Monday, November 21, 2005

SFGP: Go Get Some More

Three-dot lounge for the San Francisco GP race:

* * *

What a cool race, on a fine fall day, in a great venue with lots of racers and crowds cheering. Proof of why people should go to the effort of holding a big race in the big city. Thanks Tom Simpson & Pilarcitos Cyclesports.

* * *

On the other hand, while it's great we got such a fine venue, I'd have to say (at the risk of being labeled a repetitive crank) this was still unfortunately another jungle course in the NorCal tradition. At this level of racing you don't need to wrap the course in knots around every tree -- make the course smooth and wide and let the legs do the talking. Still, it was a fun and tough course and everyone I talked to had a great time, once they made it through all the repeated pileups on the first half lap.

* * *

Chris Horner. What to say about Chris Horner. Pretty good Tour de France rider, and he might even make a halfway decent 'cross racer, someday. Here's a tip for starters: Take off the water bottle cage. Then you can even learn how to shoulder the bike! As for the the regular legit pro cyclocrossers in the top 10: Time to bump up your game because you almost got caught by a guy with no skills.

* * *

One of the pretty cool things about a race in the city is all the random joggers, dog walkers, and families with kids who stumble onto the course and stay to watch and cheer. It's great to see new spectators become instant fans, and the volume of cheering in the tough sections was pretty impressive. One time up the big woodchip runup, one piercing little voice cut through the din. Looking over I saw a little kid, barely tall enough to see over the snow fencing, yelling his head off: "Go get some more!! Go get some more!!" (Imagine those words coming out of a little kid's mouth and you'll get the picture.) I barely made it to the top that time, I was laughing so hard.

* * *

After yesterday I think it's safe to say this is not gonna be our year for a Norcal podium in men's elite at Natz. I wish it were true but it's not. In fact if you look at field sizes across Norcal this season in masters (big fields) and elite men and juniors (small) you have to say things don't look so good for the future either. Meanwhile, if you're looking for an answer to that problem, I have two words for you: Velo Bella. Or Velo Girls, for that matter. Teams which have made the effort to get new riders into the sport, then support them all the way to the top of the heap. On the guys' side the only people doing that today are a handful of masters riders whose kids are old enough to race.

* * *

Note to Neal Rogers at Velonews: Frisco is a place in Texas. They race track there. San Francisco is where the cyclocross is. OK?

* * *

Having complained about jungle cross, now I gotta applaud that other tradition of NorCal cross: Crazed fans doing their part to raise everyone's game. I'm talking about the dudes in orange CalTrans uniforms channeling the spirit of DFL and Surf City with handups of beer, jelly donuts and dollar bills to worthy riders, and meanwhile filling the whole park with their deafening cheers. Way to represent, guys.

--Dave Carr


Blogger Spumoni said...

Dave - I agree that the SFGP was something of junglecross. I even have the sprained shoulder to prove it. But I think that the jungle cross nature of the course was unintentional, and that it emerged as the course got torn up. Lots of stuff that was firm and rideable at 7:00 a.m. was a mess by my race at 8:50. Some of the detours around trees may have been intended to keep the rider's speeds from becoming dangerously high. It may not have been evident to the course setters that the little dogleg off the first descent, for example, would become so soft.

Thanks for your thoughts,


12:32 PM  
Anonymous CX Visigoth said...

Im guessing the Pilarcitos crew had a limited area with which to work in Golden Gate park? Thus having to wrap the course around many trees. Personally I thought the course was AWESOME.

As for Horner: He wasnt so great when he had to get off the bike (which was a very small percentage of the time) and was actually ripping the turns and handling his bike pretty damn well. I was impressed. His absurd strength riding the bike goes without saying - but I dont think those guys at the front like Wells, Wicks, Trebon have to worry about him anytime soon.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous jon Suzuki said...

I think the Pilarcitos and Roaring Mouse guy's (and gals') put on the best race they could have. The only complaint I'd have, was I think there could have been an even better spectator turn out.

I happen to know several people say they didn't even know this event was happening until that day.

I personally had my best race of the season (so far), and was quite pleased with course. Yes it was duffy, but want do you want when we're having 70 degree weather in Novermber?

Thanks to all for another awesome CX event in S.F.!

See pics here:

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it could be our year for an Elite Podium spot. Berry Wicks now lives in Santa Cruz...

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the future of Norcal cross, you neglect to mention the field sizes for the b's and c's mens classes were both off the hook. Alot of people racing these classes are first year racers and are pretty serious about racing more and training hard for next year. I seriously doubt we'll see the low numbers in the elite classes that we've seen this year in those to come.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Jim Macdonald said...

Far from Jungle cross

Many UCI races in Europe always have a bottleneck at some point in the course. I have a couple of races dubbed from SPORZA television that show a lane wide enough to accommodate 4 riders. With lanes that wide, there are still bottle necks that are so bad guys are literally stopped and waiting their turn to proceed forward. The speed in running vs. riding the tight twisty sections was nearly equal.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Casey Kerrigan said...

