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Well, the first race report contest has come and gone. The winner, chosen from many entertaining and prize-worthy entries, has been notified (full announcment on cxmagazine.com soon) and should be receiving his prizes eventually.

For the rest of us, there's another chance. We've made some additions to the rules, but simply you need to be original, entertaining and a link to another site isn't gonna do it. Pictures and video maybe considered extra credit.

Post those reports up here for the world to see. I should have mine up once my wife lets me back in the house. Didn't think a little Granogue mud could do that to a washing machine....

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Toronto International Cyclo-Cross, YES I was really here! I looked forward to watching the pros as long as I could get through my race! After a three hour drive and a few minutes finding the right parking lot I was ready to sign on..Well since I was unsure about traffic I had arrived early, too early for registration...but not too early to get a few laps in on the HILL coarse. So when I read the race details it said Saturday would be a power day and Sunday a speed day. Well who knew a power day was climbing a ski hill. Now it wasn't a rocky mountain ski run but it was steep and had lots of fun issues before you even got to the real climb! Besides the routine cork screw type twist and turns there was a special section that was build by the announcer! Thanks RICK! Special, is up a steep short climb followed by a quick drop and then a smaller climb then an off camber right turn with just enough length to trick you into thinking you had time to pull your right foot and prepare for a dismount carry over the three sand filled steps...Wrong, first lap around I promptly fell over into a wooden stake and tape! Sorry guys, I just added another feature to this section...OLD guy attempting to unwrap from tape and pedals! Not pretty nor is the bruise I was left as a reminder! Oh well, racing what fun can be had! Then there was the ski hill climb! A few laps and I was finding the lines and all was well. I wasn't at the front but I wasn't last. Then I made the best two man pass of my short cross racing experience! Now I know others pass two people at once all the time but it was special for me...Even manged my pass on a short section of the announcers special area, then it happened! Down I went, helmet first into a stake as I lost control of my front wheel! My mind was saying get out of the way of the two guys you just passed because now there going to be upset, you have just slowed them down in a rideable section!!!! Nice move! Well got up and asked if those around me where OK and hey whats this, I'm still ahead of the two I just passed YES!!! Finished 16 out of a 35 plus field, not bad for a guy just off an injury. Now since I was in the city racing/visiting I got to spent Saturday night traveling to visit more family, just another 120 mile round trip to add to my 180 mile one way drive to get here!
Sunday was a different loop all together! Temps where just below freezing so frost on everthing so winter shoes and cap under the helmet. I know never over dress for cross but hey it was cold and I was tired so on went the winter wear! This loop had a few "specials" like Saturday but at least NO SKI HILL CLIMB! Now I've seen loops with a ditches before but a gravel road side ditch with a SHAVED WALLED that was too wide to jump, and then a hill! GREAT!!! Time to carry and run....oh wait maybe after a few folks attempt to cross this ditch there will be a path and it will be ridable! yes there is hope....on to the remainder of the coarse and see what else there is? A mud ditch, should not be a problem, next, oh a little sand. Good thing the UCI said you can't add to sand traps, just natural terrain...Hey this is a speed loop I may be able to use my road legs here! So just to be sure I spun around one more time! WHAT! Two guys at the first ditch ensuring that the shaved wall is maintained! GREAT! Well I guess I now need to plan for the carry and run in this section....At the start I was off and feeling not too bad given my long drives and lack of real fitness....Spun along just fine even did a few jumps to catch on to the group in front of me! All was moving along just fine I was getting over, under, and around the loop without too much trouble! Then it happened! Down a small hill, hard left and there I was on the ground AGAIN! How did that happen, did I roll my rear tire, thought I was in going well! Now what! Nothing like a fall to change your confidence! Slow to get going, check everything, all ok with the bike, body seems ok! Oh great now I'll have brusies on both thighs! Matching set! Oh well next lap and I was flying at my sub turtle speed once again. Finished 14th not bad, beat some guys from Saturday, but hey the guy that is aged in the next decade beyond me beat me but good! Oh well I came, I saw, I raced and fell, but lived to race another day. Post race I was parked beside a pro, he was fourth both days and his lady was first both days so I asked how do you get better at the bike handling tricks? He smiled and was happy to explain, RIDE YOUR CROSS BIKE EVERY DAY! Seems like good advice, I think I'll try that. Even if I don't develop better handling skills I get to play on my bike, and that alone is worth the effort!

