Saturday, November 22, 2008
Psycho Cross #3
If you are reading this blog there is a good chance that you like cyclocross and a fairly good chance that you live in Oregon. If both of those things are true you really need to do yourself a favor and make the trip down to Eugene and race the Psycho Cross Series. This is a great series and not enough of us from Portland are making the trip. The location is the same each time but the course is changed for every race. There are some elements that are constant, but the direction of travel varies and the conditions can really drastically change the course from one week to the next. I really enjoy it.
But there is a problem, there are not that many people that race down there. Thankfully there isn't the opposite problem of too many racers, which is how it is in the cross crusade. In the cross crusade races there were usually between 120 and 160 racers in Master C, usually closer to the 160. The exception was during the Saturday Astoria race. At the Psycho Cross race today there were 11 C's and 3 Master C's. We all started at the same time, follows by about 10 Beginners a minute behind us. That was it for the 10am race, no more than 24 or 25 riders on the course at the same time. Compare this to what goes on at the Cross Crusade it it is almost lonely at times if you don't have someone near you.
I was lucky enough to have someone nearby to do battle with. Similar to my other race at the Psycho Cross series a month ago it was a racer that was dealing with mechanic/crash issues. If it weren't for his skewer coming loose and then doing a pit this guy, named Ryan, would have left me in the dust long before he actually did on the last lap. At the finish, the next rider behind me was a few hundred yards back. The guys ahead of Ryan and I were similarly too far ahead to catch. Everyone that finished ahead of me was racing C, so I beat the other two guys racing Master C--meaning that I again won my class. That alone is reason enough to keep heading down there. I got my butt handed to me last weekend at my first Master B race and here I was without any close competition for Master C. I enjoyed this weekend much more.
I enjoyed today not so much because I was the best of three guys in my class, but because, one, the course is a heck of a lot of fun, and two, because everyone was really friendly. It didn't matter that I wasn't a local or that I hadn't met hardly anyone down there before. We were all friendly and cheering each other on during the race, even if we were killing ourselves out there. It was also good to chat with Spears and a couple of the Half Fast Velo guys that made the trip. The guy that I spent most of my time battling, Ryan, was fun to race. We gave each other a hard time a bit while we were out there. When I passed him temporarily at the beginning of the bell lap I told him to stop coasting. He laughed and passed me for the final time about a 1/4 mile later. At the finish line he gave me a hi 5 and introduced himself. I told him he was killing me out there. I told him I thought he would be going just slow enough so that I would torture myself to catch him. Then when I got somewhat close he would blast away again. Torture is what it was. But it was fun.
The course is a blast. It is a mix of fields, singletrack, gravel, a twitchy descent (or run up depending upon how the course is run) with the occasional barrier thrown in. I really enjoyed today's layout. Because the course is not overrun with racers I feel like I can really practice some of my cross skills and do so without having to worry about 200 other racers clogging up things. If you have not experienced Psycho Cross you owe it to yourself to make the trip. It is a great set up with a great bunch of guys running it. Cyclocross without the first lap traffic jams of a Cross Crusade race is kind of awesome.
There were times when I really felt good today. I was hitting it pretty good out of the saddle on many of the straight aways. My max speed was pretty good. I doubt that there were too many racers during the 10am race that got any faster on the higher speed areas of the course that me. I felt great on the single track portions most of the time. Those things that I did well made me feel pretty good about my race overall. I am a much better cross'er than I was last year.
This race was really good for another reason--one of my biggest weaknesses was exposed in a undeniable way. Today's main weakness was that my acceleration is like that of a Cadillac--in other words, my acceleration sucks. I feel like when I am trying to get it going out of the turn or when trying to accelerate through mud that I am using a lot of gas but not getting anywhere. Guys just blow by me. But then once I get to a certain speed I am pretty good at reeling them back. Just like a Cadillac I can cruise at a high speed pretty comfortably. On flats I seem to have a taller gear, or greater max speed than many of those guys that accelerate faster than I do. That is the nice part. If I could just improve my acceleration I think I would make a significant leap in how I perform.
So how do I improve my acceleration? Anyone have suggestions?
Brian said (I think) that I might try some standing hill repeats on the bike. Seems like a good idea. Anyone else have any other suggestions? I would be greatful.
One obvious one is to improve my power to weight ratio. Right now I feel really am the big Cadillac going up against a pack of Subaru WRX's. The guys that beat me are usually skinnier than I am. Or at least I think so. I need to lose the remainder of my gut for next season. I lost a pretty good portion of it, but another 15 or 20 pounds would be ideal. Anyway, suggestions are encouraged.
The pictures at the top I found on someone's Flickr