Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sunrise Park

Double Up

Photo David Bowers
Some weeks life catches up and its just a bit tougher to motivate for the double race weekend. After a long week of travel I was on the fence about heading North on Saturday, but my fine friends at My Wife Inc were hosting another race North of the border, at Noyes Park in Milwaukee. They consistently put on great events and always have a fun course so I convinced Mumford to make the drive North with me. It was another great track based around a golf course with solid flowing turns and they made the most of the terrain. Definitely another highly recommended race to visit next year for the Chicago folks.  Ill spare you the details of my lackluster race, but Mumford managed to stay up with the chase group and just missed the podium in 4th.
Conant with the Holeshot - Photo Brion Goudreau
Sunday was the 6th stop in the Chicago Cross Cup at Sunrise Park.  Its a long course at 2.4 miles and given some of the longer open sections where you can put down some power I was looking forward to the race.  Hoping my legs would recover and find a little snap after Saturday, I just tried to hang on the lead group with Conant, Klug, and Reyes early in the race.  With two to go I put in an attack to see if I could get a little gap and though we opened it up just a bit on Klug and Conant, David Reyes was glued firmly to my wheel.  He came around on the last lap and I just tried to maintain contact and wait for an opportunity to squeeze in a pass.  On heckle hill I found a bit of a gap in the turns and moved just inside David, after that it was just an all out effort to hang on as he was right on my wheel, but I managed to hang on for the win.  After a few seasons with some podiums and no wins I was definitely excited to grab my second win this year.

Photo Roderick

This weekend is another double.  Halloween Cross up in Wisconsin is always a blast and has a great crowd. Theres a coffin (which has involved flames in years past) to bunny hop (or run if you're so inclined...but really get out there and practice your hops, even roadies need to hop the occasional curb) and then Sunday one of my favorite courses in the CCC out in Campton.  

Video of the Sunrise Park Cat 123 Race Courtesy of Walid

The midweek Nacht van Woerden is a small but well attended early season race in the Netherlands-like many of the summer "kermis" races there's a town fair with rides and games along with a race to bring people into the city during the week.  It's a great atmosphere and night racing always adds an extra bit as racers move from dark to light around the course.  Although the crowd seemed smaller this year still a good night out and the recent warm spell was good for spectating.  Added bonus is the race sponsor produces potato processing equipment so no shortage of proper spectating food!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First double race weekend in the Netherlands

It's much steeper than it looks!
The first double race weekend in the Netherlands wraps up with tired legs and two decent rides although no real results.  Saturday was the opener for club racing-each club has a training race at their home track Saturday mornings here.  "Training race" is a gentle way of saying we all start at once and still go full speed.  I joined the race in Utrecht-the course uses the terrain and includes a proper stair runup and plenty of off camber to keep things interesting.  Damp, warm and very windy meant there were even tactics to play--I ended up at a standstill several times trying to move someone else to the front heading into the wind when the course was exposed.  Good fun with nothing on the line.

You don't want to hug
the tree like this guy.

Sunday morning round 2 of the Middle Netherlands series brought all these clubs racers together at Hilversum.  By a rough count 70 riders turned up to race on course about 2/3 the size of a football field.  A few 3 meter high lumps keeps it interesting and with a morning rain slippery corners a plenty.  And did I mention plenty of corners?  With a course this size they use every spec of land-180 turn and then straight just enough to bring back the guy in front of you 100 times.  It took a good two laps for the long line to break up-you could see the 30 guys ahead of you in two or three lanes racing back and forth.  Passing is tough and after all those accelerations not much left in the tank, a good day is not hitting the deck while the sliding around.  Going in circles is a long morning.

