Category: Cyclocross (page 2 of 3)

Campton Cross Race Report

Stewart’s infamous angry face!

by Stewart Chapman

Campton Hills is the Halloween cross race. The rules for costumes are that they have to have sleeves (insert quizzical look here). Practically you should still be able to ride. There were great costumes everywhere. Peter Monko was a hazmat worker, Kelly was a piñata (including bike), Kim was a member of the cast of Double Dare, and Krisiti was a most excellent Hermione. There was also Thor (with special bonus second Minenor (SP) hammer, a whoopee cushion (complete with gas puff out the helmet), Nyan cat, Santa, and a crash test dummy (who I didn’t see fall but should have).

Monko as a character from Breaking Bad, handing up ‘meth’ candy.

For the first time all year it wasn’t raining (hurricaning, tundering) during the races. Beautiful weather for a cross race. The park is way out of the city, most of the way to Dekalb, in a park that’s next to a cornfield in the middle of nowhere (sorry Campton). The race shares space with baseball and soccer games. I thought the groups played well together, even if the warmup for the bikes was all around the soccer pitch. Last year, I recall getting some stink eye looks from a baseball mom or two with all the extra bike traffic.

Kelly as a piñata.

The course was mainly flat with some longer power sections. The highlights of the course was a short trip through the woods on a hillock that rose up, dipped, then came down to the forest floor. That’s where a 10 year old took Kelly out last year and her entire leg was one big bruise. I hesitated too much at that part because I didn’t want that to be me. There were also two sections of off camber 180s. The first was in the back of the course and the second was the heckle section of the course. We had a bet going for the 4 races of how many racers would get through before the first one fell. Our numbers were 8, 15, 24 and the 8 won. I think that was Mark. There was also a series of railroad ties that you had to get up. The only one that caused any issues was the second one (I almost endoed at it, but I was going so slow that I just fell over. Hurray for Slow). There was one section that was downhill, then a sharp left over a bumpy four foot section then a wide left into gravel with a railroad tie in the middle. You could bunny hop over the railroad tie. And by you, I mean you and not me. I managed to not be set up correctly for it each lap).

Kristi as Hermione. Photo by Bill Draper.

Handups were beer, Katie’s Twizzlers, candy bacon (strawberry flavor) and Kelly did reverse handups in the 4B race – that was great. There were some spectacular wipeouts over the course of the day. But they were slow crashes and won’t have left any damage. Except one guy in a green skinsuit ran the whole way with his bike on his shoulder with the tire hanging off. He did at least two laps! That’s what’s great about cyclocross.

Here’s a gallery of photos from the race:

All photos not noted to be by Bill Draper or Snowy Mountain Photography (Nathan Schneeberger) have been provided by Eric Goodwin of Burnham Racing.

Hilton Indian Lakes Resort CX Race Report

Brock takes the human sized hand up! Photo courtesy of Bill Draper

Hilton Indian Lakes Resort Chicago Cross Cup Day 1 – 4A’s and 4B’s by JPC

Hey All, CX racing is fun.  Real fun.  I mean max effort, drooling, snot dripping, tunnel vision inducing, heart pumping fun.  Really.  With that much fun, you would think that I would race more.  Well, after racing 5-6 races back in 2009, then 2 in 2010 and only 1 last year, I decided that I have to get at least 1 race in this year before all my summer fitness fled from my body.

It worked out that I had a free Saturday the same weekend as the double header at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort.  I’ve never raced at this course, but have heard great things about it and with another race the next day it always seemed that everyone had a ton of fun staying overnight.  I decided to ride that Saturday morning on the regular Spidermonkey group ride, but turned around at Tower.  It was hard to see everyone keep on going, but I didn’t want to shoot my load first thing in the morning since I signed up for the power hour (4A’s and B’s) and would need every bit of whatever to make it through to the end without getting lapped 7 times by Fred Wu.

Of course I was running late and traffic on 290 was slow as usual, but also maybe because of the thunderstorm that just rolled through (there goes that nice dry course).  Luckily, the storm delayed things a bit at the races and I had plenty of time to kit up and roll around to warm up.  Lining up for the 4A’s, I got called up in the 3rd or 4th row (thanks crossresults.com!), I was a little nervous, but then it was go!  Clipped in fine, accelerated on the outside on the first right hand turn and then dived to the inside on the next left hand turn.  Next thing I know I’m maybe top ten and didn’t feel like I was about to explode so I sat tight, stayed upright, tried to pick the least muddy lines up the climbs and stayed loose through the sand sections.  I got a little nervous at the first barrier since I haven’t dismounted or remounted since the previous year, despite this and a little stutter step, it was ok.  The 4’s were only doing 3 laps so I tried to maintain some semblance of measured output, but when I looked down at my heart rate monitor it was pegged at 195 or so.  Oh well.  The tunnel vision wasn’t starting yet, so I kept on going.  I lost a bunch of spots through the next laps, traded spots with the same 3-4 guys until it was done.  Finished 19th.  Fun.

Straight from the finish line I saw that they were lining up the 4B’s so I got in line .. all I wanted was a drink of water, but I got another call up to 4th row or something and then it was go!  (Thought streaming through my head: SH*T, WHAT THE F*CK WAS I THINKING??)  Well, I didn’t have as good of a start and was maybe top 20.  I ended up behind Geoff Pomerantz and kept yelling at him, “I”m coming after you ..!!”  All in good fun of course.  We worked together pretty good (or at least I thought we did) and picked up some more spots.  Overall though, I was shot.  Heart rate was still super high and I think I was seeing two Geoff’s in front of me at times, or maybe it was the Robot’s rider with the huge beard.  As the Robot’s guy passed me, I think I yelled something encouraging, but it probably came out as, “ughha, ugg, ugghh.”  Finished 12th.  Somewhere in there I yelled, “go Lucas!” but quickly realized it wasn’t him because he was too busy trying to get on the podium and way far ahead of me.

