cyclofiend.com - peripheral thoughts & notes

June 2024
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Cop-Out Post
Filed under: general, cyclocross, video, interwebbishness
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:41 am

Oh, heck.  I’ve been writing a short blog post about cranks which seems to be expanding like the blob.  Since it’s still not done, here’s something someone else did that made me spit coffee on my screen -

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Events of Note
Filed under: general, rides, cyclocross, rivendelica
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:53 am

Had that realization last week as I rode home from work - it wasn’t that late and the sun wasn’t hitting the roadway any longer.  Time to bring the aged NiteRider out of the closet and make sure that it still works. Then the other morning, as the dog and I worked our way around the block, came the breeze with a bit of bite.  In other words, the first true breath of fall.

Which is not a bad thing, certainly. Despite the layers of HVAC climate-controlled workplaces and the fact we seem able to buy spring fruit year round, the seasons still manage to create the urgency that stems from far simpler times. The nights edge out a little longer and we realize what a gift warm sunlight actually is.

It also means that otherwise normal - ok, that may be a bit of a stretch - people are donning dresses and tearing around the trails in preparation for cyclocross season.  This is as much a sign of the season as anything.  Dried, brown grass, dust in the air and sparkly feathered boas…  such is Fall in the SF Bay Area.

Pilarcitos/BASP, SRCX, Surf City, LARDP…all on the schedule (even though it says “2008″) for your perusement. And more at the NCNCA cyclocross pages.

But, one of the cooler things manifested quickly yesterday on the RBW Owners Bunch List - a Rivendell and Friends Ride to take place on Sunday, October 18th.  The specifics can be found here.

Event: NorCal™ Rivendell Ride
Date: Sunday, October 18

Start: Golden Gate bridge, south toll plaza lot
Time: 9:00am
Distance: 75 miles or so

(just the part to Pt. Reyes Station and back on these documents)
map: http://sfrandonneurs.org/assets/downloads/200kmap.pdf
cue sheet: http://sfrandonneurs.org/assets/downloads/200kcuesheet.pdf

See the cue sheet and map, which contains an elevation profile. It’s
an out-and-back, so if you don’t want to do the whole thing, it’s easy
to turn back at any point.  Nicely maintained gravel is an option for
a small bit of this ride.

This, of course is taking place the day after the Lion of Fairfax, which it seems my schedule will allow this year.  Yay! So, I plan on being good and sore for at least the beginning and end of the Rivendell Ride.

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CXSR Video Now Up
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:40 pm

JimG took the vid-cam in hand and logged some impressive footage of the Men’s B Race in Doyle Park up in Santa Rosa.

CX Santa Rosa - Doyle Park - 2/14/09 from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

The still photos are here:
Mine (a paltry few)

Many of which were referenced in the writeup.

CXSR Results Posted
Filed under: cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:04 am

The Bikemonkey.net folks have posted the results from the CXSR Race at Doyle Park back on 2/14/09.


They seem determined to award the Singlespeed division Golden Chainring to Paul P., even though their own notes on race day indicate otherwise.  And, I do recall nicking him on the last lap.

It’s interesting to compare how course conditions degraded during the day.  I was averaging 5:36/lap on the singlespeed, and then 7:18/lap in the geared, old-guys division. Of course, my conditions degraded pretty extensively, too. (And I haven’t checked their math, either.) (And I can’t figure out why our first lap, which was not a full circuit, took longer than our second lap, which was.) (Nor can I determine how the one guy who finished a couple ahead of me managed to turn in a 5:04 first lap, which was significantly faster than anything turned.) (And, of course, the whole idea of “Average Lap Time” is pretty skewed, as with the shorter first lap, that made everyone look a bit faster.)

Because I was not smart enough to get passed by the leader at the right time, it looks like I was last man on the course - rolled around through the mud for just shy of an hour.

That explains why I was having trouble with the whole time-space continuim thing after the race.

Video is almost ready.  Did the final edit last night and now just deciding if music adds to the experience…  Stay tuned!

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A Cleverly Delusional Idea
Filed under: photos, cyclocross, video, rivendelica
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:57 am

This bit of the story continues from here.

After peeling my muddy, soaked gear off and slipping into something at least dry, I wandered out to find the gang. JimG had brought brownies, and between those and a quick slug of strong and hot coffee from the thermos, I continued to feel pretty warm and upbeat.  The folks up in Santa Rosa put on a right fine and homey show.  At one tent, bags of free pretzels  were in attendance. Others had food, beer and coffee offerings.  Fundraising raffles and the BikeMonkey magazine folks. An exuberant marching band (the Hubbub Club) arrived to regale us with tunes. A couple of beautiful weimaraners and a puppy or two hung out, wondering both about all the complex smells about and the sanity of their owners for bringing them along on a sloppy day.

It felt like I was surfing a bit of the post-race elation, but as the capillaries began to constrict again, the cold and damp seeped in a little bit. After a quick facilities check, it seemed to make sense to sit for a spell and see if there was any reason to think that racing again was a good idea. I regained the motor vehicle, wrapped some jackets over myself and sipped my way through the Clif electrolyte beverage. When mixing it that morning, I realized that I had bought a “Hot Apple Cider” which the instructions specifically said was to be made hot - the implication of a glowingly warm drink being a friendly recharge.  Ignoring those instructions, I had made it with cold water - it isn’t like I had a large enough thermos to maintain another hot beverage anyway.  Still, it was pretty good, and the chemical compounds seemed to do their thing.

Somewhere out on the other side of the front windshield, the women’s wave went off.  A few of the fast folks I recognized from the BASP races moved out to the front, the thickening mud making progress iffy and soiling the pink-and-flowereed Sheila Moon racing kits that were in attendance.  Singlespeeds, A’s and B’s were all out in a 45 minute race. Whoever was off the front moved through the conditions with an amazing momentum and fluidity. But, her dark jersey quickly became mud-sodden, so by the time she went by, I couldn’t pick out any logos (and as of right now, they still haven’t posted results on the Bikemonkey.net site).

By this point, I had maybe an hour and half until the Old Guy Geared race at 2:30. I had two thoughts on the subject. One, I didn’t feel totally torched by the first race, and in fact had felt a little better towards the end of it.  Two, I have a pathological dislike for racing/riding for less time than it takes to get to the race/ride. At this point, I’d  gone for about 15 minutes less than it took to get there (well, if you discount the warm-up riding).

Stepping back out into the day, I made my way down to the signup tent, and inquired what one had to do if one was so idiotic as to want to take the organizers up on the offer to engage in the free second race. Unfortunately, the Human Services Officer was down at the beer tent, heckling the women’s racers, so there was no one to engage in an intervention.  Thus, the sign-up folks were all too happy to give me a second number, and transfer my information to the next start sheet.  At the same time, I met a fellow who was also older and multi-geared.  We chatted a bit, and I mentioned that I’d done the singlespeed race earlier.  He said, “Oh man, I did that earlier this season.  It was a great workout, but it hurt!

Somewhere behind me, there was the of sound a large and heavy door swing shut on rusted ancient hinges, closing with a resonant echo that dissolved into eerie silence.

Oh.  Goodie.

Since commitment to a stupid idea is often key, I decided to change  back into a more cycling-oriented attire before completely losing my nerve.  Luckily, I had a backup set of dry clothes, so there was not the chilling sensation of damp and muddy chamois contact.  About this time, it struck me that the C. Xavier Hilsen was shod with my older, much more worn set of tires.  If any course conditions cried for every bit of tire surface area and knibbly bite-ability, this was it. Conditions continued to degrade visibly as the other race laps continued.

