Monday, November 23, 2009

At the end of 2009 cyclocross

After my friends shamed me into trying cyclocross this year I have to admit that I did have some fun. It put a whole new twist to riding in the fall and riding on into the bad weather.

This past week I found a great urban cyclocross/MTB route. It follows a Seattle City Light power transmission right of way right through the center of south Seattle. A combination walking/biking trail (article) also uses the same right of way. In places there's a gravelled path that parallels the paved path. However, for CX/MTB the entire right of way has been engineered into a series of great big swales.

The swales have low spots that get muddy, steep ups and downs, and are covered with lumpy grass. All this makes for challenging riding. I found that I could traverse the sides of the swales, go straight up if not too steep, descend on the steep sections, ride through ditches and muddy places. Every once in a while throw in a little paved surface variety. All in all, have quite an experience.

Plus the approach up Beacon Hill via Cheasty Blvd
View Larger Map allowed me to ride all the way up and down on a gravelled path that parallels the road.

Riding the length of the Chief Sealth trail and returning was quite tiring. Now to recruit some of my friends to go with me again.

Yesterday (11/22/09) was my last cyclocross race of the year Seattle Cyclocross' Sedro-Wooley event. And was it a doozy.

First, it was a ridiculously long drive from Seattle - 75 miles - for a 30 minute race. Then, it had been raining for several days so the venue was well-soaked. This made for interesting mud all around. My photo is evidence.

What did I find challenging?

The 50' mud pit. On my final lap I only had to step down for a single step; didn't even have to dismount. On another lap, however, I was brought to a halt in the middle and stepped out into a bog. People used may different strategies to get through from trying to ride all the way to dismounting and running all the way.

The S-mud-downhill. Made it down every time. This was an S-shaped, slippery downhill followed by a slight upgrade to a steep little hill out of the other side of the gully. A challenge to carry enough speed through to the hill and not spin out over the top (muddy again).

The straight away downhill. A nice little run down with a straight runout. Came in to it straight and let it run out. The other side of the gully was a slight up bit over some light mud and roots. Kept enough speed to get up with minimal rear wheel spin.

The log corner. Just a bit before the S-downhill. At a right hand turn half the path had a small log in the earth with a big puddle right behind. The un-log section to the right developed deep mud. So I found it tricky to maneuver through.

The pasture lumps. Everywhere we rode on the grass there were serious humps and bumps. Just jounced my way through.

The washboard. A non-deep-mud bypass to a huge mud section early on in each lap. I slowed down significantly to navigate through.

Post race cleanup was a new experience, as well. Start out with the hose to sluice off the thick mud then 2 cycles through the washing machine. I just hope that my shoes don't mold before they dry out; I've never had so much mud on my shoes.

Now to get my friends out on the trails and to get my hands on my new cross bike!