Elbows Out

Racing diaries:  Embrace our mediocrity. Enjoy our enthusiasm. Love our pain.

2013 Starcrossed CX

posted Sep 24, 2013, 6:09 AM by Brian Bressler

I earned some decent results last year but even still, my petition for an upgrade to Cat 2 was denied.  Rules are rules.  So I registered for the Cat 3 30+ race and was lucky enough to get a front row call up.  With a spot like this, I had to go for the hole shot.  I lead the field through the first turn and drilled the first lap opening a good gap.  The Hodala sandbagging heckles were brutal but winning still felt really good.  I petitioned again for the upgrade and was denied again.  Rules are still rules.  I’m considering expanding my schedule to include at few more USAC events to hopefully earn the official upgrade.
All barrier sections should have a beer garden, it makes me smile.

The Algea Velo Skinsuit / Kit Group Buy

posted Jun 14, 2013, 8:58 PM by Brian Bressler   [ updated Jun 14, 2013, 9:37 PM ]

Summer: The time of year where I start thinking about and longing for cold rain, slick mud and the smell of glue and wet grass.  The time has come release a new kit and to adopt a new name for this (non)team.  I learned a lot last year procuring skinsuits and kits for aspiring cyclocross racers all over the world.  This year, I've teamed up with Sommerville Sports to handle the entire ordering process.  For you, this means no more messing with payments, less time waiting for responses from me and faster delivery of the gear.  For me, this means less record keeping and sorting and shipping orders.  I found Sommerville Sports when they started sponsoring Jonathan Page, one of my all time CX heroes. 

Together, we designed a simple skinsuit and matching kit.   The pricing is straight forward and the gear looks awesome. The first order's cut off date is July 1st with gear expected by the end of August.


The new name stems from my love of CX racing, the lactic acid burns and blurry vision.  The Algea are the mythological spirits of pain and suffering, they are the daughters of Eris, the Greek goddess of strife. While we may not be as fast as the elite racers, we suffer just the same.

Sizing info is here:  http://sommervillesports.com/sizing 

Look for The Algea Velo store here: http://sommervillesports.com/stores

2013 Mud, Glory, Cowbells and ... a New Kit!

posted Mar 26, 2013, 5:45 AM by Brian Bressler

The 2012 CX season is officially long gone.  The sun is out more than it's not now and many of us are toiling away on our trainers, going out on long rides on the weekends and generally trying to improve our fitness. I liked my results from last season and I'm continuing to use the coaching advice from Kenneth Lundgren at Elite Endurance.  He's pushing me to race a few road races this year;  I'll post my results and comments here.  

PainCave Cycling also picked up Tiremaniacs as our tire and shoe sponsor.  It turns out that my CX nemesis from last year runs this operation. 

I'm designing a 2013 kit right now.  Please drop me a line if you'd like to be a part of the PainCave Cycling non-team for the 2013 season.  This isn't a business, I'm not making any money on this adventure (it's actually the opposite).  I'm doing this because I love cyclocross, I love bikes and I love learning about your racing, training and bike preparation.

Bring the mud!


PS: I also have two leftover long sleeve skinsuits for $75 shipped. 

Bring the Mud - Washington State Cyclocross Champion

posted Dec 5, 2012, 5:41 AM by Brian Bressler   [ updated Dec 5, 2012, 6:02 AM ]

The 2012 Washington State Cyclocross Championship course was at the Arlington Airport, a small regional airport with a giant, wet, soggy, field.  The course looked like the organizers strapped a GPS tracking chip to a rabbit, chased it around the field then put up tape along the rabbit’s path.There were at least five types of mud on the course: grassy mud, greasy mud, dry deep mud, wet deep mud and wet deep slop mud. While the course was dreadfully slow, the field was fast and the riders were intense. 

 The Cat 3 races were the last of the day.  During my pre-ride I found some good traction “under the tape” - way out on the sides of the course.  By time I was racing, even these areas were completely tracked out. 

