Cross My Heart 2009 (Part II): The One With Gears

Hello and welcome back to our coverage of Proteus Bikes’ February 1 Cross My Heart cyclocross event. For Part I of our coverage, The Superbowl of Singlespeed, look here. In Part II, we take a look at more Cross My Heart races, this time with geared bikes.  A good-sized off-season crowd showed up to test their fitness and race a technical, sloppy course. To see how things went down at the pointy end of the race, we caught up with the podium finishers. Here’s what they had to say.

B Men Head For The Woods
C Men Head For The Woods

Where are you in your training? How did you approach this race?

JARED NIETERS, (HAYMARKET BICYCLES P/B TRAKKERS), MEN’S A 1ST PLACE: I am just starting to incorporate some LT intervals for my road season.

KRISTOPHER AUER (C3-SOLLAY.COM), MEN’S A 2ND PLACE: I spent the previous week kayaking in the Everglades. Not much but some riding prior to that trip though.

MIKE BIRNER (BEN’S PERFORMANCE BIKE’S/BMC), MEN’S A 3RD PLACE: I’m in my off season which means I’m normally remodeling my house during any spare time I have. The bike usually collects dust right now. I approached this race by figuring out where my cross bike was the day before (it was at the shop), finding my long sleeve skinsuit the night before and scraping the mud (still from Taneytown) out of the cleats of my shoes after pulling into the parking lot the morning of the event.

STEPHEN WAHL (LATITUDE/ ABRT), MEN’S B 1ST PLACE: I am in the middle of training for a full season of road racing. Doing lots of base miles, hills and some Computrainer classes every week. Nothing really structured/coached. I came to this race to test out my fitness and just have fun with it.

SCOTT STAHL (SEAVS RACING/BEN’S PERFORMANCE BICYCLES), MEN’S B 2ND PLACE: Tapering at the end of a long season of mtb racing followed by cross racing, did extend my cross racing with a couple of races in NC and VA BCH in January which helped.

KATE SCHROCK, WOMEN’S B 1ST PLACE: I didn’t train at all. I’m a bike messenger in Baltimore, so I get a good amount of miles in during the week.

KATHLEEN HERNDON, WOMEN’S B 2ND PLACE: I have a bit to go on my training. I think I have maybe been on my bike 8 times so far this year?

[ed. note: As an aside, to be successful in Women’s B level CX racing in this area it helps to have “Kat” in your name. First three places: Kate, Kathleen, Kathy. Just keep that in mind when thinking about baby names.]

TIM PHILLIPS (TEAM BBC), MEN’S C 3RD PLACE: Our team has a coach that provides monthly training schedules. I’ve been largely following that-mostly base riding with some light zone 4 intervals. Any race that fits into my schedule and is not too far of a drive is fair game. I do not take it too seriously.

JASON PEARLMAN (TEAM BIKE RACK DC), MEN’S C 5TH PLACE: I spent the month of January doing routine spinning and base mileage, but knowing there was a ‘cross race in a month’s time, I kept my pace above average and factored in plenty of hills to simulate keeping a spin through sluggish, grassy, muddy terrain.

KENNETH A MORRIS JR. (WINCHESTER WHEELMEN RACE TEAM), MEN’S C 2ND PLACE: I am at the end of the year in my training. I am currently undergoing a two week period of race post race. I took this race as the end of my cross/road season. I have not let up since last March. I felt pretty bad going into this race.

With it being the off-season for cross, did you try out new gear or tweak your positioning at all in front of this race?

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): nope nothing new. I still had gear in the car from nationals so that helped quite a bit.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): Nope, 32×20, I knew I was going to spin, but i didn’t really want to blow anther $20 on another freewheel.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): No.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): I rode my normal cross set-up. Hasn’t been touched in 2 years. I did run Michelin Mud tires on the front and rear, though I usually only run in on the front.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): Nope.

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): I rode my new cx bike for the 3 or 4th time Sunday.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): I finally weighed my current rig and found that it needs to go on a diet for next season. 20+ pounds is a little much.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): I did not tweak my position, though I need to. My bike doesn’t fit me well, so I figure I will mess with my positioning when I get a new one for next year.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): I kept my bike as it was since my last race in early December. I hung up all of my bikes for a month at the end of the MABRA season, and only began riding again on January 1st. I rode my ‘cross bike once, but spent the rest of my time on the road. For the Cross My Heart race, I wiped off the mud and dirt from the Capitol Cross and just made sure everything was lubed and in adjustment.

