Monday, March 31, 2008

Cult Cross #3

As we got closer and closer to this past weekend, the front range weather was looking worse and worse for the Koppenberg race scheduled for Sunday. Koppenberg involves a good amount of dirt roads, probably 60% of the course. Bad roads for bike racing when it gets wet. Not so much because of the conditions, because an epic race now and then is always fun, but because of the crappy front-range peanut butter mud that the road turns into. It makes the road basically impassable on bikes, even cross bikes.

So I opted for a more fun route, I bailed from the front range early Saturday morning, to head out for the final race of the Cult Cross Series. The weather was better, and the racing was sure to be a lot of fun! The early morning weather was great, and I thought I might make it over the passes with no snow. No such luck. Still, it wasn't bad at all. I missed ski traffic and the snow didn't make for horrible driving. Other than descending Vail pass in snow packed conditions - I was doing about 50mph, balancing the idea of going fast enough, but slow enough for the conditions. Apparently it wasn't fast enough for some fool that decided to scream past me at 70mph, and promptly loose complete control just as he was passing me! A few fishtails, a smash off the median, then back across the lanes right in front of me, while spinning down the road, and a solid slam into the shoulder which sent him again right for me. That should wake you up in the morning, nothing like some NASCAR on the pass! He almost got me with his final jolt coming off the snow banked shoulder, but my superior driving skills kept me away from him. He might have been driving a whole lot faster than me, but I'm quite certain I beat him to wherever he was going.

I pulled into the fairgrounds at Eagle, and the weather was great! Sunny, and warming up nicely. The first race up was the single speed race. It started out fine, not too fast just the way I like it. I was happy to follow the fastest of the guys for about two-thirds of the first lap, and then we hit this long, false-flat, grassy section into the wind, I decided to let loose an angry attack. The legs felt great and I was quickly gone, sure to not look back for the rest of the race. Yep, that's when my chain-tensioner exploded... I had to stop and try to fix it, but it kept throwing the chain, and causing trouble. As long as I didn't hit bumps, or put pressure on the pedals, I was fine - not good. I bolted off course, ripped off the tensioner, and shortened the chain to run without a tensioner. It would work, but the chain tension was much less than ideal, so it wanted to pop off at regular intervals - and did. But it was enough to let me limp around the course to finish the race for my points. So frustrating though, as the legs felt great, and the course was phenomenal.

At least I was still planning on racing the Open race later in the day. First I had to get my bike fixed. Armed with a pile of cogs, it looked like still the best gear combination I could come up with (for chain tension) was going to be the one I was already running. Damn. So I tweaked the chainline a bit, and threw on a pair of 21T cogs to act as chain guides at the back. It seemed to work well enough, let's roll!

A bit of a bummer, it was just me and one other guy lining up for the Open race. And he was equipped with a full selection of gears - I had my work cut out for me. Jake is super fast, though he didn't lay TOO much stick to me, so that we could battle back and forth a bit. It was great to ride a fun, technical course like that, with a smooth mountain biker like him. Apparently I hadn't tightened my lockring down quite enough, in the 15 times I was trying to get different combinations of gears to work, so my cogs came a bit loose, and I had to nurse the bike through the last half of the race. Still, I was able to go nice and hard the whole race, trying to keep things competitive, till Jake opened the throttle all the way at the end.

The course... the course was awesome. All three of the courses for this series were better than 70% of the front range courses, but this last one was probably one of the best I have ridden. Lots of power grass sections, gravel, pavement, a little rhythm section, a jump, some ditches, a stiff ride-up, angry switchback handling sections, plenty of passing with nearly the entire course at 3meters wide, and even a few bridges thrown in. The numbers were low at the series, which really was a bummer, because the promoter and the volunteers put on one hell of a race series. Great venues, great facilities, announcers going the whole time, free beer, great sponsors, lots of people that hadn't raced cross before, and that overall "happy to just be on their bikes suffering" vibe, that only cross can really bring out.

The only negative thought I had at these races were all the people I run into that say "the only real season is cyclocross season", yet they were no where to be found. Sure, it's not really cross season, but if cross is so great (which it is), I would think people that really love it, would JUMP at the chance to do an organized race, on a closed course, regardless of the time of year. Hopefully some of those people will drag themselves out to the races next year.

Oh yeah... and regardless of what the promoter announced on public forums, or the flyer said (Races will be held rain or shine!) Koppenturd was cancelled yesterday due to weather. I made the right choice.

1 comment:

Notorious B.I.L. said...

Bad luck, but sweet set up. If you tork it just right...maybe you could throw the chain to a higher or lower ring. HMMMM...maybe a new wacky invention.