Ride hard, laugh often, and tell your family you love them every day!
We pay to race not the other way around, so enjoy every moment even if your dead last!
How many people do you interact with in the emergency room for a non-life threatening injury? The answer, in my case was 6. I know this because I had to explain to each of them what cyclocross was and how, if I was in a bike race, I managed to trip while running over barriers. However, I think I am getting ahead of myself.

Rewind to the early morning. I'm on way to the Seattle Cyclocross race at Silver Lake in Everett. It is a new course for the series, and I am pretty excited. I've raced this series since it was called Emerald City Cyclocross, and although I like the repeat courses like my favorite T-shirt, the new venues offer a chance to switch things up. I had heard from the primary course designers, Phil Oppenheimer and Dan Norton, that this course would feature sand. Lots of sand. Not my favorite.

Driving up to the park, I was pleasantly surprised to see some elevation changes and a lot of trees. In addition to the sand, this venue was going to require some climbing and negotiation of trails. Those bits suit me pretty well, so I was psyched. My excitement was only slightly dampened as I watched the Cat 4 Men and Women combat the sand. It was soul-sucking. By the last lap, many racers were walking the 100+ meter long section along the lake. That is a long walk, and I was sure they wouldn't give up that much time if they had any energy left to run. It looked painful. Lovely and painful.

At the end of that race, I went out for a recon lap with a teammate. We decided to start at the end of the longest sand section. The first thing we ran into was a short wall of dirt that would undoubtedly become a run up when congested; duly noted. Moving on, the course became more and more fun. It twisted and turned. It required finesse and balance. Loose, off-camber, and a little wet here and there. It was a bike handler's course. Around a corner…whoops! Note to self, remember there is a log across the trail right there. I really hope that everyone in front of me on the first lap pre-rode the course because that would be quite the shocker. Back across the sand, this section was really fun. Power on, keep pedaling and surf the bike through. I tried to channel my inner Sven Nys. The back half of the course had more climbing and descending with tight turns and sweeping curves. All was great with one exception. The barriers. To force a run up, the designers placed two barriers on a moderately steep hill. I know this is a personal gripe; but uphill barriers really suck for short people. On an incline, the effective height of the barrier is increased and the result is a pretty hefty jump for the vertically challenged. That being said, we all have to ride the same course, so barrier section noted.

All in all, the course was awesome. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a mud pit; but that might have resulted in sensory overload. It already had so much to think about and work through, it didn't need anything else, and I was happy the weather was dry and comfortably cool.

I lined up for my race and settled into the 2nd row. I was dreading the start because it dumped us straight into the long sand section after giving us enough pavement to get up a really good head of steam. I was a little apprehensive, because I didn't feel like I really had the legs for it. Then I got the next bit of bad news. The organizers were expecting to give us 9 total laps. That is a lot of sand. Just as I was coming to grips with that bomb shell, we were off. Bat out of hell; barreling down the pavement. It was quite surreal to watch each rider ahead of me hit the deep sand and immediately slow and veer every which way. Eventually a few people got too close together, and the running started. I was lucky enough to squeeze through ahead of that. I was putting as much power into the pedals as I could and sending out all my "light as a feather" thoughts. I managed to get most of the way through. The last 30 meters or so was almost unridable, at least with my power and skills. A few strides and I was through the sand. Only 8 more times to go! I wasn't as lucky at the next choke point and ended up off the bike again running the short, loose hill. A few turns later I was trying hard to stay on the wheel in front and in front of the wheels behind. I missed that little root in my preride. It is amazing how such a little root could cause so much trouble. In less time than it took to read that sentence, I was on the ground. There went 3 places. Oh well, I got back on and battled back. Through the second sand section I got back a place, up the next hill I pulled another back. Coming down into the barriers (uphill remember), I was feeling pretty good.

