GP Mistral CX Race - Saitama 01-13-2013

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#1

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#3
That's a shame! Yep they are growing too! I was speaking with the team DS on Wednesday night and he informed me that as of next year there will be a new event, again organised by a cycling club in the Tokyo/Yokohama area.

This event will consist of 9 races and is actually sponsored and organised by a professional footballer (soccer) who also loves bikes. So in 2013 there will be about 25 CX races in the Tokyo/Yokohama area - remember though thats a pretty big area so you'll still have to get off your "Asinus" and travel.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#4
Good that things are expanding; I would imagine CX races are a bit more suited to Japan as they are contained to a relatively small area, off the roads.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#5
Yesterday was the second to last race of the GP Mistral CX series, we were blessed with blue skies yet it was incredibly cold down by the river where the race course had been setup.

The course played to my strengths as it contained many technical sections that required extremely agile bike skills, more so when you include 60+ Cyclocross fanatics to the mix and due to the frozen earth some riders had decided to field XC Mtb bikes with regulation tires, something I wish I had done as I’m now feeling it this morning as I write this.

I had two sets of wheels and tires with me, my 50’s with diamond tread for fast work, ideal for today’s conditions as the ground was frozen, these are 32mm width and perfect for snow, sand and hard pack and to be my choice wheels for racing today. However some of the technical sections were slowly getting eroded and I decided to go back 20 minutes before my race was to start a ride those sections again as they had seriously changed since the warm up at 7am.

I’m glad I did as now these steep ditches were now loose, wet mud and the Vittoria Cross EVO XN tires were just not getting any purchase on the surface. Thankfully I had another set of fast stiff 20’s with the Vittoria Cross EVO XG tires mounted.

One thing about these tires is that depending on which way you mount them the tread ahs different qualities. My rear was set up for grip and flicking the front wheel around I set the tread for speed a few more practice runs and I was confident these were the right choice and I wouldn’t have to dismount.

Tires and wheels selected and now I contemplated saddle height, there were a few sections on the course that were paved as well as some long flat grass sections – I wanted a balance between being able to apply full power while seated and yet not interfering with the dismounting and remounting the bike at the steeples and stairs. I opted to drop the saddle 1cm and float when sprinting on these sections rather than remain seated.

Kit done now time to focus on race tactics, I always go in with a plan it very rarely works out but it gives you something to focus on, however there was one big problem.

After my surprising yet confident win at the UCI Rapha Nobeyama CX race I was now promoted in to the C2 category, something that is rather hard to do as unlike road racing only the top 2 placements get promoted and even then sometimes only the winner will get a promotion as it depends on the numbers racing.

So here lays the problem being promoted, I’m an unseeded rider which means I start right at the back of the field on the starting grid. Now for road racing this is not a problem as you can easily work your way up the peloton during the race however when you are racing on narrow technical courses with steeples, staircases, single track, ditches and all manner of obstacles designed for the viewing pleasure of the crowds that always build around this sections like vultures over a dying man, thus makes overtaking an art form in its own right.

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fimg138.imageshack.us%2Fimg138%2F7991%2F29633571.jpg&hash=25dc88e4720b05f4f4ca801aa330f7e1


So there I am right at the back of the grid realizing that I have 60+ riders between me and a win, the plan in these situations is to go for the hole shot – basically when the gun fires you shoot straight through to the front. It’s a long shot as normally anyone with the slightest tactical sense will be doing the same and this can result in 3 or 4 riders all going for the same hole, thus obviously creating some pile ups.

At the gun we were off and laughably everyone at the back had the same idea, fortunately I didn’t come down but being a criterium veteran, up close and personal is how I like it, a few elbows here, a few shoulder rubs there and I had seated myself in the top 20 before the technical stuff started and this is where it got hard.

The first section bottle necked in a ditch that was nicely placed in a hair pin, a few riders had to dismount forcing me to the outside and giving me a nice opening – bang I was straight through ignoring the shouts of riders I was obviously cutting up in the single track but hey this is Cyclocross and where I’m from its not just the bike that gets dirty.

