Tag cyclocross

a double feature weekend: sewanee cx


Time for some more mud!! On Sunday, Scenic City Velo was hosting a cyclocross race up on Monteagle. Wanting to support the local club and have some fun, I made the trek over. Since I had friends staying at my house for the Lookout Mtn trail races the day before, I didn’t get an early start and have much time for a warm up. I got registered, pinned on my number, got ready to get on my bike and… where is my damn helmet? BIG oops! Huge thanks to Kym for letting me borrow her helmet.

The Women’s B race had 8 of us starting. The beginning was a short gravel road, before we veered off onto muddy grass/trail – not much time to really get into position. There was some twisty, muddy corners that moved into a series of chicanes on one of 2 hills on the course. It wasn’t until the double barriers that I was able to pull away from Grace (having a ton of fun in her first cx race ever). I tried to hold onto a few Cumberland Transit girls through the next section of mud, that ended with a hill that definitely required a dismount; however, I was having so much trouble clipping into my pedals that I lost a ton of time on the straightaways. (I had this problem at Cross-a-nooga too, but had totally forgotten to look into the issue – actually hadn’t been on my bike since then!)

The rest of the laps were pretty much the same. I did spice things up on my third lap when my rear wheel totally washed out and I went down sliding. Luckily the mud wasn’t too thick or wet there… Anyways, local collegiate cyclist Stephanie got her first cx win, with Kristi nabbing second. Great job! I finished 5th, not too bad for minimal practicing and racing the day before. I’m really looking forward to the Rome Winter series in January. The challenge with the cx races is that they are so spread out, all over GA and TN. (and TN and AL too)… it’s hard to justify driving a few hours for a 3o min race. Rome should be close enough to have some fun and not eat the whole day traveling.

georgia-cross in tennessee


Well, some do consider Chattanooga to be a suburb of Atlanta, so I guess we qualified enough to host the latest race in the Georgia-Cross cyclocross series. Vantaggio hosted the event and designed another awesome course out at Camp Jordan. I had pre-registered, so despite the 21+ miles, 4.5 hrs of trail running the day before, I gathered my gear and headed out. I was running a bit late and didn’t get to pre-ride the entire course, but got some good tips about navigating the slick areas and how deep the sand pits were.

The Womens B race had 8 ladies start. The first part of the course included a ascending steep slick hill, followed by a chicane on this same hill. Not having been on my cx bike lately and not having practiced stuff like this (esp after rain), I chose to dismount early and run it. Despite my sore feet, this was a good, time-saving decision for me – I held my place, if not passed nearby riders. Quick remount, then a long section with some twisty cornering. In the middle was a tricky barrier right before a runup – it was angled in such a way that we were dismounting on the downhill so we could turn and jump the barrier. Luckily everything happened smoothly, although I had visions of not unclipping and faceplanting while sliding down the muddy hill. :)

Continuing on: More technical turns with some room for some speed inbetween… a double barrier (that not everyone cleared, as you can see from the photo above)… then a double feature sandpit. yes, one right after the other. It was deep stuff too. A good majority of people weren’t making it all the way through. Since I hadn’t been able to pre-ride this, I played it safe, dismounted, and ran through both, carrying my bike. This is where I was able to save time and get a gap on a few ladies behind me. The only problem was the sand jamming up in my cleats. I had one heck of a time clipping in after this (slipped off the pedal once and jammed it right into my Achilles. Not advisable!!)

The course was 3.0k, so we hit it about 5 times during our 30 minute race. I finished 5th, happy we didn’t have to go 45 min like the A race. This definitely did me in for the weekend! I had a blast though, which is what racing cross is all about. Definitely looking forward to more this season!

