Monday, May 31, 2010

Transylvania Epic Stage 1. Disaster.

I cant think of a way to even start this. Today was horrible. As I sit here, feet bandaged and trying not to leave bloody footprints all over the registration lodge (the only place to get internet)I keep going over the race today in my head.

It started out great. I was in the front group with Jeremiah Bishop and the other leaders, putting in a brutal effort up the first 1500 feet or so of climbing. Near the top, I realized who I was riding with (what the hell was I doing?) and pulled back a bit - 40 miles is a long race, and the 90% humidity was already taking its toll. I settled in with the Weir group, a more manageable situation. At the top of the climb, we had already put huge chunks of time in on the stragglers.

The first descent was nuts: Weir described it later as "some NASCAR shit" - there were riders bouncing off rocks, trees and each other at blinding speed down a trail that would be completely expected at lynn woods. I was trying to hang on to Weir, but there was a rider between us - a rider somewhat less adept than he at finding magical hidden lines. I should have backed off him, but my mental state at this point was FASTFASTFAST not "If you do something stupid here, it may come back and bite you in the ass later".

Sure enough, the ass-biting happened when I took a line that sent my erstwhile guide into the bushes. It happened so fast it was all I could do not to dump my bike and body into him. I heard a very sad-sounding "clunk" from the back of my Epic and proceeded to ride the rest of the descent a breakneck speed on one flat tire. Balls. I pulled off a quick tire change and proceeded to tear out the valve stem with my CO2 inflator.

I wait for almost the whole field to go through. I was offered many, many 29" tires. Finally, a guy tossed me a tube (and for that I am eternally grateful) and Chris Eatough provided some auxiliary CO2. Back on the job. Chase, boy, chase.

I turned myself inside out chasing. I was literally drooling on my handlebar. I passed back most of the folks that came through while I was standing on the side of the trail for 13 minutes. I came up on Selene Yeager, but as she is the current leader of the Elite Womens field, did not pass immediately - I felt that it would be inappropriate to make her hug the bushes to let someone out of contention pass. She let me by after a bit. At this point I was hurting, but felt like I could catch back on.

I got to the first checkpoint/ feed station a few minutes behind what was supposedly a rapidly disintegrating chase group. I filled up my bottles and tore out after them. These trails were tough - very technical, very rocky. There was no rest. At all. This was good for me, I thought. Then I flatted again at mile 20. I was now completely out of luck. Looking at my rim, it was folded almost in on itself. How I didnt notice this earlier I have no idea. I also had 2 broken spokes and my wheel was no longer round.

So I ran.

My shoes were eating into my heels, and the blood was acting like lubricant, causing my shoes to slide more and more. So I took them off. Running in just socks, I tried to limit my losses, but it was no use: I was 8 miles from the next checkpoint. Run, boy. Mile after mile, over rocks and through streams I ran. My feet bled. I was in trouble.

Salvation came in the form of Mike Cushionbury (bicycling magazine). He tossed me a tube and a pump. Holy crap. I was back in business. Wait. This tube is huge. Its as if the good lord wants me to get a 29er or something. Bang head on rock. Whatever, at this point, I would have stuffed my tire with rocks. I folded the tube over itself at the point my rim was folded in - it couldnt make it any worse.

When I got going again, I rode very conservatively. No longer concerned with catching back on, I contented myself with trying to enjoy the remainder of the incredible trails they included in this race. I tried to block out the pain in my feet by taking more fun lines than I generally would at a race, bombing corners wide, hopping around switchbacks - that sort of thing. The blood was starting to squish up through the vents in my shoes, though. That reminded me.

The end was rough - another 1000 or so feet of climbing, mostly in the sun. I pulled onto the road, took a drink from my... oh wait, my camelbak is not dispensing water. Its 87 degrees with 90 percent humidity and I cant get the 2 liters of water strapped to my back into my face. Not wanting to lose more time, I took a risk on a gradual descent: I took it off while riding and tried to figure it out. The tube was tangled. At 25 miles an hour on a fireroad, with no hands, Im trying to unravel a crimped feeder tube. Could this get any better?

