Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Race Report : DECX 1 and 2

Greetings, literates. You might recall last years DECX, my first race as an Elite last year. It was a bit wet and I had a spectacular fail in the pit. After a few mechanical misfortunes this season, I sojourned up this year with mostly dialed equipment and tires filled with air.

I was prepared for a bit of a slog but it turned out this years course had a whole heap of awesome. Turning was essential, though there were still a couple places to layout watts (though not enough for a pure power rider). And I finally had some tubular tires to keep me upright.

Staging was assigned by random lot, and I picked a number that placed me about 20 rows behind the last person. Riding in the BRKZ was not advantageous for the start, but we were informed by the commissar that the 80% rule would not be enforced. The people rejoiced.

Starting in the back gave me an interesting perspective, as I saw the front of the race come by two turns ahead. And then I passed David Wilcox, who's REAR WHEEL was missing. After at least two or three people crashed in front of me, I managed to sneak by and pick up more positions.


Getting up there. Photo by Caitlin.


I spent the first half clawing my way to the front for a bit, and by the middle actually saw myself the closest I've ever been to a UCI point behind John Peterson and at one point Sean Milne. Milne obviously smoked the both of us as he surged forward. I switched bikes since my primary bike did not seem to be shifting right, and I began to lose some steam in the middle of the race as I saw the orange BikeBarn kit fade into the distance.

DSCF0117
Don't look at me!


Michael Jenks and I spent a decent amount of time going back and forth after that, which ended with him slipping out on an off camber and allowing me to pass. I rode alone for a while, recovered a bit, you know, because that is necessary in a cross race.

At this point Colin Reuter showed up on my wheel and told me we just needed to finish ahead of Wilcox, who was coming back strong. Colin ninja'ed me in the rad bowl turn by railing the berm -- maybe I should have also raced my MTB more this year -- and while I stayed on his wheel in the flat road section I began to lose some steam in the turns and saw him open a gap. Confident I could at least finish where I was, I applied more force to the pedals with 3 or 2 to go in the hopes that I could at least avoid having to fight for my finishing position. Wilcox came screaming by at this point, shaming myself and my family, and then disappeared again. I saw Jenks beginning to close in again, but I kept it up and finished safely in 16th place.

Day Two

After some deal searching at the Patagonia outlet in Freeport, we rolled over to our favorite place again. By this time, as tradition dictates, the toilets were completely filled with terrible things and required a firm constitution to enter.

The Super8 breakfast did not fill me up completely, and for some reason I did not want to take advantage of the wonderful food available. I found myself drinking bulk hammer gel out of the container 10 minutes before the race to fight a severe bonk, oops!

The course had changed enough to keep me on my toes. I managed to draw a descent third or forth row start, but pretty much blew it anyways, finding myself pretty solidly in the back again. Intent to roll over the awesome rock wall, I found myself in a logjam.

IMG_6605
A bit deflated whilst schlepping my bicycle. Photo by Don and Dana McEwen


I caught up to Mike and we rode for a while, but intent to bury my teammate and ride alone I put in the effort to open the gap. Sadly, Colin was solidly ahead of me the entire race chasing the Wilichoski beast, though I had managed to get close to him at one point. Michael Jenks was ahead of me again, and we battled for position, with him eventually going ahead after I bobbled on some turns. I began to see Pascal Bussières and Mike closing in on me, which meant I had start racing bikes again.

I established a bit of a lead, and caught Jenks. He seemed to be fading a bit, and I'm pretty sure I got a bit of a gap on the road section that I was able to hold onto. On the last lap, I got a good inside line after the pit on Cory Collier who seemed to have let out the parachute a bit. I came in alone, again, in 17th.

SO THAT IS BIKE RACING. No flats this time, and I didn't even need a pit bike on day 2!

Monday, October 25, 2010

XDECX: IF YOURE NOT NOW, YOU NEVER WERE

Day one: Would you believe - The Valve Stem Just Fell Out?

Despite the much-improved course, reduced field, not-at-all bad start and "good sensations" I am going to describe how my race went with pictures of cows.



I was very, very excited about this race. The course was awesome, and I was practically drooling with anticipation.




We were packed in pretty tight at the start. I was somewhere in the back.




The field strung out fast, and I was caught in traffic. I moved up quickly, though - Greg and I made our way to the (gasp) front half of the pack.




Suddenly, I realized something was amiss.




And I had to just sit up and softpedal to the pit.




I chased as hard as I could, but I was so far off the back it didnt make much
difference.




And that was that.



Day 2: The chili/ shallow toilet paradox.