Remember that one problem last year with the Golden Gate Park race was a short course with 5 minute lap times. Short courses lead to lots of lapping and delayed and incorrect results due to the scoring problems. For the UCI events, where lapped riders are pulled, you would end up with a small number of actual finishers.

Remember that current cross has evolved from wintertime riding and racing in forested areas. It has only been fairly recently that the UCI has taken more interest in Cross racing and started pushing courses more into the realm of dirt criteriums.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand when people complain about courses that are too narrow without room to pass, but yesterdays course had plenty of passing room. When I was able to stay on someones wheel through the tight technical sections, there was plenty of opportunity for me to pass once I came out onto the road sections. My problem was getting cought behind people with a lot of power who had very little handling skills in the tight stuff. I'm uderstanding about people's complaints about overly "jungle cross" courses, but this is getting ridiculous! Remember, cyclocross was created originally to help roadies stay in shape and most importantly gain some handling skills durring the off-season. Maybe you would have been happier if we would have been sent completely around the oval track over and over again. That way it would have been just like a criterium except that you used knobby tires. Then you could have told all of your friends that you are a hard-core cyclocross racer.
I have one more point to make about course design. What is wrong with having regional differences in course design? Doesn't having varying designs help create more well rounded racers in the end? Is this sport just about who has the highest VO2 max and highest power output or is it a combination of fitness and technical skills? I think the forefathers of the sport would hope that it was a combination of the two. This is no longer a sport for roadies to compete against each other in the winter. This is cyclocross on its own! Let's quit catering to the roadie and make cross the best and most challenging sport that it can be. Let's have a nice mix of open flat roads and grass, and turny tight trails that way those with a talent for both can win. (By the way, I am a roadie but I also am a mountain biker and a cross rider.)
I want to give the Pilarcito's folks a hand for putting on an epic race. It was the most fun I've had at a cross race all year! I was surprised that there weren't a few more spectators but the ones who were there were certainly full of cheer and character. I loved riding up the steep rooted climb and into the wave of orange jumpsuits knowing that I had a chance of getting a beer-can-preem or even a whif of budweiser to help me through the remaining laps. I couldn't help myself from smiling and even laughing at times as I passed that section. DFL rocks! You guys are what it's all about! I will remember this race for a long time as being extremly fun and challenging.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hay , watch a cross race in europe, like Belguim? mostly sand and trees. with straights and flat stuff. in most of these courses there is usually only one good line to keep your speed. It is a good bike rider that can find other lines to get around the slower riders. At the start, try diving early to stay out of the main stream line? every one line up for the turn and wait.
The 800 meter pavement section should have helped the strong riders as well as the track section. Most of the complaints probley are comming from the laess than average bike handlers.this is'nt NASCAR people. how about the east coasters complaining about the HOT weather? Dan Norton, Mark McCormic and Tim Johnson all stated that it was a great course with Dan stating it was the best course in a long time. Dose'nt early bird start soon? To all the promoters, GREAT JOB, we would not race if not for you and we'd complain about that too.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious that we need lots of races on all types of terrain! This sets us up for anything we might face! If it was wet then things would really get crazy, so it is important for there to be as many races as possible. This keeps options open to compete and enables racers to excell at their strengths and work on their weak points, no matter what it may be!
So hats off to all the promoters who keep the dream alive for anyone who wants to race their bikes! CCCX, Sacramento, San Fransisco, and Surf City all allow us racers to give it a go! Thanks to them! And with many venues and races, you are bound to find a course you like, and find a course you dont like! All of course depending upon how you ride that day!

4:56 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

DaCarr is worried about da future o' the norcal cross scene.

dunno man - i took about 5 gazillion picture of all those Bike Trip kids out there suffering with their bikes that weighed half, or more, as their little pipsqueak bodies.

There were a shitload of those little kids out there doin' it rough. True the UCI jr race was a wee bit small...but, those freddie little wanks with the bmx/mtb/junk-mobiles were out in force and having a good time (when it was over). And, most raced BOTH days...unlike some a-dults I know.

That's the future o' cross, maybe?
mhernandez only complaint about Sunday's race was that i only got one beer from the cross hooligans on that hilly-hill. fukkin cheapskates.

oh, and that i didn't get to give that buck wielding butt-crack a go with my teeth. Least i got to cop a feel of that 6ft bunny's nuttsac.