This was during the women’s race -

Hemming and hawing a bit, time suddenly seemed much shorter, and the reappearance of JimG was highly fortuitous.  He dove into the task of swapping my muddy front tire from the Quickbeam over to the Hilsen.   Quicker than I could hand him levers and a pump, the newer tread was in place, and there was pretty much nothing left to do but race.


I pedaled around a little bit, found a Honey Stinger Gu-analog in my pocket and fired that down for whatever good it might do.  Then lined up in the wave of guys who were old enough to know better.  Putting my foot down as we waited for instructions, it seemed to set very deeply into the mud. There was no longer any grass left to speak of. When I picked my foot up for a second, the attached mud made it appreciably heavier. Of course, once you are out there with a number pinned to your side, you have pretty much traded away any opportunity to slink unnoticed back to the car.

An electric guitar version of the star-spangled banner played, and then the young pup B’s headed out. A minute or so later, we dug in and saddled up. Things felt a little clunky at the start, and it seemed as though my swapped-in-from-the-MB1 WTB saddle was a trifle too high.  Beginner’s error, but no time to mess with it. 

Actually.  Honestly.  The “beginner’s error” in this race was bothering to bring a bike with gears.  For the next 45 minutes or so, there was no chance of spinning out the Quickbeam, and although the C. X. Hilsen would’ve gotten jealous, I think it secretly would have been very happy to stay in the back of the dry vehicle. Plus, there would have been a few less surfaces to pile on mud.

I suppose for the first 15 minutes or so, things didn’t really feel that bad.  Slipped, slid and slogged a bit, to be sure, but nothing really horrible.  Then I noticed that the mud seemed to be packing up a bit. Then a bit more. The bike began to get noticeably heavy.  Then my body began to get noticeably heavy.  The bicycle had an excuse, as it was adding mud that I couldn’t manage to shed through momentum, the odd bunny hop or simply dropping the bike hard after shouldering it. The race became a bit of a slog.

They say when you’re head is down, you’re in a bit of trouble.  In the above photo, you’ll notice that if my head were any further down, it would start going up.  I must point out though, in this small sized image of Gino’s photo, it appears as though my eyes are closed too.  They weren’t.  I mean, it wasn’t that bad.

The course continued to dish out its challenges.  The intended directional input seemed to matter less and less with each lap.  Each time down the creek dip brought with it new and interesting explorations of geometry.  I think I manged to stay upright most of the times, but it wasn’t pretty and the tangential angle began earlier each time. The runups were, well…runups.  In the singlespeed race, I’d managed to pedal up some of the time, but now the power had seeped out of my legs and it became a game of trying to ride the momentum to the moment of inertial loss, then hop off and try to find some angle of toe entry or foot splaying that would generate something resembling grip.

I think I cursed once.  Well, I know I did.  But, I did apologize.

However low optimism set in the west, somewhere through the mud-soaked haze I could hear Gino and JimG yelling.  At some point, Gino ran alongside for a while (well, let’s be honest here - he trotted… Ok…he at least walked briskly…) barking encouragement and snapping a few photos. I don’t think I thanked him enough afterwards - it was actually quite helpful.

The short stair runup became a weird thing to fear each lap, but the tactile sensation became quite loathesome.  As it was the one place to be shouldering the bike, I would grab the downtube.  Each time, there was a thick, cold hunk of mud which would form into my glove, creating one of those weird, finger imprint shapes that was popular on golf club handles for a while.

The announcer took up some of the heckling as well, as I would generally go by with few, if any competitors around. At one point, I guess he figured out this was my second race, and offered the observation that it must’ve seemed like a good idea at the time. Only, he again mined that for all the humor it was worth.

Yep.  Like I didn’t think of that, myself.

Anyway, it eventually ended.

I pedaled off into the sunset following the guy I never quite caught, chatted with him for a little bit while my breathing normalized. Then the gang caught up to me and the documentation ensued.

That, my friends, is one muddy bike.  I guess it kinda gives away the fact that I didn’t use the big ring too much during the race. But, it was over.

We hung for a while watching the A’s go past.  The rain which I’d prayed for during my race finally came.  I used up 8 or 10 water bottles to try to knock off enough mud to load it onto the roof rack. JimG was kind enough to offer the use of the shower at his hotel room. Gino was resourceful enough to notice a stray hose outside the same hotel and I got to play euro-trash bike racer and hose everything off near the front entrance. 

We rested a bit, and then headed up to Healdsburg, where aside from a tippy table dropping a pint or so of someone elsee’s beer onto my lap, it continued to be a great evening. Bear Republic serves a great root beer and ale, some darned fine polenta and one of the zippiest concoctions of garlic fries you are likely to come across.

The company was off-the-charts great, and it was wonderful to cross the streams - introducing the Bay Areans and Chico Hooligans forged friendships which should continue to grow in future rides and outings.

Rumor has it that we may all head to the next CX Nats up in Bend, Oregon in December. Word.  (Um… do the kids still say that?)

Video now posted here.

Slip-Slidin’ Saturday
Filed under: photos, cyclocross, rivendelica
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:15 pm

As mentioned here a few times, the Chico Hooligans had planned an offensive to the south, and showed up in force minus one for the Last CX Race of Last Season, put on last Saturday (2/14/09) in Santa Rosa by the enterprising folks at BikeMonkey.net.  I hadn’t toed the line or thought about time and place based racing since BASP #4 back in November. (Scheduling conflicts had prevented a full-season attendance, causing me to miss the race at Coyote Point.)  But, as any cross-junkie will tell you, once you start thinking about barriers, run ups and lap cards, the twitch sets in and you’ve gotta get your fix.

The good stuff, y’know - the uncut, pure cyclocross fix - always has some weather mixed in.

Oh sure, we had a little residual mud down at the Candlestick Park race.  But, for the most part, the most pressing question about the weather was where to toss your arm warmers before your race, so you could find them again afterwards.

It started raining mid-week or so. Big, heavy drops with serious intent. Our sump pump kicked on for the first time in months, it seemed.  Then, it just kind of kept raining.  And (for  us) it was a relatively cold rain - snow levels were said to be below 2,000 feet.  Though we probably wouldn’t see flurries, it would certainly be damp.

Chico Gino had come across a Vanilla Singlespeed CX bike through an incredibly serendipitous chain of events. So, he had entered in the B Singlespeed division.  I decided that would be a fun way to spend the day, so on Friday night, I swapped, flipped and stripped the Quickbeam, and made it ready to race.  The Hilsen was still in C. Xavier Hilsen mode, and since the second race was free, I brought it along just in case I was stupid enough to do the Geared, Old-Guys race.

On race day, my wife was feeling a little less-than-perfect, not buoyed by the possibility of either (A) standing in the rain watching us race or (B) sitting in the car trying to stay warm. Against her strong protestations, I made her sit this one out and headed north with a loaded car. Which should explain the dearth of photos for this event.

It rained most of the way to the Sonoma county border, then cleared to a low cloud cover, with some heavy dark clouds still threatening to the west. I got to turn off my wipers, but the steady hiss of tires on wet pavement continued to the race venue - Doyle Park in Santa Rosa. I’d never been to that particular park before, arrived at the wrong parking lot, corrected and pulled off a ridiculously fine bit of parking karma to snag a place facing the course. Exiting the vehicle, an orange and metal-fendered bicycle eased along at the edge of my vision.  This turned out to be Claire, Gino’s wife, who had ridden over from the hotel and was tracking down the rest of the gang. They appeared quickly, and I met Paul P., Roy and Renée, who had previously existed only in photos by reputation. Gino was there, and kindly allowed me to fondle and parking lot ride the Vanilla, which was even lighter than I’d imagined and ridiculously nimble-feeling.

