cyclocross

October 20, 2009

Race Report and Favorite Pics From Sherwood – Cross Crusade 3

The first muddy barriers of the season, with a creek for added fun.

The first muddy barriers of the season, with a creek for added fun.

(Note: Some of my favorite shots mixed in with my report. Full set of photos on my Flickr page. Click here.)

Brutal. Sherwood kicked my butt. And the butts of many other races from what I could tell. Easily the toughest 40+ minutes of racing I’ve endured so far, but now that I’m on this side of it…it was kind of cool.

I arrived at the venue EARLY, apparently too early, as they hadn’t opened up the big party lot yet as it was too soupy, and said it would only be open to 4WD vehicles if they did. Turns out the rains never really hit hard, and everyone ended up parking up there, while we were hid away in the back lot with the other early morning refugees. I dropped the 1963 vintage team travel trailer, affectionately known as “The Commodore,” got prepped and headed out to walk the course.

Heading down the slick track towards the first pit on the course.

Heading down the slick track towards the first pit on the course.

On my course pre-walk, I realized our first mud, and some big hills were going to kick my butt. I also picked up a blister on each heel due to some poor sock/boot implementation. Got back to the Commodore, changed into my gear and went out to pre-ride the course. I went at a slower pace, just checking out what I was in for — down the muddy hill, up the muddy climb, long runs down the bumpy, slick single track, back up the muddy hill, down into the ditch for the barriers, then holy crap…the hill.

James. Either really into his ride, or singing Katy Perry.

James. Either really into his ride, or singing Katy Perry.

On my pre-ride, I made it all the way up the top of the hill..putting everything I had into my cranks. At this point I was rethinking my single ring up front…or at least the gearing combo I’d thrown together. At the top of the hill one thought came to mind, I had just shot my legs. Having had a low fevery feeling the last few days, and not much sleep, I was waxed already, and the race hadn’t even started. I climbed the second part of the hill, snagged a sip of some hot water from the Chris King tent, and headed to the start.

Lazy T's, still rockin' it at Sherwood.

Lazy T's, still rockin' it at Sherwood.

My number was drawn second or third to last, so I started somewhere near the back of the 100+ riders for the day. For the first couple hundred yards I couldn’t clear a pedal of mud and dinked around with that until almost the first turn into the off camber switchback section. Between those two, and my general lack of speed, I found myself almost completely at the back of the big bottleneck heading into the woods. We lined up and cruiser paced it down the muddy track.

Somewhere after I wiped out and before I flatted out. This photo credit and copyright Oregon Velo - http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc0903r1/cc0903smy0035_12_22_2

Somewhere after I wiped out and before I flatted out. This photo credit and copyright Oregon Velo - http://photos.oregonvelo.com/p/cc0903r1/cc0903smy0035_12_22_2

Somewhere around the back of the course I made up a few spots, passing in the bumpier (if you can believe it) sections along the single muddy track. I felt great over the barriers, avoiding the dip just before them, clearing the creek after them without any slipping, and getting back up and on at the bottom of the hill. However, within just a short amount of the start of the climb, it dawned on me. I had no legs left.

Kiddie Kross racers lined up to take on the equestrian course.

Kiddie Kross racers lined up to take on the equestrian course.

As much as I did not want to hop off an push my bike up the gravel road, my legs would literally not go any more, and I gave in. My effort at running up while I pushed was also lame, and I essentially leaned into my bike to push-walk it up the hill. At the top I was able to get back on for the descent and make the second part of the climb as we turned towards the finish line, but I was feeling the pain. Many of the faces the rest of the day at that same spot, would tell me they knew the same pain.

Captain Ron, who seemed to be EVERYWHERE on the course throughout the day...including giving me a push when I needed it!

Captain Ron, who seemed to be EVERYWHERE on the course throughout the day...including giving me a push when I needed it!

As I started into the 3rd lap, after another unsuccessful attempt at climbing that hill, I slid out in the first muddy climb, and a lady standing at that corner said something along the lines of, “it just sucks the life out of you, don’t it?!” Amen. In fact, in the next muddy section, I was shot and shouldered my bike to just run up the hill rather than try to mash it out. The spikes of my shoe caught the ground, and I threw my body and bike right back down to the ground. A photographer was at the top of said hill, and I thought, “you’re welcome…for the great shot.”

