I’ve heard from a couple of people now that John has started building frames again, perhaps not full-time, but at least taking commissions. It’s good to hear if true, his bikes were very well known in DC when I was working in a shop there as one of the finest builders you could find in the area.
I finished 67 out of 80, which I’m not terribly thrilled about, but I learned a lot. Two things I could have done differently that I think would have resulted in a much better placing, so I’ll be aware for next time.
The course surrounded the Trexlertown velodrome, both in the hilly area to the left of the velodrome (if you’re facing it from the front) as well as the sports fields behind it. The course was wet grass with a couple of sections of roots, gravel, wet mulch, and moderate mud. Lots of off-camber, steep hills as well as sharp curvy turns on flat ground. Only two barriers, and no run-ups! Day started out cold (52F) and wet, but dried out nicely as the sun came up.
Things I learned, and will look to improve upon next time.
1) Most basic. START FUTHER UP THE GRID. Since this was my first cross race, I intentionally started towards the back of the grid (probably 50-60th) and basically stayed there throughout the race. If I had started further up the front I would have done better, end of story.
2) Also stupid. I was severely under-hydrated — I didn’t drink enough water the day before, and none the morning of, even after taking 3 practice laps. Very, very stupid. I was feeling seriously dehydrated after the first lap (much more intense than I expected) and would have held up better had I drank more fluids. Lesson learned.
3) #2 certainly partially led to #3. I definitely, definitely need to build up my core strength. My legs felt good, but my lower back basically seized up after the first lap (really bad, painful knots in my lower back) that made it next to impossible to really power my legs well. For those better-trained folks out there, do you have any recommendations on good core training? I’m going to start taking yoga for flexibility’s sake (I did stretch well after warming up since I felt my back misbehaving even while taking practice laps) but suggestions for exercises would be well appreciated.
4) My right arm/hand and occasionally my left hand went outright numb. I think this was partially due to running way too high pressure (I ran 45psi, pretty sure I could have safely run 35psi and gained in traction as well as suspension.) Better gloves, more padded bar tape perhaps? I’ve never had this happen road riding, so I’m not sure what to attribute it to (I’ve heard of such things while mountain riding, but i’m somewhat out of my element.)
Overall, it was a lot of fun. Folks were really supportive (the Elite men were riding around the track screaming at us poor Men’s C folks and encouraging people) which was a hell of a lot of fun, and the riding itself was very challenging. I wish there was more portaging/running, as I actually did really well on the barriers for mounting/dismounting, and think that could have helped a great deal with both my back and hand numbness as well, just being able to change positions more.
I’m really, really glad I did it, and look forward to doing more in the future. More Tuesday practices in my future, I think.
Unfortunately I’m going to be riding the NYC Century this weekend, but I really enjoyed the last Bike Jumble — my Dick Power won Most NY Bike, which was pretty satisfying. Lots of good deals to be had (Jack picked up his amazing Jack Taylor rando frame for a song) and a lot of fun overall.
I hope I can squeeze by towards the end of the afternoon! 4th St between B & C, more info at NYBikeJumble.com!
Frame/fork: 18″ Surly Big Dummy
Headset: Chris King (now on its 4th frame.)
Wheels: Rohloff XC disc/Phil Wood disc to Mavic X717
Tires: Schwalbe Fat Frank
Cranks: White Industries
BB: Phil Wood
Pedals: Wellgo MG-1
Bars: On-One Mary
Grips: Ergon GP1
Stem: Deda Newton
Brakes: Formula K24 Oro hydraulic disc, 203mm front, 160mm rear.
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite
The bike rides fabulously now that it’s fully set up, braking is strong and progressive, even under heavy load. The Rohloff is perfect — you end up shifting the bike more like a truck (lots of small shifts as you accelerate) rather than shifting infrequently. The ability to up/downshift at a stop is essential, and hugely helpful for getting started with heavy loads.
I’ve carried my wife and son on the back deck with no issues, handling or otherwise… really great. I’m looking to perhaps modify the deck (something longer with tiedown anchor points) and the side bags (I don’t like the mesh ends on the bags, would prefer something with a flap as well) but otherwise it’s pretty damn great…