Cyclocross is the toughest kind of suffering combined with diabolical terrain and dynamic course conditions. It is the most grueling hour of shredding thru the mud, snow, dust, rain, grass, heat, and wind depending on the day. Typically, the course is a few kilometers long and takes less than 10 minutes to complete one lap. We compete for approximately 60 minutes and have a visible lap countdown for the final 5 laps, usually. Sometimes it varies, but the officials try to have the leader finish close to the hour mark. There are obstacles such as fly-overs, barriers, sand pits, run-ups, and mud boggs that competitors must navigate through as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Cyclocross is the NASCAR of bike racing. There is a ‘pit’ where racers can get support, a spare bike, and wheels. The pros usually have a mechanic in the pits to fix their bikes, whether it be a flat tire, mechanical, or the bike is too muddy to function properly. The conditions dictate the workload for each rider’s pit crew. On a dry sunny day, most racers will complete the race on the same bike without utilizing the pits. However, cross season is from September thru January and fall and winter come into play, which usually makes for some nasty conditions. The muddier the course, the better.
Equipment is essential to success in cyclocross. A pit bike and pit crew is key for the muddiest races because they allow you to alternate bikes. Sometimes in the most extreme scenarios, racers will switch bikes every lap. Every time the pit crew swaps bikes, they are responsible for washing the bike and making sure it is properly adjusted and tuned. Often times there are several power washers that are available for anyone with a pit pass to use. Switching back and forth from my training bike (Ridley X-Ride) to my race bike (Ridley X-Fire) was smooth and proficient because they have the same geometry and cockpit setup. The only real difference between the two besides value, is the material they are made out of. The X-Fire is a full carbon frame while the X-Ride is an alloy frame. I’ve got to thank Golden Bike Shop, my previous place of employment for all of the support with my racing, you guys are vital to my success! While I’m talking sponsors; Ridley Bikes, Stan’s No Tubes, and of course Feedback Sports were incredibly supportive this season.
The bikes are phenomenal; stiff in the bottom bracket and head tube and a geometry that would lead you to believe that they know what’s up. Ridley Bikes are exceptional when it comes to fit and handling. I raced and trained on Stan’s Alpha 340 rims most of the season using Stan’s ZTR hubs and the best darn tire sealant in the world. Thanks to Shannon Gibson and Mike Bush for getting me going on a tubeless CX setup this year. I honestly had my doubts with the low volume of a 32c cross tire holding the bead at a mere 23psi. I am super impressed with the way my wheels have held up with standard Kevlar beaded non tubeless tires all season. I used to claim that tubulars were the only way to go for cyclocross, but now I know that’s not a valid argument. I never burped or rolled a single tire all season and there were some serious bunny hopping fails that should have resulted in flat tires. I would recommend the Stan’s Alphas for everyone’s cross bike and road bike for that matter. I build all of my bikes on my Feedback Pro Elite repair stand that I’ve had for several years now. In fact it was part of my sponsorship from the Niner-Ergon Racing Team. This stand is incredibly versatile, functional, and durable. I take my stand to the races to make last minute adjustments and wheel/tire swaps. If you race cross on the front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, you have definitely seen us at most of the events this year with our A-Frame event stands, RAKK’s, portable repair stands and wheel truing stands, and of course we are running the Squirt Lube on our chains. Seriously, this gear rocks, check it out!
After Cross Vegas in September, it has been non-stop racing, or so it seems. I Drove the Feedback Sprinter Van out to St. Louis, Missouri for the Gateway Cup, UCI race hosted by the good guys at Big Shark! Then I made my way up to Madison, Wisconsin for the USGP Series opener. This road trip was a solo endeavor in pursuit of a UCI point which is used for the international cyclocross ranking system. Basically, without one of these highly coveted points, you will not be called up at any UCI (big, national) race. Therefore, it is huge to have a point or two under your belt to at least get a decent call up (Top 30) at a USGP or National UCI event. Mission accomplished! I finished 10th at the Gateway Cup and earned my first CX UCI point!
I completed a total of 23 races this season, mostly local here in Colorado. The scene is awesome on the Front Range. I spent most weekends this fall aboard my X-Fire, battling it out with Brandon Dwight, Pete Webber, Spencer Powlsin, and several other top Colorado pros. Overall, I am happy with the way the season unfolded. I definitely wanted to go faster at some of the bigger races, but I just didn’t have what it takes. I finished 4th at the Colorado State Championships two weeks ago and I managed to hang onto 3rd overall for the Colorado Cross Cup overall elite men. Next week, Sammy and I are heading out to Madison for National Championships, so I’m hoping for some late season, post holiday fitness to come thru!
Thanks for reading, I’ll be sure to let you know the scoop on Nationals.