Tag: cyclocross

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Andy Schumacher

sandy twizz

Sandy Twizzler Photo by Jayloo

by Andy Schumacher

Traffic is what got me into cycling and Fireball got me to be a Spidermonkey. There’s not much else to know but I’ll back up a bit.

Like most kids, I biked a lot as a kid until I was 15. Then there was a brief cycling hiatus until I was about 30 when I moved to Chicago. I was previously living in the metro Detroit area where I got everywhere by car and I had no problem with it. I even worked for Toyota as a design engineer.

Moving to Chicago completely changed my perspective on cars. Stop-and-go traffic and searching for 20 to 30 minutes for parking were now part of everyday life and I was pissed off every time I got into the car. Within a few months, I got a commuter bike and instantly felt free again. I was no longer subject to traffic and was only limited by how fast my legs could pedal. I wanted to go faster so I bought a road bike and I loved it.

Taiwan Post Ride Recovery

A couple years after moving to Chicago, I joined SRAM as a design engineer. It’s been an amazing place to work and has taught me a lot about cycling culture. SRAM group rides were great but I didn’t have the experience of the other riders so I felt a bit out of place. I started doing some Saturday group rides with different clubs and found a good fit with the ‘Monkeys. They’re great people with different cycling backgrounds and are all very welcoming. Maybe more importantly, they like to have fun and that’s something I really appreciate. Some of the best friendships are forged over a bottle of Fireball, and Spidermonkeys drink a lot of bottles of Fireball. For the record, I don’t like Fireball but very few people will turn it down when offered. Fun fact – Did you know that you can put anything you want into a coffee cup and drink it in public? Sorry, I’m getting distracted.

andy cross

Speaking of drinking, did I mention I love cyclocross?!? There’s something special about the combination of mud, pain, heckling, and having a 10 year old stuff cookies into your jersey pocket after you faceplant in the sand that makes for an awesome experience. One of these days, I hope to learn how to bunny hop correctly.

Weightlifting

Andy getting swoll

Andy just hanging out

Andy just hanging out

I have always enjoyed staying active and trying new activities. Last year, I started working out at Goose Island Crossfit during the off-season. I was hooked pretty quickly by the great coaching and I still work out there regularly – unfortunately, sometimes at the expense of riding. I’m still working on balancing activities but it has also gotten me to try some other new things like trapeze and Olympic weightlifting. I love trying new activities and look forward to a new challenge, but I really look forward to doing a lot more Spidermonkey group rides this year… and maybe sharing a High Life or three with the team at PK’s.

NORGE Ski Jump 2013

norge1

by Peter Monko

The leftover turkey was still moist, the parking lots at the malls were all full, and all the Black Friday deals were already sold out but I did not care one bit. No, I had an appointment with Dr. Pain that afternoon. Unfortunately his office was all the way out in Fox River Grove at the bottom of a ski jump. I loaded up the car and made the hour long trek with Lindsey Fahey and her delicious pumpkin bread to Norge CX put on by Rob Curtis and his PSIMET crew.

This was the 3rd year of the race and my first time out there so I had no idea what to expect other than some hill climbing. We got there just in time to see Lucas Seibel speeding away to victory in the Single Speed race. After getting my number and pre-riding a bit, I saw that this was going to be a difficult race. The course had a variety of surfaces and in pure Rob Curtis fashion, this course had no flow to it at all. The east side of course was in a field that was bumpy, muddy, with deep gravel/sand in certain corners and even turkey sized boulders lying around. The west side of the course included a gravelly climb, some tricky off camber turns and 2 uphill forced dismounts.

Fresh off his win in the SS race, Lucas lined up in the pole position in the Cat 3 race and I lined up behind him in the 2nd row. It turned out to be the right wheel to follow as Lucas got the hole shot while the rest of the field got held up in the first tight turn. We crossed the road and made our way to the backside of the course where my troubles began. Due to the muddy run up after the barrier, I had trouble clipping in and lost a few spots. People started crashing left and right in the technical off camber turns that were starting to get a bit greasy. I avoided most of them but on the 2nd lap I had my own misfortune. Going into the second barrier I had trouble unclipping and crashed right over 2nd set of barriers. I crashed so hard that my rear wheel would not roll anymore. I lost about a minute and at least 10 spots as I realigned the wheel. I chased hard which led to some more bobbles and a dropped chain on the east side of the course. After a while I stopped counting how many times I crashed and lost track of the leaders. I ended up in a banged up and bruised 14th place while Lucas won his second race in a row. Way to represent Lucas!

