if the line was right.

Following this was a tricky little muddy kick-up and then a tractionless short gradual uphill section. This ended up being my trouble spot for the day. I bobbled the kick-up half the time and just couldn't get much traction on the following uphill. Probably needed to run a couple PSI lower in the rear tire.

As for tires, I ran the Maxxis Mudwrestlers, which were great. I was railing the corners fast and smooth. I ran 30/35 and this seemed to work for the most part. Only my lack of confidence and skill kept me from finding the limit of their capabilities.

By the time Shadd and I hit the run up on the first lap it looked like we had a big gap, 30+ seconds. We were both more than a little surprised at how big it was so quick. The rest of the course was fairly straightforward, with the exception of the thicker muddy section along the pond on the low side of the course. I rode the left tape every time and didn't have any major problems getting through each lap.

Shadd had more horsepower than me today and was able to pull away from me, but the technical portions of the course allowed me to keep him close. I would yo-yo, from right on his wheel to 5-10 seconds back, throughout the race. Late in the last lap, Shadd fell and I came back up to his wheel and passed him briefly. But, I had no intention of taking advantage of his fall after he had led most of the race and had the stronger legs. So, Shadd took the win and I was second. Brian managed to move up through the field to take 3rd and Scott Dunsmuir got 4th (not 12th?!).

Thanks to everyone who made this race happen, especially whoever cleaned up the men's shower room afterwards. I am pretty sure we didn't "leave it in the condition we found it" like the sign directed.

The end of a full week of bike-related activities: Thursday - KCCX/VERGE Fundraiser, Saturday AM - 3hr MTB Ride; Saturday PM - KC Sprints; Sunday - Cyclocross.

12 November 2009

Tweaking the KC Cross Rankings

I have been working on developing a new algorithm for calculating the KC Cross Rankings. I am doing this because:

1. Crossresults's points are generated at the end of the week (rather than Mon or Tue)
2. Crossresults.com is more susceptible to errors than a local system will be
3. I have some different ideas about how to calculate the points

I need your help. On this site you'll see the output of a couple different algorithms I am working on. I'd appreciate any comments you could offer about which ranking list better reflects reality. I am sure there will be different opinions, but I'd like to see some opinions from people who race in the categories I am less familiar with.

Please leave your comments on this post.

The URL: http://sites.google.com/site/kcrankingsdev/home

10 November 2009

Weekend Off

This weekend I opted to not race and hit the trails on the Scott Genius 20 instead. The weather was outstanding for some low-key hours out at Landahl. Many others had the same idea as there was a ton of cars in the parking lot. Strangely, I didn't see too many people out on the trail. The trails were in great shape, but there was a healthy covering leaves. In a few places the leaves were pretty slick.

Saturday I ran into Chris Johnson and a friend of his, and we tooled around for a couple of hours.

On Sunday I did some adventuring. I looked for and found the "ISH" trail. There really isn't much trail at this point, but it looks like it could be cool when its finished. I'm probably not much of a freerider, but it would be still be fun to have another trail to hit. On a related note, apparently folks have approval to start building a freeride trail at SMP too.

I also found a good hill climb that could be added to a race course sometime. It is an old jeep trail that pretty much heads right up the northwest bluff from the Truman access road all the way up to Family Trail (just east of where the new connector trail joins the existing trail). While it might not be a favored trail for all-the-time-use (because of erosion issues), it would definitely be a good addition for race days.

I also eyeballed how The Boulevard could be brought back into play with a climb up to Family Trail. I didn't spend to much time looking at the details, but I think it could be done from the fence up to the top of the bluff with a few switchbacks. I guess it would probably connect up with the technical offshoot of Family Trail.

I'd also like to cut in a CX course up in the fields by the Argo trailhead. It would be nice to have a practice course that wouldn't require competing with other park users or getting flak for tearing up the grass. I don't see why we couldn't have a semi-permanent course setup for MTB short track racing and CX practice/racing.

03 November 2009

KC Cross Rankings Update

These are up-to-date through the Smithville race. Crossresults.com updates on Fridays, so we are always a week behind.

If you see anything wrong with your points (I saw some problems), go to crossresults.com and see if you can figure out what's going on (e.g. another rider with the same name and results mixing). If you are not sure, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Many of us have now done 10 races and so your points total reflects only this season's performance.

