West Sacramento Gran Prix of Cyclocross


Sacramento went big this year and brought in a UCI race.  It has been quite a long time since a UCI race was held in NorCal.  A lot of big riders on the West Coast came to Sac for the competition.  CX Nation made the short drive to the Sac-Town for what would be my first race of the season.  Many of the juniors had already traveled down to Monterey for CCCX, but the senior squad was lying in wait…trying to reserve what little strength us old people have.

The juniors before the gun….so serious.

The course has been used for several years.  They had to open it up a little and make it longer in order to accommodate a C2 ranking.  It was still mostly grass with a little bit of pavement and sand.  There was actually a lot more sand, lucky me, than in previous years because of the big winter we had in California.  The Sacramento River flooded the course on multiple occasions last winter, which made more sand pits for us.

The juniors kicked off the racing on both days and produced some impressive results.  Vida was 1st/1st, Travis was 3rd/3rd, Ian was 4th/7th and Galen was 8th/8th.  They really battled the entire time.  It was great to see.  The seniors didn’t fair as well.  I rode to a 15th in the 45+ race.  I got a great start and ended up in the Top 5 for most of the 1st and 2nd laps.  Then I met a tree in the sand.  Hurt my shoulder pretty good.  Stunned me for a moment and lots of people passed.  After that I couldn’t really recover and ended up with a result that didn’t really excite me.

Turns, turns and more turns..

I managed to drag myself into the UCI after the ladies – Kristin and Tanya, had raced in their UCI race.  Starting so far back it was a dust bowl for the first part of the race.  I was racing this one for points and in the end it did not work out really well.  I should have been pulled with 5 to go, but the ref wasn’t paying attention.  I wish he was because I met that tree again.  This time it got my rear derailleur hanger.  I managed to limp back to finish line, but both crashes effectively ended my run at two consecutive days of racing.  The first race is usually my worst – trying to get everything dialed.  It can only get better from here right?

Vida on the podium

The crew without bikes….



I’m baaaaacccckkkk……


It’s been an entire year since my last post.  I just didn’t have the writing itch or something like that.  No excuses, I was lazy.  I would like to get back into detailing the trials and tribulations of CX Nation.  A lot has changed since last year…and a lot has stayed the same.  In a nutshell, we got new kits, we raced hard and best of all…I started a juniors team.  CX coach extraordinaire John Haley came to me at the beginning of last year and asked if I wanted to start a juniors team.  I had always wanted to do it, but I felt like I just didn’t have the time.  John told me he had 4 awesome kids that wanted to try cyclocross and be apart of some sort of team. I was intrigued.  John told me all I had to do was support from a logistics side and help out at races.  He was going to do all the coaching and practices.  I was sold.

I met Ian, Vida, Travis and Galen the following week.  What a great group of kids.  John really molded these young minds into not only cyclocross racers but respectful little people.  Each race they were “required” to thank a volunteer, the race organizer and other racers.  They raced hard, fair and always strived to do better.  I was very impressed.  It was a phenomenal year.

At the beginning of this year I got some bad news that John was being transferred to Arizona for his job.  I was seriously bummed.  John is not only a great coach, but a great person with a wonderful family.  What to do with the team?  That’s what the parents were asking.  I didn’t hesitate and wanted the show to go on.  Yes, I would have to put more of an effort into the kids, but I knew it would be worth it.  There will be some adjustments to John’s previous schedule.  Change is inevitable.  I came up with the idea of having a benefit race to offset some of the costs of running a team.  I will also be donating a percentage to other junior racers in the SF Bay Area.   I have jumped through almost all the hoops and it looks like the race is a “go”…Sunday, November 26th at Maxwell Park in Sonoma.

There is a ton of racing in between now and then.  The juniors just had their first race this weekend.  Ian and Travis raced the 15-18 at CCCX down in Fort Ord and finished 4th and 2nd, respectively.  Galen did the 12-14 year old race and ended up 3rd.  Greta start to the season!  The senior team (Sage, myself, Tanya and Kristin) start up in a couple weeks with BASP and the West Sac Gran Prix.  I am looking forward to another great season.

