Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lighting My Sven Nys Prayer Candle

Dear Sven Nys,

I'm kneeling in my cycling man-cave in the back of my garage.  I'm about to light the wick.  I’m not crazy.  That’s what we cyclocrossers do when times get tough.  I believe in you.  I’m certain there are cycling Gods.  Right?  Otherwise a Google search of the phrase wouldn’t turn up hundreds of blogs and websites addressing general cycling deities.  Of course, you, Sven Nys, top the list when the term “Cyclocross Gods” is searched.  So, Dear Sven Nys, with seven OVCX races left on the docket, enough for a virtual redo to the start of the season and to qualify for an overall series placing, pretty please with Dugast on top, God of Cyclocross, tell me a heavenly chorus of cowbells will ring for me through November and December. 

Pozzato’s tattoo reads: “Only God Can Judge You.”  Obviously someone’s looking after him.  Of course with all things cyclocross concerning me, I turn to you.  I know you’ve been watching me from your team RV in the sky.  You saw it happen.  At the first race of the season I rolled a tubie on an off camber hillside.  Immediately, I heard your deep accent thunder across the sky of the Kings CX venue, “You Mahst Use Fresh Gloo Avery Season.”  Lesson learned.  Saving a buck doesn’t play in cross.  I get it.  While registering for Fisherman’s Park in Louisville I sausage fingered the sign-up and clicked on the wrong race which cascaded into a whole mess of issues.  As of today I am still not scored in the race.  I know it was your way of saying, “Faht Feengers Mean You Mahst Loose A Few Kilos.”  Done.  At USGP, my seat post broke on the first lap.  It was my fault again.  I don’t blame the EC70 carbon.  The post got stuck in the seat tube over last winter and heroic measures had to be taken to remove it obviously resulting in stressing the carbon weave.  Understood, I should’ve learned the same lesson from my tubie rolling that saving a buck doesn’t cut it. 

Well, that’s three things.  I’m done.  That’s how it works right? 

From now till I hang up the bike in the garage, I thought I’d be blessed with laser quick clip-ins at the start line, the Nys heavenly light would illuminate the best lines on the course, guys who normally smoke me would have mechanicals, bonk, wreck and leave me to snag a piece of that tasty Elite Masters top-ten payout pie.  But no.

Getting ready for cross practice last night, I noticed my Challenge Fango tubie has a tear in the sidewall.  Really?  C’mon Sven.  I’ve paid my dues in tears, sweat, snot, bruises and good old cash money.  For the love of Jean Robic don’t make me light this ridiculous Sven Nys prayer candle.

Hup Hup,

Joe Biker

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pulled @ USGP? What The Hell Were You Thinking?

Hey Sour Puss.  Hup Hup and cheer up.  The first faces I saw at the USGP on Saturday were sour pusses.  Like a pre-school art project gone wrong, their dejected faces decorated with the course’s dry dirt glitter affixed by a grotesque snotty sweat-glue told the story.  They didn’t even care to wipe off the Dirt Goatee©.  When I arrived in time to warm up for the Elite masters race, a lot of strong Cat 3 riders, riders who normally would be driving the front end of their regional series races, stood disgruntled on the outside of the tape as they watched the front end of the 2/3 race finish.  Getting pulled sucks monkey butt.  You could hear their thoughts.  “I should be up there.”  "The course was too short."  Riders felt cheated, and rightfully so…but only to an extent.

  1. Mark LeggMrKatieCompton  I will say, day 2 at USGPLouisville was a step in the right direction but still some work to do.

As Jay Leno would put it to Hugh Grant, “What the hell were you thinking?”  45 riders entered a Cat 2/3 CX race with over 100 riders from all over the nation already signed up.  No offense to their prowess on the bike, but I think it’d be a tall order for even Jeremy Powers to plow his way from the back to the front of a 145 deep field of 2/3 riders in 45 minutes while avoiding every calamity, even if the lap was 8 minutes long.  By some of the bitching and moaning I heard from Cat 3’s around the course you’d think common sense were a banned substance.  You got whomped by starting in the back of essentially a Cat 2 race.  Maybe what’s really stinging ya is realizing that the whoopin’ was administered by 15 year old Jordan Cullen, pictured below.  The Cat 2/3's at the USGP aren’t a 30 year old’s playground anymore.

