The Chicago Cyclocross Cup (CCC) series is worth checking out if you've not tried it before. Last Sunday's CCC race was in Woodstock, Illinois which is an easy drive from Madison. I've attended a few times before and have really enjoyed the larger racing fields, the course layout and the heckling crowds. Last Sunday was no different except the course was very different from years past.
Most weekends I line up with the 55+ field in a Wisconsin race containing about 15 riders. At this Chicagoland event, the 55+ field is nearly 40! There are a few of us that made the trip south and I found myself lined up between familiar competitors, Bob Downs and Dave McCollum. As usual, the race was fast and hard. My favorite bits were the tiny stairs they created and the run-up. It seemed like only about half the field rode the stairs and I had fun practicing my uphill bike mount on the run-up. The sandpit had a 90 degree turn in the middle which made nearly all of us dismount.
My single speed race was cut short by a gashed sidewall but it was super-fun up until that point.
Put this race on your calendar next year -- you won't regret it!
--joe (Joey King - AMR Member)
This past weekend Carl Bakker went up to Kalkaska Michigan to race in the ICEMAN Cometh Challenge. Here is his report on the race:
A 40 degree race start with 50% chance of showers throughout had the majority of us overdressing and taking the “better safe than sorry” option. Fortunately, at the start in downtown Kalkaska, the sun was shining and the wind 10-12 mph headwind was blocked, leaving us feeling warm (instead of shivering miserably) as we waited for the race to get underway. Once we were rolling, though, we were rolling! The first 3 miles of the race I averaged over 19 mph into the wind on a singlespeed sitting in with the pack, and though our pace slowed considerably once we hit sandy doubletrack, the effort level kept picking up from there. A couple of crashes and mechanicals quickly split up the group from a “pack” down to a condensed line as we hit our first real singletrack. I had set out that morning to “ride” Iceman and work on technical skills and get a great workout in with friends, but when we hit that first singletrack, the race was on. The tackiest dirt I’ve ever ridden made for awesome cornering and strong, efficient climbing. Though I did little more than hang on during the technical singletrack (drop bars and a rigid fork don’t make for great handling or forgiveness over rooted, rocky, bumpy ground), there was plenty of doubletrack thrown in for me to use as I bunny hopped my way up the ladder over the course of the next 20 miles. About halfway through I was able to get the first bit of food in my mouth; my hands were glued to my handlebars and I was wearing lobster gloves to boot, so my ridiculous attempt at feeding was to shove a Cliff bar in my mouth, still fully in its wrapper, chew through the wrapper, and pull the tattered wrapper out of my mouth a mile or so later. Somewhere after that things started to get hazy as we hit some fairly intense hills and I had to put cyclocross run-up skills to use. Fortunately, I was running the hills faster than people were riding them, and so I was able to pass a number of people on each climb and recover as we rolled at an even pace through the singletrack that followed. I know we were rained on for a bit, which made it hard to see, but made the sand pits that we crossed very rideable as the people in the very front of the race groomed them down. In my case, I loved the rain – I was absolutely cooking in my clothes and the rain was a great relief, like dunking my head under a cold running sink. This had to have been about mile 24, because I remember someone yelling “5 miles to go!” and realizing that no matter how cold it was I could handle 15-20 minutes without gloves on. I managed to somehow pull my soaking wet gloves off and stuff them in my frame bag just in time, because we hit some knarly (spelling?) singletrack that would have taken me down a time or two if I had been wearing my clumsy gloves. Fortunately, though, I managed to maneuver through the worst of it without falling a single time, and then it was back to some hilly doubletrack that allowed me to pass 6-7 people on each hill (the singletrack and fatigue was really starting to bottleneck people up here) as we came within shouting distance of Traverse City. Once I could hear the announcer on the loudspeaker, I felt like a shark sensing blood. People were cashed, making mistakes, and ready to be done. I knew that there was no amount of all-out effort that would cause me to bonk at this point, so for the last two miles I just threw all my cards on the table and went as hard as I could (this had to have looked ridiculous…I was really thrashing and not at all graceful) through the last turns, under the tunnel, up the hill, and then-the finish line. - Carl Bakker
Rain. Mud. More Mud. Cold. Mud. That sums up the race in Milwaukee last weekend. Perfect CX conditions right? Well I hate to say it was almost too much mud. I was the only one who made it out to race at the Halloween CX Classic. It was raining most of the way there, and the course looked fantastically horrible. During the course of one lap in the single speed race there were 9 times that I would be forced to dismount due to slippery slopes or obstacles. I tend to favor mud and technical courses like Sun Prairie the week before and ones that have more turns. However this was just a muddy wreck. I did end up finishing the race in 12th place but it was a struggle. Laura was able to get a few photos of me enduring the mud at the race. Awesome times. -Brandon Andrews AMR Founder.
Celtic Cross was a complete change from the day before racing at Sun Prairie. The sky was beautiful and weather was perfect. We had a number of AMR racers out on course. The morning started off with Michael VanDyke & Brett Stoffregan coming in 21st and 32nd in a huge CAT 5 field. Michael is new to CX so this was a great race for him. Brett has been focusing his time all year with the WORS Series and this was his first race back to CX too. Joey King pulling double duty again got 9th in the 55+ Masters group. Single speed group consisted of Michael, Joey and myself (Brandon) racing together most of the race. I pulled a way for a little while but it was close. We had a great time racing together, even though Joey had already raced that day and so did Michael. It was also Mikes first SS race ever and on a new build. I ended in 22nd while Joey then Mike took 24th & 25th. Derek Slates also came for some fun and raced the Cat 4 group at the end of the day. The primary objective of the day was to see who could ride through the sand pit. :) photos below of the Celtic cross are from myself and Brianne. -Brandon Andrews AMR Founder.