Wednesday, November 16, 2005

District Jungle-Cross Championships

What's up with all these jungle cross courses this year?

In case you haven't heard the term, "jungle cross" refers to those features that are super rough, technical, death-defying sections. Basically anything that would be faster on a full-suspension mountain bike than a 'cross bike would be considered jungle cross.

NorCal has a checkered history, rightly earned, of presenting tough "jungle cross" courses -- for example the old
Surf City events of the 80's and early 90's and nearly every East Bay race ever held. As a promoter I myself have been responsible for my share of jungle events -- one year Gary Fisher (no CX slouch, either) quit one of my events in disgust, muttering something about "I should have brought my mountain bike."

On the other hand, recently Norcal has begun to kick the habit and enter the modern world -- after all national-caliber CX racing was invented here (the late 90's Super Cup) -- and today we have some great venues of our own (Watsonville, Golden Gate Park) and some great course designers (for example I've never seen a bad course at Central Coast). So it's not like promoters don't have good examples of modern course design.

The funny thing is, at this year's races it seems like we've gone back to the dark ages: Candlestick Point. Aptos High. The district championship. Bumpy, narrow, sketchy singletrack; back breaking, bone jarring, high-pucker descents. The really funny part is how the promoters even celebrate the jungle stuff: at Aptos we had the "Surf City 30th Anniversary of Jungle Cross" -- I think I saw more full suspension bikes at Aptos this year than the first time I raced there more than ten years ago -- and the district championship advertised "a Nor-cal jungle section called 'Mike and Dirk's Gulley of Death' ". They could have built a pretty cool course at the venue - but this time we got a solid helping of berms and jumps and shoulder-high weeds and baby-head rocks that are an insult to any self-respecting 700c tire.


Now, not to take away anything from the Sac CX guys -- really, that sure was a really great BMX course -- and I had a lot of fun racing even if I did come in well off the pace (I guarantee if I had won I wouldn't be ranting about it). But I'd sure like to see a day where more promoters are bragging about their super-pro courses that are built for speed. Maybe it's just there aren't more grumpy complainers like me.

Come on, you 'cross purists, you Euro-dogs! Where's the outrage? Represent!!

50 Comments:

Blogger singlespeedguy said...

I thought the District's course catered to the roadies. Too much pavement and flats for me. What separates us from the lycra crowd is that we have some bike handling skills. The designers of the course kept the sand pits out. Nothing like running in sand to send your heart rate through the roof. The single track was great. My thoughts anyway. Peace out.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know for sure that is one of the reasons the Central Coast Cyclo Cross Series was started by the founders. They wanted to have courses that mostly favored cross bikes and were fun to ride. Of course there is always suffering when the racing begins! But Cyclo-Cross bikes should have the advantage at Cyclo-Cross events. I have heard a little disgust about the Districts, and hopefully they can let the CCCX series do it next year. If I remember correctly that series did the Districts for 3 straight years to keep the Districts alive and make that event a standout event of the season. No one else at the time was putting any effort into proper cross courses. So they should be rewarded for their efforts! JR.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a wiener Funke. Maybe you should just stick to pavement only cause obviously that is where you are at.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DUHHH!
Funke didnt even write that original post, and i can remember Funke popping a 2nd place in the Mens A race just last season at Golden Gate park which was mostly raced on technical single track mtn bike trails! So before you write a negative comment to Funke, take a look at who wrote the original post and dont be such a negative critical loser trying to dog someone who didnt even write the post!

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Well a little on my background: I am pretty new to CX. Last year I raced 1/2 the season as a C mostly on a MTB and started this year as a B with a proper CX bike and I am totally hooked.

I have been lucky enough to see some of last years world cup and a few prestige/ world cup races from this year. The courses I have raced on so far this year: 3 Rnds of DFL, BASP Rd's #1/#2, Velo Bella #2, EBCX #1 and the District race (which I jumped in with the Master35+ which was a blast!) These are nothing like the courses I’ve seen in Europe.

