Tag: flat

Leland Kermesse Race Report

by Dave Cushman

Leland Kermesse
Flatlandia Cycling
April 21, 2012

Category 4 – 100km
Finish: 2nd

If you haven’t ever heard of this race (titled a “kermesse,” the Flemish word for a bicycle race), it has two distinguishing features: gravel and wind. The gravel makes people chicken out and not sign up, and the wind makes those who do show up regret it. For the 2012 edition, however, we lucked out on both accounts.

This is my fourth year racing at Leland, and I’ve seen varying conditions. While the course still delivered 9km of gravel road per 25km circuit, it was dry this year. Gravel is never easy, but when it’s wet it gums up your drivetrain, obstructs your vision, and generally makes you a little more nervous.

Additionally, like everywhere in Illinois outside Chicagoland, Leland is flat farmland. And in the spring, before the crops start a-growin’, nothing slows the wind down. At this race as the day progresses and the winds really start to strengthen, you simply cannot ride alone. This means getting dropped from the front group is not an option. This year the winds were light (<20mph), but the importance of staying up front always remains.

These two factors (gravel and wind) come to a head three times per lap at the start of every gravel section. A big, wide peloton has to funnel in to a narrower, slipperier path. Due both to crashes and long, strung-out single-file lines, being up front is paramount to not getting left behind to fight the wind with a lesser group at these sections. With four laps this means there are 12 points of urgency throughout the race – in addition to the usual race jockeying, wheel-touching, breath-catching, gel-eating moments you already have to deal with.

My 2012 notes, via my patented Bullet Point Race Report System™:
  • Tubulars. Always race tubulars. It’s not about being cool, or buying speed. The best riders in the world ride them cause they’re better. They cost more cause they’re better. There’s no question they made me better in this race. I have a set of tubulars for cyclocross and a set for road racing. However with the gravel in Leland, I opted to borrow a set of 27mm Vittoria tubulars from Alex (RVB) that were a middle ground between those I own. While my training regimen, bicycle, genetic makeup, breakfast that day, etc. all were factors, there is no doubt in my mind these tires accounted for half of my success. I was able to ride low pressures in the gravel that kept me stable, allowing for energy conservation on a tough 3-hr race.
  • Don’t freak yourself out. The night before the race I had to change front derailleurs when I should have been sleeping. Trusted my mechanic skills; didn’t freak out. The day of I got to the race late, with only enough time to pin on my numbers. Knew the course had a neutral start, and several miles ‘til things heated up; didn’t freak out. Then my cyclocomputer broke off into my rear wheel as I was rolling to the line. Went back to the car real quick to cut the zip ties; didn’t freak out. During the last lap of the race, with only about 12 people in the lead group, and mere miles from the finish, Mr. Andrew Zens crashed right in front of me in the gravel and took me down. Without hesitating (or thinking) I got up, jumped on my bike, and calmly pulled myself back up to the group; didn’t freak out.
  • Freak others out. I touched wheels with someone who slowed down in front of me at one point during the race. We were probably going 25mph on a paved section. I almost crashed, and that would have meant race over. — Sidebar: there’s a reason why Dean is careful to always reiterate (a) maintaining a constant speed and (b) not overlapping wheels. Listen to him. In a race it isn’t always possible to avoid these things; on a training ride it is. — Despite it not being my fault, I felt a little embarrassed with the guys around me, with them likely thinking I’m gonna crash them out at some point. As they gave me a little extra space for the next couple kilometers, allowing me to comfortably cruise in a bubble of space in the middle of the pack, I realized: if you freak people out, they hesitate to ride around you. Problem solved! Act squirrely then make your move. New tactic for Crushman in 2012: peloton wildcard!
    [Note: Don’t try this at home. If it’s not obvious, there’s never a time to ride dangerously.]
(photo credit: Nancy Fallon)
  • Sprinting. It always comes down to a sprint (“it” being every race without mountains or a sandbagger). Everyone should practice sprinting every chance they get on weekly rides. Don’t give up before it starts because you don’t think you’ll win. Sprint for 3rd. Sprint for 8th.
  • Cyclocross Rules! Getting up fast when you crash, riding 30mph in gravel for extended periods on road tires, understanding how to utilize tire pressure…cyclocross pays big dividends. Do it. (Bonus: the ladies love a CX racer!) (Double bonus: so do the men!)
(photo courtesy of K. Hanson)
Official Spidermonkey Participant List:
PJ Cavoto
Kelly Clarke
Dave Cushman (2nd in M4)
Kristi Hanson (3rd in W4)
Kristen Meshberg (1st in W1/2/3)
Sarah Rice (2nd in W1/2/3)

Spidermonkeys of the Week – Ride Leader Words of Wisdom

For the first installment of the new year, we thought a few words of wisdom from the Spidermonkey Ride Leaders would help set the tone for another great year or at the very least waste a couple minutes of your time.  So read on, absorb the wisdom, piss excellence and ride on!

