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.
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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.

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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!

 

 

 

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.