Still, a rider doesn’t see himself as a bib number and a birthday.  They see themselves as a Cat 3 who trained hard, paid $35, traveled, maybe even booked a hotel and didn’t really get to race.  Yeah.  Yeah!  You tell ‘em Joe Biker.  You say if the promoter accepts 145 riders, 145 riders should have a shot.  Yeah!!  Well this is a big field in cyclocross and not the 26.2 mile course of the Flying Pig marathon.  Riders get pulled when about to be lapped.  It sucks.  It’s cold.  Its cross.  Having a longer course at USGP may have saved a few souls, but I’d say even with an 8 minute lap, close to half the field was doomed from the start based on math alone. 

The last 50 riders signed up in the 2/3 field spilled cooking oil on the counter, left the coffee maker on and hoped the house wouldn’t burn down, short course or not.  That’s not the promoters fault.  There was a better option.  Coulda.  Woulda.  Shoulda.  A racer coulda passed 65 riders with a click of a button by entering the 80 deep pro race.  The Elite Masters 35+ had a solid 70 riders, 45+ had a manageable 59. 

Yeah the course was short.  However, even with an 8-9 minute lap, I have never been at a big cyclocross race where 140 riders, even 100 riders, even 75 riders finished on the lead lap.  Think of it like a beer bong.  The first 1-2 beers will make it down easy.  Unless you’re a fraternity brother nicknamed Bruno, the 3rd PBR tall boy is going all over your shirt.  Secondly, I’ve started in the back in big races.  Even at the top of my CX game, avoiding every wreck and hitting every perfect line, I’ve never been able to pass 35 or so riders at the most.  For anyone who signed up when the USGP 2/3 field grew past 100, the odds were in the casino’s favor. 

CX is growing faster than the mold on the water bottle in the back of my truck.  A few years ago combining the 2’s and 3’s at USGP and other large races made sense and didn’t make a gargantuan field.  Promoters could attract the regional Cat 2’s that would rather not fork out another $60 for a UCI license they’d use once.  For the first time in their CX lives, if they entered early, they could be on the driving end of race rather than getting beat by Cat 1’s and pros.  Strong Cat 3’s would have their hands full, but still have fun.  With the short course at USGP and a field close to the population of metro Louisville, the fun got pulled right with the riders.  So I guess there are three options: enter a race where the mathematic probability of finishing on the lead lap is the highest, design a hideously long cyclocross course that can keep a larger portion of a field 145 riders on the lead lap or, simply split the 145 strong 2/3 field.  I like the latter.  It’s a good thing too.  Cyclocross in the US, in the Midwest, in Cincinnati and Louisville, is big enough for each category to have its own field.  That’s incredible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cinti Cyclist Injured-Help with Alison Delgado Fund

I personally don't know Alison Delgado, it doesn't matter.  Her and her husband seem a lot like my wife and I, athletic professionals, eastsiders, probably a lot like you too.  They race, they ride, run, hike and backpack.  In fact you could probably swap the names and professional occupations in the article below and it'd be like reading your own biography, except she probably beat you in the Flying Pig.  Cute couple too.  Chances are you were on a ride and gave Alison a "cyclists wave" or a head nod and not even knew it was her.  She was struck by a car recently.  The following is an excerpt from the Alison Delgado fundraising page on Razoo, a fundraising website.  Click here to go to that page. Please do what you can to help. 

On October 16th, Alison was riding on Cincinnati's East Side when she was struck a by car. She's still being treated at Cincinnati's University Hospital for the multiple, serious injuries that she sustained.  The medical bills are mounting and your help for Alison is greatly appreciated.  

Alison is the 2005 women’s champion of the Cincinnati Flying Pig.  Read the story by clicking this link to the Flying Pig website.    

