Race Report: SoCalCross Krosstoberfest

Things we learned at Krosstoberfest:

1. Just because you raced at a venue last year doesn’t mean the course hasn’t changed. Always do a pre-ride because trees can really sneak up on you.

2. While it is embarrassing, there is no shame in sprinting for 24th place.
HRM Krosstoberfest
If you look close, you can see we started sprinting from half a mile out.

3. Instructions exist for a reason.

Race Report: SPYclocross Series – Velocity Cross

About 20 minutes after leaving home for the first cross race of the season, I received the following text from my wife.
TEXT
I knew I was going to be off my game but forgetting the two most important components to a day at the races was a new low when it comes to being unprepared. At the time, a 40 minute detour seemed like a fool’s errand but in retrospect I should have just gone home and spent the day on the couch.

Taking place at the institutional sounding Prado Regional Park, the day’s course was a flat, non-technical affair (save for a billion gopher holes) that offered about 20 feet of shade from the 90 degree heat and the soothing sound of gunfire thanks to a range across the street.

Not returning home to fetch the chips and beer meant I had a solid hour to train before race time. The ability to go 10 miles without a taking break or getting severely winded gave a false sense of hope that lasted up until I was called up to the front row on the merit of being one of the first to pre-register.

That’s when the gravity of the situation set in.

I couldn’t come to grips with asking the USA Cycling official if I could decline my front row spot and I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t there thanks to the call up catcalls of teammates and friends.

In the anxious moments leading up to the start, I sat in the front row doing my best to act like I belonged there. Heated, heavy breath of the serious competitor behind me tickled my neck. I was doomed. I said a silent prayer asking that when he ran me down to please do so in a way that could be as painless as possible while inflicting race ending (but not too costly) harm to my bike. If he could be so kind as to let the air out of a tire while passing, I would be forever grateful.

The moment the official said “Go on the whistle,” the part of my brain that remembered what it was like to race cross (and not completely suck at it) miraculously Quantum Leaped its way to the controls. Everything was maybe, possibly going to be OK. The whistle chirped and my bike lurched in the right direction. It only took a couple of tries to get clipped in and by time we hit the grass, I almost felt like a real cross racer.

I slotted comfortably into the top 10 as we flew through the opening lap. It felt great running with the big dogs who boasted more leg veins than backfat. With each corner, confidence in my freshly glued tubulars grew and I started calculating how many points daddy would be adding to his series coffer when things were all said and done.

The next calculation happened as we crossed the start/finish line for the second lap.

There was still 33 minutes of this shit to go.

To the uninitiated, the best way to describe the pain the sport provides is that it’s like trying to sprint a marathon while simultaneously giving birth and getting kicked in the balls. It is a truly unique sensation that has no peer.

The rest of the of the race would be a slow and merciless descent into misery and despair.

SPEED CHART
Things looked almost respectable for the first lap.

FullSizeRender
Even as speed steadily declined, heart rate stayed sky high except for that part where I slowed to a crawl in a desperate-as-Uncle Ned attempt at getting lapped.

On the upside, I did make it onto the YouTube when I was passed by one of the 45+ leaders like I was standing still.

Onward!

 

 

 

How to Glue Cyclocross Tubulars in 17 Easy Steps

1. Wait to glue your tubulars until the weekend before your cyclocross season begins. In your “training log,” this weekend will have been circled as the weekend you’re supposed to start training. In cyclocross, having a tubular equipped bike is more important than fitness. Training can wait until race day.

2. Go into the depths of your garage and dig out your stash of tires from previous seasons and impulse off-season closeout purchases. Select the once that have been the most properly aged.

3. Recoil in horror as you realize all your tubulars were stored improperly. Somehow you read the wrong article and foolishly stored them vertically and un-inflated (instead of horizontally and inflated) and forgot to suck all the sealant that has now congealed into Super Ball sized chunks inside your tires.

IMG_0150

4. Come to accept the fact that you suddenly have a pile of useless rubber that costs as much as a semester of Junior College.

5. Spend the next three hours reading reviews and shopping for new tubulars.

6. Build a spreadsheet breaking down the cost of new tires vs having your old, yet mostly unused tires repaired.

7. Praise your favorite deity that Competitive Cyclist still has the same tubulars you bought on close-out last season. A mud tire for a place that hasn’t seen rain in years? Who cares when it’s only $49.99.

8. Box up all your bunk tubulars and send to Tire Alert with a desperate note to have them back by Thanksgiving (because no doubt you’ll have the will power to hit peak form during the most gluttonous week of the year and when you’re in peak form, there’s no way you can be using clinchers as your pit tires).

9. Go to your neighborhood Lowe’s and get an argument with an employee over the very existence of Acid Brushes. Even when you pull out your phone and show him the reason why you chose Lowe’s was because their site said there were dozens of fictional Acid Brushes in-stock, he holds his ground with a moon landing conspiracist level of tenacious stubbornness.

