Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wicked Creepy Cross Race Report

Whew. You know it's been an ugly week when I can't get Sunday's report up until Thursday. I actually considered skipping this report entirely, but blogging is like bike racing -- once you drop out once, it gets easier and easier each time after that.

All you people with dead blogs out there know what I'm sayin.

So, Wicked Creepy Cross! Last year's course was totally awesome so they brought it back virtually unchanged. In fact, the only thing that changed was the sand pit -- last year it was pretty short and pretty hardpacked. This year it was twice as long, with a 90 degree turn, and an inch of rain overnight turned it into a wet sand pit.

You might think that a wet sand pit would pack down and become a piece of cake, but you'd be wrong. Dead wrong. This was without question the hardest sandpit I've ever faced. Normal, dry sand is light and fluffy. A motivated rider can plow through it at will, churning through it a flurry of flying sand, like a breaching whale. Wet sand does not act like this. It's soft enough to sink you several inches deep, and hard enough to not get out of the way. It doesn't matter how fast you come in, it doesn't matter how hard you try to stay in the someone else's rut, by the end of the pit you will be putting out 400 watts to move at 3 mph.

It was brutal. Just the way it should be.

The NYCROSS scene is very heckle-oriented, so I skipped a serious warmup to watch Linnea and MegA race and shout increasingly stupid things at them on the runup. Linnea and Kate Northcott rode together at the front for a bit until Linnea "threw up in her mouth" (that's hot) and Kate kind of rode away. My cheers of "please wait for my girlfriend" were not enough to get her back in contact so she ended up second. Boo-hoo.

Then it was time for my race, 60 minutes of pain at the hands of Matt White and friends. We had 19 starters so I only needed to beat 4 people for a $10 payday (woohoo! 40% of my entry fee!) but the field was stacked, as I looked around at the start I realized there definitely weren't 4 people here that I can say I always beat.

I thought I was going pretty hard up the hill at the start, but when we slowed a bit a few people came around me, more than I even realized were behind me. A quick check confirmed that 100% of the people behind me were now in front of me. Marvelous.

The course gets the majority of its power sections from short, punchy climbs, so passing was painful no matter where you did it. I settled in at the back and started moving up slowly, making most of my places with the apex-early-and-sprint-for-the-next-corner move. A steady ride up the ranks had me in 13th when I finally got some clear space.

There was a dude from Syracuse Velo or something 10-15 seconds ahead of me, and since I had been chewing up the spots in front of me I figured I would bridge across to him next. Two more laps of hammering and improving my lines on the corners got me almost there, and a final sprint up the start climb got me to his wheel. Alright. Gap has been closed, rest a bit, then move on, right?

Right... the first problem was that a course this twisty doesn't allow for much drafting, so I wasn't exactly resting. The second problem was that I had overestimated my awesomeness (a common problem, when your awesomeness is as negligible as mine) and was now sitting deep in the hurt box with five laps to go.

I took the lead to show him who was boss. Five seconds later he passed me back.

I noticed with some consternation that he was riding pretty fast, which is strange, because I had just caught him. Then I noticed he had a lead of a few bike lengths, which was even stranger, because I was supposed to be sitting on his wheel. Then we got to the runup and I realized he had put ten seconds on me in the last two minutes and it was time to go straight to damage control mode.

And man, did I control that damage! I had a 30-40 second lead on James Morrison behind me at this point so it should have been pretty easy to roll in 13th, but he started chipping away at it immediately. How many seconds did I lose that lap? How far back is he? Why can I not do division while racing?? I tried frantically to figure out if I could hold him off until the end.

Then I realized that if I just dug into the proverbial suitcase of courage, I would be fine, no math required. So I hurt really bad for a few laps. It worked enough that I felt like trying to ride the 3-step runup on the last lap:

I was not successful. But I hung on to 13th anyway.

For a cooldown I drove to Albany and got on a plane to Los Angeles. Then I got sick.

Am I making excuses for Northampton already? You betcha.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Double PSA

A quick midweek post while I'm attending a conference!

