Friday, September 19, 2014

The Early Days of Cyclocross

It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since I started racing cyclo-cross.  There were not many events to participate in so I made what I consider now an unwise decision to promote an event myself.  That first CrossLogic Cyclocross Challenge was a great learning experience. I worked my butt off to gain permission and create a new event.  A special Thank You goes out to Mark Thomas for lending a hand.  Now I know one reason why he was so helpful back then.  He just wanted to race.
It is hard to believe it but Kansas City grew to be the hotbed of cross in the early 2000's to well we will not go there.....  We had riders regularly coming down from Iowa & Nebraska because St. Louis' cyclocross scene hadn't developed yet.

This might have been one of my worst ideas ever.  A team relay cross race.  I actually thought it would work and that riders would like to race as a team.  I think we only had like 4 teams at the most participate. 
After a couple of good years in Parkville we got kicked out due politics basically.  The BOA were fighting with my key contact for the use of English Landing Park and when it came time to vote to allow our race again we were denied. 
I spent many hours (months really)  searching for a new venue that would I felt make a good cyclocross course.  I had access to a lot of parks which I could of used, but I was not going to use just any park.  I did not want to build just any course.  I wanted my courses to be fun and challenging.  It took many visits to Riverside's City Hall and a couple of presentation but I finally found a good venue in E. H Young Park. 

Every fall my team, family and I would work hard to produce what we thought were good cyclocross courses.  One of my all time favorite sections was the climb out of the river at E.H. Young.  If you were able to ride it (like me above) it was a nice advantage.  Plus is just sucks getting off your bike. 

I always like to put in a wide variety of terrain in my courses.  Sure it was not easy to build these courses, but that is what I felt all the racers deserved.  I made natural obstacles and rarely used things like barriers to force riders to discount.  My belief is to make a challenging and fun course that does not offer an unfair advantage but is best suited to an all around rider.  It did not matter if can from a mountain bike back ground or a road back ground.  You would going to enjoy my course.  Well, at least I hope you all enjoyed them.
 Damian looking good as always.  I think Damian my be the only person who has raced all of the races I have ever promoted.  Does he like my courses that well or is it the free entries?
The Riverside Cyclocross Festival was always held very close to Carolynn's birthday.  In fact, the race even fell on the actual day.   Never did she ever say anything about celebrating her birthday at the race.  Roger Harrison sings Happy Birthday and brough her a cake!

Why on earth did I ever decide to put sand into my courses?  Back then I thought they were cool, but now I just hate sand.  Funny how life works some times.

I guess I got insperation from my first state championship event I ever attended over in Columbia, MO.  Christopher in route to his first ever state championship in cyclocross.  One thing that kid can do is ride sand and rocks for that matter. 
I might have to bring back the beard.  Or maybe at least the chops

That little junior Redline CX bike was sweet.  Christopher earned a closet full of trophies and awardes on that thing.

He won so many that the Kansas City Star even wrote an article on him.  Those were the days....

10 years ago I was all focused on growing the sport especially the juniors.  Looking back I now realize I put a lot of pressure on Christopher without really know it.  That is one thing I would do differently now is to try and keep cycling more fun.

Back to sand.  I have to mention it again because I do really hate it (unless I am riding a motorcycle in it then I just love it)  Sand can be very challenging as you can see by the above picture taken at the  2006 Riverside Cyclocross Festivals.  

I still remember this poor beginner women's cyclocross racers.  She was a trooper and got up and finished strong.  Heck, she even showed up at the next round of the series and paid to race again.

This guy had an awesome handmade bike and he could ride that thing on that Riverside course.  I do miss those old courses and the cool features they had. 