(hoping to have some pictures posted soon, but so hard for me to get to on the weekdays)

cross video

craig walker put together a great video from the Cross-A-Nooga weekend. looks like i made the final cut!

cross pics

eyeprojector treated itself to a new camera lens at the end of ’08, and with the hecticness of the new year, the cross race was the first chance i’ve had to play with it. so far i am loving it! (Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS). a few shots are below…


the great thing about being a multisport athlete is that when you can’t do one thing, there’s always something else. right now, my ankles are making me gimpy. i must have done something at the lookout mtn 10k nearly 5 weeks ago. i did rest, but then did something silly (like running 15 miles in a new pair of shoes never tested on the trail) and have been suffering from what is likely an overuse injury in both ankles. (meanwhile I have a bone scan later this week to check out the original problem that is still present as well.)

so that leaves me with no running, which is untimely, as mentally i’ve been in this running mode. thankfully though, i have yoga, swimming, & cycling to fill in my time, work my body, and give me some much-needed stress release. and what better way to indulge than signing up for a race at the last minute. :)
cross-a-nooga was a weekend of cyclocross races here in chattavegas – and nothing to do with cross-dressing (as one of my not-so-cycling-oriented friends inquired!).  i did 2 or 3 cross races last year – loved them, but definitely not the type of event for an endurance person. my goals were to just go out there, have some fun, race hard (and see how my breathing problems that plagued me last fall are doing), and hopefully not wack my ankle too bad. 
the women’s cx-4 division started about 30 seconds behind the men’s cx-4 group. the horn blew and i jumped to the front, with star (old adv racing friend and current vantaggio rider) taking the lead into the first turn. the first half of the course had a lot of action. right off, there was a steep hill and a 180. then there was a twisty area where the course designer really maxed out the open sloping hillside, including one barrier + a runup. it was right after this that i slipped by star and a male rider, taking the women’s lead. 
with this race being the last of the day, the muddy spots were thick and grooved by the previous riders. good balance is key; just let the bike dance under you. one large muddy area was followed by a deep sand pit- lovely. lots of loose sand to hang on to the mud already in my tires. (since i don’t have a cross bike (yet!) i used my mtn bike – light enough to be fairly competitive, but i didn’t change out my tires, so my knobbies held in lots of crap.) next came a long out and back, great for getting some speed and hopefully putting some distance between me and second place. at the end of the course (about 1.5 miles long), there was a double barrier to jump over and another chicane before we got to do the whole thing over again. (and again and again – 4 laps total for me). the remaining laps were fairly uneventful. i was trying my best to hold on – legs & lungs both burning. i put a few seconds on star each lap, but 1 mishap could ruin it all for me. luckily that didn’t happen and i held on for the win! my vixen teammate carol nabbed 3rd place.
sunday’s course was rearranged a bit, with 2 chicanes added on steeper sections that forced (me) off the bike for some runups. one i probably could have ridden, but i didn’t think the effort would save me time (i was neck and neck with one guy for 3 laps – he rode, i ran, and we stayed together, so i think it was an ok decision). i took the lead at the start this time and stayed there till the end. i even passed a few guys :)   carol took 2nd place today, with helen (another vantaggio rider) placing 3rd.
big thanks to scenic city multisport in putting on a fantastic event! and thanks to all the volunteers out there making things happen. there is talk about expanding the series next year –  a fantastic idea!


Last weekend I headed up to Knoxvegas for the 3rd race in their cross series, at Melton Hill Park. Highland-Adventures put on this event (same crew that puts on the 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth); this crew puts on top notch grassroots events (no bells and whistles, but always a great course, great prizes, and attention to detail for a very reasonable price… and always a ton of fun!)

It was a gorgeous sunny day, but the wind kept it nippy out. I drove up alone, but met a few other Chatt friends there. The C race (with the women’s division) went last, so I had a nice long warmup and plenty of opportunity to ride the course. It was pretty straightforward, winding through the field. There was a fun drop, 2 tight turns near the lake (with some dried mud – this had the potential to be quite nasty if wet!), one serious climb we switchbacked, and 1 barrier on a slight incline (although not steep enough to be a runup…. still gave me problems though on the remount. I definitely didn’t earn any style points there!) The course in general was deceptive though, with several false flats that really wore you down. All the women raced together which made for a large class (and where did all these Bike Zoo chicks come from??!) It’s really great to see lots of us out there; but it made for a tough race. I don’t know what the final results are, but I think I was around 7th. Jeremy Chandler took some great pics – here are a few of me in action.