PSA #1: There's a Wednesday night training race at Harvard these days. I don't really get into the whole training race thing, because MORE INTENSITY isn't exactly what I'm after when I'm doubling up every weekend. But a lot of people love that stuff, and someone sent me a cool graphic, so check it out:

PSA #2: Northampton Verge is pre-reg only. This is a calculated move on their part, I guess, because knowing the entire contents of your race fields before the day of the race is a good think. On the other hand, everyone who makes the reasonable assumption they can reg day-of gets totally screwed over. You might argue that everyone who is serious will prereg to get a good callup, which means you forgot about people with series points or in the UCI categories.

Personally, I think it's kind of a dick move, but whatever, it's their race and they can do what they want. The important point is, if you aren't registered for Noho by midnight Thursday, you ain't racin'.

Monday, October 27, 2008

MRC Cross Race Report

MRC Cross Seat Cam Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

After a few rides with the seat cam, I've been getting a variety of jokers mugging for the camera while staging/riding behind me. Hey man -- whatever encourages people to get behind me.

Saturday's MRC cross race in Wrentham had especially good seat cam potential because no one fast preregistered, gifting me an ill-deserved front row start spot. Adding to the excitement was a $120 crowd prime (preem? preme? I hate spelling that word) for winning the first lap. Two years ago I saw Mark McCormack and Justin Spinelli have a huge crash going for the crowd prime here, so knew it was going to be exciting. My plan was to get off the line as fast as possible and see where I was after half a lap -- then, if the front seemed reachable, go for broke.

Much to my chagrin I lined up in the deepest sand available on the front row, and it looked like I might not get an opportunity to ruin my race on the first lap when I started a bit shakily. But, #2 seed and serious prime contender Gavin Mannion ate it big time exiting the dirt road start and just like that, I was up to 5th. Let's do this thing.

Over the barriers and into the backstrech it started to get strung out. Curtis Boivin was going after the first lap pretty fiercely but some of the guys behind him were taking a more long-term view of the situation. As a result, he quickly started riding off the front and it seemed like the whole thing might be pretty anticlimactic.

But then, Pat Goguen got to work, and he was most certainly only worrying about lap one. We took off at Mach Unsustainable on the doubletrack, weaving through Hunter P and Todd R who were riding "smart" instead of "greedy." Pat's insane effort dragged us all the way back to Curtis' wheel and left him hurting even more than me, I think.

Over the smaller barriers it was just me, Pat and Curtis on the front, we all went for the early remount and riding up the hill. I got clipped in fast and back on the pedals, I thought everything was cool -- then, out of nowhere, Manny Goguen comes running up next to me.

Oh haaaaaail no, no 16-year-old is running past me and taking my money, I thought. He was running fast. I was basically in a full sprint over the top to close the door on him, and I realized that I was going deep into the red and my race was basically going to end after this lap.

Better make it count.

I flipped out and passed Pat and Curtis. I wasn't even pretending to be racing a full race, the finish line was at the end of lap and I was doing a 6-minute interval to get there. Coming into the big log of doom I was going crazy fast, Tim Johnson fast, it's really hard to handle a bike at that speed when you never practice. I knew if I tried to ride the log and blew it I'd never live it down so I dismounted, running like crazy, almost losing control of the bike as I put it down. Luckily my attack had gained me a few bike lengths so Curtis couldn't come around there, two hairpins to go and I knew I had it.

Two more full gas sprints out of the corners and I was $120 richer... and completely blown. The packslide started immediately. Curtis, Pat, Manny, Hunter, Toby, Brad, who knows who else, they all went streaming by. I was riding so slowly it was practically dangerous, I was a little old lady, cluelessly doing 45 in the left lane on the Mass Pike with guys in Beamers swerving around her flippin the bird.

Ok, so it was a wee bit dangerous, but I had no idea what was about to happen... I believe this is how it went down:

We were going 15-20 mph and Adam Sullivan swung out to pass me. He hit a rock, hard, and got knocked off balance and onto his top tube. Losing control, he swerved into me. As he was coming up from behind I never knew he was there -- until he hit me. I had just enough time to think "this makes no sense" as I bounced off him and headed straight for a tree.

