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Cross Crusade #4 recap: Sticky mud takes its toll

Posted by on October 27th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-19

After a record-setting week of rain, the Cross Crusade‘s fourth stop was mired in mud.

Cyclocross coverage
made possible by
Sellwood Cycle Repair.

Many cyclocross lovers rejoice in muddy conditions: A few mud bogs can be fun and navigating a few slippery corners can be a technical treat. But when about 90% of the entire course is slippery and sticky and so full of grass and muck that it seizes up your entire drivetrain? That’s pushing it.

At the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro yesterday, there were 105 DNFs (did not finish) out of 1142 starters. That means you had around a 10% chance of not finishing. And the percentage was a lot higher later in the day, as the saturated dirt baked in the intermittent sunshine and morphed into a peanut-buttery consistency.

You can get a sense of how absurd the conditions were by the faces of these spectators who were camped out on a particularly tricky, off-camber section of the course…

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-1

The largest field of the day, the Master Cs, started at 10:35 AM and had only three DNFs out of 143 racers. That’s only 2%. The Category A men on the other hand started at 1:15 and lost 27% of their field to the mud (17 racers out of 62 starters).

Typically the culprit of a DNF in extremely mud conditions are rear derailleurs — or more specifically derailleur hangers. As the muck builds up inside the pulleys, it gets harder and harder for your chain to pass through. Then suddenly the whole system seizes up and, it only takes half a pedal stroke to rip the derailleur hanger right off. If you’re lucky, you simply replace the hangar for about $20 and you’re back in business.

I wasn’t so lucky: Just 2 1/2 laps into the race I heard a sudden, “Snap!” and that was it. I looked down and my derailleur was viciously bent, hangar was snapped clean off, and a spoke was dangling inside my wheel.

Cross Crusade #4-3

My poor, poor bike.

The funny thing is, I was really enjoying the race before that happened. There’s something zen about the extreme focus it takes to ride well in conditions like that. And I love it!

Many (smart) people opted to leave their geared bikes at home and race a singlespeed. But even without a derailleur, there were 10 DNFs in the singlespeed category. The mud was so sticky by their 3:15 start that it packed into every open space and made some bikes unrideable. One singlespeed racer I talked to said his pedal sheared off. “The spindle’s still there,” he said, “but I couldn’t even find the pedal.”

Here are a few more shots from the scene of the grime:

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-2

There were no good lines.
Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-3

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-11

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-5

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-8

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-10

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-7

Even singlespeeders found it tough to keep pedaling.
Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-12

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-13

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-14

Look how caked up this guy’s cleats are.
Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-15

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-16

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-17

Cross Crusade #4 - Hillsboro-18

Team support!
Cross Crusade #4

Cross Crusade #4-2

This team tent had a Saloon theme and
played old Johnny Cash music all day.

The Crusade packs up and heads for Bend next weekend. There will be races Saturday and Sunday, and of course the traditional Halloween partying and whatnot.

Stay tuned for more ‘cross coverage!

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davemess
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davemess

You really need the mud at WaCo fairgrounds. Otherwise the course is a little boring.

Another great day for single speeds! (is there really not a great day for single speeds though?)

Dan
Guest
Dan

“…scene of the grime…” Ha ha ha!

They should probably shorten the A race when the conditions are like that. Lucky to survive 40 minutes, much less a whole hour. Kenji broke TWO Di2 derailleurs…that’s an expensive day!

sherry
Guest
sherry

I had no issues with my Gates Carbon Drive belt! besides…I am kind of addicted to single speed now, so the thought of bringing my geared bike to the race didn’t even occur to me! 🙂

onegearsnear
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onegearsnear

I’ve been “racing” single speeds for over 10 years as it’s totally zen on course not worrying about shifting and easy clean up after a race like Sunday. Biggest problem I had was lifting the bike over the barriers with all the mud caked on… good times!

paul g
Guest
paul g

There is a simple solution: single speed! Nothing to break.

Peter R.
Guest

Isn’t this what pits and power washers are for? Granted not everyone has 2 bikes, but the Euros have stuff this bad or worse all the time. Nice shots by the way.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think you’re confusing 98% of the amateurs out there with the very few “pro”-type riders that show up to cross crusade.

But yes, in an ideal world, everyone would have a pit bike and be able to switch bikes every lap.

Peter R.
Guest

I think you confuse my comment with anything but sarcasm. Though I know how well that translates across the internet.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I always just use a……..

Spence'
Guest
Spence'

And that 105 DNFs doesn’t count poor folks like me who carried their wounded soldiers to the finish. My poor derailleur hanger didn’t stand a chance.

Rando
Guest
Rando

On that one guy… Dem legs tho…. Woof

haanhdon
Guest

Bike and mud, we swim together 😀

F.W. de Klerk
Guest
F.W. de Klerk

The “Eatins” sign may seem funny, but there are a lot of poor folks in parts of the country who actually eat this stuff. You’re pretty lucky you can simply walk down the street to Whole Foods.

Slow Joe Crow
Guest
Slow Joe Crow

When I rode by on Monday morning the race course still looked like the Russian Front during the Rasputitsa. Does anybody have a tally of destroyed rear derailleurs and hangers?

Vince Rodarte
Guest

I ripped my rear derailleur off after lap 1 in Master C’s. Then ran 2 laps to avoid a DNF. I’ve never done a duathlon before Sunday. 1.7 bike leg & 3.4 mile run. I would have raced my SS, but I broke the frame on the Monolith at PIR.

NC1
Guest
NC1

Was that the crack of Carbon Fibre breaking that I heard 50 metres away?

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Seems to me that you’d really need actual CLEATS to run through this– as in, soccer, or football.

Great photos; my friend Carl (Decker) was there, his take on it was about the same as yours!

Ben
Guest
Ben
PNP
Guest
PNP

Well, this explains the many bike-shaped mud sculptures that I saw when I was out this weekend. I wish I’d remembered to attend the event!