Ryan Woodall represented at the National Cyclocross Championships in Austin, TX and won the Masters 30-34 title.
We couldn’t be prouder.
Ryan Woodall represented at the National Cyclocross Championships in Austin, TX and won the Masters 30-34 title.
We couldn’t be prouder.
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.
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!
Ben Smith from legsmith.com has some great advice for those of you who want to go faster on your CX bike. Yes, it will also hurt. If you “enjoy” this advice, check out his website for info on becoming a Legsmith client. You can get a lot faster on your bike, (if you follow the training plan,) and you get a cool sticker!.
In the last article I introduced some CX-specific workouts aimed at building the kinds of physiological strengths one needs to last for an hour of redline effort. In this one we move to the unique technical demands of ‘cross—namely bike handling on skinny tires and on building the ability to get off and back on one’s bike smoothly and efficiently, whether over barriers or at each end of a run-up or other running section.
To my mind there are two things to do to maximize your technical advantage come ‘cross season. First, ride mountain bikes on the most technical terrain you can find. Yes, the suspension is a luxury you won’t have later, and yes, the tires are fatter and grippier, but getting used to riding fast on your limit in the most technical stuff you can find can only be a good thing. The truth, too, is that if you race mountain bikes here in Florida our seasons overlap quite a bit. The Florida State Championship Series begins September 14 and ends December 8. The Florida Cyclocross series begins October 12 and ends January 18. In short, between early October and mid-December you could be trading bikes every weekend. I am.
The other thing is to ride your CX bike over much the same terrain on which you ride the mountain bike. You’ll be going slower, and you’ll have to pick your way through sections you can blast on fatter tires, yes. But mixing up lengthy endurance rides on the CX bike to include pavement, dirt roads if available, and single track too is a great way to build your comfort level on dicey terrain. Also great is to put together a CX circuit close to home—at a park for example—and include some hard corners, sand, gravel, mud if possible, etc. The more you hit this stuff in practice the more familiar it will feel come race day.
Barriers and running sections
A smooth transition racer can gain 3-5 seconds every time he or she dismounts and remounts. On the state championship course in Dade City, that means 9-15 seconds every lap that your opponents either lose or have to close by brute force. Ditto in reverse: even in a 30-minute race that amounts to a full minute or more just from the transitions. If you’re good with giving that much time up you may as well just wait a minute or so once the race starts, give the competition a nice big head start and then get going. Not how I roll.
So, how to get better through barriers. First, here are three very basic tips to drum into your sub-conscious and use as a transition mantra during races. “Start early. Be smooth. Step, don’t jump, back on.”
Start early. Just about everyone has barreled into a set of barriers and started the dismount too late (cue Tim Hayes video clip here). Better nearly all the time is to click out on the right side good and early, coast in without losing too much speed, and give yourself plenty of time and room to click out on the left. You get an extra couple of seconds’ recovery time and you won’t be hurrying through what should be a smooth procession. If you dismount on the drive side you’re beyond help (cue Tim Hayes public shaming here).
Be smooth. Practice without barriers to get used to clicking out on the right, swinging that right leg over, clicking out on the left, running (not jumping; run, don’t bounce over barriers) and lifting your bike just as much as is needed to clear the barriers. Yes, I know Jason and JP like to see if they can get their saddles high enough to clear the snow line; even Bart Wellens has tried that. I think it is a waste of energy. Don’t contribute to entropy in the universe; keep your bike as low as feasible.
Step, don’t jump, back on. Once you’ve cleared the barriers you’re getting back on. First rule: don’t try to jump up too high. Your saddle isn’t that high up; again, you want to slide right back on, not crash down from on high and smash something. On that note: that meaty part of your right inner thigh about 5 inches down? That’s your landing sweet spot, trust me. If you’ve learned to land on your rear end it’s a matter of time before you crunch your boys… or girl parts (I am told). Learn the inner thigh landing, starting anew at low speed if you need to. Land there, slide onto the saddle and reach for the right pedal with your right foot. It ought to be right there where you left it.
It would behoove you, or you and a group of friends, to build some barriers. Here are some directions for building them out of PVC pipe for very little money—less than half an entry fee.
