George Berger, the first member of the new em:pwr cycling team, started riding BMX as a kid in Houston, graduated to local crits and road races, then moved into mountain bikes and triathlons before finally ending up as someone who loves ‘cross more than anything else. The problem, he says, was that each major cycling ‘era’ for him was in different decades. He says that if he’d have stuck with cycling throughout his life, he could have been as good as…well, any shortish, stoutish, strongish mid-40′s Flemish ‘cross racer. George resides in Davidson, NC with wife and daughter.
The final race of the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series was held last Sunday in Bur-Mil Park in Greensboro. Arleigh and I drove over there from the Lake Norman area to race–first me in the (new to me) Masters 45+ category at 10AM, and then Arleigh at 11AM in the CX4 (remember, she’s racing a single-speed against the ‘gearies,’ folks!)
It was cold out there at 9AM or so…so we were all glad that the park had its nature center open for us, with bathrooms, tables and chairs…not to mention cool live and stuffed animal exhibits…and, around the park all sorts of cool parkie stuff. I’d definitely go back there for sure.
The races themselves were a lot of fun; the course was set by Greensboro Velo and Cycles de Oro, and technical obstacles included a couple of sand volleyball pits to ride through (icy is good in sand, by the way, because it packs down), one set of double barriers, a short, sharp two-pedal-revolution climb/90′ turn that you had to hit standing up, and a cool set of stairs that popped us up from a sharp off-camber turnto the main level of the course. Lots of sharp turns that got progressively rutted as the day went on, and some pine needle sections that you had to pay close attention to in order to not spin. Lots of reasonable up- and down-hilliness, but nothing too steep. Fun!
Welcome to Masters 45+
I raced Masters 45+ for the first time. Frankly, so long as I could stay out of the way of the faster guys (and Pro/1/2/3 women, who are almost as fast as the 45+/55+ guys), that was fine with me…and those (other) old guys are damn fast. My goal was not to crash out like last week, and to finish, which I accomplished without much incident. Not much of a goal, but still. I’m a beginner at this. It was my 4th CX race, and I think I’ve learned a lot about bike prep (see my comments from last week, when I crashed over and over due to poor tire choice made before the race), bike handling, and tactics.
One thing I’ve noticed about myself, and it’s a goal to figure out before next year: when I’m actually racing, I feel like I’m working as hard as I can, while still conserving some energy (and air) for later laps of the race. I feel like I’m pushing hard, but not hyperventilating (I did that a bit in the Winston-Salem race, and don’t want to do that again). But then, after the race, I feel almost OK pretty soon after…not like I’ve REALLY worked so hard that I’m spent. Gotta figure out how to get more energy into the race, but not be dead (body or brain-) before the last lap. It’s one thing to push yourself around in the middle of a crit peloton…you can almost always sit in the group to catch some breath. But this is different–you have to negotiate obstacles and the course pretty much by yourself, even if you’re on the wheel of someone. You have to stay sharper, and have to save some energy for the later laps.
I really wish the CX season went on longer though. I’m looking forward to doing 55nine Performance’s Southern Cross down in Georgia on February 26th, so I’ll put the road wheels on the cross bike for a while and build up some fitness…hopefully, it’ll warm up a bit.
The second race of my 2011 season was the NCCX #12 at the Wilkesboro Speedway right here in North Carolina. This race could be one of the coolest venue’s I’ve been to. Most of the course was found within the infield of the speedway and the rest was right out the back gate in a grassy field.
The Word of the Race : Mud
In North Carolina our weather is fairly mild and easy going, a few years ago in January I was racing cyclocross in short sleeves and 65º weather. The race earlier this month was the first time we had any type of weather. This race, we didn’t have any weather but instead we had thawing. Frozen ground gave way and by the time my CX4 race came around the “tractor pull” area became a slopfest. The pro’s made it look easier, but I walked slowly through the mud pit every time (maybe I should work on running in mud??)
Progress and Motivation
Dead last is better than not finishing or not starting, and ending last was atleast the motivation I needed for getting to the gym and active.
Tomorrow is my second race of the season and other than being nervous, changing gearing on the single speed cyclocross bike, I am a bit fearful since I’ve never ridden this course. Being a single speed rider I really like to have ridden the course prior either on a geared bike in another race or pre-riding the course a couple days prior. I didn’t have the luxury of doing so this race.
Course Preview on Video
The promoters of the race, Speedway Cyclocrossapalooza, heard my cry and pre-drove/walked the course with a helmet cam. The video is long at well over 7 minutes and boring for those not racing, but for those signed up and not able to visit until the day of the race it was well worth the 10 minutes it took this promoter to do his race justice.
Race Promoters What are Your Perks?
The promoters that go above and beyond, with either food, hospitality or pre-race updates create events that you want to return to but also drag a friend along with. The race this weekend is $20, has hot showers, a heated spectator tent and other benefits. The promoter also has updated Facebook and their website what seems daily with course previews, terrain and course conditions. What do you do? Why would I want to come race your race?
A great write up from High Country Cyclocross for their race coming up this Sunday, January 16th. For a reminder, this is my second race this season and I can only hope to get a few more recovery rides in before to figure out my gearing!
We will be racing on a fun course that will start on the banked oval track, tear across the infield, navigate the tractor pull, shoot out under the grandstands to a huge swoopy descent of the grassy field outside the stadium, before riding back into the stadium, hitting the run up, and dropping back onto the track. It will be challenging mix of power and finesse, with a good rhythm of technical, speed, and recovery sections.
You can catch all the racing action from Talia Espresso’s Belgian Party Tent on top of the Winner’s Circle in the center of the stadium, and if the course gets sloppy you can hose down in the wheel pits on Pit Row, and take a shower in the Racer’s Lounge adjacent to the finish line.
What other Team BSG members will be out there? GBerger I know of but who else?
This morning I attended my first cyclocross race of the year, and notably the first one in over a year and a half. There were two goals going into my women’s CX4 race, first was to finish and the second was not to be lapped. Going into the race I wasn’t too sure of the latter, I knew I could pedal around slowly for 30 minutes but to keep in front of all the other ladies is another story.
Prep Work and Bicycle Builds
Never build a bicycle days before a race without being able to ride it, never make major changes like gearing or tires with out being able to test ride. I tell this to every client and I’m telling this to you, are you listening? Well, I don’t listen to myself. I built my Raleigh singlespeed on Thursday, test rode on Friday. The gearing was way too tough, and so I changed the gearing on Friday night (the night before my race.)
Singlespeed Cyclocross am I Crazy?
This will be a follow up article, but you need to know the basics – I love riding single speed and very excited to expand on riding it in cyclocross races.
Go Time at the Races
I warmed up in a thick windstopper jacket and jeans over my bibs and knee warmers. It was cold, not as cold as Minneapolis but it was cold and I haven’t been riding outside to be broken in. When the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t blowing, it was bearable but when the wind blew and the sun went behind the clouds – it was HORRID. One jacket was dropped at the finish line, and my jeans with other jacket were stripped off at the start line. Then it was go time.
The race was basic, I started at the back, ended at the back and was passed by a great amount of the juniors then lapped by the guys in the single speed class. I didn’t want to do my last lap, I was within 45 seconds of being lapped at the finish line but thankfully a good friend was there to push me along.
Achieving what I set out to, not pulling off before the last lap, pounding on the pedals or walking up the hills. I’m proud. After the last three months and what has happened, I’m proud of myself and motivated. This is the perfect way to kick off the season and I can’t wait until the next race in 8 days!