So the course was muddy and totally fun, full of off camber turns, muddy climbs, sand berms, etc, I think it suited my dusty mountain biking skills.  Some things I found helpful: 1. when climbing on slick terrain, it’s ok to get out of the saddle, but shift your weight to the nose of your saddle to keep your CG centered between the front and rear wheels (front doesn’t lift and rear maintains traction) 2. when making hard turns in the mud, adjust your speed before the turn, go wide and hit the apex of the corner while shifting your body weight to the outside pedal while pushing down on the bars on the inside (same advice that Trent just sent out in this link) 3. and lastly pre-shifting, time your shifts so you’re in the gear for that climb or sand, just before you’re actually on that climb or in the sand, shifting while on that climb or in that sand while mashing your pedals usually doesn’t work well.

That’s it.  It was a ton of fun and thanks to everyone for the heckling.  Glad I got to have some drinks in the Cave, but sad I missed the human hand up on Sunday (see top picture).

JPC

Campton Cross

By Mark Zalewski

 

I decided to focus on cyclo-cross more than ever. At this point I have already done more races than last season, and if I do all the ones I have in mind, I’ll have done more races this season than in my last three combined.

I’m also trying to be better AT the racing as well. When I decided to first dip my toes into the CX pond back in 2008 I was still a category 3 on the road (from faster days gone by) and I didn’t realize USAC puts you into the same category for ‘cross unless you ask. (Plus I know what I’m doing, right? Pshht, cat. 4’s be damned!) So I began racing CX as a cat. 3 and was quickly destroyed.

Of course I could have downgraded but that is SOOOO not something a real ‘racer’ would ever do. And I’ve never placed DFL, so I figure I will just train more one of these years. That idea has been hampered by injury the previous two years, but finally this year I came in with a little (ahem) fitness.

Jackson Park was a decent start to the season, though I remember thinking after the race that I wasn’t 100% tired, meaning I left some out on the course by playing it conservative. Both a nice thought to be able to have and a little frustrating. CX is all about a sustained and intense effort. The next couple of races I tried to push myself more but still not quite pushing the bike handling envelope in an effort to stay upright. Dan Ryan Woods (where I cracked my ribs last season) was my best race of the first half of my season, with both sustained efforts and no falls despite letting my bike go more than usual.

Then came the mud-double of Psycho Cross and Carpenter Park. It was like racing in brownie batter at Carpenter and I did not handle it well. My bike even worse as I had to replace my bottom bracket after.

I was bummed; my bike was broken. I had another less-than-stellar race out of town a week later.

I even though about skipping the next CCC race, Campton Hills, because the course last year was little too twisty-turny, even for CX. But I needed to get back on the bike.

With a new bottom bracket installed and my shifting finally sorted, I decided to put everything out there.

Sidenote:

I am someone’s nemesis, apparently. This happened about a month before when I randomly met the wife of another racer. She commented that her husband raced ‘cross, and after some back-and-forth realized that he was a cat. 3 and that I knew him. Then at DRW she heckled that he was beating me, though he actually was not, which is likely why he decided to make me his nemesis.

I had extra motivation to do well because the sister-in-law of my (de-facto) nemesis said that to the winner goes a beer. Well now, that is all I needed to hear! Though he started a row in front of me I had my sights locked because now it was for real.

Campton Cross

I’ve also learned that the best place to start in the cat. 3 race (besides the front row) is on the sides, as there has been a crash in almost every start this year. Once again it was whistle, pedal pedal pedal, BAM! I was again fortunate to be on the other side and able to quickly get around.

One specific aspect I have worked on this year is starting — to go harder for longer and not just ‘settle in’ where it looks comfortable. That is how you start a crit or a road race, but in CX that means you have to then pass them later. Better to just do it at the start. Unlike some other courses this year the start had pretty wide sweeping turns and I was surprised others were not taking advantage of the real estate to move up.

A quick check and I saw my nemesis four wheels in front of me. At the top end of the course there was a long power section — not normally my strength. (I’m not strong at the technical aspects either; it just speaks to my lack of endurance.) But I decided to burn some matches and put him in my rear view. Passing is more about what happens after the pass than before it, because if you let-up, the passee will often use the humiliation of being passed as motivation to reclaim that spot — especially if it is a NEMESIS! So I made sure to ride as hard as I could for the next 30 seconds, even if I gassed myself. Fortunately, this was enough to put a gap between us AND get me right onto the rear wheel of teammate Trent! (Sadly I was gassed enough from the effort that Trent pulled away.)

Now it was all about staying upright. But the course was actually laid-out well this year with a lot of flow and beautiful weather, so I decided to push my bike handling to the edge. This resulted in picking up more spots and almost making it back to Trent, but still gave me my best result of the year.

Try not to look TOO serious Kelly.

As for the other monkeys it was another solid endeavor.

