Monday, November 9

Cyclocross Observations

Tires - If you use your commuter bike for cyclocross, you might wind up changing a lot of tires if you only have one set of wheels. Friday night, I took off my commuter tires and put on knobbies. I also took off all the other various commuting items. It didn’t take long. On Sunday night, it seemed to take a LOT longer to change back. With four local races, that would be 16 tire changes. I don’t NEED that much practice changing tires. Racing might be fun, but changing tires gets old.
Run Over - Unlike commuting, getting run down from behind in a cyclocross race is something that occurs fairly often. When you hear “on your left,” you better not swerve, drift, skid, or bounce left. Go OVER that root! Much more than in traffic, the ability to throw a head check without swerving is an important skill, because sometimes an “on your left” will be followed by one rider passing. Sometimes it’ll be followed by three passing. I didn’t get run down, but I saw a number of overtaking collisions. Wearing a helmet would be smart even if it weren’t required.

Sore Muscles - How exactly do you get sore after 45 minutes of riding around in the grass and mud, when a much longer commute has no equivalent effect? This one is a mystery to me. I figured that riding around in a park would use pretty much the same muscles as riding the same bike on the road. If you haven’t cyclocrossed before, pick the shortest race they’ll let you enter.

Water Bottle – While a bottle carrier/bottle may interfere with your ability to cleanly toss the bike onto your shoulder, a small sport bottle in a rear jersey pocket wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’m not sure it makes sense to bring along anything more than this. You get a flat tire or a mechanical failure, the race is probably over.

False Fable - The fable of the tortoise and the hare does not apply to cyclocross. This is a race where the hares rule. Slow and steady types are called “lappers.”

Belgian Invasion - Where do all those Ridley frames come from? It seemed like half the frames in the race were made by Ridley. There were a few of just about everything, but Ridleys seemed as common as Huffys at a WalMart. Ironically, according to the Ridley website, there are NO authorized Ridley dealers at all in Texas!

Cleanup - It’s no harder to clean up nasty, sticky mud than regular commute grit. Hose it down with a low pressure garden hose; a washcloth and a wheel brush on the tires will get most of the junk off. Do that BEFORE you take your post-race shower. After the shower, use Simple Green and a cloth to remove residual grime.

It’s a Small World, After All – Entirely by coincidence, I ran across an engineer who was also entering cyclocross for the very first time. We took Lamaze class together 20+ years ago in California. Time has been kind to him & his wife.


Chandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chandra said...

I love the Hare and Tortoise cartoon. Why do you say, "use a low pressure hose"?

If your race was anything like the movie "Pure Sweet Hell", then I think I have an idea.

I have a coworker who is big time into Cross. He tells me stories about it.

Peace :)

Steve A said...

Low pressure hose is so you don't force water into bearings and such. I wash show cars the same way so the finish isn't damaged. I have my eyes out for PSH. I'm also watching for "Warriers of Cyclocross" as linked over at CycleDog.

ChipSeal said...

Well see, now when you stop to walk around a bit on your commute, you can say it is training for mounting and dismounting in cyclocross events!

Velo, Tx said...

Careful with that Simple Green! It eats aluminum.

It think it also attacks anodizing and will turn black in to purple.

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