Friday, October 30, 2009

Enter the Octagon

One of the most important parts--some would say *the* most important part--of any cross race is the start. The sprint is at the start and getting a good position early means passing fewer riders and having the choice of better lines, blah, blah, blah.

The UCI and USA Cycling both have rules, very clear rules, about things like the width and the length and the elevation and the surface and the arrangement of everything down the centimeter. The salient points are that the start chute should be 200 meters long and 6 meters wide. Most promoters, when they layout the course, take this into consideration and try to find the best arrangement for the start that ensure a fair and safe commencement to the race.

For the past two years at Rockburn, we have flagrantly cast these hopes aside.

There is a nice long road through the park, but unfortunately its curbed on both sides and really doesn't pass near the open areas where we want the race to go.  So instead we have had the starts in a parking lot, or as I like to think of it: The Octagon.  We would set-up a proper grid, 8 rows wide, in the back corner of the lot.  But when the gun goes off, riders would cut sideways into the lot that is actually 60-feet wide, but only 50 meters long to the sketchy hole shot that is maybe 12 feet wide.  Jim McNeely said it well,
"The prologue could have used a better start - the right hand turn off the tarmac was utter mayhem.  If you're funneling the course down from 20 rider's width to 8 wide, features that slow the pack down before the bottleneck might help avoid the wheel rubbing and rider shoving."
The first year this start ran through a long prologue loop that was muddy and downhill and out of sight.  The second year the prologue actually crossed the course (daring or dumb, you be the judge), which nearly caused wrecks in the stagger-start women and juniors race.

So the start and holeshot was short, narrow, and unsatisfying.  This year, its going to be long, wide, and black.  Both Schooley Mill and Rockburn have the same problem: plenty of road, but its all curbed.  So we're building ramps, 25-30 feet wide ramps, to get over the curb for the holeshot.  The ramps will be 4-feet deep, so the slope will be very gentle, and the surface will be solid, black grip tape--better traction than dry asphalt and and way more trustworthy in wet conditions.  By doing this, we get both starts over 250 meters, regulation width (or wider), with a wide hole shot.  Schooley Mill starts flat then slopes up hill.  Rockburn starts uphill, then levels out.

Now, should you still need to uncage your pent-up UFC aggression on the course, there will still be plenty of places to hog the line around a corner, pass savagely on a power-straight, and dive-bomb an off-camber.

So if you haven't done so already, register!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! This was the only problem I've had with this race in the past. Thanks for the hard work in changing it!