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!