Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cyclocross in July

Cross Nationals in Providence, RI. This will be a blast. I am beside myself with anticipation. As a matter of fact, I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my body like some enraged serpent of excitement as I contemplated lining up for the start.

I fell in love with cyclocross in 2003, the first season I tried it. The atmosphere around cross races is less intense than road races and crits; The idle chatter that takes place at cross race starts is usually absent at road events. Cross is just as, if not more intense than road events, but there is certainly less of an "edge" in the mood. I like the fusion between mountain bike and road bike racing, as both cultures bring their distinctive feel to the events.

Autumn is a beautiful season in New England; the trees are bursting into their multi-colored displays of oranges, reds, and yellow, and there is a cool nip in the air, reminding us that summer is gone and winter is on the way. The races are short, and easier to view for spectators, making it a place where more friends and family can gather to share in the racers' enthusiasm for the sport. It's nice to take a feed from my wife at a race, it's just another form of support spouses and friends show for one and other. The potential for beautiful races outweigh the potential for the soggy and cold ones that make us question waking up at 5:30AM to make it to the race.

I am not sure what motivated me to buy an old Univega touring frame from Bikes not Bombs in Roxbury for $70.00 with the intention of building a cross bike. I was working at Harris Cyclery at the time; being surrounded by all kinds of bicycles and parts, from NOS Dura-Ace seatposts to Brooks saddles to Miche track hubs, fostered some sort of bicycle construction virus. I just wanted to build bikes that I could ride.

With a classic novice unfamiliarity, and an under-appreciation for the strength of road components, I assumed cross bikes needed to be built like tanks. The frame weighed something like 5 pounds, with beefy Sun CR-18 36 hole rims laced with DT triple butted spokes to LX hubs. The wheels weighed about 5 pounds too! Weight was a non-issue, and it showed. The bike weighed in at about 27 pounds. Heaving that thing onto my shoulder for some of the long run ups made me understand why weight becomes an issue in 'cross.

I spent the entire 2003 cross season racing the C-race, to get familiar with the techniques and bodily demands. I managed a few podium finishes, and enjoyed myself immensely.

I am learning how to post pictures to the blog. I am already thinking about 'cross, I decided to put this one taken by Sheldon Brown at the Gloucester ECV Gran Prix of Cyclocross Race in October of 2004. It was a great weekend of racing at picturesque Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I'm pretty tired in this mouth's hanging open.

Maybe we will see Mr. Lance Armstrong at this year's Cyclocross Nationals in Providence, RI? He mentions the sport as something he may dabble in for fun as he enters retirement. This paragraph appears in today's NYTimes:

"He said he might dabble in triathlons, marathons, cyclocross events, for the pure jock pleasure of them. And he said he would spend time with his three children, who were by his side this weekend, the last of his career."

Racing Cross (my favorite) in Gloucester, MA


j. dunn said...

Hey, with all these links that you have on your site. You would think that there would be one to the Harris Cyclery Website. Did you know they had a website?
I also heard that their Harris Cyclery Racing Team totally DOMINATED your BRC race. Is that true?

Anonymous said...

Whoa, do I need to apologize for not seeing this for 10 years? Thanks for reading...and I have no idea if they dominated the BRC race.