After the race, we refueled with some locals & Asheville folks, then I headed over to Michelle’s for the weekend. On Sunday we did a great trail run at Norris Dam with some of the Runner’s Market team. (OK, we started with them, but those speed demons did their own thing). We ran for 2:17, then I added another small loop to get to my 2:30 goal for the day. Yeah, I know, Iwasn’t that far off before, but I’m really trying to stay on task with what Matt puts on my schedule. I was a bit short on my ride time for yesterday, so as soon as I got back to Chattanooga that afternoon, I rode at the Bend for 1:15.

Inauguration into the cross scene

Originally I had wanted to go down to Thomson Days last weekend, but I needed to get some work done for clients, so a weekend away wasn’t doable. Instead, I took a day trip to do my first cyclocross race in Columbia, TN. Jim, Emma and I carpooled there; I was white knuckled half the time with Emma’s crazy brit driving. I figured if I survived that, the race should be a piece of cake! (speaking of sweets, I had bought a white chocolate raspberry scone from Stone Cup for my post-race indulgence, but that was sacrificed to Maggie the dog during the car ride over). 

Once at Chickasaw State Park, we got registered and had only about 30 minutes to warm up before my start. This was not easily done with temps hovering around 30 degrees, with the wind chill in the low to mid 20s. At least it was dry there; Chatt was expected to get more snow (although Atlanta sucked it all up, leaving Chatt with none of the white stuff). I got in 1 ride of the loop and practiced a few barrier dismounts/remounts. That is still an artform to be mastered, but my dismounts aren’t so bad for only learning last weekend. (The remount however… can’t quite get the hang of it. It can be a rather..uh… painful experience if not done properly!) 
So, the race…  the Cat4 women lined up with the Cat4 men and juniors, although we started 30 seconds behind to let the guys spread out a bit. There were 8 of us at the start line – about half were on cross bikes; the rest on mtn bikes, like me :)  At “go” we lept forward. There was a short time until 2 tight switchbacks and I didn’t want to get stuck in them. 1 girl sprinted forward; I was right there with #2. I was caught on the outside of turn #1 which I had hoped would set me ok to catch the inside of the second, but she got just enough ahead of me to cut me off again. I stayed within a few bike lengths of her for about half a lap before she started to pull away a bit. I held on, hoping that one of them would fade (before I did). I kept looking back to see where 4th place was… thankfully if I could see them, it was across the field and several turns back. I just hoped I could hold on! 
The course in general wasn’t very technical: long flat/rolling sections to get some speed on. (which ended up slowing me on a mtn bike which likely weighed about 5-7lbs more than the cross bikes). While there were no run ups, there was  nice steep hill about 2/3 thru that put some hurt on. There were 3 double barriers, 1 set being on a hill that I never got style points on. There wasn’t much mud; just bitter cold to contend with. And my lungs, which don’t like to operate in cold weather at this high effort. Yeah, I’m definitely built more for endurance.
Anyways, towards the end of lap 3 – I was still easily holding 3rd place – I looked at my watch and figured we were done. Our race was to be 30 minutes long. However when I got there the official held up the sign with 1 lap to go. Yikes!! So I kept at it, not wanting to falter and give up my place. Finally, 4 laps and about 44 minutes later I was done! The results initially were a bit f’d up… it had me in 5th! Apparently lapping a few of the girls and squeezing in 4 laps confused them and they had me down as 3 laps. Luckily all the women racers were huddled in the little room keeping warm and we easily got it figured out. 3rd place it was! I came in right behind the 2 women that are leading the state series, so I was pretty psyched with my results…. esp being on a mtn bike and still not being in race condition (only my 3rd weekend back out at it). 
Big thanks to the Columbia Cycling Club for putting on a great event with great awards – etched glasses (I’m getting a nice collection of barware from races – I love it!) I didn’t make it back to Sunday’s event, but I heard it was a fab, tough course! (I went on a trail run at Raccoon instead.)