I like the courses we have for the most part, but I have pretty good bike handling skills from years of motocross riding among other things, so I don't really see it as that hard. I am concerned though, that if we don't use “Euro” style courses we are hurting the upcoming generation of CX riders, some of who might want to take the fight over the pond. By not racing on “real” CX courses I would think the learning curve would be harder than it has to be. It sure would be nice to race on some sweet grass courses with sand stairs and scaffold bridges! Cool shit….. Not to mention maybe some more of the big boys would come and show us how it’s done on our turf?

My 2 cents….

8:04 PM  
Anonymous howie/Blackmarket Racing said...

I agree in part with Dave on this one, but only in part. I actually raced back in the day of jungle cross, and it's close cousin of races with "Bob-stacles". Liebold took some sadistic pleasure in watching us navigate that stuff, but you know what? We did it to ourselves- we kept coming back and paying money to do more of the same. After all, what choice did we have?
Although the Districts biggest problem wasn't any baby-head rocks, or gully of death. It was the fact that it was layed out terribly, with no consideration for it's championship status. You DO NOT take a full field and throw it at a crappy little single track in the first 300 meters! Equally offensive is the fact that the starting official was inexperienced (nothing personal), there were free-ranging mountain bikers rolling on the course that were just there for their Saturday training ride (poor course closure), there was a search and rescue team conducting training in and around the race course- complete with dogs and spooked horses. Did I already mention that this was supposed to be a championship event? This was a disgrace, and no one is more sad to hear that sentiment than me. I am typically so proud to be from NorCal, and try my best to 'represent' the typically superior level of racing we have to offer in our own area. If a racer from another part of country was at this past race, I just can't say how proud I would have been to be part of that misery disguised as a race. I will never subject my race team to a supposed championship event if these same promoters are in charge. There is no personal offense meant here. It is just a poor application of our team's resources to 'race' an event that is run in this manner.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a good cross course has a little of everything mixed in! Like most of the CCCX routes. There should be fun turns, and tuff sections, as well as some fast open sections! Your right that cross is different from road because real bike handling comes into play a little more. But is is Cyclo-Cross and not Mtn Biking! And the routes should be catered to cross bikes. Mtn Bike season starts just after cross in the spring and then anything goes!

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

guess who, thoughts on D. carrs kick off. the Last Candlestick course was the best course by far at that event, flowing turns, sand, pavement and sand. Racing in the super cups in 98 and 99 west of here, the races were held at better locations that are in a park like setting. Never did we race on a dirt field, most always we raced on GREEN grass with the usual run-ups and barriers. Most always it was cool and other times it rained for days and or snowed.

Remember Bremmerton Washington 1986? Here we race in 70's- 85 degree temp. in abandoned area's with shell casing lying around. Most of the promoters are doing the best they can with what they have to work with.

chill'
still, we have some of the best riders in the Nation in various age groups. with this high level of compitition, if your into the Norcal scene, you should'nt need to worry other than what tire pressure to run. just go racing and have fun

BW

10:40 PM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

I have nothing but love for the cccx guys, but to say they started so they could cater to cx is some short term memory lapse.

Let me refresh with some of my favorite cccx memories:
The course at Laguna Grande one year ran right down the middle of a stream. Not across, but down the middle for about 30 feet or so. We also dived in and out and around trees into the gully of this stream. And this all was in the middle of a homeless camp, so we had to be careful not to wake up the neighbors or run over their toilet paper.

Other years at Laguna grande involved riding through flocks of geese and their resultant shit.

One time we raced through the barracks in Ft Ord. Not around, but actually inside, some abadoned buildings.

We've gone up curbs, through playgrounds, over whoops, beyond dales.

And when I think back on those crazy races, I can't help but break into a big ol shit eating grin.

THE hardest part about promotion is finding a venue. You think anyone in their right mind wants to let a couple hundred cyclists ride around on their grass and pee behind their buildings?

We're lucky to get what we get. The nice thing about cross is that if today's course doesn't suit you, then maybe the next one will. And hopefully in some sadistic way, you find them all fun. Otherwise, what the hell are you doing?

And a quick check on results shows that the same guys win, regardless of course differences. Damn them.

Good job Carr on waking up the audience with this one.

Oh, and I wasn't at districts, so I can't comment. I'm just sounding off because I like to hear myself type.

see all you freaky folk this weekend!

