Tag Archives: racing in snow

It’s Always Snowing Somewhere

Cyclo X - Louisville 2011 (5)

Race Report from Amanda Bye, who braved the snow and Cyclo X in Louisville with Joan, Susan, CB and Jenny.

Those who know me well or have read my biography on TriBella’s website know that I am always cold. Hence choosing cyclocross as a sport is perhaps not the best decision I have made. This weekend was a perfect example of how utterly cold and addicting cyclocross can be.

With approximately 9-12 inches of snow (depending on who was reporting) and a high of 21 degrees Fahrenheit, who was thinking, “Hey, maybe I should go ride my bike?” Many cross racers in Colorado had that thought and came out for the Louisville Cross Cup race which had a promise to be challenging and it did not disappoint. During the SM Open race the sun peaked out and gave hope that the temperature might raise to above freezing. However, this hope quickly diminished as the clouds rolled back in just before the SM 55+ and SW 4s race began.

The SW 4s race began on a muddy eight inch single track that had been carved out by previous racers. I feverishly struggled to bang snow and ice off of my cleats while trying to not veer off into the slick snow. This would remain the goal for the race. There were two barriers and a run up that was covered in ice and snow. Surprisingly that was not the biggest challenge of the course. There was another barrier, muddy run up and then a long, muddy run around two angled 180 degree turns and a straight away. By the time I could remount my bike, there was often a tennis ball size chunk of mud on the bottom of my cleat, making it difficult to both run and get back into the pedals. I have never carried my bike so far but when I attempted to remount during that section, I typically ended up sliding out in the mud and losing precious time. So running was the only alternative.

The mud, snow and ice were a challenge. However, the cold temperatures made the race almost unbearable at times. I thought about taking a DNF the first lap when I could not brake or change gears due to the fact that I could not feel my fingers and yet they still hurt from the cold (and continue to be sensitive as a write this report). I was thankful to have my TriBella thermal jacket, which kept my core very warm and the snowboarding socks that kept my feet toasty. I remember earlier in the day, seeing racers with icicles coming out of their nostrils and wondering why I decided that racing, as opposed to sitting in my warm house, made sense to me that morning.

I did finish and met my cyclocross goal of the season, which was to have a top 10 finish in a Cross Cup race. There were other Bellas out there battling the elements, Jennifer Kumbier, Susan Adamkovics, Joan Orgeldinger and Christienne Beam, as well as other light hearted supportive women and men who all knew the pain that was earned that day. The weather, falls and slips made this race a challenge, but once finished and back in a warm car, you couldn’t help but feel proud and start looking forward to the next race. No matter what it brings.

Special thank you to Mountain Moon Photography for the great photos both at this race and so many others.

Cyclo X Louisville, to race or not?

Joan Concentrate

Race Report from Joan Orgeldinger. We had a few brave bellas go out and race in the snow and near-single digit temps! Don’t want to spoil it but Joan had a podium finish. Go Joan!  Great pictures from Chad Edwards too!
I woke up this morning and the first thing I did was look out the window. It was snowing again on top of the 4-5 inches already in the backyard. I actually like the snow, but today I was planning on racing cross and have been spoiled by racing in beautiful weather.

Just a few minutes later, the phone rings and it is my faithful teammate Susan (probably trying to make sure that I got out of bed so that I can make it to the race on time). After a couple of minutes I could tell that we were both thinking the same thing but neither of us mentioned not racing. We knew that our teammate CB had pre-registered and would be there no matter what (you could say she was guilting us into it without even knowing it). Our conversation drifted from the freezing temperatures, warming-up, potential course conditions to which bike we should ride. We assured each other that we were going and then it was time for me to start gathering my stuff. My mountain bike still had 2 flat tires and was covered in mud from the last time I rode it (Tipperary Creek race in Winter Park), but a little bike maintenance was all it took and off I went.
After getting past an almost jack-knifed 18-wheeler on I-270, I finally made it to the Louisville Rec Center, albeit a bit late (as usual). Scott Beam and Chad Edwards were there helping get CB and Susan set up and were so kind to set up my Cross bike on the trainer and help me get everything ready. During a brief 15-min warm up, Susan reminded me that I might want to wear my timing chip. Back to the car I ran and started searching through my entire bag of extra socks, arm-warmers, leg-warmers, gloves, hats, jerseys, jackets, etc. in search of a timing chip on a piece of Velcro that had most likely attached itself secretly to some piece of obscure clothing. After a bit of a frantic search, I found it and ran back to the tent area to pick up a bike and get to the start line.

I did not pre-ride the course but decided from the looks of it, it would be best for me to ride my full-suspension mountain bike with fat tires. Although I love my Felt CX bike, I am still more confident on those fat tires, especially in these conditions.

I rode down the somewhat off-camber hill and through part of the course on the way to the start line and immediately knew that I had made the right bike choice. We got to the line-up and everyone was happy to see the sun coming out. The whistle blew and off we went. I was actually able to get into my pedals and get going (unlike last weekend). I didn’t have a great placing but was 4th or 5th wheel and had good riders ahead. The snow was pretty deep on the sides of the track and there were not a lot of opportunities to pass on the course. The first run-up was actually getting muddy and was very slick, carrying a mountain bike was not an advantage. I slid out and was on my knees, but everyone was struggling. I finally got to the top and was off again. The corners were slick, but with tubeless tires at < 25 pounds of pressure, I felt ok. I was able to make up time on the corners and caught up to some of the other women. The next barriers were on the other side of the course and were a nightmare for me, but figured everyone had the same problem and just kept pushing. I was getting passed on the run ups, but could catch back up on other sections of the course. It was getting warmer and although the course was icy and slick in some areas, it was getting sloppier and muddier in others.

I kept forgetting to look to see how many laps we had to go, but figured that we would end up doing 4 or 5. I just kept going, the off-camber descent kept getting wetter and muddier and more people were sliding out and falling down. I felt pretty comfortable on it and didn’t have too many problems although just about every time I would get my cleats cleared just enough to get back into my pedals, something would happen and I would have to put my foot down and once again clogged up my cleats. I had caught a few more people, but was passed by a couple again.

The sun was shining by now and the whole scene was beautiful, the mud was challenging, but getting dirty is part of it. In the last 2 laps, I was able to catch and pass a few more women (not sure if they were in the SW35+ or SW open category).  In the final lap, I was behind Sara Wisner. I was on her wheel and attempted to pass in a corner which was not a great idea as I slid out and had to pick myself up off of the ground. Why is it we make such crazy decisions when we are maxxed out and can barely hang on anymore?? But hey, I gave it a try and that’s all anyone can do. I lost some ground but finished just behind her. Turns out she won, which meant I was in 2nd place. My best finish all season!!!!