What Heckling Isn’t

MJ5L2372I love cross season. I think it is a great cycling sport as it seems to bring the roadies and the mountain bikers all into the same circus ring. When I was first introduced to cyclocross racing I was told about all the fun aspects such as feeling like you can’t breathe because you’ve been pegged for the last 30 minutes, the bacon hand ups, and the hecklers.

It sounded great, the crowd being into the racing is good for the sport as a whole. It drives the racers to do the best they can and the spectators feed off of each other to have a great time. It should work like that. It should, but when I go to big cross races, the hecklers are getting it wrong in my opinion.

I’d like to think that we are all at a race to promote cycling, racing, and have a good time, but I can’t understand how telling the over weight 40 something year old rider towards last place that he is losing or he sucks is bettering anyone’s experience but the side liners. Even more frustrating is when I see this coming from people who clearly didn’t race that day.

Look, I’m all for heckling. I’m all for calling the riders out who are clearly sandbagging the cat 4 or cat 5 race, but that’s different. I think a proper heckle to the field should make both the racer and the spectators laugh. A perfect example from this past weekends Chi Cross race was a spectator yelling that he had seen a particular racer in an adult movie because he had a 1970’s porn mustache. Hilarity followed and the racer smiled and kept pedaling because he knew when he decided to wear that man trophy what was involved with such a decision.

We should want people, both spectators and racers to enjoy this sport. Enjoyment and enthusiasm are good for progression. I feel bad for the middle to back of the pack racers who are trying, who maybe at their first race ever, and the crowd is cruel for the sake of approval from the person next to them.

We can do better.

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2015 Sram Red 22 Hydraulic Disc Brakeset First Impressions

MJ5L0876I really like my Specialized Crux, so to say I was bummed when Sram announced the hydraulic brake recall last winter would be an understatement. Furthermore, the recall took a serious toll on my faith and desire for Sram products. The recall was the reason I switched my road bike order this spring from being a Sram equipped bike to a Shimano equipped bike.

Sram handled the recall as well as possible from my perspective. They provided a mechanical brakeset to use while the new brakes were designed, manufactured, and tested. The 2015 Sram Red 22 hydraulic disc brakeset arrived at my local bike shop around the time Sram said it would and shortly thereafter I had my Crux back to the spec it was when it was purchased. I hope Sram took care of the local bike shops across the country with reimbursements for parts and labor.

I wanted to give the new brakeset a fair, open-minded chance. This has been a bit tough because it’s hard to shake the thought that Sram had years of development and testing for the first set which had defects and now Sram was telling me to put my faith in their new set when they designed, manufactured, and tested this set in less than six months.

The 2015 Sram Red 22 hydraulic disc brakeset appears to be a completely different brakeset. The shape of the hoods is bigger and shaped differently. I have average sized hands for an adult male and these hoods are about as big as I can feel comfortable riding with. They are not too large, but they are substantial.
MJ5L0880 MJ5L0879The modulation and lever range are greatly improved over the first generation. The first generation brake levers would touch the handlebars when squeezed with force, a real problem when you were using gloves with any bulk on or wanted to switch a gear while breaking. Now the brakes have great lever range with smooth braking and great modulation. They simply feel great.
MJ5L0896 MJ5L0895The finish on the brakeset is great and has the typical Sram style design and flash.
MJ5L0883 MJ5L0886Time will tell how well these fair. So far I am very happy with them. Cyclocross season is approaching and I’m excited to put these brakes through their paces!

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2013 Miller Chill Cyclocross Race

20131215_123533_IMG_0187This past weekend I joined the Bloomington Cycle & Fitness Racing Team at the final race of the Heart Of Illinois Cyclocross series. I take great pride in my local town having a mountain bike race, a criterium, a triathlon, and also a cyclocross race. Miller Chill is our local cyclocross race, and this years event was full of snow and fun!

The course was surprisingly ride-able considering the six plus inches of snow that the previous days weather provided. The course was a perfect balance of technical aspects, turns, power sections, and unique sections capitalizing on the terrain. I rode in the open race and placed sixth overall, second in my category. More importantly, I smiled a lot!

The images can be used for personal use (with credit given), but no professional or commercial usage without prior consent.

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2013 PSI-clocross Cyclocross Race

IMG_1527This past weekend I joined the Bloomington Cycle & Fitness Racing Team at the eighth race of the 2013 Chicago Cross Cup series. The sun was shinning but the weather was still colder than the previous weeks race.

The course was 2.2 miles of hard. Hard. The race had a great mix of elements including off camber turns, singletrack, “Heckle Hill”, long straights, and technical turns. This was my first week racing in the cat 3 race after a mid-week cat up. I had a great time, and thought the racing was a little more business as usual with less chaos, but also a lot harder competition. I ended the day in 37th out of 58. I’ve got work to do :)

The images can be used for personal use (with credit given), but no professional or commercial usage without prior consent.

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2013 Campton Cyclocross Race

IMG_0263This past weekend I joined the Bloomington Cycle & Fitness Racing Team at the seventh race of the 2013 Chicago Cross Cup series. The weather was sunny and somewhat warm for most of the day. The course was a mix of long straights, wooded singletrack, and off camber muddy turns to enjoy while racing.

There was a large group of tents and hecklers around one of the muddy sections. The mud was a factor early in the day. It provided an abundance of entertainment for the hecklers, but by the time I raced in the Cat 4’s, it was negotiable. In my race, I had a good start and won the hole-shot for the first time this season. I finished 10th for the second time this Chicago Cross season. I’ve continued to enjoy my first cyclocross season and look forward to more racing, mud, heckling, and smiles.

The images can be used for personal use (with credit given), but no professional or commercial usage without prior consent.

IMG_0108 IMG_0256 IMG_0289 IMG_0267 IMG_0276 IMG_0129 IMG_0187 IMG_0202 IMG_0233 IMG_0118

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Bike Update: 2014 Specialized CruX Expert Red Disc

IMG_0060Earlier this fall I was fortunate enough to add a cyclocross bike to my collection. Since getting the Crux, it’s been the primary bike I’ve pedaled. I’ve ridden it in several cyclocross races, around town, and a gravel ride. My initial impression of the bike was stellar. I loved it! Since then the time passed, races completed, and general riding have only strengthened the impression.

Since purchasing, I have made some changes to further align the bike with what I want. The total weight as pictured is down two pounds from stock weighing in at 18.12lbs. I have added black Sram bar tape. I like the feel of the tape and much prefer the black color. I think it helps balance the look of the bike with so much white on the frame.

IMG_0076 IMG_0072I added a (black) Specialized Phenom saddle with titanium seat rails and an S-Works carbon seat post. The seat post made a pretty noticeable difference in ride quality, making an already nice ride even better.

IMG_0079The biggest change is a set of Specialized Control SL wheels being added. I have the Control SL’s on my S-Works Epic, and love them. They are feathery light, have great engagement, and have held up to a full season of mountain bike racing without any issues. I like the added flexibility having this wheel set allows me to have. I plan on swapping them between my hardtail mountain bike and my cyclocross bike.

IMG_0068 IMG_0066 IMG_0064I love this bike. If you are in the market, do yourself a favor and test ride one.

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2013 Dan Ryan Woods Cyclocross Race

20131013_141138_IMG_9993This past weekend I joined the Bloomington Cycle & Fitness Racing Team at the third race of the 2013 Chicago Cross Cup series. The weather was great, much better than the previous race in the series. My awesome wife and I took a few pictures, admittedly the awesome ones all came from her this week!

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