I raced one more time that afternoon with Trent Williams and Hayes Sanborn in the Cat 1/2/3 race. The course was really tore up and slick by this point so I took it a bit slower in the technical sections. Turns out I took it a bit slower for the entire race but was only lapped once by the winner, Pro CX racer Brian Matter of the Trek Collective Team. If you’ve never seen a ski jump or raced Norge, I highly recommend making the trek out to Fox River Grove next Thanksgiving weekend.

norge2
Photo by digitalcane

A Snapshot of Woodstock

by Kyle Kershasky

As I sit here writing this report with a bruised thumb and a some cross cough after racing in Woodstock at PSI-clocross for Life this weekend, I sometimes think of reasons why I like to race cross. The usual cliché answers come to mind. Gives me something to train for. Work on my bike technique. Cross train. Opportunity to invest in different kinds of tires, rims and body heat cream that randomly turns itself on when least expected. All legitimate cocktail conversations.

This past weekend I remembered the real reason why I like the cross season. You always, always learn something new. This time it was the hiz to the hoes, wait for it…..wait for it….. SNAPCHAT!!

And boom goes the dynamite.

Okay, so it’s not the ONLY or specific reason why I like cross. Meaning if you took away Snapchat there would be something else that would metaphorically take its place. Like white tigers being thrown across a sand pit or circus themed costumes and handups. For today though, Snapchat was the fun factor of choice.

Snapchat goes with cross like:

Twisted goes with Sister

Like Mack goes with Daddy

Like Taffy goes with Cinnamon

Roughsketch

A very rough idea of a Snapchat photo

And for the purists, yes cross is fun on its own. No question. Woodstock’s course had a ton of fun obstacles. Like a big sand pit where you can post pictures with the Kid Rock lyrics “GET IT THE PIT AND TRY AND LOVE SOMEONE.”

There was also a toilet bowl section. Screaming down hills through the woods on rough terrain. A hill that takes you within feet of going directly into a pond. A barrier with a hill immediately after it where I used my Tim Johnson cyclocross camp tips and ran like Moses while shouldering my bike. Add it all up and it’s a long and challenging course.

For those of you who are still wondering what Snapchat is, let me sum it up in one sentence. One mature sentence. One G rated sentence. One day you will just have to see for yourself. But you have to trust me the sugar is just plain funny, okay? Trust me for 10 seconds. Or 1 second, depending on the Snapchat masterpiece.

To recap my race, the day was about putting an exclamation point on my week. When you’re having fun you really don’t care about daily troubles and stresses. I also didn’t really care if I would start out 70 and finish 42 like the previous week. Or if I hypothetically crash on the last lap and even though I would hop right back on with my chain off and have 10 people pass me. Okay so that sucked. However, if I didn’t have two Twizzlers in my mouth while giving some phenomenal Snapchat photo opps, then maybe, big maybe, then maybe I would have finished a few places higher up. However, I like to remind myself not everything can be perfect. Everything can be fun.

Of course being fast is always fun as Lindsey and Sophia proved by getting on the podium for the Cat 4s at Woodstock. But having their own paparazzi getting a Snapchat photo opp? How fun is THAT?!

Woodstockpaparazzi

Snapchat paparazzi


My favorite fun factor race is very soon on the weekend of December 7th at Montrose. As you know Spidermonkeys are sponsoring the race. Will you be there to volunteer? Will you be there to cheer? Will you be there dressed up in costume and cheering paraphernalia and make some Montrose Madness? I guarantee you’ll have a freaky fun time whether you are racing or spectating. Exclamation point, Snapchat!