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all the points stated here are good from everyone!! And great work to everyone who trys to put on any race anywhere! They are the ones doing all the work so we can race our bikes!

11:21 PM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

Well, its a good thing that David is a sentinmental bastard (and that I'm a procrastinator)

Cuz I found evidence of the toilet creek run!

"http://www.cccx.org/97/pics8.htm"

hahaaa..what a bunch of dumbasses we were to go trouncing through that shyte!

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't know why so many people whined about the Aptos High course this year. Yes it had several run-ups, but that's what made it challenging. In addition to the Surf City races, I have raced in the CCCX and Pilarcitos races this year and found most of the courses lacking any significant run-up. So, you can say Aptos High made up for all the other races this year.

As for the comment about seeing more full suspension mountain bikes this year at Aptos High as opposed to 10 years ago. Well, do you think it has anything to do with the fact that most people these days are buying full suspension mountain bikes as opposed to hard-tails and maybe that's the only mountain bike they own to try out cross with? If you really felt you needed a full suspension bike to handle that course, you might want to stick to recreational riding.

If you think several of the courses this year are jungle cross, you probably don't remember what it was like 10-15 years ago. I remember running on saw dust piles at the Big Creek Lumber Mill, downhill dismounts into creeks at Swanton Road, leaping over fallen redwood trees that were closer to 60cm high compared to the UCI 40cm barrier height, and there was no flow to these courses. They were usually tight, twisty, technical, and forced you off your bike almost a dozen times every lap.

I can't comment on Districts because I wasn't there, but I think the courses so far this year are pretty damn good.

2:09 AM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Please don't tell my 36-lb. freeride bike that I'm all about the pavement, she might get jealous. Thanks to anonymous for pointing out to anonymous that Dave is the "wiener", not me. ;-)

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had the good fortune to have raced all over the country on the best courses. I have raced the Verge New England, Mid Atlantic, Seattle Metro, Cross Cruasde, Super Cups, USGP and many National Championship races. I have also raced just about every venue in Nor Cal. There are two major differences between Nor Cal and the rest of the country. First is land usage. Here in Nor Cal we do not get to use prime real estate, ie grassy fields and parks to have those "euro" courses we all dream about. Second, there are too many promoters and too much competition for spots on the calendar leaving such promoters to use what has been done in the past or simply throwing together a race with little thought on venue choice or course layout. If there were fewer races using the best venues the quality of those races might not get so diluted. There are 32 races scheduled in Nor Cal for '05. How is it possible to have good races? This can not be good for the sport, not to mention what it does to the level of competition. Most regions around the country have 6-10 races using the best venues they can find not whatever garbage dump or multi-use trail the can find.

10:17 AM  
Blogger gordo said...

Wow!!, What a lot of comments post raceday. Most people seemed to like the course that we talked to. Sorry about the shoulder high weeds, a gas-powered weed wacker would have been nice through there but we were busy re-routing to save the "grass" because of last minute calls by our Park Service. Can't argue with them or we would lose the venue. Narrow singletrack? Most riders felt they had time to get where they wanted to be, before they approached, attacked or took advantage of the situation, quit your bitchin. Babyheads? Stay on the trail and you won't hit them, we did not run you through a riverbed like some other promoters have. Most of the lady racers loved the gulley of death and found it quite negotiable, guess some of you guys just can't handle a bike. No sandpit? We had three sand pit sections and two of them required dismounting.
No course will ever get all thumbs up and while we hope to please everybody it appears that we did not. Come and race here again or don't come and race again, it is always your choice as it should be here in the USA. Peace out, Gordon

10:25 AM  
Blogger daddybear said...

For what it's worth, I really liked the district course last weekend, and I had a blast racing it. The start and nearly immediate bottleneck at the singletrack was, as always, annoying. But it wasn't that much different than almost any Surf City race I've done in the last 5 years. I thought most of the course was fast and smooth. It certainly wasn't any bumpier than anything else we've raced so far in what has been an incredibly dry and warm season. Some of those long, straight, slightly downhill single tracks felt about as fast as I've ever raced my CX bike.

