Much like how the Milwaukee Brewers almost missed the playoffs by hitting a slump right before the end of the season, I’ve hit my cyclocross season slump. As with most slumps it is not by choice. The bills have been coming in so I picked up an extra PAID internship on campus and continue to work at Menards. Now I have no time to race cyclocross because I have to make money to live, which is truly a college students problem, but when it comes to other reasons I’ve missed races I have that covered too.
From Oct. 13 to Oct. 18, 2011, I was being a sophisticated public relations professional at the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference. I can’t say it was the best trip ever but it gave me a view of the career I hope to find after I graduate. So at the end of the conference I got on the plane with a 2nd place award for the National Organ Donation Awareness Campaign that I ran last year; I was feeling proud but my body was feeling otherwise.
After arriving back in Wisconsin with a sinus infection that I had since the second half of my trip, I decided I was going to tough it out and go to class and work Wednesday through Friday. Riding from home to work to class and back was my only training for the past two weeks. Then the weekend hit and I was dead, my symptoms included fatigue from waking up, a constant headache, and sinuses that wanted to explode.
Monday came and I gave up. My body was cashed so I went to Aurora’s walk-in and it turns out that I had the flu. The flu was causing my blood sugar (being a Type 1 Diabetic) to stay sky-high and thus causing the rest of my body to feel terrible. After five hours of having fluids pumped into me I was starting to feel better and they said I could go home.
Everyone understands being sick feels terrible but missing races feels even worse. So how do you recover from the flu in time to squeeze a few more races?
Its official QR (Quick Response) codes have made it on to bicycles. QR codes were created by the auto giant, Toyota, to track vehicles being manufactured while going down the assembly line. When it comes to QR codes on bicycles Team mechanic Daimeon Shanks for Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com uses them to track the specifics of each team members’ bicycles.
Shanks using a QR code system to track the team's equipment - Photo by: Matt Pacocha/BikeRadar
According to a bikeradar.com story, Shanks uses QR codes to store rider’s measurements to set up a bike as well as exact service details. Those service details include time between services and dates of key component changes. While Shanks has adopted the QR code to bicycles in a similar method that it was original intend for QR codes are being used in another area of cycling too.
Bikeshepherd.org has created a “Neighborhood Watch Program run by you” using QR codes. The guys over at bikeshepherd.org have employed QR codes on bicycles to make sure the rest of the cycling community knows who owns your bike, you! On their website you can enter the serial number of your bike into a database along with your contact information and a QR code is produced that you can print and stick on your bike (with printable stickers). If your bike ever is stolen anyone can scan the QR code on it and find out who the true owner is. Besides the QR codes bikeshepherd.org also does a social media blast with Stolen Bike Alerts when your bike is reported stolen.
QR Code from bikeshepherd.org - Scan it, it works!
Have you been worried about having your bike stolen and want an added insurance to get your bike back? Want to be sure to your bike service is being documented and done on time? QR codes can be use to ensure your bike is taken care of and safe. How else have QR codes been used in the cycling community?
There are many resources I’ve found while building my cyclocross bike this pre-season and many of them can still be used to find cheap (but still quality) replacement parts. These resources include Ebay, Bonktown.com, Chainlove.com, Craigslist.org, and many more.
Lets start with Ebay because it’s where I saved the most money this pre-season while building up my cyclocross bike. Having a college student’s budget I started with the cheapest parts to replace and worked up from there. The first thing I looked at were chain rings to replace the 53-39t stock chain rings that came with my LeMond Poprad. Creating a “watchlist” of chain rings that were 46t and 38t (that fit a 130mm crankset) allowed me to compare prices and shipping rates (shipping rates do have an impact on the price of the overall purchase). I ended up separately purchasing a 46t Origin 8 chain ring for $23.99 with shipping and 38t Origin 8 chain ring for $10.89 with shipping on Ebay. That makes a total of $34.88 and local bike shop had quoted me $80 for the two.
|Other Ebay Deals:
|Crankbrother’s Eggbeater Pedals & Cleats
||$80.00 (Ebay Buy it Now)
|7800 Dura Ace Rear Derailleur
|Tekro CR720 Brakes
I was pumped! I had my numbers pinned on (and then repinned on by Phil from Orbea Bikes), my chain lubed and derailleur fixed by Phil from Orbea Bikes, and had gotten a good warm up in. I had looked over what I could see of the course and was ready to race.
There I sat with fellow category four rides all around me, I thought to myself, “all of these guys seem like they’re done this before, and I hope I’m ready for this.” The tone went off and we all took off. Flying off the pavement start/finish section we rolled down a steep hill in to a flat and then an off camber straight. Going into the first real turn I was doing great.
Then came the off-camber section, successfully navigating it included unclipping one of my eggbeater pedals (that are amazing for cyclocross if you ask me) and one leg spinning while using the other one to balance. After that came a quick stair section where I shouldered my bike and sprinted up the the set, still hanging with everyone. Once I remounted after the stairs the problems began!
When I had unclipped from my pedals to dismount, my cleats on my Diadora shoes had spun so that it was almost impossible to turn my feet to the correct angle to clip back in. Up next, a big, very bumpy, hill and going down it unclipped in on a cyclocross bike with no suspension is not the easiest of tasks.
After the hill was a easy left handed turn but not being able to clip in hurt my pedaling power and I lost a couple of positions. In the technical section through the trees I lost a few more positions not being able to sprint out the turns and it really hurt me going up an insanely steep hill on the backside of the course. Through the sand section I made up some positions with my dismount ability and foot sprinting ability.
So three laps and my 30 minutes was up. What were the results? Honestly I don’t know where I placed because I never checked at the registration table but for my first time I thought I did pretty well. My dismounts and remounts were great and if it weren’t for my cleats spinning I feel I would have done even better. So how can I improve from my first race at Cross the Domes? I’ll let you know soon!
When anyone thinks of emotions in sports they think of overcoming the challenge and achieving victory or they may think of the despair of defeat, but cyclocross is an entirely different beast. Looking to the approaching cyclocross season I am filled with emotions.
We’ve all been him or her, the new kid, I am the new kid when I enter my first race on Oct. 1 at Cross the Domes. Besides my nerves, I’m gratefully excited for that day to come. “Cyclocross, to put it simply, is painful,” according to condition coach, Jason Ross. “How much pain can you endure without giving in or giving up.”
From the articles I’ve read in Cyclocross Magazine to the numerous YouTube videos I’ve watched explaining the sport to showing its highlights I know it is everything I’m looking forward to. There will be the crazed, some drunk, fans ringing cowbells and cheering us racers on. The cold fall air will be coming into fruition along with my worries.
It is two weeks before the race and I already have the prerace jitters. Am I conditioned enough? Am I going to crash? If my preseason endeavors racing through campus at UW-Oshkosh to get to class on time are any indication of my conditioning and bike handling abilities I believe my finishing time will be “in time.”
But will I be able to handle the pain? If biking to work at Menard’s after getting run off the road by a typical Oshkosh driver and then still managing to make it to work on time is an indication of my pain tolerance, I believe I will be able to handle the pain of hopping barriers and shouldering my bike.
After two weeks of healing this is what I'm left with from the Oshkosh driver who ran me off the road.
These are all questions that keep racing though my mind. The truth is there is nothing that can be done for the prerace jitters besides focusing on the excitement of the race to come and, “Man, am I excited!”