One of my favorite pictures I ever took. Nate in action - they dude could bunny-hop just about anything. 
I can not tell you how much time I put in just to build this one feature.  When I look at most of  today's cyclocross courses I realize just how foolish I was.  Thinking that riders actually cared about the course.
I always like Shadd Smith. He came to most of our events and for many years took home the win in the Cat 1 class.
Mark Studnicki and I traveled to a lot of cyclocross races together for a few years there.  He was one hell of an athlete.   Those were some fun times traveling up to Iowa and Nebraska racing cross.
I was actually in good shape back when racing with Mark and won the Mid-America Cross Cup back in 2004/5 when John Lefler and I promoted it.
The money tree idea was a hit.  At the height of the De Stad Series it was nice feature.  Christopher (during his X-Box years) demonstrates good form.  He only wanted the dollar to buy another game...
I did really enjoy racing cyclocross back then.  Who know, maybe I can regain that passion this year.
Dave looking good in the mud.  One of the best parts of cyclocross is your teammates and the fun times you can have together.   Those good memories will last forever.
I can still remember this battle between Tige Lamb and Mark Studnicki back in 2009.  The final round of the De Stad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series (still love that name) and it was a cold rainy day.  The course was just getting slick and very hard to even ride.  These guys went at it hard and put on a awesome show.  I think Studnicki was a little stronger, but Tige was better in the mud.  It came down the the last lap with Tige Lamb taking the win and title.

That final round in 2009 was epic for me. Everything came together for just a great day. Racing in the mud is what cyclo-cross is all about.  Only wish we had more of those types of events.

We always tried to make the course look as good as possible with the limited resources that we had. 
Some of the best barriers ever.   Even though I did not like to use them, Rich Anderson build up a cool set so I just could not say no.  JP Brocket demonstrates proper form.
One of the most challenging events to hold was one of the Kansas State Cyclocross races held over in Leavenworth Kansas.  There was talk about endangering the riders and  travel concerns.  All I knew is I could not drive any stakes into the frozen ground and had to resort to cones.  It worked and no one died traveling to the venue.
Still to this day one of the best logos ever. Eric Tiffany always came up with some very good ideas and helped us out more than he know.  The logo was great, but the idea to also hold a trail run on the same day as a cyclocross race was not.

This picture brings back a lot of memories.  It is actually at the first Haven's Cyclocross event which is retuning this weekend.  Hopefully Brendan has a course for us with a lot less climbing.  The only thing worse than sand is hills :-)

Part II coming soon....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chugging at Chanute

The summer heat has returned big time here in Kansas City.  Overall the summer has been very mild in temps with no real heat waves to speak of.   Some off-road racing organizations usually take a summer break to avoid the normal summer heat.  The Forward Motion Hare Scrambles series continued on Sunday and wouldn't you know it we are in a heat wave.   On Saturday the temp was 109 in Carolynn's car.   So much for that plan.
Despite the heat Christopher still wanted to go.  I was all set to head to the lake to do some kayaking.  Christopher does not really do well in the heat nor do I usually.  If I pace myself and ride really within myself I can usually escape the event without getting heat sickness.  I agreed to go but my plan was to really ride easy chugging along.  I have been training some in the heat and was ready.  Christopher took the opposite approach and instead of training headed to the Gun Show which had AC. 
We almost did not make it to the Taylor Family farm for the Chanute Hare Scrambles round. I thought the most direct route was to take US-69 Hwy South to KS-7 S.  This would take you to KS-39W.  What I did not know was that KS-39 was closed due to construction.  The detour nearly took us all the way to Oklahoma (at least it felt that far...).  With no map and limited coverage I had no idea where to go.  I do not like getting lost and at one point just resolved to head back home because I did not think we would make it on time.  After my little temper tantrum Carolynn said she was going to buy me a GPS for my birthday! Sometimes good things come out of troubled times.
We finally made it to the Taylor farm with enough time to unload and get signed up.  We barely had enough time to warm up the engines before we had to head to the starting line for the 11:00 am start.
I was still recovering from being lost and really not in the mood to race anyway.  The result was a very poor start which was o.k. with me.  I did not know the trail route much anyway and usually the first lap is kind of slow.  The problem was the darn dust.  When you were behind someone you could not see the trail.  You basically had to trust where they were going. This was a little unnerving but did allow me to ease into the event.

Once the first few miles went by the course cleared out some and I made some passes.  I was so thankful to be out in clean air chugging along.  I really like the course at Chanute and have had good success here in the past.  I started to really flow and having fun as I started to remember the course and find some good lines.   I did not even mind when I came around on the first lap in 5th place.  I was out riding my dirt bike having fun.  I had no worries at all which actually made me ride well.

