Orchard Cross 3/4 Men

Photo: Probably…Brent Doscher

Been a good while since I felt this bad in a race.  Maybe the last time was near the end of Loon.  The climbing at Orchard Cross was just kicking my ass, and that was no surprise.  I had a few hot laps on Thursday night and knew right away that race time was gonna be a one-way Acela ride to Suckytown Station, which is two stops short of Bonkville.  You don’t want to ride the line that far, because you eventually get to 6 Gaps and Battenkill, and no one really needs to go there but I digress.

I am always thankful for marshals and officials, but the start command was a little casual for my taste.  It was very conversational, rolled into an “and off you go”, and then I was like “SHIT we’re actually starting and I am totally blowing this call-up!”.  I fumbled into my left pedal and booked it, keeping half of the field at bay for a solid one half of lap.

By the time we’re at the second out-n-back grassy climb, I’m feeling like a ton of bricks and it’s just futile.  I have no energy today.  I woke up with day three of faux-fever-nuclear-resistant-cold-of-the-month, threw coffee at it on the ride over in hopes of fooling or even “tricking” it in the spirit of the holiday, but that was just a waste of time.  I didn’t even feel like shouldering the bike until the final lap.  It was pretty bad.  Through some miracle I ended up 32/45.  It felt more like 80th.

This was my first race on tubular tires.  Here is a summary:

  • Tubulars are basically pretty awesome
  • It’s completely worth all the effort required
  • Now I can just put the bike into a turn and race, pressure be damned
  • Challenge Fangos hook up through turns that I would never have the confidence to take before
  • I’ve put the Fango and the Grifo side by side, and there really isn’t a tremendous difference
  • Challenge doesn’t even care what direction you run the tire in
  • Either way, either tire, it’s just good stuff
  • If I had done this two months ago, that would have made a lot of sense

I couldn’t have appreciated these my first year of ‘cross.  But now, about 30 races in, I definitely get it.  So my advice is that if you’ve gone through your first season, and really think you’ll be in it for the long haul, I wouldn’t waste a lot of time.  Literally any set of tubular wheels will do.  You don’t have to be real picky.

And fine, fine, tell me you do just fine on clinchers, or this, or that, and you don’t need to screw around with tubs.  Okay!  Listen, I’m not forcing you to do anything.  You’re you and I’m me and you do what you want!  All I can tell you is that I’m 6’1″, 175lbs, and for me, second only to a bike with gears that actually fits, this is a huge upgrade.  

So on to reality time.

Also, this may be TMI, so you could stop reading now, particularly if you are eating food.

The year is kind of catching up to me.  Since the beginning of September, I’ve been battling saddle sores, and while right now they’re not necessarily getting worse, they’re reeeeeally slow in resolving.  The last few weeks in particular have been pretty un-fun.  I can’t even practice remounts anymore, and I’m burning through chamois cream like a crackhead analogy.  I’ve already been to the doc; nothing I can do short of baths and hot compresses, which I’m not super fond of but I do it.  I’m sure I should be off the bike for a while.

But sitting around with nothing to do is what shitty days in February are for, so f*ck it.  It’s not getting worse, so treat it, go through a case of Assos in the month of November if that’s what it takes to get through the last couple of things I have planned.  I have yet to be told not to ride, and having an M.D. who is also a cyclist definitely makes this easier.

Plus, I know some of you guys now in the 3 field.  It’s fun.  We have a good time.  We rally against the baggery (sand- and douche- varieties inclusive), some of you read the bullshit I put out here; it’s great.

And an overdue schill for my pal Edwin at Van Dessel.  I have beat the crap out of my G&T, and it doesn’t care.  And I haven’t had a fork shudder all year.  This thing is really figured out, and if you’re in the market, buy a ‘cross bike from our friends in New Jersey.

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