Along with her husband, Resident Physician Tim Delgado, she is an avid cyclist, racing in both road and cyclocross events. She also loves hiking and backpacking.
The outdoors aren’t her only passion- she is a Resident Pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Alison is a very bright and outgoing person, so please help wipe away one more needless worry from Tim and Alison’s plate as they focus on Alison’s recovery.
Your donation is entirely tax deductible and everything you give will be sent directly to Fifth Third Bank's Alison Delgado Fund. If you would rather mail a check, please send it to:
The Alison Delgado Fund
c/o Fifth Third Bank
38 Fountain Square Plaza
MD 109026
Cincinnati Ohio 45202
You can also give directly by going to any Fifth Third bank branch office.  Or click here to donate on Razoo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Learn Italian & Train For Nats: Fisher-Price Smart Cycle

You’ve muscled through Moab, pedaled the Blue Ridge Parkway, but you haven’t ridden a bike till you’ve mastered Math Mountain, Shape Lake, Number Fields and Letter Creek.  I saw the TV commercial for this, The Fisher Price Smart Cycle Racer and immediately the heel of my own hand fumped me in the forehead.  Donk!  Much like riding a bike in Cincinnati traffic, it’s a kids exercise bike where you can ride through a wacky interactive educational video game world.  Why didn’t I, a guy who silent pokes fun at fat kids eating caramel apples in mom and dad’s car while I ride by the local farmers market, a guy who once kept a notebook of goofy million dollar ideas including putting the phone book on a memory card for your cell phone, think of this.  It solves two of the nations biggest problems, big fat stupid kids, at once.  I always tell myself the best ideas come from stuff you’re passionate about.  I like writing and cycling but I'm not a big fan of children.  So once again, I point out someone else’s brilliance on my blog in hopes of hornswoggling another Facebook follower.  Fisher Price will make ka-jillions.  Whether it’ll be another cast away toy to trip over two weeks after Christmas is another story.  

But…but.  Maybe there’s room to expand on this.  Maybe I, Joe Biker, can take this “To A Ho Nutha Leh-vo.”  Sooner or later the temperature will plummet and I’ll beg Revolution Fitness for a deal on a three month gym membership to get back in shape for the 2011 season.  No doubt I’ll spend 5-6 hours in the gym every week till I forget what it feels to ride outside of the garage.  What if there was a learning trainer for adults, like a Computrainer without the fake California landscape and maddening diagrams of your poor pedaling technique?  What if instead of watching a DVD of Paris Roubaix or John Cusack in the movie High Fidelity for the 13th time, you could learn Italian with the Rosetta Stone Smart Cycle Racer.  Maybe I could get my Masters degree from the Xavier University at Fisher-Price, learn how to make my own Clif Bars, or tie a bow tie in a fun video game way all while getting massive base miles for the Mohican 100.

Of course it’d need some refinements, unless the reasonably priced $85 Fisher-Price bike would be an upgrade from what you’ve been noodling around town.  Just like hooking up a Computrainer, you could ride your own bike, and swap the software cartridge out in your bottle cage.  Now, imagine crushing the climb up Fluent Italian Mountain, winding your way through Journalism 401 Forest and finishing up with intervals along Bow Tie Creek.

Monday, October 18, 2010

WIKI LEEKI: 2011 Tour De France Route Map Leaked

(Nose Hit News Service/Paris, France)  Just hours before Tour De France organizers planned release of de 2011 race route, Le Wiki Leeki (a French organization that is not on strike) allegedly unveiled portions of the route and uncorked the champagne themselves.  French authorities are redundantly calling it a faux hoax.  Included in the leak were details of new starting cities, a time trial in the Basque town of Testostero'ne, and a full map pictured below.

Stages 1 & 2
Stage 1, according to Le Wiki Leeki, takes place after the traditional prologue in Paris and follows the traditional flat start to the tour taking riders 135 miles from Clenbuterol, originally settled by Russian immigrants and finishes in Cera, known for its potent blood red wine.  Stage 2, the group contends, continues through the northern part of the country with an undulating 120 mile circumnavigation of the wine producing country between Vino and Landis'eille. 

Stages 6 & 7 
The first week of the tour ends with a bumpy ride, according to the Leeki, as the road tilts up for the first time.  Of particular interest is stage 7, which Wiki says will depart in Aach-Gee-Aach and finish 145 miles and three Category 2 climbs later in the Belgian town of Balco.

Stages 9-11 
These three stages take riders from through the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains in the middle of the 2nd week says Leeki.  While stage 9 from E'peeo to Cortisone features 3 HORS rated climbs, stage 10 ending in the ski resort town of Puerto is certain to be a pivotal stage Le Wiki reports,  since it will be followed by a stage 11 time trial from Homologous to Mayo, where mayonnaise was invented.