My front wheel hit the tree, destroying it (the wheel, not the tree), I shot straight over the bars, taking a fair amount of skin off my thigh on the stem, luckily avoiding the tree with my shoulder and flying through the air to land on my back.

Adam went down pretty hard as well, he didn't have any trees to break his equipment on but he did have plenty of gravely dirt to surf on. The whole thing was gnarly enough that Todd Rowell, who was right behind it, locked his brakes up to see if we were alright.

I think the first thing I was said was "I'm alive."

I lay on my back for a while, alternating between saying "ohhhhhhhh" and "I'm ok" as racers kept asking about us. Then I realized that maybe I should actually try moving everything instead of assuming that being conscious meant I was ok. Other than some bruises and losing some skin off my inner thigh though my shorts (ouch) I was completely fine.

After a good 5 minutes of sitting on the ground we walked out, just in time to hit the crowd of panicked race organizers running down the course to find us as they got increasingly grim reports of the carnage in the woods. Rob from Minuteman said to me, "I got some wheels in the pit."

At this point the leaders came through again, putting me one lap down. I looked at him quizzically.

"I think you might have to finish to get the money" he said.

Oh, you bastards. I had trouble believing they wouldn't have given me the money after what happened, but the more I thought about it the more doing some riding seemed like a good idea. I took Rob's 40 psi clincher and rolled off, almost a lap behind last place.

Needless to say, the rest of the race was pretty uneventful, as even when I caught people that only meant I was back on the same lap as them, not passing for position. But, it did give me 45 more minutes of riding before having to come to grips with how sore I was going to be. And somehow I beat someone after all that, I hope for his sake he had a mechanical too.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

MRC Cross Race Seat Cam Crash Video

The seat cam jinx continues. I'll elaborate later, but other than a taco'ed front tubular (it really sucks to be my mechanic) everyone and everything was ok.

MRC Cross Race Seat Cam -- Crashing Out from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh dear

I'm kind of wishing I didn't click the confirmed riders link on this one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Canton Videos

I put the rest of the Canton footage up. There's not too much excitement there, although various people you might know get some extended face time. I added the "script" after each video so you can jump around to whatever you want to see... and I also edited out the sections with no one behind me.

Lap 2/3 cast of characters:
Josh J
Soren Klingsporn (DKNY crash dude)
Pete bradshaw (Hybrid bike dude)
Todd Rowell (crashed in front of me)
Scott Dolmat-Connell (Metlife dude)

Laps 4-7 cast:
Scott Dolmat-Connell
Pete Smith (Cambridge bikes)
Robbie King softpedaling (Rite Aid kit)
Robbie King smoking us
Brian Hughes (blue fastsplits kit)
Guenter Hofer (at the very end)

I'm in Toronto this week, the flying home to race on the weekend, then flying to Los Angeles (out of Albany so I can race Wicked Creepy) for the next week, then back for the Noho VERGE. This will be by fifth week on the road in the last 10.

So I'm just saying, if my form falls off a cliff at some point, I won't be especially surprised.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Canton Cup Race Report

Canton Cup 1/2/3 Men Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

After spending 4 hours Saturday pounding stakes and carrying barriers around at Canton, then riding a few hot laps, you might think that gave me some kind of advantage, physical or psychological. But you'd be wrong, because I'm a weenie, so I was physically beat and mentally scarred after realizing I spent an afternoon building a course that was horribly suited to me. "It's like a mile of pavement per lap!," I whined.

Still though, it's a bike race, and my mental state had actually come around quite a bit by Sunday afternoon. It was cold (40's) and windy (gusting to 40s?), and I decided this would be a good race to practice "riding smart" or "riding in a group" or whatever you want to call the sort of mid-race cooperation I normally ignore. We had 40 or so racers, great turnout for a non-Verge elite race, with a good range of skill -- from Jesse Anthony, to some chill bros who I lapped. A group for every speed!

Much to PvB's excitement I was rocking the seat cam again, unfortunately instead of 110 B men behind me it was more like "6 dudes" behind me coming off the pavement. No matter, it's a 60 minute race, the last thing I want is to get into a group that's going too fast, then I might "hurt a lot" and "do well."