 

Junior 15-18 at CCCX, Fort Ord – Ian and Travis

 

Junior 12-14 at CCCX, Fort Ord – Galen

 



That’s a Wrap – Nats and More


It’s that time of the year again – spouses rejoice and racers cry.  It’s the end of the cyclocross season at least for most of the amateurs.  Pros, you have a way to go.  Hang tough.  I have been gone for a little over a week – chasing points and attending races in the greater South.  First day of the new year I headed from California to North Carolina with my daughter and mother in law, plus 6 bags of luggage, most of it mine.  After arriving at 2am on Saturday I got up at 8, put my bikes together in my mother in laws driveway and beat feet to Tennessee.  Say what?  Yes, there was a UCI C2 race that day and the start list got a little scary.  Aside from me being there, J Pows was to make an appearance along with a bunch of other pros.  “Try not to get pulled to early” was my mantra.

I drove through some amazing scenery on my way to Kingspor, TN.  When I got to town the scenery was even  more amazing.  Seems that Eastman chemical practically owns the town.  Pipes filled with who knows what traversed the river that ran through town.  Factories billowed white smoke on both sides of the river.  Being a hazardous materials specialist with the fire department here in Santa Rosa  was intrigued.  So I rode my bike over to one of the rail yards and checked out all the tanker cars filled with various chemicals.  Weird right?

Tenn Cross River

One side of the river

Tenn Cross Chemicals

And the other side of the river

The race course was pretty flat and straightforward.  It was a real power course and that suited me.  I started in the back row, which was fine by me.  I just wanted to get pulled and get some good points leading up to Nationals and this was the way to do it.  Winning a race in the master’s category gives me worse points than if I race against the pros and get pulled before completing the race.   Sure enough I made 5 laps and got some great points.  I returned the next day, but many of the pros did not.  The course changed very little, which was a bummer.  This time I managed to stay on the lead lap and finish, which meant more points.  I enjoyed seeing different parts of the conutry.  That area of Tennesee has some pretty beautiful terrain.  Not sure I could ever live there, but it was a nice visit.  Time to start preparing for Nats.

Cyclocross Nationals were being held at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  The Biltmore is largest privately held estate in the country.  It spans over 800 acres and includes a pretty big house, plus some other stuff, including two hotels and a winery.  George Vanderbilt developed the area as a kind of “one up” on some of his brother’s and sister’s who had built similar places around the country.  His net worth was estimated at $6 billion – adjusted to our inflation…and he never really worked a day in his life.  I am making the second part up, but it might be true.

Biltmore

The big house – Biltmore Estates

The race took place near the two hotels.  There was a lot of trepidation by racers over various aspects of the race.  We had to pay $15 for a wristband to get in, there might not be any parking, the course was too hard, etc….  I found none of it to that bad.  There was parking. I paid for a silly wristband.  The course was hard, but I found that it wasn’t that hard…at least not for me.  It was truly a great course with a lot of everything.

My first race was on Tuesday, the Non-Championship Race 40-49 year olds.  Sage and I managed to get lined up in the 4th row.  Again without much points we were both well back from where we should have really been.  I went down on a tricky off camber section at the start and bent my deraileur hanger.  This cost me some placings.  We were in the little ring quite a bit and I was having trouble shifting.   I should have changed bikes, but I wanted the disc brakes for the nasty downhills.  I toughed it out and every lap I rode by my daughter who gave me inspiration by yelling “Gigi!” – my nickname she gave me.  It was one of the best days I ever had on the bike.  I finished up 14th and probably could have done a little better except for the mechanical.  That’s cross though.  Sage finished in 6th – one off the podium.