Full 2011 Tour Route Map

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finally Something Dorkier Than Cycling: Riding a Segway

Do they make you wear a helmet to protect yourself from people throwing things at your head?  EK posted.  If you were any more of a dork, you’d be a Dorkasaurus Rex.  Thanks Mom.  According to my so-called Facebook “friends,” many of which wear spandex and use the words 700c and Dugast in everyday conversation, “I” am the mayor of Dorkopolis because I rode a Segway.  Well, thank you.  I will take the key to this geeked out city with pride for I, Joe Biker, finally found something dorkier than cycling.  It’s riding a Segway…and it kicks more geeky ass than a Garmin GPS with a wattmeter.  (I'm the guy with the orange sleeves and jeans in the video)  

Like Bill Gates gushing over the latest unscratchable glass for iPhone screens, riding a Segway brings out our inner dork.  Yes, you are a dork.  Look at the blog you are reading.  Not so fast mountain biker with the suspension lockout button next to your Ergon grip.  Skinsuited cyclocrossers, don’t even get me started.  Segways have gyros (not the sandwich) that adjust to your input.  Yeah, you wish you had that on your bike, if there were only room between the Garmin and your 900 Lumen LED light.  So face it, we are the not cool people.  Cool people watch Jersey Shore and wear t-shirts designed by famous tattoo artists.  The rest of us wear a chamois pad between our legs and know how to use hand signals. 

But, that’s totally cool.  Us uncool cycling people are fit.  We can wear size 31 jeans.  We have core strength from working out while Biggest Loser is on TV.  Even though The Situation could drink us under the table, we have balance and focus, thanks to that Yoga mat.  While the word Namaste rhymes very well with totally gay, we are way more prepared to survive a Zombie attack than Snookie.  As a result, we are also prepared for other diabolical catastrophes like going on a Segway tour of Cincinnati’s Eden Park with our co-workers under the guise of team building.  Oh the horror.

I did it and I survived.  It was incredibly fun.  I resisted the urge to bring my own helmet.  They go 12mph.  Before you say that's too slow, keep in mind if the people mover at the airport moved at 12mph, the airport's biggest scare wouldn't be terrorism.  This may also be as blindsided as the Nationwide spokesperson’s latest deductible revelation; it was a bit of a workout.  I felt it a bit afterward.  Yeah, it took some fitness to ride that thing.  Core strength is key.  Move your core forward on your toes and it goes forward.  Move your weight on your heels and it goes backward.  Balance on your two feet on a platform over the wheels axel and you stand still.  See…not so easy.  Steering is much like skiing.  Move the handle left to go left, right to go right.  By shifting your weight left or right or in combination with your heel-toe technique and you can do some fun stuff.  When you get the hang of it, you can ride no handed.  Much like cycling, being skinnier makes you faster.  See, got your attention you dork.

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Cincinnati UCI-3 Cyclocross Festival Charm Bracelet

It’s like recovering from a traumatic experience, the UCI3 weekend plays back in sound bites and blurry flashes.  I distinctively remember seeing a female racer in tears on top of the bowl at Devou Park on Friday.  A teammate consoled her.  Not sure if she crashed in the ¾ race or just missed the podium.  I still don’t know.  The weekend feels like a charm bracelet of colorful moments like that.  There’s not a huge story that sticks out from the weekend.  Sure Katie Compton swept it again.  The battle between Trebon and JPow was great to watch from day to day with each trying to use their strengths to the other’s demise.  Nothing against the pro’s, they are the reason we came together this past weekend and they were so nice and approachable.  However, personally I had just as much fun running into my friends Pete and Kate and their cute little toddler for the first time.  His blonde hair was patchy and long.  His head was still a little flat from the crib and he wobbled around and giggled at the crazy bike world around him completely adorable.  That's how the weekend plays out for me, one unrelated blurb after another.

Friday Devou Park, Covington:
Completely whooped and wheezing after my race, I considered drinking from the drinking fountain doggie bowl.  Seriously.  I couldn’t drink water fast enough after the 2/3 race and I’m certain I looked disturbing to the handful of folks on the corner.  A Nut buster.  I seriously should dump this 42T chainring for a 39.  Where’s Parbo?  He’s not feeling good.  My teammate Tony took the 3rd step on the podium in the Cat 3 Masters 45+ at his hometown park.  He doesn’t like flex-fit caps, so he gave me the Shimano hat he won.  

