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Singlespeed adventures

Rhonda 2017 race reports

Corn Cross

Singlespeed racing is always an adventure – epic courses with only one gear and disappointments when mechanicals affect the race. My season started with Corn Cross in Boring, Ore., a fast and hard race that includes dodging fallen corn husks (they hurt) through a maze, a steep, oh-my-god downhill and enough hard, bumpy turf to loosen fillings.

Corn Cross 2017

With a bit of a slow start trying to get into the pedal, I chased another rider for a bit, but over took her after the first lap or so. After that it was chasing down racers in the men’s field. At one point I grabbed hold of a metal barrier with the intent of swinging myself around the corner, but the barrier wasn’t secured to the ground and it toppled over barely missing the male rider next to me. “Sorry about that,” I blurted, while he was probably quite irritated with me.

The flyover on this is a huge wooden U-shaped monstrosity that is one-part scary and one-part fun. Each time I had to remind myself to breathe while sailing over it – never clipped in of course.

I took the win this day and enjoyed the fabulous prizes they always give at Corn Cross. Thank you City of Sandy. You all do a fabulous job.

Zaaldercross

This one will be short. Had a descent start, top 5, and about 1 minute into the race on the first uphill my chain drops. On a singlespeed! Game over. Fortunately I was able to get it back on, but that in itself told me it would likely happen again. SS chains aren’t supposed to come off and certainly you shouldn’t be able to put it back on if it’s correctly aligned and tight.

I chased the rest of the race. No pressure, just clean out the pipes. Tough parts to this course, but it also had some great flowing parts. There were a couple of corners I never figured out. One was where you came in at an angle for a 90 degree turn up a small hill. Soft sand usually put me in the bushes. Turns out it was faster to run it.

There was an uphill section that could easily be done with a geared bike, but not a SS, at least not for me. I did see a SS racer ahead of me who remounted and took the second half of it. Impressive.

Dropped the chain a second time on the same darn hill just after passing a racer. Got it back on again and was able to re-catch her after the sand pit. There were two back-to-back pits (volleyball sand) – one was rideable, the other not. I love sand!

Managed to catch and pass two or three competitors in poor air quality. The Gorge was on fire with the Eagle Creek burning and on this day and the smoke was particularly choking. Probably took a year or two off my life.

Battle at Barlow

Haven’t done this one in years, despite that fact that it is four miles from my house. It hasn’t been one of my favorite races before this day. We’d had several days of race and several dry days leading up to the race, so the ground was less bumpy then in the past. There have also been years when it was an absolute mud swamp and not even worth the trouble. Google pictures of a few years ago to see what I mean.

On September 24 the sun was out and the ground was tacky. Perfect conditions. Fast in parts and wicked hard in others. For the first time I ran up the steep ravine via the railroad ties that are lodged into the earth. I had discovered the right-side edge pre-riding it the night before, which allowed for not having to leap up each railroad tie, some of which came up mid-thigh on me!

That’s the spot where I took third on the first lap, passing others who chose to take the circuitous route up a path through the trees. I’ve done that before, but saw first-hand this time that it takes longer. I remounted at the top right away and muscled through to the single track.

I put some distance on me and #4 and worked to keep #2 in sight. There was never a chance I’d catch her, but I did manage to keep the time difference to about 10 seconds between me and Anna C. She’s in her 30s I think, so that felt good.

A podium finish helped erase last week’s chain episodes and my body felt good. Looking forward to doing a few Cross Crusade races this season.

Battle at Barlow 2017

Portland Trophy Cup Report

Jennifer Justus race report

On September 19, Julie Ann, Michelle, Judy and I raced at the Portland Trophy Cup race at PIR. It was a beginner-friendly course, made a little bit more fun from slippery grass and just a little bit of mud.

It was so much fun to ride with these three. Every time Michelle and I would pass she would say hi (I never saw her before she saw me)! Julie Ann’s love for cyclocross is really inspiring. This was Judy’s first ever race and I was so glad to see her huge smile at the end.

