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A Guide To Cyclocross Fandom

On August 30, 2014 by Super Rookie

Cyclocross is a unique cycling discipline. It tends to be a more open and friendly environment than road racing, and a better spectator experience than mountain biking. This isn’t to say that road and mountain biking are less superior, they just aren’t on the same level of awesome.

That said, if you are new to cyclocross, or if you have experienced the rush and excitement you may find yourself getting yelled at by a complete stranger. This stranger probably is someone that raced in an event earlier and they are there to support you, but also to make you feel like their kid brother. It can be confusing at first, but here is a handy guide to fandom in cyclocross.

The OFFICIAL Rules Of FLCX Fandom:

1. Cyclocross Is Fun, But It Is Also A Competition

People are racing bikes. It is still a competition. Do not alter the course (read: dumping water on the run-up, moving course tape after the race day starts etc…). If you see someone doing this call them out on it as they are probably unaware since everyone is having a great time and this whole thing may be new!

2. Heckling Is Encouraged. Being Mean Is Not.

Cyclocross at its core is about being fun and having a smile on your face. This means that you do what you can to bring that fun atmosphere to everyone, including the racer that has their heart rate pegged at 194 while hitting an off-camber turn. They may be in the ‘zone’ but it is an appropriate time to tell them that they should, “go wicked hardah” or that they should “work together” with the ride in front of them. Get the riders off their game. Make them stop and do pushups, or maybe stop in the middle of the race and get their autograph (thanks Chris Horner!).

The general rule of thumb for heckling is that it should make the rider laugh. You should never under any circumstances say, “you suck,” or be a complete jerk. If that happens don’t be surprised if someone does their best Bart Wellens to your noggin.

3. Handups Are Not A Crime, Unless It Is Illegal And Against The Rules.

Cyclocross is so much fun that from time to time the racers want to get involved with the party on the other side of the course tape. They request pieces of bacon, coca-cola, or even a piece of Laffy Taffy. The general rule for handups is don’t be an idiot and put the promoter, riders or other fans at risk with your behavior. You know, act like an adult, well at least one that knows how to sneak food into the movie theater.

4. Cyclocross Is One Big Family.

We are all in this together. If you are out walking the course and you see a little course tape on the ground tie it back up, if the race is over see if you can pull down some of the tape and help the folks clean up the party. At the end of the day tell your friends to come race with us and have some more fun.

5. Don’t Be A Lemon. Be A Rosebud.

At no time is it ok to be a complete jerk to the officials, promoters, riders, or fellow spectators. This isn’t road racing where you can get away with throwing your bike to the ground and yelling at your friend standing in the feedzone that missed your bottle feed. This is the place where you work as hard as possible to win your race and do as well as you can, but go have a high-five with your competitor immediately after the race.

TOTALLY NOT THE PRE-SEASON POWER RANKINGS*

On August 29, 2014 by Christian

*except totally the end of August Power Rankings.

As always, these rankings are 100% officially unofficial, infallible, unquestionably questionable, and obviously 1000% accurate. If you disagree, you’re probably wrong. If you are angry that you weren’t mentioned, or angry that you were mentioned, we suggest that you take a deep breath and remember that we’re totally kidding about pretty much everything we say here. This is for your amusement as much as ours, and when I say ours, I mean every one of you. As always, please, no wagering.

1. Josh Thornton (Giant USA/FLCX BADASS) – P12 – Pretty much nuff’ said. He’s promoting a series of WICKED AWESOME races this year, increasing his rating even higher. You want to get ranked higher than him? Promote a race, and then beat him on the bike. The most powerful man in Florida Cyclocross. Just try to unseat him. Good luck.

2. Laura Parsons (Infinity) – P123 Women – She is already claiming she’s injured, but as the most dominant woman in FLCX history, it’s virtually impossible to count her out. She will win at least 6 races this year. She is the reigning queen, best of luck to you if you plan to unseat her.

3. Zoltan Tisza (??) -Masters – We don’t know much, but his name is Zoltan and if that doesn’t scream “I’m faster than you” than I don’t know what does.

4. Vitor Alexandre (Colavita South) – Masters – Was untouchable last year in the masters 45, and damn competitive in the masters 35′s as well. Engaged in some epic duels with Steve Noble (Infinity), and ultimately emerged triumphant the vast majority of the time. So strong, so fit, so many expectations for 2014, and already claiming that he’s coming into the season undertrained. Yep, sound like an elite Master’s rider to me.

5. Tic Bowen (B3 Cafe) – Strava king of the Greater Orlando area. Man of mystery, be afraid 35+ dudes. Two words describe him. FA. Ast.

6. Dan Sullivan (West Coast Wheelman). No stranger to the FLCX Power Rankings, the 55+ champion figures to continue his reign. The silent killer, he doesn’t talk a lot, but he’s always at the front of the race at the 45 minute mark, when it counts.

7. Ryan Woodall (The Pro’s Closet/Felt/Top Gear Cycles/Chris Kyle) NO WOODALLZ ALLOWED*

8. Ava Sykes (Outspoken?) Ava had an amazing summer, standing on the top step of the podium at the National Crit Championships, and on the lower steps of the podium of the road race, and the time trial. How did your summer go? That 15th at the industrial park training crit highlight suddenly doesn’t feel so special, does it?