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fimg441.imageshack.us%2Fimg441%2F2343%2F79757971.jpg&hash=292e0e724525bbc937b0d3e15ad15435


Out off the single track you explode out on to a piece of tarmac followed by a ditch then the first steeple – it’s tricky as you have to brake while dismounting, clear the ditch then the steeple. The guy on my right didn’t make it and put his head straight through the Bicycle Club advertisement board lining it, it took me all my concentration to suppress the laughter as it was so comical, I also had to clear it myself and fortunately his crash hindered 4 more riders on the outside allowing me to jump several more places as well as the hurdle.

More single track that was lost in a blur of cardio and lactate overload that made my heart beat sound like the bass in a night clubs lavatory. I was now at the back of several more riders and I needed to get round them a few explosive attacks got me past 2or 3 of them but now I was up there with the veterans, guys that knew the course and rode defensively, riding to allow just a hint of hope of getting past only to slam the door in my face when they sensed me coming.

The first guy I just used all out strength to get past him on the inside forcing him to the edge of the gully and causing him to tap the brakes just enough to see me clear and far enough forward to prevent him from jumping my wheel the next guy three guys I took on the staircase, my long legs making piecemeal of the climb and thus 3 more places up.

The other riders I passed in a haze of pain and intense concentration, as we raced around the course the technical sections became more and more lose and handling was rapidly degrading, my front tire setup for speed was losing grip on many of the hairpins and several times it almost went out from under me.

proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fimg20.imageshack.us%2Fimg20%2F2277%2F31359893.jpg&hash=40cad3fb6ed479604948327b70fabaf3


5th place was passed just before the nasty triple ditch section and we soon realized that it we were in no-man’s land, we were just a little to far off the front 4 whom had started in pole positions on the starting grid and we had laid down so much suffering that 7th place was a distant memory.

Around we went with him all the time trying to squeeze past me and just one loose section caused my back wheel to slide and a great bit of riding by him got him passed me, Damn!

I continued to chase and he was taking every advantage he could, especially when I got caught up with one of the female C2 riders who stopped mid section right in front of me and caused me to get tangled up.

A lot more pain and suffering as I sprinted off after him and the elusive 5th place that we were fighting over as if it was 1st. All the time with him about 2 -3 seconds just ahead of me. Our efforts while locked in to our own personal battle meant that we were actually gaining on the lead riders – just 5 seconds between us – but as we entered the finishing straight we realized the game was up and the race was over.

Very happy with my performance and taking 6th against incredible odds, I’ve also learnt a few things. I seriously lack upper body strength needed for this type of racing and the fatigue was seriously having an effect towards the end of the race. My biceps, core and wrists are seriously aching today and I will add weight training programs to build these for next season.

The other thing I learnt is that I have a knack for this. While others voice a concern over some of the technical sections, I’m relishing them. In fact I delighted the crowds around one ditch with some air to get me around the hairpin quicker.

So although I wasn’t able to get on the podium and thus get promoted in to the top classification of C1, I was very happy with the results and now with 6 points to my name I might start higher up the grid and with more of a shot being able to jump on the lead group and have a chance of promotion, bring on February 17th which is the final race of the GP Mistral CX series.

I would like to thank everyone at Champion Systems Japan for their constant support and the organizers of the GP Mistral CX race for hosting an amazing event.

The final race of the GP Mistral Series is on Feb 17th - Registration for the AJOCC is free of charge and after completing your first race you will be issued a AJOCC racing number - however it is best to get a JBCF license as then you will be fully insured while racing.

Images courtesy of Satoshi Oda and Kasukabevision Filmz
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#9
Letting the strongest rider start from last place always makes an exciting race. Great write up, but please mount a go pro as well next time.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#12
LOL - if you're buying I'll race with it.

I have been thinking of getting one but way down on my list of toys.
I'll gladly tape my old phone to your forehead. Seriously though, there were some contour hd promotions at recent events. Maybe they would lend you one for your heat?

Man, I'm so hungry for cross now, but my bike is still not even welded. Hope I can get it ready for tokyo CX...
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#13
Have you entered for Tokyo as I beleive entry is closed now?
Also haven't seen any of these promotions at any of the Professional and sanctioned races.