Take up your ‘cross and follow me

And just like that, my first full cyclocross season has come and gone! Okay, maybe it didn’t go by that quickly. I definitely felt the fatigue and mental wear towards the end of the season. Four straight weekends of relentlessly soul-sucking mud that put Dementors to shame had me wishing I hadn’t begged for mud during the toasty grass crits of September.

In the end, fun was had, pictures were taken, and many friends were made (many because pictures were taken). I have to say, it’s a lot more fun actually having people personally cheer/heckle you during a race! Thanks a ton to the Phenom & Team Yacht Club crews for letting chill with y’all at the races. The entire TXCX scene is so good! Sososo good, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Goals achieved this season:

  • Race a lot [CHECK!]
    • 8 separate weekends, 12 days of racing, 17 races
  • Finish consistently in Top 50% [CHECK!]
    • All 9 of my Cat 4/5 races were top half, finishing Top 10 in several of the local races!

Next season’s goals:

  • Start earning those Upgrade Points! That means at least Top 6’s in the larger races.
  • Upgrade to Cat 3 by season’s end
  • Get better at the technical stuff
  • Bring a non-CX-racing friend to a CX race
  • I want a Traitor Crusade frame…
    • Not sure if this counts as a goal

I can’t believe I’m saying this now, but I’m looking forward to putting some miles on the road again! No more power washing my bike every week. Phew.

That being said, here are some of my favorite shots from this season!


Race Report // Houston GP of Cyclocross – Dos / CX Grinder

CXGrinder Darryl Descent

Alarms: 6:45am, 6:52am, 6:56am
Wake up time: Some time after all 3 alarms
Pre-race breakfast: 2x McDonald’s Hashbrowns (now officially my go-to for every race)
Post-race lunch: Moon Rooster food truck tacos (Al Pastor & Carne Asada)
Post-shower dinner: McDonald’s 10pc McNuggets meal
Post-day conclusion: My body hates me

CXGrinder Moon Rooster

Venue: Mason Park – Houston, TX
Date: October 10, 2015
Weather: Sunny, warm –> hot, bone dry
Course length: 1.3mi / 2.1km
Races entered: Men’s Cat 4/5, Single Speed Open

Local Bike Racing (which aims to develop the grassroots level of bike racing in Houston) played host to Round Two of the Houston Grand Prix of Cyclocross. The course was shortened a bit and the routing through the woods after a longer run up was changed to make things more spectator friendly.

Fun fact: Mason Park will also be home to the Texas Cyclocross State Championships the first week of December! I’m looking forward to the course changes (it definitely could use a few tweaks). Parking is going to be a nightmare though since it’s a popular public park in the area, but maybe it’ll be better when it’s cold.

HTXCX #2 Course

The course conditions were the polar opposite of last year’s race here at Mason Park. Torrential downpours the day(s) leading up to the race gave us a sloppy mudfest last November. This entire CX season so far has been a bunch of dusty, dry, grass crits. Not that I’m complaining really (OK a part of me is yearning for the mud), as the races are faaast.

Men’s 4/5 – 30 minutes
Races kicked off roughly 35 minutes late, which was fine (for me) as it gave me more time to do pre-laps on both of my bikes. I was 5th call up (my first front row start!), which was a surprise to me, thinking it was based off USAC points, but since this is a 5-race regional series, I’m assuming it was based on series ranking.

I was 4th going into the woods, and quickly lost what felt like at least 6-8 spots to an army of HAM guys (they were out in full force) within the first couple of turns. The first turn was HUGE, and as the laps went on, I learned I didn’t even have to really hit the brakes on that one. The course featured lots of relatively straight sections with a few overgrown grassy potholes that I swore to remember for the next lap every dang time I hit them. The run up started a little further down this year, making it a much longer climb. I never bothered trying to ride it because I hadn’t practiced that in pre-laps. A couple quick turns and there was the 1-entry/exit pit (neutral service by Bicycle Speed Shop) and HAM Cycles, who you can always count on for a beer handup. Another couple turns led to a straight small incline and descent into a swooping and progressively dustier hairpin switchback.

CXGrinder Pit

Barriers were next, followed by the long singletrack descent (which stayed in the grass this year, rather than going onto the sidewalk [oh yeah, there were lots of local pedestrians walking on the sidewalk parts of the course] ) and into a sketchy creek dip. That was definitely the first major bottleneck. The guy behind me dismounted and ran it first lap. Of course he yells “DISMOUNTING” after he’s off the bike. There were definitely bombs of the F-type dropped on that man right then. (And that’s why you want to be at the front of the race early on).

CXGrinder Sketchy Creek

The last part of the course had a few long zig zags that were similar to last year and a long couple of curves leading back to the finish line. These long non-technical straight sections around the start/finish are ALWAYS the best place to punch it hard and prey on the weak in the 4/5 races. People like to try recovering in this section and take a breather, so this is the spot to gap them and crush their dreams.

