Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indian Lakes Cyclocross Race Report

Since South Chicago Wheelmen decided to deviate from the ChiCrossCup formula and host the Indian Lakes race on a Saturday, I was able to sleep in and generally have a lazy Saturday morning - something that hasn't happened in several years. It was great! Pancakes, Awful TV, Newspaper, Coffee. Yes.

It was already 62F outside when I packed up the car to head out to Bloomingdale, and once there it was indeed a perfect day. I forgot the camera so no pictures, sorry. After pre-riding the course a couple of times and watching the 3's, Juniors/Women, and 1/2/3's race, I'd decided that heckling was far too much fun to miss the hecklespectacle of the 4b's race and went to registration to up my category to 4a.

Right off the bat, I was in a bad spot - 4th row before callups. Ugh. As we scooted forward from the holding pen to the start line, I was able to gain a row, but that wasn't of much comfort. This course didn't have much of a hole shot unfortunately, the first 100m or so were just a straight on sprint into a quick and technical 90 degree right, 180, 90 degree right section, followed by another fast 100m before a barrier and the run-up. With the tape staying wide throughout all of this, the first few minutes of the race were a battle to keep your wheels away from others while staying upright and making sure you weren't behind a bad wheel.

I ran the hill the first time because there just wasn't enough space to remount the bike... probably should have run it every lap. After descending and a quick loop around to the back side, there was another barrier and another trip up the hill, albeit the steeper side. The race was a little more strung out at this point so I found my rhythm and settled in. The first sand pit was rideable on the first lap, but I couldn't ride the last meter or so on subsequent laps - I ran the second sand pit every time. On the third(I think) lap, I got to my fateful last meter of the first sand pit, stalled, and attempted to dismount. In my haste, I felt my shoe make contact with something hard - helmet, perhaps? I looked back and saw there had been a guy on my wheel, and I'd just kicked him in the head. After a winded, brief exchange and apology we were off once again.

Pacing is difficult for me in Cyclocross because it requires a pretty immense effort for me to just make the bike move, but I was able to make some progress in this race. With 2 laps to go, I backed off just enough to only let 2 people pass me - this let me get some recovery time in for the last lap, where I drilled it as hard as I could. Coming in on the back stretch, there was a fairly long grass/pavement section where I dialed it up to about 30mph and passed 5 or 6 riders. I wasn't entirely sure that my brakes would slow me down in time for the 180 around the tree that followed, but I was able to bleed enough speed to negotiate that turn without problem.

In picking those guys up, I finished 48th out of about 70 starters. Not in the points or cash, but respectable enough for me.

In all - a great race hosted by the South Chicago Wheelmen. I'm hoping the ChiCrossCup can return here next year, especially since the amenities at this race were the best out of the entire series (Hot Tubs and a Heated Locker Room!).

Oh yeah, and I didn't break a thing, despite numerous heckles encouraging me to "destroy that bike!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Christmas Cards for a Sick Kid

I'm not normally one to spread stuff like this via my blog, but I think this is a pretty noble cause.

"Noah Biorkman is a 5 year old boy, in the last stages of neuroblastoma cancer after a 3-year battle. His family is celebrating Christmas next week and all he wants is Christmas cards. Let's try and see how many we can get to him from all over the world."

Mail cards to:
SOUTH LYON, MI 48178-1568

alternate address:
Noah Biorkman
c/o Scott Biorkman
3480 Petoskey Way
Milford, MI 48380

Found on All Hail the Black Market.

I like Christmas Cards, they're a fun way to stay connected with all the people that you should be calling and visiting far more often than you possibly can. I'm hoping this little guy can get bags of them - pass this on.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guilty Road Rager of the Day

(with apologies to The Great Humongous)

Christopher Thompson
Full Story at:,0,761131.story

Christopher Thompson, 60, is convicted of [
6 Felonies, 1 Misdemeanor, including] mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon and other charges in the crash that injured cyclists Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr on Mandeville Canyon Road in 2008.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rear Derailleur Carnage

Fitting that this bit of horrific news comes right around Halloween. After successfully completing the St Charles 4b's race today, I was riding back over to the area where most of the other xXx'ers were... when I hear a pop, feel the tension on the cranks drop away, and my rear wheel jams. I look down.. to see this.

I think to myself, shit! Another drivetrain failure at this race! Last year, I tore the bead on a tire and had to run half a lap, then finally popped a chain for a DNF. I initially thought that one of the pulleys in the derailleur had failed, bending the derailleur hangar and destroying the chain and derailleur... but upon further inspection:

waaait a minute. the hangar still looks straight?

yeah, that's right. the derailleur itself broke. hell if I know how that happened.

Apparently Shimano has a 2 year warranty on all components (aside from Dura-Ace, 3 years). Here's hoping their warranty process isn't overly cumbersome and/or time consuming.