more than just another bike blog

Monday, September 18, 2006

Lotsa Cross

Friday I had a private coaching session to work on my skills. I figure my fitness is just about what it's going to be right now but I can still improve my skills. My skills aren't terrible, but they could be better. So, I learned how to do things a lot differently than I've been doing them for the last three years. And new ways to think about things, too. We worked on mounts, dismounts, manuals and wheelies, sand, and riding on the tops (which I don't typically do).

Saturday, we had our annual Velo Girls cyclocross clinic, this year coached by Andi Mackie. For a couple of hours we worked on our skills and then had a race simulation.

And Sunday, I raced at Folsom Rodeo with Kim and Erin. I had debated whether to race in the Bs or Cs, but once I rode the course I got chicken and raced Cs. Of course, it didn't help that I screwed up the schedule, we got there later than planned, didn't get enough warm-up and had several mechanical issues to solve pre-race. I guess that's why we pick a throw-away for our first race, right?

Well let me tell you, if I'm not completely confused after this weekend then I'm just plain losing my mind. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be decisive with my skills during the race. Part of me instinctively tried to do things the "old" way and my mind was trying to tell me to do them the "new" way. The result was confusion (and one stupid crash). Since my goal for the race was just to get back out there, assess my fitness and skills, and taste some blood, I was successful.

But the race was fun and I'm looking forward to this season. The course was pretty good for me (no real hills and the run-ups didn't allow anyone to get a lot of speed). There was only one good power section (which is good for me).

We started Le Mans style, with a short run on a field and then up and over a 20' pile of woodchips to grab our bikes and go. I false-started on the run and then missed the true start as I was getting back to the line so I was near the back of our field of 11 when I got on the bike. I spent the first lap moving up, but there was too much time spent behind the log jam of other racers at the beginning, and we never saw the first three racers. This is disappointing for me, because my start is usually really good (I almost always get the hole shot), and it's frustrating to have to work through slower racers. Oh well!

Pic from Brian Joder of the three dorky looking Velo Girls.

I worked my way up into 4th position (1-3 were long gone), with my teammates Erin and Kim behind me in 5th and 6th. I was sloppy with my skills and not used to my new race wheels (which I think had too much air but I couldn't tell with the valve stem extenders I put on there), so I was sliding around a bit and couldn't lay it down in the corners. Bummer.

On the 3rd lap, I completely blew it on one of my dismounts. The bike went one way, I went the other, and landed on the ground. My teammate, Erin, was behind me, but I was able to get up and maintain position up the run-up. But I was a bit befuzzled to remount and noticed my chain had sucked, so I had to fix that. Erin stopped to help (silly girl) and I told her to go and chase the leaders! The last lap and a half I'd lost my fight and was able to maintain position for 5th, but never caught Erin again.

Excellent race photos by Brian Joder are here --

I Love my bike! With my race wheels, she's 17.2 pounds -- perfect for me, especially during climbs and run-ups! Still need to fix the front brake and figure out a solution for the new wheels, but she'll be good to me this season, I can tell.

I'm supposed to do a cross ride at Arastradero tonight, but after three days of cross, my body is screaming for a recovery ride. It's good to listen to your body.


At 9/18/2006 9:58 AM, Blogger Flandria said...

really nice pictures and looked like sooo much fun!

At 9/18/2006 10:10 AM, Blogger X Bunny said...

lotsa fun!

i got through the day without any scrapes but today the bruises are popping up in strange places...

At 9/18/2006 10:42 AM, Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

looks like supafun ... can't wait to open up my can of pain in a couple weeks. that first cx race soreness ... oh man, few ouches compare to those.

may i share some thoughts?

I'm a huge supporter of the hands being close in to the body on a cross bike. I like to think of it in terms of dirt riding with the mtb. when we look at most mtb positions, the bars are usually much farther in than the road position, as in this pic from the cx race.

Notice how close in the hands are to the body ... it creates a much more stable position for technical riding and doesn't fatigue the shoulders/neck as a more stretched out position will/might.

And, if you need to get low and aero, you can still do it on the cx bike - example would be Ms.Maile's excellent position - notice she can both get low and powerful for long road sections AND ride the technical stuff like a rockstar.

Another fun position to look at is young Josie Beggs'. Note the hands are closer in towards the body and she is able to support her weight using her skeletal structure as opposed to overloading her triceps.

You're position is pretty good, but you can see in this pic that, even though your slightly forward on your saddle because of the technical riding, you're hands are still a fair bit stretched out and you're having to support yourself with a lot of arm muscle there. In my opinion, the more stress/flexion your arms have to undergo to support body weight ... the less they are able to be supple and feel the dirt and respond to technical riding necessities. I'd recommend measuring your most comfortable/fast mtb and think about throwing on cx stem that gets your hands ON THE HOODS in something similar of a distance.

just my thoughts ... mostly, i just wanted to look at some pics of hot biker chics.

latah, VG!




At 9/18/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

gracias, sensei vanderhoot!

Um, that's not Josie, dude!

So, I guess moving my body weight back on the descents defeats the opportunity to relax my arms. Guess that's why coach wants me on the tops on my descents since my stem can't be much shorter. Maybe I need a shorter top tube. Argh!

At 9/18/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

Bunny! Lotsa pain today! Three days straight of cross is too much for this old body at this point.

But so much fun!!!

At 9/18/2006 11:15 AM, Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

le oops!

is that a ti frame, btw?

yeah, being on the tops is a nice way to absorb nasty bumps on descents ... but, i have fought off the habit of riding there too much. i only pull it out when absolutely needed. nowadays, i prefer riding most of the time on the hoods so i can do all those microshifts that are necessary to keep high speeds through barriers/techy stuff.

... course, i had to get a teeny framed bike to get the right top tube length to allow it!!!

so, i'm right there with ya', sistah.

all last year i rode on an 80mm stem (because my toptube was too long) and only hated it a little bit.

At 9/18/2006 11:42 AM, Blogger velogirl said...

Yeah, Ritchey Ti Breakaway. I got it for the last two Pilarcitos races and nationals last year. It was the prototype -- very sweet! Not ready to retire her yet. But the next frame will probably be a custom for my short body.

This is my year to nail cross, so thanks for the advice.

At 9/18/2006 2:49 PM, Blogger marscat said...

does look fun, chips and all

At 9/22/2006 3:07 PM, Blogger funkdaddy said...

In general I like to disagree with Vanderhoot but he is right for once. You've got them top levers so use 'em! I know it does take a while to rely on them completely. Also, them Salsa bars don't mix well with bar-top levers - too curvy on the tops which cuts down the amount of lever/cable they can pull - maybe that's why you weren't using them?

At 9/22/2006 3:18 PM, Blogger funkdaddy said...

Vanderhoot actually made 2 good points. One way to get more out of your hoods is to slide them up your drops a little so they're pointing a little more skyward and will be closer to the body. It looks a little funky but works.


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