After a few days of rain Sunday brought crystal clear skies which made for some amazing views climbing up the Blue Ridge Parkway toward Mt. Mitchell. Unfortunately I didn’t plan on going to the top so had to turn around part way because it started to get pretty cold. 50’s at the bottom, probably 30’s at the top. Photos can never do any place justice but these aren’t half bad. Next time I’ll try and get some good videos. Enjoy.
Iron Cross is coming up this weekend in Michaux State Forest in South, Central-ish Pennsylvania; A race not to be missed. For those of you who don’t know what Iron Cross is, it’s a 100k or 62 mile cyclo-cross race over dirt roads, some paved roads, double track, single track, some gnarly single track, and some leg crushing, stupid steep run(walk) ups. It’s not your average ‘cross race, not even close. In fact there aren’t really any other races quite like it which is just one of the reasons why it’s such an awesome race. In the higher echelons of the sport, it would be a race like Paris-Roubaix, or for a bit lower level, Tour of the Battenkill, races that don’t really have any others like them which not only gives it prestige of its own but also this feeling that you can’t get from any other race. It’s kind of a feeling of excitement and motivation even though you feel like crap and are crushing yourself up a long dirt climb yet still rewarding because you never quite feel like that with such incredible riding, views, and company.
It’s a race not to be missed; one because the riding is awesome, but secondly the organization is great. They have multiple check points throughout the course fully stocked, wheel support by SRAM if you hit that rock a bit too hard, and an awesome hooraa after complete with music, burritos, tons of giveaways, and a sick cast iron Iron Cross which is a really big one if you win the race.
So hopefully that entices you to race it, and you don’t even need to go full throttle and crush yourself but rather just enjoy the ride with awesome support if your season is running on fumes here late in the year.
Now that you’re racing it, what do you need to do to have a solid ride? First, and probably the biggest is don’t flat. It takes too long to change it and you have to be lucky enough to be close to neutral support if you do happen to flat. Sooo, ride tubeless. Stans No Tubes is the way to go. That’s what I ride and it’s light, easy to set up, and you don’t have to worry much about flatting.
The next thing specific to this race is to change that 46 tooth big ring to something like a 50 at least, if you can push it. There’s a lot of uphill and trail sections but you’ll be in your little ring for that but when you’re on the open road or fast dirt sections, you want a big enough gear to push.
My last piece of advice is not to go out too hard. You’ll feel good in the beginning on the first few big climbs but don’t overdo it here as it’s still a long day to go. The little bit faster you might be going early on will slow you down big time toward the end when all you can do is keep your momentum going forward. Start steady and go harder and harder until the finish, like a time trial, blowing up in fantastic fashion right at the line.
So there you have it; why you should race Iron Cross this weekend and some pointers on how to have a good day. See you out there. It’s gona be fantastic weather!