Monday, October 15, 2007

iron cross lite

I wish I could have ran Iron Cross V on Sunday, but Iron Cross Lite was a satisfactory substitute.

I entered only one field this time--Men's B--and had a truly awful start. Halfway through the first lap I was in dead last place. Things improved from there, fortunately. I found a comfortable rhythm and began picking off riders by ones and twos. With two laps to go I was in third place and bearing down on second...then I went down hard through a gravel corner. I bloodied up my elbow and knee some, but the wreck also left my handlebars bent way out of whack. The time it took to get up, straighten my handlebars, and get rolling again was enough to allow two riders to catch up, and I guess the shock of the pounding was enough to knock the rest of my get-up-and-go out too. I finished a disappointing fifth place.

My cyclocross races to date have reminded me too much of high school cross country--start out way slower than everyone else, but keep a steady pace and pick off runners as I go. The trouble with this strategy (I call it a strategy, when in actuality it's nothing intentional, it just happens) in cyclocross is twofold. First, tight, twisty and sometimes singletrack terrain keeps you from passing at will and, second, one would prefer to sit on the wheel of the faster riders and not have to expend energy catching them alone. In this race Saturday, for instance, I'm sure I could have comfortably sat on the wheel of the first or second place finisher, ridden their pace, etc., had I started out on their wheel in the beginning instead of at the back of the pack. The moral of the story? I've got to improve my starting position and the speed and strength of my starting move.

I had a nice cheering section for this one--Val and the girls, plus Paul, Justin, Megan, the twins, Lane, and Elise. Thanks all for coming.

Anyway, a few pictures from the race, all coming through the death spiral.

Speaking of which, I was a little surprised how slowly some were riding the Spiral. For the most part, the turns were swoopy enough to go through with a full head of steam, but few really attacked them.

I say "for the most part," because on several occasions I had to brake strongly to keep from soaring through the barrier tape. I'm sure I will do this before long--at this point, my strength far exceeds my skill. As I begin to take more risks, I'm sure I'll suffer more dire consequences--like going down hard in a gravel turn, for instance.

I thought it a nice touch that at Iron Cross the tape poles were plastic, rather than the metal fencepost style they used at Hagerstown. Those metal poles seem like a very bad idea.

By the way, my new bike rules. My only complaint was the saddle, but that complaint was quickly resolved by throwing on the SLR from my road bike.

Yes, my tongue is flapping about like a dog's in that last picture.


UtRider said...

I bet you'd be faster if you got some real tatoos.

How much running has been involved in cross racing thus far? It looks like fun but I'm worried about tweaking my bad knee when I'm off the bike.

goat said...

Not much running.

My first cross race had a ride-able run-up and just one set of barriers.

Iron Cross Lite had only one set of barriers and on the run-up.

So in both races just as much running as it takes to make it over the barriers and get back on the bike, which is only maybe 10-15 strides per lap.

vandyman said...

Out of curiosity, since most of these cyclocross races appear to be taking place in public parks and our organization has occasionally been asked to be the named sponsor on application to Metro parks for cyclocross races and our board has been concerned about environmental damage in terms of ripped up grass, etc..., how much wear occurs on the course between the beginning of the event and the end?

goat said...

Of the three race I've done so far, one was at a fairgrounds (where there was grass, but the kind of grass you might lead your overflow parking to), one was at a YMCA camp up in the woods (where the grass was that kind of woodsy grass-clump stuff), and the other was on a private estate (where the grass was weed control, not aesthetic).

But no, it's not so easy on the grass. I mean, I'm sure the grass will recover, but it's not something you'd want to do to a really nice park or that you'd want to do to it every weekend.

In Nashville, I think Shelby/Shelby Bottoms would be a great place for a cross race. My experience is limited, but I think the best courses have mixed terrain--some dirt road, some asphalt, some grass, some sand, some single/double track...