Thankfully, the rest of my day was incident-free (if not pain-free). I finished up the last 10 or so miles of access road thankful for the first time in my life of non-technical race sections. I came through in 4:40, about an hour after I wanted to. I limped my bike down to the Freeze/ Thaw cycles tent (they were amazingly helpful) and await their verdict on my wheel. I sat in the water for almost an hour, then showered. Im still trying to take in what happened today, and trying to figure out a way to salvage my race.

In all I ran about 5 miles. I have wrecked both my feet (the right somewhat more than the left) and (likely) my rear wheel. I need to make up time tomorrow, but Im nervous about pushing too hard. Get to bed early, tomorrow will be a long day.

Transylvania Epic Prologue: The Pro Sandwich

There was something alive in our cabin. Well, something that wasnt me, Christian (Tanguy) or Blake (Harlan). The other guys didnt seem to notice - they were well asleep (Christian had appropriated the "Scoutmasters Quarters" anyway), but it was there - scratching. Or digging. It dosent really matter. What it was actually doing was keeping me awake. I was actually still in not-quite-sleep land when Rebecca Rusch came in at 2 am. Awesome.

I got up at about 8, sucked down a pancake breakfast and went fishing. Thing was, I have an all-bass tackle box and this lake was literally stuffed with trout. Poppers, midwaters and spinners: useless. The 10 year old girl fishing with her dad was hauling out arm-length trophies with a hook and a bobber. After an hour, I gave up. I didnt really mind.

Wait, I thought you were at a bike race.

Im getting to it. First, Blake and I took a trip into "town". If you have been to central PA, you know what the quotes are for. We got some (more) coffee and bagels; he went food shopping. We got back with plenty of time to register and get another preride in. I went out with the WTB guys (Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler) and Selene Yeager (and her husband whos name I completely forgot, even though hes sleeping about 5 feet from my face right now). We rolled through the first part of the course, suffered up the climb and regrouped at the top. The only other thing I will say about that ride (other than we got pretty lost for a bit) is that if you want to get better at decending, ride behind Weir for a bit. Him and Jason were talking, bullshitting the whole way down the sketchy descent while I was literally hanging on for dear life.

We got back about an hour before my start. I rolled around for a bit, nervous as hell. Apparently I was not alone: the road next to the start was like an old-time maternity ward waiting room. Riders using various warm up techniques (the Hundred Fifty RPM Sprint, the Stomp-n-Weave, and even a few of the dreaded Walking Pace Leg Opener) chugged up and down a small hill beside the small amphitheater by the start/finish line. Oh, and Drew Edsall was the guy out before me, with Mark Weir 2 minutes back. No rabbit, and a guy with a tire named after him chasing me. No pressure.

I went out too hard (surprise surprise) and started looking around for more gears almost immediately. Dissatisfied with what I found, I silenced my inner sissy and went harder. This was great. I was flying. I took some good lines through camp, and even the super stupid 160 degree-hard-left-with-a-wall-to-loose-climb part was executed with a degree of finesse usually reserved for "good riders". Then there was Sand Hill Road.

I hit that climb bravely enough, but bravery does not replace fitness. It can, however, leave your ruined carcass to bloat in the sun after you completely detonate halfway up a 2 mile climb. Settle down, old man. It didnt help that I was tailgated closely and without mercy by a blue minivan, its occupants utterly nonplussed with my suffering. Oh god. I kept looking back for Weir. I knew he was back there: bearded, bald and smiling (and looking an awful lot like the bass player from The Binding), he was on his way.

Oddly enough, I started passing people. One or two were on the super-sketchy first descent. I lost a little time there to be sure, but I wasnt going to pin it to gain 15 seconds at a week-long race. A few turns later, and I overcooked a weird turn in front of Chris Eatough with a helmet cam. I cant be sure, but I think I yelled RIDING!! at him. I lost some time puttering about in the bushes, finally got myself combobulated, and tore off like the whips of Hell were behind me. Or at least a guy with his own line of tires.

The inevitable happened about 4.5 miles in: Weir got me. A surprisingly pleasant side effect of this was that I now got to ride his wheel. Well, I got to ride Eatoughs wheel. He was helmet-camming Mark, and in retirement is still faster (and smoother) than anyone I have ridden with. I hung on for a bit, then at a hard turn Chris overshot (there was a rider ahead who had missed the turn also, and I think Chris was making sure he got back on track) and I was now officially the Tasty Hack Filling in a Pro Sandwich.