9. Keith Richards (Swift Cycling) Won the single speed category based on showing up. MEH.

10. Rich Dybdahl (Pure Cycles) The single most enthusiastic CX supporter in the entire state of Florida. Rich backed up his entirely lackluster race results in 2013 with an undying commitment to the bringing new friends to the sport of Cyclocross. Seriously, love you Rich, don’t ever quit.

11. Mother Effing Beardo (All City/Ritte Racing/Puerto Rico) Dude showed up one weekend and owned it. Even though he finished near to last against the elite FLCX category 4 field, he still managed to podium in nearly every PRCX event he entered. Weird. Love that dude, hope we see more of him this year.

Dis-Honourable Sandbagger Pre-Season Award: Michael Cedeno is so much faster than all of us on pavement, and yet he’s yet to enter the 60 minute event. Being funny on the internet is all well and good, but stealing candy from the kids in the cat 3 race is just mean. See also: Alexander Gil and his world class track sprinter thighs.

On the cusp:

John Paul Russo – This year has got to be his year. Right? Right? COME ON!

Jennifer Kratz Hoyle – Garneau – Killed it in the 4 women, has a tougher row to hoe in the big girl’s race.

Erica Richards – Orange State – When she’s not sueing people, she’s dropping them on her bike. A full season may be just what she needs to get to the top. Recently spent time in Colorado altitude doping- look out.

Brian Davis – Village Idiots – Anyone who drinks as much Duvel as Brian does post race deserves mention.

John Kingham – Swift Cycles – John was one of the best cat 4′s last year- how will he handle his step up to the big kids in the 3′s?

Michael Mace – First Place Racing – Junior National Champion on the MTB has got to count for something on the CX bike.

Kristin Apotsos – Infinity – The only woman to beat Laura Parsons last year is now Laura’s teammate- it should be intriguing to see how team orders play out.

How do I do the Cyclocross: Early-Mid August Edition

On August 14, 2014 by Christian

No. 3 of several in a series hyping up the 2014-2015 FLCX Cyclocross series

Ok, we’ve already discussed getting a bike for a reasonable price, and then we talked about some best practices for CX race promoters. Let’s talk about getting into shape, and what exactly kind of shape you need to get into to race CX.

First of all, if you are the type of person who wants/needs/desires structure and planning in your workouts, there are some great coaches in FLCX. Off the top of my head, I can think of, in no particular order, Josh Thornton, Ben Smith, Zach Fout, Vitor Alexandre, Eric Stubbs, Drew Edsal Jeb Stewart, Zoltan Tisza, and Vincent Cook. If I’m forgetting anyone else, it’s purely unintentional and if you contact me I’ll be happy to add you to the list. There are a lot of current and previous state champions in this list. These guys will make you faster than you currently are, as long as you take their advice to heart and eat right. They can teach you how to eat, train, sleep, and ride like a champion bike racer, and help you with technique and even make sure your bike fits you properly. It’s a relatively small investment to gain a vast amount of knowledge, and if you take your cycling seriously, it makes sense to hire one of these guys.

For the rest of us, who are perfectly happy to finish in the latter half of the standings after we take multiple marshmallow and Fat Tire Amber Ale handups, here’s what you really need to do to get ready for CX season.

First of all, you need to build some base fitness. This requires little more than time and the determination to follow a general plan. It helps if you have at least a small amount of current fitness, like the ability to hang on to a group ride for 30 or 40 miles, but this isn’t an absolute requirement.

To build a base for CX, you should probably start today, if you haven’t started already. If you wait another week, it will probably be too late, and you’ll end up with a palmares like that of Tim Hayes circa 2013. (Yes, I KNOW you beat me the one time we raced head to head last year, TIM.) So, to build base fitness, you need a road bike, or road tires for your CX bike, and you need to ride for 2-4 hours at a time at least twice a week.

Currently, I have Thursday and Sundays off, so my weeks look like:

Monday: 1.5-2 hrs (25-30 miles) recovery ride, easy but steady pace.
Tuesday 1-1.5 hrs (15-20 miles) informal efforts ride- moderate pace with accelerations or CX Skills Practice.
Wednesday: Rest day or easy spin
Thursday: 3-4 hours (50-70 miles) steady pace at the edge of discomfort- look for 19-21 mph on your computer as much as possible
Friday: Rest day or easy spin
Saturday : Easy spin or group ride, 1-2 hours, (15-30 miles), or CX Skills Practice
Sunday: 3-4 hours (50-70 miles) steady pace at the edge of discomfort- look for 19-21 mph on your computer as much as possible.

This is just me, customize it to fit your schedule, and obviously with all the rain we’ve been having it won’t always work out. If you have to miss a day, that’s ok. If you’re tired, skip a day, or cut back the time/distance. You’re an adult, presumably, so listen to your body. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is probably more important than hitting a mileage goal, make sure you’re getting as much as you can. Recovery rides are equally important. Beat yourself up when you feel good. Give yourself a break when you’re exhausted. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Often, your brain (my brain) will feel like drinking beer and playing video games, and try to fool your body into feeling tired. You (I) should try to tell your (my) body that it can play all the video games it wants after the CX season ends.

I will follow this schedule through the end of August. Once we hit September, I’ll start to dial back the long days, and start to do a little more intensity, maybe even some intervals. Ugggh, intervals. They hurt, but they do so much good. But you need a fitness base before you can take advantage of the physiological benefits of intervals, so you have to put in the saddle time first.

