NCCX Winter ‘Cross Video (Race No. 1)

Races 1 and 2 of the North Carolina Cyclocross Winter Cup took place January 9 and 10 in Salisbury and Mooresville, North Carolina. The CXHairs.com helmet-cam was in attendance for the event. Thanks to Chris Carraway (NCVC) for strapping on the hardware for the races and giving us a good look at the NCCX series. 

We also caught up with Route1Velo’s Thori Wolfe who traveled from DC to NC for the weekend’s races. Before getting to the video, here is Thori’s race report of how things played out at the front of the Masters 45+ field: 

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Wolfe At The Front of the Salisbury Field. Photo by Demoncats Photography. www.Demoncats.com

“Somewhere into the second or third week of undisciplined gluttony following Capitol Cross and the end of the ‘cross season, my R1V teammate Danny Koniowsky suggested the North Carolina Winter Cross Series. I was starting to feel like a slug, so I checked the calendar and Google map and decided to commit to at least the first weekend. I made the trek last weekend and wasn’t disappointed with the trip. Both races on Saturday and Sunday were low key, local races with relatively small fields and some very talented racers still willing to get out in the 20 degree temps when the only other ‘cross racers taking the discipline seriously live in Northern Europe and are named Nys, Albert, and Stybar. The accents were heavy Carolina. The juxtaposition of Ridley bikes, tubulars on carbon rims, and the southern accents you might otherwise expect at a NASCAR event was pretty awesome. It reminded me of surfing in Cape Cod with a bunch of dudes with heavy Massachusetts accents wave sliding on long boards. In both cases, seemingly incongruous, but it didn’t matter once they got down to what they were there to do.  Continue reading “NCCX Winter ‘Cross Video (Race No. 1)”

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Euro Cross Camp: Joe Dombrowski Interview

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Dombrowski on his way to winning Schooley Mill 'Cross

Those that raced cyclocross this past season in the Mid-Atlantic already know Joe Dombrowski. The eighteen year old Haymarket Bicycle/HomeVisit rider could be found in the front group of most MABRA races he entered this year. He usually finished on the podium and captured some impressive victories along the way.

While most of us have hung up the ‘cross bikes for the season, Joe is spending his second consecutive Christmas in Belgium racing bikes against the best cyclocross competition that the world has to offer. As an invitee to Geoff Proctor’s Euro Cross Camp, Dombrowski is living in the Team USA House—along with a group of U-23 and junior racers, as well as a handful of elite riders—and competing in up to nine races in 14 days.

We caught up with Joe to see how his second season is progressing, learn a little more about racing in Belgium and get some insights into life at the Team USA house.

How was your travel to Belgium? I saw where Jeff Bahnson’s bikes didn’t make it on the same flight as him. Any similar issues for you?

The travel was rough. Belgium was getting snow that they haven’t seen in years. I spent 14 hours in the London airport, which made for a total travel time of 37 hours without sleep. Jeff and several others were missing bikes, wheels, and various other pieces of luggage.

Take us through a typical day in which you are not racing. When do you wake up, train, eat, etc. How do you spend the downtime?
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The Euro Cross Camp wheel stash.

Geoff comes by each room and wakes us up in waves. Juniors first, U-23s next, and Elites last. He wants us to be on the same schedule on non-race days as we are on race days. I usually get up at 8:30.

Training starts after breakfast. It doesn’t get light here until 9:00, and we usually are on the bikes around 11:00. After training, I just try to keep the legs up and get a nap in if possible. Els [Delaere (House Directress and Head Chef)] cooks a delicious hot dinner each night.

With another year of racing under your belt, is there anything about Euro Cross Camp that is easier than it was in 2008?

I came into this year’s camp with a better perspective on the level of racing. It’s a bit of a shock when you first start doing big races here; this is definitely not a forgiving place.

Guys at the camp are racing juniors and U-23, right? Do you all travel to the race together? What’s the pre-race routine like?

The camp is mostly juniors and U-23s, but we do have three Elites as well though. Each group travels to the race together, and comes back together. If it is a late race, usually we are on the rollers in the morning keeping the legs loose. If the race is earlier in the day, we will grab breakfast and jump in the van and go to the race.