“Ya think Katie Compton would be cool if I took a picture while she’s on the rollers?”  I showed her the photo above and she approved.  I distinctively remember sticking my handlebars between the fence and my teammate’s bike going through the holeshot from road to grass not knowing where I’d come out on the other side.  That crying girl.  She didn’t look hurt.  Geoff Kabush’s sideburns are a wonder of nature.  3 laps to go?  This race could end right now and I’d be completely okay with it.  

Passing a Belgian Waffle and downing it with my wife and four others like sips of Whiskey from a flask.  After the Cat 3 race, seven friends shared a few beers in lawn chairs ringing cowbells.  Somebody left a crappy set of wheels by my truck.  That 12 year old Petrov kid just crushed the Cat 4 field.  Inadvertently mooning pro’s across the street.  My pants kept sliding off my waist as I loaded wheels into my truck.  “I’m sorry.  Did you see my man candy?”  Bridget you owe me five bucks. 

Saturday Harbin Set-up:
Maybe they're in the shed.  I was running late to meet for Harbin course set up in the morning and couldn’t find my leather work gloves.  S*** I need gas too.  Where’s that coupon for Brueggers?  I’m soo late, but I feel so much better after that morning recovery ride.  

Ouch!  I sliced my thumb with a multi tool knife cutting caution tape off of last year’s course marking stakes.  Two on these three UCI3 signs, one each on the other four.  I calculated how to hang the ten cowbells along the sandpit fencing at Harbin (see photo, bells hanging on UCI3 signs.)  Clangalangalang.  I tested each one.  I hope no one steals these overnight.  Wow!  Andy Perrino did a great job.  Those flowers, pumpkins and gourds look great on the stage.  

Phil mentioned he had to jump to cut those tree branches to Trebon and Wicks height.  You gotta choke the golf cart...alot.  “Let’s make our goal to finish taping off the course by 2:15 and be pre-riding by 2:30.”  Record time for Harbin set-up.  Brian cut a tire.  Nate slide out.  Suddenly I was leading the group for the test run.  Oh no, what’s this plastic stuff on my brake pads?  Did I wreck my carbon wheels?  Fhew!  It’s just old glue that oozed out, collected and heat-solidified on the edges of my yellow Swiss-stops. 

Sunday Snapshots at Harbin
“Pump my tires for good luck,” my wife jokingly asked before I left.  I did.  She got a flat on her group ride.  I dropped and tangled my chain with 3 turns to go at Harbin and in 4 seconds 12 guys passed me.  Note to self: not much luck in pumping tires.  

“Does this bike make my ass look fast?”  Jeni wore her funny t-shirt to the race.  Boom-ta-doom-ta.  Boom-ta-doom-ta.  I banged out a weak reggaeton beat on the drum kit next to my buddy Tony, a professional drummer.  He gave me a fist bump of approval me after the jam session during the Women’s ¾ race.  

I want the bat.  My friends Bridget and Kate gave me stick on Halloween tattoos on my neck.  Barry Wicks silently came around me on the warm up.  I bagged it to stay on his wheel.  He was gone after the barriers.  I remember feeling like I was in a video game, nearly missing carnage everywhere on the first lap or two of the Cat 2/3 race.  Cat like reflexes.  

Mary Beth brought refreshements to the drum stand, but hilariously kept knocking the bottles over.  Nate threw his bike.  After taking the lead in the Men’s Cat 3 35+, something happened to cause his bars to twist.  His bike unrideable, he was done.  A sweet two wheel slide.  With a half lap to go, I let it all hang out on the section where I had Barry’s wheel.  I stayed upright.  Dudes just falling down to the grass at the finish line.  They weren’t being drama-queens, they were honestly completely wasted.  

A friend told me he overheard Trebon (pictured at Devou) poke fun at Mark Legg by saying “Go Mister Compton!”  In a friendly way, Legg fired back, “FU Jeremy Powers.”  Chris Nevitt, Gerri Schulze, Jake Virosko and Jason Karew are looking good.  We were all impressed with the showing of local talent in the pro races.  The Double Hurdler burger with onions, mayo and mustard.  The line was huge.  I bet they raised enough money at the food booth to buy the trail cutting machine for Devou Park mountain bike trails.  Geoff Kabush relaxed in the tent next to me as neutral support tightened the hub on my rear wheel.  There were some nice Vittoria knobbed tubies on his bike with a gummy sidewall, very similar to Challenge Griffos, but probably a few bucks less expensive.  A Cat 4 racer cussed right in front of the anncouncer stand and got called out on it!