The power sections were numerous but I did capture a sweet crash-and-roll on one of the few tough corners from the guy who went on to beat me by one place, check the video at 2:55. We got to the deceptively technical bike path and the pace heated up, I was going full gas, watching the wheel in the front of me and completely forgot how hard the first right hander on the path would be at race speed -- five bushes and three lost places later, I had new respect for that one (3:35 in the video).

I kept dropping places on the uphill off the bike path, it bottlenecked really hard and everyone else started running. I brilliantly decided to conserve energy by not dismounting, and there went another two places. The seat cam reveals at this point there were not many -- if any -- people still behind me.

After the mini-barriers (ridden!) the course gets tighter so I couldn't make any places, so as we hit the runup back to the track I was still about 5 places from last, and the assembled crowd let me hear their disappointment quite clearly. Buoyed by cheers and adrenaline I foolishly put the hammer down on the track and started grabbing places while trying to ride with my chest on my down tube. This maneuver ended up hurting a lot, but it did give the lean, mean, green, lyme-disease-recovering machine a wheel to chase around the track (7:10).

With a lap in the books Cort came through to add some more power, I don't remember what group we
were trying to catch but I do remember it hurting a lot. Some early use of the pain face kept me on his wheel, but I could tell this was going to be a rough next 50 minutes.

Cort pulled away after a bit and I spent the next two laps chasing him, it seemed like every time I'd see him in the next group up the road, I'd go hard to bridge there and right as I made contact he'd ride off the front again. I kind of hit my stride doing the bridge-rest-bridge-rest racing through laps 3-5, so I eventually reeled Cort in and tried to tell him (in that typical mid-race idiotic conversation way) that I was not enjoying chasing him around. He responded with a mean pull on the bike path that got us nearly onto the next group, containing Guenter Hofer and some other dudes.

By now we were reaching the just-hang-on stage of the race, though, so simple things like "stay on that group" were pretty tough, as a result of some fast pulls from a guy in a tri team kit (shocking!) Cort and I both got gapped again. I figured I owed him one so I put in possibly the first recorded pull of my life on the bike path to try to get us back on. It kind of worked, we didn't get there but we were close enough that I made contact by riding the mini barriers.

From here on out I was focused on clinging to the wheel in front of me for the last two laps. We ended up forming a group of five (Guenter,Brian aka "the tri kit guy," Soren who crashed on lap one, myself and some guy in a Rite Aid kit). Unbeknownst to me, Cort got gapped during this process and got left in the wind alone, which led to the end of our shit-talking times together. Also unbeknownst to me, the "dude in a Rite Aid kit" was Robbie King, who was back here screwing around for unknown reasons. On the last lap he decided he wanted to ride away instead of winning the five-up sprint (which he also could have done quite easily) and attacked. This was a big old hurt sandwich for the rest of us as sticking with attacks by (former?) road pros isn't exactly something I do regularly. After a minute of frantic full throttle chasing our group was shattered and he was gone.

I was still kind of with Guenter and Soren, but the gaps were getting big. Guenter seemed even more blown than I was, so I went past and tried to bridge across one last time, I got to Soren's wheel but it was too big an effort to survive at the 60 minute mark. I had reached the awesome cramping-calves-while-running stage of fatigue, so when he dropped the hammer on the plane of pain (aka "the track") I folded like a cheap shirt,eventually rolling in six seconds back in 20th.

It turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting because of all the group riding -- a 60 minute TT on that course would have been murder. I've mostly come around on Canton -- it's a classic, right? Even if it's a stupid classic. Heck, it's our stupid classic. See you next year.

Linnea couldn't repeat her 2nd from New Gloucester the day before, and was forced to settle for 4th after a crash. My sympathy for someone who won enough prize money over the weekend to swim in it was minimal, but I gave it my best effort. You know how those pros are, head cases, the lot of 'em.

Addendum: After two laps I was riding behind Pete Bradshaw going onto the track and someone said to me "use him like a Kleenex." That's awesome, whoever that was.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's do it Internet!

Hi Internet.

I need a favor.

So part of being on a team is that everyone once in a while I have to "contribute" to the "cycling community." We all know this is stupid, because really -- screw bikers. I can't think of any reason why I should help run a cross race, can you?

