Monday, November 12, 2012

Back at it

It was nice to be back racing again after several weeks off. Year four at Indian Lakes Resort was the best yet in terms of course, conditions and fun. Saturday, there was a strong thunderstorm about an hour before the men's 1/2/3 race that left the course wet and slippery.

Scott and David at the first barrier
All  photos: Paul Davies
By the time our race began, it was bright, warm and sunny but the course was still soggy - the perfect combination.

Mike making it look easy
The wet grass and mud meant it was hard to put the power down, which was good for me since I didn't have any anyway!

Mike and Mumford on the hill - just a bit too slippery on Saturday to ride all the way to the top
I made the most of all the twists and turns and managed to secure 4th place.  Meanwhile, my teammate Mike Hemme was riding very smoothly and putting in devastating accelerations on each short straightaway. I'm sure he was working very hard, but he made it look easy as he rolled in for his 4th win of the season.

SRAM engineer David Reyes (Bloomington Cycle Racing Team), meanwhile, made up a lot of ground in the 2nd half of the race, passing me in one of the strong headwind sections like I was standing still (I was, more or less). He kept it going and finished an impressive 2nd.

On Sunday the sun and especially the wind dried out the course so it was just slightly soft and tacky for the elite race. My legs were useless but I had fun trying to carry as much speed as possible through the numerous off-camber turns. Up front, Mike Hemme and David Reyes were in a huge battle with Brian Conant and Kevin Klug of the Pony Shop and Kevin McConnell of Mercy-Specialized, visiting from Iowa. Mike, unfortunately, had a loose cleat which made it nearly impossible to clip in, or once clipped in, to clip back out again and lost contact with the lead group. I was too far back after a few laps to say how the race went for the leaders, but in the end it was Brian, then David, then Kevin. Nice job, guys!

Chicago's pro-level UCI races will be back at Indian Lakes Resort in a couple of months. I'm hoping to find some form between now and then and I suspect Mike and David will both be tearing it up. I am sure it will be as much fun as last year.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Some random photos and notes from the Koppenberg 'cross.  The course goes around the town of Melden then halfway up the
Koppenberg (the treeline in the center of the photo) then back down to the edge of town before going back up again before the switchbacks to the bottom again.  It's brutal.
Telenet mechanics cleaning bikes after a pre ride.  Early in the day the mud was
sticky, one lap and wheels would not turn.  The mechanic on the left is putting
a wheel into a rack on the back of the truck for washing-this speeds up the
wash process when 5 riders come back off the course at one time.  There's
no shortage of wash time (and post race overhauls) at a race like this.

Buildup after one lap.  There's always
a discussion of better to change at the
top or the bottom of the course-most
riders have the option of both although
most prefer a clean, and lighter, bike
for the climb.  On really muddy days
you'll see riders run from the lower pit to
the road.
Amy D with the visor up.

It's muddy for racers and spectators alike!  Just walking around
the course can be a challenge.

Tom Mussen in front on the first decent.  A late
race crash took him out of the race with one lap
to go.
Helen Wyman is a new convert to SRAM-she's a big fan of the
reach adjust on the shifters.  She took a second win at her
"home" race, during the season she lives just down the road
in Oudenaarde.

Bart Wellens running on the first lap.
This move got him a better line to the next
corner and two positions.