Friday, September 30, 2011

More Fun with Mapping

The 50K courses are a little different than what we originally mapped.  This is because Z and I had some discussion about the set up and wanted to make sure we were putting together a fast, fun 50 that kept much of the feel of the 100K but a little less of the elevation gain/loss from our first short course design.  So after some map consultation and Z doing some more poking about we came up with this:

The big change from the first course is the elimination of the Hogshead Climb from the 50K.  You miss out on probably the best road descent of the 100K with this change, but the upside is you don't get the 20-30 minutes of climbing that may accompany the ascent on the 100K course that is often a major decision maker in the long race?  What do I mean?  Hogshead either makes you or, seemingly more often, breaks you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Paint by Numbers

So I'm on the plane to Vegas last week and having composed my xmas list by way of Sky Mall in 15 minutes I'd exhausted the stellar in-flight "entertainment" supplied by the airline.  BTW, when did peanuts become too expensive to include on 5 hour flights?  Just wondering.  Email me your answers.

Anyway.  I popped open the laptop which, it turns out, was too big to use easily in the confines of row 22C and a few hand cramps later came up with this:

I know, might be tough to see.  Hopefully it'll blow up nice for you.  What you see here is a map of the 100K course showing the different types of terrain you'll encounter during the event.

Red = Pavement
Dark Blue = Dirt/Gravel Road/Rail Trail
Light Blue = Unimproved Road/Jeep Road
Green = Singletrack
Purple = Run-Up!!

I'll tell you that while you're out there the course may not feel exactly like this and certainly the time you spend navigating a mile of singletrack or running up Wigwam will take longer than a mile of pavement, but this gives you a pretty good picture of how the course features break down.  Is it 100% exact to the meter?  No.  But after 9 years of working on this course, it is pretty dang close.


Monday, September 19, 2011

The National UltraCross Series!

This year marks the start of something we've tossed around for a few years.  The establishment of series of events that are like-minded to Iron Cross.

You know.  Just plain stupid.

And we have it.  Starting in 2011 the National Ultra Cross series was launched - mostly under the radar, but stay tuned.  Four events banded together under the impetus of one promoter guy (not me) who took the time to send an email.  Approximately 145 emails later we had something.  Not a lot just yet, but something.

But we also attracted the attention of some other promoters from around the place.  Guys in Michigan and Virginia and Connecticut took note and said something like, "Hey, that's pretty cool. What's up with next year?"

Mostly we don't have any idea.  Or we have a lot of ideas.  Or something in between.

Whatever it is, this is going to grow.  Why?  Because Ultra Cross is really what cycling is all about.  Perhaps even the name is misleading.  Yes, these are all long-distance pseudo-cross races - or at least that what the promoters claim, but really these are about the vary things that first attract and then keep almost everyone in this sport: adventure, exploration, beauty and love of riding. 

These aren't really about the result, though it is nice to go a little faster each year.  These are about taking a bike and doing something wild and fun and different.  These are about pushing yourself hard and ending up with an enduring memory of something unique.  For most, these are about taking some of the seriousness that creeps into or embodies "real" races and throwing that out the freakin' window. 

The National Ultra-Cross Series.  
Unless you live close to one of these it won't be coming to a town near you just yet, so get in the freakin' car and get your tail to one of these!!

2011 National Ultra Cross Series Races

June - Hilly-Billy Roubaix

Sept 25- Three Peaks USA - "America's Hardest"

Oct 9 - Iron Cross IX (yea, you're here.)

Feb 25 - Southern Cross - 2011 Series Finals! 

2012 National Ultra Cross Series

Feb - Southern Cross (yes, this is a point getter for both years!)
June - Hilly Billy Roubaix
Sept - Three Peaks USA
October - 13/14 - Iron Cross!  Series Finals 2012.