Non Champ Race

Riding the off camber section below the barn, which we rode through

Nats 2016 (4)

Off camber was the game

Nats 2016 (3)

Tricky downhill

Me and My Girl

My biggest/smallest fan

The next day was my age group race 45-49.  It was touted as the most talented field all week, in any category, except of course the pros.  I got handed a pretty stellar 8th row start position.  I kept it to the outside for the start to avoid crashes like I had in the last 3 Nationals.  After weaving my way through traffic I made it clear by the 2nd lap.  I was slowly moving up, even riding the Heckle Hill all laps, whereas most had to run it.  The bike was fixed and performing flawless.  I was just missing a little of that top end that I had given the day before.  I ended up 29th after following fellow Cali rider Anatsio Flores for the 1st and 2nd laps.  He made his way up to 16th.  Ahhh..if only I had just stuck to his wheel.  These races gave me great confidence going into next season.  I wasn’t having a great year until Nationals week.  I felt really good on the bike and rode a flawless race the second day.  Things are looking good for next season….. See you then!



Sac Finale – Night, Drag Strip, Party, You Get It


As I was driving to this race I realized that this would be the 4th night race that I had done this season!  It used to be a cool little anomaly…night racing in cross.  Typically not the first choice of promoters and racers due to logistics (see lights) and weather (yes it’s cold).  However, promoters are constantly looking for new ways to bring new people into the sport and get the ones they have coming back for more.

Sacramento threw down their first cross race at night this season.  They have been doing Rodeo cross at night for years, but this was a first for the Sac series.  It was held at the Sacramento Speedway, which I didn’t even know existed.  I decided to register for the 45+ A’s, which I now qualify for.  The past couple races the 45’s have had more people than the 35’s.  We have been racing with 4 to 5 people in the 35’s and there have been at least 15 in the 45’s.  Well I am not sure what happened but that was flip flopped this race.  There were 4 guys in my group.  Booo…. Oh well, Sage was in the 35’s with about 8-10 guys.  So we are dividing and conquering.

Sage Sac CX Night Race 2015 (1)

Sage at the start

We started our 60 minute race with the light tree used for the drag racers.  Nice touch.  Then we proceeded to do the longest paved start in the history of cyclocross.  I think we did the whole 1.5 miles before turning off the pavement.  We immediately went into the Gheto CX heckling/party section.  They entertained all night and it was really motivating charging through their pumping sound system.  The course was well lite except for a few spots.  There was a deeply rutted left turn and I hit it hard on the first lap.  My front wheel hit something and then I was stopped.  I thought I flatted or broke something.  Turns out my tubular had just rolled off a little.  I was very surprised, considering I have never had this happen before.

The rest of the 45’s passed me as I fiddled with the tire.  I got it back on and decided to keep riding on it.  I had a spare bike, but was unsure I wanted to pit.  After passing the rest of the group in the next couple laps I decided to grab the Rock Lobster.  It is always an interesting switch when you have your main bike with disc brakes and the back up with cantis.  It takes a little of getting used to, especially when braking into turns.  You really have to brake a lot earlier with the cantis.  After a couple laps I was dialed and felt like I was in a great rhythm.  I started picking off people in the 35’s, single speeds and A’s.

Brian Sac CX Night Race 2015 (3)

They built a ramp over the K-rail

Brian Sac CX Night Race 2015 (1)

Through the heckle section – there was some mud out there

Conditions were pretty muddy, but it was mostly slick rather than “stick to the bike” mud.  The course was a pretty good mix of turns, small rollers, a steep run (nothing like Jingle Cross) and slippery mud.  It was quite good.  Both Sage and I managed to take home the wins.  I think I might try out the 45’s next season and try to win the series.  And that was it for me with NorCal racing this season.  Amazing to think we were racing in 100 degree temps in Sacramento just a few months ago.  Another great season for NorCal cycling and CX Nation.

Sage Podium Sac CX Night Race 2015

Sage on the podium

Brian Podium Sac CX Night Race 2015

My podium – bottle of wine for the wifey



Jingle Cross


Sage and I made our annual pilgrimage to Iowa City, Iowa for Jingle Cross.  Last year it was freezing cold with high of 5 degrees.  We were happy when it snowed on Sunday.  This year we saw that it was going to be in the 40’s and were excited.  Little did we know that it had been raining for 5 straight days before we arrived.  This would be  “game changer”.

