Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CX recap

This weekend was my last CX race for the year, and I'm just finally getting into my groove...

MN state CX championships happened at Basset Creek Saturday with a slightly modified structure. They split the B race into 2 race, B1 and B2. The B1 race was cat 4 and singlespeed classes 35 minutes long, the B2 was Cat3 and 45 minutes long. This brought up a dilemma for me, race singlespeed class or do the cat 3 race on my singlespeed or do both. In the back of my head I was thinking the both option would be best, after all it is the last race of the year.

Now backup a little: I was traveling for work most of the previous week which prevented me from riding or really getting in any exercise at all the whole week. I had flown back to MN Friday and the band had a late show at the Terminal Friday night. I had gotten up at 5am Friday morning and went straight thru till 2am Sat morning with the show, so by 10:30 am when I rolled into Basset Creek, doing 2 races was losing appeal. Also since I was running late and would have had to just jump right into the singlespeed race, I opted for the cat 3 race.

I think I made the right move. The start was a little odd, there weren't any of the familiar faces I was used to, I think everyone I knew raced the B1. Having a singlespeed race drew a lot of people out, there were only 2 of us (that I saw) in the B2 with singlespeeds, but that's fine gears don't help a ton on a course like this.
Gun went off and we rolled out the dirt road. Seemed like a surprisingly slow roll-out to me, so I weaved as much as I could to get towards the front. Got boxed in most of the first lap so I stayed where I was and rode comfortably, getting a feel for the group. After that I decided I should pick it up and just started slowly picking people off. The stairs run-up was really my friend this year, all that running training really paid off. I finally got to the point where it seemed I was riding with the folks who were at my same speed after about 4 laps, I stuck with the same guy for the next 2 laps. At the end I decided I had a bit left in me, so I did what I could and passed a few more on the run-up and coming in for 20th place. Doesn't sound impressive, but for me these days that's pretty good. Looking through the results it looked like I was about 15 places higher than most of the folks I'd been finishing with all year, so I went home happy.

I'm pretty sure I owe it all to Rowntree. He loaned me his BKB "metal" skinsuit right before the start and as soon as I put it on I could feel the power. In fact at the start line someone asked me why I was riding a singlespeed in the B2 race, if I was "too good" for the singlespeed race and another guy piped in that he knew I must be fast 'cause I had BKB across my chest. I guess that guy didn't really know me, or that my last name isn't Lalonde.
I had no choice but to go all out, didn't want to shame that skinsuit. Thanks for the load Rowntree.

Also apparently I must really dig in on the run ups, this is the second pic this season of me looking really pissed off running up the hills, it's where I make up my time.

The Lalonde brothers made the drive up for the race as well, which really added to the fast contingent in the A race. I got a lot of comments and compliments about their bikes and their super-star skillz. They didn't disappoint, Marko coming in 5th and Jesse in 6th. Nice work fellas!

Another interesting note, a guy nobody seemed to know finished third. I kept looking at him on each lap thinking I knew him, but couldn't figure out specifically who he was. Turns out it was Kurt Refsnider, who was one of my skiers back when I was coaching at Champlin Park! Nice work Kurt, good to see you've really found your stride as an athlete.

The shop is back in full swing, just finished up the biggest frame I've built to date. It's half painted right now and should be done and assembled next week. This one is a 74cm (yes, that's not a typo) frame. It's got slant six lugs, so the sloping top-tube helps make it look slightly smaller than it is. The headtube is 35cm long, which made for the longest fork steerer I've ever seen.

I had to make the steerer from straight guage 4130 tubing as I couldn't find a butted steerer long enough. Amazingly I was able to find butted main tubes long enough thanks mostly to the popularity of 29'ers. So the frame is mostly Reynolds 631 tubing, double oversized.

I'll try to get some pictures of this up here once it's built up, it's hard to visualize how big it really is without wheels on it! The owner is one tall guy, I'm glad he'll finally have a frame that actually fits him! Just can't find frames this big anywhere anymore.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, cheers to another great CX season.