Anyway. Saturday I have to go help build the Canton Cup course. My primary function will be to talk people out of anything resembling a straightaway ("why not put the finish line in a chicane? seriously, why not??") and dump water on the corners when people aren't looking.

This is all well and good, but it means I can't go race at New Gloucester on Saturday. Here's where the favor comes in, internet. I need you to go race for me. Because this race rocks, and lots of people should be there. I was hoping to be part of "lots of people," but I can't.

Here's some incentive.

Pro 1/2/3 Elite Women 45 minutes 1:00 PM $25 $500/8
Pro 1/2/3 Elite Men 60 minutes 2:00 PM $25 $1000/15

Yeah, that's right, 15 deep in Elite Men. And $1000 isn't chump change, that's gonna to pay 15th place $20 or something. And being up in Maine, the Elite race is gonna have 20 people in it. If you're a Cat 3 scrub (you have no idea how badly I want to make that link to someone's blog), you can still GET PAID in this race. Heck even Ryan got paid here last year, and I think he got lapped.

If money doesn't do it for you, how about an appeal to your emotions?

They're wicked good guys up they-ah, this is the last surviving cross race in Maine! This year they're going up against Mansfield and giving out tons of money. If they don't get a good turnout, they might pull the plug on one of the best cross courses out there!

Do it for your Maine crosser brethren. They drive down here every weekend to play with you.

Not sold? You're cold and heartless and would rather see cross become nothing but races in downtown Boston because you don't want to drive, even though gas is basically free these days??

Let's go to the videos of one of the funnest courses around.

And don't forget a true classic:

You should watch that one even if you live in Kansas and skipped the rest of this post.

Come on internet. Don't let me down.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gloucester Day 1 Race Report

Somewhere in the mess of seat cams and sliced tubulars I never really got around to writing up the race report. You might think to yourself "isn't 25 minutes of video enough of a race report?," which means you're new around here. We can easily supplement that with 1000 or so words! Plus, the seat cam doesn't actually give much perspective on what's happening to me, since as everyone knows the race is in front of you, not behind you.

If you watch the lap one video you'll hear a LOT of metal-on-metal slapping when I start, that's the sound of me missing the clip-in about 8 times and even slipping off the pedal once. That's why people started going around me. What happened was that they gave us the 15 second warning, then Ryan started yelling, I got distracted and then the whistle came super early. It was the least prepared I've ever been for a start... live and learn.

Anyway, once clipped-in I was in full afterburner/panic mode so I got back into the top 10 or so into the grass. The plan was to stay in the top 15 on lap one (a lot easier when you're starting on row 1!) so I tried to stay calm and ride as efficiently as possible, of course, that lead to losing some places as other, less-calm people went hammering by to the front.

Nevertheless I was hanging in around 10th when I tried to ride the sand in traffic on lap one, yeah, that was a great idea that cost me about 3 places. Luckily traffic was so dense that I just slipped back into line after than and stayed connected to the leaders in around 12th wheel.

The problem with being connected to the leaders in 12th place, in a race your only goal was "top 15," is that you are far too satisfied. Look at me, I'm only 5 seconds out of first! Hooray! 12th place is totally great!

Then you race for two more laps and suddenly realize that the elastic has snapped ahead of you, twice, and you are now in chase group 2. I need to take my own often-cheered advice of "move the F up" instead of playing the just-happy-to-be-here game on the back.

So that was that, I'm not manly enough to ride back into contention on a course like Gloucester so I was racing for 10th or so. Unbeknownst to me Colin Murphy was all over my wheel (yellow kit, if you watched the videos) so there was an incredible amount of fan "support" going to us since you couldn't really cheer for him without cheering for me. Even the guy who tried to cheer for Murphy by yelling "Go Holmes" was thwarted because that's my middle name, too.

Actually let's stop for a minute and think about this, Colin Murphy and I share the same first and middle names, neither of which are especially common. Does this creep anyone else out? No? Just me?

Back to the action. After five laps of enduring sufferation I had finally yo-yo'ed Colin off my wheel, and when Pat Goguen dropped his chain and dude-in-gray fell dismounting on the barriers I finally reached solo status. Ahead of me was Cat 2 road POWERHAUS Brian L so it was going to be an uphill battle to gain any more places.

