Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rockburn CX Revisited

Fun, pain, nervousness, pain, fun, pain, pain…yep, that was my first cx race in two years in a nutshell. I can say that racing with a bunch of cat 1 cx guys in the single speed category was certainly an adventure in discovery for myself.

I have raced cx before in cat 3 and that was pretty tough itself, but not SS. I don't think there really is such a thing as a slow guy in cx, especially SS. Of course I had to pick one of the tougher course that I have raced. Lots of little climbs and tight off camber turns, not too much unlike a good technical cross country race course. It is much longer than a normal cx course (2 miles) which makes for some long time out of the saddle.

Sunday was a normal, cold day for cx and I started at the back and it wasn't long before the horn blew and we were off. It was the first time putting the Raleigh Furley through its paces, and it performed well. I ran a 39x18 which seems insane considering I run 32x17 on my mountain bike. I really didn't know what to expect for speed, but quickly found out that I would need a lot of it. We were off at a blistering 14-15 mph (sounds slow, but trust me it aint). I was sitting around 19th (out of 22) and new
that I had to make a move now or I would be stuck here. I passed a few guys about half way in and tried to move up to catch a couple more when I got slowed by a guy in the sand pit which stopped my and my momentum. I got back on and quickly caught the few guys I was chasing. I knew I wasn't going to even try to catch the top guys; they were gone, so I picked a few more guys to tag. I wasn't really sure were I was at this point, but after the 4th lap, everyone was pretty much in the spots they would stay in. 

It wasn't too eventful for me in particular, I was just trying not to bonk and keep hammering. I have to say I felt decent, the hip was ok on my mounts and dismounts. I ended up 12th and I was pretty happy about that all things considered. I would have finished 7th in the 35-45+ cat 3 guys had I raced in the category. 

What I was most stoked about was I had a small fan base. Johnny K and his family along with Carl-Eric-Kerl (he has many different names) and my family were on hand to watch and heckle. You know that you have good friends that support you when you are out there.

If you haven't raced cx, do it. It is a completely different experience than road or mountain races. It is more intimate and you can see most of the race from one vantage point. If you like beer, it is a prime haven for it-I myself have never indulged in such heathen activities, though. Seriously though, it is an awesome and sometimes humbling experience to get out there and push yourself beyond what you thought was possible. I may just do another one here soon, just for fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CX Race or CXing the Line

Well it has been 2 years since my last official cx race. Dont know why it has been that long, but I have decided to give it a shot. It will be my first race on the SS CX as well. My biggest concern is trying to mount and dismount my trusty steed. My hip feels great, but I dont have the range of motion I had before. I am a bit nervous too. CX races are a whole different breed. I feel pretty good, but really havent been tuning the body to go through this either. I think what always worries me about cx races are the fact that they are basically flat. I dont like flat. Despite being 186lbs., I am a climber, not a flatter. All of my races in the past have been on geared cx bikes, so maybe this will be my Phoenix rising; probably not.

It will be the first official race on the Raleigh Furley as well. I have it set up 39x20 on a fairly flat, but technical course. I am running old school Michelin Wildgripper tires too (love how the green tires clash with the baby blue color). I am looking forward to racing cx again, but I dont race these to gain podium spots, but just to have some fun and push myself to the brink of a self induced coma.

So, onward to this weekend with a bit of apprehension and a whole lotta fun with the family.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Trace Experiment (aka Just a matter of time)

Is it possible to imagine life on a bike other than your single speed? I mean, once you straddled one for the first time you felt liberated; almost totally free from concern and (sometimes reason), but none the less, you felt like a new person. Your body likes physical activity, despite what fast food restaurants want you to believe. Your body thrives on being pushed to its limits; pushed beyonds its limits. So what other way than a single speed.

I know that the single speed "craze" has maybe hit a plateau of sorts, but everything does, doesn't it? Some things pass on to never be heard or seen from again, while others sneak back in to our lives for a brief moment only to be resurrected again later; but there is something about riding this simple machine. Ok, let me get to my point. Trace works with me at the shop and was a 100% roadie, I mean nothing could have been further from his thoughts than playing in the dirt, let alone on a rigid ss, right? I mean to the point where it was you will never get me on a mountain bike…ever. Now, I don't want to take any credit for this transformation because it comes down to the bike itself. Just like I tell everyone…just ride one and you will never (maybe too harsh) ride a geared bike. For Trace, it was a gradual road to freedom. Starting with a geared 26" On One Inbred (which I now own) and moving to an All City SS cx bike and finally a 29er Soma Juice geared and then converted to SS (which was mine that I traded for the Inbred, thats how us guys at the shop roll you know, trade and trade again).

Now, I have to say I really didn't know what to expect from Trace. I wasn't sure If he would be like eh, its ok or like man, this is awesome! I sorta knew it would be the later, but just had to give it time. I am proud to say that the later is correct, so correct that he has been on the mountain bike for two straight weeks! It has been awesome to watch as he has gotten better fairly quickly. There is some techniques and balancing that he needs work with, but it has come pretty fast. It is now to the point where we are doing longer rides with more elevation (he hates me most of the time when riding), but I am ok with that.

What I am most impressed is that he wants to go out and progress and hone his skills even more. We have a great time when we are out there and he gets to pick up some tips and tricks from me. I have to admit, I do go places at times that may be a little beyond his skill level now, but he is progressing pretty quick and getting a better idea of the terrain, how to balance through technical sections, moving the cranks around and pushing the bike down when climbing.

Traces' Gear Removal Machine
So The Trace Experiment has worked out great. Actually, he gets all of the credit because he allowed himself to step out of that box and he is a better rider because of that. You see, riding a SS isn't about being cool (ok, well it is), or being different (yep, it is), it is about pushing yourself beyond what your brain tells you what you are capable of. I know, you have to listen to your brain sometimes, but your brain can fool you into being complacent and dull…riding a single speed is neither.

So throw that well groomed, sleep on a dog pillow, crotch licking pure bread in the trash and emerge like the nasty, haven't bathed in weeks mutt that riding a single speed deserves!

I couldn't have said it any betterer

When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  Wow, can you really say it any betterer than that? I was hoping to write a longer than usual, mindless bantering of my life as a bicycle rider and what makes riding bikes so darn special; I think Mr. Doyle made quick work of that.