How did you prepare for 55 degrees and icy?

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): I raced the day before at the Snotcycle race, I think that helped with the snow. Longsleeve skinsuit, legwarmers, vest.

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): This was my first cx race, so I went with a smile ready for an adventure and whatever came up.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): I was prepared for colder weather, so the 55 was a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t know how you can prepare for icy, other than getting to the race early enough to pre-ride the course. I did 3-4 laps before the race started.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): I knew there would be mud, so I lowered the tire pressure and hoped for the best. Melting ice is worse than frozen ice. It seems slipperier. Typical cyclocross conditions in my opinion.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): I brought a big selection of racing clothes with me to the race, and I pre-rode the course for four laps to know what lines to pick through the technical sections.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): I dressed with two Craft base layers, a long sleeve skinsuit, knee warmers, headband and thick gloves-way overdressed. Evidently I don’t quite know how to layer for 55 degrees.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): I overdressed actually and got pretty hot during the race.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): First I put on almost all the clothes I owned, then when I took the warm up lap I took them all off. As for the ice-I’d been riding around in that shit all week, I LOVE IT!

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): Longsleeves and legwarmers. 2 donuts for added warmth.

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): No problem as have continued riding outside year round, loved the ice challenge!

What tire pressure did you run? Clinchers or tubies?

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): 30 PSI and was running the tubulars.

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): Tubulars, 32 grifo setas. Continued to lower the air pressure, ran about 29/30 in front and 31/32 in rear.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): 60 psi, clinchers. I did bounce around a little.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): Clinchers @ 40 PSI. I don’t put spare wheels in the pits yet and would rather not flat.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): 40 lbs. Clinchers

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): Grifo tubulars, 30 psi +/-

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): I ran somewhere around 40psi on good ol’ tubies.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): I ran about 35 pounds in my clinchers.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): I was running 50 lbs (according to my pump gauge) and clinchers. If I had run anything lower I would have flatted on the first lap when I hit the log on the run up at the stairs.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): I ran clinchers at about 50 psi.

Did you get the free cookies at registration? What other pre-race food did you take in?

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): I didn’t see them until the end of the day, but no, I didn’t try them. I really wanted to, I was trying to be good. I have been eating 1 egg and 2 egg whites with whole wheat toast, steel cut oats (just switched over from regular oat meal), oj and 2 cups of coffee. This has been working well for me on the longer rides.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): Yes. I got mine after the race though. I had toast and oatmeal for BK.

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): While I did get the cookies, I went for a couple of bagels before the race and a gel.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): No cookies. Just some cereal and small coffee in the morning.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): Though I am trying to avoid the sweets, I did eat a bad of cookies, and they were awesome. [ed. note: normally I would just change “bad” to “bag” without flagging it, but this is such a great bike racer Freudian slip I left it as-is.]

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): I did not take the cookies though they looked good. Shredded Wheat for breakfast. I’m also eating up all my recalled Peanut Butter Crunch Cliff Bars – had one an hour before the race. No Salmonella yet.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): I ate the same thing I eat everyday: flour tortilla, hummus, cheddar, peppers, spinach-roll it up, munch it down. I ate the cookies after the race, that much sugar will knock me out. I also had a GU mid race-that’s legal, right?

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): I skipped the cookies. Aside from a breakfast of slow-cooked oatmeal, I came to the start line fueled on a Clif Bar (45 minutes pre-race) and an energy gel just moments before the start. The whole time warming up I went between water and an electrolyte replacement drink.

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): Missed the cookies, I’m truly sorry I did. Large Coffee and 2 donuts made the day.

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): Yes but ate them post race, thanks guys. Pre race was a zone bar and coffee about 3 hours prior

What was the best part of the course. What feature could you have done without?

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): Loved it all …the ice and snow really made it challenging and as the day warmed up added in lots of mud and goop. My favorite part was the single track descent with the log hop at the bottom followed by the steep loose leaf climb…. except for the first lap start chaos…. I was able to bunnyhop the log and climb the hill that most were running, this kept me in the race along with the log hop adjacent to the stair run up (for once good mountain biking skills paid off!) For me the long road sections I can do without!

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): It was a serious throwback to old school cross racing but in a really, really fun way. The best part was the transition from the off cambers which would have rocked in any race course to the singletrack sketchball downhill onto a slick bridge.