As usual, flying with bikes is a mess.  I am about to give up on the airlines and go a different route. Problem is the “different route” is not that much better because you have to ship them and then you don’t have your bikes before leaving, they could get lost, etc….  The price of travelling and being active with a bike is just not cutting it anymore.  $160 one way for my two bikes….  Sage was worse off because he had two single bags for his bikes.  Can you say $$$$???  He almost didn’t make the plane due to haggling with super friendly ticket agents (insert sarcasm).  It was the first time I had to check in and then tag my own bags.  What next…we have to fly the plane?  Airlines are out of control…

We made it to Iowa and then proceeded to give Justin Robinson (big and burly) a ride from the airport to his rental.  Three dudes, 4 bags and 6 bikes in a van….crazy.  I wish I had taken a picture.  Bike builds went great and on Friday was the first race – a night race.  My plan was to do the 35+ A’s and then jump in the UCI race to get some points.  That plan ended very quickly after we saw the conditions of the course – muddy, muddy, muddy.  Bikes were caked with tons of mud and grass.
Sage Bike Jingle 2015

Sage’s bike post race

I ended up 4th row after call ups.  Not a great position, but it had to do.  The beginning stretch is quite long before getting into the mud and there was plenty of chances to pass.  The only problem was the greasy, muddy turn at the end of the stretch.  It was chaos as riders slid everywhere.  I had my tire pressure down to 20 psi, probably the lowest I have ever had my tires.  It worked great.  I got to Mt. Krumpit in good shape, but just like last year I faded on the run up.  I guess I need to do some more running.  It was embarrassing, especially in the later laps where at times I was literally walking.  Because of the mud we were off our bikes 6 times during the race when we should have only been off twice.  My bike weighed 40 lbs by the end of the race.  Not a good showing.  I think I ended up 24th and Sage in the high teens.

Mt Krumpit - Jingle Cross 2015

Even the pros had to run Mt. Krumpit

The next day was a little better.  We didn’t over Mt. Krumpit but skirted up the back side then went down the face.  It was a constant battle to keep the mud off the bike and off the shoes.  I had to stop several times and waste a lot of seconds dealing with this.  I wasn’t the only one, but if you had a bike change every lap and pit crew you were set. We had neither.  I was actually afraid to change my bike because I didn’t want to trash two bikes.  Not a good excuse I know and I asked myself all the time why I even brought two bikes.  I love these conditions, but when you are travelling it can be pretty tough.  On Friday night we raced for 40 minutes and I spent 4 hours cleaning my bike.  Ridiculous…

Mud Jingle Cross

Mud pit

Sunday became even more of a stressful day as we had to prepare to leave after racing.  We got a late check out and even had the hotel set up a hose for us so we didn’t trash their rooms.  It was actually a little too late for that.  My room was a disaster.  We rode the race which was one lap shorter than previous days, due to the distance of the lap.  I finished right around the same place.  I felt goo din some sections and worse in others.  Sage was pretty disappointed too.  He didn’t have mud tires on both bikes and that killed him.

We lucked out and a hose by the car was left unattended, so we had a great chance to clean our bikes at the venue.  Everything else just fell into place and we made it out of Iowa in one piece.  Next year the race might be a World Cup to take place in September, which will be just the opposite of what we had.  It will be hot, muggy and the course will be fast.  Lucky guys…. So long Iowa….



Candlestick….


Ah yes…the 49ers old home is being reduced to a rubble pile.  However, the former World War 2 rubble pile is still going strong.  Candlestick Point Recreation area, the old military dump site, is still hosting races on its sandy courses.  It was billed as Tom Simpson’s last weekend of racing before Murphy Mack takes over the Superprestige.  A legacy was ending.  Great job by Tom and his crew for all these years.