  • Despite having some bad luck Hayes is again the strongman by doubling up.
  • Monko somehow survived Halloween festivities the night before and raced in a haz-mat suit. (Note: those do not breathe like lycra.)
  • Kelly Clarke kicked butt in costume for the women’s 4 and then busted out the candy as a piñata in the 4b. Gets the best SM costume award.
  • Great to see Stewart rocking CX
  • PJ just needs to upgrade, but I’m glad he hasn’t because he would likely start in the front row of the cat 3 race.
  • Kyle and Aaron are netting a lot of points to maintain our team’s position
  • Trent… next time!!!

ABD Sunrise Park

Trent Williams and Katie Tomarelli cheering!
Photo by Kyle Kershasky

by Kelly Clarke
This past winter, in Kristen Meshberg’s Pedaling With A Purpose class, we went around the class and said our goals for this season aloud. After all, if you’re committing to these trainer classes twice a week through the frigid months, what is your purpose in doing so? My goals were:
– Do a track race
– Do a mountain bike race
– Get a top ten in a W4 CCC race

I didn’t want to sound greedy, but I was honestly hoping for more than one top ten finish in the CCC series. But who knew if that would even be feasible. Last season I was trying to get top 50% of the field, and it never happened.  But this year I was taking training more seriously, meaning I was thinking about it at all. And I was also focusing less on ‘skills’ and more on just having good fitness to maintain speed and focus in races.

Mountain biking at Kettle with Anna Loosli

Well, with the track and mountain bike season over, I can say I failed at both those goals. (But I’ll do them next year!) The consolations being that I did do a Monday night track clinic to get my feet wet at the Northbrook Velodrome (it was a GREAT experience), and I did conquer the three ravines at Palos on one of the Women’s Dirt Days, and I took my first trip to Kettle Moraine. The goal to get top ten in a CCC race came easy. In the first cup race, Jackson Park, I got 6th place! I decided to make it a goal to get a top ten in every CCC race this season.  This plan backfired at Dan Ryan, but no bother – top ten for each race was still a good focus to have.

Some time at the beginning of the season, Sarah Rice had said, “Why would you ever enter a race if you weren’t going to try and win it?” And this idea has been simmering with me since. I never enter a race expecting to win. I have my carrots that I want to beat and that’s been good enough to me, but how could I ever expect to win? These other women are just faster, better, more experienced…

Slowly I have been trying to change my thinking, and looking to my fellow female racers to watch the fire they have when racing which allows them to be successful. Kristen and Sarah have it down pat, but then even Stephanie, Kristi and Michelle in crits and road races, and my nemesis, Annette Stahelin, in cross. They have this drive that I sometimes lack to give extra effort at points in a race where everyone is hurting regardless, and they pick up extra spots or get positive results doing so. There’s a point in a race where I almost subconsciously decide to sit back and put forth that exact amount of effort, no more, because I want to finish the race or maybe I think that really is all I have to give. I’ve been trying to push those boundaries.

And it’s 100% mental.

So, back to my nemesis, Annette. She races for Half Acre, but more importantly, we were best friends growing up. We got into cross at the same time, and I don’t like it when she beats me in races. But she trained like hell this year and she has been consistently beating me. At Carpentersville, she was just a little bit ahead of me in the final lap. I decided to dig in and give everything I had to catch her. So what if I get gassed before the finish line and don’t succeed? I just needed to go harder than I thought I could and hang on for as long as I could, and see where I ended up. It worked. I was able to pass her and get that one last spot at the end of the race. I was elated. Not even so much that I beat my friend (whom I love dearly), but I definitely gave more than I thought I had to give at the end of this race, and succeeded. Now that I saw what that felt like, I made it my goal that in the next race, I would need to make these pushes earlier and more often. Stand up and sprint when you think you’re too tired. See a carrot? Don’t wait to recover before catching them, just go. It’s only a thirty minute race; there is no time to recover.

Photo by Aaron Byrnes

I took that with me into the race at Sunrise Park. Push harder than you think you can, early and often. Around the first corner of the race I was in seventh place. I started picking people off until it was Ashley Korol and Tricia Renée Fleischer off the front (way off the front) then a train of me, Jen Groen, Nicole Falk, Annette and a few other girls. Three quarters through the first lap, Jen fell and dropped her chain, making it hard for the girls behind me to stick with me. I tried to get as much space in front of them as I could. I know from being on the other side of things, the larger the gap, the more daunting it is to bridge. And as we’ve established, this game is all mental. I could see Ashley and Tricia in front of me. Deep down, I didn’t think I had a chance in hell to catch them, but I told myself to focus on catching them, not on anything behind me. The race spread out and it was Ashley and Tricia, a gap, me, a gap, and then a group of girls for most of the race. Towards the end, I could see Nicole Falk bridging the gap behind me. And the rest were not far behind. I knew they were better at the off-camber corners, but I could gain distance back in the strait-aways. I focused really hard on staying upright. When you’re going as hard as you can, it becomes easy to fall and make mistakes. I was able to hold on to third place through the end of the last lap. It was awesome. I was just telling Kristi before the race how all I wanted was a top 5. I had a few sixth place finishes, but couldn’t break into the top five. And now, I earned a spot on the podium. First time ever.

Photo by Colleen Clarke

So my strategy was successful, but I still have a lot to learn. I was lucky to not fall in this race, but you fall a lot in cross, and I think that makes it really difficult to come back and keep going really hard. I saw Grace fall at WCA’s Grafton race last year and come back to get fourth. It takes a lot of fight when you lose all those spots to get them back. Also, I didn’t have to pass anyone once I got really tired, and I think that takes a lot of mental strength. It’s really easy to follow someone’s wheel when you’re really tired in a race, but you should be trying to pass them. Make them work to pass you.

