Cat 4 CX Season

My Cx season this year started off with a Pro Clinic by Tim Johnson.  Aaron Lael and I went.  It was an all day clinic that focused on the fundamentals.  Not exactly what I was expecting, but it was useful to break everything down and really think about what you were doing.  From there the season varied from 95 and sunny to 10 and snowy.

Relay Cross Cat 4/5 - 2nd of 50 teams

The next day was the Chicago Cross Cup (CCC) relay cross.  It was 95 and sunny, way too hot for CX.  They also did not have a water source at the race.  The race starts off with a run to the exchange station instead of a normal start.  I pushed, and perhaps knocked over, my way to the front of the run and got a top 5 start.  By the first exchange, I was in 4th.  My partner did the rest of the work from there and got us into 2nd.  This was his first CX race and he went on to win his next two CCC races by a lot.  He got auto upgraded from 5 to 3.

  

Relay Cross Coed - 23rd of 50 teams

The second race did not go as smoothly.  I got a decent start and came into the exchange top ten.  My partner had a mechanical on her second lap.  She came up running with her bike with the chain hanging off and said "my race is done".  So I rode the next lap and took as many beer hand ups as I could.  When I got back to the exchange area, she had fixed her bike and said we could keep going; beer was a bad choice...

Patriot Cross - 2nd out of 25

Patriot Cross was my first real CX race of the year.  I felt good going in based on relay cross a few weeks before.  I got a decent hole shot, 3rd, right where I wanted to be.  Once we reached the bunnyhop logs, I lost a little time because of dismounting.  This would be an unfortunate theme of my season.  I dropped back to 6th or so, but made it up on the hilly section and passed everyone.  By the end of the second lap a Bloomington Cycle and Fitness rider had caught me.  I decided I would let him do a little work in the windy sections and see what he had.  He was not dismounting on the logs and would gap me a little each lap there.  I would make up the gap and then some each time on the hills.  I thought I would be fine and be able to keep this up and beat him.  However, he knew I was faster in the hills and put in a hard effort the last time through the logs.  I never quite made up the gap, womp.

Jackson Park CCC #1 - 34th out of 87

I was feeling good and felt ready for the CX season.  I wanted to go for the overall series points jersey for the season.  That quickly went out the window.  I had a decent call up (all CCC races stage based on points, 8 across).  The whistle blew, we got up to full speed, and the guy right in front of me crashes.  I ran into him in what seemed like slow motion and went over my handlebars.  The rest of the field crashes into me and there is a huge pileup.  I was told I ended up being the 3rd or 4th to last out of the pileup.  The rest of the course is super windy, the most turns I have ever seen in a CX race.  This made it very hard to pass.  Instead of apexing the turns, I was taking them as tight to the inside as possible on each side to pass people.  Unfortunately, there were several other crashes I got caught behind, and one of my own fault.  Highlight of the race:  I rode over someone in one of the later crashes.

I was somewhere in this mess:

Mess of a course:

Hopkins Park CCC #2 - 17th out of 96

Going into Hopkins I was just hoping to not get caught up in another crash.  My hopes of competing for the overall series were gone unless I could podium, which was not likely.  I had a 7th row callup because of the bad finish at Jackson Park.  The whistle blows and everyone tries to take off, even the people behind me.  The rows behind me run into the people in front of them and people get tangled up.  Some one hooked their saddle under my handlebars.  I got untangled fairly quickly and got onto racing.  I was about midfield and had to make up ground.  The rest of the race went fine and I slowly moved up.  Hopkins is always a cool course because they have a full size flyover.  I managed to finish high enough to get some series points.

Dan Ryan Woods CCC #3 - 15th out of 98

I was debating on doing this race.  It was the weekend I was moving out of Chicago and one of my good friend's weddings was the night before.  I decided to anyway, getting really drunk the night before a race is never a good idea.  I had a decent call up for this race now that I had some series points, 16th.  From the whistle I could tell this was not going to be my race.  I was super hungover and did not have any acceleration in my legs.  I dropped back 15 or so places.  The course from there had two long hill sections where I made up some ground, and then a somewhat technical downhill with lots of exposed roots.  It also had some bunnyhop barriers, I dismounted.  However, they were closely spaced and I didn't loose much ground on them.  They caused a ton of crashes and a couple of broken bones and hospital trips for others.  I managed to finish 15th, which I felt ok with considering how bad I felt.

