|Anna about to execute a dynamic dismount after testing the limits of adhesion through the Tall Tree Chicane|
Wow, what a Sunday! Just thought I'd write a 'few' words about today's proceedings and follow up asap with another couple posts on each of today's events with...more photos! We all like the photos, right? Right.
Today was, and continues to be, a long day for most of the Tall Tree contingent. Way back last winter during a meeting, we all agreed we needed to support Bob and company's efforts at the cyclocross races. Some of us had been at it full on for a while, others dabbling and getting more serious, and yet others ready to take on the discipline for the first time in 2010. All agreed that every team/club in town ought to pitch in in an organized manner to help Bob's crew set up the race courses. Everyone who has races good cross courses has likely noticed that cool turns require stakes and tape. Otherwise, riders end up cutting them. But stakes and tape take a lot of troops on the ground to set up. Wouldn't it make sense for each team/club to come out to help set up for a couple races over the season? Wouldn't we all benefit from the opportunity to create more complex sections, more challenging corners? Then there's the fact that we're all racing for a song in the first place. Yeah, getting involved was the way to go.
So this morning we collected at Britannia at 7am. Sure, it was tough to get up at 5:45, but hey, don't Bob and company get up even earlier every Sunday each fall? Yep. And most of them don't even get to race!
|The before and aftermath - post-set-up, pre-raee|
Bob got us to work quickly; clear direction and the tools we needed were provided and we were off in teams of two, helping the handful of other volunteers already on hand. Mike and I were fortunate enough to be tasked with the creating of a chicane adjacent the course's first barrier run-up, which I derived a lot of enjoyment from. See, I have a thing for challenging corners that reward savvy riding. I love being challenged to try turns different ways and figure them out; and I figure most others do to...if they didn't they probably wouldn't be interested in cross! Mike and staked and taped up an off camber u-turn followed by a pinchy crook and a sweeper. I realized later on that setting the course was a lot like building dirt jumps, something I used to do for hours at a time years ago. Building dirt jumps always felt closer to play than work, and setting the course was the same. Good times. I think the rest of our crew had a great time too, even those with wet, cold feet. The stakes the OBC recently purchased for course marking are fantastic, safer than wood, as they pull out well when struck, and they are easy to install without tools. They are not cheap either (I saw a price tag for $3.89 or so) on one, that'll add up fast. If there is a need for more stakes down the road, perhaps each of our clubs could put some money together and purchase some? $10 per rider would go a long way. A thought. Let us know Bob.
The first race saw a number of riders enjoy the Tall Tree chicane, and we got some fantastic photos! Neil and Anna raced this race AND the second, as did Jay Heins and David Bilenky, to name those I noticed. Now that's spirit! Awesome. And speaking of awesome, there were some little rippers totally rocking on the course today, and having fun doing it. There's nothing I like to see more than a child enjoying cycling. Wonderful.
|One of the best through the chicane; fantastic!|
|Randonneurs rock out in cyclocross too; Vytas looking poised.|
|Neil got to ride the chicane...|
|Moto style worked, but outside-inside clipped in was the fastest line|
Race two started great. I was paired up with Todd (Dr. Smooth) Fairhead, Tall Tree's 'most impressive' rider. Todd got back into the swing of competitive cycling this year after a hiatus that spanned some years. He used to race both road and track, but cyclocross was a complete unknown for Todd before today. With Todd still waiting on his new Steelwool Truffle Pig, Will offered up his personal Steelwool Pure Laine cross bike, and Todd was in business. I had no expectations in terms of a team result, I simply wanted to try to do my best first lap possible, and I wanted Todd to have a good time. As it turned out, that's what happened.
Choosing to line up on the narrow path behind a few fast guys paid off. While others on the grass struggled to get traction, those of us on pavement pulled away right off the bat. By the approach to the chicane, I was third or fourth wheel, ready to take my inside line. But wait, what the....the course was changed! Doh, instead of sweeping up with momentum, we swung lower and had to climb up. I figure Bob was concerned about additional grass damage; good to know. I guess I was fazed a bit from the change, and proceeded to clip a stake, one I placed myself(!), on the exit of the sweeper turn. It jammed in my bike and derailed my chain, so I had to dismount and replace it. Doh, about 10 riders streamed by. But Rob was one of them, I could chase him! So it went, I caught Rob, we worked together, and came in together. Off went Todd.
Holy heck, Todd's in 4th! Whoa, I had no idea Todd would get the hang of cross so quickly? I remember being horrible in my first race, totally blowing up and getting lapped. He sure didn't! Away I went, with Rob rolling at the same time. So again we worked together, reeled in Glen Rendall, and advanced a bit. Each lap got a bit easier as I eased up a bit off the start and rode a good tempo through the course. It was nice to hammer the last straight, knowing I could stop right away! Todd churned out three consistent, fast laps, and I pulled four, with another funny crash on my last lap heading into the second uphill barrier. Mid turn I was thinking, "Man this is going great, I'm railing this better than all the other times!" then I slid out! Pretty funny. Maybe next time I'll rail it and stay up...only one way to find out: test the limits of adhesion!
So, thanks to Todd's incredible debut, we managed to pull off the win for the Green Bastards from Parts Unknown (Tall Tree) on our terrific steel(wool) bicycles! How bout that? Congrats Todd, you are indeed Tall Tree's most impressive rider! And thanks to Rodd for the loan of his Michelin Mud tire, once again. This tire is just so good (its the old green one, you know, the one everyone raves about that they discontinued). Turns out my valve stem on my rear tubular decided to break off as I was adding air, so I had to pilfer a core from my front wheel and was forced to use Rodd's wheel. Poor me... It was awesome, steel skewer and all (as in, the whole thing is steel).
Post race, we collected for our first team photo with almost everyone present - just short Thom and David (and Will, actually, as he was behind the camera). Then it was home or wherever for all who would regroup at the shop for 2pm for the Fixed Gear Frolic.
Wow again, what a turnout this year! I counted 40 riders at the shop, including Brad with tandem and trailer in full effect. Sweet. Our route was designed to be scenic, mellow in grade, and easily tunable/bailable. It delivered. We managed to stay together pretty well, and enjoyed a nice coffee and snack at Bridgehead in New Edinburgh. As the day grew later we hemorrhaged riders and wound up cutting the route down about 50%, which was totally fine. A group of six of us returned to the shop at about 5:45, putting us back home right about on target, 6pm. Many commented on enjoying the route, so we'll be sure to stick with the concept next year. I suspect we'll run a route on the Quebec side next time though to spice it up and expose folks to some great sections of path over there. It'll be fun. Photos to come - post links if you don't send em to me.
Up Next: Double Cross
Don't forget about Thanksgiving Monday's Double Cross ride. Line up a partner and get your fattest knobbies on your cross bike. The route will be a bit different than last year; I'm aiming to add some dirt, while removing the roughest sections (they would still be an option though). Expect to see the awesome poster Greg has been working on any minute now. I'll provide details on the route later on this week. Remember, start is at the Gamelin gate at 09:30.