I tried to make that 30 minute race completely serious and focused, but the rest of the day – cheering on my teammates and racing in the ridiculous 4B race was a blast. I love having Stewart race with me in the 4s, and seeing Kim and Kristi in the 1/2/3 race. Hayes was there all day and brought beer and the tent. PJ is always super competitive and supportive. Aaron always races his heart out. Lucas Seibel killed it in the Single Speed and the 4s. Kyle raced twice and had a hand-up incident for which he is awesome. Trent did great in the 3s race. Monko was probably hungover, but you’d never know it with his doubling up in the 3s and 1/2/3s. We have a really awesome cross contingent this year, and the ABD Sunrise Park race was no exception!

ABD Sunrise Park

Trent Williams and Katie Tomarelli cheering!
Photo by Kyle Kershasky

by Kelly Clarke
This past winter, in Kristen Meshberg’s Pedaling With A Purpose class, we went around the class and said our goals for this season aloud. After all, if you’re committing to these trainer classes twice a week through the frigid months, what is your purpose in doing so? My goals were:
– Do a track race
– Do a mountain bike race
– Get a top ten in a W4 CCC race

I didn’t want to sound greedy, but I was honestly hoping for more than one top ten finish in the CCC series. But who knew if that would even be feasible. Last season I was trying to get top 50% of the field, and it never happened.  But this year I was taking training more seriously, meaning I was thinking about it at all. And I was also focusing less on ‘skills’ and more on just having good fitness to maintain speed and focus in races.

Mountain biking at Kettle with Anna Loosli

Well, with the track and mountain bike season over, I can say I failed at both those goals. (But I’ll do them next year!) The consolations being that I did do a Monday night track clinic to get my feet wet at the Northbrook Velodrome (it was a GREAT experience), and I did conquer the three ravines at Palos on one of the Women’s Dirt Days, and I took my first trip to Kettle Moraine. The goal to get top ten in a CCC race came easy. In the first cup race, Jackson Park, I got 6th place! I decided to make it a goal to get a top ten in every CCC race this season.  This plan backfired at Dan Ryan, but no bother – top ten for each race was still a good focus to have.

Some time at the beginning of the season, Sarah Rice had said, “Why would you ever enter a race if you weren’t going to try and win it?” And this idea has been simmering with me since. I never enter a race expecting to win. I have my carrots that I want to beat and that’s been good enough to me, but how could I ever expect to win? These other women are just faster, better, more experienced…

Slowly I have been trying to change my thinking, and looking to my fellow female racers to watch the fire they have when racing which allows them to be successful. Kristen and Sarah have it down pat, but then even Stephanie, Kristi and Michelle in crits and road races, and my nemesis, Annette Stahelin, in cross. They have this drive that I sometimes lack to give extra effort at points in a race where everyone is hurting regardless, and they pick up extra spots or get positive results doing so. There’s a point in a race where I almost subconsciously decide to sit back and put forth that exact amount of effort, no more, because I want to finish the race or maybe I think that really is all I have to give. I’ve been trying to push those boundaries.

And it’s 100% mental.

So, back to my nemesis, Annette. She races for Half Acre, but more importantly, we were best friends growing up. We got into cross at the same time, and I don’t like it when she beats me in races. But she trained like hell this year and she has been consistently beating me. At Carpentersville, she was just a little bit ahead of me in the final lap. I decided to dig in and give everything I had to catch her. So what if I get gassed before the finish line and don’t succeed? I just needed to go harder than I thought I could and hang on for as long as I could, and see where I ended up. It worked. I was able to pass her and get that one last spot at the end of the race. I was elated. Not even so much that I beat my friend (whom I love dearly), but I definitely gave more than I thought I had to give at the end of this race, and succeeded. Now that I saw what that felt like, I made it my goal that in the next race, I would need to make these pushes earlier and more often. Stand up and sprint when you think you’re too tired. See a carrot? Don’t wait to recover before catching them, just go. It’s only a thirty minute race; there is no time to recover.

Photo by Aaron Byrnes

I took that with me into the race at Sunrise Park. Push harder than you think you can, early and often. Around the first corner of the race I was in seventh place. I started picking people off until it was Ashley Korol and Tricia Renée Fleischer off the front (way off the front) then a train of me, Jen Groen, Nicole Falk, Annette and a few other girls. Three quarters through the first lap, Jen fell and dropped her chain, making it hard for the girls behind me to stick with me. I tried to get as much space in front of them as I could. I know from being on the other side of things, the larger the gap, the more daunting it is to bridge. And as we’ve established, this game is all mental. I could see Ashley and Tricia in front of me. Deep down, I didn’t think I had a chance in hell to catch them, but I told myself to focus on catching them, not on anything behind me. The race spread out and it was Ashley and Tricia, a gap, me, a gap, and then a group of women for most of the race. Towards the end, I could see Nicole Falk bridging the gap behind me. And the rest were not far behind. I knew they were better at the off-camber corners, but I could gain distance back in the strait-aways. I focused really hard on staying upright. When you’re going as hard as you can, it becomes easy to fall and make mistakes. I was able to hold on to third place through the end of the last lap. It was awesome. I was just telling Kristi before the race how all I wanted was a top 5. I had a few sixth place finishes, but couldn’t break into the top five. And now, I earned a spot on the podium. First time ever.

