Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kermesse Q&A: John Alving (Apex Racing)

For your reading pleasure here is a brief Q&A with John Alving of Apex Racing. This multi-sport everyman did the Ronde Ohop for the first time last year and had a blast. He also flatted and learned that it's not the end of the world at a Kermesse.

PruDog: Was the Ronde your first Kermesse? What were you expecting coming in and what was the single biggest surprise?

John: As much as I wanted to do the previous years (two years ago) race, I had a conflict. (mountain bike race I think) . So last year was my first race. I was actually expecting a rougher course than we saw from what I heard two years ago . I race as a Master Cat2 in Cyclocross so rough roads are not a problem for me. I was surprised how the peloton completely came apart in the race. It makes total sense but I was not expecting it.

PruDog: You noted that you flatted, yet still did pretty well. How'd you pull that off? Any special equipment choice? What will you use for the Kermesses this year?

John: I did flat, none of the guys that finished ahead of my flatted. My team hit the dirt with four guys in the top five. I was third wheel. Riding at race speeds a foot off a guy’s wheel on that road did not allow you see what was coming (rocks, holes). I had intended to race on 28mm or worst cast 25mm tires but neither would fit on my frame so I ran with my standard 23mm tires. About 100 yards from the end of the first dirt circuit I noticed my front wheel was flat. I rode it to the neutral wheel support and was changed out pretty quickly but the leaders had a 1 minute gap I was never able to close. A team mate flatted at the same time. I never saw him until the last lap where we worked together to leave the small group we had. We finished 6th and 7th. What a total blast. I can’t wait until next years race where I will be racing my cross bike with 28mm tires and 53/39 chainring. This is what I have set up for the Kermesses. My only concern is the bike is a far cry from my fancy BMC bike so I will have to see how I like it on the road. I pick it up from the shop this week (snow notwithstanding).

PruDog: One thing riders worry about is getting dropped because they are used to road races or crits were once you get popped it's a long lonely ride home. At some point everyone in a Kermesse ends up alone or in a very small group but it's not at all like "getting dropped" -- I like to say that every one who finishes earns it and as a result the overall satisfaction per rider is very high. How would you describe the racign dynamic to a rider who is interested in racing a Kermesse but is afraid of being "dropped"?

John: You still have to be careful because about getting dropped on the road section. You are right about the getting dropped comment though, it is similar to Cross racing where everyone finishes and can race their own race. The groups are very small and is really only an advantage on the pavement section. I would be surprised though if the Kermesse races break up a much as the Ronde Ohop [which has 12 miles of paved road before entering the Kermesse circuit] but not having raced [just the kermesse cicuit] I will have to see. There are a ton of Cyclocross riders [that this would be] a winter diversion [for]. This seems like a perfect “gateway” race to road racing. The only thing that will keep me from attending is a ton of new snow in the mountains (skiing) editor - again with the priorities John. Seriously..

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