With the 49ers gone it seems like there is a little less broken glass on the course and in the parking lot.  the weeds are getting bigger and I met some of them first hand while racing.  It was a small field for the 35+ A’s, since there was SS Worlds and CXLA the same weekend.  I was hoping for a podium spot….hoping.  I got a second row start and was fast off the line.  I settled into a group chasing Murray Swanson..as usual.  Henry Kramer was leading the charge, but going very unHenrylike, i.e. slow.  I finally made a risky pass on four riders in front of me right before the steep hill.  Problem was I went a little too fast, clipped the inside pole and lost momentum going up the hill.  Everybody stacked up behind me.  I feel bad. Henry cured me out.  I got going again…a little embarrassed.

Once again my legs gave out trying to chase Murray.  I got dropped by Eric Hill and then tried to settle in with Mundelius – bye,bye John.  Finally got in with a group of 4 and was just trying to hang on.  One thing that happened as the race wore on was I was getting stronger and stronger.  Maybe those 60 minute races in Sac were doing some good.  Problem is the race was winding down and I had limited time left.  I accelerated around 2 of the guys in the group and sat on another…waiting for the sprint finish.  maybe I should have attacked earlier.  4th and 5th were sitting right in front of us.

Oh well…the sprint came and I caught him looking over the wrong shoulder.  I went left and he swung into me to block.  I went right and he did the same thing.  Left again and he chopped my wheel.  I sat up.  In a professional race it would have been erratic sprinting and he would have been relegated.  I chatted with him at the finish about it and the 5th place finisher stated, “Anything goes in cross so just shut the f–k up”.  Hmmm…that didn’t sit well with me.  I looked him up and he is a strong rider and just coming out of the B’s to the A’s.  I am sure I will see him again and see if his “theory” holds true when it is him going into the tape.  Hehe…  I’m really not that type of racer and may be one of the reasons I don’t win a lot.  You really have to be aggressive out there.

No photos that I could find. I ended up 7th and was happy to be racing.  Next year should be interesting….

 



Santa Rosa Cup


This last weekend was a big one from myself and CX Nation.  Carlos, Bike Monkey, and I decided to try 3 days of racing in a row this season.  The first two were going to be at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and due to lack of terrain, the last day was going to be at Spring Lake Regional Park in Santa Rosa.  This made for a logistical nightmare, since there would be racing on Saturday and we would have to be setting up for Sunday that day,,,plus two separate venues.  I was immediately regretting our decision.  But Carlos assured me that we could pull it off.   He threw a lot of money and staff at the races and they turned out pretty awesome.

FRIDAY:  Our own “Friday Night Light” and it was legit because it was truly on Friday.  We set up the course all day and made it just in time for the start of the racing.  I did a quick kids clinic at 4.  It was free and only one child participated.  I was a little bummed about that.  I want to try and get more kids involved.  On that note we are offering juniors to race for free this season and from here on out.  We got a fair number, but nothing staggering.  We will continue with this program and see what happens next season.

Carlos really threw a lot of people at this event, but even with all this help it really came down to the wire.  But like everything at Bike Monkey we pulled it off.  The course was fast and being nighttime I kept the whole race to flat sections of grass, so the course could be illuminated by the lights.  Racing started at 5 pm, so everybody had a chance to race at night.  Carlos and crew had a 90 degree ramp set up, which I had never seen before.  Then, you dropped into a maze of empty Lagunitas kegs.  I was surprised to hear that a lot of the elite riders were jumping over the kegs.  I just went around in my race. Not sure my legs were long enough for that.

A little video of the Elite A’s getting on it….

I usually like to get into the last race of the day, even though I am totally exhausted from setting up the course.  Usually it is the Elite A’s, but this time I converted my Rock Lobster bike to single speed using a White Industries ENO hub and a Praxis front ring.  I kept the rear derailleur on it so I could convert it back to a geared bike.  It was my inaugural race, so I didn’t have too many expectations.

