29 January 2006

SCCCC Peak Season CX #3 Watsonville

Category:35+ B
Field: 8
Place: 6
Teammates: None
Friendly rivals: Travis in B's.
I had issues with my PowerTap harness from a little easy ride on Friday so I just swapped it out with a different one I had lying around. After I took off the defective one it worked fine, go figure. I thought the average power number was pretty anemic even considering the ten percent running not included. But then I checked the race data for when I did the same course in November when it was dry and that is about fifteen percent lower so at least I was able to push myself harder this time.
Rained the prior day and night so course was mucky. Not as much shoe sucking mud as last time, though. Those wimps at CX worlds had a much tidier course. :) I rode really hard for a bit with the outcasts from LGBRC on Saturday so wasn't sure how my legs would respond today. Set up the Kelly with Hutchinson 30mm 55 psi front and back and the Litespeed with the Ritchey 35mm Excavaders at 52 psi front and back. This felt good enough on my half lap reconnaisance of the course - did not feel like washing the bike any more before the race so warmed up on the ample pavement around the course. Since last week I forgot to put on the heart rate strap the first thing I did in my race prep was put on the heart rate strap.

This time we would be doing the big runup and it was a tough slog since there the mud was formed into little steps by prior races, yet still malleable to forming new ones or sliding away. At the start I tried to not go out super hard for a change and still managed to hold my position firmly at the back of the pack. The two SCCCC guys that I was duking it out with at the last race were with me for the first two laps. Most of the course was the same as the US GP of cross race in November. The mud made it much easier for me to make a decision on trying to ride or run tougher technical sections - I ran almost all of them. Probably due to this I had one of my better races on technical issues and did not crash once, yay!, as I was prepared to dismount every time I dismounted, plus it's surprising how much difference lower profile tires make in remounting. I also did not brake on the big descent - is that due to the slower speeds in the mud? The mud was very wet peanut butter like on the section parallel to the chain link fence, but at least it did not smell of a stable as the wet peanut butter mud next to the stables did. Instead of going all out on the runup and passing people like I did in November I took lots of tiny steps just to maintain position, like Darrel, and found I had a lot more for the on the bike portions of the race. One of the key technical sections was : a three foot high pile of leaves. At one point in the race a one of the SCCCC riders in front of me lost it there and blocked the rider behind him, I decided to run over high point instead of the race groove lower in the pile and never saw those riders again. No major issues with my frankenstein bike, some minor shifting problems but this was again due to all the space between the cogs and inside the chain links filling with mud. The Excavaders were pretty good for the mud slog - enough knobs for traction and they cleaned themselves pretty well once I got out of the muddy sections. After my 40 minute cleaning of the two bikes I rode the Litespeed on some of the flattest roads I have ever ridden in California and it felt like I was riding a new bike.

22 January 2006

SCCCC Peak Season CX #2 Watsonville

Teammates - none
Friendly rivals - Paul in 35+B, Andrew in the 35+B (had mechanical so he missed the C's), David and Travis in the B's.

This time I remembered to check the weather report for Watsonville during the week and it rained so I switched to the 35mm Ritchey Excavaders with 50 psi in the rear and 55 psi in the front( these measure more like 30mm ). These worked pretty well - no clogging of the fork and only some minor issues in back near the bottom bracket. The tread seemed to collect a lot of mud which would come out on the long pavement sections but not sure what would be better - the traction provided by the tread was much needed during the mud bogs. Put on two layers on top with arm warmers and knee warmers to get comfortable. Rode a lap on the course and found the quality of mud this time to be different - sticky but not as tacky as last week and very stinky since it rained on Thursday and festered for three days. No big runup but the degradation of the soil made much of the course a grind in mud with many ruts to negotiate. Took off the knee warmers because they would get covered in mud anyways so it was going to be pointless to wear them. About 3/4 of the section by the chain link fence in past races was two to four inches deep in mud with fetid water pools and the same goes for the zig zag around the stables. A much different course than last week without the big run up. I forgot to put on my chest strap for the heart rate data. The Powertap stopped detecting data after three laps. Then it started working again for the last half lap. This happens at about the 50:30 mark. I think I am missing two laps of data. I put in a big sprint (for me) at the end because I saw someone on the course ahead of me on the final straight but he was just warming up. :(
I still need to work on not slowing down so much for a high speed dismount. The faucet on the building with the bathrooms is only hot water. Cleaning the bike afterward I found the chainrings/cogs/derraileurs jammed with mud and it looks like the pulleys are getting worn out from all the abrasion from the mud.

35+ B
P avg : 201
S: 12.2 ( this is close to accurate since I used smaller tires...)

15 January 2006

SCCCC Peak CX #1 Watsonville

Sunny, cool enough for arm warmers, too hot for knee warmers, heavy rain on prior day

35+ B 7/11

Teammates: Michael Schaller in 35+B
Friendly rivals: Wayne in 45+B, David, Travis in B

Course ranged from pavement to rocky access road to tacky mud to clay mud. I had forgotten how bad the mud can get at Watsonville so had the really fat 42 Ritchey tires on the Litespeed and the 35 Ritchey tires on the Kelly and should have put narrower tires on the Litespeed. Oh well. The nice thing about the fat tires was that the slowly hardening mud would form ruts from prior laps so that the fatter tire rolled over these easily. When I had to switch bikes, the handling was noticeably trickier as one had to be careful to not deviate from the ruts as this required a lot of manhandling of the handlebars to maintain forward momentum, but at least the clean bike with skinny tires was about five pounds lighter. This course did not have the steeper long run up ala Surf City but it did have the run up from the creekside road. This got worse as our race went on such that if one rode all the way to the base of the run up one's tires got clogged with mud. It became better to just run from farther and farther out as the race went on, and this made an already long runup really painful. I had to swap bikes in the fourth lap so no power for the last lap. For some reason at first the chain would move from the big ring to the small ring, and then on the lap when I gave up on the bike, the chain would move from my small ring entirely off the crank which is visible in the noticeably lower surges in the recorded part of that lap. (When I cleaned my bike every place that could hold mud was mucky, the area between the chain rings and between the chainring and the crank arm and the area between the cogs in the rear and the rear derailleur pulleys were filled with mud.) This inability to pedal much was really bad because there were very few places where one would coast as the mud was so thick in places that one would stop moving if one could not pedal. On the plus side I only had minor issues with clipping in with the Candy Eggbeaters (had to step down harder to force the mud out) as others notably had to actually stop to get clipped in with other pedals. Also did not have a problem with mud buildup around the tires/frame/brakes until the lap when conditions changed so much on the runup that I rode too far in the leadup to it before I realized my mistake and had to spend 1/2 a lap just getting rid of that mud that collected in about twenty yards of riding. Cleaning both bikes and the shoes afterwards took about as long as the race, but at least they had running water for this.
M:71 kg

08 January 2006

CCCX #6 Fort Ord, East Garrison 8 January 2006

Teammates: Dino and Bill in 45B, Mike in 35B, Darrel and Steve in 35A
Friendly competitors: Benoit, Murray and Mark in 35B, David in B's
15/20 ( I know I finished about one bike length behind Benoit and at least one rider dnf)
Course was in really good shape considering all the rain but it's sandy so it holds up really well. Fastest race this year for me which is odd considering it seemed somewhat hilly. The hills were really short so it was possible for me to get into a good rhythm, and the semi-corkscrew descent was a lot of fun. My dismount skills were a bit rusty. There were three logs of different sizes that were bunny hoppable but at the speed I would jump them it would have been faster to run.

M: 69kg
S: 13.0