After last weekend I decided to actually download the app Snapcaht. My username is KyleMobileKyle. And if you want to join but can’t think of a username I heard CoolCatYourName is kool. For a sneak peak of fun, check out this video I made at Montrose a few years ago.

Have some fun!

Cyclocross in Oregon

by Kristi Hanson
At the end of September, I made a big move cross country to the wonderful city of Portland. Overall it has been a good transition, but I have to admit the one thing that has surprised me the most is with a little sport we call CYCLOCROSS.

Believe it or not prior to moving to Portland, I actually thought I was some what good at cyclocross. I was not the fastest girl out there for sure but after working hard over the summer, focusing on building strength/power (Thank You Newt Cole and the Morning Bird Crew), and mountain biking to gain the technical skills, I thought I had a chance of having a really good season. That is until I did my first race in the CROSS CRUSADE series.

Holy moly they do things different out here!! I have never gotten my ass handed to me so hard. The only way I have been able to describe the difference is that they take every one thing in each of the Chicago races that is hard and put them all into one.

To give you an example, I have put together a collection of pictures and words from this weekend’s race to try and give you an idea of what it is like to race here.

The start is pretty much the same except only the top ten in each category get called up. Then the rest are staged randomly by the last digit of your number. We reuse our numbers here so it really is the luck of the draw. One week you can be up front and the next you can be at the back of the pack. Unless you are the fast few that get called up.

Also the other difference is unlike the Chicago Cross Cup series a race can have more then 100 people in it. This weekend we had over 150 women on the course all at the same time from 6 different categories. They are started about 30 seconds apart and are scored separately. How the officials do it I have no idea! They are amazing!!

After the start, the first challenge of the course were some short and punching up and down hills. That looked something like this:


Photo by Jon Fogarty

The next challenge was the coffin barriers.


Photo From Cross Crusade Crew


Photo by Chris Baker

At this point, it is all pretty similar to stuff you would see in a Chicago Cross Cup course however, things are about to get interesting.

Next challenge is hill run up 1 of 3. The steepest and hardest of them all.


Photo From Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

This is followed by some flat switch backs and then some single track before you hit hill run up 2 of 3.


Photo From Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

Which then lead us to the scary downhill. It was ridable but really no good line. You had to just trust it and hoped for the best.


Photo From Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

This was immediately followed by hill run up 3 of 3 and depending on how talented you were it was either a short run up at the top or a longer run up from the bottom. Only person I saw ride the top was Trebon.


Photo by Jon Fogarty


Photo by Jon Fogarty

And then it was on to the Fly Over which you road up and over.


Photo from Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

But there were those that truly flew over the fly over! Impressive!!!


Photo by Halloween Cross Crusade crew

Lastly the course finished up with the stair run up and it was on to the finish.


Photo from Cross Crusade Crew

And then you did it all over again 4 more times. It just so happened that during our race it was raining so it was a little muddier than these pictures show but that is pretty par for the course in Oregon where it rains a lot.

After my first race of the year, I learned very quickly I was in no shape for what these ladies can do. It was a very humbling experience but I am sticking with it. I have continued to work hard and adjusted my work outs to fit the style of racing I am doing. Hello hill running and hard hill intervals.

Each race I do a little better and that is all I can really ask for. It also helps that racing has allowed me to meet an awesome group of very supportive ladies (West Coast Women Cycling), which I now call teammates along with my favorite Spidermonkeys.

Although the style of racing has changed, one thing I can say is the Oregon cycling community is the same as Chicago!! They are very supportive and welcoming!

Hopkins Park 2013

by Katie Kolon

I wanted to race Hopkins Park because it was a course I had not yet done and there was a flyover, which sounded exciting. I drove out with my friend Sara and after getting situated and registered, we took a practice lap. The course was very different from Jackson Park the previous weekend with a lot more stretches to speed up and pass people rather than spinning yourself into delirium via switchbacks. Still, there were plenty of interesting technical parts to suit my fancy.

