Friday, November 30, 2007

Critical Massholes

I had my first experience with Critical Mass on my commute home today.

If someone can explain to me how a bunch of cyclists intentionally blocking traffic does anything other than make me more likely to get killed on a commute/training ride some day by an irate driver, I'm all ears.

Until then, I will stand by my conclusion that I would rather not have a bunch of assholes on bikes out there giving the rest of us a bad name.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Palmer Cyclocross Race Report

I don't want to bore you with my non bike racing life, but man, it's been a busy week. So busy I completely forgot about a race report for Sunday's race! Which is a bummer since I tried to allude to it in the Baystate report.

So anyway, I got my butt kicked at Baystate, so I drank a bunch of water and did the Anna McLoon recovery jog special that night, I figured I'd try anything to get some form back. Sunday morning hits and I still feel like crap, but is it crappier than the average post-race morning? I can't tell. Get in the car!

The Palmer course was a pure reversal from Baystate. Narrow doubletrack that was singletrack if the guy in front rode in the middle for 70% of the course. As rooty as any woods trails that's been ridden on for 20 years. Five dismounts per lap, triple barriers, three runups, one of which was obscenely long. I don't actually know what old school jungle cross is like, but I suspect this is it.

We lined up with what felt like around 30 or so people. In true cross fashion, I lurked around the start area for five minute waiting for the lineup call, and then the second I go to my car to get my glasses, 20 people line up. So I snuck into the 3rd row somewhere and then we got rolling.

The opening stretch was surprisingly long and straight, long enough that the pack hit cruising speed before the first turn, so those of us in the back who wanted to move up just went straight past cruising speed into sprinting speed and moved up the outside. This worked great and I made it into the top 10 as we tore into the 90 degree left into the woods. Unfortunately, the course here narrowed down into two abreast and we tried to go through three wide -- someone took an aggressive/reckless line between me and the guy to my left, hitting both of us.

The interloper of course was fine, he squeezed through as we collapsed behind him. I used my Chainbiter experience (thanks Rosey) to hold a line even as the guy next to me fell sideways into my bars and arm. Over a space of 10 yards he slowly toppled over, slowed by my body, cursing the whole way, until eventually eating it hard, with his bike flying into the air beyond him.

Amazingly he turned out to be fine, and no one else even got caught up in the crash, but I didn't know that until after the race. At the time I was pretty spooked because I've never been that close to what seemed like a really bad crash. It actually affected my ability to race hard for the next few minutes because I was like, wow, that guy is going to the hospital and he might think it was my fault.

But eventually the lactic acid overpowered my empathy and we got down to business. There was the standard group of fast starters up the road and I was hanging around 6th place. The crash strung things out nicely behind me so there was no swarm around me at any point -- I was the swarmer instead of the swarmee, except you can't swarm anyone on singletrack so I was just blocked.

I rode through after one lap with Ben Corbalis, a guy who owns me on a mountain bike, but he seemed like he was slowing down on the field so I went around and never saw him again. Surprising, but I'll take it. Meanwhile the other Ben C, the Putney winner, was gobbling up the field after a bad start and I was not spared his wrath. He came up behind, rode my wheel for a half lap, dropped me on the big run up and motored off into the distance.

With six laps to go I didn't have the guts to race his race so I stayed within the limits and kept rollin. The early rabbits were coming back, or at least some of them, so I picked up a few places despite going backwards in relation to Ben.

The course had three runups, but the first one was short. My goal became to ride it -- it was one of those super-steep quick ups that only takes 6 steps to run, and no matter how fast you ride in you stop dead in a few seconds. It was getting pretty torn up from people climbing it which wasn't helping, you had to come swinging in through some singletrack, take two frantic pedal strokes and then try to keep pedaling as you shot straight up. Lap one I had no chance because of traffic; lap two I decided to run it, but that was lame so lap three was another shot at riding it. Unfortunately I got blocked at the last second by Ethan P on a singlespeed when he tried to ride it and end up stalling well before the top. Uh-oh...time to topple off to the side and backwards, landing at the bottom. Well that wasn't very fast.

But I honed my technique over the next five laps. I never got to the point where I could clean it, but I eventually got the to the point where I could put one foot down and take a quick step to get over the top, while straddling the bike.

This extremely effective and ugly technique helped me stabilize my position in third and eventually start moving forward. The early leader had been Guenter Hofer who was now joined by Ben Coleman. Coleman caught him pretty soon after passing me, so when I saw him sitting behind Guenter I figured he was just biding his time.

Unfortunately for me while Ben was recovering I was dragging myself back to the front with grim determination. I finally made contact on the smallest runup with 1.5 laps to go -- and just as expected, on the straightaway into the triple barriers Ben attacked.

I had been chasing for several laps and I didn't think I could beat him, so I took the easy route and didn't react, deciding instead to race Guenter for second. In retrospect, it was totally lame and defeatist, but at the time my legs found it to be quite an attractive idea. So I sat lazily in third as the bell lap started, but Guenter was cracking after leading from the gun and as soon as I took a turn at the front I started to pull away.

Ben was still dangling in the distance, ten seconds or so, but he was solid enough on the roots and terribly fast on the smooth stuff. I might have closed the gap to 8 seconds by the last runup, but even after flying up it like a hyperactive monkey with crampons was he still 20 yards ahead, so I packed it in and took my second place.

Somehow 25-30 riders on the start line turned into 17 people on results because lapped riders and DNFs didn't get scored. So luckily, no upgrade points from that one so I can keep on sandbagging 3's, huzzah!

Whoa

I had nothing to do with this but, wow, that's pretty intense.

Amazing what people will do when they're anonymous.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ridiculous

I took my car in to the shop today. I talked to the guy about what I needed done and then I started taking my bike out of the trunk so I could ride back to Boston. I was expecting to have to explain that 18 miles back to my house isn't really that hard of a ride, even in November, since OMG BIKE TRANSPORTATION is so extreme to most of America.

"Do you ride cross?" he says.

It is not every day that random people are able to tell that I am on a cyclocross bike, and not some touring road bike with fat tires. Even less often do they know it's called "cross."

"Yeah," I said, "...you know cross?"

"I used to race when I was a junior," he says.

"Seriously?"

"I was fourth at nationals in Leicester the day Tim Johnson won."

Seriously.

Apparently he also went to Worlds at some point (probably that year, although I was too awed to get the details from that) and raced a Superprestige while he was over there.

