Monday, October 24, 2011

DCCX or: How I Learned to Stop Whining and Love the Rad

We had a good amount of riders at DCCX this past weekend, and we decided to give the collaborative blog post a try. We have broken it down into race order.

11am - Singlespeed Open: Ryan Dudek (5/51)

I started fifth row in the singlespeed race, which was almost the absolute back. The start was surprisingly polite, and with the low gearing, nobody could REALLY be making sketchy moves anyway. Well, I guess that they COULD, but the DIDN'T, which was RAD. Everybody in the entire field got rad jumping over the dirt road, and then the field started splitting off into groups. I had to make a lot of moves to get around a large portion of the field, but by lap two I was sitting in the top ten. I remember passing Jon Seibold and thinking HOLY CRAP, IVE MOVED UP. On lap 3 I caught Cargo Mike from DCMTB, who is totally a home town favorite. We rode the rest of the race exchanging pulls and almost caught second place, but on the last lap, as we were coming into the stairs, somebody who was lapped traffic decided to get on Mike's wheel. They dismounted and ran, I rode the stairs like always (#getrad). For SOME reason, the lapped rider stopped on the stairs forcing me to stop and letting Cargo Mike get away. I was unable to catch him going through the last power section, so I knew he had third locked down. I slowed up a bit, thinking I was all alone, when Dan Atkins came BOMBING past to swipe fourth. I finished 3m behind him in the sprint, which I wasn't too upset with considering that he podiums at Cat1 MASS races. This was a very refreshing reminder of why you don't stop riding until you cross the line.

12pm - Women 3/4: Jennifer Franko-Dudek (34/41)
Registering late got me a last row start, and everyone in the two rows ahead of me seemed to be in the wrong gear to start a race. Diane from C3 and I had a laugh about it and were praying for the seas to part and we would make our way through the pack...I went right, she went left, and the part was to the left. Stuck behind the entire field and grabbing a handful of brakes on the second turn was not fun, but still I made the best of it through the turns on the back half of the course. I didn't really have any idea of where I should be in the group since I haven't raced a MABRA race since 2009, and I didn't really recognize too many names. It was great to be in a bigger field and actually racing a group. I was with a couple of girls going back and forth having fun just riding my bike. I suppose I could have been a little more aggressive overall. Mid-race, I realized I was racing close to Doron Peterson, who used to lap me when I started riding bikes. I turned it on a bit, and it felt good to actually have the desire to race someone in cross, it doesn't happen often. My competitive bone is not there on a cross bike yet. After a few words (of course being girls we had a chit chat and say hello in the middle of the race) I made a "move". HA! I couldn't believe that I actually wanted to pass someone, and I was doing it! One lap to go, and the leaders of the elite field were starting to make their way through the 3/4's (all but the top 3 finishers in the 3/4 race were lapped by the winners of the 1/2/3). At that point our race is pretty much over, yielding for the leaders and just basically holding your position. I still tried to make up ground where I could and got a little crazy trying to pass another group of three girls on the U-turn. I went down, bummer! Doron got back around me, and I did my best to stay with the group, but again the elite field breaking through and we had to move aside. I hung on the back of the group for the rest of the lap and actually had a little of a sprint finish with two other girls. Overall I had a great time and surprised myself. Maybe I should listen to Ryan and try racing a bike instead of just riding a bike. :)

It was great to see the rest of the team out there kicking butt and having a good time partying and racing. We've come a long way and have a great group of riders representing and improving every weekend.

2pm Men 3/4: Uwe Steckhan(61/125*)