What a difference a clincher makes! Running a tire (in this case, a Mud2) at 35psi instead of 28 or so makes a course with fast off camber sections that much more interesting. I had a decent start this time, getting in line after the holeshot about 25 guys back after drawing the Grim Reapers Number for the second day in a row. Speaking of Reaping, the self-proclaimed Cat 2 Grim Reaper himself - RMM - had himself one hell of a start, cruising out to a few spots ahead of me with Steven "We Take Turns At This" Pierce. That other ex-van dwelling elite racer and I have been back and forth all season. Maybe in response to the Hebrew Cup, we can come up with an "Crabby Old Band Guy" competition.

Serious Roosting. (Photo: Bethany)

Regardless, I had to move up - I sensed a disturbance in the BRKZ, as if millions of voices cried out in terror, and then were suddenly silenced... Oh wait - those voices were Matt and Steve letting me know in no uncertain terms that if I let Ryan catch me, I was driving home alone. Also, Mike was starting to look a little rough.

Caught in its tractor beam. (Photo: Bethany)

I passed RMM and Steve before the turns through the barn. Moments later, I think I actually heard the elastic snap and Mikes legs get very, very angry at him. We have all been there.

I was actually feeling pretty good when Greg caught me. Thinking we could "work together" or something like that, I promptly bobbled a corner and lost a bike length. Awesome. In that moment of panic, I looked around and saw the BRKZ train (with Huff, Huston and 2 or 3 other guys in tow) closing in fast.

And thats how it was going to be for another 3 laps. Greg dangled just ahead of me, while Colin dangled just ahead of him. I kept sliding out on the off camber sections (thanks again, Challenge) and had to make it up by sprinting hard every time I could. Then, despite my best efforts, I was no longer alone.

Some French(?) guy had caught my wheel. I looked back and saw that the BRKZ group had blown apart - Huston and Huff seemed to be there, but Ryan had given up a small gap. The others were nowhere to be seen - I assumed them to be dropped.

Until some guy in a yellow kit steamrolled by me.

Sweet.

Surprisingly, I didnt panic. I actually sat up and waited for the downhill section in the woods and attacked, bridging up to Frenchy-pants and dropping yellow jersey guy. That attack also seemed to have the added benefit of disrupting the chase a little bit, giving me valuable time that I could squander by scrubbing speed in every turn.

The final stage of the race was me and my friend from the great white north trading attacks and generally heaping abuse on one another. He could put more power down on the flats and climb, but I could (to my lasting surprise) out corner him and shut the gaps down.

Synjen is unimpressed with my barrier management. (Photo: Bethany)

Sadly, just before the barn at the last section of the course, he capitalized on one of my many poor cornering decisions and got a gap I could not close. I dangled just a few bike lengths back, unable to push it through the final off-camber turns. He caught and passed a rider in obvious distress, and I pulled onto the pavement about 75 feet back.

Too stupid to just suck it up and coast across the line, I got out of the saddle and sprinted as hard as I could. The guy that the Frenchman had just passed was looking haggard, and I needed gas money.

I lost by a wheel, but I still managed to score enough of a payout to get me home.


Overall impressions of the race:

+ Course. Great use of a (comparatively) small patch of land, especially on the first day.
+ Food. To give you an idea how good the food is, Caitlin didnt want to miss the race - sitting in the car for 4+ hours = a very tasty pie.
+ Organization. Well run, smooth, and with friendly volunteers and officials.
+ NO 80% Rule. Hopefully that horseshit is behind us.
+ Heckling. Noticeably above average this weekend. I guess you have to keep warm somehow.
+ Adam Myersons 1st UCI Win. Respect.

- Shallow Toilets. Hovering over Mt. Flushmore after an hour long race is both difficult and unnecessary.
- Far. But thats not the fault of the race.
- Random staging. Great if you pull a good number, less great if you are staging dead last. Hey USA Cycling/ UCI whatever: PERHAPS USING RULES DESIGNED FOR THE WORLD CUP CIRCUIT ARE NOT NECESSARY FOR A C2 RACE WITH 37 PARTICIPANTS.

Downeast CX Media extravaganza - Day one and two

Cat 3 Men - Day 2
DECXIan4

Mostly Cow's with a couple day 1 Elite Men
DECXcow6

Elite Men, Day two
DECXGReg5









Thursday, October 21, 2010

How To Race Yourself Into The Ground In One Easy Weekend!

WUT (photo: Russ Cambell)

Last weekend was fun. Not in the Chuck-E-Cheese-never-ending-ballpit-and-skiball fun, but pretty awesome nonetheless. 2 days, 3 races and a boatload of SHUT UP LEGS.

