2013 NCCX Series, Week 1

The North Carolina Cyclocross (NCCX) Series started off with a vengeance with two of the toughest courses back to back on the same weekend.  Saturday kicked off the season in Charlotte’s Veterans Park and Sunday we raced in Lions Park in the heart of Raleigh.

Race #1 – Saturday October 19, 2013 – Charlotte, NC

This was my third time racing at Charlotte and each time the course gets harder.  Last year I crashed on the approach to the runup and cracked a rib.  This year I was injury free, although I did go down on the first two of six laps, both times in the same steeply off-camber turn.

Although I’d ridden it cleanly in practice, the course had changed during the first few races and by the time it was our turn it was very sketchy.  Fortunately, I was in good company as most of the other riders fell their first couple of attempts as well.

Find the evidence of my early crashes and note my right foot not clipped in.

Find the evidence of my early crashes and note my right foot not clipped in.

Although getting a poor start, I had worked my way into third place about halfway through the first lap.  All of a sudden I began to notice that my right foot wouldn’t stay clipped in.  In fact, it wouldn’t clip in at all.

After fighting with it for over a lap, I finally pulled over to inspect it and I had broken the thread insert in the cleat backing plate inside my shoe.  That meant that I had to finish the race without benefit of being clipped in on the right foot.

I managed not to lose too many places and slipped back into sixth place.  My lap times were pretty consistent and I felt pretty good about my heart rate and power numbers for the race.

  • Avg HR: 95 % of Max

  • Max HR: 103 % of Max

  • Avg Power: 222 W

  • Max Power: 1,131 W

  • Max Avg Power (20 min): 228 W

  • Normalized Power (NP): 246 W

  • Intensity Factor (IF): 0.951

  • Training Stress Score (TSS): 65.2

  • Work: 581 kJ

Race #2 – Sunday October 20, 2013 – Raleigh, NC

Sunday morning I traveled to Raleigh to race another tough course.  Like Charlotte, the course had been changed to make it slower and harder.  The last two years, after a short sprint on pavement the course went over a small wood jump into some woods, making the initial section of woods very fast.

This year, they made a left turn and an immediate right turn immediately after the jump, which made you slam on your brakes to keep from going through the barrier tape and killing all momentum going into the woods and effectively slowing down the first part of the race substantially.

Leaving the woods instead of riding straight and fast, this year there was a pair of tight turns leaving the woods, again slowing things down and making the course harder.  Finally, they put a switchback in the middle a long flat gravel road that in years past allowed you to recover somewhat.

Net result, slower and more difficult physically.  The rest of the course was pretty much the same as previous years including a steep and loose runup that I managed to ride every time this year for the first time.  Last year, like most others, I ran it on every lap.

Again, my lap times were very consistent — this time +/- 3 seconds for the 1.6 mile circuit.  I was amazed that I won the holeshot and was the first rider into turn one.  Unfortunately I couldn’t hold that lead and slipped back to a 4th place finish, putting me in 3rd place overall for the series.  Not bad for a Cat 3 in a field of Cat 1s, 2s and 3s.

Again, I felt pretty good about my heart rate and power numbers for the race.  My average heart rate was down a little but still over threshold for a 45-minute race, I imagine due to my being tired from two back-to-back days of racing.

  • Avg HR: 93 % of Max

  • Max HR: 103 % of Max

  • Avg Power: 226 W

  • Max Power: 1,437 W

  • Max Avg Power (20 min): 232 W

  • Normalized Power (NP): 287 W

  • Intensity Factor (IF): 1.11

  • Training Stress Score (TSS): 97.1

  • Work: 648 kJ

 Thankfully next weekend will be only one race and it will be in Winston-Salem on Sunday.  Hopefully things will begin to come together and I can put up a podium finish.