Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nor Cal: A bunch of cry babies

Continuing the tradition of spawning a new thread from a comment on a previous thread - regarding the recent "CX Bikes Mandatory" babble, one of our pals from up North says:

...you use a mtn set up for cross and you get anonymous (no guts to write their name and back up their words) cross racers crying over a type of handle bar used! I race and support the Portland series and was just checking out this blog and it amazes me what a bunch of cry babies the NorCal bunch has. We welcome any type of bike and any type of racer to our events! And we cheer for them doing their thing! We dont whine over a type of handle bar used or a wheel size used! Now all of you go out and race and support the race scene! And cheer for others because life is too short to waste time worrying because someone is passing you on a different type of bike. Just have fun and get dirty!

Teddy T.
Cross Crusade Co-Founder

Well, to be fair, that was like 2 cry-babies and 58 floggers, but who's counting? Anyhow, we cry-babies haven't even gotten started. I was just going to start my next thread: "Nor-Cal Races Are Too Darn Muddy" (I mean really, it rains like 0.05 inches between Sept and Dec here, how are we supposed to race in THAT?), but now I'm all worried that some flannel-clad lumberjack is gonna flame me...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Old school cross

Great historical stuff posted on the bayareacyclocross email:


... and more: following the link in the comments to that de Vlaeminck photo, I gotta share the following one of Roland Liboton, from the old Simon Burney book on CX ... this shot always got me fired up for cross every season (still does, actually)...

Tech Talk: Trade Shows and Cyclo-cross

The title says it ... it must be fall, so Velonews is talking about cross again.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

UCI Issues CX Apparel Rules

This just in:

Following the recent debate about cyclocross equipment, the UCI has clarified international rules for cyclocross uniforms.

After virulent debate the UCI uniform committee has outlawed all non-standard apparel, including black socks, sleeveless jerseys, and of course any form of female skirts or dresses.

The genesis of this new regulation is the recognition that technological advances have distorted the purity of sport. The "originalist" movement traces its roots to the UCI decision to revert to 1972 bicycle technology for all future hour record attempts.

An important part of the enforcement program for the new CX apparel regulations is for cyclists to inform the community of violations among their fellow riders. So, blog commentators: Do your duty and call out fashion mistakes in our ranks (hopefully with pictures)

-- The Babblemeister

ps. this is a fake post in case you didn't get it

Monday, August 21, 2006

Dawg, Get On The Floor

While the tech geeks argue elsewhere about bike choice (btw, see these links (1, 2)-- the Babblemeister was there years ago, BTDT) here's some practical advice: Do Your Situps.

While you all may be blessed as cross season approaches with a large surplus of motivation, fitness, mojo and such you should keep in mind, humble-like, that a strong functioning back is always a limited resource. There's more than a few former strongmen forced to sit the bench like wussies due to jacked up spinal equipment -- for example your editor Funke. And it's not an age thing either.

So here's a few brief tips:

- Core strength is critical. Sit ups, crunches, back extensions, weights. Get in the gym now while there's still time pre-season.

- Good technique saves what you got. Master the fine points of dismounts and bike lifts. Don't bend to lift the bike like a sack 'o' potatoes.

- Stretch. Every day. Religiously. Especially lower back and hamstrings.

- Read the comments below as someone else probably has this even more worked out than me.

PS. one more link on backs: here.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

CX Bikes Mandatory?

No, there's no new rule in effect, I just came across an anonymous inflammatory comment on Dave's Babblicious post. The comment was this:

Let's get fair on equipment... I think it would be great and FAIR if all riders in cyclocross were required to ride cross bikes with drop bars. No mountain bikes and no cross bikes with flat bars because, let's face it, an mtb and/or a cross bike with flat bars can be a big advantage in certain situations and they really don't have any disadvantages. Let's not forget the history of the sport which was road racers training on road equipment in the winter months.

As far as cross courses go, let's follow Europes lead in the latest designs and trends. That way, our riders will be better prepared for racing outside of this area and in higher profile and international events.

Let's keep it real, ride clean, and spin to win..


First of all, regarding the course issue (and yes we beat this horse to death last year - see Dave's highly volatile "Jungle" rants) - no doubt we in Nor-Cal have been subject to some of the most technically demanding courses in the country, but I doubt any of the Elite would contend that it puts them at a disadvantage in other areas of the country or world. If anything, technical courses prepare you for the worst a cx course can dish out, like when the weather goes to hell, as weather is inclined to do between Oct and Feb in every corner of the cyclocross universe. If you want to train for Euro-style courses...well, there's always crit-racing.

Second of all...WHAT??? Riders required to ride the same setup? Do you work for the UCI? Ummmm....