Christopher lined up with a good size field in the Sportsman class.  He needed a good start for sure unless he was going to spend the next 2 hours breathing in dust from 20+ other riders.  This did not happen and he got a near dead last start. 

The course was a little tricky and slick in spots.  If you over road the course you could end up like Dennis and on the ground.

Jason had a solid day and handled the heat well.  He used the power of his 450 to his advantage and earned a 4th place finish and moved into 3rd place in the points.  Very good day for Jason for sure.

Christopher overcame a few crashes and the heat and ended up 10th place on the day.  Not what he wanted, but you reap what you sow. 

I put in a solid 4 laps and with each lap passed more riders.  Each lap was faster for me despite riding really easy and basically just chugging along.   Somehow by the final lap I had worked my way into the lead.  Funny how when you try the least you seem to do your best because you are really relaxed and have no tension in your body. I should do this more often :-)!

After the race I quickly took off my race gear and got into my swim trunks.  It was time for a nice ice bath for me.   I actually felt good despite the heat.  The humidity was a little low which helped.  Also, my current fitness is getting better and I think with heat it pays to be in good shape. 

Overall a nice weekend with MTB riding on Saturday and a very hot hare scrambles on Sunday.  I enjoyed the weekend but I am ready for a change in season.  Cyclocross is only a month away and I am hoping to have a fun season this fall racing in much cooler conditions. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Needmore XC Report

After last weekend's Wyco's Revenge I decided to take some time off.   I let stress and things outside of my control get the best of me.  I have a habit of doing that often and hopefully with letting go of some things I can get back to a more balanced fun life. 
Christopher and I headed to another round of the Midwest Off Road Events (MORE) this weekend.  A few weeks ago we raced at their NEBO Hill round and had fun.  The MORE series was really laid back and had different classes that we could compete in including Saturday and Sunday events.  They try to make it really family orientated and they have succeeded with classes for all including three different women's classes,  three different Pee Wee classes and even a 50+ division.
The Needmore XC race is held in Fair Play, MO.  A very small town east of Bolivar with a population of 475. The owner has a nice piece of property that has some nice sandy single track just like I like.  When I heard that the course was sandy I bought a ticket.  The one negative of sand is the dust if it does not rain which was the case on Saturday.  The local store brought out their water truck and was nice enough to water the start section which was very nice.  
I told Christopher before the event began that the start was very important if he wanted to do well.  The dust was going to be a huge factor.   He just installed a new Dunlop MX 51 and I passed along my lightning quick reflexes so he had no excuses. Me on the other hand had a worn out tire but I did have one advantage with a live engine start - another great idea by Steve Leivan. I really like the idea of live engine starts and wish all events would do this.  When the green flag flew I rolled on the throttle while releasing the clutch ever so gently and the result was no wheel slip and a sweet holeshot.

Poor Christopher must have gotten Carolynn's reaction genes as he ended up choking on a lot of dust after his start.  He did listen to me and took the outside when he did dump the clutch.   I told him if he got off the line poorly go to the outside because there would most likely be a crash on the inside. This indeed was the case so at least he did not start in dead last. 
The MORE series does things a little different than the Forward Motion series.  One of the things I really like is the finish line.  It is a little more open and you do not have to come to a complete stop while getting scored.  You slow down of course, but then you can get on your merry way without having to scrape your bars squeezing through a narrow set of posts and cones/  I have a bit claustrophobia so I dislike narrow spaces :-)
I got on the gas hard for the first lap and had clear sailing which was a big advantage.  I started catching the tail end of the Schoolboy  class on the first lap and it was very hard to see in the dust.  I was happy to clear them after about a half lap.
 Christopher put in a charge in the woods and rode hard.  He passed his way up to 6th place in the Sportsman Amateur class by the 3rd lap and even put in a 19 min lap on the final lap which was quicker than my 20 min  last lap!

The course was mostly sandy single track with a creek bed or two thrown in for good measure.  This course reminded me of some of the trails in Florida, especially the sandy whoops in the corners.   I had fun on the course and was able to cruise in for the win in the Sportsman Amateur 40+ class.  
Christopher paid for his effort after the race.  The 90 degree heat and his pace caused him to get sick after the race.  I guess he takes after me on that regard as I also have issues with heat.