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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A collection of mid-week nonsense

Oh man, I hate being sick. I woke up last Saturday with a bit of a cold which, strangely enough, did not disappear by race time on Sunday. So one race and three training days later and I really feel like crap. Unfortunately, it's not bad enough to justify a complete halt to training but also not good enough for me to feel stellar on the bike. I opted out of the interval & start training yesterday and went on a 2hr technique session instead; that made me feel better about where I'm at. I did spend half an hour hooked up to an IV drip yesterday, but that apparently has not really helped at all.

The Pezcycling diary can be found by going to the main page, then scrolling down the menu on the lefthand side until you see the button for the "Homeboy Diaries". Should be in there, unless it got removed for objectionable content. Always a possibility!

Now for the real point of today's editorial - Cyclocross course design. This has been on my mind a lot over the last year or so as I find myself wishing for more in the way of "euro-style" 'cross courses back home. I go back and forth on this though, because the whole deal with cyclocross is the fact that it should take place on a variety of different terrains and surfaces, making use of what is available. That being said, I do believe that a course should be set up in such a way as to not favour one style of riding over another. There has been some discussion about this in other forums lately, with some displeasure voiced re: singletrack and other "bottlenecks". There certainly should not be an overabundance of singletrack, otherwise we should all just go back to racing mountain bikes. Conversely, a wide open highway with no speed checks should also be avoided as this presents no real challenge to a competitors ability to pilot his or her machine.

Maybe I'll give you the rundown of a typical Belgian or Dutch 'cross course...

-minimum 200m start stretch, normally paved/cobbled
-most of course is 2-5m wide, sometimes a short (100m or so) singletrack section
-plenty of corners on a variety of surfaces/speeds - 180 degrees is very common
-one double set of barriers, no more than this, sometimes none
-one 8-12 stair runup; maybe one additional short hill/stair runup
-lots of grass
-sketchy overpass bridges as required
-slippery pavement/cobblestone corners
-unbending 200lb. fencing and support posts
-total disregard for rider safety
-shitty weather

That's about it. Staying out of trouble is up to the riders. In spite of some really nasty stuff I have yet to see anyone go home in an ambulance. There is really very little running here these days unless the weather has been particularly horrendous. Bike handling is usually rigorously tested, but the racing surface generally smooth-ish (no rocks, roots etc.).

The main thing that we lack in Canada is tight corners - I'm not talking gentle curves here. Fast corners, slow corners, downhill corners, slippery corners, whatever. Not enough! Also, not enough places where a total speed dump followed by a nasty acceleration is required. Most of the courses I have ridden back home require a really good cruise control function. Barriers have a habit of cropping up in the most unusual places here, usually when you are travelling at warp speed. Haven't seen them on a downhill. Yet.

But I must reiterate - anything goes. It's all about making the bike go fast over what you're given. I've also done cx races in parking lots and on mountain bike circuits here, and usually the same people win.

That's enough for today,


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