I've noticed a few people racing well on mountain bikes over the last several years, and I think it has more to do with them being really talented bike racers than poor course design. Larry Hibbard takes people to school almost every weekend, regardless of cateory or what the course looks like, while racing a mountain bike.

I'll also echo the Velo Bella comment about the difficulty of finding good venues in an increasingly crowded and overpopulated Bay Area. Lots of people are doing stuff everywhere, all the time. We're really, really lucky to have promotors (Sacramento, CCCX, Surf City, Pilarcitos) who have done such a stunning job of finding interesting local racing venues that also have racer and family friendly facilities such as clean, close restrooms and lots of parking. I really do miss CX racing mid July while I'm waiting in a long line to uses a smelly, nearly full pit toilet before doing yet another four corner office park criterium. Also, don't forget that CX is really hard on the racing venue itself, especially if it's wet and muddy. My guess is that's one of the reasons we usually find ourselves racing in desolate sections of Ft. Ord, horse oriented fairgrounds like Watsonville, and around the perimeters of schools under construction. I still can't believe they are letting us anywhere near Golden Gate Park this weekend.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who ever wrote there was too many races in Nor-Cal obviously didnt think about the facts. Sacramento put on 11 races this season. thats obviously taking up most of the schedule, and not thinking about other promoters schedules!. That is twice as many races as any other series, so be sure and look at the total per region before you shout off as to there are too many races. Most people from Santa Cruz or the coast line of California are not going to drive 4+ hours to do a Sac race. So there has to be many races, there are many racers! I think cross racing should go into FEB! You certainly are not a promoter, because they have to figure out a way to make the dates work out with the venues they were lucky enough to find. We need more races. If this was the east coast, Sacramento would be a State! And The Bay Area would be a State. And so would the Santa Cruz-Monterey Coastal areas! So then each region would have 6 to 10 races! Think about it before you brag about how many big races you have done.....

11:39 AM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

I forgot about the search and rescue dogs at districts ... that was pretty funny. My first thought was somebody had blown up so bad that they had to go out and find all the little bits of his lungs... actually maybe that was me. -- Dave (the original "wiener").

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defiebre - if you are going to post at least identify yourself!
-Anonymous

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, such hostility! My sighting the races I've done was not to brag but maybe introduce the idea that there are too many people putting on races without considering the other promoters, and the difficulty in getting first rate venues. The person who sighted 11 races in Sac is reinforcing what I stated, there are too many races in Nor Cal! No, I am not a promoter, just a racer. But when too many cooks get in the kitchen, the food isn't that good, thats all I was trying to suggest. We are lucky to race at all and many thanks to ANY promoter for putting on a race. The fact is Nor Cal is a region in itself, not several states. So as a region, maybe the promoters could work together instead of competing so as to have a great CX scene instead of division. Besides, the last I checked, this supposed to fun, right?????

1:33 PM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

Have to agree with that last sentiment -- I got nothin' but love and respect for all of our hard working promoters, but as a racer I would much rather see the series promoters put their resources into making 3 or 4 really top-notch, well-designed, well-attended promotions per season rather than 6, 8 or 11 less polished events. How 'bout it, folks?

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say I've enjoyed all the post. Nice to know I'm not the only one with the same thoughts.

First, the amount of racing for CX is awesome. To be able to do four races in two days is way more cost and time effective than two races for 40-60 mins. with some idiot cutting the corners or a road race with an idiot barreling down the descent on the first lap. You master riders don't have to worry about that, but when you are under 35, road season only means one race a day or even the weekend. Not all that cost effective. CX gives more bang for the buck.

2nd, the Sac races for the most part are top notch. I enjoy them more than the surf city series. Most courses are fairly fast, I've done IONE, Vacaville, Granite Beach, and Negro Bar. Have some technical, but not crazy technical. The courses weren't designed with the technical in mind.
True the district's course did not flow well. I think there could have been a bit more fine tuning to the course (the start and the gully section) otherwise it was fine. As fun as the gully section was, I don't think it was necessary for a district champ event.

