Cyclocross - Men B Season Report

Contributors: Jeff Namba - Photography
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I don't know about you, but I get excited at the close of the road racing season. Not because I'm tired and burned out, but because the start of the cyclocross season is near. Some of you may have heard about cyclocross but you have to see it and try it for yourself to truly appreciate it. Cyclocross is basically 45-60 minutes of lactic acid buildup and oxygen deficit with technical turns, mud pits and barriers in your way. You can learn a lot about yourself and your bike in a CX race. You will learn about your own limits, your bike's limits, and how close you are willing to push those limits in order to get the best result. You will also be sore in places you never knew possible.

Ryan Odell at the Lange Twins Winery Cyclocross race.

I first started racing CX last year when I decided to find out what all my friends were talking about.  I thought CX was for the weenies that didn't know how to ride a real mountain bike or roadies, who like to get a little wild, but stick close to their own type.  I was wrong and got hooked after my first race.  I won my second race in the C's and decided I should move up to the B class.  Class selection is up to the the racer, but choose wisely as your competitors will call you names if you win too often (A's are elite level, B's are pretty fast, and C's are potentially fast).  I closed out the season in the B's making progress in every race and I could not wait for September to return.  

This year my goal was to race the entire Sacramento Cyclocross series.  This is a great series and it's getting bigger and better thanks to the new promoter who took over last year.  The races are held at various parks in the greater Sacramento area, and in one case at a nudist resort.  They use chip timing, complete with individual lap times, so you can do a lot of post-race analysis as you wait impatiently for the next race.  

The first 2 races of the series were hectic.  I was involved in a couple crashes and finished 10th and 8th respectively.  Race 3 had a large hill in the way of my 190 pound frame, and I suffered behind the leaders to finish 7th.  My first breakthrough, where I thought I really belonged there, came in Race 4.  It was a fast and flat course and I took the hole shot. I led the race for about 3 laps before the eventual winner caught up to me and got the better of me in a sand pit on the final lap.  I ended up 3rd that day - my first podium in the B's!  I also moved into 1st place for the overall series lead.

The next day was Race 5 at Rodeo Park in Folsom.  I found myself battling 2 other guys for 2nd and 3rd place.  I was dropped with a lap to go but caught back on at the final turn and sprinted for 3rd place by half a wheel.  What a thrilling finish to have 3 guys hit the line within a couple hundredths of a second!  I'll spare the details of the rest of the season, other than I placed 3rd in every race from there on out.  I also secured the overall series win!  

The end result is beyond what I ever imagined.  I learned a lot of things about myself and racing in general, which should translate into better racing on the road.  I also made a lot of new friends and it was nice to see a good number of DBC teammates every week.  I hope the word keeps spreading and I see more of you cyclocross racing next year.  For those of you on the fence about racing cyclocross, look at the 4 letters printed on the inside of your jersey collar and sign up for a race!  Rumor has it there will be a couple non-series races in Jan/Feb so stay tuned...

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