The Cat 3 Open field started first and my 35+ field started 60 seconds later.  I started in the second row and quickly hammered up near the front.  There was a long straight immediately following the first turn so I lit it up and charged up to third.  The pavement gave way to muddy grass and I didn’t let up…go go go.  I was off the front.  About ¾ of the way into the first lap I was starting to pick off open riders.  The mud was so deep and slow in sections shouldering the bike was much faster (I watched Logan Owen do this in the earlier Cat 1 race)  The course also included a steep dry deep muddy run-up and a death spiral with deep mud was sloppy during my pre-ride but now nearly un-rideable.

 Once I established a confident gap over my field, I battled with the open field racers for “less slow” lines and hammered when I had traction.  On the last lap I let off the gas just slightly to ensure a totally mistake and mechanical-free finish.  I was surprised and delighted that I finished fourth overall (with the fastest time of all the Cat 3 riders), where the three faster riders started in the open field race a minute earlier than me!  

Bressler Can Answer

posted Nov 13, 2012, 9:53 PM by Brian Bressler   [ updated Nov 13, 2012, 9:57 PM ]

The night before the race, my father-in-law asked what my strategy was for the MFG series finale at Woodland Park.  I explained my plan:  go for the hole shot, go as hard as I can…the entire time.  He wondered if I should write it down.

 The Woodland Park course is one of my favorites with lots of hills and fast single track.  A steep run-up was added this year and I found that if I came into the hill just right I could ride the entire climb.  Four minutes into the first lap I led the Cat 3 35+ field down to the bottom of the run up and drilled it all the way up.  Most of the riders were forced to dismount and I established a good gap.  I attacked every hill kept the pace fast.  The field is super strong and pushed hard to keep the gap.

 This was my second win of the season and it felt especially good.  One of my racing goals this year was to be on the podium at Woodland Park.  The extra perk is that I won the overall Cat 3 35+ series as well!  Now, it’s time to refocus and prepare for the Washington State Championship on December 2nd.  

Crushing the run-up (not the first lap)

The gap on the first lap after the run up
  The best part

Bressler Cannot Answer!

posted Oct 31, 2012, 5:55 AM by Brian Bressler

MFG #5 Marymoor Park

CAT 3 35+ Brian Bressler 

The rain came down. This was the first true muddy CX race of the season.  By the time the CAT 3 35+ guys rolled up, the course was a greasy mess, cut and tracked by thousands of tires.  Nemesis moved up to the CAT 1/2 35+ race so I felt extra confident on the front row.  Looking down the row, most of us, including me, were running Clement’s PDX tires with crazy low pressure.  The field was about half the normal size, only 34 riders braved the rain.  I took the hole shot and hammered full throttle up the pavement after the first turn.  My goal was to go a full out the entire race, no drafting, no pacing, no waiting. Only smashing.  The Marymoor Velodrome is a spectacular venue for cyclocross with a grassy slope wrapping the banked corners of the Velodrome. The course was extremely technical with lots of off-cambers and pavement-to-mud transitions.  Sally of HODALA and Raleigh fame was right with me there the entire race.  His superb bike handling skills were better than mine and he cleaned corners where I had to either slow down or dab a foot.  However, when the course opened up, I could manage a gap.

 Going into the final lap I had an 8+ second gap on Sally but it eroded by the last corner where I led by one second. Sally attacked on the finish straight and I couldn't answer.  I feel great about the race and the spectacular competition. 

MFG #4 Magnuson Park GP

posted Oct 31, 2012, 5:24 AM by Brian Bressler

CAT 3 35+ Brian Bressler


Boring, roadie, flat were the words floating around the queue before the call ups. The course certainly favored the wattsters.  I gently hammered to my usual 5th or 6th position into the first turn.  I quickly found my nemesis and grabbed his wheel to hang on to for the first lap.  By the second lap my nemesis, another rider and I had a decent gap on the field of 70-ish.  We traded attacks, the of them could pull away on the long straights and I would reel them in and gap them during the twisty, punchy sections.  I gave it all I could up the last hill but it wasn't enough.  Third with only a few seconds separating 1st still works for me.  
Despite Brian Wong arriving a few minutes late to grid (Brian has a long drive from BC to Seattle) he clawed his way up to 3rd in the CAT 4 35+ race. He also hit the pavement pretty hard and left some skin on the course. 