I held on for dear life for a bit, then waved Eatough through - if only to limit the footage of me murdering all of Weirs lines. That was about it for me - they got a gap and I sucked wind for another mile or so and finished up. Weir was the only one to pass me.

13th place. Mid pack at my first pro level event. I may have been able to sneak out a few more seconds with better handling and more conscientious effort management, but Ill tell you what: a guy like me gets to ride between Weir and Eatough once in his life. That in itself was worth a few places, at the very least. And thats how you improve - ride with people that are (in this case much, much) better and learn what you can from them.

see you tomorrow.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What have I done...

After 8 hours in the car, I have arrived at the Transylvania race. I apparently drove through time itself to get here - judging by the number of horse-and-buggy, manual plow, butter churning farm folk I passed in the valley. As soon as i turned off the highway, it was like the Land that Time Forgot - the road got narrower, the forest closer and the roadkill somewhat harder to identify.

I rode the course for tomorrow: about a thousand feet of climbing; an odd combination of fireroad, sandy singletrack and an absolutely brutal descending section. I did about a lap and a half of the 10 mile TT loop - my prospects here seem poor (extended fireroad climbs are not exactly my forte), but Im going to put in as good a race as I can. The plan is to put in a decent ride and save my legs for the week ahead.

I have no illusions about racing these guys: I'm way out of my league here. The good news is that every single person involved, without exception, has been very helpful and friendly. And someone made some apple cobbler that I would kill a man for.

Oh, and there is a lake stocked to the gills with trout.



Race time, 1500 hours tomorrow.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meanwhile... at the back of the race...

I'm very excited for Greg, Mike, Lauren, Hannah, Harrison and Taylor for winning or generally doing well this season. I however, am not doing as well. "They" say that cycling is about incremental gains made over years. My increments are apparently very small. A season in review:


Marblehead: Almost didn't toe the line between the cold and my balky knee I considered not starting at all. Made it through 3 of the 5 laps before the knee said no.

Quabbin: Not much. I don't go up hills well. I did however try to keep the beginning of the race fast; mission accomplished. I rode the next 40 miles mostly by myself trying to make it over the hills and valiantly keeping from buying cider donuts. 118/155

Wayne Elliot: Course looked like it should have been a good one for me. However I could not match the acceleration after the dog ran back off the course. I did find this sweet picture of me at the front though. DNF




Blue Hills: Burned myself up trying to cover the Matts (Miller and Aumiller) move after the poorly parked car. Spent a lot of time trying to chase back on and almost made it right before we started back up Unquity again. Up hill fail. 58/62

Lake Sunapee: Wanted to just ride in the group and not do anything stupid until after the 45+ race passed us. Spent to much time in the wind trying to stay towards the front third of the race, and was knocked loose on the second hill. made it back onto the filed just after they were neutralized, but fell off again on the grinding climb. Good news is I missed all the argy bargy near the traffic circle. 63/86

In summary my early season has included some not so sweet results, but lots of fun, and lots of riding by myself with a number pinned on. Looks like I have some chances for redemption coming; Purgatory, Housatonic Hills, Fitchburg, Attleboro, and the Mt. Agamenticus TT are up next.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a bike race, fried clams and the dreaded cold-water trouser snake



What a weekend. Greg killed it at Sunapee, Matt and Taylor avoided getting killed at Sunapee, Hannah did (and finished well at) her first mountain bike race, Lauren put in the most race miles she ever has, Harrison barely missed out on a podium spot after initiating the winning break of the day and I somehow managed my first win as a cat 1. Friends of the team also had a crazy time of it: rmm crashed his bike before the race even started (he is fine, though his car lost a non-structural foil); the image of his beautiful carbon race machine bouncing down rt. 1 in his rear view mirror will haunt him for some time.

Lauren has already graced you with a more than adequate description of the course, so Im going to give you the race and subsequent jackassing as I saw it.

I wanted to get to the race early, because I wanted to do a preride lap, and I heard tell they were long. 10 miles is a pretty heroic loop, and even if its a fast 10 miles, I wanted about an hour to get out on the course. Caitlin was nice enough to wake up earlier than she needed to leave for her trip (I leave her activities out of these for privacy, but lets just say that from what I hear shes better with a rifle than she is with a rowboat) to get me down there and even stayed to hand out bottles to the lot of us.