So in addition to knowing about a thousand times more than I do about cars, he has also been a better cross racer than I will ever be.

That's pretty cool.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Baystate CX Postmortem

Much like Putney this summer, there isn't going to be much of a Sterling race report. Basically, I got up, went to the basement to get my bike, and as I walked up the stairs I was like, "wow, my legs shouldn't burn walking up the stairs carrying a bike."

Combine that with some poor fueling decisions in the morning and I was already giving up on the start line.

Some sneaky moves got me into the top 20 anyway, from a 6th row start, as people cluster-f'ed around the start track and the first runup. But it didn't really matter, the race got sorted out and I didn't have anything resembling the gas required to hold my spot.

I crashed on lap two trying to make up for worthless legs by cornering too aggressively and that was pretty much the end of me fighting. C Todd came cooking by me somewhere along the line, slapped me on the back and said "come on" but I couldn't even pick it up to make a token effort to go with him. I tried to figure out how to drop out but I'm not a pro at that kind of thing so I could never quite bring myself to pull the trigger. I sat up and tried to ease my back and stomach pain for a while, eventually I started to feel a little better, and by now there were only 3 laps to go or whatever and I was back with people that truly could not corner to save their lives. So I tried to race them, I mean what the heck, that's what I paid money for, right? It was a pathetic sort of racing, them blowing me away on the flats and then me coming right back and getting blocked on the corners. Eventually I started to have a reason to race, I could see C Todd in the distance, I figured a final sprint against him would make up for the rest of the day...and then before I know it I'm right there with him... oh that's because he flatted.

So I finished all alone.

The beauty of the double weekend is you can always forget Saturday if you can conjure up a good ride Sunday. So I pulled out all my recovery tricks (even the recovery jog) to see if I could make like a phoenix at Palmer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hazards of the beer feed

My previous race report mentions "two IF riders" but if you look at the results there is only one IF rider listed. Was I hallucinating that second black and green jersey? Hmm. Perhaps I was. But wait...

From the Cambridge Bikes guys:

Jon Bruno on IF took a beer feed from us mid race which unfortunately led to a DQ. (those officials are hiding out in the trees) Maybe it was the beer mug socks he was rocking that tipped them off.


Funny thing is, I remember coming through with one to go with the IF guys and the offical saying as we rode past, "you two, after the race." Burn.

I for one am glad that the scourge of the beer feed was eradicated! We must be ever vigilant against people having fun while racing bikes.

Preemptive disclaimer: Yes, I realize that you probably aren't allowed to have open containers in Shedd Park and you aren't allowed handups of any kind. And if the right people complained to the city of Lowell, BRC could lose the venue, blah blah blah.

Monday, November 19, 2007

BRC Shedd Park CX Report

This ended up being a one race weekend for the first time in a long while, and I even had a free Saturday. It was a transcendental experience. I hung out, watched some WCSN cross, went to a park and learned how to remount. It wasn't really that big a deal it turns out, just have some coffee, lower the seat an inch and go someplace where no one can see your flailings. Anyway, nice to check off one of the easier season goals. I'm not gonna say it's perfect, but I figure doing it consistently in races will eventually get the kinks ironed out, much like how 1.5 seasons of stutter-stepping the remount led to me being really smooth about doing it the wrong way.

In exchange for not racing Saturday I decided to ride the 1/2/3 race at Slick Willy. With all the big time riders down at the USGP, this meant my chances of staying on the lead lap were good, and since many of the 3/4 blog-stars weren't in the race I wasn't missing out on throwing down with the Hup/Zanc guys.

The 3/4 race ended up having some pretty fast guys anyway, Rumsey, Coleman, Hofer, Awerbuch (wtf), and the newly scary-fast Cort. It was kind of fun to watch it and not be part of it -- Guenter got the holeshot with a big gap, Ryan Rumsey crashed on the track trying to close the gap, Ben Coleman caught him, then pulled past, then Awerbuch came out of the field and destroyed everyone. Later on Coleman either crashed out or mechanicaled and Cort just kept eating people up to take 2nd. So yeah, fun to watch because I have a good amount of experience racing most of those guys.

Anyway the sun was headed down and the crowds were leaving, must be time for the 1/2/3 race! We lined up with 15 guys, Ronnie S was nice enough to go straight from the 3/4 to this race and give me some company at the back. I think we both knew he wasn't going to finish the race, but hey, training right?

The race starts and I go straight to the back, not a big deal since I'm on some wheels and I have no business anywhere near the front. First time up the runup and somehow even in a 15 person 1/2/3 field we accordion enough I have to get off. I ended up running/sprinting the whole thing to stay in contact, which was a pretty bad idea that early on.

Stayed as the caboose on a group of 4 (11-14th) for most of the first lap, it was two IF guys who I think are serious roadies and non-serious crossers and someone else. We get to the track and I sprint hard to get into the draft, but there's not that much draft and a ton of drag on the soft track. These guys had serious legs and I discovered very rudely that I didn't.

So starting the second lap I pretty much blew up. They rode away and we gone. My legs, which had been questionable before the race, were now officially effed. I was at the back, and very lonely.

I thought about dropping out. I figured I would drop out when I got lapped, which was probably a few laps away. I had to stay in longer than Ronnie, right?

On laps 3 and 4 I was looking around a lot trying to figure out if Ronnie had dropped out yet, so that I could follow suit. The course had enough switchbacks that I could keep tabs on the guy in 13th, and the news was not good -- 13th was Chris Bagg, who pretty much owns me, and he was pulling away.

Then suddenly, on lap 5, my legs started to settle into the pain hollow (that's a small pain cave of course) and Alex Whitmore from Cambridge Bikes went backward fast. I heard him shouting to his supporters that he couldn't see, I'm guessing a lost contact or something, but in any case I swiftly pulled him back and hey, I'm beating someone! He's blind, but whatever, I'll pick on cripples if I have to.

More pain management for more laps. The cards were indicating we were going to ride a total of 11, I think I was looking at 4 to go or so when I notice another guy going backwards, it was one of the two IF guys. I caught him quickly but unfortunately he was kind of just riding for fun, he was talking back to his fans heckling him and really not racing very hard. I tried to go right past and distance myself before he thought about picking it up, but it didn't work, he got his race back on and rode my wheel for the rest of the lap. Then he dumped me easily on the track.

