Last Minute Tips for Nationals from Compton, Trebon and other Super Speedy Crossers
I’ve been harassing super fast people for the past week with interviews for the CCX Nationals coverage that will run in the Oregonian sports section starting tomorrow. There will be content every day through Monday, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
I was halfway through an interview with Katie Compton last week when we started talking gear. I swear it originally had something to do with the article, but I quickly got swept away into the land of tire pressure. Compton is an exacting competitor and she leaves nothing to chance. There was a point in our conversation when I finally just said, “So… can I ask you a bunch of questions totally unrelated to this article?”
Luckily, Katie’s not just a gear nerd, she’s an enthusiastic gear nerd! She was happy to dish a little so I pumped her for information on everything – from how she scouts a course the first time out, to when she decides on her tire pressure for the day, to how she dials her pressure in to the decimal point, to what she thinks about when she’s racing.
The takeaway? Two things: Not only is Katie fast, she is meticulous and uncompromising. And my guess is that, besides having a world-class motor, those traits are part of what make her a head above the rest.
I had conversations with fast people. They told me stuff. Some were even cool enough to ask me about my own race on Thursday (oh shit, I’m racing!?) and hand down a little advice. Here are the little tiny tidbits that I took away:
On tires and pressure and Mark’s amazing tire-gluing magic: “I think I’ll ride DuGast Rhinos [at Nats] – I love them in the snow: they’re just super grippy. I’ll wait until about 45 minutes before the race to decide on pressure – you can never listen to what someone tells you in the morning. The course changes throughout the day. Don’t trust anyone else – make your own decision. I’ve never run my tires over 30 psi. Ever. In Treviso [a dominating World Cup win this year] I tried 30psi and it was too high. Then I had him put in 29 and it was definitely too low. 29.5 ended up being just perfect. You really have to ride your bike a lot to be able to feel little differences like that, but I definitely can. When conditions are really bad I will go as low as 17psi. Mark [Katie's husband, mechanic, pit man, marketing guy and all-around everything] is a master at gluing tires – he has secrets that I can’t tell you about but I have never rolled a tire – and I will never roll a tire. EVER.”
On snow and freezing temps: “You have to have a really good attitude about it. Stay positive.”
On keeping hands and feet warm: “I will probably race with a warmer on my footbed and I might even break out the PearlIzumi winter boots. For gloves, it’s a trade-off. Thicker gloves can interfere with handling but thin gloves are often worthless against the cold. When Tim Johnson won a few years ago he took his gloves off mid-race and I couldn’t belive it. I have no idea how he could handle it. I’m probably going to put handwarmers in thinner gloves as a compromise. Keeping the fingers, toes and feet warm is definitely important.”
On battling face-freeze: “Put Vaseline on your face – it will help keep you warm in the wind. Just consider it your Cyclocross Nationals facial.”
On snow: “It’s not really a big deal – snow is just a little more slippery than dirt. You just have to account for that when you go around corners.”
On the weather: “It’s only an hour. You just go as fast as you can and try to keep moving. ”
On gloves: “Having thin gloves to be able to feel the bike won’t do you any good if you’re hands are numb. I think it’s critical to keep your hands as warm as possible, even if it means going with a thicker glove.”
On tires: “34′s with super low pressure get a good contact patch on the ground. Maybe the Rhinos if things thaw out and get a little muddy. We’ll see.”
Bonus stuff from Ryan!
On chocolate chip cookies, “The best ones in Bend are at Nancy P’s… they’re just perfect – they taste like sugar and butter.”
On eggs: “I don’t eat them that often [he prefers toast] but when I do I only eat them scrambled – It’s gross when they’re runny. I don’t want to see the baby bird part of the egg… I want it to be mixed in.”
On his new Mini: “I have a list of cars that I’d like to own at some point in my life and that was on it. I found a good deal so I just went for it. It’s a pretty tight fit in there but I’ve been doing research online to source parts to extend the seat. We went out and drove it in the snow this week and it was pretty terrifying.”
[By the way, for the record Ryan's inseam is 39.5"]
On the men’s elite race “It’s pretty hard to beat Ryan in a bike race but there’s going to be more pressure for him to win than there has been before. It’ll be an interesting bike race for sure… I’d love to be able to see it go down – maybe I’ll just watch instead.”
On the conditions: “There’s no excuses. You just show up and race no matter what is going on.”
[Ok, so maybe Brad Ross isn't an elite racer but he did once wear Oscar Sevilla's King of the Mountains skinsuit at the Cascade Classic - that counts for something, right? And besides, he designed the course.]
On the course: It’s going to kick ass.