With one to go I was still hanging five or more seconds off him so I went all out up the pavement, I was going so hard (or being so outwardly dramatic...) that Alex thought I was shaking my head at her when she cheered for me. I still wasn't on his wheel so I dug one more time on the grass climb before the seawall... closed the gap to one second or so... then, on the twisty descent, "that thing that happens to me occasionally," happened.

I choked on my own phlegm.

Maybe this is just my problem. Sometimes, when I'm a little sick, or it's cold (skiing), or dusty (Gloucester) I get a little phlegm going in the throat during intense aerobic efforts. And every once in a while, some of it gets sucked down my windpipe as I'm gasping for air and plugs it.

The leads to getting ZERO OXYGEN for a second, which is terrifying, and then having to breath even harder, which can lead to it happening again...

So I started choking and not being able to breath, which was scary as hell, and also made Brian look back and realize that I was in "a spot of bother" and made him attack me on the seawall. Which I thoroughly approve of, because this is cross, not a tea party, and you can be nice to each other afterward.

After getting some oxygen back to my brain I kind of lost the competitive edge for a bit, and by the time it was back the race was nearly over. I laid down an all out sprint for no apparent reason on the road at the end which was good enough to earn me the same time as Brian... but only because he sat up because he knew he had it.

The final result was 9th, due to two people in front of me breaking stuff (Guenther and Todd). Compared to last year's sufferfest just to make the top 45, I'm pretty satisfied.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gloucester Day 2 Race Report

The course was toughened up for day two, thanks to more sandy corners and a gnarly runup. After a confidence-boosting 9th on Day one. I thought I could hang with the lead group and was determined to stay in the first five wheels on lap one.

I got a better start, but not as good as someone toward the center of the line. Ten seconds into the race they started cutting to the inside, which made James Tosca drift over into my bars, then off, and then back again. His rear quick release was heading for my front spokes so I did a *tiny* brake-tap while sprinting to let him get by...

Bam, rear-ended, James Patterson from UVM's (I think) front brake (I think ... watch the video) slices my rear tubular and that's the end of that.

It was 0.8 miles to the pit. Running 6-7 minutes just to maybe not finish DFL did not seem worth it. I jumped the fence and headed out on the course to scream at people I usually race against.

Warning: Video contains profanity.

Gloucester Day 2 Lap One from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gloucester Day 1 Laps 2-4 Seat Cam

The setup. Photo by Ryan K.

Featuring Colin Murphy: Human Yo-yo.

Also starring Brian Lawney, Todd Burns, Ryan Rumsey, with brief guest appearances from Hunter Pronovost, Sean Mannion, Don Snoop, James Patterson.

Some highlights are the lap two sand pit (which I should not have ridden), and the lap four crash.

Gloucester 2/3 Men Seat Cam Lap 2 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Gloucester Day 1 Seat Cam Lap 3 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Gloucester 2/3 Men Seat Cam Lap 4 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gloucester Day 1 Lap 1 Seat Cam

I'm still trying to figure out what to do with 1.3 GB of seat cam video, but here's lap one, tentatively titled "Gloucester Lap One: The Pat Goguen Story."

Gloucester Cyclocross Seat Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Got a bunch of assorted stuff kicking around. Might have reached the blog-able threshold...

1) Where the hell are Eco Cross results? I realize I might be biased, but I'm not the only guy out there who craves results after the weekend. There's a reason crossresults traffic is out of control on a Monday.

I'll try not to get into trash-promoters-without-understanding-anything mode here, but the last step in running a successful race (from a racer's perspective) is getting results posted in a timely manner. Somebody is dropping the ball, that's for sure.

2) I have a new bike. This was made possible by the good folks at International Bikes, who moved this carbon fiber, Rival-equipped machine into my price range. I will try to repay them for this generosity by winning some races (ha!), or at least crashing with my jersey logo prominently displayed in front of Richard Fries.