Off the bike, shouldered the bike (because it was more of a run up than a barrier crossing). It is here that things get fuzzy. I'm not really sure which foot didn't make it over the barriers first. Perhaps my right foot hit the wood and then my left shin scraped down the top as my face accelerated toward the ground. Maybe the right foot had nothing to do with it and that's why it came through unscathed. In any event, I wound up with my face accelerating toward the ground. Fortunately it never got there. Unfortunately that was because my shifter got in the way. From all accounts I did my best to pile drive the handlebars into the ground with my right eyebrow. It hurt. A lot.

I had to step to the side of the course and quickly evaluate my situation. I could see. Nothing was blurry. I wasn't streaming blood. I was conscious. After the initial hit, my head wasn't hurting too much. However I could tell that it was going to at some point. I thought about quitting. I figured I'd keep going as long as I could see. I figured my eye might swell up at some point. I also figured I was going to be in pain whether I as on my bike or not. I might as well ride. The course was too fun to miss. By this time, I'm not sure how many places I had lost; but it was a lot. I spent the next 3 laps digging my way back into the middle of my group. Finally I made contact with a group of 5 or so, including a team mate. I was starting to feel good about this race again. The wound had started and stopped bleeding during this time. I knew it must look gnarly because I heard many exclamations as I rode by spectators. I have to admit it fueled my desire to get back into the race. At the start of the 5th lap (I think it was the 5th), I was in the solid group as we flew into the sand. I was riding along the left edge. It was the shortest sand path; but also the deepest (maybe 7 inches deep). Coming out of the pit, got my weight a little too far forward and had my second really good wreck. I think it must have looked like I just exploded. I went into the sand; the bike went up into the tree I was next to. Luckily this one didn't really hurt. It was also right next to the pits. A friend working the pit helped me get sorted out and back on the track. He suggested I might want to get my eye looked at. I said I'd be fine. By now the group I was with was gone. Alone again. I ran through the sand and began my chase anew. Luckily Nick Weighall came by (and shortly thereafter Zack McDonald) which signaled that my suffering would be cut short. Usually I would be really unhappy about being lapped; but today I think it was OK. Later I would discover that Nick got everyone in my class except the top 3, so I felt a little better. Although I was happy to shorten my race by a lap, I had come too far to do anything less than my utmost to get back into the fray. After all, I could still see out of both eyes. By the end of the race I had managed to get back to the tail end of the group I had been in prior to the sand pit land mine. All in all I was pretty happy with my effort.

After the race, Joe Martin captured the attached picture before I went to get cleaned up. To be honest, after hearing all the oohs and aahs, I was expecting a lot more blood or loose skin than you see here. At the medics, I was advised to go see the ER docs for a couple of stitches (the total would turn out to be 6). That is how I ended up introducing 6 ER staff to cyclocross. From the description, a couple were surprised more people don't end up injured. A few of them asked if I crashed on the last lap. When I replied that it was lap one, they were baffled that I finished the race. I can't understand why I would quit just because of a flesh wound. I guess that's why I race 'cross.
Attachments:
Georgia Cross #2, Dalonega

I'm one of those masochists that likes to double up, 30min SS race immediately followed by the 45min CX3 race. This week we were racing in the Montaluce Winery's vinyard, there isn't barely 50 feet of level ground in sight.

The first half of the course suited technicians/speed demons, long smoothish down hill feeding into slippery off camber windy stuff...mud patch...jumpy hump into more turny bits...long bumpy gopher holed section. All of this flying down hill to a sharp 90deg turn up a gravel road...and up,up,up to a steeper loose gravel section...false flat...long slow off camber climby bit...tough 180 deg dive down to the only 80 yards of ground resembling flatness...fast barriers...swing back around to slog up a little more towards the gravel run up of doom and embarrassment.