5:54 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Watch yer mouth, Hernandez, or I'll censor you AND turn you in to the UCI for taking an illegal feed during the race. Yes we have proof:

-The Administrator

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I,ve heard enough about "Jungle Cross". The term has gotten too flexible. Yes I believe "Jungle Cross" does exist but No that's not what we raced this past weekend. Back in the day, we used to race Jungle cross ie. scott creek, the sawdust piles, Zonkas apple farm, Seatac park, you that know, know what I'm talking about. Yes the course yesterday suited those who can turn their bike and accelerate out of many corners, but it was not jungle cross. Face it, cross is cross. I've found that in cross if you can win in the jungle then you can win on the street. I guess my main point is get over the jungle cross obsession, the fastest guy with the least bad luck will always prevail.


9:49 PM  
Anonymous Sam Ames said...

JRobinson and Co.--a note from the So Cal clan

Great job to Tom on hosting a great event. I know of what JR speaks cause I ran over more flippn' sawdust piles and poison oak AND giant fallen red woods than I care to admit to. Bob L, bless his heart, came up with some wild stuff back in the day! It's been a lot of years for this racer and I fortgot how good Nor cal riders are technically. I wouldn't have called Sunday jungle cross. Maybe a bit too much single track and shoulder cramping corners but hey, its cross and JR said it best. Toughest rider always wins and the basics of power and skill balance out no matter what. As cross grows for us in So Cal, we try and go for wide, fast, sweeping and flowing. All courses are different; some more road like and some more mtb. like. Thanks for hosting and while I missed Don Myrah, it was worth the drive and jelly donut in the face!


10:57 PM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

Ok, Ok... I get it. Back in pappy's day the courses all featured barbed wire, bear traps and one-handed rappels over 10-ft walls built of broken glass. (I know because I did all those sawdust pile, downed tree, mud bog races myself too). I'm officially off the "jungle" soapbox... stay tuned for my next rant on a WHOLE other subject. Happy thanksgiving --DCARR

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't care what the course is like. it's freakin' cyclocross and i'm like a kid on christmas eve when the gun goes off!!!

thanks to all the promoters out there that throw these races! you can't please everyone all the time...but you can be assured if i'm at your race, i'm dreadfully lovin' every minute of it!

9:01 AM  
Anonymous leatherlungs666 said...

I think both of the USGP courses were awesome and I don't think sunday was really all that "jungle". Yes, there was some deep, loose corners. There was a "singletrack" line that was fastest on many of the offroad parts of the course. The course was complex, and there were many parts that could bring you to a halt if the wrong line was chosen. But it was also balanced really nicely with dirt road/ pavement sections. This kind of combo is not uncommon in europe. Yes, there are some very flat euro tracks but they're not all that way and they're not required to be that way. I've seen several races that include very long sections of sand and the kind of flat resistant mud that we just don't get around here- these conditions are on par with our redwood duff and dusty sandy sections in that they are tricky to deal with as you're racing. Just because we don't have traditional euro features doesn't mean we should avoid sandy, rooty corners just because they remind us of mountain bike couses we've seen. Balance is the key here. I think it's cool to have our regional special features- mtn bikey bits of single track, redwood sand/dust, roots- as long as it's combined with pavement and dirt road parts.

12:10 PM  
Blogger funkdaddy said...

Jon Suzuki pointed out spectator turnout not being what he expected. I was a spectator for a change this year - a couple of notes:

1. The course covered a lot of distance and went through a lot of woods, therefore making it hard for spectators to view multiple parts of the course from one vantage point as well as to walk from one section to the next - I think this helped the turnout look a little lean - there were a lot of folks out there spread all over the course. I'm not sure how much thought goes into course design vis-a-vis spectators, but I personally think it should be more of a consideration.

2. I do think the race could have been given a bit more exposure to the public. I found out on Thursday that the SF Chronicle didn't know about the race so I scrambled to get them some info - this is the kind of thing that should have been taken care of weeks beforehand. I know the Pilarcitos crew were a busy lot the last couple of weeks - hopefully they'll improve the PR approach next time around.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all the problems that the SFGP road race is having these days is it possible the SF cx race could get some public support. Would it be too much to think that even a bigger event could take place in GG Park? Perhaps Nats again or even a West Coast World Cup? This weekend served as an example of what could be. At one point, the thought of a race in GG Park was something that could never happen. Tom S. and crew have done the impossible. So many thanks and with much anticipation we all should be looking to the future.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea of having a West Coast Series seems like a very do-able endeavor now. Each series could have one dedicated race in their calender count towards a West Coast Cup. Redline, Specialized, Craft, Red Hook, Sierra Nevada could all help w/an event in their prime market areas . There are potential food sponsors as well.
Between Emerald City, Cross Crusade, Pilarcitos, Central Coast, and a So-Cal promoter, there should be lots of possibilities for this to happen.
We have the numbers, the venues, the support......... this could happen on the left coast too.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is to all of the promoters. With 7 different promoters on the calendar this year and a few others who were inactive, is it possible to have a Nor Cal Cup featuring each series' best race for an overall Cup? The "Cup" race could still count in their respective series. Just a thought as there is no BAR scoring taking place in cx anymore.

7:22 AM  

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