A future Men's A racer gutting it out on the corner.

A future Men's A racer gutting it out on the corner.

I made my way back to the hill, walked it again, thinking about how I could easily just be the team owner/mascot/cheerleader and NOT feel like my head was going to explode ever again, but eventually crossed the line as someone said “last lap,” and I realized I was on the verge of ending the pain. I headed through the switchbacks, and into the trees for the first muddy section. Made it down into the bottom and started back up the other side, where I had just wiped out on the last lap. My rear end started sliding out, but I cranked harder and kept the bike vertical, but felt something wonky in that last moment. Sure enough, I had rolled the tire, caught the tube, and was quickly getting to just a ride on the rim. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill by the first pit, all the air was gone, and a guy in the pit said “last lap, you might as well ride it out.” Then he changed his mind and said, “but be careful you don’t rip that tire up.” Since we were just about to ride some mixed rocky/muddy/bumpy path, I opted out of riding the rim, hoisted the bike and started jogging.

These tats are probably going to show up in a million photos this cross season.

These tats are probably going to show up in a million photos this cross season.

A few yards into the run, someone said “man, keep it up, I ran from that same spot last lap.” I remembered him when I passed him on my bike the last lap. Several thoughts crossed my mind. Walk off the course, there are at least 3/4’s of the 2 mile track left. Get on and ride, so what if you trash the tire. Run faster. Run slower. Walk. And then the blisters I put on my heels earlier in the day started kicking in to make it all the more enjoyable. I ran into the Crusade guys changing up the course for the C’s when one asked if I was the last rider, and they called ahead to let them know I was still coming.

Ellen, with a great start in the Women's A race.

Ellen, with a great start in the Women's A race.

I jogged/walked the rest of the way. Over the barriers, up both hills, around the corner, and when I reached the finish line, I leaned over to make it easier for the cameras to record my number…since I was moving so fast. Then I put the bike down and walked off the course, once I made sure they marked me down for completing my 4th lap. Sucked to have to cover all that distance on foot, but felt good to stick with it ’til the end of the lap.

At the top of the nasty, wicked, miserable hill.

At the top of the nasty, wicked, miserable hill.

I was really wiped the rest of the day, but had a great time cheering on the rest of the Pacific Pedaling team. Pat, Ellen, James, Tyler and Martha all worked hard and continued to represent with solid performances. James even came within 1 place of top ten in Men’s A. Soon grasshopper, soon. Between races we grilled up some burgers and sausages and left them to warm on the grill until after the races where we threw a little party with other racing buddies, and shut down the Equestrian Center. Dave proudly proclaimed that the race had cost him his breakfast, and we met a cool dude named Mike from Kansas City who was on a bike tour through the Northwest and had stopped in to race the Crusade for a bit. All in all, a great day of racing in Sherwood Forest.

2009 Pacific Pedaling riders after a tough course. Seriously, the best team a sponsor could ask for.

2009 Pacific Pedaling riders after a tough course. Seriously, the best team a sponsor could ask for.

How was your race at Sherwood? Feel free to give a report in the comments!

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October 15, 2009

Pacific Pedaling Riders Make the Cyclocross Diaries

Wend Magazine, through the skillful hands of Heidi Swift and Eric Keeney have produced Volume 2 of this years Cyclocross Diaries, and both Tyler and James make quick appearances. Tyler in a quick pan shot with Peyton, and James gets a quick interview. Check it out.

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October 14, 2009

Rainier Wrap Up – Cross Crusade #2

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Although a series of unfortunate events the morning of the race kept me from making it to my race on time, it was a great day for racing for the rest of the Pacific Pedaling team, and the hundreds of other racers that turned out. The course was dry and dusty, adding to the fun of the epic hill climbing. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day (click for full size.)

You can find all of the nearly 300 shots from the day on our Flickr page.

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October 9, 2009

Cross Crusade 1 – Big Alpenrose Wrap Up

How do you think this guy did at the opening Crusade race at Alpenrose? Answer: Not Too Shabby...

How do you think this guy did at the opening Crusade race at Alpenrose? Answer: Not Too Shabby...