Saturday, Mansfield Hollow.

I went to this one because it came highly recommended from people that I care to take recommendations from. And because they had a 2/3/4 race. For some reason, I really miss doing 2 races in a day.

Awesome:

-Cider. Seriously. And free baked goods for the racers.
-Staff. Friendly, very helpful and approachable.
-1/2/3 2/3/4 race configurations.
-Payouts. The fields were relatively small (<45) but they made a point to pay/give (actually good) merch pretty deep.

Not Too Bad But Im Going To Whine About It On The Internet Anyway:

-Course. Aside from some clever use of the beach and a few turns, we raced in a straight line on a more or less mowed lawn in a wind tunnel.
-Gravel Pile. I suppose this could be filed under "course", but it deserves special recognition here, as it very nearly was the end for me and was very actually the end for Manny Goguan.


Race 1.

I had a good start, and was a few bike lengths ahead when I had the bright idea to pump that god damn gravel pile. I launched over the kicker, past the transition, over the gravel and dead sailored my ass into a nose manual that was somehow corrected before corner. Unfortunately, I most definitely did not go into that corner at a reasonable speed and went down like I was trying to steal third base. My mighty 3 bike length lead squandered, I sullenly pulled back in about 5th wheel.

I then suffered most horribly for the next 45 minutes.

There I am, suffering horribly. (photo: Steve Yau)

You see, that crash jammed my brake so that it was always "on". And with my brake "on", I was most assuredly "off". I was all over the turns, pushing chain up the rideup and dying hard just trying to keep in contact with the lead group.

Eventually, one of the Goguans got tired of roosting me and got a bit of a gap that I was unable to shut down, while some crazy guy with a disc wheel left us both behind.

3rd place, not bad.


Race 2.

After discovering my brake caliper situation and resolving it, I wanted revenge (on what, I am not quite sure - but I certainly took out some of my rage on the muffins provided by the promoters). I had blown through any snap or fitness left in my sad legs, but was excited about my second race. The start wasnt particularly fast - especially after the crap tornado that was Gloucester - but I could tell from the getgo that I wasnt exactly going to be a factor in this race.

I passed a crumpled Manny Goguan after the gravel jump; he had also navigated it unsuccessfully. I hear he separated his shoulder, hopefully he will be back and crushing our souls in no time.

Moving from group to group searching for a wheel-teat I came upon Ryan O'Hara. Affixing myself to his power-nipple, I thusly clung (shamelessly) until the end of the race, at which time he righteously buried me in the final sprint.

To bury me any deeper, he would have needed a shovel (photo: Steve Yau)

7th place. Ouch.


Sunday, MRC Cross at Lancaster.

This one was a no-brainer. 35 minutes from Boston and 10 minutes from Caitlins parents? Done. After a tasty breakfast, we rolled up to the field. The first thing i noticed was this:



Holy crap, a flyover. So... happy...

Awesome:

-Flyover. Seriously.
-Best use of terrain I have seen all year. Mulch, sand, climbs, descents, completely insane turning and very well placed power sections.
-Staff. Bucking the early-season trend of grumpy and unhelpful officials, these folks were very nice and approachable.
-Turnout. I feel like I knew everyone there.
-Free stuff. Racers = mooches, and I am no exception. Thank you for the Luna bars.

Crying on the internet:

-Payouts. With field sizes as large as they were, I feel like the payout could have gone a bit deeper.


The race:

My start was kind of awesome: 5th wheel, feeling surprisingly strong. We went through the first few turns - so far, so good. Someone went down in turn 3, I got by unscathed; this was actually going well. I took an outside line and started to put some power down on the climb.

And thats when Nate Morse welcomed us all to earf.

He shot past us, a skinny blur of blue and yellow. I remember thinking, "hmmm, thats weird". Just then I felt somewhat less good (getting dropped by a 16 year old will do that) and began bleeding places. That is the trouble of starting strong: the only place to go is backward. I tried to hold on to the front of the race when a 545 guy crashed in a turn, causing me to unclip and allowing a sizable gap to open up. 545 guy then added insult to injury by chopping the ever loving shit out of my wheel a few turns later.

Things were looking pretty dire. BRKZ dire.

so much trouble in the #BRKZ

Alright, now Im on my way to getting passed by the cat 3 field. But I think Im starting to get this racing thing - I didnt panic, just tried to recover, sit in and use the turns to move up. After a lap of moving backwards, I was able to rally and move up. I caught Nate (we talked a bit about how this was last year all over again - he really is a good kid and a classy racer), moved up some more and caught a Gearworks rider, dropped him and worked on extricating myself from the BRKZ.