But all was not lost! The other IF dude slowed down a lot, I think he was waiting for him or something, and I caught back on and now it was three of us together with two to go. Yes, it's gotten to the point where I consider catching people who are deliberatly waiting for others as an accomplishment. Shut up. At one point one of them actually did do a wheelie when someone told him to do a wheelie. Man that hurts to see when you're still racing as hard as you can.

But anyway, these guys were lazy so I went around them. They could've kicked my ass but they would've had to at least work a little bit, I think. And they chose not to. So they got lapped and I held off Kevin Wolfson by 30 seconds to stay on the lead lap. Woohoo! Last guy on the lead lap! At this point everything was pretty well decided but I actually went full-out for one more lap trying to make the gap to Chris Bagg look respectable. And it totally worked since he wasn't racing anyone at that point!

So when the results come out you'll see I did "ok," but every single person I beat had a legit excuse for going slow (ok, the IF guys were just lazy, but still). Really, I got my ass kicked and had shit for legs. In retrospect it's pretty obvious why my legs were crappy but it was still surprising to be super-psyched to ride and then go slow.

I think I'm going to do at least one more 3/4 race this year. I'm not an embarassment to the 1/2/3 race, but I'm also not going to easily podium in the 3/4 race on anything less than a total mountain bike course. And if no one has slashed Rudy's tires at this point, I don't think I have much to fear.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

WCSN

It's not everyday that someone creates a product that I've been asking for for several years. But WCSN has.

Back in the day I used to spend days downloading bits and pieces of World Cup skiing from Bittorrent, scouring newsgroups to find urls and begging the few people in Europe with TV capture capabilities to grab and post races. This was a ridiculous amount of work just to get crappy copies of Eurosport a week or two after the event.

I said "why is it, in the global, digital world, that no one is making money providing coverage of niche sports on the internet? I would pay hella bills to not have to spend hours getting error-filled vids from Bittorrent."

Well someone started doing it. WCSN. If you read this blog, go to their site, and pay $5 for a one-month subscription. I promise they will cover a sport you like that you will never see on ESPN in the states. You get access to world cup skiing (nordic, alpine), world cup cyclocross, and a host of other non-mainstream sports. The videos are on-demand streaming with very acceptable quality. While I'm typing this on one screen I have the CX World Cup from Tabor running on the other screen.

Did you catch the part where I said it's $5 a month?. Yeah. The price of single day-of entry. I can't imagine why you wouldn't pay for this, unless you don't actually like watching professional sports.

Oh, and there goes Stybar and Nys bunny hopping the barriers again. Dear god that is gutsy at that speed.

As I was saying, you should do this. I wish there was some kind of referral bonus so I could get cash for promoting this, but alas there isn't. So you can be confident that I have only your best interests in mind, blog-reader.

One other thing I noticed, which would have been worth $5 alone -- Frenchman Steve Chainel rides with top mounts. And he's currently sixth in a World Cup race, as I type this. Suck it, haters.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dusseldorf Sprints Live Blog

Another niche on the vast interwebs that is somehow going unfilled is the nordic skiing live blog. You can find hundreds of sites live blogging during football games, but not one talking about nordic skiing. Thus, I am a pioneer! So here we go with a cup of coffee and a WSCN.com subscription, watching almost 2 hours of sprinting in October on a massive tape delay.

The average reader here is a cyclist and doesn't follow nordic skiing. Sorry dudes. If you're a nordic skier and you find this stuff interesting, leave a comment so I'll be encouraged to do some more in the future. I know that I like reading live blogs/diaries of sporting events I didn't get a chance to watch, but I might be the only one.

10:26 -- Welcome to Dusseldorf! Apparently WCSN doesn't have the rights to commentary so I only get the video feed. Given that the normal Eurosport guys think that everyone drafting has amazing wax, this might be a good thing. Currently I see nothing but slow panning shots of the crowd and the same strip of snow as the last few years. Thrilling!

10:28 -- Somehow Josef Wenzel roasted everybody by 3 seconds qualifying. I predict that he will pull a Newell and go out in quarters despite this. I also predict that Newell will go out in the quarters, but it's not a gutsy prediction when he qualifies 14th.

10:31 -- First women's quarterfinal, Manninen, Kuenzel, Henkel, Stehle, Phillipot, and Kalla. Three Germans in Germany. The crowd is stoked. Manninen predictably tries to win it from the front because that just how the #1 seed rolls. And hey, she's got it in the bag. The finish straight is too short to fall out of the top 2 when you lead it out I think. I'll keep tabs on whether or not anyone fails to advance after leading

10:34 -- Photo finish shows that Kuenzel beat Kalla for second place. Crowd breathes a sigh of relief.

10:36 -- Q2 is Bjorgen, Mahlvalehto, Norgen, Mischol, Crawford, and Aas. Heh, Aas. As a Mona-Liisa Mahlvalehto fantasy owner from last year, I am fully expecting her to fail to advance.

10:37 -- Britta Norgren eats it on the backstretch. Can't tell why. Two others are held up as well.

10:38 -- Mahlvalehto barely leads out, gets dusted by Bjorgen and loses a FF to Crawford at the line. Maybe leading out isn't infallible.

10:39 -- No wait... actually a photo finish between Crawford and Mischol for 2nd... Mona Liisa went from 1st to 4th in 100 yards. Told you she sucked.

10:40 -- Q3 is Dahlberg, Saarinen, Andersen, Ingmarsdottir, Shapovalova, Boehler. The three Swedes lead it, looks like Saarinen will be the high seed getting knocked out...

10:42 -- Dahlberg gets through with a 3-way FF behind her. The other two swedes plus Saarinen I think. Judges give it to Lina Anderson.

10:44 -- Q4 is Peraelae (who?), Weibel (who?), Matveeva, Fessel (who?), Vina (who?), Bourgeouis-Pin (who?). Ok, if Matveeva doesn't dust these scrubs she's officially off my list. Three frenchwomem, by the way.

10:46 -- Nice false start, ladies. Can't tell who it was but it takes like 5 extra shots from the pistol to get them to stop. Rookies!

10:47 -- A clean start and Matveeva gets the holeshot. Everyone fights for the draft and Peraelae gets taken out... skate sprints are brutal. Matveeva is pulling away. Damn straight.

10:49 -- The crowd is goes nuts because Nicole Fessel (GER) gets through. The French girls go 3,4,5. Ouch. Replay shows Weibel was responsible for the crash.

10:50 -- Q5 has Kuitenen, Fabjan, Follis, Korosteleva, Natsumi, Brun-Lie. God I hate Kuitinen. Not because of the doping history, just because she's like the damn Yankees (or should that be Red Sox now?) of the women's scene.