Photo courtesy of Shreya M

You could say this was my best and worst cross race of the season in one day. But being DCCX, how could it have been bad at all? After all, this is a great location, no need to rent a car to get to, the course gets more fun to ride every year and it was perfect Mid-Atlantic cross weather - sunny, cold and just a few muddy spots here and there on the course. Having upgraded to Cat 3 for this year's season, the first few races my remaining German habit of punctuality and signing up on time proved to be a big disadvantage, having to start in the front of the pack resulting in being run over by almost everyone within the first few seconds of the race start. For whatever reason I did get a mid-pack start for DCCX, made up a couple of spots immediately after a somehow unannounced start and got into a good flow within the first two laps, making up and losing spots about on equal, but keeping my overall position. But coming back to the bad part of the day, maybe I got too comfortable, with this being already my third time at DCCX without major issues in past years. Anyway, in the middle of the third lap I took a wide turn to try to pass a rider and got my front wheel violently stopped at a root, sending me including bike within an instance into a nice somersault, taking my breath and orientation for more than an instance and picking up a nice grass patch with my helmet, which I only realized after the race, but might look nice on some of the upcoming pictures and probably explaining why some spectators looked at me as if I had been from a Zombie or Halloween movie. After realizing what had just happened, but not immediately figuring out what kept my bike from further fulfilling its purpose of at least allowing me to roll on and with the team tent in sight I was about to throw it all in, when I did see my arch-nemesis coming up about two corners down the course. Reenergized not to lose that opportunity I bent my shifter back into place, found and dislodged the brake arm from being stuck under the rim and off I went. Even after realizing I was slowly losing air in my rear tire and stopping in the pit once to borrow a pump, I managed to keep on going. Although very much necessary I did not have enough of a lead on my nemesis to refill my tire a second time, I went into the last lap with my tire rolling off the rim in every corner, me riding standing wherever possible to keep the weight off the back and actually finishing the race riding on the rim. So much from the middle of the pack, where in the end I was fortunately able to keep my position, beating my nemesis and my body, both probably not very happy about this today, but it seems the mind prevailed; but both mind and body are now looking forward to one weekend without racing.

2pm Men 3/4: Patrick Peoples(50/125*)

My only real goal for DCCX was to not have fun because cyclocross is srz bsns. That and to beat my arch nemesis, Seabass. We've had a pretty gnarly rivalry going on this season. I started on the same line as Uwe and Seabass. Maybe about 6 or 7 back. When the race started, I decided to forego my usual habit of not being able to clip and, and get right to business. My body was not in business mode, though. (insert excuse for poor performance here later). Also, I think I went deaf during the first lap due to some dude who smeared grease on his carbon wheels before the race. I stayed pretty close to Seabass for most of the race, either me falling a few spots behind, or him falling a few spots behind. It was a epic clash of mediocre cylcocross racers for the ages. After 3 laps in, I finally accepted the fact that I wasn't gonna win. A lot of the course left me feeling like I was peddling through molasses. I thought I was super clever by riding down the 180 hill, in a ready-to-dismount position and then running up. It was probably about as clever as tossing my bike at Hyattsville. I was taking what ground I could on the straightaways and taking the turns with more confidence than I have all season. Come last lap, I thought I had some distance on Seabass, so I stopped Schlecking. He closed the gap a bit during the last lap, with me putting in a little extra kick in the end to secure 50th place. Overall, I'm happy with how I did considering how poopy I felt during the first few laps. Although, I was only able to achieve one of my goals.

2pm - Men 3/4: Nate Chenenko (20/125*)

i started in the second row due to series pointz and came into the dirty u-turn on the side of the hill in about 15th. my nemesis (not arch-nemesis though) was just to my left, and he moved right just enough that i couldn't take my desired line. i got into the soft soil and lost front wheel traction which ended up in such a phenomenal faceplant that people were congratulating me after the race.

i was back on the bike after 5-10 seconds (concussion check/chain fix) but by this point i was in 45th-ish place. i picked up 8 spots that lap and proceeded to #getrad on the jump for the next two laps.

i caught charly hermanson from kelly and jumped past their group with three to go. an AFC guy was stuck to me for the next two laps and i didn't really have much interest in shaking him because we were still picking up so many places via passing. by this point we were in 28th, or so i thought.

it was at about this point where i realized my rear skewer was loose enough that every time i lifted the bike my wheel was rattling around in the dropout. that was the end of #getrad on the jump, much to my disappointment.

i was consistently faster than the AFC dude over the barriers and around the u-turn onto the finishing straight, so i let him by with half a lap to go so i could draft him on the two road sections. this proved to work quite well because i caught the ultra draft and then passed him before the barriers. i was on the road with a 10 meter lead and dropped gears for the sprint. i have never lost a sprint in my life, especially with 10 meters at the start of it. unfortunately all streaks must come to an end, because as i pushed my SRAM paddle to downshift it broke (after being in dire straights all race) and the AFC dude came around and beat me by a meter at the line.

i was pretty displeased after the whole thing because i thought i finished 26th, but i checked the results this morning and i actually finished 20th, so i am happy now.