Sunrise Park CCC #6 - 8th out of 96

I took a week off to get all of my stuff moved back to Champaign, then drove back up for the next weekend of racing.  I had another 2nd row call up and had secured enough series points to get a decent call up for the rest of the series.  I got a good start to the race and was around 6th at the start.  The guy in 5th let a small gap open about half way through and I thought we would be able to close it later in the race, this was a mistake.  The front 4 rode away.  The rest of the race went fine, there were two small wooded sections an off camber hill climb.  There were also telephone poles used as barriers, they were hoppable, I dismounted.  I had a sprint to the finish with another racer, but had not paid attention to where the line actually was.  The start gate was about 30 yards behind the actual line and I let off too soon.  Lesson learned.  I also found out that my tire guage was off and I rode the race at 45psi, that did not help.  My race pressure is between 25-32psi.

Melas Basin CCC #11 - 4th out of 67

I took several weekends off and unfortunately let my fitness go a little bit.  I was alright with this though and planned on using this race as a buildup for the State Championships.  Had I known the layout of this race I might have done different.  The race was rather unusual for a CX race.  No barriers or obstacles, no where you had to dismount as long as long as you could make it up the steep hill/run up for many.  The race went in and out of a large water retention basin several times and was super hilly.  This was a course suited to my strengths.  It was also 10 degrees and windy, but very sunny.  This led to the course being frozen solid in some areas and muddy in others.  I got a good start and passed a lot of people out of the basin.  At the short steep hill I just made it out ahead of the pile up of riders that couldn’t climb it (see hilarious video below).  Me and 3 others made it out clean.  I sat in 3rd for the first two laps but stumbled up a hill on the third and had to run it because of it.  I never was able to make up the gap from there and regretted taking some time off before the race.  I rode to an easy 4th from there; we had gapped the field by a lot.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRpqM8e1veE

Photo of the Basin:

Montrose Harbor State Championships CCC #12 - 7th out of 73

I was excited and ready for Montrose Harbor.  I knew the area well.  When I lived in Chicago that is where most of my CX practices were.  I knew the course had a large hill and lots of sand.  I was hoping to finish the season strong with a podium.  When I arrived at the race, it was cold and had just started to snow.  By the time my race started, the ground was covered.  The ground outside the race was fine, but where the hundreds of racers had gone through the course, packed the turns down and made them slick and icy.  I got a great start to the race and was third up the first hill.  The race went downhill from there.  The guy in fist made it around the first off camber turn fine.  The guy in second, me, and many behind me did not.  I lost some ground here, and shortly after slid out again and threw my chain.  I had dropped back to 30th or so.  I almost gave up all hopes of a good finish but convinced myself not to give up and just finish as best as I could.  I'm glad I kept going, because I passed a ton of people.  The sand was pretty packed and I found it to be very ridable, many others did not.  I kept moving up and managed to pull off a top ten finish.  Our lap times were sent to us immediately after the race.  My lap 2 and 3 times were faster than everyone except the guy who won (guy who crashed in front of my on that first hill).  All in all I was somewhat disappointed in not podiuming, but happy with how it turned out considering how bad it started.  I ended up 10th in the series for points with only doing half of the races (al the races count for series points).  

Miller Chill - 1st out of 38

I really wanted a strong finish to my season.  I was going to upgrade after the race to 3s.  Upon preriding the course I was not as optimistic.  There was about 8 inched of snow and the course was a shoveled out pathway that was just wide enough for one rider.  The only place wide enough to pass was the icy road, super sketchy course.  I had an ok start but didn't push it hard because of the icy road start.  I was 5th through the first lap but wasn't really working hard to stay there, had there been room to make a pass I might have been able to take the first lap prime.  After the second time through the road section, I entered the course second.  The first place guy fell and I put on the gas from there.  He never made up the ground and I won the race with a large gap.  I felt like a bit of a sandbagger and the course announcer agreed.   However, it was nice to finish with a win.  3s is going to be even tougher; there is stiff competition in Chicago.

Overall I am very happy with my first full season of cyclocross.  I look forward to next year as a 3.  All of my races this year, my laps times got faster each lap, so I think the longer races should help me.  Things to work on during the off season:  LEARN TO BUNNYHOP.  I also plan on doing some mtb racing to help the technical side of my skills.

On an equipment note, I'll swear by my disk brakes, my stans tubeless wheels had absolutely no problems all year long despite what people may say(non tubeless tires), 1x10 is fine for cross and simplifies things.

TLDR:

Relay Cross Cat 4/5 - 2nd of 50 teams

Relay Cross Coed - 23rd of 50 teams

Patriot Cross - 2nd out of 25

Jackson Park CCC #1 - 34th out of 87

Hopkins Park CCC #2 - 17th out of 96

Dan Ryan Woods CCC #3 - 15th out of 98

Sunrise Park CCC #6 - 8th out of 96

Melas Basin CCC #11 - 4th out of 67

Montrose Harbor State Championships CCC #12 - 7th out of 73

Miller Chill - 1st out of 38

Need to learn to bunnyhop.

Upgraded to Cat3

-Kyle