So my weeks in September will look more like:

Monday: 1.5-2 hrs (25-30 miles) recovery ride, easy but steady pace, on pavement.
Tuesday: 1-1.5 hrs (10-15 miles) CX Skills Practice with shorter intense intervals, preferably on a CX bike on grass or dirt.
Wednesday: Rest day or easy spin on pavement.
Thursday: 2-2.5 hours (30-40 miles) fast-ish road ride. A group ride is fine, if you get out in the wind. Sitting in at 18mph does very little for your fitness.
Friday: Rest day or easy spin on pavement.
Saturday: 1-1.5 hours fast group ride, at the front, in the wind.
Sunday: CX Practice Race/ simulation. Find some local guys, and go out and beat on each other for 45 minutes, or two 20 minute sessions, or whatever you all agree on. Warm up properly before hand, and make sure to practice barriers and running steps both before and during the practice race.

CX intervals come in a wide variety. They range from the “sprint out of the saddle out of every corner interval” to the full on 20 minute “Oh my god I want to die because there’s 18 minutes to go interval”. One I’ve always “enjoyed” was finding a 1-2 mile circuit with regularly spaced street lights, and sprinting from one streetlight to the next, then resting til the next, then sprinting again, basically until you want to throw up. Hopefully, this will be after more than 3 sprints. Shoot for a whole lap of this misery, then take a lap off to recover. Then, if you feel like it, do another lap of intervals, or just call it a night. Longer intervals are necessarily less intense, but they hurt more because they last longer. You should rest longer after long intervals than you should after short ones. There’s a whole internet out there with opinions and advice on intervals, so if you want more detail, let me google that for you. Remember, CX is what you make it, and the harder you train now, the more you can slack off once the season starts and you can rely on races to keep you fit.

Some of you are saying, “Christian, surely you can’t be as slow as you have historically been if you are actually doing all of these workouts, and to those of you who are saying this, I can only say that you are very mean-spirited and unkind, and probably correct. But while I feel I corner and handle most of the technical sections as well as most people, I really struggle at the whole pedalling really hard parts of CX, and that’s where I watch people ride away from me.

Also, you should probably keep an eye on what you eat, cutting out a lot of the fat and junk sugar, and adding as many fruits and vegetables as you can stomach, but hey, you’re riding your bike a lot, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Remember, as long as you can zip up your skinsuit and/or jersey past your belly, then it still fits you fine.

Follow these most of these steps between now and the first races at the end of September, and I promise that you’ll be at least as mediocre as Tim and Rich Dybdahl and I.

The next volume in this series will contain advice on what a proper CX skills workout should consist of. Look for it this weekend!

How Do I Promote the Florida Cyclocross Event?

On August 5, 2014 by Christian

For the 2014/2015 Florida Cyclocross (FLCX) Season, there is no longer an actual FLCX points series. There is the Florida Bike Racing Association (FBRA) FRS-CX points series, which will award points to racers at each CX race in the state. So anyone who wants to promote a USA Cycling Cyclocross race in the state is now part of the points series. As far as I’m aware, the final race of the season will be State Championships in Tampa around the second weekend in December, at which time I presume all FBRA Season Series prizes will be awarded.

We’d like to provide some simple guidelines for all promoters to use to make their events as successful as they can be, as well as to provide a certain level of quality for each event, to ensure a consistent level of excellence during the race day experience, to continue to move the sport forward, to increase participation, to make sure each event is first and foremost, fun, but also safe, profitable, and not a giant ball of suck for the promoter and his staff. You can use as much of our recommendations as you wish, or you can completely ignore us and do it the way you want to do it, there’s no one way to promote a CX race. We’re not setting out a mandate or demanding that you follow anything we say, specifically. These are simply the steps we learned through trial and error, to be the best, the easiest, the most profitable.

Do’s and Don’ts:

Do

beg, borrow, or steal a laptop. Download Cross Mgr. Practice using it, then find 2 or 3 volunteers to run it during your race. It is the same FREEEEEEEE timing software that Jason Guillen used in past seasons. It makes your entire race day experience go exponentially smoother than relying on a USA Cycling official to do the results by hand. We had USA Cycling officials doing results by hand at Tampa and at the State Championships in 2013, and results at both of these events were a complete mess, in the sense that it took the official 30-45 minutes between each race to tabulate the results by hand, before they could be announced after an event with 15 or 20 racers. I’m not saying this to insult anyone. I don’t think anyone could or would dispute this assessment. Don’t make your race a mess. Use the software, or pay a timing company to run timing at your event. Don’t trust the USA Cycling officials to do it themselves. They aren’t equipped for it, they’re there to make sure your event is run safely and disputes are handled fairly and no one is giving beer to juniors.

(Jason Guillen wants out of the timing business for next season, so he can actually focus on his own racing. You can ask him for advice, but as far as I know he won’t be running timing at many or even any events.)

Do

make the schedule of your race pretty close to the schedule of everyone else’s race, because you’re gonna get a better turnout if you do. We have several years of data that suggests that the best schedule is something pretty close to this:

Wave 1: Masters 35/45/55 – 45 minutes
Wave 2: Pro 1/2/3 Men – 60 minutes
Wave 3: Pro 1/2/3 Women/ Mens 3/4 – 45 Minutes
Wave 4: Men 4/5 – Women 4 – Juniors – 30 minutes
Wave 5: Kids race – 10 minutes (or so)
Wave 6: SS Open – 30 Minutes

Put 15 or so minutes between waves. Each wave technically ends when the last finisher crosses the line.