After cheering on some Spidermonkeys and warming up, I rolled up to the start line where I wound up right next to Liz Farina Markel. We were chatting for a while about how we didn’t understand how some people who had never raced were staged up front and that it was potentially dangerous to have newbies ahead of experienced racers. I still don’t understand how the staging system works, but as irony would have it, shortly after the whistle, I wound up in a pile up, sandwiched between Liz’s bike and my own. I felt bad because I was keeping Liz from going, but I couldn’t get up because my foot was still clipped in and my leg was pinned between bikes, with my body weight holding it down so I asked her to help me get up. She did and raced off and I followed, thinking I need to stay with her because she beat me last week.

flyover

Keeping Liz in my sights, I pushed hard to pass a lot of people and relied on my confidence in corners to pinch of several more people and keep inching ahead. There was a stretch of straight asphalt where I sprinted and this was followed by a steep, but short hill. At the top of the hill there were some off-camber turns and a barrier going up hill, followed by a switchback at the top of the hill. Once I made it to the top of the hill, I had passed a significant amount of people and was feeling like my crash at the beginning wouldn’t matter too much. Plus, a lot of people were really slow getting back on their bike after the second barrier. I jumped on quickly and tore back down the hill. At the bottom of the hill there was a muddy portion and a lip between the mud and asphalt that some people had suggested trying to hop so as not to get a flat. I tried to bunny hop this section, but I was not clipped in and therefore did not have much stability and dropped my chain. Shaking from adrenaline, I took way too long to get my chain back on and was passed by nearly everyone that I had just spent my energy passing. (Note: only a couple days later did I realize that I also put my chain into the largest front chain ring, not doing myself any more favors.)

Once again I set out to chase Liz, but also relaxed a bit because I decided I would just do what I could at this point. The course had a lot of wide sweeping turns that you could take at a fast pace, which I did. You first passed under the fly-over, near the monkey cheering section before snaking back around to go over the fly-over. The fly-over was fun and I kept Kelly Clarke’s advice in mind each time to just make sure my front wheel was straight before going down the ramp. After the fly over there was a tree splitting the course near the apex of a wide right turn and it seemed most people took the right side because there was more space, but I decided that the beginning advice of the announcer to “take the left side, but I’m not telling where” meant to take this left side here. It was fine but I don’t know if it was a better choice.

Towards the end of the lap there was a wooded trail that was narrow and very muddy, so usually people slowed down a lot here, but again I took the left side (maybe he meant it here but this seemed obvious?) because it was less sticky and was able to get through this section a lot faster than some. Later on, when passing a junior I advised him to do the same.

At some point in my first or second lap I passed Liz, but I could almost always see her behind me when I went around turns and I used this as motivation to not slow down. I also kept in mind the advice of Kristen Meshberg, or was it Sara Rice, to race the race you’re in. This helped me focus on those around me that I could pick off or stay ahead of and not feel defeated by the fact that I would not be able to catch the people further up who I may have otherwise been racing against. Luckily, at the end of my second lap I saw the two laps to go sign. I was not happy that there were two laps, but this also allowed me to mentally prepare for the last lap. I never used to pay attention to these lap signs, but then again, I always used to get pulled.

I kept sprinting on the asphalt, taking corners fast, and trying to keep going. Towards the end of my last lap, when going over the double barriers on the flat, I saw a toddler that couldn’t have been older than four point at me and tell his dad, “She’s struggling!” His dad hushed him and told him that wasn’t nice. On the other hand, it was probably the best heckle I ever got. Too bad I didn’t have the breath to shout at the kid, “You think you’re so tough, why don’t you try it?! These barriers are half your height!” It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Bottle Rocket where Anthony comes back to Dignan after talking to a young girl:

Anthony: She thinks I’m a failure.
Dignan: What? She said you were a failure? What has she ever accomplished with her life that’s so great, man? Nothing.

In the end, I came in 29/43, which is still better than any of my prior seasons. I don’t know what it is but somehow I’m doing much better than my past two years’ attempts. I am not getting pulled, I’m not as gassed, and I’m getting points! I might even be starting to like cyclocross. What is happening?

ladies

Spidermonkey of the Week – Dave Cushman aka Crushman

The Crushman CX'ing

The Crushman CX’ing

For this entry of Spidermonkey of the Week we present Dave Cushman. Mr. Cushman has been a member of Spidermonkey Cycling since 2009. He sat down for an interview with Bob Costas earlier this week.