Photo by Colleen Clarke

So my strategy was successful, but I still have a lot to learn. I was lucky to not fall in this race, but you fall a lot in cross, and I think that makes it really difficult to come back and keep going really hard. I saw Grace fall at WCA’s Grafton race last year and come back to get fourth. It takes a lot of fight when you lose all those spots to get them back. Also, I didn’t have to pass anyone once I got really tired, and I think that takes a lot of mental strength. It’s really easy to follow someone’s wheel when you’re really tired in a race, but you should be trying to pass them. Make them work to pass you.

I tried to make that 30 minute race completely serious and focused, but the rest of the day – cheering on my teammates and racing in the ridiculous 4B race was a blast. I love having Stewart race with me in the 4s, and seeing Kim and Kristi in the 1/2/3 race. Hayes was there all day and brought beer and the tent. PJ is always super competitive and supportive. Aaron always races his heart out. Lucas Seibel killed it in the Single Speed and the 4s. Kyle raced twice and had a hand-up incident for which he is awesome. Trent did great in the 3s race. Monko was probably hungover, but you’d never know it with his doubling up in the 3s and 1/2/3s. We have a really awesome cross contingent this year, and the ABD Sunrise Park race was no exception!

Grace Races Cross In North Carolina

Go, Grace!

by Grace Chappell
Hey Monkeys!!  Ok, I know this isn’t a CCC report, but I wanted to share a little bit about the racing I’ve had the chance to enjoy out here in North Carolina…

Mountain backdrop

Last weekend I made the trip to Boone, in Western NC (yes it is named for Daniel Boone) with my new UNC teammates to make my collegiate cycling debut!  The season starts a little later here so I am only a few weeks into the cyclocross season, still reminding my legs what the heck to do out there.   The collegiate dynamic was different than what I am accustomed to; very small, laid back, and everyone there is on one of 5 or 6 teams.  The course was out in the middle of nowhere, located at the Boone fairgrounds with a mountain backdrop.  The course was pretty straightforward; lots of grassy 180s, some tough off-camber, a very steep grass run up, and for some reason we rode up and through a little stage.  I lined up with only four other Women As, mixed in with about 30 Men B.  45 minutes.  Clean start, and we were off!  I found myself positioned close behind the first 2 girls after one lap, but unfortunately for me, at this early point in the race I felt like my legs might explode (something to do with that awful run-up?).  I knew I had a long time to go, and tried not to let too much space get between my wheel and theirs’.  That goal came to a crashing halt when I rode straight through some course tape and had to circle back around to get back on course.  Lesson: good to focus on hammering, not good to focus so much you don’t pay attention to where you are going.  The rest of the race was pretty much by myself, and I finished in third.  No payouts in collegiate racing, but I got points for UNC.  Also: no beer.

Rainbow Brite

Day 2 was race #3 of the NCCX series, at the same location.  I was excited to get a second go at the course and see some folks I knew would coming in for the race.  There were all the makings of a good cross race: a big crowd, costumes both on and off the course, very chilly (appropriate for ‘cross season!) temperatures, beer, free food, dogs, kids, hipsters, and cowbells.  22 women in the 1/2/3 race, and the way it is set up here we go after the 45+ and before the 55+ men.  In my experience thus far, this means I race for about 50 minutes or more if they let the 45+ men finish a full 45 minutes.  So. Painful.  I felt much better for the first couple laps of this race than I had the day before, no leg muscle explosions, and I was in front of one of the girls who had beat me the day before.  Awesome!  Keep this up!  I could hear a UNC teammate yelling for me to “move up! move up!” and so I put my mind to try to do just that and managed to blow past a few women during laps 2 and 3 on the straight sections.  The run up was beginning to crush my spirit by the 3rd time up it, but fortunately there were lots of people yelling and heckling all along the hill which always brings a smile to my face.  They were telling me to run faster but all I wanted to do was lie down and take a nap.  I brought back my Rainbow Brite get-up, so that allowed for some personalized cheering (all the more reason to race in costume, people!).  Ok, 2 laps to go on the counter, but the women I had passed were beginning to catch back up.  Why aren’t they as tired as I am??  As I came through for the bell lap I got passed by two of them and it was all I could do at that point to keep them in sight for the final lap.  Through the stage, so many 180s, stupid run-up, and done.  I was tired!  Free tamales afterward and a nice mountain-y cooldown ride.

Photo by J A Murdock

It’s not the same without the Spidermonkey cheering crew or a 312 after my race, of course, but I’m making the most of it :)  Can’t wait to race in Woodstock with some of you this Sunday!!

Here is a highlights video from cyclingdirt if you just happen to like watching cyclocross videos:  I’m in there for a split second…
http://www.cyclingdirt.org/video/660318-2012-NCCX-3-Boone-Highlights-Part-2

