Archives For Ask An Expert

2015 is going to be a banner year for #TXCX, that is if new TXBRA Cyclocross Coordinator, Melanie Black, has anything to do with it.

Melanie Black, our new TXBRA CX Coordinator, on the beach. Photo provided by Mel, likely jacked from your social account.

Melanie Black, our new TXBRA CX Coordinator, on the beach. Photo provided by Mel, likely jacked from your social account.

Melanie has more than 15 years of experience running races as she and her husband, Will, were big parts of the Houston and Asheville, NC scenes. Plus, she’s a bad-ass Cat 1 Mountain Bike / Cat 2 Road / Cat 1 CX racer, and more importantly a proud mom and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA: she puts people to sleep for surgery).

The role of CX Coordinator for TXBRA is to help establish the schedule, to ensure the quality of our races and to act as a liaison between riders and promoters. As you can imagine, satisfaction for all groups is no easy task with so many people bringing their own needs, desires and agendas. And the role is all volunteer.

We sat down with Mel to ask her what’s in store for this upcoming season.

Thanks for taking the time for a few questions. Let’s start with the obvious change – Regional and Elite Races. Over the past few years we’ve toyed with the idea of regional events and we’ve seen they are viable. How do these two classifications work?

Looking at the numbers from last year’s races, we realized that many cross racers did not travel outside their geographical area to race. Having an official regional race series separate from the Elite race series is away to grow the sport from the roots. The idea for regional races is to have low key, fun regional events that cater to the first timer, beginner racer, or a family that races but can’t travel as much. Continue Reading…

Hup! Hup! Texas CX fans.

Coach Brian Conant (Pony Shop Cyclocross) gets the hole shot and applies the pressure early. Picture borrowed from

For the first installment of the 2012-13 Ask a CX Expert category we turn to cycling coach and bad-ass CX racer, Brain Conant. He may look familiar face from early-season TXBRA road races? And if you ever toe’d the line in the big Midwest and National cyclocross events, you may have seen him speed by (or heard him heckle).

TXCX: Coach! Thanks for taking this quick interview.
BC: No problem. Thanks for having me on board.

TXCX: So it’s August already and CX is right around the corner. What kind of base do your athletes have heading into training?
Base, most of us do not have time for tons of base miles in the true sense, if you have been riding consistently and for years, that is your base Continue Reading…

From a USA Cycling, where Bonnie was given top honors last year.

For the latest installment of Ask a CX Expert, we turn to Bonnie Walker – the 2010 USA Cycling Official of the Year and a familiar face at all our races. The work our officials do for us helps keeps us safe and ensures a fair race. We’re pretty lucky to have the officials we do in the great state of TX.

TXCX: Hi Bonnie. Thanks for the interview. Tell us, what is your title?
BW: National Commissaire (road, track and cyclocross)

TXCX: How long have you been officiating cyclocross events?
BW: Probably about 10 years.

TXCX: I imagine that’s quite a few bike races. You’ve obviously seen your share or newcomers to the sport. Do you have any tips for racers from an officials standpoint?
BW: Absolutely. Most important, have fun and actually take the time to review the rules for discipline you’re racing. If you have questions, ask. Also know that results are final 15-minutes after they are posted. Changes or questions must be address in that timeframe, not the next day, not the next week.

TXCX: So it’s important to stick around and check results if you’re interested in it. Good tip. What are the main duties of the officiating crew at the race? Continue Reading…

Craig Virr racing in the 2009 TX State CX Championship. Photo credit: Tender Gooch on Flickr.

For the latest in our “Ask An Expert” category, we turned to well-known TX CX racer and USA Cycling Certified Mechanic, Craig Virr, for his take on our great sport. If you have specific questions for him, leave them below. He’ll be sure to respond.

TXCX: Craig Virr!. Thanks for obliging this interview.

CV: My pleasure! Anything to help CX grow in Texas!

TXCX: We know you’ve been racing cross for some time, and it was pretty cool to see you win the Texas State Championship in the SS category in 2009. Tell us, how long have you been wrenching on CX bikes?

CV: I have been wrenching and racing for over 20 years and cross got under my skin pretty early, it has had a special place in my heart since. My first boss in the bike shop (Marty @ BSS!) was a huge fan of cross, so I have him to thank. Thanks for the props on the SS in 09, that was a fun race!

TXCX: No problem – you tore up that course on the one gear. In the last ten years we’ve seen integrated shifting replace bar ends and the use of carbon take hold. What would you say has been the best innovation in CX bikes?

CV: Definitely integrated shifters have made a world of difference. Beyond that, the bikes have shed significant weight which is a huge advantage. I’d say  one of the best changes that has recently taken place is rims of appropriate width for CX tubulars. More surface area is a good thing at low pressure. Continue Reading…

The first of our many Q&A formats (in the Ask An Expert category) finds us interviewing one of the most well-known coaches in Texas, David Wenger.

David Wenger outsprints Rashan Bahati to take the USA Championship. Image from USA Today.

TXCX: David Wenger! Congrats on winning the U.S. National Criterium Championship this year. It’s a pleasure seeing a Texan in the Stars and Bars.

DW: Thank you! I agree it is fantastic that Danny Parks is the US 15-16 Criterium champion. Incredible solo victory. Yeah Danny!

TXCX: Whoops. Yes, it appears the great state of Texas has more than a few champions this year. Good call.

When we mentioned (on Twitter) that you’d likely become the silhouette in our logo if you raced CX, you replied that you’d wear a gorilla suit and a bikini. Was that a promise?

DW: I prefer not to mince my words. Let’s clear the air. I’ve been training very hard this year for CX season. My vocal cords are strong for heckling. My calves are herculean for leaping with toned forearms for banging pot with wooden spoon. I have been training in the heat to familiarize myself with conditions experienced in CX races for vigorous spectating in a heavy gorilla suit.

Caroline (Little Package Blog) does her best to distract the boys in Portland. Image from

TXCX: OK, we’ll buy that. We need more hecklers and cowbell. You mostly race on the road, but you’re from the Midwest, so I know that you’ve raced cross before, yes?

DW: Oh yes. It was a right of passage as many folks from our Miami University cycling team, the first-year student initiation of a CX race. I entered on a MTB and got smoked, but had fun with my average HR at 198 for an hour. The next year, I ended up with some top-5s on my road bike. Being young and foolish, and a bit overzealous with my aggressive tactics as a 19yo, I had it set in my mind that CX was about the hardest thing on a bike that one can do. The training was super fun and something I’ve long enjoyed, but the racing and post-race vomiting just didn’t suit me as much as going for primes in criteriums. However, I bought at CX bike to ride around with my buddies on their training rides. Good friend Ian Dille now races on that amazing Bianchi Axis, one of my few remaining mementos of my college days.
Continue Reading…