I mimed “I like your hair” to Suzanne from the drumstand.  She understood and gave her bobby hair a girlish poof.  Good to see and chat with friends I haven’t seen in a long-long time like Suzanne and Bob.  Really good.  That’s the real big story of the weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Walk Ups Welcome: UCI-3 Parbo & Compton Pro CX Clinics Thurs 10-7

UCI-3 pre-registration may be closed, but according to UCI-3 Promoter Mitch Graham walk ups are welcome at the UCI-3 Pro Cyclocross Clinic's Thursday evening at 5:30.  Parbo is hosting a men's clinic at Devou Park and Katie Compton the women's clinic at Harbin.  Just bring correct change, no checks, and pay the pro's directly.  $40 for big folks.  $25 for Juniors 18 and under.  Click here for details.  More here at Bike Reg.

Last year I attended the Parbo/Cameron clinic at Devou Park in Covington.  Even a stuck-in-the-mud Masters racer like me can learn something from the big dawgs.

Some of you have those German levers, Joachim Parbo said to a laughing crowd of about 40 participants at the Cincinnati UCI-3 Cyclocross clinic hosted by Danish National Champion Parbo and US favorite Molly Cameron at Covington’s Devou Park. At the time Parbo was instructing racers of all levels on how to successfully dismount and run barriers cleanly and consistently. Poking fun at some racers top of bar brake levers with a smirk he added, the Germans like safety. Seriously, you want to do one thing and then the next thing, he went on. Hands on the hoods, you brake, swing a leg over, dismount, run and remount. You don’t want to try and do everything at once. Parbo preached consistency. When you do things the same way ever single time, you don’t make mistakes. He jumped on his bike and comically illustrated how someone can bobble while trying to change hand positions, brake, dismount and run all at the same time. The Parbo way became crystal clear. Be consistent. Good advice. Even the racers who’ve been doing Cyclocross for years came away with some useable tidbits for this weekend’s UCI-3 races in Cincinnati.

Parbo always dismounts from the hoods. His brake levers are set up moto-style, left controls rear, and right controls front. He picked up his Leopard bike, and even by the looks of it, it was freakishly light. When you dismount with your hands on the hoods, you’re halfway there. Parbo demonstrated that with your hands on the hoods, your body is in a better position to easily slide on and off the saddle. He instructed the group to just walk with their bikes, sliding on and off the saddle. Light bulbs went on above many racers heads. The riders were no longer jumping on the saddle, but smoothly sliding on. Simple but effective advice.
Molly brought up a great point for shorter riders who were having trouble lifting their bikes high enough to keep the wheels from clipping the tops of the barriers. Keep your elbows in, Cameron instructed. With your hand on the top tube, and your elbow in, the saddle of the bike rises past the side of your body higher. Parbo chimed in, telling a shorty junior to try grabbing from the down tube. The barriers got 4 inches shorter after he did that. Also, keeping your elbows in prevents the bike from swinging wildly and consequently risking it being bobbled if hit by another rider.

Late in the clinic, Parbo said, it’s not about who gets to the barriers first or over them faster. It’s about who gets up to 25 miles per hour first after the barriers. The group went silent. You could almost hear the riders think. 25mph? Who is he kidding?  That’s why Parbo and Molly are pro and we all can learn a lot.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Cincinnati UCI-3 Cyclocross Fan Descripto-pic

With Cincinnati's UCI-3 Cyclocross Festival upon us, now is the time to gear up and cheer like a pro for your favorite pros.  You don't want to look like a complete weirdo at the race.  No wait, yes...yes you do.  Being a fan at a cyclocross race is a whole day endeavor, you need to be prepared.  Take notes and we'll see you this weekend.  Click here for full fan details on spectating at the UCI-3 events in Cincinnati 10/8-10.

Cyclocross Fan crop

Monday, October 4, 2010

Get Bunny Hopped by J-Pow: The Cat 4 Guide to Racing After the Pro’s at Cincinnati's UCI-3 Cyclocross Festival

Quitcher bitchin’.  If you’re a Cat 4, racing after the pro races at Cincinnati’s UCI-3 Cyclocross Festival this weekend, you should be tongue kissing the promoters.  Besides sleeping in like a pro, there’s a giganti-mongous immeasurable positive that no cyclocrosser before you has ever experienced.  You’re the man on the moon.  You’re the first to summit Everest without oxygen.  You’ll get to see how the pros do it, before you race.