 

Bob Costas: When someone mentions Spidermonkeys, many things come to mind: Excellence, Determination, Inclusiveness, Charity, Dwelling in subtropical humid forests between 100 and 1,700 meters. It’s my pleasure to announce you are the first Spidermonkey of the Week for 2013! Congratulations!

Dave Cushman: Thank you.

Costas: Of all the awards and accolades I’ve received in the sports world, this is the one that has eluded me. It’s an honor to sit down with you today.

Cushman: I’m happy to be here.

Costas: In fact, as the only one to race as a Spidermonkey in road, cyclocross, criterium, track, and mountain biking events, you’re quite impressive. You’re what the pros call a “quintuple-threat.” And what’s more is you’ve had the wisdom and foresight not to do triathlons. Amazing!

Cushman: Is there a question there, Bob?

The Crushman MTB'ing

The Crushman MTB’ing

Costas: … I guess not. [awkard silence] Well let me start here: I once read you “grew up in the backwoods of rural Oregon, calling the mountains and rivers your home, part Grizzly Adams and part Huck Finn.” How did you ever get in to cycling?

Cushman: Besides the usual riding around the block as a kid, my first bit of cycling was when I was a freshman in college. I didn’t compete, but I started doing longer distance rides. I had a black 1970’s Peugot (found by my dad’s uncle, as someone had stolen it then thrown it over the fence into his yard) that I upgraded with super-sweet, self-installed, Nashbar knock-off, fluorescent yellow, LeMond-style aero bars. At first I was the sag wagon for a friend training for his first marathon. Then I started putting in real miles (yes, as much as 40 at a time!) in preparation for the Seattle To Portland Bicycle Classic. This is essentially a 200-mile gran fondo, but before the days of it being cool to call your ride a Gran Fondo.

Costas: Is it safe to assume you won?

Cushman: Hardly Bob!! Even today I’m not sure I’d want to try doing the whole thing in one day, which is what it takes to win. Along with my brother and father I rode it in two days – 120 miles on the first day, and an easy 80 on the second. The last 35 miles of day one were extremely tough, but as a 19-year-old it was quite an accomplishment that helped me realize what could be done on a bike.

Costas: So how did you get into racing your bike?

Cushman: I exclusively ran (5ks, 10ks, etc.) until 2008. At that point, thanks to my employee perks at Roscoe Village Bikes, I got my first real (i.e. fancy) road bike, and started “training.” I wasn’t really training for anything in particular, Bob, but it was just fun to ride with the Spidermonkey group, which started its rides from my shop. In the fall I was able to borrow a friend-of-a-friend’s cyclocross bike and raced two races in the Chicagoland Cyclocross Cup series (now Chicago Cross Cup). I competed in the 4B category, before the days of the B’s being a circus, and had a blast. That set the stage for 2009 when I started riding more seriously, racing road races and completing the whole Cross Cup series.

Costas: Now I’m to understand your similarities to David Beckham don’t just stop at your athletic talent and striking good looks, like him you also compete for two teams?

Cushman: That’s correct Bob. Ever since my first Spidermonkey year in 2009 I race much of each summer in black and orange, and most of each fall with Roscoe Village Bikes Racing p/b Virtue Cider.

Costas: I can’t help but notice the main sponsor for each team (Goose Island 312 and Virtue Cider) are both companies from the same owner, Greg Hall. Is this some sort of Great Expectations, anonymous benefactor situation?

Cushman: That’s the premise I’ve been operating on for the last 4 years, Bob.

Costas: Rumors have been flying around various social media sites that you rode your bike 9,000 miles in 2012.

Cushman: That’s correct. Between commuting 30 miles a lot of days, many long Old School rides, and a summer bike tour, the miles added up quick.

Costas: Bike tour?

