Photo: SnowyMountain Photography

J-Rad / 30+
Stop #7 of the 2013 CCC series took us back to Campton Hills. This race was a ton of fun on a now classic CCC course. Each lap threw tons of undulations our way, some interesting wooded singletrack sections, and this year had the added bonus of plenty of nice slippery mud!

The 30+ race feels like it gets faster and faster each week, and although I may not be battling it out at the front of the field, we are battling nonetheless. I made it through the race relatively unscathed, without any major mistakes or mishaps, save for a few uncomfortable impacts with the uphill railroad ties, and an occasional dab of a foot in the off-cambered slop. Another hard-fought race in the books, and just a few spots away from that elusive top 30 placing and the series point that comes with it.

Photo: John Felke / Village Cycle Center

‘Ol Dirty Blickster / W123
Campton has always been one of my favorite courses of the ChiCrossCup, and this year a few small changes made it even better. For starters, the first two railroad ties after the start jutted out higher than in previous years, so at the whistle I hustled hard from third row to fifth wheel to get ahead of traffic in the tricky section. Doubling back through the root-filled mounds in the woods was another great addition, and I was again able to stay ahead of first lap chaos.

But out of the woods and into the wind, I hit my predictable fade and slowly slid back to mid-pack. The false flats and sticky, gradual climbs sucked my energy in a way I don’t think I’ve ever experienced. I can power through a straightaway, punch up a steep climb or grind through mud, but none of that seemed applicable Sunday. Fighting one competitor a few seconds up and three a few seconds back, I would lose time on the backside straightaway and twisty climb but gain the advantage in the woods, muddy chicanes and double barriers. We yo-yo’ed in that order for most of the race, never quite catching one another. In the end, a disappointing 18th place took all the energy I had.

Photo: Greg’s Mother-in-Law

Bilbo Dirtbaggins formerly known as DaDoubleG / M123
So I wasn’t planning to race this Fall, but the siren song of cyclocross proved too strong. After getting back from vacation the beginning of October I started getting in some good training on the bike. My Mantra for training became “Don’t suck at Montrose”. I felt like I had enough time to put in some consistent training with the goal of being able to compete by the beginning of December.

After a few weeks of training, it was time to enter the paincave. Last weekend I raced the singlespeed race at Sunrise Park. After the race I felt like Operation: Don’t suck at Montrose was in serious peril. I was slow and never got into the groove during the race. I didn’t feel like I was really racing, and was fighting the course and bike the whole time.

Fast forward a week, and I decided that 45 minutes of racing wasn’t enough, so I signed up for the 1/2/3 race. Made sense at the time; faster/longer races should make me faster later in the season. I definitely questioned my theory as I came through the start/finish after a couple of laps, seeing 7 to go on the lap counter. The good news for this weekend was I actually felt like I was racing. I wasn’t necessarily fast, but I was competing and attacking the course.

One of the things that makes cyclocross so fun, is that it doesn’t matter if you are competing for 1st or 31st, there are always battles going on, and everyone is willing to turn themselves inside out to hold their place. For most of the race I was with a group of 5 or 6 guys, trading spots the whole time. I was faster on the climbs, other guys had me on the long flats, and others were faster through the tech sections. Another great aspect that makes cross awesome are the crowds, and coming out of the woods to be cheered and heckled made my day. I got lots of compliments and heckles about the new all-white Bonebell skinsuits, and was happy that I didn’t lay it down in the mud and give the crowd what they were looking for. The all-white skinsuit will live to fight another day. The laps ticked by and riding a singlespeed started to take its toll. The back was really hurting, but I was still able to keep things rolling. Battled some more with my small group and rolled in with a placing in the low 30s. Off the pace, but still having a blast, and already stoked to do it again next weekend.

Photo: SnowyMountain Photography

A-Dub / W123
I hadn’t raced since Hopkins Park and had really been looking forward to the Campton Cross Halloween race.  I had come up with a great costume – as that of the inimitable Mr. Michael Catano, framebuilder at Humble Frameworks.  Same Super Relax kit, Campagnolo world champion cap, a converted Duck Dynasty beard, and I covertly borrowed his own sunglasses to complete my look!   I even rebranded my bike with the “Humble” moniker.

A week of fighting an oncoming cold took it’s toll on my energy levels and shortly after the race whistle blew, I quickly realized my tank was near E and I wasn’t going to be able to keep contact with this fast pack of ladies in the prime of their cross season fitness.  The moustache part of my beard covering my nostrils wasn’t helping either!  So I pulled up my metaphorical big girl pants and toughed out the race.  After a couple laps I got into a rhythm and was feeling decent, with the redeeming quality of my race performance being that I was able to ride the entire course without dismounting (other than the barriers, of course!)

I learned on Sunday that dressing up like Michael Catano makes one quite popular – and that it’s also very difficult to race and breathe in a beard!

Photo: Eric Heuser

El Jefe / Cat 3
“Hmmm… Ahhhhh…” I think as I try and decide to run my usual tires (Grifos) or use Limus to help with the super muddy section near the tents and the off camber corner. “Limus, I think, should be OK”. Off I scurry to swap wheels, adjust brakes, etc.

I get a 3rd row start and get going pretty well, hitting the railroad ties in 15th or so. The uphill sections slow me, of course, because I’m a horrible climber. I don’t notice the tires being an issue yet, and they work superb on the off-cambers and the mud. However, as the race goes on the course dries out every lap, the muddy section get stickier and I start going backward losing a few spots. I also notice a rub on my front tire.

Luckily my teammate Paolo is calling out positioning for me and I ask him to get my pit bike ready (with Grifos on it). I’m right around 17th or so at this point. As I go into the pit, three riders fly by never to be seen again. But the new bike with the less aggresive tires make a HUGE difference and I start to roll much easier. I’m able to make up a few spots in the last lap, and come in 20th, second best results of the season. A solid day on one of my favorite courses of the CCC.

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