Level 2 Cycling Coach at The Fix Studio, Minneapolis MN / Contact me by email: chris at thefixstudio dot com / www.thefixstudio.com
Hey, are you heading to the Cyclocross National Championships? Do you have a training plan for the next four weeks? Do you have support in Boulder lined up for the races? Hey, we can help!
- PowerFix Cycling Classes will help you stay fit and sharp for the next month to assure that you can perform your best in Boulder! Week day morning, afternoon and evening classes are available to fit your schedule. Even weekend classes are available!
- We will be in Boulder all week and will be available to help with race support services! Pre-race mechanics, warm up and cool down tent, hydration and nutritional service and pit/mechanical support during the race are all available!
Contact us regarding availability and rates and take the worry and stress out of your prep for nationals! Act fast though, availability is limited!
Contact us at The Fix Studio!
Minnesota State Championships Wrap Up
This was probably the most stressful week of the cyclocross season so far for me. The weather predictions for the weekend started to come in over Thanksgiving and it looked like Minnesota was headed for the deep freeze. The fact that it was the State Championship is a stress on its own, but the fact that I am one of the promoters of the event and responsible to keep everything on track for the race weekend lead to more than a few nights of poor sleep leading up to the weekend.
The desire to cross the t’s and dot the I’s to try and assure a good show for the participants meant for some scrambling to clear some of the five inches of snow that arrived before race weekend. Temps that were going to be approaching lows of -10°F meant that we had to assure that we provided some protection from the elements for spectators and racers before and after their events.
One thing that I was not worried at all about were my own individual races for the weekend. The incredible support from The Fix Studio continued for the weekend with Larry finding a house to rent in a neighborhood just off the race venue. A warm and dry place to relax, get ready for the race, warm-up and cool down was an amazing relief and made focusing on the race effort itself much easier.
So the only thing left to get ready was what to wear during the race itself. Growing up in Minnesota and spending years cross country ski racing meant a fair amount of acquired experience in dealing with cold temperatures. We would be dealing with just under 0°F at the start of the race so my plan from the bottom up was as follows:
Toe Warmer heat packs stuck on the top of those socks
Coolmax socks over the top of that to keep everything in place
Castelli leg warmers
Vermarc fleece bib shorts
Castelli Windstopper front short sleeve base layer
Craft long sleeve base layer
Swix Star XC 100 gloves
Hand warmers tucked into gloves on the back of my hands
Gore neck gator
Lazer Helium helmet with Winter Pad Kit
Lazer Solid State Glasses
Cut moleskin strips to protect nose and cheeks from frostbite and windburn
Vaseline on any exposed skin surface as final protection again wind and cold
Was I cold? Well, standing on the start grid before the race began sure, I was cold. But once things got underway I was totally fine. I stayed warm for the duration of the race. It was only during the last lap that my fingers and toes started to get a bit numb but after 10 minutes in the warming tent following the race I was completely warmed up.
There has been a lot of buzz on the internets over the past week regarding racing in the cold. Temps were in the sub-basement all week around the country and some guys were really suffering. Many have mentioned that racing in these conditions is dumb and I guess I have to disagree.
If you are going to wear the same clothing in all conditions whether it’s 60 degrees or -5 degrees then I would agree that it dumb. But if you prepare properly there is no reason you can’t effectively race in super cold conditions without risk of injury or permanent damage. Last weekend here in Minneapolis is the proof of that. We had over 250 racers over the course of two days and zero weather related injuries. As a matter of fact, everyone I spoke to following the races had a good time.
Should any adjustments be made for cold weather? Certainly. The officials made a decision that no race was going to last longer than 45 minutes when things were at their worst on Saturday. While I regret the lost opportunity to race that last 15 minutes I do respect the decision that the officials made to keep the racers safe. The promoters also have a responsibility to help keep things safe and we made a decision to have shorter laps than we otherwise planned so that racers would make more trips through the finish area to help keep an eye on them. We also provided a heated tent to give people a place to go and warm up when necessary.
Did races need to be cancelled? No way. Just make sensible adjustments and everyone can still have a good time.
Regarding my own races, I took part in the Cat 1/2 championship race on Saturday and the Masters 45-54 race on Sunday. I felt really good in both races. Saturday was fun because I ended up in a really good battle for 3rd place. I tried over and over to attack and try and get rid of the other rider I was with and got a gap a few times. But to his credit he was able to ride right back up to me each time. I attacked him on the climb, on the descent, in the sand and on the straight power sections but he was strong enough to bring me back every time. The one time he really hit me was on the last lap before the sand/snow. I tried to respond but was a bit cooked at that point and could not close the gap in time. He rode cleaner through the sand/snow that I did and that was the race. I was down for a few minutes as getting a podium in a 1/2 race would have been really satisfying. But that guy totally deserved the final podium spot and he proved his strength the very next day by winning the Senior championship.
The Sunday race was a bit warmer. I did not get the best start so I rode under control until we got to a point on the course where I could move the front and ride my own pace. It was a huge advantage having done the race the day before as I had the course dialed and knew when to ride hard and when to take it easy. As opposed to the bright sun the day before it snowed on and off during the day and affected the conditions on the ground. The first few laps there seemed like plenty of grip around the turns but with each lap the riders were pushing more snow away and we were getting down to the pavement or frozen ground which made things slick and sketchy. You just had to ride carefully and not risk hitting the deck around the corners and then accelerating hard once the grip was better. No problems and it was a successful day for me.
Next up is the Midwest Regional Championship in Chicago. The weather looks to be warmer and I am looking forward to the last race of the season before going to the National Championships in Boulder next month.
What started as a way for road bike riders to pass the time in off season has become a serious sport. Minnesota’s abundance of bad weather and passionate cyclists has helped grow cyclocross in the state. Cyclocross racer Chris Smith answered a few questions about the sport before he jumps on his saddle at the Minnesota State Cyclocross Championships this weekend.