10:52 -- And, despite a crappy start she blows everyone away to advance easily. Follis gets second with a decent cushion and then everyone falls on the ground for 3rd.

10:54 -- Thanks for telling us who the lucky losers were... NOT.

10:55 -- Men's Quarterfinals now. Interesting to see how the race changes with two laps, the woman who got the holeshot almost always advanced. Rotchev, Roenning, Wenzel, Kittilae (?), Dahl, Chvanov (?). Men's sprinting is crazy these days, all kind of 20 years olds you've never heard of are qualifying on the world cup.

10:56 -- Rotchev gets his pole broken immediately and somehow stays in contact at the back while changing it. Nice one.

10:57 -- Wenzl shows us why he's #1 by leading the first lap. Roenning sits second. Rotchev drops the hammer on the backstretch and takes second place away from him rudely.

10:58 -- Wenzl gets it easily, Dahl skis straight into his teammate Roenning during the final sprint... I have no idea what he was doing, other than eliminating both of them. Rotchev gets second... oh wait, apparently Dahl was taking out Roenning so he could get second in a photo. Sneaky.

11:02 -- Q2 has Newell and Northug, the Sausage, Yuichi Onda, and two random guys I've never heard of. This is gonna be good. I'm expecting Sausage-based domination, and for Newell and Northug to crash each other out.

11:04 -- Onda leads, Newell takes a crappy 4th position. Everyone tries to move up after one lap, go Newell! Go! He gets up to 2nd. Northug leads now, someone stepped on Onda.

11:05 -- The damned sausage just took second like it was candy from a baby. And now Newell is 4th. He's cooked.

11:05 -- Yep, Sausage and Northug, saw that coming. Lots of ski throwing though, it was close.

11:06 -- Q3 is Hellner, Joensson, Ambrosetti (?), Toby Fredriksson, Peter Larsson, and Zorzi. Yeah, that's right, FOUR swedes, including Mr Dusseldorf. Larsson's Dusseldorf domination is remarkable mainly because he sucks in every month that isn't October.

11:08 -- Larsson leads because he is MR DUSSELDORF, bitches! The random French guy almost overtakes him but then stands up to slow down... interesting. And then shuffles back to 5th on the straight. Good jorb.

11:10 -- Zorzi is getting smoked, he's too old for this sprinting shit. But you know who isn't too old for this? Toby Fredrikson, who just advanced. The bald spot makes him lighter. Second goes to...Hellner over Larsson. Mr Dusseldorf is no more.

11:12 -- Lind, Morilov, Chebotko, Hetland, Kosizek, Bredl. Hetland's another guy verging on "over the hill" so this should be interesting. At this point he's wicked smart but doesn't seem to have the raw speed of the young guys.

11:13 -- Ugh, dense traffic. This course is too narrow and flat for skating... but the fans love it. Lind leads and Hetland comes from the back up to 3rd after one lap.... Newell tried the same but he blew up, lets see how Hetland does.

11:15 -- Hetland looks set up to overtake Morilov on the final straight but the youngster has way too much fast-twitch power. Morilov and Lind advance cleanly.

11:17 -- Last quarterfinal is Strandvall, Darragon, Iversen, Waldmeier (some random swiss guy), Angerer, Kjolstad. Wow, Angerer is so good he qualified for sprint heats.

11:18 -- Haha, but he still gets ROASTED off the line by the sprinter specialists. He looks like he's dropped... then he breaks the swiss guy's pole... yeah this is going well.

11:19 -- Swiss guy buries himself trying to get back on and crashes out.

11:20 -- HOLY CRAP ANGERER IS BACK AND HE'S UP TO 2ND! How the F...

11:21 -- Angerer just won the heat. I am speechless.

11:22 -- Oh yeah, Darragon was 2nd.

11:22 -- On to women's semis. First semi has Manninen, Kuenzel, Bjoergen, Andersson, Mischol and... Chandra Crawford! Lucky losers are great.

11:24 -- Manninen leads but then Bjoergen takes over and cruises in easily. GODDAMMIT CHANDRA SPRINT!! Crawford out-throws Kuenzel to keep her chance of making the A final alive in 4th.

11:26 -- Semi 2 has Kuitenen, Dahlberg, Matveeva, Follis, Fessel, and the lucky loser Weibel. Four heavy hitters and two girls who have probably never been here before.

11:28 -- Matveeva leads again but this time they are all over her ass, and Follis gets by before the final straight. Kuitenen is way back! Matveeva holds on for 2nd... lets see who else goes to the A final.

11:30 -- Turns out Dahlberg in 3rd gets into the A final, so Crawford is out by a ski throw.

11:31 -- Men's semi #1 -- Wenzl, Northug, Sausage, Hellner, Dahl, and Strandvall (lucky loser). How long until Northug gets in a crash? I am growing impatient.

11:33 -- Northug is at the back and looking off balance. A huge effort on the straight gets him up to 4th, but I think he's gassed. Strandvall and the Sausage are even worse off.

11:35 -- Wenzl takes care of business again... but here comes Northug with the crazy V2!.. if this was a 4x10 he would be killing it but alas, it's a sprint so he gains exactly zero places and gets 4th. A surprising 2nd sends Dahl to the finals.

11:38 -- Next up, Fredrikkson, Darragon, Lind, Morilov, Angerer, Kjolstad (lucky loser). Morilov promptly false-starts.

11:39 -- Lind must have been thinking about his many endorsements, because he barely even made an effort off the line there and went straight to the back. Angerer is with him. Morilov leads.. and here comes Angerer again up to second. You won't believe it but the crowd is kind of excited by this.

11:42 -- Holy crap, don't listen to me ever again. Lind follows Angerer to the front and the ANNHILATES the competition, soloing in with sick margin. He's looking like the guy that won the sprint world cup in 2005, not the guy who sucked up 2006. Morilov gets a comfortable second. Darragon gets crashed. All of these guys go to the B final so that means effing Northug makes the A final. Dammit.

11:44 -- Women's small final is Kuitenen, Fessel, Crawford, Kuenzel, Andersson, Weibel. Kuenzel (ok, Kuenzel-Nystad, but I can't type all that) gets the holeshot. Crawford looked good off the line but somehow slides to 4th.

11:45 -- Kuenzel wins, Crawford fourth, but most importantly Kuitenen gets worked for the second race in a row. Maybe she's not going to be quite as unstoppable this year. Weibel gets DFL again, I have no idea how she even got out of quarters because she really can't hang.