Monday, November 05, 2007

shop n rant.

long time between postings lately. Too much going on to have time to write...

Lots of big happenings though. The biggest of which is I'm pretty much done with my big shop move/remodel. It was a ton of work, but the end results were worth it, I love the new space. It's actually not a lot bigger in total area, but much cleaner, brighter and properly laid out.

Most of my tools now reside in cabinets and drawers instead of hanging from every corner and wall possible. That should help keep the expensive tools clean and rust-free.

I installed suspended ceiling in the shop and insulated above that, so it's nearly sound proof to the living area above. It's also physically separated from the house utilities (furnace, water heater etc...) and from the living area, so the dust should be contained a lot better. The lighting is probably the single biggest upgrade, between more lights and the white ceiling, it feels like daylight in here now. gotta love that.

Hopefully sometime in the next month or two I'll have time to update my web-site and include a proper virtual shop tour!

I've also consolidated some equipment to save space. Got a bigger belt/disc sander and no longer need and bench grinders. Got rid of some overlapping metal and woodworking stuff, etc... All in all it's a lot less cluttered.

Speaking of that, I've got 2 bench grinders that I have no need for if anyone needs one. Local would be better, but I suppose I could pack & ship. First one is a nearly brand new Craftsman 6" grinder. 36 and 80 grit wheels and I can throw in the best wheel ever invented, 3M scotchbrite deburring wheel ($25 wheel). Great for deburring and polishing. It's got a handy light too. I think I've used it about 3 times, just never needed this one. $35

The other one is a little bigger, it's a home-made 8" wheel grinder/polisher. It might look a little rough, but it works great, especially for polishing. I've got 2 or 3 grinding wheels and several polishing wheels to fit it. 2 speed belt drive. High speed for polishing is great, the motor has plenty of power for polishing or grinding. it doesn't have a switch, I just had a switched outlet, but you could easily add one or just plug it in as needed. $20, take it home today!

'cross. 2 races since last I wrote: powderhorn and Ham Lake. They were about as different as 2 courses could get. Powderhorn was incredible. The Hub did a stellar job setting the course and running the race. Spectators everywhere, huge hill run-up, what more could you ask for. Thanks to lunaticbiker for the pic.

All the running I've been doing really paid off on the hill, I felt like I really made up time there, but the long rolling part of the course was tough with the gear I had. Oh well. (yes, the hill is as steep as it looks in the pic)

Ham Lake this past weekend was completely different. very flat course with a ridiculous 2 single barriers. This was another SPBRC race, and while I appreciate the fact that they're putting on races, I hate what they consistently do to perfectly good 'cross courses. Seriously, 5 years ago this course would have had 5-6 barriers on it staggered throughout the course. Now there were 2 about 30 seconds apart on the whole damn lap. Lame.
The only thing left to give the roadies any grief at all was the twisty sections of doubletrack where it seemed everyone forgot (or didn't know in the first place) how to handle a bike off-road.
Seriously, this really gets me fired up about MN 'cross in general (not ripping SPBRC here, I'm ripping everyone). 'Cross courses around here used to be really good and offered a real advantage to those that actually had some 'cross skill. Now all the whiny roadies set up the courses to be as easy as ridable as possible because they don't like gettin' off their bikes. If you want to do a road race on grass, go do Chequomegon and stay home for 'cross season. The whole point of a 'cross race course is supposed to be to prevent the riders from getting in a rhythm, that means variations, hills, barriers, logs, whatever. Yeah I know UCI rules and all that crap specify # of barriers allowed, but come'on here none of these local races follow the other UCI guide lines and they don't need to, we're not racing for UCI points here. I don't think I've been on a course yet this year that met the UCI minimum width guide line for the entire course, not to mention all the folks with disc-brake equipped bikes out there, etc...
Every race should have at least 3 sets of barriers or natural obstacles that require you to break your rhythm. Triple barriers are even better. Stop softening up 'cross to try and get more riders, there's already too many out there for the # of race divisions we have. Powderhorn was the closest thing to a real 'cross course I've seen this year. Nice job Hub.
end rant.
end post.