Dean Okun – The Wisest of the Wise

  1. Any ride that ends at JJ Peppers is a good ride!
  2. “Special A” at Budacki’s is the perfect recovery food.
  3. No, Ken Mitchell is not a Rockefeller, but has nicer bikes than them.
  4. Getting a flat tire is NOT catastrophic!!!
  5. You do not chew ZYM!
  6. There IS sushi at the rest stop on the Harmon Hundred!
  7. The Easter Bunny will steal your gloves on the Easter Ride.
  8. Do not change your shorts/skinsuit after applying Embrocation….you will get it on your junk.
  9. Shaving your legs is pro.  Not shaving all the way up and having hair shorts is NOT pro.
  10. “Reply All” is not a button you press to win the lottery.
  11. Rookie Tattoo‘s (or Cat5 Tattoo’s) aren’t just for rookies!

Vanessa Schilling – Wiser than the Wisest

  1. For the newbies: wearing underwear under your shorts is a huge faux pas. More importantly, you will be made fun of for the rest of your life.
  2. Folding the changing tent looks so easy but it’s not.

Rebecca Paulson Meyers – Wiser than Michael Meyers

  • On chilly rides, an extra sports bra in a sandwich bag for a wardrobe change in HP is a lifesaver.

John Lyon – Questionable Wisdom for Moving to NW Indiana

  1. When temperatures rise stick a frozen water bottle down your back.
  2. When riding home from Three Floyds on a 100 degree day jump in Lake Michigan to cool off.
  3. Don’t drink 3-5 beers before riding home from 3 Floyds on a 100 degree day.
  4. If a bus tries to pass a group of 15 people on a Wednesday Night Ride let it go. The next street is probably your turn.
  5. Before you chase Drew up Tower Rd find out where he plans to turn around!

Drew Kushnick – The Wise Attacker

  1.  4 out of 5 experts agree that running is not good training for cycling.
  2. Ask one of our ride leaders (Rebecca) how to get a Rookie Tattoo and for advice on how to get them off.

Kristi Hanson – I’m so Wise, I’d rather be Climbing

  1. According to Dean you can ride on a flat for days.
  2. Girls do go on the Wednesday Night Ride. Some of us stay with the fast boys (aka Vanessa, Kim, and Katie), but most of us do not so you will most likely have people to ride with. If not, just know the route and hang on as long as you can. It will make you faster. :-)

Josh Green – Pisses Wisdom All of the Time!

  1. Never let a new rider lead the group, even if they are faster than everyone else in the group.
  2. When that new rider gets to the front anyway and asks should they turn left the answer is “correct” not “that’s right.”
  3. There is *never* sushi at any rest stop.
  4. Watch out for big grated manhole covers unless you like to fall over at 0 mph when everyone is watching.

Brandon Diffenderfer – I’m so Wise I can spell my own last name

  1. If you “win” the Ugly Jersey competition, we should never see you in that kit again.
  2. Blinkies are cheap, buy one.
  3. PRO: I don’t know where it started. I don’t know who started it. But use of PRO as shorthand for cool/hardman/awesome/remarkable is really, really annoying. More rants can be found here
  4. We don’t care about your max 5 minute power output, you’re still slow.

John Castro – Pissed Wisdom Last Year

  1. It’s helpful to have 1-3 alarms spread around your bedroom to ensure you get up on time to make it to the Saturday ride.  Or bust your ass to catch up with the group somewhere on the way north .. and sometimes if you’re really late, hopefully before everyone’s done with coffee at HP.
  2. Some experts agree that running is good training for cycling.

We could go on and on and on … but, we’ll spare you.  We’re looking forward to another great year!  See you all out on the road (and dirt)!!

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