Right out of the gate this MASH beast just crushes the long drag on the road.  I basically resided myself then and there to just hope for 2nd.  But with an hour of racing….you never know.  I just rode my race and as I got lapped by the front group of Elites I saw that guy falling backward.  It appeared he was waiting for his teammates that were in the Elite race…sure enough he was.  He went straight to the front and pushed the pace so two riders of four got dropped.  Then he blew up and rolled right back to me.  I blew right passed him and went on to take the win.  Crazy!!!

 

SATURDAY:

I got an early start and was on course by 5am in order to start changing the course.  Carlos and I decided to reverse it and add some terrain on the hillside.  The keg jump was gone and the course was lengthened a little, but lap times were still pretty fast.  Around 10am I took off and went to start marking the course at Spring Lake.  This was where the day got insane.  Putting on a race at one venue and starting to set up a race at another venue = dumb.  We had the crew, but it was so much hard work.  I eventually left Spring Lake around 1 and blazed back down to the Fairgrounds.  I threw my stuff on and jumped into single speed Round 2.  Again I rode away from the competition and claimed numero uno.  What a weekend!

SR Cup Brian 2015 (5)

Pushing a SS where I would have been riding a geared bike

Sage SR Cup 2015 (5)

Sage won Day 1 at night, then came up second to Finnerty on day 2

Sage SR Cup 2015 (6)

Sage up the ramp

SUNDAY:

If you can believe it….it rained throughout the night and into the morning.  I got up at 430 and had to ride my bike into Spring Lake since it was closed.  I had stayed till 7pm the previous night, setting up the course in the dark.  Saw some wild animals, hoped it wasn’t a mountain lion; the usual stuff.  In the pouring rain I finished marking the course.  Just as predicted the rain stopped at 6am.  It was a first – the weather people were right!  We barely got the course set up.  It was a huge course.  We had run it 3 years ago, but didn’t use the north side of the dam.  It is steep, but rideable.  However, the rain had made that section really greasy, so most of the earlier racers were running it.  In the last few races it was rideable.

We had some hiccups with the first few races, but got things together by the first couple races.  By the time the kids race rolled around at noon the course was tacking up nicely.  We had about 30 kids do the kids race and it was really cool.  Addie was a little scared with all the kids, but she decided to do it.  I was thinking that she would only do a 100 feet or so, but low and behold she did the whole thing.  I was so proud of her.

IMG_0364

Addie ripping around the course, training and all…with mom pushing

 The last race of the weekend was the last race for me.  I lined up in the Single speed A’s and was off on course…feeling very, very tired.  The elevation in this course made for a tough time with my gearing.  I was grinding up a couple hills and after clipping a pedal on one hill I lost contact with 2nd place and had to settle for 3rd.  Vive La Tarte ride Ed Dorsey had the impressive double, winning the B’s and A’son his single speed.  Krisitn wrapped up 2nd in the overall with a 3rd place to Rachel Llyod and Caroline Dezendorf.  Sage took the win on the hilly par course as race leader Brian Finnerty (Cal-Giant) flatted.  Sage secured the overall with this win.  A great weekend for CX Nation and the Santa Rosa Cup.  And now rest….. ahhhhh.

SR Cup 2015 West (1)

Sage’s son, West, entered the juniors race on this bike. 6 years old and charging

SR Cup Kristin (2)

Kristin through the rock garden

SR Cup Brian 2015

On the dam…

Sage SR Cup 2015 (4)

Sage on the dam…



The Night Life


What turned out to be Round 1 and 2 of the Bay Area Superprestige race was last weekend.  After the cancellation of the first race due to permit problems, this was going to be our first chance to mix it up with the big boys.  Most of the time the “fringe” races in places like Sacramento and Monterey just bring out a handful of the top riders.  The BASP usually brings them all together for one big battle royale.  Sierra Point is called “Friday Night Lights” in honor of all those high school football teams that play at the end of the week.  Well, turns out this race is on Saturday, but we will give the organizers a little leeway with this one.  The course changed a little this year.  It is usually held on an old building site, well a site where a building was going to go.  Now it is just weeds and dirt.  Some of it is piled up around the course and they refer to that section at “the Alps”.  Well, some off wheelers got hold of the muddy field and forced the owners to put a fence around the Alps.  Not much elevation after this was done.  The dust was still there though.  HEPA mask optional.