You can always do whatever schedule your little heart desires as promoter, but you should at least keep the wave structures intact, for FBRA points series purposes. As we get more and more racers in FLCX, we will have to add waves so we don’t have 200 people on the course at the same time, but we’re still several years away from this problem, so we won’t concern ourselves with it at the moment. A six wave schedule like the one above will take about 5 hours from start to finish, meaning if you start your first race at 10:00am, you’re last race is done by 3pm, so you can be heading home before 6pm, which is pretty good for a promoter.

Do

use pre-registration. Either use the USA Cycling system, or BikeReg, or FirstPlaceRacing, but definitely one of the three, and definitely not Active.com, because no one has time for all of the emails Active.com sends you. But use pre-reg, and encourage it’s use by charging a $5 day of registration fee. What should you charge for your race? $25-30 for a first race, and $10 for each additional race each day is pretty reasonable. If your venue is truly spectacular, or you really want to do an event t-shirt, then you can charge a little more, but if it’s more you better be certain that the event will be worth it.

Do

understand the economics involved. Last year, FLCX averaged roughly 60 racers on Saturdays, and 110 racers on Sundays for races in central Florida. 60 x $30 = 1800, 110 x $30 = $3300. $5100 is a lot of money, but almost $1000 of that is going back to USA Cycling, and another $500 to $1000 or so to rent the park and pay the permits. You should probably pay at least $249 to both the Pro men and the Pro women each day (The USA Cycling fees go up if your prizes are over $500). You might need porta potties, that’s $2-300. Prizes/Trophies are another consideration. You’ll need to make some barriers, and acquire some stakes, maybe dump a couple of truckloads of playground sand. Stakes are expensive, try to borrow or at least rent them- Jordan at Velo Champ has a bunch of wooden stakes, Dan Milstead at Little Everglades has even more plastic stakes, and I believe John Hovius at AAA Tri Camp has a bunch of them too. If you have to buy them, well, that’s going to cost a lot. You’ll need a generator and a PA system and a couple of ten x ten ez-up tents for registration and scoring to stand under. You’ll need a PA system for your announcer to talk on. Luckily, if you hire me to announce, I work for entry fees, so that at least won’t cost you much. You need a few tables and some chairs, pens and safety pins and race numbers and prizes for the kids race and water jugs and coffee and breakfast for your volunteers and it just never ends.

Notice, I still haven’t mentioned t shirts, pint glasses, or other promotional tchotchkes. Because they cost even more money, and unless you have a buddy that owns a tchotchkes company, you’re gonna have to pay for them, too. And that $5100 is getting pretty close to being spent.

Bottom line, you’re not going to get rich doing this. If you want to get rich, promote a color run.

Don’t

offer pay-outs to any fields other than P123 and W123, unless you have a bunch of sponsorship dollars burning a hole in your pocket. Otherwise, you won’t really draw too many extra riders, and you will lose money.

Get unique trophies/plaques/medals made. I still have trophies from industrial park criteriums I won back in the 90′s. I don’t have a dime of any of the prize money I won. People are buying memories out there, give them something to remember. Paying Master’s racers is almost as foolish as dropping $1500 on Tshirts for a first year event. Masters will show up either way, as long as they know they aren’t going to break a hip.

Do

Go out and get sponsors. Got a local brewery or brew-pub or bar? Yes, you probably do. Ask them for a few cases for the winners, or a keg for the after party. Food truck/Restaurants/bars near your venue? Don’t be scared to ask them for bar tabs or gift certificates. Then hit up local bike shops. All of them, even one’s you don’t normally shop at. At the one’s you do shop at, ask them if they can hit up any of their suppliers. Garneau, Cannondale, Specialized, SRAM, and Specialized have all contributed at the least course tape in the past, and will most likely do so in the future. Sponsorship takes effort, but it can literally pay for your race, making all the entry fees profit. Think about it. Be creative. Be professional, come up with a package you can email to people describing what you want their money and or product for. The package needs only a cover letter describing the race, the demographics of most cyclists (upscale, eat a lot, like beer), and the numbers you think you’ll attract (approx 100-150 racers, and an equal number of spectators, more if it’s a central location). Mention the comradery of CX, the fun, the disposable income in the parking lot of your event, the spectator friendliness of being able to walk right up to the tape and hand a racer a twizzler or a strip of bacon.

Do

follow these basic guidelines in choosing a location for your event.

1. Pay as little for it as you can get away with. Free is best. Cheap is almost as good. Parks in cities like Orlando, Tampa or Miami are expensive, unless you know someone. It’s good to know someone. Parks in towns like Winter Garden, Alachua, or Ocala are cheaper. Private land can be expensive or cheap. Remember, you’re going to have to send a big chunk of money back to USA Cycling. Spending much more than $500 or $600 on your venue and the associated permits to go with it will make your profits slim.