I had an awesome SS race, moved up the pack on the first half of the course and did what I could to hold position on the uppy bits. As the race wore on I settled in to a battle with a pretty strong rider, I lead us down and he would get around and lead going back up. On the bell lap I scorched a kitten going down the first half fading from dudes line of sight. Put my head down and daydreamed about a steam-shovel. Emptied my tank to snag 5th, pretty stoked as my last result was 12th. Then I killed my buzz by lining up for the B race 10 minutes later. The short report: 45 minutes of suck featuring rolling the tire off of my front wheel on the last lap, pretty sure I DFLed or was very close to it. Sh!tt@rs before quitters atmo!
race report: cross crusade # 4
(Washington County fairgrounds, Hillsboro, OR)

I was slow. I finished last or near-last. I agonized about this for a few minutes -- you know, the typical “oh-god-what-would-it-take-to-get-faster-and-would-it-be-possible-to-arrange-that-in-my-already-crazy-family-centric-and-time-challenged-life” crap. People with rich lives that involve many things other than racing (and with spouses who don’t also race) seem to have a harder time with this question than people whose lives are focused on their racing. When, upon arriving home after my race, Sweetie gave me a big hug and told me I was amazing, I decided that I would take the rich, crazy life, even if it meant being slower on my bike. That was pretty much the end of my agonizing.

My top ten list of most memorable things:

1. The sound of a very expensive derailleur slamming into an equally expensive set of carbon spokes on someone else’s wheel as I passed by in the mud zone just past the barns. There is nothing like that sound anywhere else on earth. Nothing. I winced for my fellow racer and forged on, silently loving my singlespeed bike all the more.

1a. On laps two and three, passing by that spot and noticing the snapped-off cage and pulleys of a derailleur half-sunk into the mud in the middle of the course. I did not stop to pick it up. Neither did anyone else.

2. The mud. Oh my god, the mud. For the first time all season it rained enough for there to be real, live mud. Not tons of it, not huge knee-high vats or anything, but enough that I felt the cold wet slap! of it on my ass as I plowed through the first deep puddle.

3. Feeling the mud slap me and realizing that I sort of loved it. I must be mad.

4. The satisfaction that comes from riding a singlespeed mountain bike on a muddy course and plowing through the deepest mixture of mud (with a touch of manure) while others are carrying their bikes and running. I HATE running. Anytime I can ride through something I am much happier.

5. Not crashing once (though I came close a couple of times).

6. The random strangers yelling encouragement at me as I passed:

--“You’re SMILING? This is a RACE, stop smiling and start suffering!”

--“Pick a good line!” (This was said as I rolled through four-inch deep mud where about three hundred “good” lines already existed.)

--“Go-go-go-go-go-go-GOOOOOOO Beth!” (Many cowbells clanging in background.)

--“Yeah, singlespeed! It’s all YOU, bay-bee!”

Interestingly, these comments were all shouted by men. The women mostly just rang cowbells or clapped and whistled for me as I passed. Weird.

7. The sweet satisfaction that, while I am not getting one second faster (trust me on this one), my bike-handling skills are growing all the time. Evidence: on a particularly slick, off-camber section where racers could choose a high route or a low route. I took the mostly-avoided, purportedly slicker high route and handled it just fine, passing two other racers along the way before dropping down to the lower line so I could turn hard and push my little gear hard up the incline. Stuff like this is what keeps me coming back for more punishment.

8. The illusion that, once I’ve completed a lap and faster riders begin to lap me, I’m in the mix with everyone else.

9. The deflation of that illusion when, at the end of my third lap, officials yell at me, “You’re done! You’re done!” and motion for me to ride off the course, out of the way of the faster riders who all lapped me.

10. The taste of Belgian-style frites, served hot in a folded paper cone with a dollop of garlic mayonnaise on top and washed down with a swig of beer, minutes after my race.