3rd, We do need more Euro Style races. This is where we are not doing our sport a favor. More than half the courses favor Mountain Bike rides, due to style. We are not really helping out local Elites that do get to go over to Europe and race. This is especially true for young up and coming talent. They will have a rude awaking when they get to the faster style courses.
I think there has been an overkill on technical sections. One or two run ups is fine. One or two technical descents are okay too. But a race where all you do is go up and down with small flat sections? Or go from one technical section to the next with a maybe 300 meters total of flat?
Also one thing we have to keep in mind are the people that drop money on a CX bike deserve a true CX course. A few times this year I wish I had a carbon hardtail mnt bike. Would have paid off so much more.

Lastly, we have to understand we live in NorCal....the only place in the world where a cyclocross race can be hotter than a June road race. This also means that we get harder dirt and the bumpier courses.

I think we should rotate both road and cx season by one month with some overlap. Have road finish in mid Oct (when it's the best weather around here) and have CX finish mid Feb (when it's the best CX weather). Honestly, taking time off the bike late September early October is just a crime against the bike. Especially with all the riding one does in the rain in March.
The early birds should start in Feb. Racing on the road sucks in Jan. It's cold and sometimes wet. I'd much rather be in the mud in those conditions than on the road. At least I'll enjoy the weather.
My 2 cent rant.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are a bunch of wimps!!! Racing is racing! If you are slow, you're slow. If you are fast, you're fast. Who cares what the course is like. Show up, race or don't. People who put on races should be thanked only, not criticized. I hear syncronized swimming could use a few more people. Then you can't bitch about the pool, or is that too hard too?

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DeFiebre????? wow, you think he typed that, your wrong as your opinions!!!!!!! He is too busy out there going to the races, not sitting on computer reading your silly writings! JR.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

I think promotors should be thanked AND criticised. They are providing a service and the racers are customers, not the other way around.

I think you'll find that most of the promotors in our area do listen and take into account sensible well delivered critique.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you kooks have a bake sale and a car wash - pool all of your money and buy a big prime piece of Nor Cal real estate. Then plant some super sacred grass and nurture it all year so we can all come out and rip the holy crap out of it a few times a year! Just like in Europe:) It'll be totally cool and super easy too!

7:36 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

This is all healthy discussion. I have done my share of bitching about this course and that course...to my friends mostly, and mostly because they don't suit my particular style of racing. But I don't particularly favor faulting or even bashing promoters that do all the dirty work that it takes to put on a race, regardless of how much I dislike their course. That will not stop me from giving constructive criticism - Tom Simpson has been enduring my "critiques" for 3 years now.

I look at it this way: The courses we love make it fun, and the courses we hate make us better. We all can probably get better at SOMETHING.

...like riding on bumps, for instance. Just for the record, Dave, I LOVE Candlestick courses, I think they are great CX and not at all jungle. I held the Sycip clinic on the Stick course, and was really sad that I couldn't race it...

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone!

It is great to state your opinion!

Anonymous or not!

But dont write a Anonymous Comment and then tell someone to not write a Anonymous Comment when you just wrote a Anonymous Comment!

And be sure and try to have fun on all your rides!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

-
i've enjoyed crashing at every crossey-cross race i've gone to this year.

thanks promoters.

...and i always want courses to be better. nothin' wrong with that.

...and i like being able to choose between 2 cross races on the same day.

...and i'm tired of crashing, so please make all the courses paved, with clean portopotties at each of the three pits per course (grass toilet paper optional)

...and kieth defiebre is hot.
-

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ummmmm Interesting stuff. All this talk of manicured grass and Euro courses. Maybe its just me but the only manicured grass I see around hear between June and November is on a golf coarse. Then again I don’t see to much of that either (Hate Golf) and I do live In Sac, we haven’t really seen any rain in ough maybe 6 months not to mention the 100+ deg summers. Personally I think the races I’ve been to this year have been great and the promoters do the best they can with the limited resources, land use and venues available. I thank them for that. Yes a little CONSTRUTIVE criticism is ok hell we could all learn a little something hear and there I know I learned a few lessons In the “Gully Of Death.” Mainly a lesson in Cross physics that a body in motion stays in motion even if the bike doesn’t. but that’s another story. Anyway I did have 1 idea. Any lawyers out there familiar with imminent domain law and its application to Grassy swooping Euro courses. Maybe we could exercise a little legal acquisition of a few golf courses.
Later See y’all this weekend Hope I learned my lesson. 