It’s almost been a whole week since the first race of the Cross Crusade series at Alpenrose, and I’m just getting around to put down some thoughts. It’s been an insane week around here after racing two days in a row in my first weekend of racing!

After spending all day Saturday at Heiser Farms, I got up at 5 on Sunday to load a few more things, load my bikes, and head up to Alpenrose to get there around 7 am. Having never been to Alpenrose, and knowing that instead of the 100 or so racers we had at Heiser, there would likely be 1300-1400 racers alone, I wanted to make sure to get there early enough to get a decent spot for the team, set up, get through my routine, and be at the start line to race on time! Fortunately, I found the venue easily enough after a couple of missed turns, and landed a spot along the gravel road right on the course.

Cross racers lined up at the registration tent to get signed in and numbers for the race

Racers lined up at the registration tent to get signed in and numbers for the race

After getting some stuff set up, James and Tyler arrived in time to take my course pre-ride lap with me. I didn’t have enough time to walk the course, as I did at Heiser, so I just rode it the first time through. Nothing seemed to tricky, but definitely more off-camber, slightly slick areas compared to the day before. Also more areas to gain some serious speed, particularly behind the Velodrome, and thankfully Tyler was kind enough to show me the proper Superman Dismount over the bars, should I choose to put my bike down at the corner at the bottom. (I never did…but PLENTY of folks throughout the day used Tylers technique at that spot.) We headed back to the tent, dropped my jacket, took a last sip of water and headed to the start.

Ellen after ripping through the barriers.

Ellen after ripping through the barriers.

At the start, I found out that those racers with numbers ending in 9 had already been called up, so I worked my way through the mass of 142 riders waiting to get called up, and pulled in behind the other 9s. Since things were a little hectic up to this point, it was only then that I really took in how HUGE this event was compared to the day before. 142 riders behind me (I’d later learn that over 1400 people raced throughout the day), vendors up and down the concourse, almost 30 team tents alone along the row we were in, parking lot nearly full at 9 am. I was getting a tad nervous at the thought of 140 of us, many with novice skills at best, about to head up and then down a damp paved road as fast as we could, heading towards a slick muddy turn.

James cornering up top on his way to the switchback stairs.

James cornering up top on his way to the switchback stairs.

James appeared off to the right and yelled over at me, “Its like winning the lottery!” because I was in the first group. I saw Dave with his camera and asked that he only shoot from the chest up, to keep the number of gutteral shots down across the internet. I met another guy who’d never really raced, and we talked about locking arms in the front and keeping everyone at our pace. After a few thank yous from the promoter to the sponsors, we were off. Several people passed me, and I passed a few folks myself. As we headed down the first paved runway, and headed towards the corner, the sound of many cantis barking was incredibly loud. Fortunately, nobody went down in front of me, or anywhere immediately behind me, as far as I could tell.

Pat working his way to the big run up.

Pat working his way to the big run up.

We headed the short distance to the first off road transition and James was there to yell, “Pedal Paul, keep pedaling!” We ran along the edge of the section and turned down the long descent behind the Velodrome to the turn where Tyler had speed-dismounted earlier. I on and off rode brakes down the hill, and made the corner at a speed I was comfortable with. I know, comfortable doesn’t win races (and neither do brakes) but I wanted to get through the race as I best knew how, and not slamming into the ground seemed like a good plan for me, especially on my first Crusade race.

The concrete switchback stairs that is Alpenroses kind of fun!

The concrete switchback stairs that is Alpenrose's kind of fun!

After climbing the next quick hill, heading through the tight slow turns through the trees, and down through the long dirt and gravel area behind the parking lot I remembered what Ron Strasser had yelled at me at Heiser, “remember to recover where you can!” Tyler had also pointed out this very section and said it was a decent place to recover, and then crank, crank crank, when coming out of the turn at the bottom. Seemed like good advice, and I tried to do it each lap. The next section was bumpy and bone jarring, and probably the cause of all the back pain complaints I’ve heard throughout the week.

Here I am, just before the big run up, about to shoulder my bike. Photo copyright OregonVelo.com - http://oregonvelo.exposuremanager.com/g/alpenrose

Me, off my bike just before the run up, about to shoulder that pretty little thing. (Thanks IRA!) This image is copyright OregonVelo.com - http://oregonvelo.exposuremanager.com/g/alpenrose

Before long, we had cruised by the tents, turned 180 back along some more bumpy course (the grass was less bumpy than the actual path), into some more gravel, then a quick turn on the pavement, and down along the pit area. After the pit section, was the grand run up hill, where I actually felt great each time I ran up it. In fact, making that a part of my regular practice helped me in being able to pass folks with my bike on my shoulder.

