Cincinnati UCI3 Weekend

So what a whirlwind of a couple of days/weeks it’s been. Work has been still keeping me pretty busy rather late into the season which is excellent and Cross has been keeping me pretty busy too. This past weekend I voyaged down to Cincinnati for the UCI3 Cross Festival for an amazing time. We as Raleigh setup shop at each of the locations with a kick ass Cyclocross team consisting of Ben Berden, Allen Krughoff, Craig Etheridge, Nicole Duke, and Caroline Mani. Also can’t forget the amazing demo fleet we had with an arensel of bikes that had people stopping in their tracks to check them out and ride/race them. Great times!!

the Raleigh Compound

We as the Gates/Raleigh team also were down there with a couple guys each day wrestling for positions in each of the SSCX races. Good times were definitely had each day as we tried to keep up with the likes of Craig Eitheridge who would on Saturday get his UCI license and end up taking 10th in not only his first UCI event but also on a single speed Raleigh!!

So here’s my quick story of the weekend. Friday’s course was pretty excellent with a fair amount of climbing each lap. There was a long dipping starting straight which led to a quick momentum uphill which turned into a power sapping 3% grade that once again went downhill into a quick uphill turn. Next came a rather long (for this course anyhow) grinding uphill which eventually leveled out to some barriers followed by a slow downhill as it went from wet grass/mud to a pavement desent. From there another grinding uphill was found that led into a wicked fast descent to once again go up a short but steep climb to descend to barriers and one more hill before heading back to the start finish line.

I thought I was being clever and picked a smaller gear for this course and while it probably did save my legs a little bit it probably wasn’t the best choice I could have made. My start off the line was rather slow as those who had chosen the magic gear started to put a gap on me right away even though I was spinning like mad to keep up. As time went on and the climbs kept coming I did manage to work my way back up to midpack though it was a lot of work keeping the cadence up on the minimal flat sections. After a couple of good battles I managed to take back 3 spots to claim 6th overall which in the end I was pretty happy with. My end result from this race was, “when in doubt gear up”!


Ben Berden flying along the course

Allen cruising the lil hill

Nicole ripping it up the backside hill

So this then leads us to Saturday’s event at Kings CX. What an amazing venue first off. The course went like this, a rather long fast straight away for the start a long twisting 2-3% climb back to top of the course only to descend once again to the middle of the course and then drag butt all the way back up to the top of the hill work in some turns and then head back out to a techie turn section which only became more fun as the rain came. This then led us to Heckle Hill where we climbed some stairs leading to a good group of folks…yep you guessed it, Heckling us through the stairs and turn. After this we quickly descended, hit a flat gravel path, and then started ascending up a quick hill/mound. Once on top we descended to the bottom of the hill for a 180* turn right back up the hill and then did the same thing again. Climbing this hill was very doable when you had a clean line but tough to go offline or in the mud. Then after snaking the hill it was a quick launch over to the flyover and a couple more long uphill/downhill grinds back to the finish line.

I felt surprisingly good going into Saturday especially with the late start to the day. Though the legs didn’t have super jump to them they felt pretty good. I took off with the group but soon realized my choice to once again gear for the grinding hill sections and not the speed of the course was once again going to be my curse of the day. I sped along keeping touch with the group as long as I could but soon found the high cadence to be too much and slid back to my normal spin which only opened up the gap a little further. As I watched the leaders fly away I tried with my might to make up some gaps in the sections of which I was geared for but it was proving to be way too little so I went into defensive mode trying to keep my 12th spot mine for the race and catch anyone I could. In the end I was pretty happy to have held my spot with a couple of charging SS riders as well as riding the snaking hill on all but one pass. Once again note to self, “when in doubt gear up”.

ready to fly down a hill

racing the flats trying to catch back up

Feeling that I left some racing on the table from my earlier performance on the under geared SS bike I decided to sign up for the Cat3 35+ men’s race. So with only an hour or so between races I cruised back to the car to get my other dry kit, got ready and then headed over to registration to get signed up. Made it! I pinned on my number and took about ½ a lap warm-up to only see they were calling up riders for my race so I scurried over to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Well having just signed up for the race I knew my starting position was going to be bad but wow it was horrible. Out of 80 riders to sign up I was last in line. The good thing though was I had the whole row to myself!! With the start of the gun I tore off with the field quickly picking off riders before settling into a groove. As the race wore on I could feel the prior race in my legs but kept managing to pick off a rider here or there slowly moving up the field. In the end I was pack fodder with a midpack finish only after fighting hard to keep with a hard charging rider up the finishing straight and catching/passing another rider to take the sprint. Right after that the legs didn’t/wouldn’t move for a moment or two but it was a great effort that had my spirits high again!

running up Heckle Hill

the 3 up finish

the muddy steps of heckle hill

the Unicorn and Fake $$ on Heckle Hill

the light up barriers at night

Ryan and Ben on the hill

Ben unfortunately had a mechanical and started running

this hill got crazy at the end of the night

Now Sunday comes along and the legs don’t feel super bad but they do rather feel like turd filled logs. Regardless I was going full gas on this 3rd day of racing which contained a ton of climbing and a twice visited sand pit. Remembering my mantra from the two previous days I pre-rode as much of the course as I could and decided this was the day the smaller gear was going to work out. As we jammed out of the start not only did I realized nearly instantly that I should probably hang this gear up unless I’m doing a CX course with over 2,000’ of climbing (not likely) but I also realized that this gear doesn’t do much for a hard charging start on a flat road. Boo to me but at least I now know for sure this lil gear isn’t the one I should be riding. With that said I charged on and held the wheel in front of me for as much of the first lap as I could and found a gap quickly opening before we were ½ done with the first lap. I did take pride in riding about ½ way through the first uphill sand pit and then on the descent through the sandpit I managed to ride through “comfortably” each time. In the end the 3 days of racing proved to be quite a bit and my gearing choices were subpar but I’m taking it in and hopefully learning from it. Now I feel my problem is going to be overgearing for the next race…but I don’t think that’s possible right?!?

working the sand

putting in more beach time

Next up Solon CX (!! I’m hoping to make it as I did fairly well last year and the course seems to suit me. Now I’m off to take off that lil gear before I find myself at the venue without the proper tools to do so. See you at the races.


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