Well #cxishere with a freaking vengeance, with over 350 people turning out on a Wednesday night for The Midnight Ride of Cyclocross. The irony of the excellent pre-event clinic at this race being taught by the exceptionally British Helen Wyman wasn't lost on me, but as she told me "ahh, it's no biggie, we were going to give it to you anyway."
Conditions were dry. Dry over dry, with a side order of dry. Course terrain consists of road, light gravel, lots of grass, some super fine silty dusty dirt, and sand. While there isn't much elevation gain, there's quite a bit of off camber riding, and plenty of roots and big-ish divots.
I raced the 2/3/4 at 6pm, while Mike raced the P1/2/3 at 8pm. My wheel setup was a Grail rim in the front and an SL25 in the rear (seriously, they're very similar), with a Vittoria EVO XG tubeless (which is the Grifo tread) in the front and a Hutchinson Black Mamba tubeless in back. Front tire was at 24, rear was 26, which was 1 psi over what I'd initially set them up at but Mike checked my setup and got me nervous so I put a tad more pressure in. My pit wheels were the inverse rims (Grail rear, SL25 front) with Hutchinson Toro tubeless. Mike used FMB SSCs on his 30mm carbon tubulars at "22/24-ish psi," with tubeless Mud Wrestlers on SL25s in the pit.
From the start, my setup felt super fast. Let's face it I'm not the most aggressive bike handler on a cx course (watch your leg crack in half one time and it will probably slow you down a bit, too), but on the straight paths I felt fast as greased owl shit, and in the turny sections I was less bad than I might have been with less effective tire setup. My notes are simple - let it run more in corners, stop being such a chicken, and beat a heck of a lot more people. Super confidence in the tires is helping that, but as it was I rode the course within a few seconds of Helen Wyman's time on course (imperfect comparison, I know this), so it's not crazy awful.
Mike's FMB's aren't too dissimilar to the Grifo-esque selection I made, and he had a great start (which I very blurrily captured on Instagram) but unfortunately got crashed out of the lead group in the first lap and spent the rest of the race battling back to 7th. With a little more pressure in the tires than optimal in an effort to not flat expensive and sometimes difficult to get tubulars right before two of the year's most important race weekends, Mike felt fast and smooth, but feels like he needs to take pressure off himself in order to stop making the silly mistakes that are keeping him off the top of the box. Funny how perspective changes when you're actually good, as with all of this he still managed to beat (edit - unfortunate original typo said "be a...") a current and a past Canadian national champion.
Okay, the "Sorry, We're Closed" sign is just about to go on the door for the weekend as we head off to the Craft Gloucester Gran Prix. Forecast is for just as much dust, so I know I'm headed for precisely the same setup. We'll see what Mike chooses tomorrow.
If you're headed there, come see us, our tent is in club row.