11:47 -- Women's final has Bjoergen, Follis, Matveeva, Manninen, Dahlberg, Mischol. Six big names (ok, 5 and a Swiss) from six different nations. Juicy.

11:48 -- Yet another holeshot for Matveeva. I'm not sure if that's the best idea but it sure strings it out. Mischol is done, Manninen in trouble too.

11:50 -- Manninen practically falls down backwards on the last corner. Matveeva crushes all comers on the final straight for a convincing win. Bjoergen and Dahlberg throw for second, Bjoergen gets it.

11:52 -- Mens small final features Fredriksson, Angerer, Strandvall, Sausage, Kjolstad, Darragon. Angerer continues his strategy of slow starts, lets se if he can come through on lap 2 again.

11:54 -- A boring first lap, and this time Angerer is strangely content not to make a move. He stays in sixth and I believe he's done. Strandvall has been leading the whole way with the Sausage on his tails, I gotta think the Sausage will take this.

11:56 -- Strandvall crashes off-camera on the climb (I think) and takes down Kjohlstad too. Angerer doesn't do anything but gets fourth by default. The Sausage dominates for the win.

11:57 -- Finally, the main event. Wenzl, Lind, Morilov, Hellner, Dahl, Northug (grrr). At this point I'm a believer in Wenzl, he's looked good and he's got home-field advantage.

11:59 -- Some serious cat-n-mouse on the first turn, the front guys almost got run over by the back guys, but the stupid course is too narrow for a pass. Wenzl leads lap one, Lind second, Northug moving up to third. This is going to be crazy.

12:00 -- Wenzl is going all out at the front. Hellner and Morilov are gone. I gotta like Lind's chances from second right now, Wenzl looks tired and he's all over the place.

12:01 -- It doesn't matter, the crowd is deafening and Wenzl cannot be stopped. Lind gets second, and all the thrashing in the world can't elevate Northug above fourth.

12:03 -- Wow, Jon Kristian Dahl on a World Cup podium? That's at least as surprising as Wenzl winning.

12:04 -- Damn, it's bedtime.

A Dilemma

Much like a dog that actually caught the car he was chasing, I have a problem.

I have 25 upgrade points, plus a 1st and two 2nds from races with less than 30 entrants. In other words, I have a case that I could be upgraded to cat 2.

This was theoretically my goal for the season, so I gotta do it, right? Right? Leave all my 3/4 buddies behind and go live the life of pack fodder in the A race?

Here's the thing. Everyone says Putney was great, the course was great, and most importantly the atmosphere was great. So Putney-lovers, how was the atmosphere during the 1/2/3 race?

Oh wait, you don't know, because you all left.

It's not just lonely at the back because the McCormacks of the world dropped you. it's lonely because the spectators have all gone home.

I'm not sure I'm ready to make that jump -- although I'd just about frame a license with the number 2 on it.

Any of you cat 3's out there up for trying the 1/2/3 race at Lowell this weekend? The USGP in Trenton will draw all the fast folks...

Monday, November 12, 2007

West Hill Shop Cross Report

If Ascutney was a small 3/4 race, Putney was a large one -- over 40 people were on the line, including some big names like all of Team Zanc, Rosey, and Jon Awerbuch (who is somehow still a cat 3 despite 5 Verge top 10's). It was pretty obvious that this race was going to be a real throwdown, instead of the faux-throwdown (don't you just hate those?) like yesterday.

Everyone should know the Putney course, but if you don't, the important feature ended up being the last 2 minutes of the lap -- a steady, gradually uphill grind into the wind, first on a slippery cornfield and then a dirt road, culminating in the mother of all runups, the kind that is so steep you have to fight to run instead of walk. After that, 100 yards to the finish.

The headwind section meant that groups were going to form, and getting left out alone was going to very bad unless you were one of those guys whose fitness dwarfed their technical skills.

The start was on a nice wide dirt road so we only went a little over 3 rows deep. I was second row right behind Zank himself, about as good a spot as you'll ever get on the front row. They blow the whistle we get two pedal strokes in, and just like Chainbiter there is a BIG crash next to me, the only difference was this time I just barely stayed out of it. What happened (I think) was Kenny slipping off his pedal while in full-acceleration mode, he had no chance to catch his balance as he suddenly dropped all his weight on his foot and the ground. There was the ugly sound of bikes and riders and ground all occupying the same space, but there was no time to watch because Zank was already dropping me.

Over the barriers I went on the outskirts of the top ten, I was a bit far back to be a big player but I was right on Rudy's (cool kid speak for "Jon Awerbuch" I have learned) wheel so I figured that might be a ticket to the front eventually. Around the first slippery right hand turn someone slides out, does an awesome body roll to stand right back up on their feet... which is awesome except that now he's standing in middle of the rushing torrent that is first lap B lap men and his bike is 5 yards upstream. I wonder if he ever got back to his bike.

Around the cornfield on the first lap the front is already stringing out, I might have gotten into the top 10 but there is already a guy off the front. Turns out it's Ben Coleman from BikeReg, and while I've been ahead of him several times this year I sure as hell am not going to do it today. He's on his way to the solo win.

Meanwhile the headwind is keeping everyone else together at the end of the first lap, so I'm still within spitting distance of second at the runup. Thanks to the typical accordion effect I end up getting wheels straight in my face on the way up and then having to haul ass once I remount to stay with the train.

Early on the second lap I am still riding behind Rudy and I have no idea why he is back here with me. It gets bad enough that I actually end up passing him on a corner because Mike Z and a group of 3 or 4 other guys are now getting significantly ahead of us.

As I duck inside he mutters something like "just wait" or "you just wait." I can't tell if he's talking to himself, threatening me, or chiding me for passing someone who is going to go a lot faster than me at some point -- in any case, the reality of getting passed by a scrub like me seems to awaken him and he roars into action on the next straight. Soon he's passed the Zank group and is on his way to a solo 2nd place. I still have no idea why he was back with me after a lap or what he was talking about.

Anyway, somewhere along lap two I make contact with the Zank group. There's five people here now, me, Zank, Ed Meyer from Darthmouth, Guenther Hofer (the guy who crashed in front of me on the last lap at Downeast) and Isaac St Martin, who won Sucker Brook B's. Lots of horsepower and I am the tail gunner, not an ideal place to be on course with lots of transitions. A lap or two passes with me getting pretty worked to stay on the group, then I make a move on the steep descent to get out of last and brilliantly pull through all the way to first. Right before the cornfield.