Carpentersville

by Kyle Kershasky

This last weekend was an epic cyclocross montage. There were races on Saturday, Sunday AND my wife was out of town. Thus my house was covered in mess and mud the entire weekend.
Saturday’s Psycho Cross was my first cross race ever with mud and slop. I played it cautious which equals slow and my handling skills were very rookie. I signed up for the 4A on both days and I opted to never do 4B because I had this impression of chaos and everyone is just pissin’ drunk while they’re racing. Not completely true, but a previous 4B hot dog handup wipeout experience didn’t exactly dismiss the idea either. After my lackluster finish on Saturday and seeing PJ and Lucas crush it and podium in the 4B, I warmed up to the idea. Besides, if you squint hard enough, you don’t even notice the 4B racers that are riding with slicks or running shoes.
When I arrived in Carpentersville, I threw my money at the registration girl like a blue chip on the craps table. In my best Vegas Spidermonkey spring training voice, I told her I got some hot dice and to sign me up for the 4B race before I crap out. It’s on.
My plan was to walk around with my SLR camera and get some good photos of Peter, Mark and Ken in the Cat 3 race. I was especially excited to shoot at the cornfield they had last year. Apparently racers went through a corn maze and came chuckin’ out the other side like a scene from Children of the Corn — only on bikes and scary in a sick kind of way. To my dismay, the cornfield was CHOPPED DOWN! Instead there was what I can only describe as a long stretch of black sloppy manure dirt mounds. Seriously?!?! I was sure there was no way my bike would function after trudging through. How would I make it out of there once much less on races back to back? I saw Ken and then other 1/2/3 racers get through it, so confidence was building.
Ken getting through the mud hills
I should regress to earlier in the morning, 20 minutes before I headed out the door I brushed up on my mud handling skills. I haven’t made it to many cross practices, so my skill level comes from my dreams and on what hand ups NOT to take. I did a quick google search on “how to cyclocross in mud.” I was hoping for an awesome J POW video, but all I got was some schmuck biking in the woods. Yes, the woods. Great, I’m screwed. I headed out the door.  About the only thing I had going was my three-day beard, my black skull and cross bones socks underneath my orange/black skull and cross bones socks. Yeah, today was destined to be a badass kind of day. 
So once I saw the 1/2/3 racers manage the mud slide, I walked over to the monkey tent with the usual crew, Hayes, Geoff, PJ, Lucas, Peter, Mark, PJ, Ken, Stewart and Kelly were either there or riding around nearby. It was an odd weather kind of day. Kind of like this girl I once dated… bright and sunny one minute and a gall darn frickin’ tornado the next. Seriously, there was a TORNADO WARNING and they stopped the 1/2/3 race in mid stride. And seriously there was a severe storm named after her. Anyway, there was a panic when they shut down the race and even told everyone to clear the park.  The fear instilled was like the IKEA commercial “Start the car, START THE CAR!!!!”  Three things went through my head. 
1. I could get home early and watch the Packer game. 
2. I could stick around to see if the storm passes and have a pretty good time in a small field.
3. That ditch has a little tunnel in it and I could hide out there when the tornado comes through. 
I opted for #2.  As did 152 other racers. 
After waiting about an hour, the tornado never happened and the 4A race was on. PJ and Lucas stuck around, and even Aaron made it to the race. The race was a lot of fun. The mud pit didn’t wrestle me to the ground as I imagined.  Although that Magnificent Mud Mile did suck up a lot of my time running/walking through it.  The cricks didn’t fill up with water like they did for the earlier races. I only wiped out once for the day vs. twice pre-schmuck “racing in mud” video. There were some nice straightaways and I was able to pass a few people. One spectator yelled out to his friend to “tri-pod” the corners to stay upright. I don’t know how pro that is, but the schmuck said the same thing for sand and it seemed to work. Three laps later, the race was over. I wasn’t completely caked in mud (yet) and we were ready to start the 4B.  
The 4B race was a trip. I started in the verrrrry last row and enjoyed flying past and weaving in and out of the commuters on the first lap. Lucas, who had a pretty good lead, finished second.  PJ was still around cheering us on, which was nice because even the hecklers were a bit weathered. For some reason I took a beer handup along the muddy banks of that mess. I don’t even like small sips of water much less a sip of beer at redline. Somehow Fred took six beer handups the day before. He’s so pro. By the end of the race, though, it was cold, raining and just butt white miserable. I did not bring a towel along, so my car became a mud fest. At least we didn’t get tossed by a tornado and I got to practice in the mud. Win, win.
You can’t tell but I’m cold, wet & ready to get the heck out of Dodge
On the way home my brain was programmed to plot which lane to pick and when to pass cruising down I-90. There is something about cross racing that makes me feel like a kid riding around in the park. Back then the only thing I cared about was if I could get a curfew extension to stay out past the street lights turning on. And now I just say. “F*  the street lights.” I’ve got my skull and cross bones, blinkies and my wife had hot tea and ice cream waiting for me at home. If that doesn’t spell badass, then I leave you with this video from Jeremy Powers. http://youtu.be/UQ4Rw7YoWgI

Hopkins Park

PJ on the flyover

Photo by Eric Goodwin

by PJ Cavoto
The Spidermonkey CX invasion continues at Hopkins Park painted in the beautiful Fall colors.  Similar course to previous years included a flyover and a single track section.  Little bumping with over used tree berms and exposed roots took a toll on our bikes, and the dry, dusty conditions made for a fast course.  Terrific efforts from all the team with some great finishes.  The one/two punch continues to come from Kristi and Kelly in Cat 4 women’s race.  Masters went well for many, and a there was a good showing in the Cat 3 and Cat 4 men’s races.  It is awesome that SM’s are in 3rd place as team….it will take strong efforts from all to keep us up there! 

I went out with two goals, to continue pointing in Masters 30+, and to secure a top five finish in Cat 4A’s, staying near the top in overall points. 

Mission accomplished! 

Took 21st in Masters, working with Mr. CX-Hayes who finished 20th.

