2015 Woolley Cross – Cascade Cross #1

We actually had a little bit of rain on race day!

It wasn’t enough to generate any mud, but at least I got to experience a few sprinkles while out on course.

The day started off with another women’s specific clinic run by the Washington Women of Cross. Dawn attending this as her second clinic and was able to absorb a bit more knowledge on tire pressure, tread, cornering and some other CX skills. They’re doing a great job of growing the sport among local women and I’m glad to see it!

As far as the race itself goes, I heard a lot of positive comments out there. We had a few people who were on their first cyclocross race and this was a good experience for them.

While we had a serious runup over tree roots, there were no traditional barriers that required dismounting or remounting. The biggest challenge (at least for me) was the long stretches over the still bumpy grass. Some short sections got smoothed out by racers, but it was still pretty bone jarring.

Given my experience at the last race (South Sound Super Prestige) where I kind of blew up early and had a hard time sprinting at the end, I was going to take a different approach at this race.

The plan was to keep an eye on my heart rate and make sure I didn’t get into a zone where I would not get a chance to recover. So rather than blasting out the gate at the start I kept my cool while people passed me.

This seemed to work out fine until we made it to the run up. Normally this would be a good feature for me as I can power up the hill and get back on pretty quick (usually). In this case I totally flubbed the remount. Instead of getting back on smoothly and heading forward, I ended up stopping all momentum while jumping on and ran into some bushes.

Getting myself sorted out and back on course cost me several places and got me out of the “flow”. My HR shot up. Rather than blowing myself up to catch back on I focused on not letting my HR get too high and was going to try and slowly ride myself back on.

Turns out the rest of the field was totally not in with that game plan.

When we got to a relatively smooth and straight stretch they all took off while I focused on keeping calm. By the end of that sector they were all gone.

I didn’t really give up at that point, but it gets harder to justify going into the red when you’re so far off and have little chance of catching on. So I saved my legs for next weekend and rode hard, but didn’t turn myself inside out. I still managed to catch one guy before we both got lapped.

The friends, family, and other race fans were all out doing a great job of cheering, heckling and providing the beer & bacon handups.

Music used in this report video:

2014 Cascade Cross #2 Bellingham BMX #2 Race Report

October 25th, 2014

The race this day was a lot different from the last one. Last time we ran this course it was dry and there was just enough moisture to make it nice and tacky.

Today the rain made parts of the course into a derailleur eating soup. As it turns out, derailleur eating soup is not my ideal racing conditions. It’s not that I don’t like mud per se, it’s just that it seems to be more of a drag on my racing than on other racers.

With that in mind, I was prepared to suffer through the race but a mishap at the start put me even further behind than I would have been ohterwise.

I was lucky enough to get a first row callup. Apparently attendance at previous races counts because it sure wasn’t based on my stallar results. It also helped that a lot of the people who whould have been called up ahead of me did not show up that day.

In general I can start out in a higher gear and power to the front in a start. This time I did not take into account the slight uphill on the grassy start. When the start horn went off I realized I was in the wrong gear when everyone else starting going by me.

So much for a front row start.

To add insult to injury a guy came up on my right just as the course narrowed. He cut me off, then crashed immediately in front of me. He was slow to get his bike out of the way so I had to back up to untangle my bike from his, then go around him.

The rest of the field was long gone ahead of me but I put in the effort to try and catch on. I caught up to the back by the time we hit the stair run up, but came unhitched again in the thick mud.

One thing to take away from this experience is brake adjustment. I tend to have my brake pads set close to the rim for the improved stopping power. This is great for dry courses, but as soon as there is any mud I get a lot of scraping between the rim and the pads.

It’s probably taken me way too long internalize this, but that scraping is the sound of watts being wasted. I can’t help but wonder if part of my struggles on wet courses is due at least in part to having power sucked away by muddy brake track being in close contact with the brakes.

That’s definitely something to work with in the last two races coming up in January.

Staci May and the Heckle Squad
Staci May and the Heckle Squad

I need to give a special shout out to Pints & Cowbells racing team member and Earl’s Bike Shop partner Staci May, along with her group of cheering hecklers. Even though I was out there riding on my own for most of the race I looked forward to them whooping it up and having a good time cheering on riders out in the singletrack woods.