Monday, November 25, 2013

Bilenky Junkyard Cross - 2013

On Saturday, December 7 the Bilenky Junkyard Cross will ride again. Finishing a heat is a prize unto itself. Set in a junkyard abutting the Bilenky shop this race requires you to navigate a wide range of surfaces with barriers and hazards you would never normally encounter.

The course surface varies from dirt, packed earth, gravel, to pavement along with some oil, radiator and transmission fluid mixed in. Then of course there are the barricades; the junk yard provides a wide range of obstacles. So what are some of the things you can do to prepare for the race if your trying to place in your heat?
  1. Don't ride clipped in. Last year I saw several riders switch from clipless pedals to BMX pedals. They were off and on their bikes so often they were losing time and position when they struggled to clip in. BMX pedals are wider so they are easier to get your foot on and they are still grippy enough to keep sneakers from slipping.
  2. Wear sneakers instead of cycling shoes. Riding shoes with cleats will leave you at a disadvantage on many of the sections of the course which may require you to run on a wooden walkway or climb over the hood of a car. Shoes with cleats will leave you off balance with no traction.
  3. While you are going to see many people riding standard cyclocross bikes, the course does not always give you the time to shift gears. Some of the fastest and most aggressive riders are the riders on single speed mountain bikes and BMX. These are the competitors who think nothing of bunny hopping a car used as a hurdle. Or pulling wheelies through the start/finish line like one competitor did last year.
    4. Do not underestimate the influence of the spectators. Last year in the middle of a heat the car hurdles were quickly mofided with ramps and the second car had ramps on both sides. When one racer squeezed through a gap between the car hurdle and edge of the course, spectators filled in the gap with car tires and when that racer came around again they had quite the surprise. 
There are some suggestions I would also like to make to the course designers.
The frequent comment I heard from the competitors was there was no place to pass. It may be time to reconsider the course design. The car hurdles create a larger than normal hurdle, but they only allow for one racer at a time to get over it. The same can be said for the mini van used as a tunnel. 

With all of the options of things that can be found in the junk yard perhaps its time to revitalize the course to allow for passing and faster speeds in certain sections. By making the hurdles and barricades able to accommodate more than one person at a time. Create a slalom with tires stacked three high and tied together in groups of three to form a triangle for stability.

Another challenge faced last year was in one of the last races ended a few laps short when some of the spectators started yelling “you won” as the pack came through the start/finish line, when the heat had not ended. Purchase a standard, checkered finish line flag so there is a clear indicator as to when the heat is over.

Some other concerns include increasing the number of port-a-potties as last years were full to capacity at the end of the day. As well as the possibility of moving the food truck to a location that is not right on top of the course.

As always it goes without saying that the Bilenky Junkyard Cross has become one of the most popular and challenging local Cyclocross races. It has developed such a following that last year a saw numerous out of state license plates including; New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Indiana. This is a must see race that should be on everyone's list of things to do.

2010 Documentary
Bilenky Junkyard Cross (A Short Film) from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

2012 Race Highlights

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