A CX newcomer last fall asked me how to get ready for races. I told him 50 dismounts and remounts 3 times a week. I don’t think he liked that answer, but the truth is that repetition is the key. I surprised myself by pulling some pretty smooth remounts in early 2011. I hadn’t done it in 15 years, but back then a group of 15-20 of us used to meet every Tuesday and Thursday evening for CX practice at the Marymoor Velodrome (now site of StarCrossed). We did drills for 45 minutes, and must each have gotten off and back on a couple of hundred times.
I suggest doing these drills, at first anyway, while you’re fresh—recovery rides are good for this. Of course, we don’t have the luxury of hitting transitions fully rested in races so at some point we need to pair anaerobic max efforts with the technical stuff. We can talk about that another time. In the next article I’ll outline some mix-it-up intervals that try to simulate race laps during various parts of a CX race.
Stuff is happening too fast to keep up with it all, so I better get this written before I forget all the good stuff. Ocala Cross, promoted and sponsored by the fine folks at Brick City Cycles, was December 30, 2012, a day that dawned sunny but cold. When I arrived in Ocala, I checked the temperature and it was 37 degrees, and it’s been a while since I had to race in those temperatures. I put on pretty much all the clothes I had in the car, and walked over to register. That was done quickly enough, then I played grab-ass with Rick Bunnning and Keith Richards (352 Racing) and Drew Smith (Velo Brew) and of course Rich Dybdahl (Pure Racing) and probably a few more people for a bit, because we’re doods and that’s what we do. Soon enough it was time for the Cat 4 race, so I snapped a couple of pics of the start, and then headed over to my car to put on my kit.
As I headed out for some warm up/practice laps, I was struck immediately by how RAD the course was because it was pretty much FLAT but it had a lot of OFF-CAMBER as well as some short steep DROPS and CLIMBS and a sweet RUN UP that wasn’t too long and a STAIRCASE and some MINI-BARRIERS and I’m probably getting ahead of myself because just remembering it all makes me EXCITE. A great course design that Todd Frobish and crew threw together literally the week before the event, after the city of Ocala got cold feet and changed their mind on the original location. Todd didn’t freak out, he called up the local YMCA and they were cool so he laid out a superbly fast, fun, challenging course.
The start finish was followed by a sweet lump of terrain that you could get boosty on without a great deal of effort, which then led into a fast series of switchbacks on grass that was fast enough to let you carry gobs of speed, but grippy enough that traction was never an issue. Finally, a hairpin led to the first steep drop, which was followed by an equally angled climb, a 180, and a drop, a 180 immediately, and then a mini barrier that forced you to run back up the bank. A long, un-even gentle 180 led down to a small mud pit and an awkward climb back up to the field level, a long straightaway into the wind, and then the barriers. These led to a couple of short straights, a 180, and a super nasty section of VERY exposed roots that had one not very obvious line thru it, followed by some slightly off camber, a few fast corners, the mini barriers, and then a corner around a tree with a huge root blocking the apex. Then there was a choose your own adventure with a slow but safe line or a technical, rooty line in a sort of tunnel between a few trees and bushes- the rooty line was faster. Then a nasty false flat, a 180, some wicked off camber, a 180, back down the false flat, a dive down and up and around and back down, a blast up and down a bank, a long curve, and then the run up the staircase. After the remount, a bit of sidewalk, a 180 on dirt that was loose but developed a nice rut by the Pro12 race, a loop around a soccer field, a 180, and the finish line. All in all, it’s a course that is technical enough to require some bike handling, but fast enough to reward the power guys too.
They made Josh Lehmann (Boston Bicycle School/Pure Cycles) race in the threes, because USA CYCLING, so you probably know what happened- they said go, and Josh went, and pretty much gapped us by the first run up. The real surprise was I was sitting third at the first run up, leading to Drew Smith heckling me from the back “Have you been training, Gob?”, and rubbing elbows with Dybdahl. I lost a position or two on the flats leading into the barriers, and lost a bunch more when I completely missed my seat on the remount and hit the floor. Naturally, Dybdahl’s wife got it on camera.
Dybdahl and his wife are jerks.
So I passed a couple people back when I ran the roots while they all lined up and bounced slowly over the roots on the outside, but meanwhile, Josh was just flying, with Brent Bell (Compass Cycling) and Jerkface Dybdahl chasing at a distance. On the last lap, Josh would lap me, but he was stopped before the line by the 352 guys and forced to do pushups, so I had to stop too so I wouldn’t unlap myself and have to go around again. In the end, it was Josh, Brent, and Rich in that order in the 3’s, Steve Noble (Infinity) besting Robert Reineke (AAA) in 45 plus, and John Torrey (Springfield, MA), Paul Schwarz (ORC), and Michael Cooper (Unattached) in 55 plus.