Usually we can get back from our race in time to watch the Elites race on TV. Continue reading “Euro Cross Camp: Joe Dombrowski Interview”

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HoCo2xCx Podium & Pie Interviews

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The CXHairs Team Bike At Schooley Mill

The Howard County Double Cross weekend took place November 21 and 22. Schooley Mill Cross, a new race, featured long power sections and some muddy climbs. Rockburn Cross featured the same exciting single-track sections, punchy climbs and technical turns as it has the past three years.

For these interviews, I tracked down podium finishers that have yet to grace the cyber-pages of In The Crosshairs for their racing prowess. This way we get a couple more voices in the mix, with different takes on some of the same old questions. I also included sixth place finishers at Rockburn because those folks won pie. And if you win pie, you deserve to be recognized.

I think the highlight of these interviews is the great discussion on race starts and the hole shot. Pay attention to what these folks are saying and see if their successful strategy matches up with what you are doing.

Thanks for reading.

What is your pre-race routine?

Rusty Williford (Fulcrum Coaching/WWVC Racing, Rockburn Cat 3/4, 4th place): Same thing every week: Get to the course by 8:30, recon the course until 9, kit-up and hit the trainer by 10, off-the trainer by 10:35 and head to the course for either 1 hot lap or a few starts.

Andreas Gutzeit (HPC List, Schooley Mill Masters 3/4, 4th place): I do about two laps of the course, mainly looking for good lines. Then I do 30 minute warm-up. Jeff Anderson describes cross racing as a reverse crit. Very helpful for a novice roadie. So now I have taken to practice the start on the course a couple of times and it really served me well at Schooley Mill. I was fourth into the dirt and ended up fourth 40 minutes later.

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Brach hits the climbs at Rockburn (Nystrom not pictured)

Chris Nystrom (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, Elite Masters, Schooley Mill 8th, Rockburn 6th): Arrive early enough to preview the course before the start of the race two slots before my race. Really getting to know and understand the track is key. Pin up the number and get dressed during the race (two prior) and ride the course with a bit more speed before the next race. Ride the trainer and b.s. with teammates during the race just before mine. Red Bull 45 minutes before my start. Get to the line, relax and visualize the start. Remember to have fun.

John Cutler (CycleLife DC, 1st place Schooley Mill Men’s 3/4, 19th place Rockburn Elite Masters): Coffee and a Starbucks egg sandwich (kind of disgusting, yes, but fast). Drive. Listen to NPR or that weird show about parenting. A moment of sheer terror trying to find a gas station with a restroom. Arrive in the middle of one of the races. 20 minutes to get number and get ready to pre-ride. Ride a couple laps. Pretend that I’m actually remembering the corners and lines. Hop on the trainer for 40 minutes. I used to never bring a trainer, but I’ve come around. You can listen to music and zone out. Then Race.

When a race throws a kink in my plans—like a really long walk to registration, one port-potty, a line at registration, a line for the hose, etc.—it really throws me for a loop. I said this last year, but I’ll say it again. NEXT YEAR I’m going all out with the tent, the easy chairs, that little mat for taking of your shoes, the cooler, etc. For two days of racing your post race routine is really important as well. Instead of jumping back into the car while slamming recovery shakes, it can pay to relax, socialize, put your feet up, and commune with fellow racers.

Jeff Trinh (Georgetown University, 1st place at Schooley Mill Men’s Cat 4, 6th place at Rockburn Men’s Cat 4): Coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. When I get to the race site I get dressed and pre-ride the course, making sure to drink plenty of water in between laps. One of the advantages of doing the 9am race is that you have plenty of time to pre-ride, so I like take my time and make mental notes about which lines I’ll pick.

Elizabeth Harlow (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, Women’s 1,2,3 Schooley Mill 4th and Rockburn 6th): Ride the course a couple of times before the Master Men’s Elite race. Paying attention to anything that may give me trouble. Ride around easy while the men race and then ride the course again close to race pace after the men finish.

Jon Hicks (Winchester Wheelemen, Rockburn Cat 4 5th place): The first lap to get a feel for the flow and the second much slower, looking for objects to avoid. A gel and FRS 30 minutes before the start.

Andrew Welch (Squadra Coppi, Mens 3/4, 3rd at Schooley Mill, 1st at Rockburn): I don’t like to have a lot of down time before my race, so I usually show up just in time to get a couple laps in before the previous race goes out … nothing too fast, just some course recon and easy warm-up. Then I get my number, change kit, and finish warming up … on the road. I have a trainer in my car, but it hasn’t come out all season.  Continue reading “HoCo2xCx Podium & Pie Interviews”

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