Turns out the only thing worse than being the caboose is being the engine in a headwind. Everyone happily sits behind me while I try to figure out the right combination of working hard enough to keep us ahead while not working so hard I blow up when someone else takes a pull.

It's a hard combination to find. There's a chance it doesn't exist. At some point, someone else pulls through after the runup and I very quickly go into damage control mode. I think Isaac got dropped even harder than me at this point, although he might have had a mechanical or crashed -- all I was watching was the gap in front of me. And it was growing.

Thus began the yo-yo. I fought back to get on the group by the cornfield. Then Hofer pulled ahead for a while and I went back to dangling ten bike lengths out. I was right at the breaking point but Linnea and Alex were yelling at me all over the top part of the course and I managed to get back on.

Next time over the barriers I'm dangling again, Hofer is holding a slim lead over the other two and I swear they are picking it up to chase him. My coordination is going down the tubes and I kick my pedal backwards on the barrier jump and hear the telltale clunk of the chain getting knocked off the inner ring.

Years of MTB experience with crappy shifting allow me to get the chain back on during the remount, but still the gap widens while I'm gingerly pedaling it back on. This time it's even bigger but the damn girls keep yelling at me so I have no choice but to sprint through the dirt jump area to show them I'm trying, once again making the catch just in time for the cornfield.

I'm pretty much toast at this point, but the lap count is down to two and we catch Hofer again to make it a 4-way race for 3rd. The pace slows down, painfully slow on the road, and this is exactly the reprieve I needed. On the penultimate lap we start marking each other, no one makes any big efforts and there's lots of looking back from whomever is leading.

Into the runup for the second to last time I try taking the lead, it feels great to fly in without brakes and no one in my way for once. I get a bit of a gap at the top but the idea of trying to hold them off for a whole lap, especially into the wind, seems utterly impossible, so I drift back.

Half a lap to go and I pull up next to Zank, who says "don't do anything stupid." I successfully resist the urge to crash him just to make a point and instead somehow end up on the front of the group, into the wind, for the last time.

Oops.

But I've seen my share of Tour finishes. They can make me ride at the front but they can't make me work. We get to the road and I just sit up completely and look over my shoulder, doing my best "who wants some?" glare.

No one wants some at first. Much softpedaling ensues. I'm looking over my right shoulder and then suddenly Zank, who apparently has also see his share of Tour finishes, comes flying by on my left. It's go time.

He has a bit of a gap, which actually works out for the best because it means I can lead the chase back to him instead of riding the back of the train. I get his wheel with 100 yards to go until the runup, I'm feeling good about the position as we start braking into the 90 degrees turn before the runup... then suddenly Hofer is on my left, Meyer is on my right, we go three abreast under braking for the corner and Meyer hits my bars as he drifts by. I swing in and then out, my front tire rubbing his rear, and just like that I'm back in last.

We accordion, big time, on the runup, Hofer and Meyer go side by side at the front and Zank and I go two abreast at the back. I end up getting blocked out by a tree, Zank's bike is my face, I can barely get mine on my back and did I mention that my HR is like 200 right now?

Then something awesome happens. There are two lines on the run and everyone takes the short one, to the right. I head left and I swear, this must just be burst from my nordic classic sprinting career, because I just took huge frantic steps and passed all three of them. One last ugly remount and sprint, I can hear tons of people yelling wildly and they aren't yelling at me so I can only assume someone is right behind me. The last straight is too short to feel pain, thank god, so I don't realize just how hard I'm going until I'm across the line and wondering how my throat got so narrow.

End result: third place. I was the weakest rider in the group, but some dedicated cheering and timely slowdowns kept me on the back. I got squeezed out like a scared mountain biker at the end, only to get bailed out by fast-twitch muscles and a lucky open line. I guess this kind of thing should build confidence that I can hang even when every muscles in my body says I can't, but on the other hand there were so many times I would've been gone had they quit playing games with each other and decided to drop me.

A lot more questions than usual for a podium spot.

In other cross-related news, my girlfriend has a new kit and now looks even more pro than me.

How many times as pro as me, you ask? I'm not sure, can you divide by zero?

Ascutney Psycho Cross Race Report

I have a secret, dear blogosphere.

Last week at Chainbiter I ate it big time and "bruised" my ribs. Last week my whole body hurt Monday. Throughout the course of the week I steadily healed, except for my 4th rib up on the left side.

That rib hurt more and more as the soreness around it dissipated. It feels like having a cramp in my side 24 hours a day. Coughing and laughing both hurt.

So I am officially upgrading my unscientific diagnosis to "cracked or broken." I don't really feel like paying the deductible to get it x-rayed since they aren't going to do anything for it, so I guess we'll never know which one it is.

The crazy thing is that it doesn't hurt my side any more to race a bike than it does to get out of bed. Possibly less, if I ended up rolling onto that side at some point in the night. So I prereg'ed for a weekend of frigid Vermont cross and loaded up Justin's jeep Saturday morning, because the only thing suckier than racing with a broken rib is not racing at all.

The Ascutney Psycho Cross was a new event on the calendar, and since it was lacking the pedigree of Putney, it most certainly lost the battle with Plymouth for most racers on Saturday. We only had 17 people in the 3/4 field, but I did a reasonable job of staying motivated, despite the 40 degree temp and brisk breeze.

The course was a fun one, lots of elevation change, two steep rideups, and a confusing maze of course tape through a dirt parking lot. The dirt was loose enough to be un-railable, so lots of low-speed, dainty cornering was required.

We got started and I ended up in 5th or so. Right before the first rideup there's a gradual left bend on loose dirt, as the field storms around it the guy in front of me decides to rock it motocross style and hang his foot out. Not a great decision in traffic, he basically ends up putting his foot 2 inches in front of my wheel as I'm starting to overtake him, which startles me into braking and then loosing my line and drifting outside, and possibly starting a chain reaction that eventually crashes two guys at the back. So yeah... that's bike racing, right?

Anyway, Collin Huston (what is up with guys named Colin riding near me these days??) gets a pretty hefty holeshot thanks to the mess behind him and being a junior, and he tears up the first lap with a five or ten second lead. Meanwhile back in traffic Justin heckles me for not going fast enough on the flats, and then runs over a length of wire that would have destroyed any geared bike. There was a horrible sound of metal pinging on metal to my right, and I thought to myself "well there goes someone's bike." However, being an intrepid singlespeeder, his rear wheel survived pulling 16 inches of quarter-inch diameter wire into his spokes and through his drivetrain. So untangling that mess cost his 20 or so seconds, but if I had run over that, you'd be getting a bitchy race report about how many dollars worth of parts I destroyed.