Mulchy

The problem was, the BRKZ was mighty today. I think he has been practicing - I simply could not get around. We actually worked together pretty well, we reeled in another rider or two and caught the 545 guy that buried his backside into my front wheel. We were now a group of 4 (or something very much close to 4).

Oh, I guess it was 4

On the last lap 545 got a bike length on us and I gave chase, dropping Ryan and bringing another rider with me. An embrocation rider was closing in fast, and I was tired. I wasnt in any shape to win a 3 up sprint, so I buried myself to go into that last turn on the asphalt ahead of those guys. My oxygen-deprived strategy worked, and it seems sprinting from WAY TOO FAR is something I can do.

Sprintypants

7th place, again.

Caitlin took all the Lancaster pictres

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Providence, Night Weasels, and Greg's Gloucester Gamble

Last weeks racing has most of us sitting around stretching our blogging arms a bit late, myself included. Time to bring you up to speed.

The Great Gloucester Gamble

This year I decided to finally get tubulars. Strapped for cash, I opted to build myself wheels so I could have multiple sets. Strapped for time, I decided I was going to learn to build wheels and glue tubulars in the same week, which happened to be the week leading up to Gloucester.

So, I didn't get the whole "tension" thing right, and it all came unraveled Saturday during the race. OOPS. Fortunately I have a pit bicycle, I grabbed it from the Mighty Nick and continued on. Mavic provided neutral support in the form of a whole new set of wheels, which was fortunate for me because I flatted one turn before the pit. I finished lead lap somewhere in the 30's. My Mom was there, and she was very impressed. Thanks mom!


At least I made some money back..


Sunday was a clincher day, and the Mighty Nick came through again with some wheels for me to borrow. Naturally, I was having an awesome ride before I flatted and rode right past the pit, which lead to me running / riding through the back side of the course and losing like 10+ positions. My ass was B minused by the officials.

Night Weasel's Cometh

I thought I would help out Colin and his Crossresults.com team event by showing up and helping Ryan Kelly figure out how to plug in 1/4 in speaker inputs to Richard Fries PA (hint: they are on the back). We also put a bunch of glowsticks on spikes. It was raining a lot.

Joshua a.k.a. Robot of Geekhouse offered to loan me his mud wheels for the race, since my clinchers were looking very sad. Twenty minutes in, I rolled his rear wheel re-mounting after the barriers. OOPS.

Of course, during that time I still managed to re-injure my thumb from last year. Very pleased about that.

A slight aside

After Gloucester, David Wilcox of Broadway Bicycle School and the Pedro's CX team offered to help me fix my haggard wheels. Things went from sad-face to dialed in a short period of time. I am extremely indebted to this man and probably owe him a lot of Newman O's.

David Wilcox2


A small consequence of fixing my wheels was that my front tire needed to be removed. Friday morning I did an emergency glue job that ended up holding fine. Almost too well.

Providence

Finally, something timely.

My bike was working okay, but due to my hasty glue job my pads were actually sticking to the rim. Fortunately, a kind gentleman from WheelWorks was easily bribed by Lauren's deadly pandering cup-cakes.

Last year, I had a decent finish (1st) on Saturday. I got psyched on the course because it's tons of fun. Many people seemed to be getting flats, including Meredith Miller while she was leading the elite women, and my whole team. I put a couple more pounds in my tubular and hoped for the best.

I staged nearly dead last since I registered Thursday night. I knew things would change quickly since people were all over the place.

The whistle blew and the gentleman in front of me decided he was going to crash right into the person in front of him, who seemed to not be moving. This was in the grid. I wasn't even on a wheel going up the first hill, and nearly dead last.

Greg Whitney5
Where is everybody?


On the first lap, I worked my way through some people in turns and runs. After running up the wooden stairs, I remounted in a small group and descended into the whoopty whoop section. Blinded by the sun, I had a guy next to me into the uphill 180 around a tree. I faithed it a little bit, and slammed a big root, causing my front tubular to flat. Ruh roh.

I slid back a bit as I rode a flat to the pit, switched bikes, moved up past people I probably should have already been ahead of, and eventually found myself dualing with Josh Lehmann. He passed me and gapped, but then slid back while I did the same. Later on I found out he thought lapping was imminent, but misjudged a bit. Things were getting close, but I realized I was going to be far enough ahead of Johnson to go through the finish line. BUT I was pulled because of the 80% rule. So that was kind of a bummer.