Back on the Quickbeam, I plodded around the course to find and deconstruct the tricky bits, figured conditions would degrade quickly once tires began removing the sod, and opted for trying to get my heart rate up on the paved roads around the park.

Before too long, we all lined up on the squishy wet grass and awaited the start. As B Singlespeeders, we were looking at a 30 minute race, and had to wait for the Men’s C wave to start before they released us.  Someone had observed that the lawn had no idea what was about to happen to it.

Then we were racin’!

Gino hit the gas, his BMX-roots still vibrant and fertile.  I slip-slopped a bit on the grass before beginning to thread my way through all manner of Junior B’s and C’s that started with us. They routed us on a “follow-the-concrete” parade lap to begin, and within a minute or two, we came upon a herd of brake-squealing, momentum-killing, oh-we-have-to-ride-this? folks in the C’s.

Now, I bear no animosity towards the C’s.  And it wasn’t like a title or a jersey was on the line. And, to be blunt, it wasn’t like I was going to win or anything. And it isn’t like I haven’t hit the brakes at an inopportune moment and heard the gasp of exasperation from a faster rider who had been behind me.  But, there were obviously four relatively tricky bits on the course, and I  had at least made a plan on what I wanted to do. 

Just to break with the race narrative briefly, here is some unsolicited advice to any new or novice cross (or mtb) riders -

Y’know that “perfect” line you rode during your practice lap? (You did ride a practice lap or two, right?)  It will not exist for you.  Sure, it’s nice to have a sense of where you’d like to be, but for the first lap or so, you need to realize that every other person in your group wants to ride the exact same slice of  topography in pretty much the same way.  This will lead to everyone in front of you hitting their brakes, and, in the most egregious circumstances, standing stock still astride their bikes until they get their chance to ride “their” line. Now, remember, the course exists from tape to tape, not just the smoothed line that you rode earlier. So, when you come across a tricky bit during the early parts of the race, assume two things: (A) someone will be stopped and standing right in the middle of where you planned on riding, and (B) someone will have fallen and will be lying directly in your exit line.  In fact, it’s  probably best to assume that you will need to get through the section by following The Worst Line Imaginable. Therefore, when you engage in your practice lap, see what alternatives you can find.

Oh, and during the race, it’s ok to pick your bike up and run past people who are just standing there. As long as you don’t hit them, hook bars with them or yell at them.

Dropped in, scrambled up, brought a tree with me, detached it and remounted.  Then we were into the “intestine” section - multiple right/left switchbacks among trees with incredibly short straights between - a course feature which I really hate to encounter on a singlespeed, when you are among geared riders, as they are twiddling in too low of a gear and you end doing a fair amount of half-stroke, half-stroke, half-stroke then trackstand work.  This was exacerbated by the quickly degrading surface of the grass, which began to turn into a chili-type mud beneath our tires. 

Still Gino was nearby -

and I thought I saw the white Rock Lobster singlespeed that Paul was riding.

We worked our way out of the intestines (?!), found the only serious straightaway which led across a couple of curbs and into a broader set of switchbacks in front of the announcer and the tents. To keep interest up, the announcer was openly heckling us, and seemed to be mining the “keep-both-hands-on-that-Vanilla!” vein at Gino to humorous effect. Another switchback in front of the crowd, two barriers (a little higher than most and built to what appeared to be Mil-Spec) and another switchback, and we were heading towards the creek.

Gino shot by the other way, a vision of momentum and grace.  I fell in with another group picking its way to the creek area. Luckily this batch had a little better sense of purpose, and we brought some speed into the drop in, which curved left and immediately climbed back  up. 

Well, theoretically.  I found myself on a slide-for-life on a tangent to my preferred route.  Slid for a while on shoulder and hip toward the water, came to a stop, got untangled and scrambled up the muddy bank. Dropped in on the next dip, came upon a bottleneck as the narrow trail constricted to a narrower set of concrete stairs.  This was thoughtfully covered in sand, and had a 3″ steel pipe as a handrail at hip height, so you bang against it to constrain any course deviation.  The sand, as it turned out, was a feature for the next ten or fifteen yards or so, bringing one of the endearing features of Dutch cyclocross to our fair lands.

We arched around the playground, found the sand once more and then bumped up a curb and down off some concrete edge to the creek again, looped around and came up.  At this point, I realized my bars had been tweaked by the unscheduled landing, so I hopped off and twisted them back.  The Quickbeam began to wonder just what it had done to deserve this kind of treatment.  Back on again, we hit brief pavement, then headed to the fourth creek dip, which had been the first tricky bit on the first lap. 

From here on, it was back to the maddeningly-slow-intestine-bit, followed by the why-don’t-I-have-any-power straight section, then the yeah-just-keep-heckling-monkey-boy bit, the sloppy  running-the-barriers-is-supremely-uncomfortable
-but-for-some-reason-it-feels-better-than-pushing-pedals part, before repeating the creek dips. After the first lap or two, I was feeling pretty crappy. The mud was thickening and momentum was fleeting.

Then it started raining. Which you might think was a bad thing.  But, you’d be wrong.

First, I’m one of those people that actually enjoys riding in the rain. Second, it made things wet rather than just gloopy, and the mud stopped sticking. In fact, it was downright refreshing.

As further support for the Kent Peterson mantra “Keep pedaling, it will get better”, I did.  It did. And I commenced to start catching people. There was a Legolas guy out there, and I nicked by Paul (though I had to resort to making clanky derailleur sounds  to fake him out), and some other folks.  I did have to wonder how much some of those full suspension mountain bikes were starting to weigh by the last couple laps. 

The C race leader caught me in the last curve, and so I got a free pass on the last lap.  The fast kids like Gino had to finish theirs out. This was a cause for much rejoicing.

Gino finished shortly thereafter, just off the podium.  Nicked by someone who went on to win her “A” singlespeed race.

The singlespeed force is strong in this one…

I spent a little time trying to knock the big chunks of muck off the Quickbeam, then sat for a spell. I don’t know if it was the new-to-me Clif electrolyte drink that I quaffed, or just the exuberance of escaping from a shorter race with fingers, toes and teeth attached, but, while the more sensible folks were donning warmer clothing and enjoying the ambience…

… an altogether much less clever idea was forming in my brain.

This story continues here…..

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Filed under: photos, bike tech, cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:28 pm



And we’re ready as we’re gonna be for tomorrow’s little cross shindig up in Santa Rosa. I let Gino talk me into doing the B-Singlespeed.  Short race, but fast youngsters. If I don’t decide to play lame afterwards, the second race is free, so maybe I’ll get the Hilsen muddy, too. Depends how nasty things are out there after showers all week.

And, of course, how nasty I feel…

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sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!
Filed under: cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:30 am

This holds some promise:
LOS ANGELES ˆ January 28, 2009 ˆ UniversalSports.com, in conjunction with International Cycling Union (UCI), presents same day webcast coverage of the Cyclocross World Championships this Sunday from Hoogerheide, Netherlands.

COVERAGE UNIVERSALSPORTS.COM:  UniversalSports.com will post the elite men’s and women’s races same day for video on-demand viewing.  Coverage only available in USA.

