#6: Cyclocross and Commuter Bike

This is the bike that I took to Nationals. The frame is a no-name aluminum cross frame, with a carbon fork and aluminum steerer. The bars are Specialized Zertz bars, the pedals are Shimano M520s, and the drivetrain is Ultegra and Dura-Ace. A single 39-tooth chainring with a Salsa Crossing Guard gets the job done.

This is the special race configuration; in its normal life, the bike has a Brooks B17 saddle and DT Swiss RR 1.2 rims laced to Chris King hubs.


Race Report: Cyclocross National Championships, Kansas City, MO

With my relatively strong performance in my first season of cyclocross racing, the MIT Cycling Team decided that it would be a reasonable idea to not just field a team for nationals, but to send me as well! I was pleased to get the news, and promptly bought a plane ticket to Kansas City (which the team would reimburse).

Getting to an away race like this is quite a work of logistics. The five of us MIT riders had to buy plane tickets, pack our bicycles, and work out rental cars. We, fortunately, had housing in Lawrence, KS, courtesy of a teammate's family. We arrived Friday evening, and had plenty of food.

On Saturday, we explored the race course. There was some time in the afternoon between races when the course was open for pre-riding. It was one heck of a course. It was long, quite long, though perhaps not as long as Warwick's course. The entire race was situated on a hillside, which meant a long climb (which worked to my benefit) and a long, technical downhill (which worked against me). With fans everywhere and lots of racing, it was a good time for all.

I competed in the men's collegiate division II race on Sunday morning, with the other MIT riders. (A school is Division I or II based on its size.) I was seeded about two-thirds of the way back in the starting group of about 50 riders. There were some very strong riders there. With the temperatures in the high 50s, I was able to finish the entire race in my skinsuit. I had a mediocre start, and worked my way through the field, finding my place in the competition. I lost lots of time on the runup and the off-camber S turns on the descent. Wet conditions left the dirt with a velcro-like texture, and there were lots of ruts in all of the turns. When all was said and done, I finished a respectable 21st place. This is not as well as I would have liked to do, of course, but it's respectable, and at least I finished the race!

In a freakish bout of midwest weather, the temperatures dropped about 30 degrees Fahrenheit immediately after the end of our race. Poor Kate!

Nick Loomis took a number of photos at this race; I'll post a few here that have me in them. Click for larger versions.


Race report: Warwick, RI (overdue!)

On December 7th, I raced in a cyclocross race in Warwick, RI. Equipped with a set of Zipp 404 clincher wheels, a new Dura-Ace rear derailleur, a single 39-tooth chainring, and a lighter saddle, my cyclocross bike was ready to race. I had damaged the bicycle two weeks earlier in a race in Northampton, MA, when I got a flat tire and tangled my chain after a run-up. The changes made my ride easier to shift, and at 20.5 lbs, as light as it was going to get.

The course was substantially longer than any cross course I had done to date. Off the start, two tight U-turns on road caused delays. Following that was a beach sand run and a run-up. Some twists through the woods led to barriers, and some more twisty riding led to an unusually long road section. After the road, an off-camber turn and more dirt riding led to another sand pit and run-up, and finally, the downhill road finish. It was a fast course, which I used to my benefit. My number was 466. This meant that I started almost at the back. I spent the 45 minutes of race time fighting my way back to the front- successfully! The long road section really let me pick up speed.

I finished in 9th place, and was the 1st collegiate finisher in the Cat 4 / Cat D race. I'll need to move up soon.

I was supposed to race the following morning, but we were advised to stay in on account of snow. The snow was not that bad, and the race went on without me. Oh well.