The 35+ A’s went off at 6pm.  It was completely dark at that point which was nice.  No battling the setting sun.  They did call ups from last years race and I got on the front row, right next to Murray Swanson, who is a tremendously fast starter and the favorite in this race.  I got off to my usual fast start and slotted in right behind Murray.  In a split second he was gone.  I couldn’t believe it.  I hooked up with another guy that I didn’t recognize and we tried to catch up to Murray.  After one lap the guy was playing games, like weaving back and forth on the paved section.  He must have just watched a round of the Tour de France.  Just ride bro….  After another lap I was passed by Mundelius, Sage, Coates and a Tarte.  I tried to hang on and just got blown off.  We all went into the blender again and when I came out I had dropped National/World Champion Henry Kramer and sprinted to the line with Steve Oz.  7th place…not bad.  I haven’t really been feeling confident all year and this was the first time I felt pretty good.  I missed out on the repecharge on Sunday, where they got a little rain to knock the dust down and make it extra greasy.

Kristin BASP Sierra Point

CX Nation had a good night and next day – Kristin was 4th

Sage Podium BASP Sierra Point

Sage with a 3rd place at the night race

Benoit BASP Sierra Point

Benoit pulled off a strong 3rd in the Singlespeed B’s



Lightning Stirkes


Sage and I lined up for Round 3 of the Sacramento Cyclocross series.  The race took place at Maidu Park in Roseville.  Man, Sacto has it so nice when it comes to parks.  This park was huge…even had an indoor soccer rink, plus batting cages.  Not happening in Santa Rosa, that’s for sure.  The numbers have been a little down for the 35+ A’s.  I am almost thinking of racing the A’s next year so I can race against someone.  After a couple laps I end up riding by myself for 45 minutes or more.  Boring….

The norm for me this year has been start fast and fade.  The fade has been coming at various times in the race.  It seems to be getting later in the race, so I guess that is good.  I lead for he first 1/2 lap, then Sage surged and I followed.  I didn’t look back, but it seemed like it caused some damage.  We made it to a twisty section of the course that flowed through some redwood trees and had some off camber.  Around one tree I got struck by lighting…and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Something, like a root, seemed to grab my rear wheel or get caught in it.  I am not sure.  But the next thing I knew my rear tire was leaking air.  I looked more closely and the top half of my extender valve had been torn off.  What!???  I have never even heard of this.

So I ran to the pits and grabbed the “B” bike.  By that time I was in last place by a long shot.  Oh well, I just rode my race and tried to battle back.  I think I took 5th and, of course, Sage took the “W”. He has been so close this year.  It was good to see him get one. Overall a great course with a large run up and lots of grass and dirt trails.  The weather calmed a little, but I still needed a bottle on the bike, which makes it not seem like cyclocross.  I can’t wait to take all my water bottle cages off.
Brian Sac #3 2015 2

Shouldering up the hill on the first lap…I know this because my “A’ bike only made it one lap

Sage Oakland 2015 1

Sage with the shoulder

Brian Sac #3 2015 1

Over the barriers.  I’d sure like to stay on my bike more in the Sac races…

Sage and Brian Sac #2 2015 (2)

Relaxed at the start

Sage and Brian Sac #2 2015

Following Sage on Lap 1



Race Update From Down South


CX Nation racer Brij Kunine gives us an update of racing the 45+ A’s down in Monterey at the CCCX cyclocross series…..