Me and Mckittrick went out, riding the course and talking about the many ways Thule would be made to pay for failing to keep his bike affixed to the roof of his car. We ran into Brian, the fastest bike shop owner in the land, and rode as a group for a bit. The lap seemed short, and it was - we were apparently warming up on the "novice loop". Great. So much for getting the lay of the course.

Our field was the biggest I have ever seen it: about 60 cat one men. The start was a bit muddled, they started calling up age groups then seemed to think just letting us all stampede off at once was a better idea. My rabbit for this race was Brian "not the Beach Boy" Wilson, who roundly abused me at Glocester last week. This race was less rocky, though the turns were tricky and I rightly assumed that navigating them properly would determine the outcome of the race.

I went into the woods behind Wilson, and after the two of us had bunnyhopped our way over two rock walls, we had a gap on the rest of the field. We kept the pressure on, picking up single speeders and working our way through traffic very early in the race. I came around him as we traded bobbles in a corner, now I was in the unenviable position of leading through the sketchy turns. Or maybe not so unenviable, as I got to choose my line and sprint freely out of every turn - I put a small gap into Brian as we came through another gearless meatwagon train - I looked back, saw he was off the pace a bit, and poured it on as best as I could.

"Pouring it on" was working, in as much as I was putting time into my field, but it was taking its toll on my body. I was well over my limit, bouncing off trees and using my shoulders to turn. At some point on that lap, I caught a tree in the knuckle, spun, hit my left thigh, spun back around, skidded backwards for a moment, then dumped my now very disoriented ass all over the trail. This woke me up. Compose yourself, old man. You are in the lead.

After my little crash, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was wrong with my bike, though my oxygen-starved brain couldnt work it out. Something in the front was wrong. Any hard turn and "BRRAAAAAP" - with no Northeastern downhill racers around, this was a decidedly out-of-place noise. I discovered the source when I tried jumping over a log and left my front tire behind. I know that you, fellow bike racer, can identify with the abject terror and certainty of destruction I felt. Somehow I cheated death there, rolled it out (the wheel ended up jammed in the fork, and when I came down, it amazingly did so in the dropouts) and stopped to tighten the ever loving hell out of my DT skewers.

Poop thusly cleaned out of my chamois, I held on. But something was wrong. Something was... well ventilated. Oh. There it is. My left ass cheek. Almost all of it. Exposed. Sigh.

I crossed the line and planted myself in the field at the finish. Brian came though about a minute later, and high fives were exchanged. interestingly, we are now dead even on the series - though I reckon this will be my last race as a Cat 1.

heres your medal. now for chrissakes, put some pants on, boy!

After the race, RMM, Christine Fort, Tammy, Taylor, Lauren, Hannah, Lori and I went to a "World Famous" fried clam place, one that claimed to be the "Best Seafood In America". I find this claim to be dubious at best: as wonderful as twice-fried bivalves served up by a dude with a lightning bolt shaved into the side of his head was, I feel like I have eaten better seafood elsewhere.

Lori wanted to go to the beach. Lori, as you may have guessed, is full of very good ideas.

We got to the beach at stage fort park and there were tons of little kids running around. This will be important later. If you dont know, stage fort park is where they run the GP of Gloucester every year. The beach is a sheltered little cove below the race course. We did not, of course, have bathing suits - opting instead to swim in our kits or shorts. All of us, except one. Yes, dear readers, RMM went swimming in his underpants. His white underpants.

There were no children left on the beach when we emerged.



What a great day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

weeping willow

i will leave the more glorious race reports to my teammates who have actual results to post but i decided it was time for me to chime in on the team blog again. this past weekend i had planned on doing the #4 of the root66 series, winsted woods, as by my calculations i am the current series points leader for cat 2 19-34 women . however, i was pretty easily persuaded to go to the EFTA race instead when i took into account how much closer the drive to weeping willow was in addition to being a much longer race which, as much as i may not like, i need to be doing. after quickly perusing the winsted woods results, it appears the one rider who raced my category DNFed and i remain in the lead for the overalls. hooray! and now onto less impressive results.

