So, I have just started my second season of Cyclocross bike racing and in fact I was the first of my team to do so this year. The first race of the season was cancelled and so the event in Manitowoc WI became the first. I raced in the Master’s Category 4/5 race and they started us off a minute or two after 9:00 am on Sunday September 9th, 2018.
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — The Preliminaries
It was going to be another beautiful day and with no recent rains it was only the morning dew to add moisture to the course. So on arrival I registered with the officials and picked up my number. I then donned my kit and set out to pre-ride the course. The course was different from last year with the biggest difference being no appearances by county highway LS and the addition of a loop around the Silver Creek Park Pavilion. That Pavilion loop started of with some treachery — a dirt downhill grade off camber and over tree roots.
The other usual features were also present, the beach, the staircase runup, the kickers, and of course the flyover. I tried to ride up the staircase runup and failed to do so resulting in a rollover that twisted my saddle about 30° clockwise. I tried to twist it back but it wasn’t happening so I had to finish my preride like that. So again, I decided I would runup that feature.
The beach was more tricky than last year. A stiff offshore wind was blowing and the beach was marked by a narrow soft sand track with a dropoff to the wave soaked part of the beach. In addition there was more debris around so it was an easy decision — run it! Last year I was trying to ride it and was making progress on that front.
The rest of the course was consistent with last year’s course. Lots of tape in fields, lots of single track through the woods, and some climbs that required your attention
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — Attention Grabbing Climbs
The one climb you really needed to focus on was not challenging due to its length or even its grade. It really wasn’t all that steep and wasn’t all that long, but it was narrow! The trail was marked with two sets of trees tight to the track and the crest cut through the hill again narrow. This is where you keep your eyes on the gaps in the trail and not the obstacles. I rode that one in and out of the saddle without problems.
Another interesting little climb was coming out of the cedar copse. It was after the hairpin turn and last year I usually hit it straight on. This year, I attempted that same line on pre-ride and I failed. However, I took a wide line and that worked real well, I discovered the roots and all formed a bank and I just took it wide pedaling fast and smooth and the banking took care of the turning for me. I thought I was able to flow nice around that and really had fun with it!
The last planning I had to do involved the kickers. I crashed on one of the kickers last year. Last year I took a traversing approach to the kickers but this year I just hit them straight on and that was no problem.
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — First Race
In short, the first race went well. I did not attack the hole shot but tried to stay in contact with the group. I did but once we got into the Cedar Copse things start to stretch out, I had to come to a near stop on the first turn inside and then as guys cleared that turn they sped off and we strung out. Eventually I found myself alone. However, I wasn’t alone.
Remembering my last race from last year I did two things. First, when I was on a power section I went hard and when in a technical section I focused on clean mistake free riding. I also recalled that having the cleat snap into the pedal is a luxury and it is essential to pedal regardless if the cleats are in or not. In fact, the cleats would find their way in without me having to force the issue. I also found I was able to make the attention grabbing climb (and other smallish ones) without both feet snapped in. I am learning!
Me and my competitor duked it out on the course. With him passing me and I passing him. The usual pattern emerged — I attacked on power sections and took the lead from him and his opportunities came in and around the technical sections. I am proud to say I passed him on the beach I dismounted a bit early and he waited till the sand halted his progress and I zipped around him like he was standing still (errr, actually he was)! I have a picture in my mind from my video last year but with the roles reversed!
This went on the whole race and we finally broke out onto the field for the last time. I was in the lead and I started to lay into my pedals and we finally came onto the finishing straightaway and I bore down with rapid upshifts and pushing as many watts as I had in me. My legs were begging for mercy, my heart and lungs were crying uncle but they all did their job and I crossed the line with my competitor nowhere to be seen. Rapidly I braked to to avoid running through the course tape the fierce competitor finally appeared! We bumped fists and congratulated each other. Win or lose this friendly competition makes these races interesting and motivates us to work at a higher level than we would on a routine Sunday ride.
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — Second Race
I had about forty minutes between my Master’s 4/5 race and the Open Cat 5 race. I talked with friends and just chilled, took short spins around to work off my nervous energy. The field for this race was smaller than my first race and I looked around to size up my competition. Turns out one of my rivals from last year moved up to Cat 4 and started in front of us.
So the race started and again I did not go hard on the hole shot but it was clean and I found most of the field got away but again there was one guy within site. Yes, the chase was on. However, in this race nothing was working for me anymore. I would have made a mess of riding to the ice cream shop. I could not get on and off the bike clean and even where I am strongest I found myself struggling, Pee Wee Herman would have smoked me. I was making the hook around onto the finishing straightway (in mid race though) and I had put my head down and before I knew what was going on I found myself in tape, stakes, and grass. Yeah, I crashed again! So now, the guy I’m chasing is nowhere to be seen and so I made it into a Sunday ride and hoped to spend some time working the features and getting some experience.
However, before too long the vanguard of the Cat four racers started to come up on me. They were moving and there is no way I wanted to get tangled up with them and mess up someone’s race. I was not happy being pulled from the Grafton race but I get it and I got it. I self-pulled — ducking the tape and exiting the course. My racing was over.
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — Photography
I changed out of my kit and got my camera out. I spent the rest of the day photographing the race. Unfortunately, the results of my photography are more similar to the second race than the first race. I have had good results and there are some good shots in the bunch, but the phrase “perfectly exposed blur” comes to mind. I am going to simplify things on my next photographic venture, shoot shutter priority, and leave the polarizer off by default.
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — Overall
Overall I had a good day, I was able to hang out with my cycling friends and met some more people! I spent the previous day with my parents and it was a nice day to be outside (even the yellowjacket that stung me one the nose did little to spoil this day). The memory of the first race will live a long time in my head and with more practice and training I hope to engage in more of those “fights”!
Flyover Silver Creek Cyclocross 2018 — To Give you a Feel
This video is from my very first cyclocross race last year on the same course in Manitowoc WI. As I said the course was different, but not 100% different!