One CX Ends, A New CX Begins
Yes, cyclocross season is over, and back to winter training, and several days a week at Crag X Climbing Gym.
Last weekend was the BC Provincial Cyclocross Championships over in North Van. I headed over with Fluffy, Steve & Chelsea. Fun road-trippin' crew!
Got picked up at (ugh) 6am, and made the ferry with plenty of time. Uneventful ferry ride, and arrived at the course with plenty of time to spare. We wandered around a bit, checking out some of the features. It was pretty flat, winding around Mahon Park. Very different from any Cross on the Rock course. I believe the entire course was at least a couple meters wide, so nearly always opportunities to pass. It had been pretty wet, and although a grey day, no rain was seen....but it had done it's thing to the course, and the sharp 2m ride-ups were savaged and there were a few spots with muds of varying liquidity.
My racing option was Senior/Elite, so i was definitely outgunned. Not to mention i was still under the influence of that surprisingly tenacious cold...i managed to get on the bike the week before, but it wasn't particularly productive, nor did i feel fantastic. (Still, got that 5min/350 watt PB which i'm pretty happy with.)
Roland had gone over the day before, and raced the final BC Cup, and finished just off the podium in 4th in the B's. I would have been there had i felt more spunky...it was my original plan, but didn't feel up for it..
Roland raced in the Masters 30-39 field, which was bigger than he expected....he pulled off a 10th tho, good show! Fluffy in the next level of Masters pulled off a 4th (he thought he was further back!) and the Island's CX superhero Norm took the title, Provincial Champ! (He edged out Johnny Fokkema, who in turn sniped him at Nats.) There were lots of Islanders on the podium including my ride back, Peter Wellsman, who got 2nd in his field, and young Amanda Wakeling, who also claimed 2nd in the U17 Women. Joelle and Chelsea had great rides. Mike Brinton and Jordon Duncan, juniors who gave me grief in the local races also earned medals. Apologies to others i missed, full results and very accurate course-description here. Here we all are afterwards, great idea by Wendy Simms to snap a pic:
So, for my own race it was weird to line up with people i know who are so fast, and many more people i don't know who are fast. Steve was the only rider i'd see nearby for a little while.. (Apologies to Michael Rothengatter, who was with me at the start line, but i didn't recognize in the H&R kit, and out of context from the velodrome!! Glad we trackies are consistent in finishing off the back of the field in CX - really, could any cycling discipline be any less compatible?! Wait, what was Scott Mulder doing finishing 2nd?? hahaha.. Molly Cameron totally blows my theory out of the water, doing well on both...anyways..)
It was a tough course, with virtually no opportunities for recovery. Lots of shifts in speed, and a staggering assortment of mud.
The course started off with a straight-away and wide corner on a hard running surface, and then a sharp left into an uphill mudpit. It looked a bit like this (thanks to Amanda for the pics! Don't blame her for the blurriness, blame Vancouver's sky!):
There was a line you could ride up at the top, if you could get there... I gather more people ran it:
That led the first of many hairpin turns, and a set of 3 stairs. (The more advanced or brave riders would just ride up them. I stuck to running 'em.)
That spit us out into mudpit #2. Mudpit #2 lead to Mudpit #3 - The Descent. A short drop that was pretty carved out. Another stretch on running track, a few tight twists through some trees, over a pit of fist-sized sharp rocks, and back onto the playing surface, around another hairpin and into the barriers.
That lead back over the rocks part two. Luckily there was a narrow line on the right, i called the flat-free alley. A 90 degree turn led to some grass, and a short drop...which ended in Mudpit #4 - The Ascent. Luckily you hit this with some speed, and would get up quick. It was ridable on my pre-ride, but impossible afterwards... That wound around a tree and down another descent, which had another turn and then another sharp climb back up. This one was ridable all race. It literally hairpinned into another descent. These were all about 2m rises/descents, btw. Very power-oriented, which was fine for me..
All this lead to a paved straight of about 250m, and back onto grass with another hairpin. You're prolly starting to sense a theme here. ;)
This was the only recovery on the course, as you descended another 200m on a slight slope. It was over in about 8 seconds. Hope your heartrate has dropped sufficiently!
Another hairpin with some mud, another stretch on and off some concrete, and another hairpin. This lead to another hairpin and Mudpit #5 - The Drop Into The Slop. First off, it was a hairpin on a drop. The drop section itself was mud, and had many deep ruts. I managed to figure out a line that cut across it all and dropped me into the deepest section of 'The Slop', which was the best section to ride. It was about 10cm deep mud, about as thick as applesauce, where we can see Norm here:
Just a 90 degree corner there, but just out of view is a brief muddy berm into Mudpit #6. Similar to The Slop, but not as deep. These sections really tested your drivetrain... Across a small basketball court, into another steep powerclimb, this one maybe 3m long. If you were smart, you conserved a bit across the b-ball court to make it up this. If not, it was a run. And yes, muddy, tho seemed better as the race progressed.
Another 50m straight, and the 'real' stairs, about six of them. A quick ascent and return to the saddle, but for some reason this next section just killed me to get through. It was just 30m, into a hairpin and around a tree, but for some reason i moved SO SLOW there. The course wiggled between several more trees, and then wound back to the playing field, for a 100m straight, then another drop, tight corner and muddy ascent. I wasn't riding this, i think i saw a few other riders making it tho. 50m down was the finish/lap point.