weeping willow was packed. from what i've heard, attendance to the EFTA races is double or more what it has been in the past. back bay cycling club had a large group in attendance (mike, taylor, lori, me, hannah and team friend tammy) and we were looking fancy at the starting herd in our newly arrived kits (thanks dan st. g!). we lined up in a large group somewhat by category and one brave man with impressive vocal cords called up each category to the line and sent us off in one-minute intervals.

let me digress by saying that i was a little unsure of what to expect at the starting line. i had never done a race that was this long, my bike was having issues, a video i had seen of the course beforehand (tight, twisty and turny) indicated that it wasn't my sort of course and i had spent my time the previous day road riding, dragging my 40lb dog around in her puppy trailer, and hauling around about 20 wheelbarrows full of dirt in the attempt to get my garden ready. it is fair to say that i was feeling unprepared and worried that i'd fatigue.

the good news: my fitness seemed fine!

the bad news: that's about all that was fine.

i started the race front row, accelerated at "GO!" and almost immediately felt my derailleur stick and suck my chain up between the chainstay and chainring. this was the "issue" my bike had been having, and it seems a quick spray of lube was not an adequate solution. so while everyone is hauling for the woods, i'm coasting and pedaling backwards to get my chain back where it should be. it did this about five times in the first few minutes and, as you might imagine, i was not in a good position by this point. the first uphill someone put a foot down in front of me, the first rock wall i opted for the safer go-around and still the girl in front me toppled over and laid out across the trail, and the next rock wall the first rider for the men's group behind me literally flew by me mid-air and did a belly flop on the trail before i even knew he was there. i proceeded to handle my bike poorly for the whole lap, get passed by essentially all of the novice men's field by my estimation, and forget that i was in the middle of a race until an NEBC rider in my category caught up to me.

then i realized i was racing and started pedaling with some sort of effort again. on the fireroad by the start i started to see one of the girls that had shot by me earlier, and ended up having a pretty great second lap. i was really happy to find out, after dropping the NEBC rider and catching/working past two more women in front of me, that i am way more capable at longer races than i had previously supposed. this indicates that doing the solo 24 hour race that i registered for in august maybe won't kill me after all! also, i started having a really good time and trying to lay off the brakes some in the turns. other than taking out a few saplings just off the trail, this worked out well. elite racers were friendly and joking around with me as they were shooting by, and they kept me going hard b/c i was mistaking any of them wearing green for the woman behind me that i had a rough time shaking. as i neared the last mile i had felt like i had a good amount left to bomb my way to the finish line, where my teammates were cheering. i came in 6th out of 12 starters, which is definitely my worst result of the season since i made the podium for the other two but i left the race feeling like it was my best this year. i started out terrible and all over the place and pulled it together the second lap, clearing a lot more sections and feeling good as i passed fading riders.

hannah, who just bought a mountain bike and did the novice race as her second mtb ride ever, had an impressive 4th place finish in her category as did team friend tammy. lori got talked into racing despite her broken finger/inability to properly grip her bars, taylor had a top ten finish in his expert race after doing sunapee on the road the day before, and mike bared both his handling skills and his left ass cheek (so much for the new skinsuit) in a close win for first in expert.

more details on sunapee should be forthcoming, but as i wasn't there i'll leave the race report to those that were. as a teaser, there are more podiums involved.

we rounded out the day after weeping willow with more fried food piled into boxes than i had ever seen in my life and all of us gaining a more, um, intimate friendship with RMM after a trip to the beach at gloucester. all in all, a pretty great day and a great weekend for the back bay cycling club.

Monday, May 17, 2010

running vs. riding: the glocester grind.

The last time i raced in Glocester, RI it was wet. Really wet. Flooded. And under all that water were head-sized rocks, usually in places you very much needed to ride through. I spent a great deal of time sitting in this water, often on one of those very rocks, wondering on what side of the trail I should start looking for my bike.

This year it was mercifully dry. And by mercifully dry I mean "not flooded". I am nearly certain that these trails do not dry out entirely regardless of rainfall. I drove down with the rmm and Caitlin (who generously donated time she could have spent studying invertebrates to handing out water bottles to two mikes and a colin), arriving early to assess the state of the trails. Once a year, the owner of the land (a motocross racer, if I am not mistaken) allows a few hundred goofy mountain bikers to race in his backyard. For this we are eternally grateful. Because wet, dry or otherwise, this is a course that separates trail riders from mere xc racers.

