Sunday, January 8, 2012


How to describe course conditions and my race at the cyclocross national championships yesterday? Friend and fellow racer Rheudabaga called it riding in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I think that sums it up perfectly.

They don't call it Badger Prairie for nothing... All photos: Ellen
My last trip to Nationals was two years ago in Bend.  There, I started in the second row and managed to be in third position when we turned off the paved start/finish straight and on to the dirt. This year, I had a front-row start and may have actually led the first 10 feet of the race, but try as I might, I was back to about 15th when we left the long pavement section. When we made our first right turn on to the worst section of frozen ruts covered with a thin layer of slippery mud, the race exploded. Have you ever seen a Pachinko machine in action? Suddenly each of us was like one of the little steel balls in a Pachinko machine, bouncing randomly left and right, smashing into each other and onto the ground. Ninety seconds into the race I was already running to the pits with a mangled bike. My father-son pit crew of Paul and Jake Schilling (thanks guys!!) got me sorted out, and I was back on course in 27th place.

Negotiating traffic

Applying a little 'body English' before my back locked up

Kevin of the Pony Shop digging deep.
I moved up slowly, dodging out-of-control riders as I went. All the frozen ruts made the already-bumpy course murder on my back, and with one lap to go I started falling apart. I could no longer use 'body English' to keep my bike under me, so my forward progress came to an end, and I even gave up one spot after crashing a few more times. I finished ninth, a respectable result but one that leaves me hungry for more next year!

1st and 2nd place  - teammates Brandon and Peter of Boulder Cycle Sport. Unbeatable?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My post-race cyclocross bike maintenance regimen…

The ChiCrossCup crew put on a fantastic UCI race weekend over New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day. I won’t try to summarize for you, because there are tons of great stories, comments, photos and videos to be found on the web, starting here and here and here. It was muddy – really muddy, and due to a miscommunication on my part, my two-person volunteer pit crew for Sunday’s race was not present and I did the entire race (until I got pulled, that is) without a bike change.  I love the post-race pictures of my bike below:

New Red crankset revealed!!

Firecrest rim profile is super aerodynamic.  
Ultralight crankset was a huge advantage this weekend.

I thought this might be a good opportunity to share my post-race bike maintenance regimen with you. After every muddy race, and there have been several this year, I have a two-step plan:

1. Hose off the bike
2. Oil the chain

That’s it. In fact, since I built up my “A” bike for this year in September, I’ve done 29 races and subjected my bike to a lot of power washing, and I am still using all the original bearings, cable and housing, chain, brake pads, etc. I’ve had to make a couple of bike repairs due to a soft rear derailleur hanger (finally cured with a steel one-off hanger), but all the typical maintenance items are still going strong. 

On a final note, while there are still a couple of weeks left in my CX season, I think my body decided to go in to winter hibernation a month ago. I’m still having great fun out there and I really appreciate all the heckles and cheers, folks. Thanks so much!