Kate on the long run-up.
Kate on the long run-up.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): I dug the muddy section in the back, and the downhill after the obstacle thing. I didn’t like running up the stairs because it took forever to get back on the bike.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): The long false-flat mulch section was pretty cool. The icy section around the mulch pile was very sketchy-could have done without that. In the absence of the ice though, it would have been no problem.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): I wouldn’t have changed a thing on that course. I liked that the run-up was rideable for some. I think the width was in violation of rules, but I didn’t mind that at all.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): I liked all the technical parts of the course, especially the downhill over the bridge and up and over the railroad ties. It gave the advantage to those that could ride over those that had to run this section. I also enjoyed the icy sections and would have liked more of that.

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): The whole course was pretty great. The ice section I ‘met’ twice in the mulch area was fun as well.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): I enjoyed the single barrier more than anything. You could actually lean into the turn through the barrier and keep allot of momentum. I would definitely keep the single barrier portion of this course as is.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): The mud and ice! I loved all of it. I thought it was good use of the surrounding terrain.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): This is a hard question because the course was so creative and so well thought out. The wood chip and mulch section was ridiculous amounts of fun, and I really enjoyed the off-camber zig-zags which came after the asphalt strip just past the barrier – a very Belgian part of the course. I can’t think of any part of the course which was detrimental – everything fit in perfectly.

Describe the decisive moment of the race.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): The first hill when I realized I only had one working gear in the back after messing up my rear derailleur on the warm-up lap. Then the last lap when I decided to push my one gear and the big ring (very slowly) to close the gap back up to third place.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): In the C Men’s race, the decisive moment was staying up front and avoiding the chaos just after the start by the muddy V-ditch and the forest/run-up section, and also avoiding all of the first-lap crashes. There weren’t many Cs pre-riding the course before the races began, and this was a recipe for disaster.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): The 2nd to last lap when I passed Scott Stahl. I knew I had it when I went by him, as long as I didn’t have a mechanical. Once I saw that I had a good gap, I just kept on punching it.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): When I went down for a third time and lost my chain I almost abandoned the race. Instead I let it all hang out for the last two laps. I also was granted and additional lap thanks to the race gods. Somehow I was missed in the finish area as a leader so I went one extra lap at speed. I guess that will help me get ready for my upgrade next season (longer races).

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): It was entering onto the grass for the first time.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): The first 1/2 lap Kris and I got away. The rest of the race we were shoulder to shoulder. The final sprint decided our outcome.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): The small pile-up in the ditch after the 1st turn at the start of the race. A selection seemed to occur right there.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): At the starting line, I pulled up next to Elizabeth, she looked really fast so I decided I’d try and hang with her for as long as possible.

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): The start. First to the hill enabled me to ride it, One other rider did as well, the rest had to run it.

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): On the last lap going into the off camber grass turns to the left of the clubhouse I was in third (not knowing it at the time) and took a tight inside line on the turn after the big hump sliding my rear wheel out…. due to the mud… making a block pass that allowed me to put some distance between myself and the third place racer bombing the downhill and bridge section so I was able to avoid the finish line road sprint and cruised in (not realizing I had finished second).

Did you see the course signage? Do you have a favorite?

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): “Spay your cat!” As a veterinarian I really appreciated that one, next year I will ask them if we can put up a sign to “Spay your Rabbit” as that is my specialty! The signs were a great touch though!

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): saw them, maybe the “Sleep More” I can always agree with that.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): Yes, that was great!

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): I saw them and they were cool, but now that the hypoxia has resolved, I cannot remember what they said.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): I saw the signage. I chuckled, but nothing comes to mind.

Might as well ...
Might as well ...

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): SMILE!!!

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): I saw it on the warm-up lap. I don’t recall any now.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): I did. “Eat more greens,” because that’s what I need to do.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): The course signage was a riot! My favorite was the sign about sleeping late, because I actually got to do that for once as a ‘crosser.

The RV park seemed like an ideal CX venue. What is the most memorable place you have raced?

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): This was the most memorable place.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): Cyclocross? Then I would have to say Iron Cross. There is nothing like finishing a race like that, unless you win it.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): This race tops them all. Mud, ice, mud, trees, mud, hills, mud, and barriers. Did I include the mud?

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): So far, the RV park. I hope to see this race on the schedule again!

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): Usually the more hilly and technical courses stick in my mind. This is one of them, Kelly Acres was another and the old Psycho-Cross series from the early 90’s and their mountain cross style of courses at Arundel High School.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): Cross venue: Hagerstown BCA venue. Crit: Athens, GA.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): It was definitely a nice venue and a great course. The access to the indoor facilities is a major bonus. Most memorable … hard to say. All the courses this past season were unique in their own right.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): My family really enjoyed the Tacchino Ciclocross up in Leesburg, VA. When you drag your wife and your toddler son with you, it’s nice to have something for them to do as well, and the historic downtown in Leesburg gives us a chance to do something fun together as a family after the race.

