Well, everyone else is doing it, so I might as well. Although, like the last drunk at the party, I'm still not done. There are a couple of races left to do in Redding, so I guess a better title would be "End of Year Wrap UP". Whatever.
I don't know exactly where to go with this post. I could do the blog-o-sphere standard and tell you how my races went vs. my expectations and how I plan to do better, but that falls dangerously close to a touchy feely cross version of a New Year's Resolution and I don't make those. I could do something along the lines of a top 10, but that would do two things I'm not prepared for. The first would require me to sit down and think about what I'm typing and maybe even edit it. Bleh. The second is that the interwebs love a top 10 and I might attract more readers.
Of course, anthing I say, I can and probably change my mind about tomorrow. It doesn't mean I'll do another post about it, but I'd mean to and wind up putting that effort off until something else bright and shiny and new entered my line of sight.
So without further adoo (adu? adou? ado? whatever) I'll ramble semi-coherently about the changes I made this year for cross and how that worked out.
I raced a full season of cross including traveling to Yreka, Merlin, Klamath Falls, Bend, and all of the Cross Crusade races except for Astoria. Last year I "upgraded" to the Master A's and had some mediocre and some pretty good results in Portland and a DNF, but I only did 5 of the races and did 4 out of the 5 Southern Oregon cross races. This year I backed off the summer crits and mid week intervals thinking I would need to be fresher to do the fuller calendar. Wrong. I needed to be in better shape to do better in the full calendar. There is no racing yourself into shape once cross season really hits. If you do two races a weekend, then at best you'll manage to get in a fairly tough ride Wednesday. If it doesn't happen by then, just write it off and move onto the weekend.
The plus side of the season was that I got to know some cool guys in the mid to back of the pack. It makes the 4 1/2 hour drive to Portland every Sunday morning alot easier when you can exchange mindless banter with some of your rivals. It also makes moving up easier if you've routinely beaten someone, even if your points don't allow for a call up(or so I hear). I also found out I can do a full season of cross and not crumble under the effort. The effort isn't the racing, it's the packing and laundry and the driving and the unpackig and the driving home for 5 hours with no shower and the hours in the garage getting the fuckups fixed(see below0 and being away from the family unit for the better part of the weekend.
I had numerous flats on tubulars this year. All were caused by me essentially treating my tubulars like shit and daring them to fail on me. I killed a set of Dugasts by not Aqua sealing them and then the sidewalls rotted. It killed me to toss an expensive tire that rode so fucking nice and still had so much tread left. They literally had maybe 10 races on them. Sigh. I also destroyed a couple (3)of my Grifos. Neither was as stupidly done as the Dugasts, but still were my fault. I'd put a good 2 seasons on one tire and a full season on the other and decided I need to start seeing how low I can run pressures. That's great if you are on some mostly grassy courses, but if your doing hot laps in an old quarry or anywhere in Yreka, then the pressures have to be a bit higher. One tire suffered a cut sidewall. No biggie, since that one was the older one with the most miles. The other ones I actually pinch flatted. I think riding them in to the pits for almost a full lap killed them off for good. I tried the Stan's fix, but the goop just poured out of everywhere. At least I can send them off to Tire Alert to have them fixed in the off season. Note to self, at 190-195lbs, you need to run higher pressures.
I'll finish on what was a high note. I went back to a double set up up front. I'd ran a single 42t and after dealing with clearance issues between the inner guard and the chainstay and in really muddy races for the guards and chainrings to fill up with enough mud to make the chain not sit securely on the chainrings, I went back to what had always worked in the past. A 38/44t combo up front. I almost never needed to get out of the 44. If I dropped down to the 38 and forgot to make the shift back up, no big deal. The difference was enough to give me a little extra spin in some really slow sections and still not penalize me on most of the open bits. No dropped chains, no missed shifts, and a left brake lever the same as my right.