It has been another quiet week in my little corner of the cyclocross world. Most of the Northeast chose to take the weekend off from UCI racing, but a few guys did make the trip down to St. Louis for the Gateway Cup; I was not one of them.
I did get to catch a midweek ride with Mike Garrigan before he flew down to the races. I’ve known Mike for three years. He’s been a constant presence in UCI cyclocross races in the Northeast. He’s a good-natured Canadian, who has wicked-fast starts and a proclivity for riding file treads in most all conditions. He represented Canada at the last World Championships and will be heading back to Europe for the tail end of his season in December. The dude has a ton of experience, so when Mike talks cyclocross, I like to listen.
This particular midride conversation was about how the U.S. cyclocross scene has changed over the past few years. Years ago, most UCI races in the Northeast would follow a script. The race would start, gaps would open fast, five guys would ride away, and then usually someone named Johnson, Trebon, or Powers would win. A separate race would be happening behind, seemingly not at all connected to the first, with guys fighting it out for the remainder of the top 10. Then a third race behind that one would happen for the remaining money spots. Then there was the trickling in of guys who were just trying to finish on the lead lap. That was about it. Sure, the names in the top three would occasionally swap spots on the podium, but the reporters writing the race reports could have used a prewritten story and plugged in a few names and the venue and be done with their work.
The big change this year is depth. The lead groups at the big races have been large—sometimes with up to 10 guys in contention halfway into the race. The winning separations are being made later in the race than in years past. Both Mike and I agreed that the races have been noticeably more competitive than even just last year. I think a lot of it has to do with a bunch of guys really stepping up their game this season. I’m thinking of riders such as Cameron Dodge, Anthony Clark, Stephen Hyde, and a few others who have been consistently punching above their pay grade this seasons. But there is also the addition of guys who in previous seasons raced a light schedule but are now racing the full season. I’m thinking of another Canadian, Raphael Gagne. In the past two years he raced only five UCI cyclocross races in the Northeast; this season he’s already done eight and has won three.
Mike and I didn’t really come to any conclusion about any of this. We were just chatting and pedaling, after all. But I’d sum this up by saying it’s a truly exciting time for cyclocross here in the Northeast. The sport is getting bigger and it’s drawing more people to it full-time. As cyclocross continues to grow, the races will keep getting deeper and more unpredictable.
The next day Mike headed out to St. Louis where he had a good ride on Saturday for fifth place. That day BrittLee and I headed out with some friends to enjoy the fall weather and a chill coffee-shop ride. On Sunday we hit a local New Jersey race and scored matching wins in the men’s and women’s A fields. A nice little morale booster before everyone converges on Northampton, Massachusetts, for two days of UCI racing this coming weekend.
P.S. Here’s a small grab bag of questions I’ve gotten on my blog at bonedeth
. I’ll present new ones here in this column from time to time. Feel free to ask a question on the peloton Facebook or Twitter and c.c. @danchabanov. I may or may not give the best answers in the world, so know that it’s just one guy’s take.
Anonymous asked: Any tips for mastering the flying remount?
Don’t think of it as jumping. You’re not pushing off the ground to hop on your bike. Think of it more like being pulled on to the bike by the leg you’re swinging over first. It’s all about that leading leg. And aim to land on the inside of your thigh. Then slide the rest of the way onto the saddle. It’s easier than you think, so don’t overthink it.
Anonymous asked: What is up with folks thinking it is acceptable to halfway pass and then move over into my line?
If they want to pass, shouldn't they actually all the way pass and continue to accelerate? I am thinking I have two options to handle this common issue, and one takes a whole lot less training—ride faster and put them into the tape. Thoughts?
It really depends on who’s doing it to you, when they are doing it, and why. Bike racing is complicated. You probably won’t make too many friends indiscriminately putting people into the tape. If it’s really a problem for you, then just hold your spot in line and don’t let them in. Actively putting them into the tape shouldn’t be necessary.
Anonymous asked: What do you use to keep your hands and feet warm on a cold winter ride? I have tried winter cycling gloves and shoe covers, but I still get cold.
I get cold as well. Riding in the winter is just about tolerating the cold. Being warm isn’t really an option.