Saturday, October 23, 2010


I should expand on the last post, since it was one made out of frustration. I thought I did okay in the last race, Blind Date; it turns out I did pretty badly. I am just not very good at this subset of the sport. I am not aggressive enough on the terrain; I am not fit enough to sustain the effort necessary to finish anywhere close to the front. These are just facts.

Can I do better?

Who knows. And at this point, who cares? I am having fun, of sorts. I am learning to control my bike better. I get a weekly hard workout to remind my body and mind how to go hard. That'll be essential when it comes to intervals in a few short weeks.

I have been racing since February this year. So I am not talented in cyclocross. Should I downgrade *gulp* to the C field? Hell no. I am a cat 3 on the road, I'm not going to race with the noobs just because I might finish closer to the front of the field! Am I going to quite racing 'cross? Well, I'm not going to go out of my way to race like I do for road and track, but I'll race when I get the chance. It's a fun time and it's a fun style of race. I wish I could get out more to the Cross Crusades, but they are on Sundays and, like I said earlier, I am not really going out of my way to race; I nominally work at the restaurant on Sundays and asking for a traded day will be going out of my way.

Ultimately, while cyclocross is fun, it is not a focus of my bike racing. I ride a crappy bike, I ride like a crappy rider, and I have no fitness at this time of year. But fun is fun and not every bike race has to be about winning. That said, my bike is gradually becoming less of an agglomeration of random parts and more like a race quality bike, and my skill with riding on dirt is gradually, slowly, getting better. Who knows, next year I might actually train a little for this time of the season. I mean, I can peak three times a year, right?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Countersteering helps a lot, but it's no panacea. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that my 'cross results are so poor, since I haven't done any real training other than racing since July.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The 5 and Dime

Laying down loads of Rule 5 in the wholesale commitment to Rule 10.

Monday, October 18, 2010


After practicing on some trails today, I am now convinced that this, or rather the lack of this, is 9/10ths of the reason why I suck at cross.

Road racers don't really pay much attention to it, except in crits when you are trying to corner at 30mph. On a cross bike, it's much more important because everything is so floppy. The tires are floppy, the terrain is floppy, and so you really need to flop the wheel over in a turn. I can't believe I haven't thought about this before! I went through this whole cournter-steering thing before when practicing crit cornering earlier this year.

Why is it so important? When you turn, your center of gravity needs to be to the inside of your wheels. Now, if you are to turn at all, you have to counter-steer at least a little; it's the only way you can possibly stay balanced in a turn. However, if you set into a turn without an explicit counter-steer, you end up very upright and are essentially balancing your bike by moving your body around. SLOW. Any bump or rut and you have to physically shift positions on your bike to stay balanced. Not terribly stable.

Contrast this to setting into a turn witha good counter-steer. Your weight while your body is neutral on the bike is already inside the tires. To counteract any bump or slide, all you do is steer, which your reactions do automatically.

That's my theory anyway. We'll see how it works come Blind Date on Wednesday. It's very possible that I really do just simply suck at this.

Friday, October 15, 2010

As the World Turns

So, I haven't written here for a while.  Long story short, I've been racing a lot.  The track has been good to me (found that I have a bit of talent for sprinting) and the road hasn't been that bad either.  Finished the season with a good start toward a Cat 2 upgrade on the track, and even a few points toward a Cat 2 upgrade on the road.

Big accomplishments...

Had a really good OBRA Track Champs race.  Upgraded from Cat 4 to Cat 3 right at the start of the weekend, and ended up with three gold medals in the kilo, pursuit, and match sprint and a silver in the points race.  All in small fields though, which tempers the glory.  But hey, my times in the kilo and pursuit weren't terrible, and my match sprint performance was not bad either.

Got a silver medal on a breakaway at the OBRA Crit Champs.  That was fun.  Spent over 10 laps off the front; at 5 to go, had a guy bridge up to me and we ended up finishing just ahead of the pack.  The other guy got first, I got second.

Final decent result was a second place finish at the kilo in the OBRA Masters Track Champs.  I raced the match sprints as well, but I really mis-timed my eating (didn't have anything to eat but a bowl of cereal between 8:00am and 3:00 when the race was over) and didn't win a single match.  I could've done better for sure.  On the other hand, there are a lot of very fast guys in the 30-39 age group I was racing against.  Fast and savvy...  I might be somewhat fast, but I have a lot yet to learn about match sprinting.

With that, the 2010 season comes to a close, except for cyclocross, which I suck at.  Base training for 2011 is right around the corner, and I am in the process of deciding whether to obtain some coaching.  I want to make a serious run at Cat 2 on the road.  A coach will be useful in this.  On the other hand, Cat 2 isn't a destination, it's a threshold.  The aesthetic side of me wants to cross the threshold on "natural" talent (a better term might be "uninvested" talent); the thinking goes if I can do this, I stand a chance of being competitive on the other side of the threshold with the benefit of coaching.

I also have to decide what I need a coach to do for me.  A "generic" coach I have less use for.  I can pull workouts out of a hat more or less the same as any other person.  A "real" coach would be working with me across multiple seasons and get to know my abilities almost better than I know myself.  That might be too much to ask though, either for a coach I hire or for myself and my own commitments to what is still an amateur sport, regardless of category.

Anyway, it's enough to make my head spin a bit.  Having a little talent is somehow vexing.  It seems the path is pretty clear if you are dominant.  Likewise if you suck.  Having a few little successes as I've had this year makes me want to see where the rabbit hole leads, but it also makes me question how much time and energy to place into the endeavor.  But this is the time of the year (with the non-existent training and the play-in-the-mud 'cross fun) to be philosophical.  Wax poetic and philosophical now, put the head down on the trainer in a few weeks.