MABRA 1 – Ed Sander

29er CrewIt’s now officially cross season. With last week’s somewhat unofficial end of mountain bike season with the 40 mile Revenge of the Rattlesnake and this week’s MABRA cyclocross opener lasting just over 40 minutes, the transition has begun. To be honest, prior to the actual cross race, I was still dreaming about rocky terrain, huge epic one-lap courses and my awesome pair of Superfly mountain bikes. Now that I’ve put my body through the torture that is cross racing, I’m starting to remember what I like about it. It’s also painfully clear that it will probably take about 6 weeks to get my cross legs.  That is, convert my current ultra-endurance oriented fitness into cross racing intensity fitness.

I broke out the Gary Fisher Presidio cross bike, aired up some clincher 30c knobbies with inner tubes and tried to remember what to do during a cross race.

Gary Fisher Presidio

Here’s what I remember.

Cross is fast. With the technical mountain bike races that made up the bulk of my racing season, I’ve gotten use to average speeds around 10mph… sometime’s lower. Cross race speeds are more in the 15-16mph range. The cornering is fast and relatively smooth. I’m reminded of how well a good, properly inflated cross tire can hook up in dry grass.

Cross is hard. If my average HR for a typical Ultra Endurance race is around 160bpm, I feel like I’m running on all cylinders. I usually try to cap my output at around 175bpm. Too much time above that and a late race meltdown becomes increasingly likely. My average HR for Ed Sanders was 172 including one full minute of cool down at the finish. I also saw a max of 192bpm… which actually is my max as far as I know.

I’m feeling a little bit like a fish out of water with all my 29er Crew gear and a cross bike… but whatever. The guys that are serious about cross are riding really fast already and are so out of reach. Despite all that, I think cross is going to be fun this year, cause there’s always someone to race against.

Ed Sander Lilipons Course

I plan on doing 7 or 8 MABRACROSS cross races this fall as well as Iron Cross, North America’s longest Cyclocross race, which isn’t really a cross race… but it’s a super fun race.

I might even set up the Presidio as a single speed cross and race some single speed cross this year… just for fun.

See you out there.


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