2. Your course needs to be 8-10 feet wide and roughly a mile and a half in length. There can be a couple of choke points, where the course narrows to one rider’s width, but they better be far from the start, and there better not be too many of them. This doesn’t mean that a section that narrows because one foot of it is solid ground and the other 9 feet are mud isn’t kosher, but you can’t make that your entire course, unless there is a weird weather rain for-three-days-beforehand-thing, but we rarely have those during the FLCX calender. The ideal lap time for the Men 4/5 wave is about eight to nine minutes. They are the slowest wave, and since they only race for 30 minutes, it’s nice to get them 3 to 4 laps. You don’t want your pro men doing 5 minute laps, however, because 12 laps (60 minute race) is a lot, so you have to find a balance. Watch videos of other CX races around the country to give you some ideas.

3. Use any elevation change you can find. Ditches, mole hills, sand dunes, stair cases, handicap ramps, and cliffs. Anything that goes up or down. Off-camber sections are excellent. Sand Volleyball courts are almost a must, if available- I can think of three or four courses last year that had vollyball courts we used off the top of my head.) There is a line between challenging and stupid, and by and large we’ve stayed on the challenging side of the line on our courses. Remember, we have 10 year old kids and 60 year old grandparents out there racing, and while we want to challenge the 33 year olds, we don’t want to kill anybody, or include course features that will damage equipment.

4. Don’t be scared to make people run. They will hate you for it on race day, but they’ll love you for it when they’re telling their friends about the race later. The run-up at Josh’s Dade City course was as perfect as it gets, as was the first run-up off the beach at Key Biscayne a couple of years ago, and the sand steps section at State’s right before the line was pretty perfect too. Force people to dismount at least once per race, and preferably more than that. Two or three times a lap really isn’t out of hand, especially on an otherwise non-technical course. CX isn’t supposed to be easy. The only races in Belgium that don’t force the PRO’s to dismount for barriers are so friggin’ technical that there are running sections anyway.

5. Get the fastest racer you know, and the slowest racer you know, and have them consult and advise you on your course design. Listen to both of them.

Don’t

put a damn pinwheel of death on your course. It’s so lazy, and so 2011.

Do

recruit as many people as you can to help you promote your event. Find a local graphics student to make your flyer and facebook page. Find a couple local go-getters to find local sponsors for you. This includes race day volunteers. You should have a couple people patrolling the course all day repairing course tape and broken stakes, a couple people doing registration, and at least a couple people scoring your event, as well. This is in addition to USAC officials.

Do

make your pits as close as you can to the start/finish area, and also make the pits with at least two entrances. This means your course has to be shaped something like an 8, with the start finish and pits near the intersection of the two circles. The pits have a lot of interest for spectators, but so does start/finish. Keep them within a few minutes walk of each other. Use Jordan at Velo Champ for neutral support, he works for beer and maybe dinner. Good dood.

Do

remember that CX is a spectator sport, too. Make as much of your course visible from start-finish as possible. The Ocala Race, Josh Thornton’s race in Dade City, and Dan’s State’s course, and Dybdhal’s brilliant Mt. Dora course were all fantastic examples of a spectator friendly course. Make sure your spectators are behaving themselves, as much as you can. As race promoter, you’re something of a den-mother to everyone out there, so you can growl at some naughty cub scouts if they get out of line.

Do

follow the Zach Fout promotional method and promote the shit out of your event. Take a flyer to every bike shop in town that will post it. Repost the event info 6 times a day. Rent out the side of a bus or two. I’m not busting balls here, Zach promotes his events as hard as you possibly can, and his high registration numbers are a reflection of that.

Do

Ask other promoters and racers and all of us at flcx.org for help if you need it. We all want to see the sport get bigger. We all want all the races to be awesome. We’re here for your assistance.

These are the basic ideas that we’ve found to be effective. There are certainly a lot more ideas out there, I’m sure people will contribute them on the facebook thread I will add when I publish this, and I can steal the best ones to add to this page. This is a living document, I want it to be of use to every promoter of a race in Florida.

I am not an FBRA or USACycling officer or official, these are not rules, they are guidelines. In case anyone feels that I am demanding you promote a race they way we’re prescribing, let me be the first to assure you that anything I say is completely unofficial. All that said, it is researched and considered. Use it or ignore it as you choose.

OMGWTFBBQOMFUG CYCLOCROSS

On July 23, 2014 by Christian

No. 1 of several in a series hyping up the 2014-2015 FLCX Cyclocross series

Yes, it’s almost August, and that means that there’s less than 30 days until the first date on the Florida Cyclocross Calender at Little Everglades in Dade City. Dan Milstead, promoter, is bound and determined that the entire United States is going to learn about Dade City hospitality, and has managed to get a race in Florida onto the US National Cyclocross Calender. This is exciting, and this is big news!

Hopefully, by now, you have figured out what you’re riding next season, but if not, I have some thoughts on the subject. Particularly if this is your first Cyclocross bike. If you are under the age of 30 and don’t have a job that allows you significant amounts of discretionary income, you are not out of luck- there are still deals to be found out there on the used market for a fancy bike for a flimsy price. We are dangerously close to the danger zone of it being too late to get a bike by the start of the CX season, but we’re not there yet.

So if you don’t have a ton of money to spend, first look at the classifieds on Facebook or craigslist or ebay for someone’s used fancy race bike. You can often find a bike that’s a year or two old for a fraction of its original cost.


Used Empella. image from HERE

Then look at your favourite local shop- even if they don’t have anything in stock they may be able to grab a sweet deal for you. As the manager of a small shop, I encourage you to come to my shop, but I’m a realist, and I understand that you probably have a local shop that you frequent that usually gives you a deal and always helps yo out in a bind. Wait- you don’t have one of those? You buy everything you use online and you know how to work on your own bike already? Then why are you reading this? This is to help out newcomers and people too scared of giving their credit cards to internet retailers. Which isn’t totally irrational. Hackers suck.

