Just like that, the cyclocross season is underway after a spectacular* kickoff in Rochester this past weekend. It’s remarkable how every year I spend months counting down to cyclocross only to find myself majestically underprepared one week before the first race.
*The race itself is truly spectacular and one of the highest production value events I’ve experienced. I, myself, was a spectacle.
Remember how we went on that awesome Belgium trip way back in February? Yea, I’d like to hop in a wayback machine right about now to ask past-Erin why she declined to inspect equipment after coming home. You know, in the offseason? Or really at any point between February and September. Long story short, I broke some things, some other things needed adaptery things, and I was rolling with with two sets of stock clincher wheels as my options for the weekend. One got set up tubeless with the siqq** Vittoria file treads and the other remained clinchers with whatever tread came with the bike. Basically regardless of conditions I’d be running files. Pray for not-rain!
**Mikey and Carlo of the scrub zone podcast told me this is how young people say something is really good.
Praise be to #Gary for the saint he is, for we showed up in Rochester at 10pm with bikes and parts that were not in their desired arrangement for racing. Leslie called him our magical fairy because while we’re not looking he does so many things. Friday night this included changing bars and chainrings while we were peacefully*** sleeping.
***The house across the street from us was a revolving door of people, one of whom was locked out in the middle of Friday night and spent an hour banging and screaming on the door. He was replaced by a barking dog that stopped for a mere one-hour nap between Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
Bike is DIALED.
The new Rochester course is fantastic. The dust bowl section from last year morphed into “double trouble” this year with the addition of a rooted tree section immediately before. The course is deceptively technical, with a dusty woods section into a sketchy off-camber, some fun weirdly-cambered hill turns, double trouble, and other down/up/sprinty/turny/generally cyclocross things. The race could be aptly renamed “the Rochester Gran Prix of Forced Dismounts” with five to seven dismounts per lap, depending on your skill level. Two run-ups, the log-step, barriers, a set of stairs, and double trouble which counted for zero to two dismounts.
(pretty sure this is the feature that ate Mike Morse’s wheel)
I was feeling confident about my fitness after diligently preparing for cyclocross season by riding my road bike all year, most recently at GMSR. It’s almost like while I was riding road bikes, all the other racers were practicing for high-speed dirt turns! Jerks. So while they were both pedaling and turning fast, I tried desperately to hold onto groups while turning as if it were my first ever time on a bicycle. I owe a particular apology to Brittlee, whom I ducked ahead of on the double-trouble descent, then promptly crashed on my face in her way. SORRY.
I recovered from that crash by pitting, crashing again, pitting again, crashing once more for good measure, and limping my way back to the start. But not without seeing old Boston friend, and current Rochester resident, Nate!
On the plus side, skills come back with practice, and everything else about the weekend was great. The first race is like an actually-fun class reunion, where you get to see all your old friends. It was our first race back together as a team, the new bikes are amazing, Gary somehow gets more dialed in his setup every year, and we all remembered how much we love this crazy sport of ours. Rochester is a ride-able city with a surprisingly good coffee scene and some cool street art we were fortunate to explore on our morning spin.
The only real negative is that racing the elite race makes it hard to superfan the elite race. So I didn’t get to see Ellen claim victory in the C1, but best believe I watched the replay. No amount of racing will ever make me less stoked to see good people pull off great results.
If you like tech things: I ran this tire tubeless at 22 and 22.5 psi.
If you like Strava nerd things they are here.
If you like supporting bike racing, go check out these folks who live-streamed the race for all to see!