Hyattsville CX: An Interview With Dave Fuentes

Dave Fuentes (Battley Harley Davidson-Sonoma) is an accomplished road racer that started racing cyclocross last season. He has battled this season in the Masters Elite field taking a second place at Charm City Cyclocross, third place at Kelley Acres ‘Cross, and a win at the Breast Cancer Awareness Cyclocross Challenge. With many of the area’s pro/1/2 men racing in Ohio, Fuentes took the opportunity to test his legs in the elite race at the inaugural Hyattsville CX.

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Fuentes attacked the power sections. Photo by J. Steen.

It was clear from the outset that the power output that works to Fuentes’ advantage on the road would translate well on the Hyattsville course. In the early laps only one rider, Adam Driscoll (Adventures for the Cure), was able to keep close as Fuentes put in a string of brutal attacks that depleted the field. The pair stuck together for about 45 of the 60 minute race. But after Driscoll lost his chain, Fuentes established a gap and went into time trial mode to seal the victory.

Following the win and podium presentation, while most racers and spectators made their ways back to their cars, Fuentes and his podium-mates stayed at the venue to escort a group of Special Olympics athletes through the course. The race was able to raise close to $3000 for the Special Olympics organization and it was great to see Dave, Adam Driscoll, Patrick Blair and Chris Consorto take the time to help the cause.

Following the race we caught up with Fuentes to ask him about his day. If you are a hardcore roadie that still hasn’t caught the ‘cross bug, pay special attention to this interview. Here is a guy that is still “learning” the sport of cyclocross (50 psi in the Dugasts??), yet winning races and having a blast.

Can you walk us through your pre-race routine? Do you use a trainer or warm-up on the course, ride on the road?

Fuentes: I like to get to the race about a couple of hours early and get at least 2 hrs of riding in before the start. This usually works out since my girlfriend usually has a race before me. I like to use the road to warm up on. I will try and find a hill to do some repeats and get the blood moving. I’ll blast my iPod to some faster music to get myself in the mood.

What is your typical pre-race meal?

Fuentes: I wake up every morning and make breakfast for my girlfriend and me, and it’s no different on race day. I’ll have one big fresh brew of Peet’s Coffee, oatmeal and some eggs. I’ll try and eat something light about an hour before the race, usually a protein shake.

This was a dry, predominantly flat course. How did that affect your tire and wheel choice? What did you end up using? What psi?
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The short but tricky sand pit. Photo by J. Steen

Fuentes: It was a flat course so I ran a pair of Easton deep carbon tubular with 32 Dugast Typhoons on both front and rear. I wanted an aero set of wheels for the longer road stretches. I’m still stuck in my roadie ways and am still learning about proper inflation. I ran it a bit too high this weekend. I had about 50psi and was slipping all over the place which was causing me a great deal of problems in the sharp turns. I’m a pretty big guy, so I always feel like there is never enough air in the tire if I feel it even the slightest bit squishy.

What bike are you riding and what gearing do you use?

Fuentes: I ride a Van Dessel Gin & Trombones. I had the same bike last year when I started racing cross. My girlfriend, Christine and I thought it would be fun to try something different. We both rode the same size frame so we were sharing 1 bike. This didn’t go over too well since I crashed at about every race I did. After my race, I would hand her a bike with the levers bent in and grass hanging out of them, pat her on the butt and tell her “good luck”. She confiscated the bike and told me to get another one for myself. Edwin Bull (Van Dessel) is a friend of mine and we used to race against each other back in Northern California. He takes care of me pretty well when it comes to the bike. I didn’t want to change anything as far as my position goes, so I went with the same model. I’m still with SRAM which seems to work out just fine, and feel really good running a 46-38 with a 12-25 cog.

Give us a blow-by-blow of how your race unfolded.
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No sprint meant more time to celebrate. Photo by J. Steen.

Fuentes: I liked the course because it looked suited for a roadie like me. There were long straights to attack on, but my lack of technical handling in the corners would allow Driscoll to come back up to me. I had tried to attack several times, but could not get the separation that I was looking for so I would shut down. I was ok with it coming down to a 2 up sprint since I was pretty confident that I had the superior sprint on the road, but it never came to that. With about three and a half laps to go, Driscoll’s chain got wrapped up on something while we were running over the barriers on the back side of the course. He had to stop and put his chain back on. This gave me about a five second gap, which was all I needed. I maintained a steady pace and just tried to not make a mistake by over cooking a corner. It was unfortunate how Driscoll’s chain wrapped, but that’s cross racing I guess.

What is one lesson you can pass on to somebody just starting to race cyclocross?

Fuentes: Hard to say since this is only my second season racing cross. I would think that by having a more experienced cross racer as a mentor would be huge. I think there are a ton of people who can coach someone for cross, but you need someone to actually take the time to ride with you and show you the secrets of cross, I know there’s a ton of them.

What is that hardest part for you, an accomplished road racer, transitioning to cyclocross?
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The Hyattsville CX Elite Men's Podium. Photo by J. Steen.

Fuentes: I think that for me, not having teammates is the hardest thing. Knowing that if I can’t close down something, I don’t have a teammate to help. Cross is a bit different in that you really don’t get to play team tactics too much. It’s usually every man for themselves, but I do see it, especially with one or two guys that are pretty close in ability and strength. If there is a lead group of four or five riders and you have one teammate in that move with you, that’s huge.

Anything else you would like to add?

Fuentes: Sunday was a good day, not only for my race, but for my family too. Christine won her first cross race at Hyattsville and my brother, Brian Fuentes, the closer for the Anaheim Angels, pitched 3 and out in the 9th at Boston to advance Anaheim to the ALCS. I will enjoy seeing them clobber the Yankees on Friday night.  GO ANGELS!!!!

Give a shout out.

Fuentes: I would like to thank Route1Velo and Arrow Bicycle for putting on such a well organized event. It was a wonderful day and I was happy to support such a worthy cause. I look forward to the event next year.

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