Cross Season is Here: Recapping Whirlybird CX 2019
82° and mostly sunny at the start
Whirlybird is the typical local start of the cross season, and it’s hot, fast, and bumpy. Everyone’s testing each other to see who’s fit and who’s not, who’s turning well and who’s not, and whether or not we all have our bikes put together correctly.
I lined up with 16 competitors (colleagues? comrades?) on my birthday, for seven extremely spicy laps. I went in with a goal of taking the win, and while I’m here to report that while I failed, I’m stoked on how fast my friends are riding and am ready to get back at it next weekend.
We were flying from the gun. Our first and fastest lap was about the same as the fastest laps that the elites laid down (neat!) but I was riding way over my head, underestimating the toll that the heat and the punchy elevation changes were taking.
A goal that I managed to achieve last year was riding consistent laps – taking the first lap much easier than I think I should, and keeping things consistent throughout. This paid off big-time, but…early-season enthusiasm got the best of me this time.
Three laps in, I was still sitting in a good position (5th? 6th?) having been joined by Clark and Kevin Hsieh…but then the announcer called out four laps to go and I knew the end was near. I didn’t have another 28 minutes of fast in me, and I pulled back, hoping to salvage what I could by riding smooth, but not hard.
Clark and Kevin kept going to 3rd and 4th on the day. When Cullen finally caught me in the last set of turns, I could only frustrate his attempts to come around. He dropped me in the final climb and came through for 9th.
I settled in for a (barely) top 10, and will take what I learned to the next race.
I raced my Moots Routt for the first time on a cross course (for those keeping track at home, this thing has done road races, gravel races, and cross races, all in the same year), and…it worked fine.
My stem is way longer than is ideal (140mm!) for cross, and the bike prefers to go straight more than a true CX bike should, but it totally works. I’ve currently got it set up as a 1x (40t up front, with a 11-32 in the back), using Ultegra mechanical/hydro levers, and the clutched Ultegra RX rear derailleur.
I had no dropped chains last year using a similar setup, and had the same experience at Whirlybird. It just works, and setup was an absolute snap. Having gone from Sram 1x to Shimano Di2, both of which separate the shifting levers/buttons from braking levers, I was a touch worried that a cabled Shimano combined shift-brake lever was going to be bad, or weird. It wasn’t either of these things – it was just…great. Recommend.