Racing diaries: Embrace our mediocrity. Enjoy our enthusiasm. Love our pain.
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 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.
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
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!
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
MFG #5 Marymoor
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Starcrossed CAT 3 35+
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
I love this picture as I have my eye focused on my “nemesis”.
Brian Wong and I before scrubbing the dirt off.