10. When you finally locate the Acid Brushes hours later just before fatal dehydration sets in, promptly buy all of them in hopes of dicking over your fellow cross racers because the race starts long before the gun goes off.

11. Call in sick to work so you can immediately begin the sacred ritual of applying the first layer of glue to your new tires the moment they arrive, for time is of the essence. Kick yourself for forgetting to not ship your tires to your office. On the upside, your sudden and temporary illness seems more believable.

12. The following evening after work, start the gluing process the moment you get home. Take extra care to cover the entire width of the base tape, your cat’s tail, and the most conspicuous areas of your dining room table.

12. Wake up in the middle of the night to apply the second layer of glue. The clock is ticking.

13. Now that you can’t go back to bed, watch the video of Stu Thorne showing how to glue a tubular as a refresher. Channel your rage at him for making it look so easy into a strongly worded letter to the UCI demanding all team staff to be checked for doping because no man can have hands that strong.

14. After spending the following day tired and cranky from lack of sleep, you’re now in the perfect mindset to glue your tubulars. Be sure you’re wearing your nicest, most expensive pair of jeans and a favorite shirt that is irreplaceable.

15. Time the conjoining of your first tire so that your wife comes home from work at the exact at the exact moment veins are popping from your head. Being asked how your day went will provide a nice distraction from a pending aneurysm.

16. Now that the first tire has been glued, take a quick break to search Groupon for marriage counseling deals.

17. Mount the second tire. With any luck, the glue will have fully set by the time your race starts the next morning. There is no better way to test the strength of a glue job than going in hot into turn one.

 

Ergon SRX3 Cyclocross Saddle Review

ERGON SRX3 SADDLE

Long Story Short: A purpose built cyclocross racing saddle sounds like a gimmick- until you try it.

Long Story Long: After reading my review of Ergon’s CF-3 seatpost, my astute reader noticed their yet-to-be-released SRX3 was perched atop that post and asked what I thought of it.

Before we get to that, here’s some context. When I started racing, er, participating, in cyclocross, the first two seasons I used an old WTB Shadow V (one of my all-time favorite MTB saddles) I had laying around. For CX, the nose could be a little harsh and the internal cut-out made for a lot of flex when remounting. By the time it was re-retired, it was droopy enough to start looking like a Ken doll size hammock.

Next up was Ritchey’s Streem saddle. It lasted about a week before going back on my road bike. The board stiff shell meant every re-mount was a chance to bludgeon your gooch.

Then, on the recommendation of a friend who could actually be classified as a racerFizik’s Arione got the nod. His reasoning for it being the best saddle for cyclocross stemmed from its length. As long as you could get in the same area code when re-mounting, you were never going to miss. With that sound bit of logic, the Arione enjoyed an undisputed run of three perpetually podium adjacent seasons under my tubby butt.

When I got the SRX3, I was actually sad to chuck my Arione into the dark corner of the garage. By comparison, the SRX3 is much shorter, particularly at the nose, which had me a little skeptical. This turned out to be a non-issue and revealed itself to be a positive feature over the course of this past SoCalCross season.

The short nose meant no more chamois snagging when jumping back on the bike. (I know that’s probably not a very common occurrence, but I’m a klutz and am good for pulling that sweet power move at least a couple times a year.) Along with being shorter, the nose is flatter and wider which makes being on the rivet suck a little less. The rest of the saddle stays as flat as possible with a slight kicktail at the back to help keep you planted.

Ergon says its design allows for “fast and unhindered position changes” aka “cyclocross maneuvers.” To that end, they knocked the SRX3 out of the park. The design is so seamless that it’s nearly invisible- especially while racing. There was never a time when coming up with post-race excuses that I even considered pointing a boney, Cheeto dust covered finger of blame at the SRX3.

Seriously, Ergon invented a whole new category with this saddle.

Here’s the Breakdown: The SRX3 measures approximately 130mm wide (measured across the widest point of the black area) by 180mm long (tail to tip). This puts it right in-between Ergon’s small and medium XC saddles. What’s the German word for slightly bigger than small? If you’re someone who’d normally run size large, the SRX3 would probably be comfortable enough for 45 minutes to an hour.

ERGON SRX3 SADDLE DIMENSIONS

While thin, the padding does a great job of being supportive. The SRX3 reminds me of the Selle Italia SLR in terms of size and thickness except for the fact that its padding is up for the job. By contrast, a hard look could bottom out the SLR.

That being said, the SRX3 definitely reminds you of its intended use on longer rides. By the three hour mark that invisibility starts to wear off and its minimal padding becomes noticeable. While this might not be an issue for other riders, it is something to consider. If your CX bike is also your adventure bike, something a little more robust might be in order.

Then again, it all comes down to picking the right tool for the right job.

Want more info? Check out CX Magazine’s take.