I don’t remember all the details anymore, but preliminary results had me at 10th place out of about 70 racers. Post-preliminary-but-not-yet-officially-final results show me at 11th.

Single Speed Open – 50 minutes
No call up for me here since I registered day of. I don’t expect too much from my SS races yet, since I just got the bike and I’m still trying to figure out what gearing works for me. 40/19 felt a bit undergeared for me in Sugar Land, so I raced 40/18 this time. It was great! Although using my chain tensioner was kinda sketch. I felt the chain skipping often when having to stand and put lots of torque into the pedals. Ideally I can actually take out a full link and have it almost be perfect, but I currently need the versatility of running the 40/19 still. White Industries ENO Eccentric Hub is probably going to happen soon.

Without a call up, I started pretty much back row (out of 22 racers). Felt like I was part of the back 5-8 racers after the first few turns. Fast-forward about 35-40 minutes later: Racers were fading and I was gaining spots. I could feel my legs were on the verge of cramping whenever I dismounted on the last lap. I saw a gap between the 2nd barrier and the tape and ran between it rather than jumping over the barrier! Luckily Kenny was there to grab a shot of it. All legal if you stay within the tape =]

One guy found motivation again after I had passed him late in the race, but couldn’t get closer than 8-10 seconds behind me as I kept my eye on him. In the end, I finished 10th out of 22 racers! Far better than I expected, especially after my first SS race where I finished somewhere near the back.

Going into the season, I only had 1 CX bike, and my big goal was to consistently place in the top 50% of all my races. Last season I never broke the top 50%, granted I always started in the back. I’ve learned how important a good call up and start is! Now, I have 2 CX bikes and am crushing my goal!

It’s a Bexar 3/4 (San Antonio): 15/17
CX Scuffle 4/5 (Elgin): 18/49
Houston GPCX #1 4/5 (Sugar Land): 9/61
Houston GPCX #1 SS (Sugar Land): 11/16
Houston GPCX #2 4/5 (Mason Park): 10/70 (or 11th?)
Houston GPCX #2 SS (Mason Park) 10/22

Imagine if I ride my bike more often and actually do some training. Hmmmmm…

Catch the 3rd race of the series this Saturday, October 17th at the Alkek Velodrome in Katy, where the gentlemen of KOLO Promotions look to have some fun surprises (as usual) for the course up their sleeves!

CXGrinder KOLO Bryan


I’m really thankful I got the chance to attend the entire span of the US Cyclocross National Championships. I had a blast racing, spectating, heckling, cheering, obnoxiously ringing cowbells, talking to racers, meeting pros, and shooting photos throughout the elongated weekend. Sharing these photos with y’all has been truly joyful. Thanks everyone who was a part of my week in Austin!

And for the few that may still be wondering how I did in my 2 races on the first day, it didn’t go as well as I hoped! In the first race (10-29 non-champ), my chain fell off during the first bottleneck. I was running my bike through the bottleneck, remounted, and found it was off. By the time I got it back on, I think I was dead last, or close to it, as everyone had gone through. I got lapped (and pulled) with 2 laps remaining, and got 55th out of 72, so not bad considering what happened! I definitely failed to hydrate well enough and get electrolytes in between races, as the Industry race started 1.5 hrs after I finished the first race. I was starting to cramp pretty badly in my quads and left calf 2-3 laps in. Lapped and pulled with 1 lap left, and most importantly, didn’t get last (42/46)!

More Faces of Cross

Here’s the last gallery of immediate post-race portraits I shot. Included are racers from every race on Sunday Monday: Men’s Junior divisions (15-16, 17-18), Women’s Junior divisions (15-16, 17-18), Men’s & Women’s U23, and Men’s & Women’s Elite races!

I truly enjoyed grabbing these portraits. Approaching each racer, even having a little small talk with a few, really made the event a bit more personal. The faces you see are the future of American CX racing, how cool is that? Again, if you know someone in these photos, please share with them!

One more gallery from Monday to be posted tomorrow.

Masters of Cross

Friday hosted what I consider the “Young Masters” races, which consisted of 5-year age group races from 30-49 (Thursday, which I wasn’t in town for, was the “Old Masters” races, from 50-80+. Yes, there were 3 men racing in the 80+ category!). I didn’t make it out to Zilker in time for the Women’s races as I didn’t really know anyone in those. Enjoy!

Photographers of Cross

“Hey, photographers need their photographs taken too, right?!”


Inspired by Manual For Speed, this was just one of several ideas which I wish I had thought of earlier in the week, but was nonetheless happy with what I got. During the final delayed day of racing at the USAC Cyclocross National Championships, I literally ran around Zilker Park hunting down all the photographers I could find wearing the bright yellow USAC photographer credential vests.

We “Like” and share so many pictures these days, and we see shots of athletes doing cool things all the time…but rarely do we ever get to see the eyes and faces behind the thousand(s) dollar pieces of glass capturing these moments. This is for all the photographers out there to say “thanks for what you’re doing!”

