Monday, February 1, 2016

Motoring Into February

On Saturday we got to 41° in West Bend, 14° above the average high for January 30. Saturday was our warmest day of 2016 and our first taste of 40° since we hit 54° back on December 23, a record for that date. I spent the afternoon on my 29er but it was the wrong tool for the job. The roads were perfectly dry and those 30 miles were slower than they should have been. Under dazzling sunshine this afternoon, I did a very satisfying 26-mile ride on my cyclocross bike.

Did you catch all the big cyclocross stories last weekend? On Friday the UCI announced its 2016-2017 World Cup schedule and Iowa’s Jingle Cross made the cut! That is huge news for American cyclocross in general and for the Midwest particularly. Jingle Cross is very popular with Wisconsin’s cyclocross community, as Iowa City is within a 4-hour drive of something like 90 percent of us. The Trek CXC Cup dates were announced on Saturday, so we can look forward to this amazing block of racing in mid-September:

Sat., 9/17 Trek CXC Cup, Day 1 @ Waterloo WI
Sun., 9/18 Trek CXC Cup, Day 2 @ Waterloo WI
Wed., 9/21 UCI World Cup: Cross Vegas @ Las Vegas NV
Sat., 9/24 UCI World Cup: Jingle Cross @ Iowa City IA

Technically, Jingle Cross will be held Sep. 22-25, but the World Cup race is the main event. I wonder if the Trek CXC Cup will attract more top-level talent as our best domestic pros tune up for the bigger prizes of Cross Vegas and Jingle Cross. And I wonder whether the Wisconsin Cycling Association’s cyclocross season will be on hold for those two weekends.

On Saturday at the UCI World Championships, Thalita De Jong of the Netherlands was the surprise winner of the women’s elite race. Belgium’s Sanne Cant, the prohibitive favorite after another outstanding season, slipped from first to third in the last half of the final lap. Then came the bizarre story of Belgian U23 women’s champion Femke Van den Driessche, and we all went to sleep feeling a little worse about the sport. But Sunday’s races were great, first for the U23 men and then for the elite men. In the finale, Wout Van Aert of Belgium outlasted Lars van der Haar of the Netherlands in a brilliant head-to-head duel. Cyclocross legend Sven Nys thrilled his fans by surging into the lead at the midpoint of the race. Nys eventually finished in 4th place, just behind fellow Belgian Kevin Pauwels. With 2 World Championships and 50 World Cup wins to his credit, Nys will retire at the end of this season.

Today I was very motivated to ride outside because tomorrow we’re probably going to get significant snowfall. Then comes another long stretch of sub-freezing days. As I flip the calendar over to February, I feel some pressure to train properly. Time to dust off the turbo trainer …

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