People pay grizzled ornery old pro’s (cycling coaches) lots of money every month to get better at cyclocross.  Now, for the low Sham Wow cost of $49.99…no $39.99…no, included with your $30 entry fee, you can study the pro’s and learn lots from them and use that information on the same exact course on the same exact day while the pro’s watch you.  That’s unheard of.  If you do it right, you won’t embarrass yourself riding your Kona in front of the Kona Team RV.  Here’s how to do it:

Get There Early
The times vary each day, but get to the venue to be ready to ride during the open course window before the pro women race.  What!?  I should show up to a race three hours before my start time, that’s crazy talk Joe Biker.  No.  In fact, you should show up FOUR hours before your race.  Get there in time to be ready to ride for the open course before the Masters Men race.  Print off the confirmed riders sheet from the Bike Reg website to help identify the pros.  Ya see, if you get there at the right time you’ll be on the course warming up with Katie Compton, Barbara Howe, Laura Van Gilder and more.  If you know who they are, ask nicely, and they might even stop for a photo.  No duck billing like Snooki please.

Open Course #1
It’s too early for you to be taking a hot (fast) lap, but this is your chance to scout the course when the pros will be taking their own laps.  Right off the bat split the course into sections: the start, the sand, the twists, the straightaway, the backside hill, the barriers, the 2nd sand, the finish.  Then spend a minute or two on each section.  If you luck out, chances are a pro will roll through on a few of those sections.  You’re not going to be able to J-Pow the barriers today, so look for the little things that you can easily duplicate.  What sections is Katie Compton riding in the drops or on the hoods?  If you get behind Barbara Howe, look at her form and mimic it.  How does Laura Van Gilder approach the sand and the barriers?  When does Sue Butler downshift before the climb?

Elite Masters Men
Put the bike back, finish registration.  Chill out.  Eat something.  Noodle past the pro team trucks.  Last year I saw Barry Wicks pin his own bib number to his skinsuit so it when he put it on it was perfectly flat.  Click here for that story.  When the bell rings, grab your bike and get ready for the 2nd open course window.

Open Course #2
Be aware that you’re on the course with the elite women who no doubt will be getting in their last hard efforts before their race.  Watch out and yield for them.  You don’t want to be THAT GUY who crashed out Katie Compton.  Get in a hot lap.  Try the lines you scouted earlier at your race speed.  If you flub a line, turn around and do it again.  With the pro’s, pay attention to what they are doing 15 minutes before they take the hole shot.  See if any of the pros are concentrating on a particular section.  How long are their hard efforts?  How many did she do?

Elite Women
Grab your chair and cowbell and watch a section of the course that’s giving you the heebie jeebies.  Stay off your feet.  Cheer, eat and drink.  You have plenty of time before you need to worry about warming up.  Be a fan.  Enjoy it.

Elite Men Warm-up
After the pro women take the bell, grab your bike and your camera.  When the course is clear, get on your bike and ride with the pros.  Soak up the moment.  You got your hot lap in.  You know the course.  Have fun.  See if you can hang on Parbo’s wheel.   Ride along with Katie Compton as she cools down and say, “good job.”  If your name is Harry Wicks, get a photo with Barry Wicks.  Compare sideburns with Canadian National Champion Geoff Kabush.  Ask a friend to snap a photo while Jeremy Powers bunny hops you!

Pro Men Race
You’ll want to start your own warm up within an hour, but that still should give you enough time to watch at least 2 laps of the pro men’s race.  Watch the holeshot.  Since you registered late and are in the back row, pick a pro who’s a few rows back at the start and watch the strategy they use to work their way through the field.  Run over and catch them on a part of the course you had trouble with.  Then get on the trainer or roll through the neighborhood to warm up your legs.  When you hear the bell, ride over and catch the finish.

Cat 4 Warm Up
Here’s your chance to put what you’ve learned to the test.  Take another lap.  Eat a Gu.  Ride the tough sections at speed.  Get a few hard efforts in.  Practice your start.  Go get ‘em Tiger.