Thursday, September 13, 2012


Since it's almost time to pack the car and head up to Vermont for the opening weekend of the Verge series, I figured that I'd better get off my butt and put up a post about LAST weekend's racing :).

Last year, Mike and I both participated in the Zanconato Single Speed Cyclocross Trophy Series. We had a BLAST, and I decided that after some pretty decent performances, I would focus on that series again this year. Bluntly, it's more fun :).

So why race SSCX? Some argue that the single speed is an equipment choice, and shouldn't be a category (perhaps true). This series of races, though, lets us compete with others who share a passion for racing with one gear. In fact, at least one person I know who raced with a zip-tie setup last year ended up with a brandy new custom SSCX bike for this season, and had so much fun racing that category on Saturday that she decided NOT to race the geared race Sunday and to ONLY race on the single speed. Why? It's more fun.

But wait, how can racing the same course, on one gear, be more fun? Some say it's because you don't have to think, which is partially true. While I am racing on the SS - I don't think about shifting (though I do occasionally think about wanting one more gear...), but I do have to think about my technique, my body English, and how I am riding. Racing the SSCX bike is about fitness for certain, but you can't do it without skills - carrying momentum where necessary, standing more to get up, over and around. Yes, it has a simplicity, but it is totally different from racing a geared bike. Unfortunately, I can't do justice to what it feels like on the blog - you simply have to go out and try it for yourself and then you'll see how much fun it really is.

So last weekend we attended the opening two races in the series - Roll in the Hay with B.O.B on Saturday, and QuadCross on Sunday. The B.O.B race was new this year and didn't disappoint. I thought it was a great course (reminiscent of Vermont, actually), though some said it was boring. Certainly on the SS, it was a challenge - starting with a tough uphill grind, steep off-camber uphill 180s, stairs, a death-spiral, some wicked fast downhills into loose corners... Speeds varied wildly for me - anywhere from about 6 mph in the uphill corners, to about 23 mph heading downhill. 

Photo: Andy Cooper
It was HOT on Saturday - really HOT. We were informed that we would be able to take feeds during the race given the temps and humidity, but Mike and I were racing at the same time, and wouldn't be able to do that. We lined up by order of reg, men and women mixed together (note to promoters - I LOVE this! Given the relatively small size of the women's SSCX races, it gives us someone to race WITH/AGAINST. Please consider this model for your race!), and had to get started UPHILL on really loose gravel. Fun stuff!

Photo: Andy Cooper
I had a better start than at Monson, but still couldn't get the legs to turn over the way I needed them to as we climbed up the steep switchbacks. It wasn't long before the rest of the women were ahead of me, but I have a determination to just keep going, no matter what. I soon saw Cait coming backwards, and then saw her at the cars - she had flatted her rear tire... Honestly, my race was pretty uneventful, but I did get to race the entire time - Kurt M. of Comprehensive Racing/Salem Cycles was with me, and we would trade places back and forth. That type of racing definitely makes it more fun.

I ended up third, and on the podium at the first race in the series. I think I was more excited about the trophy I got than the six pack of High and Mighty :).

For some reason, the SSCX races are stacked up at the end of the race day this year. That meant that our race on Sunday wasn't scheduled to start until almost 4 pm. At least the venue was close - Quad Cross moved to the Maynard Rod and Gun club last year, and it is a terrific place for a cross race (and it doesn't hurt that it is close enough that Mike could ride over from home!). The challenge, however, was figuring out what to do with the day when we were racing so late. In the end, we decided to head over early, and watch the earlier races, and hang with our friends.

I LOVE the Quad Cross course. It is very different from the course on Saturday - more technical with a sandpit, uphill/off camber twisty section and a couple of really short and steep uphills. The whole course keeps you on your toes, and is really fun. While the day started out cooler than Saturday, by the time we lined up to race the sun was blazing, and it was back to hot. Once again, I got a decent start, following Katina and Kerry through the initial section of the course. Kerry opted to run the sand section, and I managed to stay on the bike and ride through behind her. And then the gap opened...

Unfortunately, I didn't have anyone around me during this race, but I still went as hard as I could. I managed to remount after the barrier section to get into the technical uphill/off camber section on each lap, which was a win for me! 

Sometime in the second lap, my bike felt like something was loose. On the run-up, I quickly checked both tires and they were ok, but the bike was still making a pretty God awful noise. Finally, I determined that it was most likely the front wheel being loose. At first, the thought of the wheel possibly coming out of the drops terrified me - but clearly not enough to take the time required to stop and fix it :) By the time I finished the race, it was clearly VERY loose, and I am lucky that it didn't come out mid-race - that would have been catastrophic. When Mike asked why I didn't stop I simply replied, "I was racing - there's no time to stop!" 

After some initial confusion, I ended up on the podium again on Sunday. Mike had a great race on Sunday too, taking the win over a pretty solid field. It was vindication for Saturday when his mechanic failed him - he dropped his chain twice :). I'll let him fill you in on the sordid details.

After the race, we ended up at our favorite Maynard eatery - The Halfway Cafe for deep fried goodness, burgers and fries. But even that wasn't without some adventure - Jason followed us to the restaurant, and CLEARLY none of us were thinking straight. This was proven out when he managed to drive his custom Seven into the roof of the parking garage... Thankfully, Jason isn't extremely tall, and the only damage was to his fancy red saddle.

Looking forward now to Green Mountain. I have a love/hate relationship with that event - I love to hate it :).

1 comment:

Kurt M - AKA "Elmo" said...

Definitely fun racing with you at BOB on the SSCX. It was my first time racing on my own SSCX and I'm psyched I made the investment! Good times! - Kurt