02 November 2009

Boss Cross #3 & Sunflower Cross

Saturday was the Boss Cross race at Platte Ridge Park. I didn't do this race last year, but did in 2007. Although not as brutal as in 2007, this is still definitely the most physically-challenging local course. Although selective, this course is not very "cyclocross-like." When I say "cyclocross-like" I suppose I mean like the typical course in the major european cross races--World Cup, Trofee GvA, etc. A traditional cyclocross course is about a several "features" separated by so-called transitions. The Platte Ridge Park course doesn't really have any transitions, its just hard pedaling most the way around. I am not being critical, just looking at the course objectively.

Shad Schreiner dominated the day riding away from everyone else. Things splintered almost immediately. By the second lap, I was sitting 4th about 30 seconds behind Shad, with Brian Jensen and Chris Wallace spaced out evenly in between. On the second or third lap I managed to catch Chris, who was having an off day and ultimately retired from the race. After this the gaps just stretched out: Shad pulled away from Jensen, Jensen pulled away from me, and I pulled away from Andrew Coe. This is how it ended, not too exciting.

On Sunday, Sunflower Cross was at Clinton lake on essentially the same course as Chris Cross from the last two years. It was a small field, basically the same as Saturday with the addition of Shadd Smith and the loss of Andrew Coe. Shadd Smith took the early lead while Brian and Shad took up the chase. I was able to to sit on their wheels for awhile but then my strength basically evaporated and I faded away. Just about everyone else had quit and there wasn't really anyone to catch me from behind. I minimized my suffering by backing off a little and just riding in for 4th. Around this time it looked like Shad was dropping Brian and the outcome was set.

No so! What looked to be the final order: Shadd, Shad, Brian, got a major shake up in the final couple of laps. Basically, everyone came together and shuffled multiple times under the pressure of aggressive racing. Ultimately, Brian came out on top with Shadd in 2nd and Shad in 3rd. I'm bummed I wasn't there to participate in what looks to have been an exciting finale.

I wasn't really able to get in the mix this weekend. I just didn't seem to have any gas. I'm not really sure why, I am trying to figure out what the body is doing or what I am doing to the body! I think when you are young the body is quite resilient and rebounds from stress pretty easily. Now being older, it may be that I have to be a little more thoughtful about how much intensity I can take and still recover adequately to race well on the weekends. Or maybe I just had an off weekend, who knows.

I rode Sunday's race on Bill's Easton EC90s and Challenge Grifo tubulars. This is actually the first race I have ridden on tubulars. I was very interested to see if riding tubulars lived up to the hype. Honestly, while I could tell the difference, I don't think clinchers are a huge disadvantage (sacrilege, I know). I ran lower pressure with the Grifos, 28f and 30r, which is a little lower than I can ride with clinchers: 30f and 35r. Ideally, I could have ridden the same course with the two different setups. My primary impression was the suppleness of the tubular--it seems to conform to the ground better than the clincher does. As a result I think it does a little better job of taking the bumps out of the course. From a cornering perspective, I didn't notice a big difference, but this could just be because I didn't run the clinchers on the same course. I actually think I could have run a little more pressure, there was a couple of instances where the front tire grabbed hard when I put too much weight on it. This, however, was probably more of a technique fault on my part than a shortcoming of the tire. In the end, I'll say I am looking forward to riding the rest of the season on tubulars, but if you are on clinchers and can't justify the expense of tubulars, don't worry about it. You can ride well enough on clinchers, at least if you are on the right ones, hint, hint (Maxxis)!

So, we are about halfway through the season, or at least halfway to Nationals. Last year, November was a bad month for me. I was not disciplined enough and didn't put the time in on the trainer. As a result, my October form faded pretty badly and I was probably at my worst in mid-December at Nationals. I did eventually recover a little by Masters Worlds in late January. Anyway, the lesson was learned and I will try to get some quality work in over the next 4-6 weeks.

According to kansascitycross.com, I am leading the DeStad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series right now. As of Saturday, I am also leading the Boss Cross Series. Wow, what a difference from last year! It would be cool to win one or both of these, but anything can happen. Shadd is second in the De Stad series, so KCCX/Verge should be able to win the series unless a major catastrophe strikes. The Boss Cross series is a closer question, I have to hold off Brian Jensen, no easy task. I'll do my best!