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J>P> Partland hops aboard his Redline at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross National Championships on a snowy Friday

Kissena CC at the Cyclocross Nationals, a report from J.P. Partland: I had been tipped off that the course was going to be fast, the hard ground making for fast training laps. The course was pretty wide throughout, plenty of turns, off-camber sections, steep ups and downs, with a nice wide start/finish straight. It was designed to force at least four dismounts per lap. There was one set of boards by the beer garden, two sets of boards at the bottom of steep hills, and one set of stairs. But my guess is that most riders, save perhaps, the top guys in the elite men's race, dismounted six times a lap, and with all the snow and mud, much of the course only had one good line to ride. So much for wide and fast.

Despite wide course engineering, the Liberty Mutual Cycloscross Nationals had only one line to ride because of track conditions in the winter storm.

My plan was to ride both the 35+ and the elite men's races. My fitness was good, but I didn't feel too confident descending in the snow, and I figured that if the races were fast, the power demands wouldn't be as high because we'd take the turns faster and, that with a wide fast course, the start would be less chaotic. Maybe the pack wouldn't string out so soon, and that perhaps all of this would improve my chances of finishing the elite race. I knew I wouldn't be starting in the front row, so having room to move through traffic would be important to not getting dropped.

The start of the 35+ division of the cyclocross Nats was anything but open.

It wasn't to be! I saw Dan S. race in the whiteout conditions earlier on Friday. It looked like good, hard fun, and he seemed to be doing fine in the bad conditions. The 35+ was at 1:00 pm Friday after an hour of open course. My plan... set up a trainer, warm up for a good half-hour... ride the course easily for a bunch of laps... then strip down for the race.

Kissena Cycle Club team memebers rally at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross National Championships

I don't think any of the race reports that I've read accurately described what happened next. The word bombogenesis--a catastrophic weather event--is pretty close to right. While I was warming up on the trainer at 11:30, the blizzard turned to heavy rain. Didn't seem any warmer, maybe just a degree or two above freezing. The heavy rain continued to about 1:00 pm, when the 35-39 race started. Then, the rain turned to sleet and the wind picked up, gusting to over 40mph. The metal barriers lining the finish blew down, the clock was put away, the tape on the course looked like it was pulling the plastic stakes out of the ground. The huge circus tent in the infield was lifting off the ground. The sleet stung but, the tailwind was impressive. Then the sleet turned to snow, and the temperature dropped like a stone (10 degrees during the race). Extremely slick (read as ICE), the course flooded in a number of sections, but the worst of it was the drop to a set of stairs we had to run up. At the bottom of the stairs, the water was at least ankle deep. Along the lake by the finish line, the road was flooded by a few inches, and it made riding there painful. I heard someone rode into the lake - Ouch!



Bombogenesis dropped snow and every other form of precipitation down upon the Racing cycilists at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross National Championships.

I started in the last row (damn number-order call-up), had an ok start, passing people on the pavement and riding cleanly through the off-camber field sections (with a bad line), losing ground to the leaders. I tripped and crashed getting back on my bike after the first dismount. Got passed, but I passed back pretty fast. The race was already strung out with people quitting left and right. I saw several guys just get off their bikes, step over the tape, and quit. As long as I could pedal and brake, I wasn't dropping out. Hands and feet stung... then went towards numb, maybe even went numb, but each dismount seemed to bring new life to my toes--and the puddle we had to run through was beyond bracing. I was still shifting alright, but braking soon became an issue. Control was really important on all of the drop-offs in the race, and my pads were getting eaten up. By the last lap, on the final muddy drop off into a left turn, I had no brakes at all. Just unclipped the left foot and hoped for the best. The front pads needed to be replaced before Saturday's race, and the rear pads only had one more race left in them.

 I had no brakes at all.  Just unclipped the left foot and hoped for the best at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross Championships.

