A report from Liz Cobb:
1. Thermal Skinsuit –check
2. Extra-hot embrocation -check
3. Toe-spikes –check
4. Money for a well deserved post race beer –check.
These are just a few of the things on the list and packed to go with riders up to USA Cycling’s Cyclocross National Championships held this year in Madison, Wisconsin. Among all of the amazingly friendly Wisconsinites we spoke to one theme was prevalent; they were prepared and hoping for lots of snow. Well, what they could not give us in snow due to the unseasonably dry, warm winter up north, they paid back in kind with mud; and we got to enjoy a fine array of mud at that.
Among our local CX racers, Elizabeth Cobb representing BikeReg.com got to partake in what may be her most dismal bike race ever in Friday’s Womens 30-34 Masters race. With temps reaching low 50’s Thursday and high 40’s Friday along with freezing temps every night for several weeks, racers taking part in the earlier part of the five day affair were greeted with a several inches of greasy, sticky mud on top of permafrost. This translates into extremely bumpy course conditions with the added insult of sliding out whenever one tried to apply any power, as well as about five inches of mud packed around derailleurs and rear brakes. These circumstances made a bike it the pit an absolute necessity.
Saturday morning at 9 a.m. former Little 500 champion, coach and mechanic and current BikerReg.com rider Frederick Rose had to contend with entirely different course conditions. The muddy chaos created the afternoon before gave way to frozen, concrete-like ruts about six inches deep, which would grab riders’ front wheels and take them wherever the ruts pleased, usually into a few stakes. Then, as the sun begin to crest the soft Wisconsin hills, wherever light touch the ground that greasy film of mud appeared adding a dangerously slick component to an already difficult situation. There were masters flying through tape and over handle bars left and right. Fred ended up 14th among about 63 in the Masters 45-49 category, an admirable finish for a tough race both in terms of conditions and competition.
As Saturday progressed some of the muddy sections started to tighten up, some were removed by USAC officials entirely as they re-routed the course, and still other sections like the twisty-turny bits near the pit leading up to the sandpit remained a slippery, sticky mess. Andy Messer riding for DRT Consulting managed a very respectable 11th place in an extremely competitive 35-39 Masters field. Also representing DRT, Little 500 rider Ashton Wischmeier lined-up along with the future of American cycling. Ashton finished in the top Thirty of a very spirited U-23 race.
Overall, our impressions of Madison Wisconsin hosting CX Nats were good. Any one who has traveled to Badgerland knows what courteous folk the residents are. The course was plenty exciting and challenging for a national caliber venue, incorporating both difficult, technical spots demanding finesse, with sweeping descents where racers gained upwards of 28-30 MPH speeds. The beer was flowing liberally and there were plenty of brats and cheese curds to accommodate the thousands of spectators who came to watch this crazy, dirty discipline we love so much, cyclocross. Until next year Madison, we bid you farewell.
4 days ago