Sunday, February 26, 2017

Monster Cross 2017


Conditions were fast, and the weather was astounding. I actually started the race in short sleeves, with only a base layer under my kit.  I staged poorly. I wish the promoter would stage by class and not just one giant wave after the elites go.

I rode conservatively for the whole race, since I didn't know how I would respond after not racing for nearly seven months. I didn't feel like my usual reckless self, and really dialed down the risk level--I didn't want to start 2017 lying on the ground with a broken collarbone. For the first big lap, I worked my way through the field, and really made up time on the paved uphill section. Although I faded a little after after the halfway point, I didn't notice it, and I felt really indestructible for nearly the entire race.

Unfortunately, at the end of the second big lap, and only nine miles from the finish, we were neutralized as a group so a woman who had crashed could be helicopter evacuated. I had caught (for the second time) 65+ national cyclocross champion Fred Wittwer, and was thinking "podium!"  I could spin the neutralization two ways. Negatively, all the guys I had dispensed with on the road all caught back on. Positively, I caught all the guys who had dispensed with me on the twisty hiking-path sections. So it was probably a wash. After the restart, the fight went out of me for a while, unfortunately, and it wasn't until we hit fire-road sections again that I could dial the intensity back up.

I completely fell apart on the final single-track downhill section less than a mile from the finish. At least ten guys passed me in the final two minutes of a three hour race.

The finish order was a replay of my racing career. When I was a second-season Category 4, I had more than ten top-ten finishes, but they were nearly all sixth through tenth. If a race paid three places, I was fourth. If it paid seven places, I was eighth. This time I ended up 4th in the 50+: one place off the podium. And like Hilly Billy Roubaix 2015, where the winner passed me with less than five minutes left, I'm sure the third place guy this year passed me on that single-track section where I came unglued.

The race in graphs

I faded less toward the end than in past years. The horizontal section is the six minutes I spent during the neutralization. 
All five years compared. I have never been faster. than this year.  2015 was the year of the epic mud bogs, and in 2014 I DNF'd after flatting twice and then getting lost in the woods. I am astounded at how close 2016 and 2017 are for the first 80 minutes.
I averaged 175bpm for the three hours, even including six minutes standing motionless. I have no idea what was wrong with me in 2016. 

The race in pictures

Hey! I'm with a teammate! A lot of the course is fire roads like this one.
The road section. Time to drop the mountain-bike guys. It's always a good sign when you're riding with a national champion. 
Stream crossing. I rode this like a grandmother--I refused to flat. I'm off to the side to try to stay out of everyone's way.

The only steep section on the entire course just after the stream crossing.


Same as 2016. Crux with hydraulic disk brakes and Challenge Gravel Grinder 38mm tires @ 45 psi (5psi lower than 2016). I'm done with file treads; I'll ride regular cyclocross tires in 2018. Definitely needed more hookup on the twisting sections.


  • 2017: 49.4 miles in 3:11:42 57/309 overall and  5/46 in the 50+
  • 2016: 49.4 miles in 3:15:47 82/342 overall and 10/55 in 50+
  • 2015: 45.4 miles in 3:28:47 58/252 overall and 5/38 in the 50+ 
  • 2014: DNF--two flats before the 1/2-way point
  • 2013: 47.7 miles in 3:05:23  71/382 overall and  9/46 in 50+
  • 2012: 3:17:33  58/336 overall and 12/50 in 40-49

    Links to results

    Strava link

    Links to previous race summaries

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