The route was technical, though the stated distance was a bit misleading: bikereg said 18 miles, and we were told 3 laps at the (very informal) start, but when i was coming up on the middle of lap 2 my 705 (oh yeah, Im THAT guy) said 12 miles. That was a shock because I was pushing pretty hard after a few hangups and a nice hard crash and didnt really believe I had another 6 miles in me. but im getting ahead of myself.

As I said, the start was informal: there was no whistle, just a dude that said "go" after telling us that we would be off soon. Not a complaint - I kind of liked how the race was run: Grassroots racing at its finest. My one nit to be picked is how they did not honor my USAC license. I feel like the EFTA races I did last year never required me to buy a "one day" local license to supplement the national one I already purchased. Not that I am sweating the 4 dollars or wouldnt want them to be able to sustain their events, but the "license" thing is kind of horseshit. I have a racing license. I have to buy a national road, mtb and cross license, in addition to a UCI license (if I am to get mercilessly lapped at UCI events this fall). I feel like this needlessly nickel and dimes the racers: if your organization needs to raise fees to sustain itself, just putting the 4 dollars toward registration would be fine. Buying ANOTHER license is kind of infuriating. But like I said, just a nit to be picked. I personally like the EFTA series, and combined with rt 66 (and independent events) we have something like 40 race weekends over the course of a season.

Now that I have lost almost all of my readers, the race itself went pretty well. Other than some jackass that cut across the course right in front of our holeshot and clipped my shoulder pretty good, there was way less carnage than I expected. I went in third wheel behind a bikebarn guy and a dude with a goatee (somehow still a phenomenon in mountain biking). Bikebarn snuck around the guy with the Alice in Chains facial hair and floored it. This did not really ring any alarm bells yet, though in retrospect it probably should have. He got a gap, and when I finally made it around Eddie Vedder I could barely see my quarry. I then got myself stuck behind a single speeder that was having some kind of drivetrain issue (!) and managed to crash myself out on a wide open section of trail. Good work.

All this time, I was redlining: bouncing off trees, mashing the pedals, not looking far enough ahead. Settle down, old man. After I went down, I took a few deep breaths. I started my actual race about 2 miles after I got into the woods. After my preride lap, RMM and I decided to use our well-honed cross skills instead of trying to ride the treacherous rock gardens. Not that they werent ride-able. They were just not race-able. I did the slippery cleat dance over mud, roots, piles of wet rocks and a few bushes (when I had to avoid the victims of the former). One thing I will say: passed riders definitely did their best to yield the trail - often with a word of encouragement, and that is much appreciated.

I rolled through my second lap in good shape, or, I was managing my bodies inevitable collapse very well. No crashes, a flawless bottle exchange, strong runs: if I could do entire races like that I could quite possibly get good at this whole racing thing. Sadly, that came to a crashing (pun intended) end somewhere at the beginning of lap 3. See, I felt like I was closing on Bikebarn. Then I looked at my computer, which led me to believe that I had another lap after this one. Shit. They said three laps, but they also said 18 miles. Looking back, I am doubly an idiot: first for strapping a 500 dollar piece of hardware to my handlebars at a brutally technical race, and second for believing anything it said. Its a mountain bike race, dummy. Just go fast.

I came through the feed zone before the finish and asked how many laps I had left. I heard the magic word "done" and promptly almost crashed into the tape, unclipping my left foot and executing the least graceful turn onto a finishing stretch in a long history of inglorious finishes. I got 2nd in my category and 3rd overall for cat 1s, experts, senior 2 men or whatever category I race in now. I talked with the guy that won the singlespeed class: he was great, though bikebarn was nowhere to be found. Apparently he put about a minute and thirty seconds into me - my foibles on the racecourse may not have mattered much after all - and was already washed up and playing with his kids by the time I finished.

money lol

I got interviewed by Colt from cyclingdirt afterwards. He threatened to be at the transylvania epic and will likely capture footage of the relentless abuse I will receive there.

Mike Wissell Post Glocester Grind | EFTA NECS #1 Glocester Grind on CyclingDirt

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Announcing B2C2's Sponsors for 2010

For this coming year, B2C2 is very excited to be working with some new and returning sponsors for 2010. We are very fortunate to have the support of local and regional businesses, INCLUDING:

Boloco - Boston Local Company

Boloco is back this year, stepping up to title sponsor. Featuring bold and interesting (as well as super-tasty) menu options that cater to a variety of diets, Boloco sources their ingredients from natural and organic sources. A Certifed Green restaurant, Boloco recently re-opened their Back Bay location in a newer, bigger space at 1080 Bolyston St.