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): Not sure if it was ideal, but it was nice. Most memorable West Hill Race in Putney Vermont from many, many years ago.

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): This may have been the most unique venue for me to date … and the course was technical and fun … what a great atmosphere … thanks Proteus for a great day!

Anything fun or interesting stand out about the day?

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): My teammate Brian Flynn and I thought we were somewhere in 6 through maybe 8th place. I thought a small group of riders got away after the 1st turn crash. The course was designed such that you just could never see that far ahead of you. It was not until after the finish that we realized we were 3rd and 4th.

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): Good crowd, surprising and cool.

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): Seeing my wife get so excited after the race, she is awesome!

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): Wow those sheets of ice in the turns really made for some fantastic crashes! But the snow and ice was offset by the great sunshine and warm weather!

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): Everyone was really friendly.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): The course and, as always, the people.

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): The single-speed race was quite entertaining. Got to see a couple of them try to bunny hop the barrier.

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): Unique finish line. The short sprint after a major climb is right up my alley.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): It was fun winning! The weather was interesting.

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): Just the whole atmosphere – it was pure local cyclocross enjoyment; no series, no points, no pressures – just riders, bikes, bike culture, and good times. I especially enjoyed watching the singlespeed race, which was both exciting and entertaining. The fans all got into it, favoring nobody and encouraging everybody, and Ryan Dudek in particular always knows how to have fun riding and racing a bike. The weather was perfect and the course conditions were perfect, and the people in particular great.

Give a shout out.

MIKE BIRNER (Men’s A 3rd Place): Thanks to Ben at Ben’s Performance Bike’s ( for all the mechanical, equipment and logistical support during the 2008/2009 cross season. Thanks to BMC for providing the best bike out there. And thanks to my wife for watching our son and letting me go race on a great winter day.

STEPHEN WAHL (Men’s B 1st Place): Thank you Proteus for putting on a race in February and John K for lending me the jersey so I could represent my new team!

KEN MORRIS (Men’s C 2nd Place): Shout out to Jon, Mark, Buck, and Kent. These guys made the trip to watch the race.

KATHLEEN HERNDON (Women’s B 2nd Place): Thanks Jill & everyone that worked to put on a great race!

JASON PEARLMAN (Men’s C 5th Place): Complete and total props to Proteus for creating and running this race-they hit the ball out of the park with this event, and I hope they do it again next year. Thanks also to John Bavier and The Bike Rack for their support of grassroots cyclocross in DC. Thanks to all of the riders, racers, fans, friends, photographers, bloggers, characters, kids, and dogs that make the DC-area scene so awesome. Most of all, thanks to my wife for being such a supportive and compromising racer’s spouse, my son for giving me baby smiles at the start line and playful outstretched arms at the finish line, my family and friends for their support, and to G-d for deeming that cycling should be something to fall into my lap and into my life.

JARED NIETERS (Men’s A 1st Place): I thought Kris ran a great race.

TIM PHILLIPS (Men’s C 3rd Place): Proteus Bicycles. They put on a great race that happened to be on the nicest day of the year so far. Props!

KATE SCHROCK (Women’s B 1st Place): Thanks Penny for letting us use your van, and Marshall, Deva, Josh, Erika and Julia, for coming out.

KRISTOPHER AUER (Men’s A 2nd Place): C3 per usual and every other dumb bastard who thought it would be a good idea to race on the 1st of Feb.

SCOTT STAHL (Men’s B 2nd Place): Thank you to my cyclocross coach and friend Stephen Riskus for all the help this year and Ben Shaeffer of Ben’s Performance Bicycles for putting together a sick cyclocross machine for me!

See Ya Next Year!
See Ya Next Year!

One thought on “Cross My Heart 2009 (Part II): The One With Gears

  1. Hi. I’m the Proteus cookie baker & I was also heavily involved in making and posting the signs. I can’t thank you enough for noticing my efforts to help add an extra touch of fun to the event.

    I proudly point out that while many people interviewed in your article passed on the cookies, the winner of the Men’s Cat A ate them & declared them “Awesome.” The winner of the Men’s Cat A! They were my signature recipe, and now I can boast that my cookies bestow super powers!

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