The 'storm' being the reviews of The Canton Cup Cx. You know that everyone that went there had to blog something about it, and if you live in new england and you read _this_ blog, then you know someone that has blogged about it, if you haven't yourself.
So sit right back and you'll hear a tale.....
Yes, I did the first two-Cx-Race-weekend in several years. I had planned to race canton and Orchard cross, so the night before I called my good friend and way-better-than-me Cx'r Bangin' Billy Bad Balls (Bigring) to see if he wanted to ride down to canton together, since I saw he had pre-regd. It turned out, that very afternoon, BadBalls was out on a training ride, something happened, then something else happened, and BadBalls banged up his Balls, Bike, and Brain. Broke his helmet too. Suffered a temporary loss of vision in his right eye. No cars were involved. Billy was a bit hazy about the sequence of events himself but he managed to convey something about pulling out of his pedal while sprinting on rough pavement. Sounded kind of like a Jens Voight scenario, without the road rash.
So BadBalls said I could have his entries both days. I'm going to repay him in the form of a case of finely crafted Snob Beers. Yes, hes as much of a beer snob as I am.
I was a bit anxious going to canton for a couple reasons. One was The Great Pint Glass controversy of '07 - still unresolved issues there. The other was that I had decided to finally set up my Cx bike for _me_. I bought my Cx bike about 5 years ago, I got it _wicked_ cheap. It's a Bontrager, one of the last of the real hand-mades from bontrager, before he sold out to trek. It came with ultegra 9sp drivetrain and brakes, a USE shockpost, Matrix rims and Vittoria Tigre tires.
I rode it a few times, and immediately swapped out the ultegra for chorus. It gave no tactile feed back from the dual levers on the STI, and the thicker the gloves the harder it was to discern between upshift and downshift. Everything I own is campy anyways, and the idea of the thumb lever for downshifting makes way more sense in a cross bike, no fumbling for the little paddle on choppy terrain while wearing thick gloves.
Anyways, I hadn't ridden the bike in 4 years. It turns out it came with a 110mm stem, and I can't remember if I ever thought I should change it. I rode it at the Velocross, and the inability to slide back on the technical stuff was highly detrimental, so I replaced it with the shortest one I could find - a 50mm.
That's better. Canton isn't exactly a technical course, but it just felt so much better being able to shift my weight further back. I raced the 3/4 45+ and did well (for me). I hit the deck once when a dude swung his bike to the right as I was approaching the run up at the track while I was dismounting. He probably shouldn't have changed his line like that, but then I was coming into the corner way to hot for the amount of traffic that was there. Hey, this is 'cross, a few bump and grinds are gonna happen. I had hoped to stay up with Solobreak, but canton is a power course, and solo has way more power than me. Not to mention, he's still training. I've just been running, and my training for Cx consists solely of going to Cx races. Still, I would gain on him through the winding sections, but he would distance me on all the open stuff. I ended up 13th out of 60something. After the race Solo and I went out for buhrgahs and Beahs at some irish joint in nohwood.
Me rounding the 180 before the pit at canton
Sunday was the Orchard Cross in Hampton Falls, NH. It's about 15 miles from my house, and put on by the same crew that used to put on the Amesbury 'cross race. This was a great course. Old school style. I've always thought apple orchards would make great cross courses and this just confirmed my suspicion. They didn't have to make abstract serpentine tape labyrinths in open fields, the rows of trees made perfect, sort-of natural switchbacks and turns. there was also way more climbing than pretty much any cross course I've ever done. OK, I'm not exactly a prolific 'crosser, but I _have_ been racing 'cross since around '97, so I've seen a few courses. There was a _very_ fast downhill farm road, followed by a similar uphill topped of with a barrier. 1/2 the course was _very_ smooth grass serpentine between the apple trees. There was a several inch deep mud section about 100 feet long with a downhill leading into it. Over all, this was even more of a power course than canton, but some the two climbs on the course balanced out the course for riders like me that have reasonable power/weight against the straight power riders.
I loved the course, and it will definitely be on my schedule for next year. Funny thing is, I didn't do any better than the day before. I got 12th/26 overall, and 4th/6 in the 45+. Well, this _was_ a 1/2/3 instead of a 3/4 like canton. I felt good, never laid the bike down, and could have done another lap.
Me coming out of a 180 into a mud pit at orchard cross