Monday, November 24, 2008

Boss Cross #2 - Kick your fam out early

Here it is, y'all. First a couple of things. One, I'm a computer retard. I really don't know how to do much online except what's required of me at work. Secondly, I'm a computer recluse. There is a distinct disconnect between my generation and the one that seems to dominate these blogs and forums and all that other crap. I don't know if it's because I'm pretty satisfied with my real life (other than being fat, out of shape, slow, and out of town for weeks on end) that I don't feel compelled to sit on all these websites, forums, bulletin boards and blogs and post my mundane stuff. Maybe I don't think that I'm interesting enough, or there are others that are interested enough in what I do on a day to day basis to fill up the interweb with more drivel. Maybe kids these days are so hyper-connected to a larger community, one where the boundaries are limited by bandwidth rather than riding distance that it's second nature to live part of their lives on the internets. Anyway, it's been awhile since I've posted anything.

Now we have something to post: This Sunday, November 30, is Boss Cross #2. It's at Platte Ridge Park in Platte City. It's going to be a similar course to last year, and if you were there last year then you know it's hard. You have to have legs and lungs, but, kids, you also must have skills. We've heard from several this year that the courses are not technical enough, whatever that means... I guess if I feel egotistical enough, I can take a bit of blame for that...

See, when most of us who have been racing for more than 4 years started out, there were maybe 9 cross races a year. The season started generally the first weekend of November and went to late January, usually 3 races a month. There was Slimen Und Grossen at this sweet little mudhole park in western Shawnee - there were three races here, two and sometimes three races at Big Shunga (I think) in Topeka and if we were lucky, maybe a race or two at the river trails in Lawrence. Every once in a while someone else would come along and put on a random race. The Topeka races were badass - grassy, paved, hilly. The river trail races were what you would expect (Ian Kirby bunnyhopping huge logs) - a long section of the river trails with a section coming back on the levee with some goathead thorns in the field between the trail and the levee if you were lucky. And there there were the S&G races.

As I look back, I can't say that I fully appreciated these races or this venue. A big race was 50 people, we usually lined up in the rain, and we always had a bitchin raffle for prizes rather than the winners taking home all the good shit. The park (or land) was small. Really small. And it was always muddy, like ankle deep mud for the entire course, and I don't remember the grass ever being mowed... There was a short section that went up a short stiff climb; near there, really part of the same landscape feature, but in a wooded area, there was a wicked muddy rutted right hand turn around a tree, up a step directly down into steep white knuckle descent into a left hand turn onto crumbling asphalt. There were some other things, but what you need to take away from this, is this: due to the mud, a small venue, and the always crappy weather, we learned to ride our bikes well, I think really well. Also, the race speeds were pretty slow... yeah, Tilford was fast, but the Bs where I lined up... we were slow, not because we weren't strong (I was 10 years younger, single, skinny... we all were), but because riding a course in deep-ass mud is slow!

In the caveman days of the internet, we (or at least I) didn't have youtube type videos of the euros... I had a couple of WCP videos of CX worlds, and some races that were taped in the 80s, and pictures in magazines. Seeing the courses that the Euros were riding did something to me. Yeah, there were muddy sections (really muddy) and there were steep descents and runs (I was a mountain bike racer, I could handle those), but there was also A LOT of wide open paved sections, and a lot of fast flats, and these guys hauled ASS. AND, they started racing at the end of September. These course elements were things that we didn't have a lot of here in KC, mostly based on venue availability... but, it looked like these races were grass crits, with some hard shit thrown in, rather than the hard races with some flats thrown in if the park had it to give... So, I thought that we could lengthen the season and bring some of these 'Euro' elements to our scene with a new series, Boss Cross. We started doing free show-and-go races in downtown KC parks, and these featured a lot of pavement and flat sections, lots of grass as well as a lot of really hard technical features (stairs at Gillham Park?). We moved cyclocross from the Slimen Und Grossen era into something like what we have now... And my hat is off to Mark, Joel, and Curt for all those races, that was truly the stuff of legends.

So, what we have now, is a lot of grass, lots of pavement, lots of speed and a couple of barriers thrown in and some off camber stuff. Partly this is due to federation rules, but at least for my part, it was because that is what I wanted to see in a race. I wanted to watch fast guys go fast. And today's races are still hard - I still can't figure out how to get around that weird right hander into the stairs at HPT... And all the guys racing now are fast. Now we need some hairy technical stuff... Like it used to be. With all this said, Boss Cross #2 is going to require you to bring your A game. You will have to negotiate steep climbs, corners, hairy descents... You're going to have to get off your bike and run some of that turkey off. And, you will still be able to put it in the big chainring, if you have one. But, it's time to start working on the handling, kids.

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JB said...

Bad ass!

Joe Fox said...

It's gonna be sweet!

Anonymous said...

Shadd Smith said, "I was at the said venues dating back as far as 1990 when I moved to the area. Graaaaaass Roots! One venue was next to a shooting range. Swore I was going to be joke. Negotiating mud, ice, snow, tree roots, boulders, shit, and bullets. Hard to believe 18 years has gone by. Jeremy, thanks for keeping it 'Real'."

Lanternerouge said...

Although I did arrive later on the scene, it was fun doing those races with all that damn tape, brittle stakes, and working in the dark to set up and take down. I do remember the KC parks, especially the stairs, AND the infamous downhill to the ballfield and all. It was fun, it still is but this old body can not take the pounding anymore. See ya Sunday! Got to get some more pics!!!

Anonymous said...

Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

Jeremy carries PRO.