Archive for October, 2009

Feeling ‘Cross

stairsSo yesterday Mrs. Stallion and I were spectators at our first cyclocross race.  It was the Saratoga Spa ‘Cross held at the Spa State Park.  Up until Sunday, my only impressions of cyclocross were from online reports, podcasts and pictures.

It was an awesome event.  It’s a real intimate setting for a race, and there were no bad vantage points along the course.  Adding to the parcours was the fact that the day before the area was treated to about 3 inches of rain.  Race day conditions were great for racing with sun & clouds and about 55°F.

mud
Rain makes mud

The DJ had some rockin’ music blaring from the pavillion, although the choice of Norah Jones playing during the Men’s Singlespeed/Women’s Elite race was questionable.

We showed up just in time to check out the course before the mens 3/4 race.  As you can see from the pictures, the course was very muddy in parts.  What you can’t see is that there are a lot of pine needles mixed in with the mud – a lot of riders were picking gunk out of their brakes that got caked up with the stuff.

The terrain added something I wasn’t expecting – quiet.  I never thought about it, but when you ride a ‘cross bike with what looked like tires at around 40psi on mud and pine needles, it really deadens the sounds of the bike.  Braking was the complete opposite – those rims screamed for mercy when the pads forced the mud on them!

As for the spectator experience, Joe’s Burrito back at the pavillion was hard to beat.  An “epic” burrito was well worth the 5 bucks.  One of the sponsors turned out to be my LBS!  It was cool to see them there.  One of their mechanics that raced the Men’s Singlespeed worked on my bike this season – easy for me to root him on (I got a big thumbs up from him when I told him he was racing for a burrito at the finish line).
Dude worked on my bike!

It was a great time.  It was the first year having the races there and I really hope they come back.  I felt inspired by all the action – the riders gave it their all; even guys 5 minutes back were drilling it over the course.  I don’t think I’ll be racing anytime soon, but who knows?  It might make its way on to my bucket list.

The best moment that I saw was during the little kids race.  About 7 little kids on their striders and training-wheeled bikes did a mini “race” near the pavillion.  When they were about halfway done, one of the Singlespeed guys was previewing the course before his race.  He caught up to the kids and slowed to a stop.  The next thing I hear from the pavillion is a heckler yelling “Sandbagger!”.  Awesome.
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Which Way Do I Turn?

Barney and BarneyWhen I’m out on the road, I have a good sense of where I want to ride.  There are times when I get to an intersection and, depending on how I’m feeling and the weather conditions, I’ll take a different direction than what I had planned.

It’s that time of year now when that change of direction becomes a metaphor for whether or not I go anywhere when I turn the pedals.  It’s a colder than usual October here, and I’m desperately checking the long range forecasts for anything above 52°F and a wind less than 15mph.  I’m not having much luck.

I was all psyched to gain a calendar advantage with a riding vest.  I was able to use it only once so far.  It has not only been cold, but very windy and rainy.  The one ride was successful, but it was almost two weeks ago.

I have stated before that I ride for fitness and for fun.  To me, riding in a cold rain while pushing the red line so I can go 12mph into a stiff headwind is not fun.  The other side of the coin here is that I can turn this all around by calling it a season and moving indoors to ride on the trainer.

Is this that much of a decision?  I can eliminate weather as a factor and get in three solid workouts every week.  No more numb fingers and toes, no more chasing ever-waning daylight, no more feeling guilty that – while my appetite has not lessened – my caloric expenditure has.

I think I know what I should be doing, but I’m fighting it – for now.  I should just pay attention to the signs; there’s only one way to go.

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