Hello patient readers,
Since Saturday night’s Starcrossed event I’ve spent some time in the Seattle area with my good friend and fellow Whitman Cycling Alumni Colin Gibson. Starcrossed itself was a blast and the last few days of low internet access have provided a much needed break as my month long vacation continues. A bike racer’s vacation wouldn’t be complete though without a few bike races! I’m now on my way to Las Vegas for Interbike (North America’s annual bicycle trade show) and Cross Vegas (premier event of Interbike), I am stoked about the sensations in the legs and looking forward to a couple days full of biking before some days totally away from the bike prior to 2011 preparations. Here’s the digs on Starcrossed.
This past weekend I toed the line at Starcrossed for the third time, the second of which in the UCI Elite men's race. Some of the most accomplished cyclocross riders in the world showed up for 2010 with eight national champions on the registrations page including Kona’s Twin Towers, Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon, Americans Todd Wells and Jonathon Page, and 2010 French National Champion Francis Mourey. Since the World Cup and World Championships of Cyclcross extend into the depths of winter (World Champs are held at the same time of year as the Superbowl) this weekend’s event kicked off North America’s 2011 UCI Cyclocross calendar. Since I am far from a cyclocross specialist but enjoy it so much that I’ll spend my annual riding vacation doing it, Starcrossed’s night time start and insane beer garden barrier section make for an event that I've now attended ever chance I've had, only missing the 1 of the last four editions due to a mandatory academic trip in 2009.
On Friday in Seattle, the skies opened up and set up shop. The racing complex received a saturating yet healthy dose of rain making for a few fun turns during an early Saturday afternoon preride. Jumping up from Portland with the help of Joel from the team’s wheel sponsor Rolf Prima, I took the chance to get situated on my new ORBEA bike (build it on Friday night!) and practice riding the tubular tires. All I can say is wow, running a tubular tire (which is glued onto a relatively flat rim), as opposed to a clincher in which the tyre bead hooks under a metal rim, allows a rider to run a much lower tyre pressure (dampening concern of pitch flating). After a restful afternoon at the Gibson household, Colin and I took off for the venue two hours before the 8.30pm start. It started raining pretty hard through the women’s race and reports came in concerning a few corners to watch on the opening laps. I lined up on the 5th of 11 rows (each row 10 wide) with some of the top guys in the world stacking the front end. I was able to avoid the a crash in the first corner but in avoiding a crash on turn three, my chain popped off. After some dramas and a long run through the log section I was back on my bike. I was really feeling great and after the first two laps had jumped up into the top 30, riding with Allegro Cyclery’s Nathan Bannerman (Walla Walla). On the tubular tires I could just surf and powerslide through corners, making up a ton of time on the riders around me until the unevitable happened. A couple of slips later, despite yo-yoing between groups on the course, my front brake lever worked itself so loose only the bartape was holding it on (that’s what I get for riding on a 22 hour old bike!). I had to pit about 35 minutes in at which point the two leaders went by, but I slipped back out for another lap of playtime, holding off the charging chase group of Page, Wells, and Parvo through the completion of the lap. A highlight of the race definitely included the beer garden. Since I didn’t want to confuse the garden patrons after flying through on lap 5 with a healthy sheath of brown covering the right side of my Yellow skinsut, I made sure to equal it out for the next lap.
Although my race on paper looked less than ideal, Starcrossed 2010 was, due to the perfect combination of a number of factors, the best day I have ever had on my cyclocross bike. Colin ran around all night making sure I was prepared for the race and had my thermal jacket ready once I was out; the mud, the course and the lights were epic as usual, the fans were loud and crazy, the smaller Orbea frame made my life a breeze and the 'new-for-me' Rolf TDF48s were just way too much fun. Aaron Schooler of HR Block did an awesome ride to finish 13th; although being the competitor he is, said he had hoped for a cleaner run through the corners. Another Canadian Tyler Trace also had a solid ride, finishing 15th. Nathan Bannerman finished a strong 28th to opener what I hope is a wicked season. Fellow collegiate cyclists Steve Fisher and Ben Rathcamp also threw down, finishing 16th and 36th respectively.
I am in Vegas right now and will update you all tomorrow on my Tuesday trip to the Outdoor Dirt Demo . Cross Vegas is tomorrow night starting at 9.30pm so hopefully the temperature cools down a bit.
Hope you have a chance to ride a bike soon, winter is coming!