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are wanting pristine and groomed European style courses, keep dreaming. The popularity of cycling in the US is probably never going to reach the levels it has in European countries. With that popularity comes public support and sponsorship dollars. I bet we could borrow a golf course for a day of cyclocross if the golf course could make enough money to repair the grass and put a few bucks in their pockets. Americans just don't see cylcing as a spectator sport. A good example is what has recently taken place on OLN. Last year, I watched a ton of cycling events on OLN. Because of the lack of advertising dollars, they cut out races like the Giro and put sports like bull riding in it's place.

SHOW ME THE MONEY, AND I'LL SHOW YOU BETTER CROSS RACING IN THE US.

Until then, be thankful for the venues we get and for the promoters who bust their asses to give us a race to attend.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did all these Cal Giant guys come from!!! They're everywhere!!! HD

6:36 AM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

Anonymous said (and mispelled)...
"Maybe its just me but the only manicured grass I see around hear between June and November is on a golf coarse."


...oh man, i totally thought it was going to be - "the only manicured grass I seen around here was that lap dance i got at the Wild Orchid durin' the TourDayNez"

http://www.cycling.tv

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! So much discussion over what and how things should be. Maybe in the future there should be an electoral process for hosting Districts as to make everyone happy. I nominate Howie to head this since he seems to be the most unhappy with the whole thing. Maybe he could get Adri Van Der Poel to fly over here to help layouy a course for all that want that Euro course everyone thinks cyclocross is about.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great dialog! Let's not get too worked up though and remember that we are racing our bikes for fun. Can you believe we have so many races that people are complaining? Really, the courses are pretty darn good. There seems to be something for everyone. Remember when we only had Surf City at Swanton, Big Creek Saw Mill, Nisene Marks and districts in Stevens Cyn Park(Giant tree to jump over) Remember districts at some sierra foothills dairy farm with iced over muddy cow shit that cut your shins everytime you broke through the ice? How about nationals in the apple orchard during a snow storm?
Courses today are pretty damn good and there are a lot of them. Thanks promoters for putting on the races.
-Thompson

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Linda Elgart said...

Another thing on Sac:

Our series is different than the others. Each race is put on by a different club, and for some, it's their USCF race of the year. The clubs are really enthusiastic and all want to be involved.

The races are grass roots and aimed at the B's and C's. These people are not going to travel to Santa Cruz to race, and those from Santa Cruz (or elsewhere far), aren't going to travel to Sac.

Before the Sac Cx series, there were about 4 cyclocrossers in Sac, and now there are hundreds!

Thanks,

Linda

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Linda Elgart said...

I don't think my previous comment got posted. At Folsom State Parks, we are very limited on where we can go. Specifically, we are supposed to Stay Off the Grass!

Thanks,

Linda

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dan, you were right.
This is crazy!! No way am I puttin' on a race!
chuck

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Jim Macdonald said...

My first cross experience was at a Velo Promo race directly off of Highway BFE. At that time it was all about bringing whatever bike you had (probably 5 or 6 speed with bar end shifters), strapping on your modified soccer cleats with duct tape, and preparing for an unreal amount of pain and poison oak. The course I remember had paths, not trails, barley wide enough to fit your handle bars through. There was also a fallen tree that came up to my neck. So, I had to literally throw my bike over the tree and claw and climb my way over the top. It was really tough to race cross as an 11 year old junior in those days.

Now, as a 29 year old adult I can treat the racing and training a bit more seriously. The courses and bikes have evolved quite a bit from those days, but the pain has not. And all of the course this year are a far from those past memories. I have not raced any course this year that I would deem worthy of a “Jungle” description.

As part of training and racing education, I spent many nights this year watching world championship videos, (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005) to learn how the big boys handle all kinds of situations. Many of those “Proper” euro courses still have a bottleneck at some early point in the course. 1997 bottlenecks at the first stair run 1 kilometer into the race. 1998 bottle necks at the first barrier set 1 kilometer into the race. The 2002 championship, in Belgium, bottlenecks at the first little rise 800 meters into the race. The one thing I learned from these videos is that the smart guys sprint to get up to speed, then sprint to get to the front, sprint to maintain the front spot, and then sprint for the first obstacle. Spend some time off the bike an watch some videos.