CROSSVEGAS ON UNIVERSAL SPORTS:  Universal Sports, available in 30 million homes, will present encore presentations of CrossVegas on Friday, Jan. 30 at 11:30 a.m. ET and Saturday, Jan. 31 at 6 a.m. ET.
CYCLING CONTENT ON UNIVERSALSPORTS.COM: In addition, fans can visit the cycling section on UniversalSports.com for updated broadcast schedules (TV and online), news, video highlights, special features, photo
galleries and more.

The direct link to the listing:

A more polite link:

Now, I’ve not tried to use these folks, so there’s no implied or explicit endorsement.  But, Live(ish) Cross Worlds! is too much to resist.

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Thing of Beauty
Filed under: rides, cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:53 am

Nothing like the possibility of tetanus and ingesting motor oil while on the course.  Urban decay never looked so beautiful.  Another reason why Bilenky rocks.

Bilenky Cycle Works Junkyard Cross Race

VIMBY - Bilenky Junk Yard Race

1 comment
GGP A/Singlespeed Cyclocrossing and Apre-CX wear
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 7:10 pm

First off, in between classes and projects last weekend, I finally cobbled together a finished video from the Golden Gate Park cyclocross race which took place on November 30th.  This is the footage from the Men’s A and Singlespeed race, which ran at the same time. Runs about 4:25 and has some music and folks yelling, so don’t get caught if you are checking it from work.

Golden Gate Park Cyclocross - Men’s A & Singlespeed - 11/30/08 from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

Now - once the racing is over, I’m sure someone such as yourself must be asking the following question:

“Ok, Jim.  I’ve duked it out on the course and had a grand old time, but now I’ve changed out of my racing kit and just don’t know what to wear.  I feel a little badly because all I have is my “One Cog - Zero Excuses” T-shirt, but - forgive me for I have lapsed - I raced a multi-gear rig in my division.  Is there anything you know that might be soft and comfy, yet have the graphic trendiness I so highly desire?”

In fact, I do -
The brand-new-from-my-surfin’-screenprinter Cyclocross “More Cowbell” T-shirt.

The color is slightly off in these first photos - the ink is definitely black on both images, and the shirt color is a deep burnt brownish-orange. If you are interested, I’ve got size mediums through 2XL available right now. There’s more detailed images to be found here.

$20 plus $5.25 for Priority Mail Shipping. These can be combined with a calendar for the same shipping price.
(The combined shipping will be calculated/corrected manually until I get these things integrated.)

You can order your shirt by clicking this button, or pop me an email if you want to pay by check or money order.

                            Please                             Select a Size


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Cross Racing At GGP - pt 1
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:27 am

Here’s the footage from the Men’s B 35+/45+ race.  Managed to stay on the winner’s lap this time, which was a moral, if not specific victory.  Also bumped into Morgan in real life, which was fun. Especially since I recognized him after he’d made an unsolicited complimentary comment on the C. Xavier Hilsen.

Cyclocross at Golden Gate Park - 11/30/08 - Men’s B 35+/45+ from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

Music is by the Stairwell Sisters and then Ry Cooder/Manuel Galban. More video to follow - there’s footage from the Men’s A  and Singlespeed race which I’m going through now. Photos are already posted at flickr, though there will be some more added once they are sliced out of the video.

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Untightened Threads
Filed under: general, cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:57 am

Seems like there were lots of little strands that I’d planned to weave into blog gold.  Might be able to salvage some,  but now most look like clippings that need to be whisked into the recycling bin.  Why is that exactly? Well, I’ve had a couple of projects in the works that have been taking precedence.  Which brings us to our first topic:

The main project has been the 2009 Cyclofiend Calendar -
(Cue trumpets)


Right now, I’m awaiting the final, final proof from the printer.  As soon as I see that, they will print the first run for me. I’ll be mailing them out to folks as soon as they arrive. I’m extremely excited about it, actually.  It was a bit of a spur of the moment idea, and things seemed to fall in place nicely.  Individual thanks and congratulations to the selected photographers shall be forthcoming.

What I can point out right now is that each month has a photo from a different bicycle in the Current Classic Gallery. It’s an 11 1/2″ x 17″ wall calendar, with a metal hinge.  Full color photos.  Mmmmmmm-mmmm!

I’ve set up a really simple way to order them - buttons below or just go to http://www.cyclofiend.com/calendar and you’ll find the necesssary buttony goodness to order via Paypal (which will let you pay via credit card if you are not a Paypalian).  If you want to send a check or money order, just zap me an email (cyclofiend over-at cyclofiend dot com).

Oh yeah - they cost $16 each, and I’ll send them within the US for $3.00 First Class Mail.  If you order more than 5, I’ll probably need to nick you a few extra bucks to send ‘em via UPS.  But, if you want to step up and reserve yours today, you can either click on the photo above, or this handy-dandy Paypal-ish button here:                    


Dang, that thing looks awfully official…

Second Project - New T-Shirts
There are also two new pending T-shirts on the way from my surfin’ screenprinter. One is pretty cyclocrossy, and the other one has to do with shifters.  I’ll post some photos as soon as I have them in hand, which hopefully will be this coming week.

Ok, Back to Weaving Straw into Blog Gold…
(That may actually be a registered trademark of Tarik Industries Amalgamated Consolidated Limited, Incorporated, and it concerns me a bit to be using it.  The man wields a large cat. Who knows what else he’s capable of. )

There had been a CX race report in the works, but it probably won’t come to fruition.  Afterall, the next race is this Sunday (and probably my last for this season as I have a scheduling conflict with the Coyote Point race on the 7th of next month.)  I’m firmly of the belief that my focus should remain on the upcoming event.

I’m not actually sure why that would be the case, but it seems like a sports-page-kinda-quote you’d hear in such situations. Anyway.

Last weekend I managed a non-commute, non-short/sharp, non-errand ride.  Took the Quickbeam out in smooth tire mode to get some steady riding in. While heading south, I veered out to include Los Puntas de la San Pedro, which ran right by China Camp. The tug of the trails was strong, so I veered within my veer and rolled over the lower trails. Rolling along and enjoying myself, there was an odd moment of clarity and I realized:

All I Know About Cross Racing I Learned From Riding Fixed Gears Off-Road
The odd moment of clarity came when I set up for the first rocky little off-camber turn on the trail. Started to ease up and level the cranks when they reminded me in no uncertain terms that fixed-gears don’t allow crank leveling.  Or pedal stopping of any kind. So…
1) Keep Pedaling
In Brisbane, I’m not sure that was happening. The freaking course was maze-like, with 180’s and other fancy little double-back turns.  It seems like there were too many moments of, well, if not actual coasting, then at least less commited pedaling. Which seemed to cause the manifestation of the disembodied voice of Tarik, my cx-sensei, encouraging me to
2) Pedal Harder
For some reason - whether it was time of day (late afternoon race), lack of coffee or whatever, I didn’t really get going at the beginning. Never felt the transition from a too-fast-start to the pace-I didn’t-think-I-could-hold. Just kind of went out there and went, things got dusty and hard to breathe.  And it was bumpy. Really bumpy.  Unlike the ride I was currently enjoying on the Quickbeam with the Jack Brown tires at a moderate, rather than rock hard pressure.
3) Tire Pressure is Important, You Dummy
This one I utterly, completely and totally missed at Sierra Point. We’d been hit by a bit of a heat wave during the week before, and the field had baked to a crackly crunch.  The course also made a once-per-lap curb jump from the start-finish to the off road section.  Even though it was padded with sandbags, I was less confident than I should have been in that transition. Combined with my morbid fear of pinch flats (no, I don’t run sewups), I left the pressure jacked way up and didn’t adjust it before race start.  As Spinal Tap once observered, “The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’…”
4) Tire Placement and Commitment is More Important Than Perceived Traction
Catching up to a couple of riders, I chanced to hear them chattering about what kind of tread was really best for the topography we were currently enjoying. It made me realize that I had yet to skid or slip, even though my tires had no tread to speak of. While not advocating that style of adhesion for a cross race, it did cause me to realize that too often, I had moved tentatively through the many turns of the course, not committing with eithe body weight or tire placement.  On the last lap or so, I finally shook off whatever demons were roosting in my innards, and found the fortitude to push it into and through some corners, but had to wonder just what took so danged long.
5) Don’t Kill Any Kittens
And not suprisingly, when you ease up pedaling, the bike slows down.  So there’s no reason to use the brakes.