The run up hill later in the day after my race. This would be sloppy in the mud!

THE run up! This thing would be nasty in the rain and mud...a sloppy mess I'm sure!

After the run up, we rode into the Velodrome, did some tight cornering, and into our first barriers. I don’t hit these at top speed, but the speed works for me, and I feel confident and comfortable over them…no crashes or issues on either sets of barriers throughout the race. Back out of the Velodrome, up a slick hill, up and down over the off camber area, and then onto the next set of barriers, more pavement, and then off the bike to run up the concrete switchback stairs.

Pat Jackson collecting his thoughts after snapping his chain behind the Velodrome on the nasty corner.

Pat Jackson, collecting his thoughts after busting up his chain.

Around the 2nd lap, I realized I hadn’t eaten before the race. I had half a bowl of oatmeal at 5:30, but nothing after. My stomach was yelling at me, and my head was a little light, but overall, I actually felt STRONGER than I had the day before. It didn’t make sense to me that I’d have to very intense days, long hours, race hard one day, and actually feel better the next day. I’m sure there’s a science in there, but for whatever reason, I just took it and rode as hard as I could. Next thing I knew, we got the 1 lap to go, and then it was over. Just like that.

At the Pacific Pedaling tent, Pat and Ellen stretch and warm up, while Tyler tells a tale of horror and fear.

At the Pacific Pedaling tent, Pat and Ellen stretch and warm up, while Tyler tells a tale of horror and fear.

How’d I finish? 112 out of 142. I’m actually very pleased with that. I can only go up from there, and I did it on the second day of racing in a row, in my very first cross racing weekend ever. At the risk of too much team love in too many posts in a row, I won’t go on about the rest of the team…suffice to say, it was a great weekend of racing, and I’m officially hooked. Watching the rest of the team race, eating waffles with Tyler, tailgating with the team, cheering everyone on, shooting photos, and hanging out after the race…seriously a great day! Looking forward to Rainier (but maybe not so much this hill I keep hearing about….)

Alpenrose Wrap Up Links

You can find all the results at OBRA, and all the Pacific Pedaling team results for the season here.

My flickr photo page for Alpenrose here.

Wend Blog Cyclocross Diaries thanks to my buddies Heidi and Eric (embeded below)

Crank My Chain Alpenrose Video

Yakima Bike Vigilantes Helmet Cam video – Great if you’ve never been on a cross course before

alpenrose 09 chris mix from Dylan VanWeelden on Vimeo.

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October 5, 2009

Heiser Farms Pumpkin Canon Video

Heiser Farms Pumpkin Canon – Willamette Valley Cyclocross Series from nwduffer on Vimeo.

I still have a race report to come, but wanted to get the photos out (posted yesterday in the previous post) before heading up to Alpenrose, and also wanted to export this quick video for anyone who hasn’t been able to make it out to Heiser Farms to race.

On top of being a fun, cool course to race on, the venue is especially family friendly during this season with a great Pumpkin Patch, with plenty of activities for the little ones. Of course, not only do the kids like the pumpkin canon, but the adults do as well. This year, a new canon was added to the arsenal, and both of these babies shoot over 1500 feet at 80-90 psi. Check out the video to see one in action. The second half of the video shows a long bomb shot, and the landing is hard to see…just had my DSLR with me, but watch for the tuft of pumpkin blast at near the back of the mowed corn field, off to the right of the target.

Read more about the canon on the Heiser Farms website.

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October 4, 2009

Photos From Heiser Farms – Willamette Valley Cyclocross

Pat Kudszus working the run up woodland barriers at Heiser Farms.

Pat Kudszus working the run up woodland barriers at Heiser Farms.

No time to edit or crop since we have another full day of racing at Alpenrose today, so I just kicked out a bunch of photos from yesterday. I’ll post some favorites and race reports after the weekend, but for now you can see the full set on PacificPedaling’s flickr page.

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September 30, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

My Dominators the way I've been used to riding them this year.

