So now that it’s been a week since, I figure I’ll throw up a report on the BCA Cyclocross. Some of you may be wondering “Cosmo, why are you doing a ‘cross race? Didn’t you finish your season? Aren’t you resting up?” Fools. One of the many exceptionally nice things about ‘cross (especially C-level ‘cross) is that the races are muy short, and involve lots of fun things like off-camber corners and crap in the way, so that if you aren’t in particularly good shape, being skillful or tough can make up the difference. And ‘cross is totally sweet, like Mario Kart without Red Shells, so even if you get rocked, it’s a good time.
Buzz on down US 7 from Williamstown to Pittsfield (having scoped the course the previous night on satellite at Google Maps). Get there about 1 hours before the start and then watch the void of cluelessness unfold for half-a-freakin’ hour while registration attempts to get their hindquarters into some semblance of recognizable unformity. Get on course a bit panicked, ride a lap (see map below). Course is sweet, first half a fast, semi-technical challenge, then two run-ups (one short and ridable, one long and nasty), then a long, aerobic section, then a mix of short/steep hill and off-camber to the finish. I like it despite riding singlespeed (still waiting on those shifters…) and having my bars and chain come loose. Frantically borrow some allens, correct my mechanicals, and report to the start.
Green indicates the course, Purple is the starting section (done once). Arrows alongside the course indicate direction, with red indicating uphill sections, and blue being down. Yellow represents obstacles: barriers (perpendicular to course), run-ups (over course, width indicates difficulty), and steep ups or downs (as part of directional arrows). Black is the lap/finish line.
I’m at the start for a while, because somehow, some dude managed to break his collarbone during warm-up. Don’t know why, can’t figure out how, and have even less of a clue where, but he did. Maybe trying to ride the big run-up in reverse. Anyway, long delay, finally we go. Gun is pretty fast and I am *boom* gone off the line. 42/18 I guess is a much lower gear than these other jokers were planning on starting in. I’ve got a pretty good gap now, and it’s probably more effort than it’s worth to continue whipping the cranks around down this dirt road at 180 rpms, so I ease off and make the nasty left onto the course in 4th, but still glued to the leaders. Someone gets loose and almost eats it on the turn, but everyone stays cool. Then someone gets brake-happy as we thread the needle between the tennis courts and Reid Middle School, so I just blast by ’em. Ride through the lap in third and then hit the fun off-camber downhill stuff. My illegally wide tires (Maxxis Medusas, 26×1.55) help very much, I do believe, I get by no problem, but some knob in a Briko Twinner just goes right over on the second of two turns. He was in like second, so the leader got a few seconds over the barriers (which his smooth-as-glass technique didn’t need. If I see him racing C’s again, I will knock him right off the bike, guaranteed), and everyone else got to try and not run this chump over. I went wide, carrying my speed and pushing the tape at the edge of the course about as far over as it will go. Ugly two-footed hops over the knee high barriers, and we’re off again in 7th or so.
The next section of the course is speedy downhill, but I guess I’m the only one who notices this. Even with my one relatively tiny gear, I’m going nuts to get around people. I worm my way back into 5th and open a gap over the last 3 off-camber turns. Then the run ups. The first one is easy, but with only on gear, I still gotta run. No big deal, as it’s singletrack immediately aferwards, so anyone who rides it has got wait for me to remount once they hit the top again. Then some little pedalling and the mother of all run-ups: a nasty, steep, loose, root-transected section of singletrack that looks more like the Northeast side of Mt. Cube. I take it easy up this, but I guess my easy is everyone else’s hard, because I just sort of pedal away from a pretty big group on the next downhill, which is not steep and allegedly the bane of singlespeed riders. Then it’s up a steep section that’s real rocky and hard to ride up, just because you don’t come in with a whole lot of speed (and my tires are overinflated), then some pedaling through fields back to the tennis courts.
Things get broken up pretty fast. A pair of sandbaggers are way off the front (the B winner was way up, too – self-selection leads to too much sandbagging), then two more dudes within sight of me. I was battling pretty good within a group of 3 ’til this one muffinhead lets out a commando yell before hitting the small run up. Oh, he managed to ride it; ride it right into the tape at the side of the course. And as a bonus, he got his chain jammed behind his cassette. He had it coming. The race after that was pretty much a battle between myself and this one other dude, who goes really slow up the run-up. He closes in over the rest of the lap, which is fine, because I’m not making any real effort to drop him. On the last lap, though, I hit the gas over the run-up (after letting him pull through the flattish off-camber downhill earlier on) and by the pedaling section, I can barely even see him in the distance. But on the long easy downhill pedal back to the tennis courts, some other dude on a real ugly Kona starts coming up on me. Darn him and his gears. As we cross the start road and head up into the last series of hills, I’ve got about 5 seconds, which should be enough. Of course, my seat has slid down a few inches, and my headset is now crazy loose, but it should still be enough. Except that on the last little bit of off camber, I either get brake happy, or lean too far over, or zigged where before I had zagged because *whooooom* I’m on the ground.
Now, since this is pretty steeply off-camber, I’m still sliding down the hill as I attempt to get to my feet, which costs me irreplaceable seconds. I also bang the crap out of my shin somehow, but I get back to my bike and run it across the nasty off-camber section, and hop back on, losing only one spot. If I had for-real ‘cross game, I would have blocked the trail with my fat arse, forcing my pursuers to stop or at least slow down. Anyway, after remounting I realize the bars and levers are off by well over a radian from their original configuration, which makes steering hard, and accelerating nigh on impossbile. So one last dude trickles by me and I finish 6th (not much I can do about it). I’m not too bummed about it at first, as 4th place wouldn’t have been so great anyway, but then I see that medals go through 5th. Bogus. Ah well, that’s bike racing. Maybe next time my bike will have shifters on it so I can really do some damage…
thoughts on “BCA Cyclocross – Report”
Cosmo, what bike did you race on?
Old, old, old orange Kona Lava Dome MTB, converted to single/’cross, with a black fork, blue seatpost, gold saddle pink fluoro bar tape and white campy levers. Quite possibly the ugliest bike imaginable.
BTW, the winner of the this C race won by a minute and half. Then, the next weekend, he raced in the “Beginner Men’s” field. Unacceptable. Definately time to Cat up.
Hey Cosmo, I won my age group (though not the overall) in the “Novice” category of the Vermont 50. Is it time for me to cat up?