The other events in 2011 will be back in 2012 with the series finals at North America's Original Endurance 'Cross Race - right here at Iron Cross - but we may have a few other surprises/events in store for you too!  Like I said, stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Feel the Love - Mountain and 'Cross

Okay, this seems silly, but I've brought it on myself for sure. 

Let's get one thing straight -  

We love mountain bikes and 
Mountain Bikes are 
Welcome at Iron Cross!!

In the past couple days three people have asked me just that.  I'm sure it stems from my very tongue-in-cheek "mountain bikes are okay if you're weak and lame" post last year and from my 10+ year commitment to making IC what it is today.

Mountain bikes have never been banned from the event and we probably won't ever go that far even if dream of 1000 'cross bikes on the start line.

When we first rode the course it was laid out from the saddle of a 'cross bike.  The idea was (and is) that its supposed to be sorta stupid in sections on a 'cross bike but that the 'cross bike is the "right" way to experience the stupidity.  And of course, anything they can do in England we can do better.
Look, the 'cross bike wouldn't be anyone's first choice for some of these trails -- and maybe some of these trails wouldn't be anyone's first choice for riding for that matter.  That right there is the essence of Iron Cross.  The point is to be outlandish and nutball and fun in a, "that was one of the dumbest things I've done" way "and I'm better, smarter, faster and more gooder looking for riding it - and I'm sure as heck tougher than you are."

Using a mountain bike sort of takes away some of that quality of the event.  The mtb will make it smoother and reduce the likelihood of a flat and give you a little more confidence in the rough stuff - which are not bad things mind you.  It is just that the 'cross bike offers a different sort of experience that is a little more crazy and done right is a perfect tool for the job.  We don't want anyone to miss out on what it is that makes this thing Iron Cross.

Of course, maybe that craziness isn't what you're after and that's cool.  We know too that not everyone has an mtb.  And no, we don't think you should run out and buy a new bike for this one race.  We don't think that you're really truly lame for riding a mountain bike either (lame is what I am these days).   In fact, some of you should not do this on a 'cross bike if you're new-ish to cycling in general or haven't spent time getting to know your 'cross bike on some singletrack - which you very much must do.

Will I still make fun of you?  There might be some good natured ribbing and I'm not going to let you forget that this is Iron Cross, but in general if you have a sense of humor you'll come out relatively unscathed.   Mostly I'll limit the worst of it to guys and gals who are overall contenders and choose an mtb for a "competitive advantage" - which maybe translates to taking yourself too seriously, (but even they get a pass if they don't have a 'cross bike).
Lucky for Freeze Thaw/NoTubes V she had a 'cross bike.  Otherwise...
Maybe we're missing out.  Maybe I should get off the soap box.  Maybe we should just change this to a mountain bike race that is possible on a 'cross bike.  Eddy Merckx knows that there are a heck of a lot of cycling competitions that exist these days that bill themselves as mountain bike races that are a far cry from mountain biking.  Truth be told, Iron Cross is more technical than some of the most prolific "mountain bike" races and qualifiers going - don't get me started...

But, that wouldn't be our style now would it.  Maybe by learning to ride in central Pennsylvania my sense of technical and fun are just way way out of whack.  Maybe we're just ahead of our time. (A post on the growth of Endurance 'Cross Racing is coming - get yourself to Three Peaks and plan a trip to Southern Cross!)  Maybe I'm just dumb.  Probably I should take the 'maybe' out of that last one.

Here's the take home.  If you come out to Iron Cross on an mtb and even if you think that you would only ever ride an mtb here that's okay.  That's your prerogative and honestly we'd rather have you here than not because this whole event is just a freakin' blast and we have lots of love to spread around.

But if that is the case, just one time, grab a 'cross bike and experience Iron Cross the way we envisioned it originally because you deserve that experience as a cyclist.  In the meantime, bring out the mtb and join us for some good times.

You want that experience and don't have your own 'cross rig?  Find one of those guys with a couple pit bikes for the serious 'cross racing every other weekend of the year and ask to borrow one.

Just don't tell him what you're about to do with it.