PJ and Aaron approaching the barriers

Photo by Kristi Hanson

The Cat 4A race was exciting from the get go…I got off the line fast and was able to place myself in 3rd by the first turn.  Aaron and Pete had to avoid some early pile-ups and were on my wheel in no time.   We held top 5 spots for the next several laps, working together and switching it up as each of us got tired trying to hammer away from the competition.  A few guys worked there way in there and as usual, nothing goes exactly the way you want it in cross.  Aaron got tangled with a racer and cost him some spots.  Pete had a mechanical on the last lap coming over the flyover and forfeited a few places that included me.  And I just dug in as hard as I could to hang on for 5th place finish, moving me up to 4th overall for the season.
Fast in fall colors
Photo by Chad Gregory
Special effort award goes out to Kyle (4B) who took a hot dog hand up and paid for it with a hard crash.  Kudos to him for getting back on his damaged bike and finishing the race!

Great job Monkey’s!! 

Official Spidermonkey Participant List:
Aaron Byrnes
Kelly Clarke
David Cushman
Kristi Hansen
Kyle Kershasky
Ken Mitchell
Pete Monko
Hayes Sanborn
Geoff Scott
Trent Williams
Mark Zalewski

Here’s a full shot of the flyover, for those less CX inclined
Photo by Chad Gregory

Jackson Park

by Peter Monko

After nine long months of riding trainers and road bikes, the opening day of the Chicago Cross Cup (CCC) was finally here.  On a beautiful warm sunny Saturday in September 12 Spidermonkeys lined up ready to kick butt and take handups.  It was a full day of non-stop action starting with Geoff Scott racing in the 40+ at 8:45am to Kelly, and Mike Meyers muscling their way through the 4B race late in the afternoon.  All the other usual suspects were to race; Kim Brokohf, Kristi Hanson, Ken Mitchell, Stewart Chapman, Mark Z, Hayes, PJ, Aaron Brynes, Trent, Kyle and Katie Kolon.  Tons of other Spidermonkeys made the trip down to the southside throughout the day to take photos, heckle, give out s’mores handups and drink beer of course.

I raced the Masters 30+ in the AM with Hayes and PJ lined up nearby in about 4th or 5th row back.  The race was fast and lasted about 7 laps.  I dropped my chain twice and had a couple of minor mishaps and ended up in 25th.   I came into the race with minimal expectations and was very happy to score some points and get a better starting position the next time I race.  Now I had 4 hours until my target race, the Cat 4A race.

The time flew by talking to friends, watching racers crash, and of course heckling.  When it came to line up for the 4As race, I had a pretty good spot on the left hand side in the second row.  This placed me out of the way of the huge divots, potholes and manhole that cause mass chaos in the earlier races.  I got a pretty good start and ended up taking the first turn in about 5th or 6th wheel.  Right off the bat, Brian Witry from Rhythm Racing took off holding a 5 second gap on the rest of us chasers.  During the technical twisty section I would pass one or two riders and soon there were just 3 of us at the front. Having raced in the morning and taken a few practice laps since then I knew what lines to take and where I could rest and save some energy.    Witry was slowly getting away, but I just hung on to the wheel in front of me until I could pass him near the barrier section.  Finally it was just Witry and I with about a lap and a half to go.  The back half of the course was Spidermonkey Alley chock full of screaming teammates that got me pumped up every time I went through.  I finally passed Witry just before the uphill barrier and now just had to hang on without puking for less than a lap.  I rode hard, but tried to keep it in control in order to avoid a crash or dropped chain.  With the finish line ahead, I finally could breath a sigh of relief and celebrate my first bike race win ever! 

Pete handing up pickles and High Life during the 4B race in his leaders jersey!

Thanks to all the Spidermonkeys who showed up and cheered for all of us to go faster, it made a huge difference.

Barry Roubaix Race Report

Kristi getting on the podium (5th in her age group)!

by Kristi Hanson:
Going into Barry Roubaix, I really had no expectations since we had just gotten off 5 days of pretty hard riding in Vegas. On the ride up, I was actually talking with Melissa (MK), my stellar travel buddy, about how I was a little worried my legs would not hold up and all I wanted to do was stay upright, put forth a hard effort, and see where I landed.

I will admit however, in the back of my mind, I knew this was the first real test for me after putting in some pretty grueling hours on the trainer over the winter. I was hoping it would play in my favor but tried not to think about it too much.

When we woke up my stomach was pretty shaky. My first thought was REALLY AGAIN on race day!! Just once I want to wake up and not have any issues. However the reality is, I think my nerves get the best of me and my stomach is not made of steel so I am just going to have to deal. Second thought was SWEET, I still have at least 2 hours for this to play out!!

We got to the park, checked in, and still had some time to kill so MK and I just hung out in the car for a while. Best thing about MK being my travel buddy as we laugh a lot over stupid things so being with her is the best distraction pre-race!! Also on a positive note, my stomach started to feel better so I knew we were heading in a good direction.

When 9am hit, it was go time. Got the bikes ready, hit up the porta, and went out for a warm up ride. I followed the course so I would know a little of what I was getting myself into. First 4 miles were pavement and then the gravel started. I have ridden gravel roads quite a bit up at my family’s cabin and on the trails in Minneapolis. However, this gravel way less matted down and so it was going to be critical to pick a good line (i.e., where the car tires usually ride) and do my best not to get scared on the descents.

During the warm up, I knew things were going to be better than expected. My legs felt unusually good and I was able to climb the hills like a champ.