By the finish, conditions were so abysmal that I couldn't zip up my jacket. A race doctor suggested getting in the nearby ambulance. A great, if absurd way to warm up became a crazy scene as we turned all their nice white towels brown. The EMT's scoffed about bringing summer clothes to a snowstorm. Another racer countered that we were concerned about overheating. Two guys were actually in bad shape though. One of the medalists couldn't move and was moaning and another guy was screaming because his hands hurt so badly. Within half an hour, when I got out of the ambulance, whiteout conditions had closed the course and my bike was locked away in the Mavic truck.

Mud water, snow, ice, what more could you ask at a bicycle race.

At least for Saturday's race, the air was dry, and the sun was shining. But when I got to the course, my bike was a giant icicle. The mechanics had carried it into the truck Friday before they left and there it froze. Saturday's course was much harder to ride. At least on friday, one could ride through the snow onto the ground. Not so on Saturday. I didn't start as far back in the Elite Men's race. But there was a crash less than 100m after the start. I was caught behind it, and then I was hit from behind. Back on my bike, each turn on the first lap created a back-up of racers. I felt that I was negotiating some of the the slippery stuff ok, if not great, but I didn't have the power to get over the steeper pitches. I crashed on the second lap and I was pulled after three laps. I found my rear wheel sporting a broken spoke, while not critical to my race, it hurt all the same. The leaders looked much better on the slippery stuff than I felt. But, they were hardly riding perfectly. On the last lap, I saw Todd Wells dab and stop three times. Each time, I thought it meant Trebon was going to catch him. But when Trebon passed the same spot, he too had to dab.

Kissena Cycling Club's 2005 US Cyclocross Nationals Results:
Karl Dittebrandt 12th in 60+
JP Partland 46th in 35-39
Dan Strika 67th in 45-49
J.P. Partland DNF Elite Race

season over,
JP

J.P. Partland, director of rider development for the Kissena Cycling Club, is also the author of Mountain Bike Madness and The World of BMX. His latest book, Tour Fever, will be released in May, 2006.

J>P> Partland hops aboard his Redline at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross National Championships on a snowy Friday

Kissena CC at the Cyclocross Nationals, a report from J.P. Partland: I had been tipped off that the course was going to be fast, the hard ground making for fast training laps. The course was pretty wide throughout, plenty of turns, off-camber sections, steep ups and downs, with a nice wide start/finish straight. It was designed to force at least four dismounts per lap. There was one set of boards by the beer garden, two sets of boards at the bottom of steep hills, and one set of stairs. But my guess is that most riders, save perhaps, the top guys in the elite men's race, dismounted six times a lap, and with all the snow and mud, much of the course only had one good line to ride. So much for wide and fast.

Despite wide course engineering, the Liberty Mutual Cycloscross Nationals had only one line to ride because of track conditions in the winter storm.

My plan was to ride both the 35+ and the elite men's races. My fitness was good, but I didn't feel too confident descending in the snow, and I figured that if the races were fast, the power demands wouldn't be as high because we'd take the turns faster and, that with a wide fast course, the start would be less chaotic. Maybe the pack wouldn't string out so soon, and that perhaps all of this would improve my chances of finishing the elite race. I knew I wouldn't be starting in the front row, so having room to move through traffic would be important to not getting dropped.

The start of the 35+ division of the cyclocross Nats was anything but open.

It wasn't to be! I saw Dan S. race in the whiteout conditions earlier on Friday. It looked like good, hard fun, and he seemed to be doing fine in the bad conditions. The 35+ was at 1:00 pm Friday after an hour of open course. My plan... set up a trainer, warm up for a good half-hour... ride the course easily for a bunch of laps... then strip down for the race.