Of course, you can apply back pressure on a fixed gear, so it started to break down about there, as cross dismounts on a singlespeed are just too mind-messing to consider, and I can’t really figure out how cowbells fit into the Big Picture.  Luckily, that was just about the time I hit the fire road descent to the pavement again.

Hopefully, those lessons will stick in my brain on Sunday, at Golden Gate Park.




Another CX Video - BASP #3
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 1:08 am

Undah Da Lights! Sierra Point Cyclocross from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

This one was fun to put together.  My wife shot the footage (as she did in the previous one as well) during the Men’s B race at Sierra Point.  This was the first race “under the lights”.  Music is from a Calexico song called “Close Behind”, which has an overtly Morricone feel to it and the title seemed to fit.  It runs a little less than 3 minutes.  Enjoy!

Video From Saturday at Sierra Point
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:38 am

Sierra Point Cyclocross - Mens B 35+/45+ from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

Fast and dusty. Well, I ended up dusty and most of the other folks were fast. Short write-up to follow, though it’ll read something like, “and then it got dusty and kinda confusing…”

I’ve also got a video together for the Men’s B race, which took place under the lights.  My wife got some gret footage there.  I’ll get that uploaded this evening.  Gotta run (to work) this AM…

Undah Da Lights!
Filed under: cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:10 am

This is where I’ll be for about 45 minutes or so on Saturday -

Pilarcitos BASP Sierra Point Map - click for full size

Well, that’s certainly a wiggly little thing…

Taking their cue from Athens Twilight Crit and the more recent spate of artificially-illuminated cross races in such cycling hotbeds as Las Vegas, the fine folks at Pilarcitos have shifted around their schedule and are running the fast kids “under the lights!”…

My race’ll go off at that murky, awkward period of 4 pm.  I think it will start in daylight and finish under the lights. I was debating putting my RBW wheel reflectors on, just for giggles.

Should be a freakin’ blast!

1 comment
A Shorter CX Vid
Filed under: general, cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 9:00 pm

First, then, is the second video from the Candlestick Point Park Cyclocross race last Sunday:

Cyclocross Racing At Candlestick Point Park - 2008 from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

This one is shorter and punchier, less epic realism and more documentary.  Just the real grunts, groans and cowbells as they occurred during the tail end of the Men’s Masters A race and then the surge from the Men’s A and Singlespeed races.

I’ve got to stop staying up so late messing with this stuff - ended up outputting about 4 different versions of the thing to try to keep the size down and the quality up.  Learned a bit in the process, hopefully. But, it hurts to see the original, very clean images get scrunched down into something that fits through the intertubes.

Of course, I wouldn’t be staying up so late if I just picked up quickly after word and headed straight home. As it was, I just wanted to head the long way ’round on Wednesday night.  On Tuesday, I’d been glued to the tube, watching the micro-parsing and projections, dead-air filling and conjecture until just after 8 pm.  Watched the speeches, was appalled that the crowds for the conceeding candidate didn’t demonstrate the grace to restrain their booing at the name of Barrack, then found tears in my eyes during the speech that followed from the winner. 

During my admittedly short time here (y’know on the planet), I’ve seldom heard political speeches that spelled out challenges in a way that was deeply inspiring.  It has been seldom that a political figure speaks to an audience as though they are adults.  I found that refreshing and maybe a bit scary - maybe in the way before you start a race.  You know not everything will be easy, and there will be times when you just want to pull up and drift off the course.  But, that’s being written two nights later now, and maybe I’m just trying to draw a tenuous metaphor.

After the high of Tuesday night, I wanted to ponder all of that from the solitude of the road.

Plus the fact I’m superstitious as hell about being in auto traffic during the first week following the Daylight Savings change.  Either folks are up an hour earlier and not adapting well, or they are plunged into darkness before they are ready for it and react badly.

And my indirect route leads me quite away from the main vehicular path. Out past the homes and around the point, beyond street lamps and such.  Little wind meant a calm bay and clearness in the air.  I clicked down the power on the headlight, looked into the darkness and pedaled my way towards hope.

’bout damn time.

comments (0)
Da Vid, Yo.
Filed under: cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 10:28 am

From the Men’s B 35+/45+ race at Bay Area Super Prestige #2, Candlestick Park Point -

CX Candlestick Park - 11/2/08 from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

There’s music, and it ended up running a monsterously long 9:22, so you probably should be careful watching it at work.  Of course, the last minute or two are just gratuitous shots of me trying to get my breath back, rather than actual racing.  Anyway, enjoy!

Oh, and there’s still some footage from the A and Singlespeed race coming.  Look for that in a day or two.

And “Oh” again - looks like rakers over on Flickr snapped a “rock star” (to use beth’s phrase) photo of me big-ringing it home on what I’d figure to be the last lap -

more of raker’s photos here

Another Day, Another Race
Filed under: photos, cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 12:09 am

For a brief, shining moment, possibly on lap three, things felt kinda good - well, not “good” precisely… But, there was a sudden realization  that there were reserves under there somewhere.  Kind of like when you fall into the water when you weren’t expecting it and, weighted down by clothing and the rock specimens you’d decided to put in your pockets, you feel the pressure of the depth, much stronger than you think you’ve ever noticed before.  Then suddenly, your foot hits solid bottom, and for a moment you are relieved that you won’t go any further down.  Of course, this is before you look up and get a sense of how far above you the surface is. 

I actually felt like something akin to “oomph” could be found in my legs. Leaning through curves in the more open parts of the course, most of the squishy, squirmy mud had been steamrolled out of good lines, the bike felt like it wanted to go faster and I actually shifted up and tried to pedal harder.

This didn’t last too long.

But, it was notable for its contrast.

In fact, I’d tend to put cyclocross moments of not-feeling-entirely-crappy in the “win” column. 

For this race, I more or less knew what was coming, but didn’t know exactly what to expect. After gingerly recovering my momentum and hearing following the last race, I’d managed to sneak in a couple hard workouts in the week prior to the second race of the  2008 Bay Area Super Prestige cyclocross series  The rains - real rains - had arrived Thursday afternoon, and stuck around Friday and Saturday.  Instead of a light, pre-race trails & dismounts workout, I spent time cleaning out gutters and getting the sump pump rigged up. 

Other components of my outside-the-box training program included:
- getting a haircut
- buying a pound of Major Dickason’s Blend from Peet’s
- watching “Pure Sweet Hell” on DVD
- carefully reading all the post-race comments which Tarik has shared
- using the extra hour of daylight-saving’s end to sleep.