Due to the abundance of races this year, I have been able to learn more about the areas that need improvement. I have had my fare share of hard knocks and learning lessons as well as moments of achievement. These are all good learning experiences. It was terrific to compete in SO many races this year. For us new kids, the only way to improve is to go out there and race. If its bumpy, rocky, slippery, wet, muddy, full of steep runs, hard barrier sections, technical descents, weird off camber turns, sudden terrain changes, hot as hell, cold and damp, flat and fast, short and tight, or sandy as hell I don’t give a shit. I come out there to race, and race hard. I want to get better and improve my game, so it’s important to push through these mental and physical tests and rise to that next level. Cross is supposed to be hard, and that’s what I expect.

If you want to continue to live the fantasy world of proper euro courses DON”T watch the above mentioned world championships races. I would definitely stay away from the 2002 worlds, because that race has a lot skinny single track sections, scary sandy technical decent, bumpy tree root sections, and a bottle neck right at the start.

All the courses this year have been great, because we get to come out and race.

10:20 AM  
Blogger the seamus said...

Yeah, I'm with Jimbo on this one. I'll agree that some of the courses are a bit rougher than what some new riders might be expecting, and they don't have that golf course look that some courses have. But I race CX to challenge my legs, lungs AND my bike handling skills and I'm glad to see that our NorCal courses have their rough edges.

From Sac to CCCX to Pilarcitos, every course I've raced in the past three years has been great and I'd honestly be disappointed if race promoters made courses "softer" next season.

My advice to riders who find this year's courses to "mountain bikey" would be this: quit riding your silly mountain bike so much in the off-sesaon and ride your cross bike on "mtb" trails more often, and you'll he right at home on NorCal CX courses.

1:38 PM  
Blogger EricN said...

heh,
I was gonna post something here.....

but looks like Jim beat me to it.


Eric

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes it hard to envision Jungle
Cross
, so here is a link to some video footage. Real
Jungle Cross

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the footage that was from the old "jungle cross" race, is it possible that is from Districts or "Nats" that took place along the Sacramento River behind Sac State in the 70s? If so, Sacto Cx has come far.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mistake, it was the American River, not the Sacramento River. Anyhow, Sac Cx and all others have come far!

7:47 AM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

woah. Those are great. The best part of this and repetitive comment thingie has been that link. Thanks

7:47 AM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

thank you for the linkage.

rulin.
mhernandez

6:08 PM  
Blogger cxbikerboy said...

those old school clips are bad ass! i grew up right there. that's the american river just upstream from howe avenue and sac state. i used to rally those trails after school on my univega mtb then later on my road bike with whoever i could convince that it was ok to ride a road bike on dirt. ha, i was so evil. i particularly love gary fisher's 180 skid across the line for second. i think i was born two decades too late. i love
mustaches.

J.Morgan

12:11 AM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...

Aww baby, i say you go for it and grow that Dick Dagger moustache. Send pics.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Bremerton WA 1986 was fast as hell just 2-3 days prior, until the deluge of rain turned it into a mud-fest. You can design a great course but have to envision it in any type of weather you're likely to see. I raced in '86 Nats and it was...memorable. Plymouth '88 on frozen rutted ground was better, but would not have been so different with warmer weather. Besides the start, zero pavement.

1986:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/qYy8Cm5h1OSeTQno1LHNtA?feat=directlink

Plymouth '88:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/v5vyUgYvSc_w6oDI46N6rw?feat=directlink

5:12 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

...oh, and the most humourous part of '86 Nats was Paul Curley complained the course designers had conspired against him to favor "taller guys" like Clark Natwick or Don Myrah. Yeah, sure. That mud bog wasn't even there on Wednesday. I raced the course Sat for Nats CX then on MTB tires for Sunday (slightly different, no mud bog), I'm 5'10" and that bog wasn't to anyone's advantage, trust me.

5:17 PM  

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