If you don’t have one preferred local shop that you frequent, I encourage you to find one. Mine, preferably, but not everyone lives in Orlando, so pick one that’s close to you that’s open when you can get there, and make friends with the manager and/or owner and/or head mechanic. Shopping there consistently, bringing them beer/food/cookies/coffee, and do the shop rides; these are all a good way to start. This will benefit you for years, not just for right now, so choose wisely. Don’t be that guy who chases the best shop team deal to every shop in town every year, nobody likes that guy.

Every single major bike company is unveiling a new gravel-grinder bike for 2015. Yes, they will technically work for CX, but they have a longer wheelbase and more relaxed geometry than a true CX bike, so they will handle a bit sluggishly compared to a true CX race bike. As a beginner, you can certainly ride a gravel grinder bike, but I think you’ll find that as you get more serious about racing CX, you’ll be happiest on a true CX race bike. Particularly on a course that I design with a billion hairpin corners, but

Yes, they are the cheapest way to get a CX bike, but I discourage the $500 Motobecane/Scattante/BikesDirect.com CX bike, because it weighs a million pounds and by the end of your first race you hate CX so much you may never come back. We want you to keep coming back to our party, so do yourself a favor and get a decent bike to start with. Yes, before you accuse me, I admit that I’m a bit elitist in this argument, but I’ve raced a 26 pound CX bike, and a 16 pound CX bike, and the light one was WAY MORE FUN.


The 2014 Jamis Nova Race, MSRP $1300

So, what exactly should I be looking for for my first CX bike you ask. Well, generally, you want a bike that comes with the same number of gears as your road bike, so you can also use your existing wheels as spare wheels. Aluminum or carbon is optimal, steel is real but is heavier. Carbon is lightest, but most fragile and expensive in most cases. Aluminum is pretty light and pretty strong, and usually pretty cheap. As for brakes, disks are the new hotness but they are also heavier and require an entirely new collection of wheels. You should have at least two sets of wheels for CX- think of them as training (The heavier and more durable set, preferably with clinchers/tubeless) and racing (Lighter and tubular, optimally). Tubeless wheels are getting better, so you might want to use them instead for your race wheels, we’ll have that discussion later. If you’re racing, the upper end parts groups are probably best, at least from Shimano and Sram- Ultegra/105 from Shimano and Force/Rival from Sram are optimal froma durability and bang for the buck standpoint. Yes, Dura Ace and Red are both nice, but they aren’t cheap to replace when you tear a derailleur off in the muck of a September mudfest training session.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask, and we’ll see you back here in a few days for the second edition of this series!

FLCX 2014

NAHBS 2014

On March 17, 2014 by Christian

I look forward to Nahbs every year as one of the highlights of the spring- I’ve been to 4 of the past five of them. The brands/manufacturers/builders who show up are most of my favourites in the industry, and pretty much all the people who work for these brands are awesome too so it’s a great show to hang out at. It’s not a huge high pressure thing like the Vegas show, so it’s not 100% focused on deliverables and forecasted units and bullshit. The bikes are creative and beautiful and not stamped out of a Chinese mold.

That said, the builders are as subject to the whims of the component manufacturers and consumers alike, so there’s plenty of disc brake CX bikes. There was also a plethora of Titanium CX bikes, it appears to be making something of a comeback as a frame material. The rumour I was trying to get started all weekend concerned about half the bikes with the new Shimano DI2/Hydraulic brakes- they were assembled without fluid in them. The reason was probably just last minute builds and no time or spare parts to reseal the lines, but I like assuming the worst…

Now I’ll shut up and post some bike pics.

All pics are from my phone, I wasn’t trying for greatness in photography, and you can certainly see that in the results.

Peacock Groove Minneapolis Moline Cargo Bike

Peacock Groove Minneapolis Moline Cargo Bike

Hed Triple Crown Gravel Racer

Hed Triple Crown Gravel Racer

Boo Cycles Bamboo CX

Boo Cycles Bamboo CX

Avery County Cycles CX

Avery County Cycles CX. One of my favourites of the show.

Avery County Cycles CX. One of my favourites of the show.

More Angles

More Angles

Avery County Cycles CX

Geekhouse Mudville Disc- Pegged my WANT meter.

Geekhouse Mudville Disc- Pegged my WANT meter.

Schamrock Cycles made this for some Danish person. Probably not from Miami, however.

Schamrock Cycles made this for some Danish person. Probably not from Miami, however.

Hed Triple Crown Disc Gravel 2- with Grifo XS.

Hed Triple Crown Disc Gravel 2- with Grifo XS.

Challenge Chicane- so hot.

Challenge Chicane- so hot.

The Impeccable Moots CX bike.

The Impeccable Moots CX bike.

Super good beer list at a pizza place in NoDo.

Super good beer list at a pizza place in NoDo.

Very Angry Groundhog

Very Angry Groundhog

Hometown MFG CX. Hometown is an offshoot of sixeleven bikes.

Hometown MFG CX. Hometown is an offshoot of sixeleven bikes.

