Oh you beast, I think I know you and then you go and change on me. The Iron Cross race is something that any biker who has a CX bike should do. The race is between a SM100 kind of race, a dirt road race, and a mountain bike race. The nice thing about the race is that it is short enough that most people finish within an hour of almost everyone else. This was my race this year. I had broken my pinky in May, so this was my objective race. I started training late, cause I moved from Arlington to DC this July. So it wasn't until late August that I started to get the miles and rides in (the OMG-Shepherdstown stuff is great training). By September, I was getting a good amount of rides, and I had done Ed Sanders, and AVC cross before Iron Cross. My back was starting to act up even with those short events, so I had no idea what was going to happen at Iron CX.
An Unexpected Partner
Two of my DCMTB teammates Matt E. and Mark P. went up a day early and stayed in one of the cabins. I am thinking that will be the ticket for next year. The unexpected partner was Sid. I haven't ridden with Sid in a long time so I was surprised to hear that he was going to be doing Iron CX. He rented a CX bike, and I gave him a helping hand by letting him borrow a set of 38mm WTB interwolfs. This tire is not made anymore, but it is the perfect tread for this event. I might try and run them tubeless next year. I ran them this year with Latex tubes. So Sid and I met up at Scots run near 495 at 5:15 am and got on the road. We got up there pretty quick with plenty of time to spare.
This year the weather was warmer then when I did it in 2007. I was worried about clothing, but I settled on wool bib shorts, knee warmers, arm warmers, jersey and vest. Sid and I met up with Matt and Mark, and we were able to put our stuff in their cabin. I planned bags with CO2 and tubes at both stops just in case.We talked about the course, and people were getting nervous.
The Start, Lippencote Trail, to WigwamMatt started fast and I was on his wheel, but then we switched. We got to the open road/trail, and Matt went speeding ahead. Mark eventually caught up to me as well and passed me. I had only been racing for 30 minutes and I was already starting to feel my back. I knew it was going to be a rough day. I was climbing ok, but I think this year my descending was going great. I felt really comfortable on the downhills. The road sections were not going well for me. I think that next year I will have to work on doing more road riding to work on my high-end speed. We did a paved road climb, and then it was on to the first real singletrack. One of the keys to racing this race is top levers on a CX bike. Going up the trail, I was riding smooth and slowly catching up to and passing some people. Once the trail went downhill I started doing even better. I somehow ended up behind two other mt. bikers or skilled riders, cause the three of us passed like 20+ people on the trail. We were going over logs (some over a foot high) and I made it past the part in 2007 where I walked. Now I was in front of 30+ people who had previously been in front of me. Just as in 2007, everyone was doing pacelines that were going too fast for me to even get in on. Matt caught up to me again (I had passed him) and passed me again.
Wigwam to Aid 3
The good thing about having done the race was that I knew how much Wigwam sucks. This year I carried my bike across my back, with it kinda resting on my camelbak. I think this was the right way to do it, but I think that if you could have a bungee to hold on to so that your hands are not in a weird position, it would be bettter. Might work on that. Once at the rest stop, I took a minute to take off my vest, arm warmers, and knee warmers, put them in my drop bag, and fill up my bottle. Matt was just in front of me. I caught up to him and he was going a little slower, so I passed him. The next downhill was sick, I was riding it fast like 45 mph and felt comfortable (my back not so much), but was thinking if I wreck this is going to be bad. At one point I took a turn a little too hot and ended off the road, but I was fine. I dropped some people going down the mountain, but the problem with that speed is you can miss your next turn! So I went left at this Y and felt that there should be someone near me. So I turned around and saw some people up the road going into the woods. So I was now behind like 10 people I had passed. I saw Matt again, who was cursing me, the race, and his lot in life it seems. This was a new singletrack section, where my top levers, and 34-32 gearing was coming in handy. I was passing people and hooked up with a mountain biker. I actually passed the mountain biker on the downhill--pretty amazing. I was then mostly on my own to aid 3.
So at the aid station, I filled up my bottle again, and had a cup to go as well. This was the start of the big ass climbing. I had 2 interesting experiences. One was with Todd B. from the SS Outlaw crew was rocking it on his SS. I was climbing steady in my small gear as he was mashing away. We both said that our legs were getting some twinges. At some point Todd must had had both legs cramp, cause he fell into a heap on the side of the fire road. The other person I rode next to was a beast of a rider. She was the 4th or 5th place female (and I later found out she was 51 years old--go her). She was riding a bike almost like a touring bike. She was breathing up a storm, pushing a big ass gear. and she would pedal, then walk, pedal then walk. I was just going constant (slowly). We went back and forth, with her going in front until she had to walk, and me catching back up to her because I was still actually pedaling my bike. She then left me as it leveled out at the top. Once it started down hill I dropped her hard. I finally got to the last singletrack section. This is the funnest part of the course, but you are usually too tired to like it. The singletrack seemed longer, and more technical then before. I knew I was running slower, cause last time I rode most of the last walk up. After going though the last singletrack, I heard my tire rubbing. I looked at it and I had broken a spoke (I found out later it was 2). So I was thinking about what to do. I didn't want the tire to take off all my paint on the bike. I found the bad spot and just whacked it a couple of times, and that seemed to true it enough not to hit my frame. Now I had no rear brake though. The last pavement downhill was trickier then last time, since I only really had a front brake. My wheel was so messed up it made the bike do a lurching motion. I did the last 2-3 big rollers, then back to the finish. I made it just under 5 hours. I achieved my goal, but I thought I was faster. I think that most people's times were slower cause of the added singletrack (which is a good thing).
- This race should be only CX bikes like the Three Peaks Race
- Next year if I got up with some people I will try to have us ride as a group until the first singletrack
- I need to work on leg speed for the road sections
- I should make a small bungee thing to help hold the bike for Wigwam, and then dump it at the aid station
- I plan to ride my stans wheels next year
- Thinking about doing a spring training camp and doing the ride then
- Seems like most roadies were riding mountain bikes, and it was mountain bikers on the CX bikes.
- I think the Camelbak and one water bottle is the way to go, only had to fill it once.
A guy shot a video of the race, the cyclocross stuff you see that is only at the very beginning. You can see Matt E. @ 1:52 on the HUGE hike a bike. and you can see me at 2:02 at the rest stop eating a GU. Also I zip on by on the trail at 2:25 (had taken a wrong turn so had to pass a bunch of people I passed once already)