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Adam Craig journal: Nine reasons why ‘cross season is a blur

Adam Craig recaps a (mostly) successful six-week run from Trans Provence through Louisville

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Weekly racing

Racing every weekend since Trans Provence will keep a fellow busy and entertained for six weeks before he even knows what happened. Has it been six weeks? Let’s count ‘em — Timmy’s cabin in Washington and Alpenrose Cross Crusade opener. Fort Collins, Colorado U.S. Gran Prix. Highland Enduro in New Hampshire and Downeast Cyclocross in Maine. Highland Park CX in Jersey. New England Pro Series in Mass. USGP in Louisville. Yup, six weeks. Good thing I’m on a flight home for a weekend off. And even better thing that Trans Provence seems to have been the most effective training camp ever. A 30-hour week with a few races per day? I doubt Ash realized what good prep for racing skinny tires around a field his utopic event would be… Speaking of, check out this Trans Provence recap short.

Home stays

It’s been ultra pleasant staying with friends old and new whilst traveling around the country racing bikes this fall. Shout outs — Northstar/Giant team rider Karin Edwards and her folks in Fort Collins, Colorado, for letting Serena Gordon and I use the basement, and the Salmon Chowder. O.G. New England shredder Ben Moody for entertaining the hell out of Justin P. Qualey and me, and stoking the fire in his guest cabin before the Highland Enduro. Sparky for futon use and Cycle Mania bike shop prep in Portland Maine every four days in October, in addition to some rad trail riding in the Casco Bay region. Cousins Jennifer and Tiffany for Brooklyn Brownstone digs and co-piloting home from New Jersey while SuperStorm Sandy nipped at our heels. Shimano Multi-Service’s Tyler West for providing the only hotel room I’ve slept in (wait, I definitely ended up at the Optum Health team’s Econolodge in Louisville last night after the Third Street Dive…) on this swing in Northampton, Mass. Barb from Louisville for putting up Sparky and me this weekend in Kentucky. We got the local’s tour for sure. And of course dear old Dad. Pretty stoked that we live in our old house again, pops; sure makes hanging out playing cribbage feel right.

Luck

Or is not having a decent tubular tire gluing system considered luck? Either way, I’ve rolled a bunch of tires lately. They’ve all cost me decent races. Fortunately, passing people is fun and all of these ’cross weekends are doubleheaders, so there’s always time to make up for a, er, header… I need to get that sorted…

The right coast

I heart New England in the fall. The weather is perfect, but foliage is popping, prompting a good energy as everyone packs in as much as they can before it’s arctic. And there’s fresh deer meat all around, almost really fresh at the Craig household if I hadn’t pulled into the driveway just as Harvey was about to pop a buck in the hayfield.

Water

We already had plenty when I showed up, enabling Dad and me to paddle down out backyard Kenduskeag stream looking for ducks, just like we did so many times when I was a kid. Then Sandy happened. We were very fortunate in New England to escape the ocean’s wrath, ending up only with swollen rivers, ripe for kayaking. With actual people. I never thought I’d say this, but thanks, Facebook, specifically the group Maine Flows, for connecting the impressively healthy Maine paddling community. It sure was nice to find out who was making all those Wedge portage trail tracks in Gulf Hagas… Canadians, mostly.

The obligatory enduro

New Hampshire’s Highland Mountain Bike Park is a pretty awesome place to ride bikes. Mark Hayes has his finger on the pulse and is always putting on events that need to be happening. This is the second year of the Overmountain Enduro and it keeps getting better. Attendance upped from 90 to 150 this year, the weather was sweet (after a DELUGE all day Friday made for gloriously muddy practice), the courses were great (especially considering the park only has 800 feet of vertical to work with) and everyone had a good time from the looks of it. Except anyone contesting the sort of sadistic “Climber’s Prime” transit between stage two and three… I kept it mostly clean and won by a decent margin. East Coast trail love. Word on the street is there are some other spots around the east realizing you can have a solid enduro without huge mountains and are getting in the game next year. Stay tuned… And check out this recap video.

Results

I’ve been getting some. Thanks to how kick-ass our Giant TCX Advanced SL bikes seem to go around corners for me these days, I’ve been able to ride fast, take chances and generally come out pretty well at these contests of late. A pair of wins at Downeast and Highland Park C2s helped my UCI points acquisition and subsequent start position improvement for the remainder of the season. Fort Collins GP worked out pretty sweet. (Other than my recently-dusted off two-year-old bike’s chain breaking at the gun on day one. Recycling bikes to combat corporate excess is still totally worth it.) An entertainingly quick ride through the field on Sunday for 7th, which was nearly fourth… Northampton NE Pro CX was fun with a solid Jeremy Powers battle on day two ending in a near miss. That guy is fast, but not otherworldly so. Ok, he’s pretty fast…

Closure

This weekend’s Louisville GP was a great end to this string of racing. It’s always sort of surprising when racing every weekend keeps making you stronger. I started well on day one, settling into the lead group immediately and only just missed (wasn’t able to answer) Powers and Ryan Trebon’s mid-race separation. So, I bided my time and tried to play it smart for the final podium spot. Danny Summerhill held onto my hooligan-line-riding ways in the closing meters and did his best professional road racer sprint impression to relegate me to fourth. Sunday, the glue gremlins reared their (not so) sticky heads again, my rear tire peeling off the rim while I was showboating riding the limestone steps on lap one (dumb idea) and effectively making contact with the leaders impossible. Sweet skids on my trusty old Michelin clincher caught me back up to 11th. Blah. The course in Louisville was sweet though; I reckon it’s worthy of hosting the world championships on the first weekend in February. Are you going to watch? The jury is still out on if I’ll try to make the team. That’ll make 14 months of continual fitness for this kid, probably worth it, possibly not sustainable… One step at a time.

A weekend off

What am I going to do, provided I survive this Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in Portland Wednesday night? Hopefully get the motos loaded up for Carl and me to head down to Moab for a little pedal/throttle combo training. I’ll motorpace in the evenings to stay sharp, right? Or maybe stay home and show Barry Wicks around Smith Rock trails if they’re not covered in snow… Either way, it’ll be nice to have a little time to catch up and get ready for winter.