Thursday, December 10, 2009

Letting It All Hang Out (and then some) At CX Nationals

Skinsuit Sausages, Deli Slicers and Disc Wheels...Guest Blogger Corey Green of Cincinnati from the 2009 Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, OR:

Today was supposed to be my "B" race - a race to see the course, figure out the bike set up and make sure all was right for the "A" race on Saturday. However, my equipment only partially arrived, so instead I got to watch a lot of the racing today. Here are some observations from the day.

Skinsuit Envy

As Joe has written previously there is a decision matrix that we all go through before painting the skinsuit onto our body for a race. Whether we are looking for sleekness for a crit race or a tight fit for a cyclocross race the goal is to remove the clothing as an opportunity for failure without appearing as though you are 10 lbs of flour in a 5 lb sack. The question is...does racing in a National Championship race change this decision matrix?

For spectators many factors should be considered before launching a verbal assault on Mr. Husky and questioning whether he should have poured himself into the multi-colored sausage casing known as a skinsuit. I am certainly not throwing stones at guys forcing ones self into a skinsuit. I did it all summer at time trials and I am sure snickers were bountiful from my competition, so let's just say I am just casting doubt.

The guy on the left here looks like a nice guy, appears to have a smile and a mighty nice crop growing on his face. Based on his bike choice and the Edge composite wheels, I don't think he is hurting for cash. From this information you can theorize that he wasn't forced to decide between the usual bibs and shorts -OR- skinsuit when he placed his kit order last fall. He could probably get both. What decision process went through his head to look like this in a national race?
But, I got to thinking...was it really that bad? Afterall, a size husky skinsuit affords sponsors a larger billboard. Let's give the guy some credit, it was 11 degrees at this point of time and he was out riding his bike. Where was I? Sipping coffee and taking pictures of a husky fella painted into his clothes. What if he didn't wear a skinsuit, what would that look like?

Luckily enough there was another husky fella riding his bicycle around the track with a similar build, so it gave me an opportunity to compare and constrast. If you notice there is very little difference, except for "bulbous" bottom part of the belly. The skinsuit appears to have reached the end of its ability to restrain the outward pressure and push back. The two piece approach appears to give the lower part of the torso area a bit of resistance against "The Hulk" exploding out of his clothes and going "all Hulk" on unsuspecting spectators.

Another consideration is that the resistance to outward pressure also makes rider #2 appear to be a bit more in shape than rider #1. If you took them both side by side in the YMCA shower I doubt you could tell one from the other, but rider #2 has the edge on looking ready to win Nationals. (editor agrees and the white bike makes him look even more svelte.)

Another question is whether to consider age in the mix. I was surprised at the number of guys riding in skinsuits in the 60+ categories. These guys are competing for a stars and stripes jersey and should be shown some respect. The question I have is whether a skinsuit striped like a popcorn box at the theater is really the best way to get that deserved respect. However, one highly respected celebrity has proven over decades that vertical stripes also make you look thinnner.

In the end it is Nationals. This is what you train for all year and your last race of the year - let it all hang out. Well, let it all exert outward pressure on yourr seams, you won't be wearing the skinsuit again this year.

Equipment Choice

Every cross race has its selection of equipment choices that make you wonder, and the B races today were no exception. It has been a long time since I had seen a set of Spynergy "deli-slicers" on a bike, but I spied some today. Immediately I wondered how those would actually ride in a cross race. They weigh more than any other wheel I have ever ridden, so they have to be painful to sprint out of corners. Studies have shown little to no advantage to deep dish wheels, so this one puzzles me. The only way this makes sense is if he is carrying a loaf of pimento loaf in the jersey pocket and uses the wheels to slice a sandwich halfway through the race.

Then I saw something that still makes me scratch my head. Yes, to the right is my first witness of the Cross Disk. A Cross Disk? Are there cyclocross time trials at nationals? Is Zipp trying to create a new wheel market? I am hopeful someone will give me some explanation that makes even an ounce of sense. I am completely speechless when trying to explain why someone would bring this wheel and race it at cyclocross nationals. Seriously, completely stumped. (editor: as it turns out that's the bike of 2009 55+ Nat'l CX Champion Paul Curley from Taundton, MA. With 23 Nat'l titles under his belt in multiple disciplines, there must be something to it. It appears as a disc wheel, but according to CX Magazine it's actually more of a plastic spoke cover than a solid disc.)

Tomorrow brings the Juniors races after a long night tonight. The equipment is to arrive at 6pm on the trailer that left Tuesday morning. We will be wrenching deep into the night and the kids will be freezing their bums off at 8am. Wish them luck.


nickleonard said...

writen in pure roadie form. i've never met such rude people. folks are out riding. why are we so hard on each other. reading the book "roadie, the misunderstood world of a bike race". The auther gives a perfect example of our sport (atleast the road side of it). they take a post running race conversation between two guys and the post race riding conversation between two guys. the runners where all excited and congradulating for getting 324th out of 1243 place and well behind the leaders pace. they where both very positive about the race and excited.

the rider was something like 35 out of 200 riders but got dropped of the lead group. his buddy was like ah man you suck, you need to sell all your bikes and move to a convenent.

And yet we still keep going back for more. haha.

Andrew said...

Reason to run that disk thingie: You want to look so 1993 that it hurts.

Cameron said...

Corey - Do you typically take husky men side by side in the YMCA shower?

Also, I could see a value for the disc wheel cover in sand, mud, water, etc... People say that deep dish wheels ride better in the sand than box-shaped rims, but what's a guy to do if he can't drop $1000 + on a set of carbon hoops? I guess the answer is to grab that $40 wheel cover out of the closet and give it a shot.

Anonymous said...

Running is slow- boring- tedious- You have to pat yourselves on the back and jump up and down just for some kind of excitement- I'm sorry- the fitness level of the average bike racer just to be competitive is way beyond the average runner- Our expectations and- sometimes- our attitudes might reflect that- As a masters roadie who's been around the block a few times I understand what Mr. Green is talking about-