Sunday morning arrived still cloudy, with stantial puddles throughout the neighborhood. But, there were breaks in the clouds as the sun rose, and the promise was for drying conditions. The big question was “how dry, how quickly?”  A whole lotta water had come down during the previous 48 hours.

The Candlestick Point Park course is pretty good.  It’s sort of going through that awkward adolescent phase, I guess, of being reclaimed and repurposed. Although it’s not in greatest neighborhood, it does have flush toilets and a calming, sweeping vista of the south San Francisco Bay. Um, not from the toilets.  That really should have been two separated thoughts. Anyway. The helpful folk at sign-in took my folding money, confirmed my race number and wished me luck. After easing back to the vehicle and changing into riding duds, the course conditions and profusion of broken glass in the nearby parking lot kept me droning on the trainer to warm up.

I’d gone out on course, but pre-ridden only one lap. We actually had arrived on site early enough that I got out there before the race before mine. (On the BASP races, they allow warmup laps on course between races, only after the first place rider has finished.)  So, theoretically, I could have scooted out again before my race.  But, as I’d discovered, while the rains had made the more open fields to the south end of the circuit a bit smoother, they were quite slippery in places.  I almost dumped it a couple times trying the standard line through the first S-turns. The twistier bits to the north had one thing in common - momentum killing, peanut butter glop. I really didn’t want to do another warmup/recon circuit, as (a) the “good” (less nasty?) line was going to change with each lap and (b) I didn’t really have a way of degunking my bike before the race.

The clock waits for no man, and before I knew it, arm warmers and the extra bits were being doffed, and I headed to the start.  As we sardined in preparation for the call-up, I realized someone was pointing his camera at C. Xavier Hilsen, saying what a nice frame it was.  I hope my mumbled “thanks” was audible. I haven’t yet found the photo, but I know it’s out there…

The fast 10 from the last race got called up, the rest of us rolled in behind them.  A whistle blew and the young pups hit the course, then a second whistle blew and we all threw hesitation to the wind and hit the throttles.

My stated…ok…my intended plan was to go like hell until I felt like hell and then try to hold on after that.  Admittedly, not the most advanced racing strategy, but we’re really in a building period at this point.  I mean, honestly, me going “like hell” has got to include pretty much any speed which can keep the bike upright.  The last race had really been about staying out of everyone’s way and seeing how I felt at about the halfway point.  I never really had that horrible endless period of thinking I was going into shutdown mode, before landing in the “keep pedaling it will get better” life raft, to be pushed towards the finish by the tide of decrementing lap cards.

This time, I wanted to see if I had any upper end - if I could, you know, pedal faster.  Oh, and I wanted to not use my brakes so much.  As my cx-sensei Tarik had pointed out, “every time you touch your brakes, god kills a kitten…”

After Tarik’s admonishment following the McLaren race,
I mentally vowed that no kittens would die on my watch. However, as my
defenses tend to drop a bit during physical exertion,  I may have said
this out loud a couple times whilst racing. So, if you heard someone
behind you raspily intoning, “Kill No Kitten!” or “Dead Kitten BAD!” or
even, “unngh, unngh, kitten must live…”, that was probably me, and I
apologize if it scared you or your children.  But, that was a little later on, I think.  We’re still working our way onto the course.

A brief moment for Course Notes:
The Candlestick Point Park course runs mostly over the open ground in the area.  The area is landfill from the World War II era. While mostly flat, there are a few berms (levee-like earthen walls) in the area. The fine folks at Pilarcitos always make use of the limited topographical changes to create off-camber down/up scrambles, usually involving tight turns.  In fact, I believe the course draws its inspiration from medical illustrations of large intestines.  The contents of which, curiously, has a striking similarity to how one feels while on said course.  And the weather had, in the spirit of Halloween (y’know, kinda like that bowl of eyeballs-which-are-really-grapes in the Haunted House), I reckon, decided to create an analog of said contents, through which we were about to race our bikes. But, I digress.

The course route, which is what I am trying to describe, featured a pair of left turns after the start/finish which jumped over and then back up the lower portions of a berm.  Then it went across open country parrallel, but the opposite directlion from the finishing stretch, looped around to the right and attacked the berm from the other end, gaining the spine, then losing it immediately in a down/up cutback. Dropping down again to the left side, through a lumpy bit of field, it then gained sidewalk for a bit. The sidewalk arced around onto a service road which became open field again, and went through a broad left, then right, then left before aiming at the berm again.  This time, the organizers had set up a double barrier, the second of which was just far enough to the berm to be annoying.  Down off the berm spine, the course (suprise) doubled back and recrossed the berm, spitting you towards a sidewalk. From here you looped through the soggy field and came back around towards the pits. 

The pits sat at the top of another 180-degree turn, at which the industrious organizers had placed the other double barrier set.  The barrier was actually at the flag for the turnaround, so any momentum you might have maintained was effectively killed before the first step. Then it was off and down towards the water, where the fast kids could gas it again and try to ride the runup. Gaining some elevation, things narrowed a bit and then got gloppy, in a succession of loop-arounds, berm-drops, momentum killing mudpits and a pair of sloppy berms before you dropped out onto a dirt service road, turned right, followed it through a couple of twists and demeaningly muddy puddles before hitting pavement, finding the big ring and rolling a long, lazy, paved arc back to the start.

Which, as you recall before this geographic interlude, was where we were…

Now the organizers - bless their hearts - knew that sending waves of amped riders off the start only to make them hang a couple quick lefts could only cause carnage.  So, they had a shortcut for the first lap, letting us go straight from the first turn onto the service road which arced into the open field.  As the mindless bunch headed off the pavement, a couple folks who must not have washing machines in their apartment complexes hit the brakes and considered trying to avoid the first big puddle, which took up about 1/3rd of the muddy service road.  No one went down, and things were tight enough that they couldn’t really have fallen if they tried.

We moved forward, a multi-headed, if single-brained beast. I was favoring the outside for the first curve, as my test lap had provided me with the belief that the outside was probably the best for the first few laps. A lot of folks more familiar with dry condition industrial park criteriums ended up squeezed, sliding and flopping, as they pushed for the “good” lines which had a significantly reduced frictional component from what they were used to.

As things straightened out a few of these fast kids zipped past again, mud marks on shoulders, backs and butts.  We all reached the first barrier set in a goodly group, with some folks deciding to run the whole 180 degree turn and some of us sticking to our plan to hop back on at first berm-top and try to ride the turn and second one. I’d like to apologize to whomever I kicked at this point.  There was someone right in front me too. I think I just got your frame, as it didn’t seem soft and fleshy.  As we came down off the second berm and gained speed on the flat, it felt like I spat out a lot of mud.

Another big curve with me in lane 8. Slip-sliding on the inside and I made up some cheap places again. We all worked our way up towards the second set of barriers.  I was suprised how little momentum I was able to carry into the running parts.  Mostly I was remembering the curse of this course - it’s a total momentum suck. Even when dry, the bumpy ground  makes it difficult to maintain speed.  On a day like this, the tires felt glued to the ground.

But, at least it seemed to be affecting almost everyone in my bunch the same way. 

Right now, while writing this, I cannot recall for sure whether I dropped my chain on the first or second lap.  I know it happened at the top of the runup.  Everyone immediately ahead of me had elected to run the pitch, and the surface looked like someone had run a team of horses up it - nothing but footprints stomped into the mud. I pretty clearly remember gliding up at least the bottom third before bailing out and starting to run.  I’m also pretty sure at that point, it must have looked like a Roadrunner cartoon, when Wyle E. Coyote is scrambling out from under a large falling rock, after leaving a large patch of grease for the Roadrunner to slip on. You’ve seen it.  All legs and no movement. After somehow cresting out, I hopped back on to find, once again, all legs and no movement.

