The Run Up: We Need More Cowbell

we need more cowbell

We Need More Cowbell Race Report

Cross is here!  But cross weather definitely isn’t.  Boy that was a scorcher.  Even at the 9:30 start the temperature was hot at Bissell’s Hideaway making for some tough racing at We Need More Cowbell, the first Ontario Cup cyclocross race of the season.

Since we are taking about the weather, let’s talk about how ridiculous it is for Ontario Cycling to be disqualifying people for taking hand ups, especially in the Elite 4/Masters 3 race.  Maybe apply the rules in the Elite 1/2 race, but why at the lowest level?  Were other rules enforced?  I don’t recall tire measurements being taken.  Everyone was there to have a little fun, so let them have some fun.  Or have a drink.

Rant over.

Now on to my race.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a good idea of what to expect from myself at We Need More Cowbell.  Wednesday night at Hardwood isn’t the greatest measure of form, I had been feeling pretty good in training and my bike handling skills are progressing.  I figured a good start was the only thing in my way from a decent result.  So after a hurried warm up, I got to the starting corral early in order to get a good starting position.

I managed a third row start for We Need More Cowbell.

we need more cowbell

Ready. Set. Go!

So don’t have poor positioning at the start to blame but unfortunately I don’t have a great start.  My sprint has never been good but when the whistle blew it felt like I maintained my position pretty good.  But as the first lap wore on, I began to slip back through the field.

I feel like I was riding in the top 40 still, not a bad position I felt, but than the problems started to happen.  After an off camber, there was a left hand turned that kicked steeply up the hill.  In the first lap traffic, a number of riders in front of me bobbled after a rider crashed and I was forced to make a sloppy dismount.  Somehow smacking my calf on my chainring, which I didn’t notice until after the race.

we need more cowbell

Bit of a mess. First bobble.

I ran up the hill, made a sloppy attempt at remounting as we went around a 180 back down the slope.  With an off camber turn back along the hill side into a gradual uphill, I selected to run and remount at the top of the hill.  After this debacle, I obviously had slipped back a number of spots into the 60s.

we need more cowbell

The aftermath. Looks like I missed a spot.

We will return to this same downhill to off camber turn later.

Gaps had started to open in the race at this point, so I settled into a bunch for a bit.  Throwing elbows to protect my line in the corners.  I had the inside line on the turn and the guy next me to tried to go outside to inside, so I just defended my place.

The course was fast and sitting in probably was a mistake as the front of the race got further and further away.  Another bobble meant I lost even more time.  Being forced to once again frantically dismount by a crash in front of me as we climbed over the woodchip pile meant I lost more time, but luckily not more places.

we need more cowbell

Course was fast but lacked any real technical challenge.

By the end of the first lap, I had settled into a small group, passing back and forth and not really getting anywhere.  The second lap was rather uneventful but should be noted for my unwillingness to push and try to move back up.  I should have done more to try to get back in the race.

As the third lap began, I decided to jump on the wheel of a rider who came flying by and push on pass the riders I had been riding with.  Clearly I had it in my legs to do this and followed his wheel trying to move back up a few positions.

Now let’s return to that off camber turn I mentioned earlier.  As I pushed on the third lap, I took the downhill corner foot out as my rear wheel drifted down the embankment.  My rear tire lost its battle for traction against the tacky grass, and let out a belch of defeat, releasing its air and spewing tubeless sealant on to the grass.  And with that, there went my race.

With little air left in my rear tire, handling became squirmy and I didn’t want to risk damaging my rim riding on it.  I called it quits, disappointed to at least not get some good training out of We Need More Cowbell.

Burping my tire served to prove to me why tubular tires will always be king in cyclocross.  Tubeless tires can do many things very well such as run similarly low pressures but unfortunately those low pressures can also be there downfall.  When the tire relies on air pressure to hold it onto the rim, running your tires too low can result in burps.  You can roll a tubular in some instances but that likely would not have happened to me in this situation.

What did I learn from We Need More Cowbell?  I should not have sold my tubulars I had last year.