Friday, October 25, 2013

Vegas Bob's CA Cross Series Update

Hey Ev'rbody!
Well cyclo-cross season is well underway. It started out here in Downtown L.A. After pulling the Motobecane out of deep hibernation I aired up the ol' Kenda tires, spun the front wheel and my sleeping SigmaSport 1606 winked to life, and I clicked into my aluminum/ti XPEDO pedals and was ready to rock! Unfortunately, the "roll" part didn't follow so much. A covering of wood chips in the park made for a sea of flat tires. Tubeless, tubulars, tubes, Stan's, Slime, no one was immune. I unfortunately ended up with a total of 3 flats for 2 races, never getting more than a lap and a half around the track, even while just trying to warm-up between events. Amino Vital was on hand, but didn't even get a chance to work since 12 minutes was the most I was on a bike. For the last race I even tried to hide a good tube in the middle of a bad tube, but unlike Luke getting warm in the Taun-taun's innards or Hannibal escaping in his guard's face skin, my slice job didn't work out. Ah well, that's racing. 

Next was Prado Lake in Chino Hills. It's still a bit toasty out here in the Golden State, but the shade under lots of oak trees and the Sigma EZ-UP made it a nice day. The racing was tough, though. The course had lots of gopher-hole bumpy grass, and obstacles included a few off-camber lines, a couple switchbacks over baseball diamond DG dirt, a dirt stair, and the hurdles were around a corner at the top of a hill. The only resting spot was the pavement straightaway at the start/finish line. Even lowering my tire pressure to get a bit more squish outta them, I took a beating. In the "A" race I think the only two people I beat were a Junior racer who looked to be about 15, and the guy that took 5 beer hand-ups. Yay, Me! It's always a bit of a change from XC to CX, but always fun. Good thing cool beverages were waiting at the finish!

The third race was down at Vail Lake in Temecula. There has never been a CX race down there before, but having done cross-country races there for a few years, I knew we'd be in for a treat. They graciously stepped in on short notice as a venue when Costa Mesa dropped the ball. When we arrived at the entrance, we were told to go around to the "other" entrance. I thought there was only one. Well after continuing down the highway, finding the back way in, and meandering down a winding road, we came on the racecourse, a ridiculously grassy patch of hills, right next to the beach by the lake.

But besides beautiful, it was actually a difficult course. A lack of flat sections kept us on our toes every lap, with the steepest hill I've ever done in a CX race ever. My cassette barely had a low enough gear to clean it. Lots of guys lost their strength or traction about 3/4 of the way up, with many choosing to just run up from the bottom instead. Just past the start/finish was a sand section, starting with a left 180 in very deep sand and then a right 180 into an uphill. Mayhem was the standard here, as those of us who could pedal through it clambered for space between those who couldn't, running or falling over all around us. The small dirt section was in a super windy spot, so not only was it slow, but we got showered with dust. The sickest part were the dinosaurs chasing us. That's motivation! haha. But really, local artist Ricardo A. Breceda is a metalworking master, and his workshop is on the Vail Lake property. Many of his sculptures are scattered over the property, and some even grace the hills of the canyon on the way out of town from Temecula. What a treat.


I also decided to try SingeSpeed for the first time. Luckily Joe from Bike Religion in Dana Point had some demo Felts ready to ride and waiting eagerly to be ridden. He swapped over my XPEDOs, I zipped tied the shifter paddles to the brake levers (after some gear-selection coaching from some experienced SSers) and I was off! I really interesting experience, since I've never ever even ridden a SS on trails at all, much less in a race. Plus it was my first time racing a drop-bar CX bike, too. Super fun! But I definitely had an adjustment period. For a lap and a half I still kept trying to use the shifters! And I kept pedaling in vain on the flats, ridiculously whirling to 130rpm before figuring out how worthless it was to do so. After the second lap, though, I had gotten the hang of it, and the gear was just easy enough to get me up the steepest hill. I had a blast! And I ended up 11th out of 20 guys. Hmmm, I may have to try that again!



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