In the 4’s it was another Pure Cycles ringer, Mark Pettengill taking the win, followed by Anthony Hutton (Cycle Logic) and Rob Hennion (Brick City?). In Single Speed, noted Canadian Keith Richards (352 Racing) took the win from Andrew Mills (Compass Cycling) and Rick Buning (352), although Bunning did take the holeshot, Naturally, I tweeted about it immediately.
— Gob Carlqvist (@GobCarlqvist) December 30, 2012
In the Pro12 race, what should have been a battle between Eric Stubbs (352) and a U23 from New Hampshire (Lehmann) turned into a battle between Stubbs and a U23 from Pennsylvania. Thomas Schubert (Amoroso’s Cycling) pressured Eric for a lap or two, but the elastic between the two riders began to inexorably stretch until Stubbs was irretrievably out of reach, although to Schubert’s credit he never gave up, and rode a strong race to finish second ahead of Mills. Mills rode a strong race, where has he been hiding himself all season? We hope to see him at states in Dade City…
All in all, it was a fantastic race, particularly for a first year event, major kudos go out to Todd Frobish, Brick City Bikes, and everyone else who helped out.
Complete results are located here.
We are only two and a half weeks out from the Florida Cyclocross kick-off race in Miami. Here is a heaping of fresh cyclocross news to keep you in the loop.
Jacksonville Training Race Series Continues
The race series in Jacksonville continues this week and through the rest of the month on Thursday nights. Race time is 6:40pm and it is located in Boone Park in the Five Points neighborhood. The series has been a roaring success for the past three years and the promoter is hoping to turn the series into an FLCX Series Race next season. Make sure you bring your light as the final laps are in the dark!
Tally Cross and Swamp Cross Flyers Posted
You may have seen our recent post announcing the flyers of Tally Cross and Swamp Cross being approved by USA Cycling. They go in the books with Tropical Cyclocross as having all of the information announced and available. USA Cycling is also reporting that the Riverfront CX race in Tampa is also in the process of permitting.
Savannah Super Prestige Cyclocross Weekend
One of the biggest races in the region right around the corner up in Savannah, Georgia. The Super Prestige race is now entering its fourth year and it continues to bring in races across the area. We have been hearing from many Floridian racers that are planning on making the trip. This race provides an opportunity to race with large fields and to get in a final tune-up before the following weekends FLCX season opener in Miami at Tropical Cyclocross.
The race information for Savannah can be found here.
Lakeland Shorttrack Cyclocross Throwdown Results Posted
Head to our results page to see the results of last weekends mudfest in Lakeland.
Josh Thornton Gets Muddy. (Photo: Michael Ploch)
Ocala Cyclocross Race In The Works?
While in Lakeland this past weekend we chatted with some folks interested in putting on a cyclocross race in Ocala this December. Keep an eye on FLCX.org to get more information about this race. The target date will be Saturday, December 1st. The promoters are hoping to get their feet wet before going all in for a race next season. For those that are curious Ocala is about 45minutes south of Gainesville on Interstate 75.
Select FLCX Series Races To Feature Neutral Support
We will soon be making an announcement about a local shop providing top notch neutral support at select races across the state. Stay tuned to FLCX.ORG to see how a local business is going to make your race day worry free!
Louisville Worlds Tickets/Course/Announcements
The World Championships in Louisville have announced their tickets for the weekend of racing. Tickets cost $40 and are available here. Many Florida racers are heading to Louisville and plan on staying at the Hyatt Regency Downtown in Louisville. Also of interest was this tweet from the Louisville organizers recognizing Florida Cyclocross:
— louisville2013 (@louisville2013) October 15, 2012
Graham Partain showed up to the Lakeland CX race and filmed it…the helicopter only lasted a little while before it fell to the earth faster than Felix Baumgartner. However, he was able to make this video. Feel free to share it with the world and get more racers out to FLCX events!
Here is the video recap of the day from our own Graham Partain.
Don’t mind the crashing copter. Check out the mud!
This season we will be submitting all race results to USA Cycling and CrossResults.com. These sites then compile the results to produce a ranking of riders that effect start/staging order at certain events (including cyclocross nationals). We appreciate the effort of promoters to and individuals to have a USA Cycling License and a team name designation.