Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still More Cross!, Camelback Climb, and Visiting Bike Shops

Suitably chastened by Fatmarc’s post of the other day, I am going to do my best to keep this blog thing going for at least the next few weeks. And there’s actually still a lot going on!

This weekend I’ll have pictures/stories from a “top secret” pre-Nats/Masters Worlds training race, next week I’ll be live from Nats in Madison, and there’s still an off chance that we’ll be in Koksjide late next month for the big shebang.

Otherwise though, not much cx or bike-related going on right now. I haven’t been on MY bike in over a week with our vacation to sunny Phoenix for the holidays, but I’m hoping to get a few rides in before we hit the road again next week. Instead, I spent my holiday climbing Camelback Mountain for the second time:

This was a difficult hike/climb for me five years ago when I had two legs, and was a whole heck of a lot harder this time with the prosthesis. But I persevered, and was rewarded with a beautiful view from the top. There are higher mountains with ostensibly better views in the area, but this one is particularly sweet because the only way you can see it is by powering yourself to the top.

We also had the opportunity to stop by the Bicycle Haus in Scottsdale, a nice shop with more Rapha and Assos gear than you’ll probably ever see in one place, as well as an amazingly nice staff. During our travels this fall we’ve made it a point to stop in local bike shops, and I’ve found it to be pretty rewarding. Not only do shop socks make a great (and useful!) trip souvenir, but it’s fun to see the different gear at different shops, and talk to the people there.

If you’re ever in these areas, please support these great shops that have provided me and Steve with friendly service over the last six months: NYC Velo (NYC), Roaring Mouse Cycles (SF), MASH (SF), Mock Orange Bikes (Winston-Salem, NC), and Bicycle Haus (Scottsdale, AZ).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Southern Hospitality at NCCX’s Merry Crossmas

While the local season may be over, ours is still trucking! Nearly a dozen of us made the trip down to Winston-Salem, NC this past weekend to race in/spectate a pair of NCCX races. These were the “Merry Crossmas” races sponsored by team Smart Stop/Mock Orange Bikes, a team based locally in W-S, but with a major national presence (you know Adam Myerson, right?).

Both races used an almost identical course situated in a lovely city park with a surprising amount of elevation change, tons of off-camber, etc. But the real gem was a flyover that the promoters had built earlier in the week. Emerging from the top of a hillside it was more ramp than actual flyover, but it was a very cool piece.

Unfortunately, Steve crashed out on the flyer during warm-ups on day one, and was only able to race for one lap of the actual race with his jammed thumb. The rest of the team had great results; Allyson took the elite women’s race, and the unholy triumvirate of Birner/Harshman/Morali took 2-3-4 in the elite master’s men race.

Day two was the North Carolina state championships, which meant a lot more people and deeper fields. The team still did great, and we all had a lot of fun. I know a lot of people are worn out by this time of year, but there’s still great, and quality, racing to be had not that far away. We are already planning to come back next year.

I also have to give a major shout-out to the Mock Orange Bikes shop in W-S. Not only did they have the most Ridleys I’ve ever seen at one time in a shop, but they were super nice folks who went out of their way to do me a favor. Please check them out if you are ever in the area!

Next week is off for family time, but I may have something fun to share on New Year’s weekend. And then after that, Nats! I am loving this never-ending season. Happy holidays to all, and thanks for reading!

(PS: I took a ton of pictures, but have not had the time to upload them yet. Check back later this week and they should be here then!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Geler Votre Cul – It’s Not Over Yet!

While the Sportif and Super8 series may be in the books for 2011, there’s still a ton of racing left! This weekend we headed back to Fair Hill for the second to last MAC race of the year, next weekend we’re off to North Carolina for a doubleheader, and then there’s still Madison in January!

This weekend’s MAC race Geler Votre Cul saw the return of the “classic” Fair Hill course that hadn’t been seen since 2009. Although it had enough updates and changes to make it different enough, the classic features (barns, sand pit) were still there in full force. Unfortunately, Steve wasn’t feeling well and only managed one lap, despite it being one of his favorite courses. Three other teammates made the trip up and had decent results. The fields in the races were small, but tough.

Two highlights of the day for me: One: the beer garden in the middle of the sand pit/horse ring. This was a great addition; really got you in the center of the action, and the beer and barrel fires were great for keeping warm on a brisk day. Two: the muddy “run-up”/hill before the barns. I say run-up in quotes because, while it was a run-up for the early races, the elite men quickly figured out how to ride it during their warm up laps, and many were able to ride it during their race as well.

As a spectator, I always love obstacles that force the rider to make a decision: run or ride? Especially because sometimes the choice that requires more skill/ability ends up costing more in terms of time!

Overall though, great course and race. Sad to see another local series wrap for the year, but I know I’ll still see a lot of these folks next month. And if you’re interested, you can check out my pictures from the race here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Capital Cross Classic – Murder Was (Not) the Case

Another race day with beautiful weather on Sunday! The last two years have really had almost perfect weather throughout the season – makes me think that next year will have to be more like 2009 with the cold, rain, and snow. I know this weekend was the last race for a lot of people, but not for us! We’ll be heading up to Fair Hill this weekend for Geler Votre Cul, North Carolina the weekend before Christmas, and Nats in January.

Sunday marked the return of the always awesome Capital Cross Classic race in Reston. Formerly part of the MABRA series it had been part of MAC in recent years, took a year off in 2010, and returned this year as part of the Super8. This is one of the best venues with the most interesting scenery in my opinion. Nothing beats the classic image of riders racing across the dam silhouetted against a crystalline December sky. And the steep run-ups and descents back in the woods are tough and awesome. Unfortunately I missed the violin player at the top of the run-up, but I did get to participate in a sing-along of Dr. Dre’s “Murder was the Case” next to the steep descent – thanks, rider number 187, for triggering this!

I think exciting things are in store for the local racing scene next year. This year featured the traditional races and about a half dozen new ones, some of which are well on their way to becoming classics in their own right. Combined with the nearby MAC races there were races every single weekend this fall, and most weekends had the option of racing on Saturday AND Sunday. The sport has grown rapidly over the last five-plus years and growth needs to encouraged so that there’s something for everyone. New races are a good thing, not competition to an existing product, but an enhancement. Just my two cents.

Small photoset from CCxC can be found here.

Thanks for reading!