October proved to be quite interesting. Early in the month, or was it late September? Cheshire Cross in Connecticut sent out a communication that on the first of November they were going to host their cyclocross race this year, albeit with Covid restrictions. They were switching venues due to storm damage to the one used in 2019. Sadly that would mean no more heckle hill. On the flip side, we were assured that it would be a beginner friendly course.
I mentioned this to my girlfriend, Amy, and she immediately signed up without even owning a cyclocross bike. Luckily, around that time, my first cyclocross bike which I had given away was offered back to me, and I jumped on it so I could give it to Amy. I figured it would make a good first cyclocross bike for her. Upon getting the bike back, I realized the bike was in poor conditions since it had been stored for many years.
I had about two weeks to fix the bike up, and get Amy on it in order to get a some experience before the race.
I immediately went to town on the bike. I stripped everything off: bar tape, cables (keeping track of the housing lengths), chain (it had to be cut off as it was one solid piece,) derailleurs, tires, tubes, crank, cassette, and the cantilever brakes. I even pulled the fork out to get to the headset bearings.
Once everything was removed from the frame, step one was to wash the frame. The next steps consisted of clay barring, compounding, and polishing the paint. Some scratches from my time racing the bike were not going to come out but the frame looked much better. The last step was to apply two coats of a ceramic coating to the frame and fork to provide better protection going forward.
While this was happening I was working on the derailleurs to make them functional. Orders were placed for new shifter and brake cables, tires, tubes, saddle, cantilever brakes (the old ones were too far gone to be used), bar tape, and a ten speed chain.
The front derailleur took a lot of work to make it functional but eventually it loosened up and started to move and snap back as it is supposed to do. I flushed the headset bearings and repacked grease in them. I determined that these bearings were still in decent conditions, as was the bottom bracket.
I cleaned the cassette, crank, chain rings, and I also dipped many crews and rusting parts in WD-40 Rust Remover Soak in order to clean them up. Bike parts were trickling in, and when possible, I worked on the bike at five in the morning before going to work. Unfortunately the seat would not arrive in time so I would have to keep the old worn out saddle for now.
My biggest mistake was the bar tape. I got a cool two tone tape and I did not realize I wrapped it unevenly. It was all cut and taped up by the time I noticed the issue, so Amy will have to live with the shame of a poorly taped handlebar.
After two weeks of work, give or take, the bike was ready and I had an unveiling event with Amy at Cunningham park in Queens were I also set up a bit of a cyclocross course with stakes, tape, and barriers for her to get some practice with me. A video of the event can be seen here.
The next day we rode the course I had worked on for Long Island CX at the Nissequogue River State Park up in Kings Park, which gave her even more confidence.
Due to a rise in Covid cases in Connecticut, the race got shut down three days before the event. I accept their decision and I am thankful they did the right thing, but it was still upsetting. I think I am mostly disappointed because I did not get to see Amy race her first cyclocross event. I am afraid that part two of the video Amy Takes on Cyclocross will have to wait until next year.
Scrambling to re-adjust our weekend, we both decided to sign up for the last Beach Channel Time trial. Percy, who was going to go to the Cyclocross race too, signed up for the Time Trial and decided to dress up for Halloween.
On Saturday morning, I left my place around six in the morning. I converted my road race bike back to race mode with the carbon wheels and race tires and packed everything in the car. I picked up Amy at her place in Brooklyn and got to the parking lot at Floyd Bennett field just before eight. We got our bikes ready, numbers pinned before setting off to ride the few miles over the Marine Parkway Bridge to the start of the race.
The morning was quite cold. I decided to use my winter cyclocross skin suit with extras, such as knee warmers, wind shoe covers, light winter head cover, and my warmup sweats. We got over to registration with roughly twenty minutes to go before the start. That gave us enough time to complete registration and get ourselves sorted.
Amy went off very early on, and I doubted that I would be able to catch her. As my turn came up, I launched out of the gate and tried to get settled quickly. I did not want to ride too hard for the first full minute, just enough power to get me up to race speed. I did try to push the pace compared to the same event two weeks before. I wanted to get a better time. About a kilometer from the turn around I spotted Amy on the other side, which meant she was about two kilometers ahead of me.
I took the u-turn aggressively. Knowing I only had four kilometers to go, I was hoping to just burry this section. Alas, I was suddenly faced with a headwind. I did not realize that on the six kilometers out I had a nice cozy tail wind .
With roughly two kilometers to go I was having a hard time holding my line from fatigue coupled with the wind and the aero road frame of the bike and wheels. Before one kilometer to go, I got passed. about three minutes later I fished with a time of 16:17.269. Definitely an improvement. The prior race I posted a time of 17:00.622 and four weeks ago 16:30.662. My time gave me a third place podium in the Masters 40+ Non-TT bikes. Amy got a third place in the Women’s Non TT bikes.
Photos by Victor Chan.
Not wishing to keep freezing, as soon as the podium ceremonies were completed Percy Amy and I decided to get going so we could get back to the cars and warm up. Alex, as always, did a good job with the event along with his staff. The video link details the day from parking lot to parking lot.