(1) Well, that is a rule in UCI races, but...
(2) Not everyone has taken the plunge for a cx bike. A lot of people get into the sport on their MTB, most usually give in and buy a cx bike (probaby b/c their so-called friends said they weren't "keeping it real"), some don't choose to get that serious about it, or don't have $1500 laying around. Is that "fair" to make them buy a bike they don't want or need?
(3) I haven't been on a course in the last 4 years (DFL included) that I would rather have been on an MTB on. If courses aren't suited to your bike, then perhaps you should complain to the promoter (see where that gets you) or just bitch about it in this Blog like Dave Carr does: ("Jungle-cross wah wah wah"). CX courses should favor a cross bike, if they don't, well then I'll run home and get my mtb and ride it as well. Or maybe, just maybe, somebody needs to learn to ride their CX bike a little better (there I said it).
(4) No disadvantages? Dude, have you been doing cross races? Personally, I'd be lost if I couldn't settle into my drops on a fast paved section or lever up a steep incline without my brake hoods. Oh my god if I had to schlep my MTB over barriers and try to sit on Andy Jacques-Maynes' wheel on MTB tires I think I would cough up my other lung (note: coughed up one lung just to get on Andy's wheel).

Anyhow, if you think flat bars will make you faster, you should use them. Same goes for a MTB. Same goes for tubulars, or a single front cog, or reversed-brakes, or a helium-filled carbon downtube (patent pending).

My tool of choice is a scandium Sycip Crossdresser. It does happen to be a cross bike with drop bars, but that's not why I ride it - I ride it because it rocks my world. If your bike isn't rockin' your world, you need to change your setup. In fact, it's only FAIR if everyone is on a bike that rocks their world...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

PlusOneLap Revisited

I mentioned this blog earlier this year, but it's not just light bikes anymore. Jeremy must be getting excited about 'cross season, because he's been blogging a lot lately. Check it out:


Want to ride? Comment here...

So...usually by this time in the Summer people start contacting me about rides. Whether you have a ride you're organizing or you're just looking for people in your area to ride with, post a comment to this blog posting below. Bona-fide rides will be added to the Rides page.

We started our SF ride last night, and had a good mix of 12 or so riders (more promised for next week). Next week's SF ride will be a 6:30 warm-up, course re-con and/or clinic, followed by some fast laps (dare I say Intervals?) at 7pm sharp. See the Rides link above for more details.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Discussion: Chain Lube for Cross

Here's a subject that has been on my mind lately (as my CX bike sits in a hundred pieces on the floor of my garage in preparation for this fall).

What's the best chain lube for cross racing? Of course the answer depends a lot on the conditions, but here's few options I have heard of in the past.

Dry conditions

...i.e. dusty, sandy, like most of the NorCal season, or
zero on the Mud Index. With all the dust and sand, lubes tend to pick up a lot of grit, which is bad for the drivetrain, or it will just dry out completely. Either way your drivetrain friction goes way up.
  • ProLink - This is a "semi-wet" lube that isn't as sticky or drippy as more common lubes like Tri-Flow or Pedro's. I use this a lot on the road. For 'cross, this does all right, usually stays wet for most of the race, but generally needs a complete re-do by the end.

  • White Lightning - This is a dry wax lubricant popular among mountain bikers. The dryness should limit dirt build-up. In practice I found this to get just as dry and frictional as any other lube. Plus, a practical problem: in the winter when it's cold in the garage, the wax is too thick and coagulated to flow well ... big mess.

Wet conditions

...i.e. December and Natz, typically. Here you have the opposite problem: mud and water want to strip all the lube off your chain. Sometimes I'll finish a race, hose off the bike a little, and the chain will be bright and shiny as new. Not good!

  • White Lightning (again) ... a wax lube should shine in the wet since it repels water. But I still have the problem with applying it.

  • Lube + grease. This is an interesting one, I heard this from a team mechanic after a very rainy USPro championship in Philly. To keep lube together (for 5+ hours in that case) they would apply regular lube, then coat the whole chain with bearing grease. Not the cleanest setup but less likely to wear off.

  • Phil Wood Tenacious Oil. Similar to lube + grease, the idea is to use a very thick sticky oil that is less likely to wash off in the mud. Of course in gritty conditions (like Grade 8 or 9) this also picks up a lot of gunk.

Ok, now it's your turn ... fire up the comments section with your suggestions.

Also, for further discussion here's a Google search. Good luck!



Howdy 'cross fans,

Happy new year to ya'. This is the Babble-meister coming back at you for a new year of pot stirring, philosophizing and general reportage. (that's "reportage" with a French accent by the way). If you're a returning guest you're familiar with all the great babble from last year.

If you have any suggestions for topics you'd like to see covered this fall just blast 'em my way (email) or drop in the comments section. See you on the course!

Dave Carr