This was the most exciting moment of the day for me - it was the final lap and Sven Sturm had been chasing me from the stairs.. He caught me by the run-up, and had a sprint for the line, and i managed to avoid getting lapped by him..haha.. Well, lapped twice. I think. For some reason the results say i was lapped once by the leaders, but i was definitely 2 laps down on Evan, Craig, Dan, Drew and Nick. I guess i held Sven to only 1 lap. ;)
I went into it with two goals: Top 20 finish, and not-last. Mission Accomplished! There were 22 riders, so there was some risk with this, but four DNF'd. As for the 2nd goal...that was fairly close, but luckily i remained ahead of one rider.
So two more Islanders finished around the podium, with Craig taking Silver, and Drew in 4th, both putting in strong rides.
Glad i went, although my body wasn't really up for any degree of competitiveness. I think were i feeling better, might have been able to finish 2-3 positions higher, but that'd be about it.. I guess that'll be my goal for next year: Top 15. =)
A few more pics, here's Norm negotiating the top section of the descent into the Drop Into The Slop:
Rollie about to hit the slop:
Fluffy catches and passes Rollie:
On one of many hairpin corners:
Hello haybale, had to ditch the shades as they were fogging up:
On the ferry on the way home, i didn't get a chance to hose down my bike before leaving (technically they took down the hose before i could!!)
My full set of shots can be found here. Not a lot, but hey.. Fun ride home with Peter and Craig, and a satisfying end to the 'cross season. =)
I've got some PowerTap data from rides on Thursday (w/Alyssa) and Saturday (again, out to Mt Doug with the OBB group), but it's not particularly interesting. Took Tuesday off, and hoping to get on the MTB tomorrow (Thursday.) Oh, fun link: my report for my first 'cross race, Nov '06.
I've been excited for months to get back to climbing, and so Monday made it out with my vegan climbing friend Kelly. This is our 3rd year of climbing together. Started Dec '07 or Jan '08, and go until March or so. It's an excellent form of cross training, and does wonders for the core (not to mention developing overall upper-body strength.) I usually end up going 2-3 days a week (the days i'm not on the bike!) By the end of Season 1 (Mar08), we were doing 10a's with relative ease, and completing some b's, and working on c's.
Fall '08, return in mid-November, work my way up, and back to 10a's in a few weeks. By end of Feb '09, i'd cleaned most 10d's, and was working on several 11a's, very nearly able to clear a couple... Pretty good progress! Most happy with my form, which i'd really worked hard on. Racing started early March, and i was feeling pretty done by then, so ended the season and focused back 100% on cycling.
So it's Fall '09, and i hit the walls on Monday. Very happy to be back! Funnily, there was only one rope that had routes from when we left. ;)
I felt pretty clunky starting off..jumped onto a 5.6, no prob tho i didn't feel very smooth. Did a 5.7, no prob. Moved up to a 5.8, again, no prob, although starting to feel it in the fingers a bit more, more fatiguing.
Thought i'd limit myself to the 5.8's, and cleaned them all. That was 2hrs, called it a night, pretty happy. After a couple 5.8's, my form really started to come back, and i was feeling mostly 'normal'. Even gave a 5.9 a go, felt great. Toes were sore tho!
Last night (Wed), went back for my second session. Recovered well, fingers and forearms felt solid. Started on a 5.7 - felt great. 5.8 - no prob. Did my first 5.9 - it had smaller, tighter near-pinches, no prob. Felt it a bit more, but it was good. Continued on with the 5.9's, and cleaned all in the gym but the long, overhang one with a nasty hold near the top. I think we've figured out how to manoeuvrer it, so shouldn't be a prob next session. There was also a 5.9+ that i attempted near the end, but i was pretty fried by then, but i *really* enjoyed that route. More challenging, and required a fair bit of 'yoga' as i put it - where you have to twist your body to make a hold with the greatest efficiency and smoothness. (You can just muscle it, but that's not my climbing 'style'...not to mention that it becomes an increasingly futile method as the climbs get more difficult. To all new climbers that might be reading this: WORK ON YOUR FORM!! Be SMOOTH and flow from hold to hold.)
Next session (Fri or Sat) will begin to tackle that 9+, and some of the 10a's. At this rate, i ought to be nearly back to where i was in a few weeks...assuming my fingers can keep up! Goal this season is to conquer the 11a's, and maybe a few b's. With climbing, there's diminishing returns once you get up to those levels... Going from a 10a to a 10b is fairly do-able. Going from 11a to 11b takes a LOT of practice. One note about my 'training': i'm just doing this for fun. I'm not doing pushups, pullups, or any finger exercises, and rarely do laps. I know i could progress faster doing these things, but i'm getting enough of a challenge, and happy with my rate of progression. Besides, once able to do 12a's, there's not many climbs left to do at the gym. ;)
Links of Interest
Okay, it's getting late, and i've got a bunch saved up, but got a couple fun ones -- GoogleMaps Streetview have invaded Victoria, so i can show the world a few spots, so here are a few.
First, my bike shop Oak Bay Bikes. Here's the section of Beacon Hill Park where we'd do most of our 'cross practice. And unfortunately they don't going up the street where Crag X is, but it's the tall building on the right.
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