Back Bay Bicycles

Right at the corner of Commonwealth and Massachusetts Ave, Back Bay Bicycles packs a lot into a small space. A long-time Cannondale and Specialized dealer, BBB serves a wide variety of cyclists - from commuters and students to elite level racers. In fact, some B2C2 members work there, so chances are you already know some of the staff!

Whole Foods Market - Brighton, MA

A new addition, Whole Foods has some of the best selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grocery products while still being very close to my house. Welcome aboard!

Metro Pedal Power

MetroPed offers eco-friendly solutions for last mile delivery in urban areas. Based in Somerville, locals may see B2C2 member Erik Petterssen riding on awesome cargo bikes delivering all manners of freight across the Boston area.

Espresso Royale Caffe

Featuring coffee roasted by Atomic, espresso from Barismo, pastries from The Biscuit, and Bagel Rising sandwiches, ERC is one of the four B2C2 food groups (the other three being Endurox, pad thai, and Carnation Instant Breakfast). Their new store, Pavement, recently opened on Boylston St. near Berkeley College of Music.


A great many thanks to all of our sponsors this year for their support!

Team kits arrive next week, stay tuned to check out the new hotness.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sterling.

The nice thing about racing with team-mates is having them do most of the work for you. The same applies to blogging. Mike has been pulling the train for the last few entries, but I thought I would do my work at the front for a bit.

Are we sick of drafting metaphors yet?

Rosey met up with me Saturday morning, and we floated on over to Sterling for a little road racing. He kitted up while I perused, hoping to maybe find some food. The Cat 4 race rolled out, and I followed in the car and settled on a pizza place on the course. While waiting, the rain came down a bit violent. I started to see riders ride past in the opposite direction. A bit puzzled, I realized that they had already dropped out of the race, and it was probably less than 20 minutes in. Oh boy. As I arrived back at the school and ate my pizza, bedraggled looking Cat 4's started filing in bleeding and looking confused. Some just dropped out.

Fortunately, the rain was a little less sucky by the afternoon. The Cat 3 race rolled out without much incident, and settled into a pretty fast pace. By lap one or two, Brian Wilichoski had broke away with 3 other riders while I was hanging somewhere 20 or so wheels back. He was never seen again, though I'm pretty sure the other three got absorbed back into the pack. CCB spent some time up at the front semi-blocking for him, but it really was not needed and a 60 second gap turned into a 90 second gap.

Everyone else seemed contented to not chase. After the first punchy climb, things would string out, and on the descent a small group would be off the front, but never really established a large enough gap by 12 to make a difference.

I spent much of my time close to the front, mostly on the climbs/descents to keep myself from getting bogged down in traffic. Now and then I'd jump on a wheel to close small gaps, or jump on the back of an attack, but no break really formed and I wasn't interested in doing all the work myself.

I seemed at this point that it would come down to a group uphill sprint, so I worked on making sure I could secure a good spot. Leo from Threshold plus one or two people broke away from the group on 12, but the pack closed the gap while the break lost time on the last small climbs. Everyone was together at the very end, I was hanging out in the front. A pair of GLV riders came around on my left, I gave chase, and by the turn into the climb I was on the inside in a good position for the uphill sprint.

So you know, go uphill, it hurts, towards the very end a small group was very close to me, threw the bike a little to stay ahead, and picked up 9th place. Pretty satisfied, especially since this was my first Cat 3 race.

Monday, May 3, 2010

One Weekend, Two Races.

Wayne Elliot Memorial Circuit Race.

Wow, did this race stink. Seriously, like Turtle Pond bad. Ok, ok... so I thought it stunk. There were no large teams present; it was a typical Cat 4 Katamari ball rolling around the roads of Merrimack, shooting riders off in pretty much all directions. The end of the race was awful. (made worse by the never-ending guilt I feel for putting Steve into the shoulder) We did have fun riding up and down Carcass Road or whatever it was called after the race. There was a vulture.

blue hills classic:

So much better, but we had our work cut out for us on this one. We had a bunch of us registered, but our numbers paled in comparison to some of the other teams (Threshold fielded an amazing 11 riders!). Numbers, as you will see, can be deceiving. For example: Avi is still training and finding his legs and this race would be Ryans first road race in 4 years - their goal would be to gain experience and confidence (both performed admirably). That leaves Nick, Erik, Greg and me.

