Monday, October 10, 2011

The New Belgium Cup

Over the weekend we had several riders out racing in the cold and mud in Ft. Collins at the second stop of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross.  Here are the results and reports.

Day 1 - Saturday

  • 8th, SM4 - Dave Vogel

  • 25th, SM2/3 - Brad Sims

  • 28th, SM2/3 - Ryan Taylor


Day 2 - Sunday

  • 26th, SM2/3 - Ryan Taylor

  • 27th, SM2/3 - Brad Sims

  • 60th, SM4 - Kirk Groves


Day 1 - Dave Vogel, 8th SM4
Today was a combined category of open 4's and 35+ 4's. Race start race a cool 8am send off with a slight hint of rain/snow mix but nothing overwhelming. I got to the race about 6:15 (picked up my race number last night) and chilled with my pre-race ritual. Gotta say, an early start makes a nice difference.

I got a call up that put me in the first 1/3rd group (row 5ish) due to registering early and thank goodness for that as there were 88 guys lined up. The race whistle blew with no warning and I got jammed and couldnt get my pedal to click in and guys were flying by. Once I did, I was off and running... in about 50th place. From there I picked off big groups of people because I studied the "slower" spots really well during warm up and was able to get by the masses a little at a time.

About midway through the race a spectator was yelling 8, 9, 10, etc., and I happened to be 11 as in 11th position. From there I got a little excited and thought, I'm cracking this top ten and preceded to do so. Hell, I thought I was about 20th or so. I past 9th and 10th position pretty easily then started reeling in #7. Air slowly leaked from my front tire right around this time and had to muster racing the last lap with about 15-20lbs of pressure. All I knew to do was not pull out of the race and ride smooth as not to roll the tubular or do anything stupid. With 1 lap to go I had a firm grasp on 8th but no way of getting 7th at this point cause I just couldn't corner well. 9th and 10th passed me at one point however on the final straight going into the finish I nabbed them both and secured 7th on the day.

Day 1 - Ryan Taylor, 28th SM2/3
I’ve been looking forward to doing this race again ever since racing it as my first ever cross race last season. The forecast for the entire day was cold and rainy. It had been raining hard in Broomfield that morning but luckily it was still dry in Ft. Collins when we arrived but it was pretty chilly out.

I was hoping to get in a few laps of the course but we could hear the announcer saying over and over that the course was closed during the races that were going on before ours started so I opted to try to get in a decent warmup on the trainer instead. I usually prefer getting in as many practice laps as possible instead of doing a trainer warmup but trying to squeeze in a lap or part of a lap between the races didn’t seem like the best option for getting my body going this time.

I ended up lining up somewhere around the middle to back half. The whistle blew without any warning and caught quite a few of us by surprise. We started without any issues and I set out trying to pass as many people as possible. I felt good and made some steady progress but on the second lap I must have set my bike down too hard after the first stair run up and dropped my chain. I wasn’t able to easily get it back on so I ended up sitting on the side of the course messing with it as I was passed by a handful of riders. I got going again and once again set out trying to pick off people one by one until I couldn’t close any more gaps and it was just me and the course. On the last two laps I could see Brad ahead so I did my best to get as close as I could to him and stay there for as long as I could. We rolled in close to a couple other riders and I finished 28th while Brad timed his final surge well and overtook a rider for 25th right at the finish.

Starting that far back seemed to make knowing the course a little less important since I was able to keep my eye on everyone in front and react to what they were doing. It seemed to work out ok but I was still figuring out better and more efficient lines until the end of the race. I think that knowing some of those things a little sooner would have helped me get a better result.

The course was very similar to last year’s, but dry and dusty instead of frozen mud ruts. We really lucked out with the weather, it started pouring not long after our finish. Even though I wasn’t in contention this time it was great practice and the race was fun with all of the spectators that were out.

Day 2 - Ryan Taylor, 25th SM2/3
After our race on Saturday it rained hard for the rest of the day. As I arrived at the race venue on Sunday I was greeted by a mudbog of a parking lot. The course was in the same condition. I lined up in a similar place as on Saturday and we actually got 1 minute and 30 second warnings before we started which was a nice change from the day before.

And we were off. The start grid and start of the course is on pavement and turns off onto the dirt. As the lead riders transitioned from the pavement to the mud they must have slowed since everyone in front of me slowed very quickly. It was quick enough that I had to grab a handful of brake and connected my front wheel with someone’s rear wheel. At the same time someone ran into the back of me. The next thing I knew I was on the ground (and the only one on the ground), directly in front of the announcers, on the only stretch of pavement on the course. By the time I got back up and on my bike I was dead last with a small gap between me and the back of the field. Fortunately, there was enough of a bottleneck on the first twisty section that the field slowed quite a bit and I was able to regain contact quickly. I then went slightly ballistic trying to get by people as fast as possible.

The rest of my race went beautifully - I passed a lot of riders, there were lots of spectators plus Kirk cheering us on, I felt comfortable in the mud and my new Crank Brother’s Candy pedals worked great.

I thought I felt fine during the race but when I finished I was hit with a really bad headache mixed with some nausea. I had to get off my bike around the corner from the finish and sit on some steps and put my head down for a while. I’m not sure what happened but i had a hard time even getting back to my car and when I did all I wanted to do was lie in the back seat which i did for about 20 minutes. I finally felt decent enough to pack up the car and drive home but I was pretty much wiped out the rest of the day. I’ve never felt like that after a race so I’m not sure if it was the crash, my effort afterward or a combination of the two that made me feel so horrible.

I’m happy to report I’m feeling pretty much back to normal now. My bike needs a little work though, I bent my derailleur hanger and my front wheel is no longer straight. Despite the couple mishaps it was a great weekend!

Day 2 - Kirk Groves, 60th SM4
My race can most apty be described as 'meh.'  I arrived early had a good pre-ride.  I took both my Blue Norcross and my full-suspension 29er to the race.  My plan was to use the 29er as my pit bike in case of a mechanical.  After walking the course and see how greasy it was I decided to do the majority of my pre-ride and warm-up with the 29er to keep my Blue clean and shifting well.  I noticed during the pre-ride that I was able to get better traction than the folks on cross tires so I decided to race the 29er.

This year my nemisis has been getting a good start.  I'm going to have to wait a week to get that monkey off my shoulders.  I was staged in the 5th row, middle right based on my time of registration.  We had a good countdown and I was making a bit of progress through the group.  The start was a pavement strip that narrowed a bit at the start/finish line.  There was a hard crash on the left side, the guy hit the barriers and did a magnificent cartwheel.  It isn't called the Crash 4s for nothing!  My line took me right and I was next to barriers.  As the pack moved right to avoid the guy cartwheeling the rider in front of me tangled his bars up into the barriers.  He was able to keep his bike up-right but he dropped his chain and we were both stopped dead in our tracks.  I attempted to mount my own violent chance using wide lines and taking advantage of the 29er's traction, but I dug a bit too deep and ended up paying for it.  I'm not sure if it was the early morning, the temp in the low 40s, the course layout or an off-day from a physical standpoint but my average and peak heart rates were both 10 below what I've seen in the other 3 races this year.

It was a ton of fun playing in the mud, but I ended up with a mediocre result.  From the coverage on CyclingDirt I had no idea how hilly the course was in person.  The climbs hurt me in big way.  Ohh yeah, that and a general lack of fitness!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/30250303 w=600&h=450]

United States Grand Prix - Fort Collins, Day #1 from Steve Carpenter on Vimeo.

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