Happy to put the feet up and watch the World Cup on Sporza this afternoon!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Last weekend was the first of 2 doubles for the Chicago Cross Cup, Saturday in Wauconda & Sunday in Carpentersville.  Storms rolled through the region Friday night through Sunday afternoon – including tornado warnings in Carpentersville – with promise of fun racing conditions.  The masters races were mostly spared the sloppy conditions of later races, especially my 8:45am 40+ start.
Wauconda is a go-cart course and is usually my worst race of the year, where I give up ten or more spots compared to a usual finish.   This year I was determined to at least have a respectable finish.  I wound up in a heated race for 10th where I finished 3rd of 3 (i.e. 12th).  Lots of fun racing the last few laps with my usual cronies, and the 12th-place finish was equal to my best to date.
Hot race for 10th in Wauconda (photo: Burnham Racing)
Outside of the Chicago Park District, Carpentersville is my favorite venue & among my favorite courses.  Main Street Bikes has a BMX pedigree.  So every year I'm enthused to hear the shop guys shouting "Go Redline!"  And their pump track is always a blast!  The overnight rain had made the pump track challenging but ride-able – at least for my race.  I guess the conditions suited me because I finished 6th – 6 places better than previously this year.  Big thanks to John Gatto, who interrupted his warm-up to hurry to the pit & assist me with a bike change.  He even cleaned & prepped the dropped bike.
And thanks to Lauri Nowak for coming out early to shoot the old fellas:

Monday, October 15, 2012

You win some, you lose some

This was the first of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup's two double-race weekends. Saturday was PsychoCrossChicago in Wauconda. I understand the morning races were mostly dry, but it was a little muddy and very slippery by the time the Elite race went off in the early afternoon. After another poor start I was quickly able to move in to the lead and establish a gap after a couple of laps. I did not know that Tom Burke from Michigan was visiting our series this weekend - he closed the gap after a few laps but was never quite able to latch on to me.  Still, he made me work hard all they way to the finish. Here's a link to a GREAT video of the race. You can see me struggling to clip in at the start, then a couple of the early laps, then a couple of the later laps.

Sunday we were back in Carpentersville where I've had several really good races, including last year. My luck ran out this year! After another poor start (I just can't seem to get my foot clipped in to the pedal properly this year) I quickly moved up to third place in muddy conditions that tend to work in my favor. Still in the opening minute of the race, I discovered that my rear tire was quickly going flat. Luckily I had Paul Schilling working the pit for me and he helped me switch to my 'B' bike just two minutes in to the race. Unfortunately it was fitted with dry-conditions tires because my wife Ellen had just finished her race on my spare mud tires. She made it to the pit in time for Paul to replace the flat tire on my 'A' bike before the first lap was over. I switched back to my 'A' bike the next time by the pit and could then start making forward progress. Unfortunately, I was out of time because our race had to be stopped after just two short laps due to a tornado warning. I finished 13th and lost the leader's jersey that I had just regained the day before! Congratulations to David Reyes, who's aggressive riding in the opening phase of the race earned him the win.

Ellen in the Women's 4 race on the unrideable muddy off-camber section. Photo: Gene Cassella
A note on course design - while many will say a particular course is great because it matches their strengths, I know that different course designs and course conditions are going to suit different kinds of riders. Both races this past weekend suit my particular set of strengths...while others ruthlessly expose my weaknesses. It's clear that a lot of time and effort go in all ChiCrossCup courses which makes them all great.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Images from Dekalb

I neglected to post Bill Keith's photo of me from the second stop in the Chicrosscup series:

Nice follow-up to Matt's shot of me face-down in Jackson Park.  So nice to have friends around for these important moments.  Unfortunately no one captured me piling into barriers on the penultimate lap (again!) in Dekalb.

Dan Stefiuk

Otherwise it was a gorgeous day for a bike ride.  I was exchanging paint with the usual suspects until I hit a barrier, launched my bike, lost a bunch of places, & finished 17th.


Richard Breininger

Photos by Bill Keith


Europe waits a few weeks extra to enter veldrijden season compared to the US-not a worry as we're  still racing up to the start of the Classics!  My traditional opener is a little race in Montfoort, NL.  Similar to a local US race-very tight and twisty course around a city park.  Only there's a large molen across the street.

Tradition is important in European racing-tradition here means mud.  The race could easily be renamed Mudfoort as race day always brings a downpour in the morning with the sun poking out midday.  The difference in the course between warmup and race is amazing-what could easily be ridden early in the day is a 3 meter wide mudpit after one race.  Thankfully I've never done the last race of the day here!  And it's a harsh reminder sliding skills are a bit rusty as we're all still fresh off the pavement.  Can't say much exciting about the day's effort-being the foreigner with no points call up in 63rd position means a lot of position fighting on a course where passing amounts to just staying upright and not backsliding running up the canal banks.  The goal is simply to have a good race.  Goal accomplished despite an unexciting 41st place finish on the day.