Anyway. Starting lap two Joe Crooks (whom I've raced before) pulls through in second going much faster than seems reasonable, so I just let him go. He quickly pulled back the holeshot kid and took a commanding lead.

Meanwhile I was clowning it up-- there was this sharp left turn at the top of a rise, on lap one we were flying so I leaned in hard and nailed it. Lap two, come in, do the same lean, then I realise that I'm going way slower and I'm going to take the wooden stake on that corner in the face at present angle of attack. I huck my weight outward to sneak past it, except this overloads the traction provided by the front wheel and I stack it in a very ugly fashion, going over the bars sideways as the front wheel drops out from under me. Didn't even get clipped out on one side, so of course the bike then comes over on top of me.

Ugh. Back down to 4th, Joe, Collin and the dude who was previously behind me are up the road. My right shifter is bent in almost parallel to the tops.

I tried riding some laps on the tops, using the top mounts since that shifter was pretty jacked up (take that, G!) but I really needed my hands wider for the corners, so I ended up back on the hoods with the right hand cocked like an original cross gangsta.

The good thing about the crash was the subsequent refocusing, I actually got out of my haze and started riding some better lines and putting efforts in where it mattered. Pulled back 3rd and then 2nd. Collin and I rode two laps together, he was a tenacious bastard, but it was fun because everyone on the course was cheering for one of us so we both heard our names a lot. I kept putting in mini-attacks but he hung on, then after about five of those I got a real gap on a rideup and he fell back, slowed by the weight of carrying around the extra L in his name.

Meanwhile Joe was trying to hang onto what had been as much as a 25 second lead at the front. I was chipping away at it, but not fast enough, until I cut it from 17 seconds to 10 seconds in a third of a lap. I was hoping he had blow up completely but it turned out he had run a rideup -- so that was a nice seven seconds but it wasn't going to get repeated.

On the last lap he looked uncatchable, until he crashed on a corner and suddenly I rounded a turn to find him on the same straight. I grimly sucked it up and got ready for a final battle, closing it from 5 seconds, to 3 seconds, to 10 bike lengths on the last rideup and into the dirt parking lot. I was totally on the rivet after going all out to close it, but he was riding pretty panicky after blowing a ten second lead on the last lap. We both skittered around the dirt lot and I got all the way up to his wheel.

I started to think about the finish strategy, I was just going to come off the last corner, put it in the big ring and hammer... when with two 180s to go he goes randomly off into the tape instead of making a corner. Apparently he got disoriented (thanks, oxygen debt!) and forgot about the last two corners.

So hmm, I win, right? Well he went through the tape and ended up on the finish straight, where he just stopped, meanwhile I looped around the last two turns and came up to him again. I didn't really know what was going on so I just said "let's sprint it out" and then we drag raced from 150 yards out.

The problem was that I hadn't put it in the big ring because of the crash confusion and I couldn't reach my right shifter because of my early crash, so I ended up sprinting in like, a 38x18. It was bad, I needed some singlespeeder skillz, because I hit about 100 rpms and didn't get any faster. Joe ended up winning it at the line by about a bike length.

So... technically, I won, since I'm pretty sure cutting the last two turns is illegal. But the officials didn't see it, and he won the sprint, so they gave him the win. I'm not going to complain because hey, it's not like my skill put him into the tape, and I sure didn't earn the win by totally botching the sprint after that. And no upgrade points for a 17-person race anyway... but I did get a cool $30 for 2nd.

It was pretty fun, but damn, so windy and cold. Not sure I can handle this true cross weather business. We grabbed some pizza afterward, then I had some horrible stomach problems, then some quality dinner in Brattleboro and 9 hours sleep before Putney...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Halloween races are not serious business


The internet almost let me down on finding a picture of this.

Barriers are serious business

Just ask Jeremy Powers.


From the Steve Z Photography Blog

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cyclesmart Invitational Race Report

I awoke Sunday, having just gotten almost 10 hours sleep thanks to the time change and the later 1pm B Men's start, and I was sore. Old man sore. My shoulder, knee, back, ribs on both sides. This must be what football players feel like on Mondays.

But, I had the coveted 9th place start place in Noho. No time to feel bad for myself, it's time to go make myself feel bad!

The course was rumored to be non-technical, but after preriding it I thought it was reasonably hard. Three of the long straights were paved and flat, which seems to help me, and there were no long uphill grinds like Chainbiter. Most importantly the course was broken up by a variety of 180s that required braking. The more cross I race, the more I think that the micro-rest afforded by 180s (ideally more than one at a time) makes the difference between me recovering enough to hang and me getting blown away by the super roadie legs I end up racing against with sometimes.

Anyway, today was a high pressure day. Ended up in the 3rd row after callups, with an ideal spot to crash Rosey in revenge for yesterday. I could actually see the front for the first time in my Verge B career.

I got clipped in on the first stroke and blasted off the line, terrified of getting swarmed under on the first gravely turn. A gap opened and I moved into the second row of guys as we tore through the opening corners and out onto the grass. We hit the first big straightaway and it looked like this (photo shamelessly stolen from Dave L):


So yeah, 13th place. It didn't last long as people were flying around me, some of the heavy hitters like Ryan were heading to the front and some of the wannabe-heavy hitters (kind of like me, actually) were burying themselves for that first-lap glory.

Coming into the runup everyone kind of bunched up, I was on the far left side halfway through my dismount when I got bumped even further left, WHACK goes my left (and fully weighted) pedal into a rock and I went crashing knees-first into the rocky uphill. I tried to jump up and run with my bike but there was already people all over me, I walked and crawled up the incline half-shouldering my bike, someone else had their wheel in on top of my bars so I couldn't actually get it on my back.

I took a quick glance at my knees remounting, lots of brown and red but no kneecaps showing so it was still hammer time. I survived the first-time up the ride-up in dense traffic and was still going full blast after one lap.

The second lap is always when reality hits. After starting the race riding totally over my head the legs were begging for mercy and with 40 minutes of racing left I didn't have the guts to keep the power down. Five to seven guys got past me on this lap, blowing by on the straights when I just didn't have those apparently effortless watts.