The race started with a pile of Threshold guys at the front (and, it seemed, a pile of Threshold guys around me) and after about 5 minutes, the first of many riders buying round trip tickets off the front.

Delaying the inevitable.

We had no illusions about an escape sticking - before the race, we talked about getting Greg in a break, but I really felt that the finish played directly to Gregs strengths. The problem, it seemed, was getting him there in the right place to launch a decisive attack. It was too risky trying to bring Greg to the line - the nightmarish image of an 10 man leadout train for Randall was more than I could bear - so we talked about sending him out at the "second set of guardrails". Or was it the first guardrail? Whatever. I sent him too early, I'm sure.

In the first lap, Nick took a short vacation off the front with guys from the two most well-represented teams in the field, taking the pressure off us and initiating Thresholds Operation Block The Ever Loving Crap Out Of The Road. The break gained little ground, and I think an ECV guy managed to somehow get around the Maginot Line, opening the floodgates and pissing riders up the road. Greg got himself in the mix, and I floundered a bit behind the astute Matts (Miller and AuMiller) while they worked the front and was then unceremoniously put over the yellow lines by the charging hordes of the teamless.

Nick and his Flourishing Classics Mullet.

My composure somewhat regained, I passed through the two turns before the climb and moved to the front. My goal was to control the pace of the climb up the hill - not to kill myself (or get in too much of an adventure up the road) but to keep any of the stronger climbers from me having to chase them. I did get clear of the field with a few guys but upon cresting the hill I sat up, much to the dismay of the rest of the group. "Say, guys - you know what team doesn't have someone in here? Oh yeah, THE ONE WITH 11 DUDES". And those 11 dudes were doing their jobs quite well. Awesome.

After the descent, things started to get a even more animated. Over and over, dig after dig, groups of two and three broke away. Since most of them carried riders of the more well-represented teams, I made it my business to be in pretty much all of them. Since the race was so short, the attacks came rapid-fire; as soon as one came back, another went. It was killing me. If Threshold kept that kind of pressure on, they could have fried me and AuMiller. But the attacks came piecemeal, and I was able to glom on to random wheels as they flew by. I was still dying, though.

Just when I was praying for death hardest, the Petterson Pain Wagon rolled by. I found a reasonable wheel to suck and and let him do his thing ("His thing" is to crush souls. Just so you know.)

Around the corner again and feeling better I moved to the front for the climb. I pushed much less hard this time, just to see if anyone would react. Nope. Crested the hill, got heckled by some GLV folks on the side of the road, and rolled on down the other side. Or, started chasing down what seemed like an endless stream of Threshold guys. Cambridge was remarkably quiet, which was worrisome - Matt AuMiller was working the living hell out of the front and I hadn't yet seen much of Steve Pierce - which was why it was worrisome. Steve is strong.

this video should give you a pretty good idea of what happened at the end, but if you are looking for some flavor text:
- Matt Miller took a bit of a flyer. It hurt my feelings that he went without me, so I invited myself along.
- A threshold rider was dangling off the front for about a quarter of the last lap. No one knows why.
- 545 Velo took to the front, hammering. Like they were riding for a guy they thought was there, but wasn't.
- Cambridge was in fine shape: they had 3 riders around Steve. Then there were none. Then AuMiller comes through with the Super Teammate Award, pulling back up through the mess.
- I let those 545 guys sit on the front for awhile. Like, a long while. I'm still not sure what they were doing, but I am very thankful they did it.
- I sat on the front and rode. Hard. Greg was giving surprisingly gentle instructions from behind. Very tender.
- By the time I thought about standing up and vomiting out another hundred or so feet, Greg decided to launch himself. I dropped anchor and was done, except for my little ring sprint with Seth, which went splendidly. As in he didn't know we were sprinting (or, much more likely, could care less).

Greg won by a bullriders margin - 8 seconds up on the field, launched from about a kilometer out on the last climb.