People started lining up pretty early since like cross it was a mass start. Difference for this race is the waves were not by category. Instead they were by distance and age. Positive of this is you could really work with anyone on the course. I was in the third wave and unfortunately because of a necessary last minute porta stop I was pretty far in the back of the wave. I knew however, I had 4 miles of pavement to move myself up.

When our wave went off, I just continued to find holes to move up in the pack and before I knew it I was towards the front where I wanted to be. When we hit the gravel the front group was broken in two and I was in the second. Those boys were just way too fast for me especially with all the climbing that was happening. In addition, at this point we had started to catch the slower group of the wave before us so there was a lot of movement for position. I just kept telling myself breathe and be smart but aggressive. You deserve the good line just as much as the guys do!! Being in only girl’s races the last few years, I forget how aggressive boys can be :-).

The next big section where things got broken up was when we hit the double track; aka about a two mile long cyclocross course. For the most part I rode this entire section except for one little part that was just way too sandy. Thank goodness for all the cyclocross racing!! It was a big help and allowed me to make up quite a bit of time so much so that I was sort of by myself until the half way point.

I really had no idea at this point where I was in the race. Was I still up front?? How many girls were in front of me?? In my head, I was convinced that Sandra and Jessica from XXX and Karin had to be in front of me. There was no way they were behind me.

At this point, I was feeling pretty beat up!! I actually thought about giving up and it was right at that moment that my Spidermonkey teammate, Sarah Rice, showed up. She was my first push of motivation. Sarah and I worked together for a good 5 or so miles. She would pull me on the flats and I would pull her up the hills. Our relationship works really well this way!! More importantly it allowed me just enough rest and company to get back in the game. Unfortunately, this teamwork came to an end when Sarah dropped her chain. She gave me one look and said “go, go” so I went. I grabbed a guy’s wheel in front of me and we rode on for another few miles together taking turns pulling and passing lots of people.

It was after these few miles that my second push of motivation came. There was a big pack of I am going to call the 40 year guy group with three women; Sandra from XXX, a girl on a fat bike (who was amazing), and a girl on a mountain bike. It was at this moment that I realized I was out front. I was really in this and had to push hard until the end. I grabbed onto this group and gave it everything I had to stay with them. Pushed up every climb and let my fears go on every descent!!! Only two of the girls stayed with us and we picked up another on the way. In addition, we had a very scary moment when we had to make a sharp left turn after a steep descent that was not well marked. I thought for sure I was going down or someone was going to run into me but we all made it through upright on two wheels. Talk about a group of bikers that knew how to handle their bikes. Pretty sweet!!

Everything was swimming along until we hit the second section of double track. Almost all of this section was not rideable so we all got off and ran. I did whatever I could to stay with the two girls not on the fat bike, yes she rode the entire thing, and I managed through the run but when we got back on our bikes their technical skills were just way better than mine. Pretty awesome actually!! In this section, I also took on large puddles for the first time in my life. I just trusted that the guy before me got through so I took the same line and had success as well. Fear overcome!!

At the end of the second technical section, it turned to pavement and stayed that way for the rest of the race. I was all alone again, but pushed as hard as I could because I knew the two girls were not too far in front of me. It was tough to keep pushing but then motivation push number 3 came. Yep, the 40 year old guy group showed up again and I grabbed on; held on for dear life until we got back. It was at about a mile out that one of the guys says to me “we must be towards the finish people are getting swirly”. I say back “Yep we are close”. He says “Are you getting in on this sprint?” and I say “what for? I am the only girl in the group. All I get is seconds. Not worth the risk.” He says “SMART”.

We all finish together and they congratulate me for hanging on with the OLD GUYS!! This was by far the HARDEST 36 miles I have ever ridden and the 40 year old guy group pushed me hard.

At the end, I knew the race had gone well but still was not entirely sure where I finished. I had to stop myself from thinking about it because the first goal was to spin out my legs and then get in warm clothes. This was interrupted however, when I saw Peter and decided a 312 was a better idea!! Thanks to Fred for bringing them along; it was the perfect post race beverage :-)

Once I got on warm clothes, we checked the race results and I was shocked that I pulled off a 5th place finish in my age group out of 35 and had beaten all of the girls in Chicago in my age group. Sarah was not far off in 7th and if it wasn’t for the chain issue, she probably would have taken me.

It was my first podium in a really long time and felt great!! I was pretty excited all the grueling trainer rides paid off.

The sweeter moment however, happened the day after the race when Katie and her accounting skills realized I was 9th overall out of 77 and 1st of all the girls from Chicago in the 36 miler!! Pretty awesome day and could not have been accomplished it without all of the support from my family, friends, and the Spidermonkeys. You guys rock!!

-Kristi

Dave gets on the podium too (4th in his age group)!

Some additional comments and/or words of wisdom:
Geoff P. – “I shouldn’t have made that left turn at Albuquerque” and “Nothing like riding 67mi for a 62mi race”

Hayes S. – “You know you’re bonking when you’re letting a pugsley take a pull on the pavement heading into the park”

David L. – “Hell apparently has 62 miles of mist, wet sand, gravel and ruts. I love hell.”

Pete M. – What I learned: the importance of checking your tire pressure before you start warming up for a race.  My tagline: “Who the hell is Barry?”

Spidermonkey Official Participant List:
PJ Cavoto
Kelly Clarke
Dave Cushman
Kristi Hanson
Eric Landhal
Karin Langer
David Loring
Peter Monko
Geoff Pomerantz
Sarah Rice
Hayes Sanborn
Fred Wu

Congratulations to everyone who raced!

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