This is it, I told myself, here's the pack slide you know is coming, you haven't broken the top 40 in a Verge race all year and you were in the top 20 a minute ago. You have to go backwards.

But it didn't quite work that way. The stream of dudes past me slowed to a trickle on lap three, and on the 180s I started to notice some of the jerseys in front of me were getting closer -- apparently some other people's adrenaline had also written checks their legs couldn't cash, and they were coming back even faster than I.

By the end of the third lap I had definitely survived the opening rush and was no longer "taking on water," as Richard Fries would say. Thom P caught up with me on the runup at some point, and being a nice guy with zero trust in my legs, he gave me some advice: "Colin you're having a great race, don't get gapped to this group!" He was right behind me at the time so he may have had a vested interest in my wheelsucking abilities, but since we were on the rough twisties up top there was no danger. Of course the next time we got to some pavement, sure, I was probably going straight out the back, so his concern was warranted. In any case he quickly got around me and disappeared on his merry single-speeding way.

The last few laps I continue to inexplicably pick people off, moving back into the top 20. There were a lot of very dangerous riders close behind me that I was all too aware of, which kept me just panicked enough to keep digging to pass people instead of sitting in. All I could think about was the large group of guys who are often much faster than me hanging around about 10 seconds off my wheel.

Finally on the last lap I ended up in no-mans land, there was a big train behind me but if it hadn't closed those ten seconds yet it wasn't going to do it on the last lap. Ahead was the lime green kit of Colin Murphy, close enough to been seen but far enough to be basically unattainable, even if I did get to him he has some of the aforementioned super roadie legs that frighten me so. I really didn't fancy my chances against someone who actually knew what they were doing on the very long, very straight, very paved finish straight.

But you never know until you try. I kept on racing my guts out, it's not like there's much other choice on the last half of the last lap. As I rounded the final turn onto the pavement Colin was already through it and sprinting, three or four seconds ahead of me.

I sprinted anyway, out of habit, and then when I looked up after a few seconds I could see he'd stopped sprinting and was sitting up... completely soft-pedaling, blatantly disrespecting the closing speed of a guy with top-mount levers. A dangerous move, to be sure. The gap was coming down but the road was running out-- I just kept sprinting, and the more I looked at it the more I thought I was either going to get him right before the line or right after the line.

It turned out to be right before the line, I came tearing past at as fast a speed as I may ever go on a cross bike on flat ground, I might have even had it in that stupid 48x11 I basically never use. I didn't deserve the place since he easily could've had it, but that just made it better.

I was thinking that I was probably just inside the top 20 until I saw the results. 16th freaking place! Missed one of my season goals by just five seconds...damn you, Thom Parsons! That could've been my Verge point, if not for your freakish legs. I'll make you a deal -- you can ride my geared bike in the UCI race next time. That cool?

Chainbiter 9.0 Race Report

The sine wave that is my cross season continued at Chainbiter. High in Maine, low at Gloucester, high in Bennington... means low at Chainbiter.

Things got off on the wrong foot when I ate it super-hard during the preride trying to show Zank and Ronnie how real mountain bikers deal with off-camber descents. Apparently they deal with it by going in too fast, crashing, knocking the wind out of the themselves and bruising their ribs. Who knew?

Thanks to the miracle of the human body, the true pain from this endeavour wouldn't hit me for a few hours, so I still made it to the (freezing) start line in race mode. Then we got delayed because of ambulances, for the 3rd time in my short career... there's just something about the race before B men that leads to ambulance trips.

Anyway, ten minute delay, everyone gets cold(er), we reform and it's go time. I'm in the 5th row or so and it's a tough uphill clip-in. I get it on the first attempt, get halfway through the pedal stroke and WHAM, Scott Rosenthal falls straight across my handlebars and I'm on the ground before I know what happened. It wasn't his fault but it doesn't matter, I'm on the ground and everyone else is gone in a flash. I try to remount and find out that everyone else is not, in fact, gone, because Ryan Rumsey is on the ground behind me and has his foot stuck in my spokes. He makes a very effective anchor so I have to let him get untangled before I can ride.

I get down to the right-hander off the pavement in time to make contact with the back of the pack. It's already 70+ riders strung out so I'm pretty much screwed, but I'm not going down without a fight. I fight through dense traffic all the way through the sand and up the climb, down on to the field... I've probably gotten 20 places back now. On the far side of the field though, disaster strikes.

I was riding impatiently, being too aggressive, and I ended up lapping wheels with another guy on the high side of the far off-camber section, just before the sharp left back down onto the field. He swings uphill to set up for the corner because he doesn't know I'm there and I have to go uphill to avoid him, which unfortunately points me directly into a hefty tree branch. There's nothing I can do except grab the bars hard and hope I can ride through it.

I can't. The branch is huge and my bars twist, and then I'm just flying through the air, landing on my chest, sliding down to the turn on the grass, sliding long enough to think to myself, "wow, I'm really sliding quite a ways here." Nick Bartow narrowly avoids breaking my ankles as I lie briefly on the racing line.

This time, I can tell that I'm done fighting. I walk glumly back to retrieve my bike as the tail end of the field passes me. I start riding again and pass, guess who, Ryan Rumsey, who has just broken his chain and is having just as bad a day as I am.

After that I'm basically riding for fun. I killed the sand a couple of times and managed to ride the runup once. I slowly move through the back thrid of the B's, working surprisingly hard as the laps go on. With one to go I pass a guy who stays with me... I am not pleased. I wish to assert my dominance on the backmarkers without being challenged, dammit!

He sits on my wheel for the whole lap. A couple times I gap him in the turns but he's awfully resilient about getting back on terms on the straights. I bobbled the runup royally and we head into the last minute neck-and-neck. I'm hoping that he will let me lead out the uphill sprint, I like my chances there, but after a lap of wheelsucking he has the audacity to try to jump me in the sand pit!

Goddammit I am not losing 40th freaking place in the sand!

He gets close but I still have the line over the curb, one last 180 and then an all-out sprint. I almost lose it on the paved corner, there's a little chirp as both tires slip a bit, but somehow I stay up and frantically sprint home for 40th... out of 59.

Ugh. It's funny how one moment of bad luck and one bad decision makes you want to write off a whole season of cross.

Tomorrow is NoHo, which people say is less technical than Chainbiter, so I'm guess the sine wave will continue...

Who's the alpha Colin now?


I pretended the whole race the people cheering for Colin were yelling at me.

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