Richey Swiss Disc CX

Richey Swiss Disc CX

Shamrock Disc CX

Shamrock Disc CX

Snazzy dropout for Gates SSCX

Snazzy dropout for Gates SSCX

Appleman Disc CX

Appleman Disc CX

Wound Up fork on DiSalvo Gravel racer

Wound Up fork on DiSalvo Gravel racer

Suitcase of Courage.

Suitcase of Courage.

Moots Travel CX

Moots Travel CX

Better known for their tandems, but some sweet singles as well.

Better known for their tandems, but some sweet singles as well.

Co Motion

Fancy Ti CX Disc

Fancy Ti CX Disc

Kish Fabrication

Cielo Disc CX was just bonkers. So nice.

Cielo Disc CX was just bonkers. So nice.

Cielo CX

Cielo CX

Cielo CX

My editorial view of the show:

So apparently it’s not cool anymore to show up at Nahbs. There was certainly a lack of pre-event internet hype, and once I got to the show, I was struck by just how small the show has become. I don’t have the list in front of me, but my suspicion is that you could count the number of Oregon builders in attendance with less than one hand- and even most of the New England builders, stuck in a particularly nasty winter, couldn’t be bothered to spend a weekend in the warmish North Carolina hills. I don’t know if it’s a matter of not needing the additions to their already long work ques that kept show stalwarts like Vanilla and Richard Sachs from attending, or if Charlotte was just too expensive, or if there’s some conflict with the organizers, or it just isn’t worth the money, I don’t spend much time on Vsalon, and by much time I mean virtually no time. So I don’t know if it’s drama or dollars that kept builders from showing up, but in any case, planely stated, the show is not what it once was. Virtually everyone who did show up, including Shimano and Chris King, had smaller, simpler booths this year, with really only Mosiac beginning to approach the attention to detail in booth design that Vanilla/Speedvagen (and others) used to trot out every year.

Charlotte, in retrospect, seems like an odd city to host a (once?) major-ish bicycle show, as it’s not really known for it’s cycling culture. It’s rated 49 out of 50 in US major cities in walkability, and while it has a very, very strong variety of good local breweries, the downtown area was a complete ghost-town on Sunday, with most businesses not even bothering to open. This is pretty common in many cities in the car-centric South, but it doesn’t contribute to cycling all that much, and it doesn’t make it all that attractive to local cyclists to attend the show. I would wager that many if not most of the attendees were from out of town. That doesn’t seem very logical to me- put the show where people who want to see it already live. If you can also do it where there won’t be a blizzard, well, home run. Next year’s show is going to be in Louisville, which drew a collective “(huh?)” from many people in the crowd after the announcement. It will be great for the foam party crowd on Saturday night, but again, it’s not a huge hotbed of local cyclists, it’s not particularly warm there on the first weekend in March, and ice storms are a real concern. And it’s pretty far (and pretty complicated to travel to) from both New England and Portland.

Speaking to a cycling journalist friend of mine who has provided extensive coverage of NAHBS in the past but didn’t even show up this year, the show just isn’t worth it these days. There is a general feeling of “meh” from twitter and elsewhere regarding the bikes, which was probably inevitable, as there’s only so many ways you can build a custom made steel(?) frame and let a painter take 3 weeks to do an eleven colour fade on it.

My feeling on the show is a mixed one- I’m sorry it looks like it’s on a downswing, because I loved this show since I attended my first one in Richmond in 2010, when it seemed to my idealist eye like the future of bicycle trade shows. I suppose the simple impracticability of high end small volume bicycle manufacturing doomed it- there just isn’t a large enough pool of customers to make the investment by a framebuilder in attending the show worth it, particularly a small framebuilder who doesn’t have a trust fund bank-rolling him. The already well known builders don’t need more time away from their workshops- they have bikes to get done, and maybe they aren’t the most social people in the world anyway. It’s at least a $2000 investment to rent a booth and a hotel room and pay the union to assemble your booth (which you also have to design and construct, or at least pay someone else to do it) and plug in your extension cords and then you still have to travel and eat and drink and of course make a couple of extra fancy bikes so Johnny Hipster doesn’t see your bike on Prolly is not Probably and say “Meh.” So really, consider it at least a $5000 investment including your time, and then it really becomes a question of are you going to see a return on it. I think it’s pretty obvious that most builders these days are answering that question with a no, which is a shame.

What NAHBS always meant to me was a party with all of my best bike friends (many of whom I haven’t met yet), with a bunch of stupidly, profoundly. beautiful bicycles. The bikes are still beautiful, but a lot of my friends went missing this year. Hopefully they can find a reason to find their way back for the next one.

Crosscopter Video Coverage!

On January 29, 2014 by Super Rookie

Many of you know about The Crosscopter.

Did you know it has a website?

Better yet, here are all the Cross Copter videos for the 2013-14 season!

http://vimeopro.com/crosscopter/florida-cyclocross-series-2013-2014

Get some!

FLCX Series: 2014 and Beyond

On January 21, 2014 by Super Rookie

flcxlogo3250

Gainesville, FL- The 2013/14 FLCX Season was the most successful year in the history of Florida cyclocross. Overall attendance was up 15% over the previous season and the racing was better than ever with numerous categories featuring several riders battling it out for the top step on race day. As the Florida cyclocross community has continued to grow the Florida Bike Racing Association (FBRA) has developed a keen interest in helping to take the sport further utilizing their own resources and expertise. Therefore, it has been decided that that FLCX Points Series will be discontinued for 2014 and beyond.

