Tuesday, October 23, 2012

UltraCross Series wrap-up (and some other goodies)

Not too long ago, I was writing about racing bikes in West Virginia from my new home in Arizona. Well, it just so happens that's what's happening again as I recently got back from a 27-day trip to the Mountain State filled with the bicycle racing and racing-type bicycling events. First, though, I'd like to give a brief report on the Bear Jaw Groove 12-hour mountain bike race that I attended on a whim here in Flagstaff.

The Bear Jaw is a trail on the northern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks, but it's wilderness and not navigable by bike. The Bear Jaw Groove makes use of some trails in the general vicinity, which are a real blast to ride. Something like 400 hours of trail work were put in prior to the event, and it showed. It needed to, because a lap was around 9 miles and generally took less than an hour to complete. So the trails were ridden A LOT, and them being fun was a real bonus (although I did wish that the final grassy road was a bit smoother - my kidneys hurt for days afterwards). I wanted to get some good ultracross training in, and it was a local event, so I signed up solo on the singlespeed with the goal of getting 80 miles or so and a heap of climbing. Long story short - it was a nice race. DeJay Birtch won the SS category and I got seventh, which wasn't bad for taking an hour lunch and pulling the plug and going home with some 5 hours remaining.

Moving on...ever since JR, James, Jeff, and I travelled down to Georgia to do Southern Cross this year I've been pondering the American UltraCross Championship Series. I had a relatively bad luck HillyBilly Roubaix, and with the move to Arizona the situation looked bleak. However, I had to come back to West Virginia for work and such, so I thought I'd give the rest of the series a go. I flew into Pittsburgh on September 20 and then travelled to Banner Elk, North Carolina on the 22nd to race Three Peaks USA the next day. In the morning, 130 or so of us headed out for 50 miles and a bunch of climbing - some say it was around 10,000' when all said and done (I was pretty happy that teammate Jerry had loaned me an 11-28t cassette). I had an okay ride - battled some eye problems early on with the dust and lost my front brake a short time later, but finished in the top 10 overall and fairly satisfied.

Here's a little Dynamic descending @ the 1:00 mark...

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Three Peaks USA Highlights...and wheelies!

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That left Iron Cross X on the calendar two weeks later. I did my best to prepare for it with all the other goings-on. We even had a Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team powered by Pathfinder cyclocross day at Marilla Park in Morgantown, which Jeff has chronicled here: BIKINI SEASON. I had a great time, and I want to personally thank everyone who came out and enjoyed the weather and also single out JR for having the foresight to bring barriers and course tape. THANK YOU!! We have a great cyclocross squad this year, and I'm really proud to be part of the fun, pain, and suffering. The next day, while other teammates were out becoming state TT and TTT champs, I decided to take the day and get another long ride in. Ended up doing the Cheat-Big Sandy Loop, complete with hour-long rainstorm while climbing up to Chestnut Ridge. It was cold. And wet.

Iron Cross Race Highlights

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Anyway, back to Iron Cross. The forecast was ominous, but over 300 racers toed the start line under cloudy skies and light precipitation. The day ended up being great for course conditions, and I was plenty warm in my Champion System Neoprene Tech Fleece jacket, even with just Nalini bibshorts from Red Rose Imports. I had a slow start, but munched on carrots the whole race to finish in the top 10 again. That was enough to secure the final podium position for the series overall, and I can't wait to hang up my 3rd place series award plaque.

Congratulations to: race winner Adam Farabaugh, 2012 U23 Criterium National Champion, for his well-earned (and deserved) victory; to Brian Rogers and Brian Patton, Ultracross Series Champ, and runner-up, respectively; Dan Rapp and Eric Drummer for rounding out the open men's podium; Garth Prosser and Gerry Pflug for going 1-2 in the 40+; and of course Stephanie Swan for winning the series two years in a row! Iron Cross is awesome and you really should go do it next year. PS - Thanks to Jerry for the 11-28t, which I used again at Iron Cross. That was really nice to have.

Singlespeed race @ Kickoff Cross (photo by Fred Jordan)

The next weekend was the first cyclocross races of the season for me at ABRA Kickoff Cross. I lined up for the singlespeed race and the 1/2/3, which ended up being a bit much for the first weekend of cross, but I really thought the venue was excellent and the turnout was great. Next up is Marilla Cross, or Carrera de los Muertos, this coming weekend and is basically in my backyard. Of course you should register! I'm flying in on Thursday and am hoping for rain for this weekend and for sunny skies next weekend while I'm getting married!

1/2/3 race @ Kickoff Cross (photo by Fred Jordan)

 'Til next time - may you only pedal in circles and not squares.