2pm - Men 3/4: Chad Bartlett (DNF)

I had a great start coming off of the pavement in 10th place and airing it out over the gravel road complete with bike whip. It was RAD but the only people who could see it were those people behind me because there were no spectators there. I quickly moved through the top 10 riders just trying to stay ahead of any mishaps by other riders. Basically I saw Chris Caroway in front of me and decided I needed to get in front of him and stay in front of him because he was surely going to make a mistake and cause a gap to form between him and the lead group. That was probably my second smartest move of the race because that's exactly what happened. He did something on some corner and before I realized it our lead group was 5 guys and Chirs wasn't there any more. I felt great for the first 3 laps. I had just sat in the group not doing any work and being very efficient with cornering so I wasn't burning energy accelerating out of the corners to close gaps. Two guys from Bike Lane were in the group and they were doing all of the work at the front and were starting to get tired. I saw this happening on the back (uphill) straightaway so I went to the front and lifted the pace in an attempt to make them crack. I wasn't on the front for too long before going into the most technical corner on the course too fast. A totally off camber 180. I fell but got right back up. Without even looking at my bike I just assumed my chain had fallen off. So as soon as I got up I picked up my bike and started running up the hill while simultaneously cranking my pedals with my hands. This was the smartest move I made in the whole race because that put the chain back on while I was running up the hill and I didn't lose any ground. I was sitting in 5th position right on the back of that group. All was good for another half lap until I went into a corner a little too hot and hit a little bump. I stayed up but it pushed my tubular off my rim just enough that it was rubbing my brake as it came around. I made it to the pit still with that group that was now 6. I went in the pit grabbed my pit bike and I was on my way. The only problem is that just as I exited the pit I realized there was only about 5-10 PSI in my rear tire of the pit bike. RACE OVER!

* there were 125 registered for the 3/4, but only 90 finishers. without full results posted

3pm: Men 1/2/3 - Matt Bartlett (21/51)

I'm pretty sure this was the most stacked field MABRA has ever seen. On top of that, there were over 50 starters, which meant my time spent racing in no-man's-land would hopefully be kept to a minimum. The field delivered. I went for my Tacchino strategy of putting myself in the red from the gun and seeing how long I could hold onto the lead group. I successfully lasted longer than I did at Tacchino, but by the 2nd lap, I was out of reach from the leaders, settling into a more reasonable pace, and looking for the cash/fun hand-ups that the fast guys skip over (my favorite part of this season so far). While I didn't make as much hand-up money as I have in other races this season, I did successfully run the stairs while eating an apple with a dollar bill embedded in it. Cash AND refreshment! I was definitely having a good time out there, but was feeling really good too. This is probably the first 60 minute race that actually felt 'short' to me. The last 3 laps felt great, and I was reeling myself up towards the group that had been 30 seconds in front most of the race. I never quite reached that group, and I got passed by 2 guys who were leapfrogging their way through the field. That being said, I picked off a couple of guys who were popping, and maintained my 21st place position at the line. It was one of my lowest placings for the season, but I'm really happy with it considering the strength and depth of that field.

3pm: Men 1/2/3 - Ryan Dudek (49/51)
The elite race was horrible. I toed the start line with dead legs and fell apart after 3 laps. I tried to win at partying, but I think I only got second place. I did take one dollar, one beer, one cream soda, and one tortellini handup (thanks Carraway) after riding the stairs, though. After getting lapped, I grabbed my Raleigh out of the pit for maximum raddage. On the last lap, I broke the chain and slowcoasted to get the Rock Lobster back and finish. Overall, I had an awesome weekend. Good times, good friends, and new blisters on my hand. (I really need to get some of those TRP RRL levers on my singlespeed).


  1. Great job guys! Cross is becoming more appealing as I see these pix!

  2. Nathan: Howard County races are coming up in November (11/13 & 11/20). You should come hang out so we can get you officially hooked.

  3. love the race reports, keep up the RAD!

  4. Nathan, you're about my size, you should have let me know you would be at DCCX and I would have let you ride a bike!

  5. oh come on, if you're going to put me on blast at least acknowledge i didn't stack it during the race, or say how flattering i make a skinsuit, or at least spell my last name correctly (thanks Ryan).

    but yeah - that was a smart move.