CCCX#3 Manzanita Park –The View from Mid-Pack 9/27/15
My first race after a bit of a rough late-summer/ early fall.  I love Manzanita Park–it has a long uphill paved S/F and several levels of baseball fields connected by dirt roads and paths with some nice rooty off-camber tree sections in-between.  Started in the middle of the small field (16 riders).  I got off to a decent start and managed to work my way up as Rob Meighan (Giant Berry) took the hole shot and hung on for what might have been a wire-to-wire impressive victory. I got up to about 5th but had no hope of catching Meighan or Mark Howland (Family Cycling) after he had worked his way up to second.  I teamed up with Stacey Sell (Family) after he dropped his chain and then Tim Watson (Rock Lobster) who was riding strong and smooth.  Each dropped me eventually with Tim ending up an impressive third.  Despite being discarded by Tim and Stacey I was feeling happy to be at it again and stoked to be in sixth (Matt Shelton listed as riding for DFL this year was up there riding super well too).  Last lap I could see my buddy in his first race back after his own wire-to-wire Rock Lobster Cup victory, Mark Acker (Nest) hunting me down with his wife Hiroko, brother, and folks cheering us both.  I was pooped.  Done for.  I tried but I cramped on a tough u-pick ride or run I had done pretty well on until the final 500m.  I tried to save a little to outsprint him but cramps don’t lie.  Not only did he best me at the finish Chad Rosser (SJ Bike Club) worked me over too.  Eighth it was.
CCCX#4 Toro Toro Toro 10/4/15
Another great venue and course.  Toro Park, Salinas, has actual green grippy grass and the usual Central Coast dirt & hills.  Nineteen of us towed the line and once again I had a third-row start.  A missed pedal led to a nasty crash right off the line.  I was lucky to get around it and heard there was another one shortly after.  I settled in mid-pack again and made it around a bobble in the deepest duff section.  The course features a really fast dirt section which leads up to a tough short climb.  I gave it full gas and got up to sixth.  To be honest, the more hectic the start and the more chaos the better I seem to do–must a size thing, I can get through the small holes.  Anyhow Meighan was off the front again!  And with a decent gap.  Howie had a great start in second chasing hard, and Stacey, a Team Super Pro Racer from France (so I hear) Youenn Colin and I were third through sixth.  There was a lot of jockeying around and riding through the back of the 35+ riders who had started thirty seconds in front of us. It was a really fast course and super windy.  I had mentioned to Mark Acker and Eric Bustos (Giant Strawberry) that us little dudes can really draft.  And I did.  I felt much better after actually training the past week and was happy to sit on Stacey as he pulled me around and around.  M. Colin was dropped and I was thinking I could try to work Stacey over if there were maybe two laps left.  I looked at my watch, we had only been racing 22 min.  B Plan–hang on as long as possible and don’t let Mark, Chad, Eric, etc., right behind catch me once dropped.  Stacey finally forced me to the front, but I just slowed us down I was so dizzy in all of the grass turns.  He took it up again while I concentrated on hanging on for dear life.
With two to go he made me pull for the better part of a lap.  I felt a little better and got in a rhythm.  There was a tree barrier which was ridable, but Stacey played it smart and moved in front of me to keep me from riding it while he dismounted.  We entered the long sidewalk straightaway and sure enough he punched my ticket with a really big attack.  I managed to go with him but after section with lots of grass turns we got back on the sidewalk and I had no answer for Effort #2.  Bock Dickie (Buy Cell/Ibis) racing the 35+’s and back after two bad crashes was with us and easily bridged up to Stacey.  (Brock and I roadSaturday and I knew he’d been through a lot with broken ribs, a hurt ankle, booty hematoma, etc.)  One more lap with those dudes 5-10 seconds in front.  I was really worried I’d get hosed again.  I could see Chad and a dude named Travis Ma (Penn Velo) with a lot of fans cheering him right behind (although I didn’t know he was a 45+ at the time).  But some previously passed 35+ racer caught back up to me and that bit of draft was all I needed to hold them off.  Howie had gotten on Meighan’s wheel and almost beat him after Meighan clipped a pedal in the final barriers just before the finish.  Those boys are riding really strong.  Stacey was 18 seconds behind them and I was 8 behind him with each person just a few seconds back of the next.  A wily fourth.
Brij