Kruger’s Crossing with Guy Smith: A Day at the Races

I’ve been acquainted with Guy Smith since he started racing cyclocross back in 2006. His first race was the Cross Crusade kickoff race at Alpenrose — an awesome introduction to racing. Guy is a small guy and requires a small bike and he had been having some difficulty finding a cyclocross bike his size. Tina Brubaker, a local elite woman racer, sold him her old bike a half hour prior to the start of his first cyclocross race ever.

In July 2008, he had his first heart surgery, a quadruple bypass where they repaired significant blockage in five major arteries. He was back to racing again that October but ran into trouble toward the end of the year. It turned out that the grafts had failed and he underwent a second bypass surgery in Feb 2009. He was able to recover and race in the fall of that year and hasn’t stopped since.

Guy credits his racing addiction as the main reason he’s alive and healthy today. While family and life are motivating factors, the routines of training and desire to be successful racing have kept him on the straight and narrow with diet and exercise.

While he enjoys racing all the courses, he does best on sloppy affairs with not so much climbing. Kruger’s was a great venue for him.

Pulling up

Get there early. Every serious racer wants to get to the venue with plenty of time to check in, get everything prepared, preview the course, warm up … The last thing you want is to be rushed before the race.

Parking lot

Racers spend more time in the parking lot that you might think. Weather looks good so far.

Bike comes off the roof

Race day is ritual. Racers go through the same preparations at every race, with only minor changes that are usually dictated by weather. The bike comes off the roof first.

Putting on the shoes

Bike shoes. You wear a pair from the time you get to the race until you remove as soon as possible after the race. Glove for embrocation …

Through the window

Bikes everywhere. After parking, racers don their warm up duds and prepare to take care of registration.

Pumping the tires

Tire pressure is always a hot topic. Lots of opinions. Everyone has their own ideas and aren’t afraid to share. Racers fidget with their tire pressure from the time they get to the venue until lining up for the whistle.

Helmet on the head

You can’t even ride around at a sanctioned race without your helmet.

Waiting

A few times during the race day, the course opens up for the preview. Getting to know the course is important if you want to go fast.

Pre-ride

Good weather for the pre-ride is a nice luxury. Staying warm and dry prior to your race start helps with mental preparation.

Kitting up

Kitting up. Time to change into the race duds. You might notice the marks of having his chest cracked twice …

Goofing

Racers get their psych on during the hour prior to their start. That doesn’t preclude their buddies from goofing around to lighten the mood. Racer squeezing a tire — checking the pressure.

Prepping for the line

Preparing to line up for the start. Racers want to stay loose and no one wants to be late for the call-ups.

Staging

Getting ready to be called up into the grid. Most racers will joke around to try to calm the nerves.

Concentration

He’s getting his head ready to race. You go over what you need to race as hard as you are able.

Race head

As start time approaches, the conversation dies and racers complete their mental preparations.

Before the start

Warmups come off. Call ups are done. Minutes to the whistle.

The first lap is crucial for a good race. You want to stay near the front to avoid the bottlenecks that cost precious seconds. There is no pacing on the first lap other than all out.

Most cyclocross courses have some obstacles. The better bike handles ride them, other prefer to run.

Racers will often find themselves all alone on the course and such times are ripe for a mental letdown.

If you pass someone, make sure they stay passed.

It’s always fun when the race promoter includes some interesting features from the venue.

The course often winds a bit to include features designed to keep racers off balance.

Don’t *ever* let anyone pass you.

Barriers are a standard feature of domestic cyclocross races.

Another use of the farm buildings as part of the course.

Conditions can change throughout the race. You have to be prepared to race the same sections differently as the course changes during your race.

And the finish. Race done. Bittersweet.

Where did I finish? Multiple fields on the course simultaneously and lapped riders make figuring out results for the fans.

Time to change and get warm.

Warm dry socks. Your feet will turn into ice cubes during a wet race in Oregon November.

Dirty bikes and rainy days. NW cyclocross.

Bikes go back on the car.

Sharing a beer with your racing buddies after the race is a time honored tradition.

Kicking back with a frosty one and contemplating the race. Guy got 4th and felt pretty good about that.

What goes up must come down. The rain makes the routine even less desirable.

I know we pulled all this stuff out of the trunk when we got here …

Hanging with your buds after your day is done is a great part of racing.

Beers, beers, and beers.

One of the best things about Kruger’s is that they always have a bonfire — a wonderful feature in late November.

All of the racers out there that day were just regular people with day jobs and families. They put themselves out there on Sundays racing as hard as they are able. For many, the races are the culmination of many months of training and practice. It’s a lot of work for a wonderful social club.