Extra kudos to Andrew Yee (Photographer #40), founder of Cyclocross Magazine below for snapping a pic of me in return! And #34 said it best when he said “Now the real challenge will be to find out where everyone is posting their photos.”

If you see yourself below, take it and use it for personal (non-profit) use. Then shoot me an e-mail at kuotient[at]gmail just to let me know who you are! Thanks.

Faces of Cross

This week was a perfect example of Texas weather in a nutshell: beautiful sunny skies in the 60s on Tuesday, with a dry hardpack course on Wednesday, to near freezing temperatures with rain over the weekend. With all the rain, the course conditions took a turn for the worst. In other words, we had quintessential cyclocross conditions (mud on mud on mud) on Saturday, with more rain expected Sunday morning (in fact it’s pouring outside in North Austin as I type) — just in time for the Elite racers to show off their mud-slinging skills in the afternoon!

While I was course marshaling for a bit yesterday, I watched the kids and collegiate women race in muddy splendor. It was then I realized these faces would make for great portraits! Unfortunately, I only thought of this after all the ladies had raced (sorry ladies!). I’m quite bummed I didn’t think of it earlier, because I love to show and promote the women’s side of cycling! Many of those girls racing yesterday could’ve easily kicked my butt in a race.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the faces of cyclocross, with all their mud, sweat, tears, blood…and snot! Click any photo to enlarge.

(If you see yourself in one of these photos and want a full-res copy, email me at kuotient[at]gmail. Also if you see someone you know in here, please share with them!)

2015 USA Cyclocross National Championships // Day 1 – 1.7.2015

My shots from Day 1 of the USAC Cyclocross National Championships! Click on any photo to enlarge and start a slideshow.

For the Love of Mud

So maybe you’ve been wondering (or probably not) “what is this cyclocross (CX) racing Allen has gone nuts over all about?” Well watch the trailer for “For The Love of Mud” to get an idea!

The film just so happens to be premiering in Austin during CX Nationals on January 9th, so you can probably find me there that evening! Get your tickets here.

First Look // Clement MXP Clincher Tires

Clement MXP Tires

After reading how popular the Clement MXPs are as all-around cyclocross tires, I picked up a pair in hopes of upgrading my stock Specialized Tracer Sport tires. I also read about many riders’ positive experiences (a few negatives too) with riding these tubeless, so that was my intention, especially after having picked up a set of Stan’s NoTubes Iron Cross Pro wheels which are specifically designed for tubeless CX racing as it has wide shoulders to limit the chances of burping. Consider me “new school”, as opposed to “old school” and getting tubulars.

For the number geeks like me, here are some numbers:

  • Measured weight: 336g and 350g
  • Measured width: 36mm and 35.2mm
  • Claimed width: 33mm


MXP-3I couldn’t find any official claimed weights on the tires, but Internet peeps have been weighing them in consistently between 335-350g. The measured tire widths will always depend highly on the width of the rims (specifically the inner width) that you install them on. The Iron Cross rims have a very wide internal width of 20mm that gives tires more volume and a less bulbous shape.

Tubeless setup: The tires did not sit tight enough on the rim to be able to use a standard floor pump. For one wheel, I used our shop’s compressor; for the other, I tried out the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger pump for the first time! And it worked without a hitch. The gush of air is strong, but not as fast as it comes out of a compressor or CO2 canister — it’s a steady controlled flow, which is really nice.

Why tubeless? Well one general advantage of running tubeless tires (road, mountain, or cyclocross) is the ability to run lower tire pressures without worry of getting pinch flats. As a lightweight rider (145 lbs), pinch flats have never been a problem for me on the road or in CX. I have raced my Tracer Sports at around 28psi (front) and 32psi (rear) multiple times without any pinches. Those are definitely on the lower side of tire pressure in CX. The hesitation in the CX world in moving to tubeless is the combination of low pressure and low volume, as that can often lead to “burping” of air if the pressure is too low and you hit a bump or corner too hard. I’ll probably test the tires down to 25psi at the lowest to see if that is reliable.

Another reason is not worrying about tire punctures. Since CX riding is primarily off-road, there are plenty of opportunities for little splinters, thorns, or rocks to penetrate the tire. On my mountain bike, I have gotten 2-3 punctures in the middle of the ride, but they sealed up quickly with the Stan’s sealant and I got to keep riding without missing a beat! On my Tracers with tubes, I did have a small thorn puncture my tire and tube, causing a small leak that I found later. Sealant is really capable in sealing up holes and even cuts sometimes.

I actually only just installed the tires yesterday, so I can’t say much about ride characteristics! Today I’m going to see how well the tires sealed up and how much air they held. There were a couple spots of weeping sealant bubbles, but I think it’ll be fine *crosses fingers*. CX Nationals are in one month so I’ll definitely be training on our local course and will try to push the tires to its limits, although I’ll probably hit my limits first! An update to this “review” will come later with actual ride experience.