I can remember looking down and seeing the shadow of my chain dangling down off the front chainrings, my feet continuing to spin even as my brain told them to stop, and the shadow of C. Xavier Hilsen ceasing to move.  But I cannot for the life of me remember which lap it happened on.  I’m going to guess the first, as there were lots of people around me still.  Running forward, I found a wide spot and tried to effect repairs without impeding other riders or running into them. It’s amazing how complex something simple can seem when you are in serious oxygen debt. Somehow I got things positioned and re-entered the stream without  cutting anyone off.

From there things got goopy.  (Here and here are some of BiciGirl’s photos from that part of the course, from I think about that time of the day.) I stuck to my outside line on the worst part, which seemed to catch me up to a couple of folks.  There was a fair amount of stopping and cursing among the other riders. The hardest part was during those brittle moments when you found momentum, you also found that the rider in front of you had lost his.  At one point (on a later lap, I think) someone yelled “Go! Go! Go!” from behind me as I slipped out and stalled.  I tell ya, I would’ve if I could’ve…)

Now, I would like to point out one of the services which early races provided on this race day.  When the rains have stopped, there’s nothing like a hundred pair of tires help wring out the sloppy ground.  Granted, on some future date when it’s raining all of the race day, we might just tear things up a little more for the folks who follow us.  But, this time, we were like those big lawn rollers, only narrower and much less efficient.

Actually, it went pretty well for me. Being of reasonably solid bone structure, I could sit back a bit on the Hilsen and plow along.  One thing that bike really does well is remain stable when all hell is breaking loose. I just had to shut up and keep pedaling. The bird-boned folk who tried to stand and pedal  found themselves reprising the  mud scene from My Cousin Vinny.

Finally, we popped out onto level topography and cut right onto the service road.  This first lap (remember, we’re still on the first lap), I followed a couple riders on the wide line of a curve and watched in horror as they got all wiggly. We all made it through upright, but it was clear that a wide exit apex was not a good idea here. After regaining pavement, I tried to do the big gear stomp while recovering on my way to the next lap. 

And the next lap was reasonably morale-shattering.

It started by using the whole lap.

Dang. Forgot about that. Things took a bit longer, with the ensuing softening up by the addition of a couple minutes worth of bumpy bits, berms and wiggles. Somewhere in there I felt everything - for lack of a better descriptive term - curl.  Back, neck, legs, arms, fingers… On the one hand, I knew this was the transition, moving from the start exertion to a pace for the rest of the race.  But, it warn’t fun while it lasted. It sort of became a melange of trying to keep the bike moving through the mud, losing traction and momentum, dropping a gear, hopping off to scramble, trying to dig in toes or heels on the incline for traction and finally finding myself out on the pavement again.

But, I did manage to keep a few brain cells crackling, and when the tracks hardened up a bit under the repeated tire pressure, altered my course to take advantage of better looking bits. There were times when I radically changed my approach on a couple parts and it worked out much better. So, there was another shiny bit of success.

The third time around I had the aforementioned bit of “hurrah!”, and found myself duking with a RockLobsterite that I seemed  to remember from other races.  I popped around him at one point and then he moved away from me the next lap.  Over the steeper muddy berm he found momentum and moved over it cleanly, while I slipped in the the worst possible spot, stalled and found stem with flesh as I tried to hop off. Luckily the impact was not, um, catastrophic.  But by the time I got it sorted out, he was away and uncatchable.  Ah well, that’s racing.

Sometime in there, a bell for the last lap had been rung, and I remember thinking at one point, “Ahh, that’s the guy that won last week!” as a mountain bike rolled by.  According to the results, I was a couple notches up from DFL, though that may have been due more to the statistical anomolie of more riders in my division.  Rolled around a bit and caught my breath, spotted my wife and found that there wasn’t too much left in the tank when I began to tell her about the race.  She caught that bit on video, which I’ll try to get posted soon. (Update - the video is now posted here.)

Since she was playing with the vid-cam, there weren’t any still frames to speak of.  In my post-race haze, I wasted a couple frames on muddy bits and soggy SIDI’s:

and the pretty clouds, which seemed to have more significance at the time:

A Pop-Tart and some fluids brought me back to life a bit, and we meandered back to the course, where I snapped some photos during the tail end of the Men’s Masters A 35+/45+, and then the start of the Men’s A and Singlespeed race.  Those are yonder on Flickr.

In the set, you’ll find a shot of Keven from RBW, who was riding a beautiful Rivendell custom CX bike -

click through and hit “all sizes” to see the a bigger version.

Anyway, after that it was home, clean bike and get ready for the week to come. 

Next BASP race is 11/18 in Burlingame - under the lights!

Indoor Pre-Ride
Filed under: cyclocross
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 3:55 pm

Woke up three times last night as the rain came down in various rhythms and force. Pittering and light, thrumming and heavy, scattered and throbbing.  But, it was coming down all night long. By midday today, actual puddles had appeared in the back yard and I had to rake fallen leaves out of the drains.  Decidedly foreign activities.  I’ve been preparing for tomorrow’s race by sitting inside catching up on bills and watching the rain drip down off the roof.

Right about now, the fine folks from Pilarcitos are hammering stakes into the ground out on Candlestick Point Park, marking out the course for tomorrow’s race. The rains Friday were a good thing, as the surface out there is rocky/bumpy and hard.  It’s gopher heaven and it seems that every undulation and vertical aberration has been baked to a crispy crunch by the sun.  Moisture will even things out a bit, soften things up a smidgen.

As the rains continue though, things will degrade a bit.  In some places, it’s very sandy out there, so if it actually stops raining, that surface is likely to recover quickly, though providing an excellent grinding paste for drivetrain components… But, it’s also landfill out there, and as such creates puddles in odd places and much excitement for the crowds. 

It’ll be fun.  It’ll be interesting.  It’s cross, baby!

1 comment
Mclaren Park CX 2008
Filed under: photos, cyclocross, video
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 3:49 pm

The coolest part of the day was running into Keven from RBW, after my race.  We were back at the car, with the bike leaning up against the side of it.  We all greeted one another and then he looked at my bike, laughed a bit and said, “Homer looks bad-assed!”

I’m pretty sure that his views were his own, as a reasonably avid (and quite talented) cross racer, rather than an official statement on the part of Rivendell Bicycle Works.

But, I’ve kind of gotten ahead of myself, haven’t I?

Leading up to this race - the first of the season on the BASP schedule - I’d done little “high-end” work and minimal running.  By that test, I pretty much had no business lining up with the rest of the folks in my group.  On the other hand, I’d been trying to punch things a little more on the commute miles, ride either fast or slow (staying out of the murky middle), and I felt pretty danged clean on dismounts/remounts when trying them.

I’d also been trying the Anti-Costanza approach to riding. This might require a bit of explanation.

I never really watched Seinfeld when it ran, grumpily saying something about not caring too much about neurotic city-dwellers’ lives. (Hey, I was younger and more opinionated). However, since it finished its run, the show - like World War II - always seems to be found, at any hour, on the television. Thus did the reruns seep into my conciousness.  Somewhere in there, an episode exists wherein George decides that since everything he’s ever done has led him to his current feeble existence, his best move was to figure out what he should do and then do the opposite. 