Portland to Ohio

posted Oct 31, 2012, 5:13 AM by Brian Bressler

Cross Crusade

by Willem Bakker
It was a disappointingly nice day; 55° and nothing but pure sunshine. As far as the race goes the first two laps were going pretty good even though I didn't have time to pre-ride the course.  I started mid-pack but the second and third laps allowed me to gain a bit more ground and with two laps left to go started to put down the hammer UNTIL a off-camber switch back in which I tried to take a guy on the inside and misjudged my speed/line and had to get on the brakes and ended up ass-over-tits landing on my head/right hand/right side of body. Frustrated with myself and my noob-move I got up, put my chain back on, and hopped back on my steed in pursuit. Two minutes later I was munching on a dirt sandwich yet again. I couldn't put any weight on my right hand. I tried to soft pedal for a few hundred feet hoping the pain in my hand would subside but the pain didn’t go away. For the first time in my life I had to drop out of a race.

 The medical staff noticed my crash and came to check on me and after looking me over suggested I needed serious medial attention. So there we go 30 minutes into the first real cross race and I'm on the way to the emergency room. AWESOME.

 Two hours, some pretty good pain killers, and two x-rays later I finally got some good news. No break (no break = no surgery, WOO HOO!), but pulled every ligament and tendon possible in my right wrist/hand and pinched a nerve to boot. But what is some good news without more bad news? Out 4-5 weeks and rocking an air cast. Yup that's right, in one, well really two, fell swoops my cross season is pretty much relegated to the December races (if lucky).

 But regardless of the misfortune that happened I will be back and with vigor.

Rick Mace crushing it and filming some great point-of-view shots.


posted Oct 20, 2012, 1:13 PM by Brian Bressler

SCX Silver Lake CAT 4, Brian Bressler 

First off, if you've been reading my reports you know I've struggled to finish a race without a mechanical or a crash.  So from this point, the Silver Lake race was a fantastic success.

I've never been a fan the USA Cycling licensing system, it seems like an expensive hurdle to keep people from racing.  Therefore, out of principle (ha!) I've opted for CX races that don't require a license.  The MFG series and Cascade Cross series are excellent examples and the turnout at these races is growing and the races are extremely competitive.  This weekend, I happened to be in Seattle for my mother-in-law's birthday and my wife suggested I find a race.  She's awesome.

The Seattle CX series is USA Cycling sanctioned so I registered for the only race available to a rider without a license: CAT 4. 

The Silver Lake course is known for both the long sandy sections - yes plural - you hit the beach twice per lap and for the many very steep short climbs.  Since I have no points in this series I got the "everyone else" call up that put me about ¾ of the way back.  Within 15 seconds of the start we were on the 100 meter sand stretch where riders were already coming off their bikes and running.  I pre-rode the course and picked out a good line to ride.  Once we were out of the sand I trashed my way up close to the front and tried to ride as cleanly and smoothly as possible.  When the leader slid out on a fast downhill off camber to steep uphill climb, I first asked if he was ok (he's a riding buddy) then attacked and gapped the field.  This was my first win this year!

Next week, I'll be back in the MFG series and racing CAT 3 35+ again and hungry to finish without a mechanical or a crash.


posted Oct 15, 2012, 8:54 PM by Brian Bressler   [ updated Oct 15, 2012, 9:47 PM ]

Starcrossed CAT 3 35+

Brian Bressler

Despite my 68th out of 68 at the Rapha Focus GP, I had a second row call up: Nice.  At “go” I accelerated into the lead pack going into the first turn and hung back with about five or six riders. The course was exceptionally dry, dusty and really bumpy.  The dusty ground was tricky to corner on and the bumps sapped my energy.  Friday's work out of practicing running (bobsled accelerations) after the barriers was fortuitous as the barrier section had a sandy 90° turn just after the barriers.  I typically chose to run all the way through the sand pit and up part of a concrete hill before remounting.  I gapped riders (almost J) every time.  By the 5th of eight laps, it was just me and two other riders with a good gap on the chase group.  We traded attacks and I was deep in the paincave.  With about 90 seconds left in the race I went down on a tight sandy 180° turn and dropped the chain.  Irate, I picked up my bike and started running.  While running I realized 90 seconds on a bike is not 90 seconds on foot. I stopped and fixed my chain and limped in for a 6th place finish.

 I love this picture as I have my eye focused on my “nemesis”.

Brian Wong and I before scrubbing the dirt off. 

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