Greg Whitney2
Red bar tape means pit bike


Post-race, RMM gave me a shot of Caffe Latex, which worked for a little bit, but sadly this Grifo was done for. I got in the car and realized that I felt incredibly ill. Fast forward 20-hours later on Sunday and I was finally able to eat my first meal. Naturally, I had to abandon Sunday's race, though I did finish first in the sleeping competition (almost 18 hours!) Remember, kids, cyclocross makes your immune system all janky and weird. Don't take any strange germs home with you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

PVD Tire Death Toll + more


This has been quite the week of racing in New England.

Newest B2C2 recruit, Boo.

Things kicked off in style at a beautiful race weekend in Gloucester. This has been mostly covered already so I'm not going to go into too much detail, but I will say that I had a blast. When I saw the pre-reg list for the Women's 3/4 topping 100 riders for Day 1 and 90+ for Day 2, I started to get a little nervous and decided to aim somewhere above the top 20ish/ride as hard as I could. My goal was 12th, but the field was pretty stacked. Then I got an email from the race promoters saying that they were listening to rider input and giving the 3/4 Women 40 minutes of race time instead of the initial 30 minutes. Awesome! Bad crossresults.com points from years past had me staged 4 or so rows back from the people I'm usually competitive with, but some strategic running in the downhill hole shot on day 1 and hauling ass over the barriers helped me move through the traffic pretty well. I was pretty surprised after the first lap to see 2 laps to go only 10 minutes into the race. Seemed to me like a ten minute lap for a forty minute race meant it ought to be 3 to go, and I needed the extra time to try and catch people after starting further back, so that was disappointing. The course was great but the long grass sections didn't play to my strength. My Victim/Nemesis (yes, we're both for each other) Christine Fort absolutely blew by me during lap 2 entering a grass stretch after I had just overtaken another rider. I saw her dangling in front of me for the rest of the race, I caught up to her rear wheel after the downhill/sandpit at the start of lap 3 but then we turned onto grass again and I couldn't catch her wheel again. I finished in 15th, pretty happy with the days results. Other notes: Matt Cass is killing it in the 3's, Ian isn't far behind and I believe is leading the Hebrew Cup, Harrison held his own one of his first 3 races despite getting seriously crashed out twice by other people, Ryan epically damaged his DuraAce front wheel after attempting to put his knee through it on a slippery corner, Mike, as he mentioned, got his yearly run in, Greg survived the 80% rule in the Elites, Greg's mom knows exactly what kind of candy to bring to a bike race, and Christine, in addition to killing me on flats, makes an absolutely killer apple pie.


Day 2 went even better for me. It was an uphill start and I got on a solid BikeBarn racer's wheel into the grass. She was taking excellent lines and a few risks that pulled us right through the mess. This day included the run-up and I made $2 on it (thanks, Nick!), which was sweet. En route to the race that morning, Ryan I had told me that I looked strong the day before but maybe a little spinny, could I push a harder gear? Sadly, I found out that I could in fact push a lot harder gear and consequently worked harder/hurt more than I knew possible. The course was more turny with much shorter grass stretches and I tried to carry as much speed through turns as possible, and with 4 laps they legitimately gave us a 40 minute race that day. I caught someone on the uphill finish to end with a 7th place result. I was psyched! Matt Cass finished at the top of his field and in the $$$, everyone else in the 3's held their own and Mike and Greg put in good efforts, though I believe they both had to rely on pit bikes that day.


After feeling like I had a serious breakthrough with pushing myself, I was psyched for the rest of the week. Night Weasels was next. It was muddy. It was on a mountain. It was my first Elite race. Everyone was telling me it was my kind of course. Sadly, I don't know what happened. Lack of solid mud tires and confidence on the course led to a lackluster result. I did manage to thoroughly coat myself in mud and got my first payout (thanks to Colin & crew for paying out so deep!) at 15th, but I never really felt settled in and know I should have done a lot better. Thanks to Jen of the Cambridge team for cheering me on the whole time while racing herself, it made my disappointing bike handling a little easier to bear and reminded me that bike racing is still totally worthwhile even if you're having a horrible day. And I did make some new friends with my cupcake pandering. I'm hoping to redeem myself at this event next year, and also looking forward to whatever ridiculous/awesome/terrifying trophies Leah PB concocts for the winners next time!



