Friday, January 4, 2008

2007 Year in Review

A little late in coming, but here it is. My 2007 season isn't even over yet. One more cross race this weekend and it's officially dead and buried.
First half of the year was all MTB races except for 1 road circuit race and about 15 "Tuesday Night Worlds". Had plenty of wins on the MTB in '07 in both the Midwest Fat Tire Series and the Heartland Series. Won all 3 of the overall series titles that I did the previous year (MWFTS Vet Expert and Overall Expert and Heartland 30-39 Expert). Since I don't have a budget set aside for racing, I need to make sure I can win enough cash at each race to cover the cost of getting there, signing up, and getting home. When all was said and done, I did manage to finish out the MTB season slightly "in the black". My 'Cross season starts in July with specifc preparation and training that definatly pays off. Some guys pull their 'cross bikes out a week before the first race and end up getting in their own way. By the time the first race rolls around in September, I've got BOTH cross bikes dialed and i'm hauling ass and feeling like i'm part of those things. Season started early as it usually does with 3 races in Iowa BEFORE the first local race in my area. Then it's off to 4 races in the Nebraska State CX Series which I finally won. Then it's more local stuff following by the UCI races at JingleCross (finished in the money both days in Elite, not too bad). Finish the '07 calender year out with 2 descent results at Nationals (16th in Masters and 41st in Elite). Just local stuff after that then it's 2 1/2 months off to get used to the MTB again.

My tips to a successful 'cross season:
1) Hang the mtb up 2 months before your first cross races. Do cross-specific workouts almost entirely.
2) Have 2 identical bikes. It's a good-size initial investment but well worth it. The majority of this investment is the frame/fork and cockpit (bars, stem, seatpost and seat)
3) Never let anybody tell you that you need 10spd Dura Ace on your cross bike(s). My secret is that Ebay has 9speed Ultegra stuff coming out the cheap #$$#^*&. Maybe invest in crisp new STI levers but the rest should be used, cheap and easy on the wallet to replace.
4) Run a single ring set-up up front and ebay the non-STI left-side levers. Unless you have the big nuts to push the big-ring the whole time, having 2 rings and all that chain slap sucks.
5) Never let anybody tell you you need $1000+ wheels on cross bike(s). I can't recall that anybody ever beat me on expensive wheels because they had expensive wheels. They beat me because they rode better or I screwed up. I run straight-forward stock Dura Ace/Mavic Open Pro wheels (or the equivalent). Nothing that you can't buy for $300-$400 per set.
6) If you run clinchers, run the bigger 'cross sized tubes that don't stretch/thin-out to fill the tire. A highly stretched-out 23c tube in a 32 tire will pitch super easy. Also when it comes to cross clinchers, the tread is something but the casing is everything. I run Challenge Grifo's on the primary bike and Michy Mud2's on the pit bike. Both treads offer roughly the same level of traction, but the casing on the Grifo's is far superior than the Mud2's and the ride quality is completely different. The hand-made construction of the Challenge tires does have a few issues but they are still well worth it.