Cross the Domes and Dan Ryan Woods

The ChiCrossCup and Wisconsin Cycling Association cyclocross schedules sync up very nicely this year for Chicagoans, with several opportunities to race in Milwaukee on Saturday and Chicagoland on Sunday. Milwaukee is an easy 90 minute drive from the city of Chicago, much the same as several of our Chicago series races out in the 'burbs.

Cross the Domes is put on by My Wife Inc, which I'll say again has the coolest kits in Cycling.  They are also very talented course designers. I've already said it half a dozen times, but if you still need convincing Paul Mumford and Mike Hemme, both of whom drove up to Milwaukee with me this year, agreed that if you didn't make the trip you missed out! A fair number of Chicagoans were in the Cat 1/2 race and even on a course I love, I was thoroughly trounced by most of them as well as most of the other racers out there. Good job, guys. 

Sunday was Dan Ryan Woods in Chicago put on by Beverly Bike-Vee Pak. The big story here is teammate Mike Hemme's first CX win! 
Big improvement over your typical 'race face' Mike! Photo: Kyle Mistry
Mike can lay down the power like few others and that was a huge advantage on Sunday. We were a group of five or so at the front of the race but no one was really pushing the pace until Mike started attacking. I was the first rider to get shelled, unfortunately, and lost the leader's jersey to eventual 2nd place finisher Brian Conant. SRAM employee David Reyes, who won here last year, took third. While he is not on the SRAM Factory team this year, I am of course happy to see him marching his way up the results list - from 10th to 4th to 3rd.
David, Scott, Mike and Paul in the bunny hop section. Photo: Kyle Mistry
The SRAM Factory team was also solidly represented by J.P. McCarthy in the Masters 40+ race, Mulubwa Munkanta in Cat 4B, and my wife Ellen in the Women's 4 race where she finished 10th.

Thanks to BBVP for putting on another great race, and once again - congratulations Mike!
Mike gets his first CX win! Photo: Mumford using Mike's iPhone (I think).

Thursday, October 4, 2012


My favorite Wisconsin cyclocross race is this Saturday in Milwaukee, hosted by a team with, hands-down, the most awesome kit of any team in cycling. They do a great job with the course and I can't stress enough that you will be missing out if you don't go!

Sunday is race number three in the ChiCrossCup, where I had a very eventful race last year. I hope to muster up the same level of energy this year.

USGP Sun Prairie and CCC Hopkins Park in DeKalb

It's been a very busy couple of weeks here at SRAM HQ so just a brief note on the two past weekends of CX racing.

Sun Prairie, Wisconsin hosted the opening rounds of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross on September 22-23. When the USGP's title sponsor fell in to financial difficulties, SRAM was one of several existing sponsors that came up with additional funding to keep the series healthy. Trek Bicycles generously stepped in as the new title sponsor. After a few years of getting slaughtered in the pro race, I decided to race in the masters 35+ race both Saturday and Sunday this year. After a mediocre start on Saturday I made my way up to the lead group, but eventually faded and watched in frustration as the other three riders pulled away. I held on for 4th. Sunday, a horrific crash just after the start forced our race to be canceled. The Pro/Elite race was a couple of hours later so I quickly switched my registration and lined up in 62nd spot in the 'big show'. I had a decent but unremarkable race and finished in 41st. Still, it was a lot of fun racing in front of a large and vocal crowd on a really fun and challenging course.

This past weekend was the 2nd stop in the Chicago Cyclocross Cup. They changed up the course a bit this year, making it faster with fewer tight, low-speed turns. I hardly touched my brakes the whole race - which may indicate that they took out a couple turns too many, or may indicate I was pedaling way too slowly. Probably the latter. I had a very poor start and had to chance frantically in the first lap. I made it in to 2nd position just as Brian Conant of the Pony Shop established a gap on the rest of the field. I spent the rest of the race attempting to chase him down but in fact he just slowly but surely padded his lead all the way up to the finish.

There are always a lot of great photos and videos from the race posted on the ChiCrossCup forum. Here are a few of my favorites:
Idyllic fall weather. Photo: Edmund White

An 'artsy' shot of new SRAM employee and SRAM Factory Team member Michael Hemme. Photo: Edmund White

That's me in the series leader's jersey, which I managed to hold on to for another week. Photo: Edmund White