Leah giving her (glowing!) creation to Elite winner Meredith Miller

Onto Providence! Managing to not pinch flat on the course was an accomplishment in itself. Sadly, I did not pull it off on Day 1 despite a solid 40 psi. I missed pre-reg, started at the back, had to stop in the beginning of the race when some girl who flatted at the first entry to the grass STOPPED DEAD in traffic, dropped my chain after the barriers on Lap 2 (Jeff Lukach allegedly has photos of me hopping on, heading uphill not realizing what happened, spinning, and then rolling down the hill chainless and backwards), and flatted before the cement stairs on Lap 3. Since I believe destroying a perfectly good wheel is more respectable than dropping out, I soldiered on to the finish with my rear flat. I did some sweet Mariokart-esque power slides on the turns, passed some people running their flats, and got passed by many more people with their tire pressure still intact. This was probably the only instance this year where I was happy to only be racing for 30 minutes, as there was no hope of neutral support or spare wheels waiting for me in the pit. 20th out of about 60, which isn't too bad considering starting last row and mechanicals slowing me down. The only person on our team who didn't flat was Ian. Harrison, Matt Cass, and even Greg with his new tubulars suffered the same fate. Highlights: Thom of Newbury Comics sliced his knee to the bone but came back stitched up and in high spirits, while his teammates had some of their best race results of the year (Billy FTW!). Homemade applesauce makes carrot cake that much better, Starr has agreed to be a new trailriding buddy, spent some time hanging out with Andrew Frasca (former mastermind/builder of October Bikes) and his awesome prototype Crux - that guy is great and I'm glad to hear he's so happy @ Specialized, and there was some sweet barrier hopping action in the Elite race! Fun day despite the wreckage.

Day 2 went better for me and the course was a lot of fun. Big rollers, no brakes, to cheers of "YEAH BURRITO GIRL!" - awesome! Started in the back again in a field of 60ish people and spent the race chasing. Ended up with no flats and 13th place, although I really wished the race was longer than a half hour. I know I've been ranting about this all season but, for paying the same price as everyone else, I really do think they could spare us an extra ten minutes on the course, especially since the Women's 3/4 race has been attracting unprecendented #s of ladies. I also don't know why they used Verge points and then reg order to stage, considering it's not even part of the Verge Series anymore. Get on the crossresults.com staging bandwagon, PVD! I need to register now for all the other big race weekends so I don't get stuck in the back again, especially since I won't be at Downeast and therefore unable to pick up any Verge points any time soon. Another "dislike" for the Providence weekend was very strict enforcement of the "80% rule". Although it didn't affect me, I feel like they were unnecessarily rigid with it. They told us they would be at the start of the race under the guise of making things go smoothly for the leaders, but in reality it seemed they were forced to do this because the races were packed so closely together. I'm basing this on the fact that, for example, the Master's race leaders of the race before mine hadn't even come through the finish while the 3/4 Women were fully staged and ready to go at our 9.30am start time. They couldn't afford to let the back of the pack stay on the course when they had another race waiting, so the riders got pulled. It was a bummer. Seemed to me like better planning on the part of the promoters could have led to more fun for those people who aren't as fast but still want to race. To summarize: PVD, I had some complaints, but Gloucester is hard to follow and your courses are awesome. See you next year.

And there's my super race report for NECX super week. I'm looking forward to taking it easy for the next few weekends and packing in some night riding on the mountain bike before the real cold sets in.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Providence Media, day one!

Some video's and photo's from day one at the Providence CX Festival.

Cat 3 Men, Day 1
Ian Schon

Elite Men, day 1
Greg Whitney2





Thursday, October 7, 2010

Night Weasels VIDEOS Cat 3 and 4 men lap 1

Taken whilst marshaling the course crossing yesterday.



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Return of the Revenge of the Curse of Gloucester

elite starts = fast.

Lets start by saying that Im not a superstitious person. Im not much for prerace rituals, dont pray, and I damn sure dont own a pair of "lucky gloves". However, it would seem that every time I get ready to race at Gloucester, I trip over a black cat while carrying an armful of mirrors.

Day 1: If Its Not One Thing, Its Another.

Last year, you may remember my one chance at a decent result get derailed by a rolled tire. This year, the tires stayed on, but another part of my bike decided to abandon ship at a critical moment.

I had a crappy start. Really crappy. Apparently, Justin Spinelli hooked up with some hay on his break lever and went down hard (I think I saw him after the race in a sling - I hope hes back online soon, Ill miss getting hurt by him in YET ANOTHER race discipline). The offending bale (bail?) went flying into the middle of our holeshot, fouling my entire half of the field with the smell of burning carbon and (at least from the reaction of the rider in front of me) soiled chamois. Cary somehow managed to get around it on my right, but I was bar to bar with 4 guys that were much more content to incoherently yell than work together for a quick escape.