The FLCX Series started in earnest in 2007 when cyclocross aficionados and promoters decided to band together to help grow the sport in the state of Florida. The early days of Florida cyclocross are a distant memory to some and unknown to most. State Championships races were held at Camp Murphy and Tallahassee. Promoters would be thrilled if 60 racers took to the road for race day and the series was a footnote to the Florida Road Cycling Association (FRCA). Times have changed considerably and with the introduction of the FBRA-CX Series this past season the FLCX Series became a redundancy and is no longer needed.

From this point forward the FLCX website, facebook page/group and Twitter account will feature news and information about Florida Cyclocross, but the FLCX Promoters and member races will no longer be an organized series under the FLCX banner.

The FLCX organizers, member races and promoters would like to thank all of the racers, officials, and past promoters that helped raise the level of cyclocross in Florida to the point that the FBRA is willing to shepherd it into the future utilizing their own resources and know-how.

States Photos 2

On January 21, 2014 by Christian

Timothy Hunt published a ton of great photos on his website. Additionally, there’s some great photos from Michelle Blake on her website.

Saturday Pics


Rich and Dino, pic by Karyn Dybdahl


W123 Podium – Parsons, Apotsos, Plotkin pic by Karyn Dybdahl


John Hovius in a sea of red tape. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Harrison and Clayton Knight sandwich Jackson Mehr. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Women’s 4 podium, Rebecca Laborde, Erica Richards, Nicole Carson pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Obvious camper joke. Sorry for so much Dybdahl coverage, but there are very few people who love FLCX as much as he and his family do, and they makes me smile. Pic by Apotsos.


The elusive Michael Davis on the steps pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Robert Marion and Ryan Woodall on the horse track pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Addison Zawada on the pavement pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Master’s 35 podium Darien Angelier (1st), Tim Shank (2nd) and Graham Partain 3rd) pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Master’s 45 podium Vitor Alexandre (1st) Scott Atkins (2nd) and Kelby Roberts (3rd) pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Masters 55 podium Brian Davis (1st) Mike Szabo (2nd) Dan Sullivan (3rd) pic by Karyn Dybdahl


My “daughter” and the Kung Fu Panda pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Pete Hill and Jordan Miller from Velo Champ worked the pit all weekend. On behalf of every single person who raced, THANK YOU GUYS. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Robert Marion takes the win in P12. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Kelby Rogers charges out at the front of the combined MTB/Men’s 4-5/Women’s 4 start pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Robert Marion made a bunch of new fans this weekend. He even brought his mom up on the podium with him! Thornton and Woodall round out the lower steps. pic by Karyn Dybdahl

Sunday Pics


pic by Kristin Apotsos


pic by Dan Milstead


pic by Steve Sykes


pic by Kristin Apotsos


Graham Partain pic by Michael Toth.


Kristin Apotsos takes the bacon by Timothy J Hunt


Tent Village pic by Kristin Apotsos


Rolly Weaver takes the bacon from Michael Ploch while Jody Alexander shows the way. Pic by Timothy J Hunt

States Photos

On January 20, 2014 by Christian

There will be several posts recapping all the action this weekend at states, but to start with here’s what I’ve managed to pull off of facebook. All images belong to the respective photographer, please do not re-use them without permission.


Unicorn Sass by Erica Richards.


Marion duels with Thornton on the steps by Adam Wiggall.


Diane Blake takes the bacon by Timothy J Hunt.


Josh THornton’s haul for the weekend by Josh Thornton.


Sunday Morning at Little Everglades Ranch by Zach Fout.


WUT. Robert Marion rides the tallest barriers in Florida by Jay Fratello.


Cat 4 Women overall FLCX Points series by Nicole Carson.


Cat 4 Women State Champion by Rebecca Laborde.


Keith Richards on the steps by Jo An Weaver.


Masters Race Start on Sunday by Karen Dybdahl.


Tic Bowen and Andy Mills two man pain train in M35. Andy would prevail after a late final lap attack. Pic by https://www.facebook.com/karyn.dybdahl”> Karen Dybdahl.


Thornton, Marion, and Eric Stubbs hit the steps off the horse track early in the Pro 1-2 race. Pic by Karen Dybdahl.


lil kids race podium by Karen Dybdahl.


Men’s 4/5 race start by Karen Dybdahl.


by Karen Dybdahl.


Justin Deleo and John Kingham battle on the steps. by Karen Dybdahl.


Nicole Carson and Michael Ploch on the steps by Karen Dybdahl.


Masters 45 State Champion Vitor Alexandre by Karen Dybdahl.


Masters 55 State Champion podium by Karen Dybdahl.


The mis-spelled Dirk Hofmann banner lives on by Karen Dybdahl.


I had to have at least one pic of me in here. by Karen Dybdahl.


Laura Parsons on the steps by Karen Dybdahl.


These guys. Rich Dybdahl and Greg Politz by Karen Dybdahl.


These ladies. Melissa Isenmen and Kristin Apotsos by Karen Dybdahl.


Men’s Pro123 FLCX Points Podium with Addison Zawada (2nd), Josh Thornton (1st) and Ryan Woodall (3rd) by Karen Dybdahl.


Orange State sweeps the Men’s 3 Podium FLCX Points Series by Karen Dybdahl.


Juniors FLCX Points Series by Karen Dybdahl.


Men’s cat 3 State Championship by

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