Sunday, September 30, 2012

Liberty Park CX (photos added)

Well another race is in the books! This was a special one as Stark Velo went all out and put on an amazing race and course. I've been talking to them about this race and their plans for it and they definitely pulled through and I know that each year it's going to be bigger and better!

The course was set in an open field, with a couple mounds and a decent size climb and a treacherous sand pit. Overall, it was a more open course then previous courses but 3 barriers and a log made kept the difficulty high. There would be nowhere to hide and no place to rest on the course.

Made it to the course early to check out the early action and make sure I was ready and warmed up before the start (wasn't going to make that mistake again!) Went and picked up my packet and saw Molly Hurford selling her new book Mud, Snow, and Cyclocross: How 'Cross Took Over US Cycling and The Girl With the Cowbell Tattoo fame. She was super nice and really enjoying herself and spoke highly of our series. We had a nice talk about our cyclocross racing and she threatened to put me into the tape if she passed me. It was really nice that she came down to our little race series and took time out of her busy schedule to make an appearance! We also had Scott Mares from who emceed the race!

Well now on to the racing bit. After the "Little Belgian" race Scott, Zac and I went out on the course to do a preview lap. I was feeling really good and liking the course. On the second lap I decided I'd try hopping the log. Well, this didn't go well as I caught my chaingaurd and put a huge dent in it. Which kept throwing the chain. Luckily this was my pit bike, (gives reason why I warmup on the pit bike!) so it wasn't a huge deal since today would be a dry day. I went back to my car and pulled out my tool kit and bent it back enough so it wouldn't interfere with the chain.

After getting that sorted out, I dropped off my bike and spare wheels in the pit and caught my mom as she was pulling in. It's always nice to have friend and family come out. It gives you extra motivation and I always enjoy it because they can be a part of something they've been so supportive with.

Got on the trainer and warmed up, went around and talked to the other racers, blah blah blah. Now to the race, what the three of you came here for! I got called up third and choose my normal far right position against the barriers. The gun went off and I was third wheel into the first turn. I quickly passed second and then hammered past the leader and just put the hammer down. I had planned that all week as the beginning of my races haven't gone to plan as of lately. I call it my end of first lap curse. I always bombed the last part of the first lap, lose places and then move back up. This week I thought I'd get to the very front and hopefully not lose as many places and have a chance to fight back. My teammate latches onto my front wheel and we start getting a sizable gap on the field. I startled to feel the bad feelings coming and then we hit the sand pit, which zapped any energy that I might have had. I got off the bike and ran up the hill because I had lost all my energy and watched a place after place went by me. I knew I was in a bad way, but I knew the only thing to do was to race my race and it would turn around.

I started to feel better and when the leader of the womens race Sally Price passed me I jumped on her wheel and started to pick off positions again. I passed 3-4 people but I'm still not sure where I finished as the three fields mixed and I didn't realize they had posted the results but just our numbers and not our names. Overall,  a great weekend and kudos to all my teammates who races hard and we had a number in the prize money!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking forward to the future of NEOCX

So as I get more into the cyclocross scene and become more a part of it, I've started thinking about what I want from a cross series. We all of course want a competitive series, with great courses. That's a given, what becomes harder is all the little amenities that make it feel more professional. Obviously, lines of cheering fans would be amazing, but we are pretty damn close. Riding through the pavilion at Brooklyn as people cheered you on and rang cowbells was an amazing feeling. We have a great series and a great group of riders who come out the the racers. I started racing 4 years ago and in those four years I've seen our series grow. We are going through a transition from a fringe sport that a few diehards participated in to a full fledge series. It's been great to watch, and I'm excited to see where it goes. Below is just my thoughts on where I'd like to see this series head.

The first is a standard for courses. We've had some great courses but there is not a standard for courses. This can be as simple as having a shared start finish complex. I've been to many courses where racers have asked where the start is. This seems simple, but having a true start finish complex sets the tone for the race. This can be as simple as a banner over the start finish line and snow fencing along the start/finish line. Along those same lines all courses should follow a set standard, the easiest would be to follow USAC rules. I understand some rules will be hard to follow, like the 3 meter rule for the full course but promoters should try their hardest to follow a set of standards so racers can go to a course knowing that the course will fit standards. With this also means that the courses should be kept on the schedule because they are great venues. I'd rather have great courses than more course and half being no fun. To tell you the truth, if I have to skip a course I'll always choose a lesser course than a great course.

Next, the names of the races should switch from the A,B,C, standard and follow the Cat system. It would be in line with all other series and make it line up when racers our racers travel to or when an out of town racer travels to our races. We already do this by placing the Cat's next to the A,B,C on most fliers. Group rides and training races are broke into A,B,C but not for races. Also, it would be great to get call ups at least in the 3-4 race and 1-2-3 races by series. This benefits those racers who show up each week and fight hard. Why can't we reward them and recognize them for their racing. Plus, it keeps those who are fighting for series points fighting each other, instead of getting stuck in the back.

One last thing, results need to be turned in in a timely manner. Every promoter should turn in the results to USAC in a timely manner. We shouldn't have to wait 2 weeks for our points to show up. Clearly, it is possible as Brooklyn was on USAC the day after.

This is not to say I'm unhappy in the series. I love the series and part of the charm is it's grassroots nature. We are a cross series put on by cross racers. It's amazing what each promoter does each week and we have arguably the best racers in the most competitive series in the state. I just see us at a turning point and I'm excited to see how we build our scene. We should be proud of what we do, and we should strive to be the best. We should never think we are the best, but always strive to be the best. I'm really looking forward to the our series being a truly first class series!