Cyclocross

We're so into Cyclocross that we made this special page for it. Also publish a Tumblr about Suffer Faces.

Max Crashed, Ended His Season

The plan was for Max to podium in the Cat 4s on his Davidson and in Bike Hugger kit. Then move up, race well, and get his name and new bike out there – it’s built to race cyclocross in the Pacific Northwest mud and all conditions. After building the bike up and during Max’s first ride, I got two texts one Summer afternoon. The first was a joyful photo of a climb and then a few hours later…

Wonder Max

As Max learned, the Davidson is NOT an MTB! He overcooked a turn on the descent and crashed. He’s recovering now, back to riding, and racing next season.

notched

Notched chainstays for wide tires

We’ll tell you more about the bike when it gets raced. It’s an interation of the D-Plus with room for really wide tires. See more photos about Max’s first ride that ended in a crash on the Tiniest Princess’ tumblr.

Breathe with Me

warmed up with a puffer

Warned up with a puffer for a couple laps and then didn’t race

For 20 plus years never had a bad season. Fitness came and went, into it at more times than others, but the past year has been like a series of mechanicals with my body. A nagging injury, illness, and then unusual fall asthma. I blame the wind storm on Saturday for throwing all kind of contaminates into the air, whatever it was, I was lit up like an allergy Christmas tree. On Sunday, after a few warmup laps, I wheezed and coughed. Then made the call to not start. To get back into race shape, building towards next season, I’m perfectly good with sucking at the back of the elite field, riding steady, solid, and finishing. Not good with wheezing out of a race or falling apart, unable to breathe. It sets me back for at least a week. I imagine if doctors ran a scope into my lungs, it’d look red, raw, and inflamed in there, after doing so much damage.

Exercise-induced, allergy-triggered asthma is so little talked about, I didn’t even know others that race with me had it until recently. Because asthma doesn’t manifest any outward symptoms excerpt during an acute attack, it isn’t generally recognized by the community and the promoter of the Sunday’s race mocked me for not starting. For years, before I knew what I was, I just thought I wasn’t fit. Asthma took such a toll on Rominger, he stopped racing, and Katie Compton was nearly medevaced out of a race in Cincinnati for it last week. Locally, the Northwest Allergy Center has doctors dedicated to studying the causes and it’s thought Co2 particulates embedded in our lungs from years of urban life are a factor.

Once I was diagnosed and knowing the symptoms, if they’re present, I don’t start. There’s always another race and the one I’m in isn’t worth the risk of turning ashen white and blowing a week of training or worse.

I doubt anyone wants to hear this much detail about what I’m dealing with in a season. To me though, it seems like our health and breathing is something we may want to talk about as much as wheels, power meters, and recovery drinks. The handful of us afflicted by asthma locally will continue to just deal with it and talk about it amongst ourselves.

As I wrote earlier about this season, starting the race is as important as finishing it. Anticipating I was symptomatic, I didn’t register on Sunday until after the warm up test. I know of only two reasons not to start an already registered-for race: medical reasons and then those other medical reasons, where dopers don’t start because they don’t want to pee in the cup, like at nationals.

If there’s no doping control, no promoter should ever call you out for not starting or try to embarrass you for a decision based on your health.

And today I’m breathing just fine.

Endure: Ballet in the Mud

snow

Cross Natz last year

In the Cyclocross community, CX Nats was legend. Tales of the conditions, the suffering, and the failure of equipment are still being talked about. Chandler called me from the course and I insisted he write down what he was saying about disc brakes failing in the silty mud. He did and I posted it as A Fistful of Disc Brakes.

Next week a book about the race is being published with the proceeds benefiting the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation. The book includes interviews with Katie Compton, Tim Johnson, and this quote from Don Myrah, a reigning cyclocross Master’s world champion and 1996 Atlanta Olympic mountain bike racer…

Cyclocross has always been my favorite discipline of cycling. It’s racing in its truest form: rugged, elbow to elbow and the strongest guy usually wins. At the end of my pro career I had stopped riding for about ten years, busy with the job, kids and life. It was cyclocross that got me back riding again. I enjoy the unpredictable nature of the sport and the fact that you feel like you’re racing for the full hour.

I raced with Don at CX Worlds in Louisville in equally nasty conditions. I wrote about that race here and for Wired.

Pre-order Endure: Ballet in the Mud for $35.00. Next week in Madison, WI, the book launches. Here’s a making of video about it.


Being a Starter

a Fall bike ride with the Davidson D-Plus and Novara Trenta

It was a thin liner and thick shell or thick liner and thin shell day. Daily ride decisions to make in the Pacific Northwest when the leaves are falling, the mornings are foggy, and the perma-gray sky blankets the Sound. While everyone else raced Cross at Magnuson Park including Mark V, I rode 3 hours with Gluckman on the Mercer Island Loop. The first two hours were spent waiting for my embro’d legs to feel good after racing at St. Edwards Park the day before – they were blown and so was I.

Mark V

After this race, Mark drunk texted me about tire pressure, “on a rough course I usually bottom out twice.” Photo: Woodinville Bicycles

I arrived 2 hours early for the start of the Crosstoberfest Masters Elite race. Plenty of time, ‘cept the race start had moved up 2 hours and I didn’t get that important memo. Last week’s teachable moment in Cross was finish the f’ing race. This week it’s start the f’ing race. Even if you arrive as it’s staging and your warmup consists of the promoter pinning a number on your back. Then on lap one you stop for a single track nature break cause you properly hydrated all morning. To those watching the race, yep I was off the back in the first course-tape chicane and doing that to not blow and dropout or ride off the course into the woods.

After getting caught by Russie who passed me again later to win, I started doing more than pedaling and tried to put in an effort worthy of the field. Not a moment of that felt good, but I finished intact and last.

Props to those that encouraged me on Saturday including Matt Hill who insisted I start, Russie who said, “yeah it’s go time” and Lori who added, “good to have you out here regardless of the start time.” It was good to be out there, even if it didn’t go quite according to plan. Noticing how frustrated I was post race, Russie also said, “hey say something positive.”

He’s right, so I wrote this story. Oh and Sunday’s decision was a thick merino wool liner with a Gore ActiveShell and once my legs opened up, I hit it a bit for the Mercer sprints, hoping they’ll feel good next weekend for another Cross race.

Being a Finisher

WIll

Masters Elite category racer fighting for traction on the greasy wooded section of last Sunday’s Tacchino CX race in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Race #3 of the MABRA Super 8 Series. Photo: Broken Spoke Photography

Reading Will’s Facebook status about a race, how he’s racing Masters Elite and finished last – a working man, privateer, like me out racing Cross – I asked him for the rest of the story. In Seattle, I also didn’t have a good race last weekend, but finished it ahead of 3 DNFs. Back after a two week break, to a mud-grass course I thought, “Perfect to ride my own controlled pace!”

The mud-grass bog had a different, soul-sucking plan.

As Russie who won described it, “Take the Vegas grass crit course, let it grow about 2’ long, mow it, then water it for 2 days, then race on it. That was this course, hard. If you didn’t have the umpf in the legs you were dead in the water.”

I had no umpf, but was determined to finish, with my head up, treading water in the Masters Elites. Why? For the same reasons Will writes about below and cause I love the sport, participating in it, and finishing like he did. Despite, at times, feeling like everything is working against us.

Later, as friends were uploading their “my awesome race photos” to Facebook on Monday, Matt Hill from Crossports said, “Your job was to finish the f-ing race, period. Mission accomplished.”

Right! And I’ll race again this weekend.

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