By the time I got rolling again, I was watching Trebon fly across the back side of the course.

Oof.

getting paid.

Honestly, I felt good. Better than I thought I would, though maybe it had to do with the 30 seconds of forced recovery I got in that botched start. I started to chase. Hard. I moved up to the back of the Cary Fridrich/ Greg Whitney group, then that group broke in two. Stuck as I was on the wrong end of that split, I started sneaking (read: badly chopping) my way through. I timed my attack well, and just as we hit the pavement I stood up and unleashed a blistering... ummm... broken chain?

Yes, my dreams of catching up to the "Kind Of Fast Group" had been Andy Schlecked into a 2ish mile hellscape of running and carrying my useless machine on my bruised shoulder. Luckily, Steve had offered his own bike up for my use in the pits, so all I had to do was run the entire course without getting lapped by an absolutely flying Jeremy Powers. No problem.

Ahhh, the 'ol Gloucester 5k.

Ian Schon (who had a decent race of his own 2 hours earlier) produced a very pro bike exchange, and I (for my part) did not crash out in the pit. This was looking up. Except for the fact that Steve had something like 12 psi in his clinchers.

Now, Im not what you would call a "delicate rider" by any stretch, so babying a set of mud2s while desperately trying to catch back on to the elite field at Gloucester had only one practical outcome: destroying 50 or so yards of course tape and getting my sorry ass pulled with 4 to go.

Day 2: Even More Awesome.

Prerides are business casual

On day 1, I my excuse was a broken chain. On day two, I blame whatever ancient wizard I had wronged in a previous incarnation for polymorphing me into a knuckledragging troll with bad depth perception. Thats right. You just read a D&D reference in an elite race report. Its ok. I wont tell anyone that you actually GOT that reference.

Yeah, I rode like shit. No excuse, really. Im sure the video evidence will be available shortly, as Colin had a front row seat as I cat 4'd my way around literally every corner. I dont know what it was - I just couldnt get a rhythm, couldnt respond to any attacks - I couldnt even get my left foot clipped in for a quarter of a lap. Yeah, I was lame (as if the wizard thing didnt clue you in).

SHUT UP LEGS

Lamer than me (if you can believe it) was some d-bag Canadian that had somehow infiltrated our little group. That maple leaf mouthbreather actually took his hand off his bar and pushed me into the tape on a turn, forcing me off my bike. I then had to run the entire section, getting in the way (sorry Collin Houston) and ultimately getting out of the turn before him anyway. Then our friend from the great white north tried to pass ALL of us on the inside, slamming into Collins rear wheel and almost crashing the both of them out. A dick move, but the string of obscenities that fired out of Houstons mouth made almost getting taken out worth it. I was almost in tears, and Mr. Canada had very obviously taken the hint and was burying himself to get away from the enraged Moots rider. I actually caught and passed that knucklehead on the runup. Sucka.

A lap or so later, I caught Greg (who had his own tale of woe) and Bradshaw (who, after the best start of his life, also angered The Wizard Who Does Curse Us With Flats). We rode together for a few minutes and were mercifully pulled before our imminent lapping by an inhumanly fast Tim Johnson.

Me and a post-mechanical Bradshaw trying desperately not to get pulled.

In closing, here are a few things that stood out this weekend:

+ Course design. All the best stuff from last year, plus one or two little tweaks that made for good technical riding.

- Sand. Uninspired on day one, removed entirely on day two.

+ Huge fields. Racing against 90 other elites is very, very different from racing 30 other elites.

+ Prerides with the stars. Riding behind Johnson, Trebon and some of the other pros was very helpful (even if it didnt happen to help so much on this particular weekend). Cyclocross is almost unique in its access to the top talent in the sport. (Try getting on the field at Gillette stadium sometime to toss the ball around with Tom Brady and youll see what I mean)

+ Crowds. Money-throwing, beer-tossing and camera-crazy. When you are dead last and running instead of riding, it makes the difference between exiting under the course tape and limping that extra half lap to the pit.

+ Adam Myerson. Tireless cross promoter and advocate, he is also a stand up guy. He felt that my DQ at loon was unfair, found me in the parking lot and gave me a check for 25th place (there were 24 finishers at Loon). That is above and beyond the call for a promoter (I only wish dudes like him were around all those years I was on tour...).

+ Venue. Easily the best in New England.

- Running the kids race at the end of the 3/Juniors race. This kind of stunk for those guys - you definitely dont need 2 announcers for a group of 5 year olds riding around the gazebo, and the 3s/juniors had really interesting races. Except for the Seaside rider who does not seem to understand why the crowd was yelling "UPGRADE" at him, these were pretty dynamic and exciting events.

