Been about a month now since the Gordon Barker No Brakes race. There’s no doubt that this time of year is one of the hardest periods to get through. It’s dark and cold. Ride hours for me have been cut in half, but like most of us die-hard cyclists, you keep suiting up whenever you can.
Northeast Velo Cross, and Shedd Park were on tap this weekend. Time to see how much fitness can be lost in just about a month. A bunch of the usual culprits were out for the Londonderry race and the Race Bully (Andy Gould) talked us all into racing our mountain bikes. Sure a good portion of the course was dirt bike friendly, but then there was the pavement. No Cat III only fields to be seen this weekend either. Lack of Fitness, Fat tire bikes, and racing against some Cat I, and II’s, was troublesome to say the least. Andy would pay in the end though as he rode his second race on his hard tail mountain bike.
Gunning it off the line on the track I found myself at the back of the field almost right away. Once on the infield the really fast guys began to pull away. I would spend the rest of my 40+ minutes dangling at the back doing all I could to keep the 2nd to last place guy in view. To make things even worse the 45+ field was staged :30 seconds behind. They would certainly catch me.
Londonderry is a short course with a BMX track and some mountain bike style trails. If it was a few miles longer you could have an EFTA race here. Trails were fun and I took my fair share of fitness from it.
Next up my favorite CX race of the year which is at Shedd Park in Lowell. It seems like the race gets bigger and bigger each year. Cat IV and III/IV were sold out, and there were north of 60 racers in the Pro 1/2/3 fields.
Really wasn’t sure how my legs would feel after racing around on the mountain bike the day prior, but they actually felt decent. The Start was fast as we headed around the cinder track that gets warmed by the sun and creates a nasty sticky slurry that sticks to everything. I followed fellow teammate Jim Hall for the first lap and a half and we were going pretty good.
I was going good that is until I somehow lost it on one of the off camber turns on a root and headed north over my bars. Burping my tire in the process (more on that in a minute) and worse yet jamming my left thumb either into the ground or my bars. I’ve felt this sensation before and it hurt like hell. Back in the early 90′s I obtained Skiers Thumb while skiing at Temple Mountain. Basically it is the tendon on the outside of your thumb that tears away from the bone.
My NEMBA teammate Carl came rushing over after to see me holding my thumb in pain. This would go on for a minute or so as I remounted and continued on in no mans land. The feeling that I was going to finish the race however was short-lived when my 45psi front tubeless setup would roll out around just about every corner. Race done! This would be the third time my Redline would do me in.
Lets count em… 2011 Night Weasels, Rear derailleur explosion. 2012 Night Weasels, rear Stans rubber strip/valve tore open, and finally 2012 Shedd Park tire burp. I’ve now done about 1/5 fewer CX races than mountain races in my short career, but have had many more mechanicals.
Tubeless while it works virtually flawlessly for the fat tire application really has no place in CX. There’s just not enough volume to be able to run lower pressure like with a tubular tire. So next season the Redline is going to see some upgrades. Starting with the wheels and tires. There’s nothing I hate more than paying to race your bike and not getting my monies worth!
With that said, these were more than likely my final races of the season, and focus now will be spent on longer mile off road rides until the white stuff shows up, and the skate skis come out. Of course if the thumb is worse than I think it is, then the dreaded trainer may be coming out.
Man, how come the Cat IV’s have all the fun? Is that really a flannel? Awesome!