Cushman: Yes, Bob, a friend and I rode self-supported from Ann Arbor around both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Just a tent and a change of clothes strapped to our bikes. I tell ya, you haven’t really ridden til you’ve ridden an 85-lb. bike in 99 degree heat on a six-lane highway coming out the ass end of Cleveland to start the 7th (of 11) hours in the saddle for the day.

The Crushman touring

The Crushman touring

Costas: Fair enough. So I have one last question for you. Your fans around the world of course know you as Crushman™, and it’s obvious why. After trademarking it, reserving crushman.com as a work-in-progress living shrine to yourself, and tattooing the nickname across your chest, I must ask: have you thought about legally changing your last name to Crushman?

Cushman: Bob, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t. But, honestly, I just don’t want to come across as narcissistic.

Costas: Understood. Thanks for your time, and good luck in 2013!!

The Crushman taking names at Leland

The Crushman taking names at Leland

Spidermonkey of the Week – Lucas Seibel

 

Lucas killing it at Montrose CCC 2012

by Lucas Seibel

After joining team rides to Highland park, a grueling cyclocross season, and a few podium finishes in the 4a/b races I knew I was going to like this spidermoneky cycling team. Beginning when I was 12, I had a garage full of bikes in Plymouth, MI. I had a BMX bike, but I didn’t ride BMX, a ten speed my dad found in a dumpster, and a kmart mountain bike. I was either riding around with my friends or we were trying to “Fix” them by taking our bikes apart. At one point I even went out on my Mountain bike and tried to ride with a club who rides nightly. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was left in the back. It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I my life was really taken over by cycling. It started slowly, but at one point I was looking at almost 14 bikes in my apartment and I went Car/CTA free for almost a year.

Moving to Chicago to attend Columbia College, I brought two bikes and a pair of running shoes. In high school I had run Track and Cross Country and was hoping to continue in Chicago. I had heard such great things about the Chicago Lakeshore Path. And the things I heard were right; it was beautiful running with the lake on one side and the skyline on the other. Trying to start a running club at Columbia, I organized runs in the morning and night, but who knew that art students wouldn’t want to get up at 7:00 AM to run. So went by myself most of the time, but once I got on my bike and saw how much more of the city I could see I quickly gave up running and started riding everyday. I’d often just try and keep up with anyone on the path that looked faster than me. Once I had kept up with a rider on the lake who told me that I should join a team or club to race, but wasn’t sure how to get involved or if I could afford a road bike, my singlespeed Schwinn World was all I had.

Once I graduated College, I had more free time and time to meet more people in the Chicago cycling community. I still had never done a group ride, but I trained everyday either on the lakeshore or on my rollers because I was getting ready to race track. I joined the Chicago Velo Campus and went down every Saturday for winter training. When it warmed up we started riding on the track. What a rush, but then summer got in the way and I never made it back down to ride. As the summer ended I figured I’d just have to wait until next year before I’d be able to do any racing, then I did a cyclocross race.

Lucas in Chicago Velo Campus kit .. Looking mean!

Talking to my friend, PJ, he gave me some insight about racing in Chicago and he said I should come out to the next cyclocross race and ride in the 4A and 4B race, or the power hour as some call it. I wasn’t doing anything that Sunday so I said why not, the best way to try something new is to just dive in.  It was a hot day in September, and I was up at 7:00 AM for the first time in a while, but I was excited for my first bike race. Since PJ was on the Spidermonkey team we hung out at the team tent most of the day, which gave me an opportunity to meet everyone. My first race was so much fun, I crashed a few times, went home covered in dirt, and had a few cuts, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I was ready to sign up for next weeks race, but I wanted to join a team, mostly so that I could get a cool kit, so I joined Spidermonkey Cycling that week, I’ve met a fair amount of the team and haven’t looked back.

Lucas in the pain cave at Psychocross

Now that the cyclocross season is over, I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the team, team rides, and a summer of road and track racing. I hope to see you out on the roads.

Lucas and PJ go 1-2 at Montrose 4B’s! Sandbaggers! Oh yeah, Lucas got 3rd in the 4A’s.  Think he’s got the power hour down or what?

 

 

 

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!!!

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