11. Bonus: the utter absurdity of enjoying frites and beer while I am standing in a line of a hundred women waiting to use the hose so I can wash the mud off my bike. (I saw the line for the hose, saw the line for the frites, and decided I could do both if I did them in the correct order.) On a deep, cosmic level, cyclocross is nothing if not absurd. Maybe that’s part of its attraction.


Below: co-worker Kathy (L) and me (R), enjoying our favorite beverages after the Beginner Womens' race.


Race report contest ends tomorrow!
I was a little slow to get going to my 3:00 race. My experience says it's best to arrive at the venue two hours before start time, but I was still home carving pumpkins as that time rolled around. Since the course is only 10 miles or so from my house, I just got dressed and rode my bike to the race venue, race wheels strapped on my backpack. It's a nice way to loosen the legs and warm up a bit.

I arrived just in time to pre-ride some of the course. Looking it over, I was as happily salivating like a bird dog about to roll in something dead (now that's happy). I absolutely loved what I saw. So many slippery turns. So few grueling climbs. It was something special, a thing of beauty.

Before I knew it, I was standing in the middle of the pack in the starting gate. The whistle blew, releasing a stampede of crazed cyclocrossers. Traffic was rough. I can sprint, and I know how to move around in a group, so I should have moved up better than I did. This course had a lot of long paved sections where drafting was important. I missed my first of several trains on the start, where I should have turned myself inside out to get aboard. Live and learn.

We approached a right-hander, through some slippery mud, bumping, jockeying for position. People went down all around me, it was almost comical. I managed to avoid all the bodies and move on to the BOG, where mud and hay combined to form a substance well suited to make primitive bricks; it was thick. Wheels sunk deep, and you just had to grind on through it. I rode along the side, feeling like a downhill skier as my hands smacked the stake poles marking the course. I never crashed in this section.

Moving on to more pavement, speed and drafting; acceleration was important here. A transition to a tight 180 into the happy stuff again, slip-sliding around to our first double barrier with a long approach, plenty of time for a full-on proper step-through dismount. Someone tried to pass me, but their progress stopped to the sound of our bikes grinding together. Put the bike down, hopped back on, missed the pedal, got back on the gas to catch up as we turned onto a sharp transition to pavement. We weaved through a parking lot, mud spinning off tires and testing the limits of our traction.

A tight, slippy 180 led us into a straight stretch where we built up speed before bombing into a barn. I got slowed down here by traffic quite a bit. When I finally had some room, I approached that barn at twice the speed as before and was sliding across the floor before I knew what hit me. Bars sideways, levers curved in, and my brake arm somehow got forced under my rim so the pads were up against the spokes. After a little course-side repair, I was back at it. Even more fired up than before, I went after the guy who'd passed me on the ground. I stuck out my tongue with delight.

Back in the grass, bumpy and fast. Two more sheep barns, out and back. Dancing with my bike through the slippery zig-zags, spitting out chunks of mud as they flew into my gasping mouth. More bumpy grass to an off-camber balance beam, followed by a crazy tight turn on the edge of a small cliff. I felt like a ball in a labyrinth, teetering on the edge of a hole in the game board. I gently leaned my bike in the right direction and just waited for what seemed an eternity for it to grab hold and go.

Back on the gas through some loose bark chips, pushing on to some more slippery stuff and a big right-hander to the finish line. I tried to come around someone here on the last lap, took the turn hot with my foot out. I made it through upright, but chose the wrong side to pass and got pinched off. Was that really an hour? I wanted to keep going. I was bummed it was over so quickly.

Caked with mud, I grabbed my pack, swapped out the road wheels and rode home with a smile on my face. This is how cyclocross should be, with a variety of terrain that takes both skill and fitness. So much better than transitioning back and forth from hard packed dirt to hard pavement. I'll be smiling about this one for a long time.
Looks like ErikV and I were at the same race.
Cross Crusade rules!
Oh yeah, it rules!

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