 This was my fourth time ever racing cross. Every time I sign up for a race, I immediately wonder what the heck I was thinking. I queue up and have a terrible case of pre-race jitters. Then I get going and all of that goes out the window. I just have fun. My bike and I just do our thing.
I felt much faster and more sure of myself than last race. Next time I know I will be even better. I was feeling a little down on myself for how I did last race. I knew the only way to fix that is to show up and do it again, which I did and will keep doing.

Racing Season = Cramping

What is a cramp?

Cramps are strong, involuntary muscle contractions. They can occur at any time but are most common during or shortly after hard exercise. They can occur in any muscle, though in cyclists they are most common in the quads, hamstrings and calves. They can be so strong that they cause you to launch out of a chair or actually pull a muscle.

Cramps have many causes, though fundamentally they are similar. When you move, your brain sends signals to your muscles requesting a contraction. The brain receives feedback on the strength of the contraction that has occurred, from which it can make adjustments to create a controlled movement. If the feedback says that the contraction is harder than expected, the brain can send instructions to contract less. If the feedback says the contraction is weak, the brain can send a signal to contract more. As a muscle fatigues, the brain sends more signals to tell the muscle to contract to get the same strength of contraction. When the muscle becomes too fatigued to do what is asked of it, the brain sends a continuous contraction signal, initiating a cramp.

Causes of cramps and how to correct them

Anything that fatigues a muscle can bring on a cramp, and anything that keeps a muscle fresh helps prevents cramps. Talk to your coach about which of these might be your particular problem.

Inadequate training: You may cramp late in a long or hard ride simply because you have not trained adequately for the distance or the intensity. Make gradual increases to volume and intensity.

Pushing big gears: One clue that you may be doing this is if you find yourself standing each time you need to accelerate. Another clue is measuring your cadence below 85 rpm for much of a hard ride. The cure? Switch to a lower gear. Spin to save your legs. Get a larger rear cog or a compact or triple crankset if necessary.

Dehydration: Muscles don’t contract well if they don’t contain their normal amount of water. Stay hydrated.

Fuel: Muscles can’t contract if they don’t have a good supply of glucose. Keep eating carbohydrate rich foods on longer rides. Eat something at the start of the ride, after about 30-40 minutes and every 15-20 minutes thereafter. Aim for about 250 calories per hour if you are under 150 pounds and 300 if you are over 150 pounds.

Electrolyte balance: Muscles will cramp if they don’t contain their normal amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Those amounts change during exercise. Salt your food and eat plenty of bananas. If you don’t eat a lot of dairy, take a calcium supplement or eat plenty of brassica veggies (collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower).

Calcium: Calcium-based antacids such as Tums have cured many cases of cramps. Take one before riding and one each hour of the ride if you’ve been cramping. Don’t wait for the cramp to take the calcium.

Raw Spinach: Some leafy green vegetables eaten raw, particularly spinach, will leach calcium from your system. Avoid large amounts of raw spinach. Cooked is okay.

Creatine Monohydrate supplementation: In some people creatine supplementation (especially loading) may cause cramps, especially if the athlete is dehydrated. If in doubt, avoid this supplement.

Tight muscles: Regular stretching of muscles that tend to cramp sometimes reduces cramping.

Impaired circulation: Muscles that are not receiving adequate blood supply are deprived of oxygen and fuel. They will not recover from one contraction to the next and so will fatigue quickly. Correct pressure points on the saddle, in your shoes, in your shorts and anywhere else they might interfere with circulation.

Heat or cold: On hot or cold days some people will cramp even if they do everything else right. On hot days, do what you can to keep cool. As well as staying hydrated, dribble water on your jersey and shorts and through your helmet every once in a while. Choose shadier and flatter routes on hot days, unless you are racing and don’t have a choice. On cold days, dress warmly.

Bike Fit: A poorly fit bike may cause some muscles to work harder than necessary, bringing on a cramp. If in doubt, have your coach check your fit.

Rhabdomyolysis: If cramps are followed by red or brown urine, you are experiencing a breakdown of muscle tissue and release of muscle contents into the blood. This is a medical problem needing immediate professional attention to prevent kidney damage. Treatment for acute rhabdomyolysis is high volume IV rehydration.

Article by Scott Saifer, M.S., Wenzel Coaching