+ Mavic/ Pedros Neutral Support. These guys were awesome. Pedros cheerfully inspected my drivetrain and lubed my cables. Always super friendly, always helpful and seemingly at every race, they always come through for a rider in a pinch. Mavic rebuilt my freehub on day 2. Straight up. AND they refused payment. That alone is enough to earn my loyalty to their products (to say nothing of the 2 season old set of ksyrium tubulars that I have yet to put on a truing stand).

+ Two dozen amateur teams: It is fun to yell, but it is more fun to yell in large groups.

The Mayor's Cup!

Since Gloucester is over, I suppose it would be good to touch on the Mayor's Cup. To continue the trend of doing dumb hard races post-upgrade, I figured this would be a good way to cap off the road season. Also, the logistics of riding 2-3 miles to an awesome race in downtown Boston outweighed traveling to a cross race this particular weekend.

Boloco graciously donated some space in their airstream for my gear, making that whole situation much easier. They are a very big supporter of Hub on Wheels, and I was pretty excited to fly the team colors on home turf.

I managed to get myself on the course and figured out that I could totally do this. We staged and I managed to get somewhere in the middle, which mattered little because once the race started people were hammering.


stole this picture from K Zubris on facebook


So here I was holding on for dear life in a $20k crit wondering, am I in over my head? I was definitely getting shoved in some of the bottlenecks, and pushed out of my line by some more aggressive crit riders (after referencing their numbers they were mostly from New York / New Jersey, which gives some legs to my theory about mid-Atlantic racers being ca-razy on bikes).

In the first 20 minutes or so I found myself near the front of the race, which turned out to be a bad idea. Because things were getting real fast. I slid towards the middle, just to keep from getting pooped out the back. A break of 12 went up the road -- 6 ended up lapping the field about 45 minutes in. WOW.

We went around a whole bunch of times, and with about 3 to go things were going to plaid and I was having a hard time staying on a wheel. I ended up spit out the back, and Colin Murphy and I circled around to finish on the same lap as the pack. My finish was 79 out of 80, which means 50 people were pulled. Hell, I'm satisfied.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Attn: Management Re: The Rules

happyfun crosstime

I was going to post a race report detailing my adventures in bike racing last weekend. But Ive had lots to do this week, lots of preparing (well, mentally preparing myself for intense and merciless lapping) so I will summarize my weekend in a quarterly report-style presentation.

1. Do Officials Seem More Eager and Less Reasonable This Season Than In Previous Seasons?

- My research into this matter indicates that there has indeed been an increase in callous officiousness (Vogonity index 6.5!), a marked increase from previous seasons.

Examples:

1. Checking tire widths on the start line with a micrometer, the official punctured a competitors tire.
2. Official made a female racer remove her knee warmers because "it was insufficiently cold".
3. The "80% rule" has been enforced with draconian zeal, regardless of field size (is there really a need to pull riders when the field size is 28?).
4. At Suckerbrook, no one was allowed to preride the course until the Elite Womens race. There was rampant flatting in the 3s.
5. We were told at the start of Noreast that "it was 1 degree too cool to allow feeds". We were not clear as to weather the measurement was Fahrenheit or Centigrade.
6. I was disqualified by an official that claimed I had been lapped. I was not lapped. When I politely asked him about when (and how) he tried to pull me, I was threatened with a fine of 200 Swiss Dubloons (or Roman Sovereigns, or whatever). The fine was ultimately dropped, as was my (admittedly less-than-inspiring) result.
7. Security at the aforementioned event was exceptionally overzealous: my girlfriend was most rudely hassled by the staff, one friend of another racer was "escorted off the premises" by "security" - really? At a cross race?

The actions described above have been determined to affect both attendance and productivity.

Dave gleefully crushes my soul

2. Revenue Sharing (They Have Been Listening)

- On the brighter side, revenue has been up substantially (with equal time and payouts for womens fields becoming more and more widespread) and morale on that front is high.

linnea loves this runup

3. Have The Courses Been Getting Harder, Or Am I Just Happy To See Them?

Also, course design has been thoughtful an well-considered: for example, Noreast took a ski mountain and made it cross-able (almost unbearably painful, but still pretty awesome). We got a few more turns and sand-time at suckerbrook, and from what I understand, there was even a day at Green Mountain that wasnt a straight up hillclimb. We thank the management for their time and effort here.

very personal running

We at B2C2 have been looking forward to cross season for about a year now. We trust that these next few months will be both exciting and ruinous on the legs.

Never leave home without your towel