Kissena Cycle Club team memebers rally at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross National Championships

I don't think any of the race reports that I've read accurately described what happened next. The word bombogenesis--a catastrophic weather event--is pretty close to right. While I was warming up on the trainer at 11:30, the blizzard turned to heavy rain. Didn't seem any warmer, maybe just a degree or two above freezing. The heavy rain continued to about 1:00 pm, when the 35-39 race started. Then, the rain turned to sleet and the wind picked up, gusting to over 40mph. The metal barriers lining the finish blew down, the clock was put away, the tape on the course looked like it was pulling the plastic stakes out of the ground. The huge circus tent in the infield was lifting off the ground. The sleet stung but, the tailwind was impressive. Then the sleet turned to snow, and the temperature dropped like a stone (10 degrees during the race). Extremely slick (read as ICE), the course flooded in a number of sections, but the worst of it was the drop to a set of stairs we had to run up. At the bottom of the stairs, the water was at least ankle deep. Along the lake by the finish line, the road was flooded by a few inches, and it made riding there painful. I heard someone rode into the lake - Ouch!



Bombogenesis dropped snow and every other form of precipitation down upon the Racing cycilists at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross National Championships.

I started in the last row (damn number-order call-up), had an ok start, passing people on the pavement and riding cleanly through the off-camber field sections (with a bad line), losing ground to the leaders. I tripped and crashed getting back on my bike after the first dismount. Got passed, but I passed back pretty fast. The race was already strung out with people quitting left and right. I saw several guys just get off their bikes, step over the tape, and quit. As long as I could pedal and brake, I wasn't dropping out. Hands and feet stung... then went towards numb, maybe even went numb, but each dismount seemed to bring new life to my toes--and the puddle we had to run through was beyond bracing. I was still shifting alright, but braking soon became an issue. Control was really important on all of the drop-offs in the race, and my pads were getting eaten up. By the last lap, on the final muddy drop off into a left turn, I had no brakes at all. Just unclipped the left foot and hoped for the best. The front pads needed to be replaced before Saturday's race, and the rear pads only had one more race left in them.

 I had no brakes at all.  Just unclipped the left foot and hoped for the best at the Liberty Mutual Cyclocross Championships.

By the finish, conditions were so abysmal that I couldn't zip up my jacket. A race doctor suggested getting in the nearby ambulance. A great, if absurd way to warm up became a crazy scene as we turned all their nice white towels brown. The EMT's scoffed about bringing summer clothes to a snowstorm. Another racer countered that we were concerned about overheating. Two guys were actually in bad shape though. One of the medalists couldn't move and was moaning and another guy was screaming because his hands hurt so badly. Within half an hour, when I got out of the ambulance, whiteout conditions had closed the course and my bike was locked away in the Mavic truck.

Mud water, snow, ice, what more could you ask at a bicycle race.

At least for Saturday's race, the air was dry, and the sun was shining. But when I got to the course, my bike was a giant icicle. The mechanics had carried it into the truck Friday before they left and there it froze. Saturday's course was much harder to ride. At least on friday, one could ride through the snow onto the ground. Not so on Saturday. I didn't start as far back in the Elite Men's race. But there was a crash less than 100m after the start. I was caught behind it, and then I was hit from behind. Back on my bike, each turn on the first lap created a back-up of racers. I felt that I was negotiating some of the the slippery stuff ok, if not great, but I didn't have the power to get over the steeper pitches. I crashed on the second lap and I was pulled after three laps. I found my rear wheel sporting a broken spoke, while not critical to my race, it hurt all the same. The leaders looked much better on the slippery stuff than I felt. But, they were hardly riding perfectly. On the last lap, I saw Todd Wells dab and stop three times. Each time, I thought it meant Trebon was going to catch him. But when Trebon passed the same spot, he too had to dab.

Kissena Cycling Club's 2005 US Cyclocross Nationals Results:
Karl Dittebrandt 12th in 60+
JP Partland 46th in 35-39
Dan Strika 67th in 45-49
J.P. Partland DNF Elite Race

season over,
JP

J.P. Partland, director of rider development for the Kissena Cycling Club, is also the author of Mountain Bike Madness and The World of BMX. His latest book, Tour Fever, will be released in May, 2006.

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