(Welcome Chris Randle to our stable of contributors. Chris rides for Team Spokes and was embedded in the crit race this past Wednesday night. He is also a Bike Nerd which means he often doesn’t make sense to non-bike nerds. Don’t forget to come out Wednesday night to watch the races, bring a lawn chair, picnic dinner and your best girl/guy.)
So, the last couple of weeks I had really, really, really looked forward to the Ronde von Burns crit series. This is my 3rd year tackling this extremely difficult form of racing, but I love the challenge it offers and it’s similarity to motorcycle road racing (which I no longer do). As much as I was looking forward to this year’s series, I had put very little time on my cyclo-cross (Cx) bike on the road. My time this year has been 95% focused on riding mountain bikes and endurance racing. Sometime last year, I had the brilliant idea to Cat up to 4 so that I would not have the option to race in the C race. In hindsight, this decision was stupid, but I find it hard to push myself through pain and figured that this move might help (it was still a dumbass idea).
My Cx bike is plenty of road bike for me. It handles great and is very beefy for my big bones. The only thing that I wanted to change for road racing were my wheels . I was bouncing between Mavic Krysrium SL wheels or the Enve carbon road wheels. Luckily for me, my shop Spokes is friggn awesome and Scott let me demo the Enve wheels. First of all the wheels looked great on the bike. Sold! (because for me it’s mostly about looks) Tuesday, I didn’t get to test the wheels but spun up and down my street in tennis shoes. Wednesday after work, I drove to Micah’s shop and we road our road bikes to the race venue. One thing I noticed although we were cruising was that my bike’s rear end was flexing a ton even at 17mph. We determined that it was the wheel flexing that nothing was wrong with it. This fact made me very uneasy though and left me with very little confidence in my cornering or sprint. (which are my strengths) Micah had only ridden his road bike once and that was at the Crosswinds Classic, so neither of us had much road seat time this year. Boy did it show!
Although Micah had never done a crit, I talked him into racing in the B race. He is usually way stronger than me, so I figured that he would at least crush me. Fast forward to the race start, I have a clean start and move the very front of the race. My pace was nice and slow at around 22mph. I was secretly hoping that we would at least finish a lap like that, but Cragle, Gillim and Bumpers wanted to make fools hurt, so the race went from civil to crank fest in about half a lap. I could feel my flexing wheel in every corner and every time I put out power, this fact made it me feel extremely nervous about being in the pack and plus I was drifting. About 8 minutes in the pack had eased it way by me one person at a time and I settled in a solo effort (Chris speak for getting dropped like a bad habit). Micah got dropped by the pack, but when I looked back he was too far for me to wait, so I kept a steady 21/22mph pace and kicked up to about 24 for my fans on the front straight. I felt like I could have maybe stayed in the pack if I was confident in my bike(yes, this is an excuse), but I guess I will find out next week. After 3 laps to go, the main pack caught me and I let them by instead of drafting to avoid confusion for the racers and officials. (I was secretly hoping that Steve Shepard would pull me, but I think that he likes to see me hurt.) On the last lap, I caught Chris DeGarmo, who is a much stronger roadie than I will ever be. After talking to him for a lil bit we discovered that we were on the same lap. I suggested that we make it a show so we took off. He beat me by about half a wheel, but I never really stood up, because again, I had no confidence in my bike. Me and Micah determined that my ass might be too big for those wheels, which is a fact I can’t disagree with. All in all it was a great event. It was great to see familiar faces that I had not seen in a long time, it was great to see Bike Nerds racing and cheering and most of all it was great to beat Micah Patterson straight up. (Love you man!)
Thanks a million to Scott for letting me try them, thanks to Spokes for taking care of my every cycling need/want, thanks to Carve for putting on a great event, thanks to all you fast mofos for driving me to be a better racer!