My Dominators the way I've been used to riding them this year.

Guess I’m gonna have to get used to riding with these babies. Looks like rain on Saturday for the Heiser Farms race…my first real cross race.

And the Dominators with the new spikes in them. Always something new to learn....

And the Dominators with the new spikes in them. Always something new to learn....

Three days left….off to pick up my bike today….

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September 28, 2009

Feels A Bit Like Bike Finals Week!

Quick iPhone snapshot of Portland builder Ira Ryan holding my custom cross frame.

Quick iPhone snapshot of Portland builder Ira Ryan holding my custom cross frame.

This is going to be a bit of a crazy week here at Pacific Pedaling. In addition to crazy work and home schedules, there’s a lot going on heading into the first weekend of cross racing. I’m dropping off some parts to Ira Ryan to finish wrapping up my custom cross frame in time to get a couple days of riding in before my first cross races this weekend. I hate to post such a crummy photo, but I only had my iPhone with me the day I popped in to take a look, but I’ll post some soon, I’m sure. It’s hard to tell from the funky photo above, but I used the same paint codes as my wife’s restored 78 Ford pickup:

Speaking of racing this weekend, I’m still officially in doctor prescribed ‘time off the bike.’ It was suggested that I stay off for a full week, but I couldn’t quite give it up completely, so I did my commuting riding and just kept spinning, and laid off the running and leaping stuff for a few days. Gotta get back at it this week though…I know I have no idea what I’m in for this weekend. Also looks like we’ll have some rain both days at Heiser and Alpenrose, so it should be at least a taste of some cold and slippery riding.

Aside from the previously mentioned time of the ankle, I’d been having some decent days of skills practice. I built some portable barriers (post soon) and have found a lot of great places to practice different skills in the Keizer Rapids park – dismounts, barriers, run ups, stairs, descents, gravel, dirt, sand, grass and what not. I told James last night that I still haven’t done a ton of off camber cornering, and I know that will be my weak point going into the weekend…well, that and just being slow in general. If everything comes together this week, it should be a fun weekend.

After hours I’m working on wrapping up the 1963 Aristocrat trailer and hope to have it for the team where space allows on cold and rainy days! Also, this is the last week of the Bike Commute Challenge for the month and I’m proud of everyone at the office who has taken on the task of replacing at least some of their car commutes with bike commutes to work!

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July 14, 2009

Salem Short Track Racing In August

salemstxcJeff McNamee, of Willamette Valley Cyclocross and Buy Local Cycling sent me an email confirming that the Salem Short Track series is a go for this August, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds!

Races will be held on August 10, 17, 24 and 29, with the event on the 29th being held during the State Fair. All races will be held on the BMX track and adjacent grassy field at the Oregon State Fairgrounds; Salem, OR.  The course will include a combination of grassy flats, twisty singletrack and bumpy dirt track (BMX course).

For more information, starting times, directions and information about Buy Local Cycling, be sure to visit the BLC site. Hope to see you at the races!

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June 30, 2009

Greetings from New Orleans!

Our hotel on St. Charles street in New Orleans.

Our hotel on St. Charles street in New Orleans.

I have a few posts to put up about riding in several states across this great country of ours, but we’ve hardly had a minute to breathe, let alone sit and write. However, we have a few quieter days ahead, so I should be able to blog about those soon. Meanwhile, feel free to read about our cross country trip on the little blog we set up for that.

For today, let me just say that the littlest things make me happy. For example, while my kids were all racked out from a long day of driving (complete with a nice chat with the captain of the Washington, Louisiana police force about the speed of my vehicle,) and a late night dinner here in the heart of New Orleans, I hopped on Ira’s site to see what was up. Lo and behold, there’s the phrase I’ve been waiting to read: “Paul’s cross all rounder.”

When I last met Ira, we drew up plans for a sweet cross bike that could also be able to serve double duty as an all around Pacific Northwest type of bike….fenders, racks, etc.  I’m stoked. All these months I’ve been seeing everyone elses name show up on the blog — jealous that they’d soon be riding their sweet custom builds, and today, it looks like we’re just that much closer.

I’m off to have some coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde (you gotta do that in New Orleans, right?) but wanted to update you on the progress of the Ira Ryan build. Too legit now!

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