There’s a beautiful kernel of truth in such logic. Enticing. Alluring. Parting of the clouds, epiphanic moment of enlightenment kinda truth.

For the past year and a half or so, I’ve been on this cycle of  “going well” followed by “aw crap, I’m sick again!”  Now, a lot of that has had to do with work issues and the aforementioned lack of regular sleep. But, my hours have become a bit more regular of late and actually feel like I have some resilience built up. And, historically, that’s when I’ve overcooked it and slumped back down for a week or so.

With the Anti-Costanza approach to training, when I feel tired or wobbly or sorta/kinda funky, I rest.  Y’know, pull back and read or sleep or nap.

This is revolutionary stuff.  If you need to reread that last paragraph, feel free.

It dovetails neatly with the way I’ve been trying to ride for the last week - either fast or slow. It’s certainly not a novel concept, and if you read about real cyclists who have real speed, they allude to it in one manner or another: once you’ve got an aerobic base in place, you want to stay out of the middle area as much as possible. Theoretically, you are either teaching your muscles and system how to go fast, or you are recovering from that effort.  It’s why intervals work.  Overload followed by recovery.

You may have realized that I’ve been emphasizing a bit more of the recovery end of the equation. In practical terms, I’ve been slowing bringing things up until longer-ish rides don’t hammer me the way they did back in July and August of this year. When I get that feeling of, “Man! I feel good!” on a ride, I’ve eased up a bit and made sure that I took it easy.  I didn’t have any preconceptions that it would somehow make me fast.

And besides, I do this for fun, anyway.  Which more or less brings us to the race held Sunday.

The Mclaren course is interesting. As lauren wrote, it’s kind of  a cyclocross course that pretends to be a cyclocross course but is really a mountain bike course. Personally, I’m kind of split on the issue, as I feel supremely confident flying down extended, narrow, bumpy-as-hell, off-camber sections on a cross bike, where my mass and lack of concern for personal safety combine in what is at times an altogether frightening episode of momentum.  However, since most bike races take place using Euclidian geometric standards, stantial downhill sections generally mean that there will be climbing involved.

Curse you, mass!  Damn you, fickle mistress of momentum!

There were two such spots on the course this year - the (in)famous “Beast” which is a runup from the start level - and the asphalt path which climbed up from the parking lot. becoming a trail to the woodsy overlook bit. Stuff we had dropped down on last year. Since the soccer fields have now been finished, they had reversed the directions a bit, and cut out some of the back and forth and up and down from the upper section 2007 Course

It kinda went like this:
Start under the trees between the fields, scent of bbq brats and beer, coffee and chainlube in the air. Follow the perimeter of the baseball field to the runup. No preamble barriers this year, just off and scrum up the hillside. Hard right turn in the dust and then a little jiggle-joggle before dropping in for a downhill run.  This was bumpy, curved up and contoured the hill in pedal-strike-ville, then dropped again to find the asphalt path.  Asphalt path uphill, cut right to the trail and follow up and around the edge of the park (nice overlook) until it tucks under the trees.  Gaining momentum, you are presented with the first challenge - bunny hop the log and gain a boatload of time, or bunnyhop the log and make the Best Crash Video.  After regaining composure, you follow the spine of the hill,  then enjoy a little drop and loose right hand turn, follow the bumpy S-turn down to the top-o-the-runup level. From there, you swoop down the pavement, negotiate some root cracks in the asphalt and hit the fields again.  The organizers stuck a nasty little forced left-right-left set of turns on dirt infield, then you continued across the grass to line up the “Super Quad” - a set of four level barriers. Following that, you hopped back on, turned hard left and started the process again.

Ya lines up.  They warn ya.  They blow a whistle and the younger older pups take off.  Ya waits another minute and they blow another whistle. And yer racin’…

This was from the first lap, I reckon.  I like it because the blurriness makes it look like I’m moving really fast. Rather than, y’know, just having appeared in the frame while the camera was focused on SWoo’s friend behind me. I’m pretty sure that was the first lap, as I’m still wearing my glasses.   About another half lap in they were so fogged up that I left ‘em perched on my nose until I could get a hand free to stow them. (I actually almost tossed them to someone I thought was my wife…)

As you can see here, there were still folks around me at this point. After lumping my way up the climb, I was ready for a short nap, but everyone kept riding and I decided to honor my preparation and keep going.

For my preparation, I’d settled on a mix of half Italian and half French.  My hope was that it would bring the best of Gino Bartali’s relentless climbing tenacity and Jacques Anquetil’s smooth style and ability to win  regardless of how late he had stayed up the night before.  Instead, it seemed to create a hybrid of a surly Vespa repairman and that French exchange student who you are pretty sure stole your best jacket.  I’ll have to rethink the caffeine implementation before the next race.

When we hit the downhill bit, I had the disturbing experience of catching folks who had gotten safely away from me.  This was briefly heartening, until I realized that someone in the 35+ group had caught a pedal or hammered the brakes at the wrong time, and there was a bottleneck at the transition to the asphalt path. By this point, I’d reminded myself that my goal was to finish and keep momentum going through the race. This was probably a good goal, but maybe a bad strategic idea. I pulled it back a touch, well, far enough so that I no longer made the whining dog sound when I breathed, stayed seated and climbed.

Got caught. Got passed. Got caught and passed.  Got passed without caught being thought.

Under the trees and momentum returns. Opted for the off-and-leap to deal with the log, as did everyone nearby. Tried to recover a bit on the swoop to the next bit, did the drop, muffed the turn had to order some momentum.  Then before I knew it, there was asphalt under the tires and we swung down towards the ball field again. For most of the ripply grass surface, my legs were asking me just what the flip I was thinking.  Couldn’t quite hit the right pace to skim over the top, and the good line bore the marks of sprinkler-induced mud. Suddenly I was lining up for the barriers and habit took over.

(original photo by nadiamac)
It also seems that adrenaline did too, as there was no barrier within sight that would have necessitated lifting my bike that high. Those 1 x 12’s seemed pretty danged tall, by that point…

Now, there is usually a point during a cross race where you feel like complete and utter crap.  You want to stop, sit down and get your breath back. I know that it’s there, and await its arrival. It probably has a lot to do with the body’s response to rocketing off the line, full of adrenaline.  Adrenaline runs out, and there’s a precipitous moment where the brain forgets that there’s other fuel to run off of.   As Kent Petersen once opined, “Keep pedaling, it will get better.”  If you can keep going, something else kicks in and you continue.

This race, interestingly enough, that didn’t happen. I actually felt a little better lap by lap, prodigous amounts of phlegm nonwithstanding. But, I never really felt that first spike and drop.  Have to feel that it was actually caused by a lack of spike. But, hey.  That’s what speed work is for, eh?

It continued like that - hurting on the runup, big-ringing the descent, hurting on the climb, trying to recover, and then enjoying the barriers - for another four laps. Ended up fully and completely DFL in my division.

Running with Homer, late in the race
(original photos by squishy, who took fifth in her division and , as it turns out, seems to be in the Extra-Action Marching Band which accompanied David Byrne at the Davies Hall recently)

Yeah, so, anyway.  I did have fun, and it was actually encouraging to feel like something was left in the tank.  Probably could’ve started pushing things a lap earlier or so, but that’s always easy to say after the fact.

My wife shot some vid:

Mclaren Park CX Race - 2008 from Cyclofiend on Vimeo.

My photos of the Men’s Master A, Men’s A and Singlespeed race

So, it’s Candlestick Park in a couple weeks!

Other ref’s

Good photo sets:

J. Suzuki