The bike is so radically different from the old compact-frame (not that there's anything wrong with that) Giant that the jury's still out on how much better it is. The top tube is a good 4 inches higher than the old bike, which means relearning how high to lift the bike over barriers. It also means easier shouldering (whee) and a much tighter standover height. Is short standover an issue, though? This seems like one of those things you worry about when you're buying a Huffy. You should never straddle the bike while racing anyway, so if you do -- you're doing it wrong.

The steering is also different, probably because of the head tube angle, or straight-blade fork, or gratuitous amounts of carbon fiber. Damned if I know. It took like 10 seconds to get used to.

You might think this sounds like a lukewarm review -- and that's because I'm trying to be objective instead of just acting like a teenybopper at a boy band show. Make no mistake -- that's exactly how I feel when I look at this thing. But if the entire content of this blog post was "OMG RIDLEY!! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE *gasp* EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE," that would be a departure from my usual standards. I think.

3) A dude I almost kind of know has been racing some cross at the end of triathlon season. His account of Sucker Brook B's was pretty amusing. Cross is hard. If you enjoy people from other painful sports commenting on how hard your sport is, you should read it. If you don't enjoy knowing that you're getting worked over in 3/4's by a triathlete who knows nothing about cross, you might not like it so much.

4) The Hup United rumor mill says there's going to be a new runup off the seawall at Gloucester this year. Now, add someone raking the sandpit between races (would this be UCI legal?) to make it actually difficult to ride and you've got yourself a proper cross course instead of a grass crit, I say.

I have a front row start in B men at Gloucester, thanks to Vermont Day 1. If you want to see what pure f-ing terror looks like, watch my face when they give us the 15 second warning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Eco Cross Race Report

The weekend of October 4th/5th had a strange feature to it for an October weekend in New England -- only one cross race. If you wanted to race Saturday, you had to drive to New York. If you're a small promoter going up against an established race, or a great race in Maine going up against a great race in Connecticut, Saturday would have been a great way to snag a good turnout.

It's kind of a shame that there's not an organizing body that helps promoters schedule this kind of thing. I'll bet you an entry fee the Downeast CX guys did not intend to put their race up against Mansfield, but they probably had to commit to the venue before schedules were posted.

But let's not get too off track here. Sunday I headed to the cape and eco cross as it was the only show in town -- and I wasn't the only guy with this idea. The Cat 4 race was something like 80 riders, big enough they had to split it in half.

Playing the role of "gas money" was Ryan K who managed to put his bike on my car before the light turned green in front of North Station. Unfortunately it was last pro thing he was going to do all day.

I made my own not-pro move by skipping the morning forecast check, after all if it was "partly cloudy" 48 hours ago there's no reason to check the doppler, right? The closer we got to the venue the more I had to use the wipers, and by the time Cat 4's were done a steady rain had started. I huddled inside the covered pavilion next to the barriers (yeah, this course is pretty cool) and did my best to avoid warming up and stayed dry.

Linnea continued to play the role of "meal ticket" and scored a 4th in elite women's race

Linnea enjoying pushing a 42x25 low gear through slick uphill mud...quality photo from Rob Bauer

After the women's race ended I jumped on the course to get a nice "hot lap" warmup in, unfortunately after a minute of hot-lapping I came to start line and found 25 dudes already lined up. Not being a Verge race there was nothing I could do but line up behind them all and wonder how exciting the first singletrack bottleneck was going to be.

We got delayed another 15 minutes for the kids race so everyone was good and cold. Then we started with a very intense holeshot. Through liberal use of Bostonian driving techniques I somehow picked off a good 15 people through the first three corners via the late merge. Everyone was busy braking for the sketchy opening descent and lining up single file, I just rode around the outside with my blinker on in my BMW and then jumped in at the last possible second.

I was still miles away from the front and mired in traffic going over the barriers, but hey, it's a 60 minute race. Soon after a Cambridge bikes guy who had ridden the 4 race (McKittrick?) discovered that the course had slicked up considerably since then and did a spectacular laydown on the next corner. I spent the rest of the lap riding people's wheels and darting by whenever possible. I felt like I was making good progress off the back row but the Garmin still said lap one was the slowest (6:40) so... don't start on the back row, kids.
Entering the pavilion/barriers on lap one

Over the barriers again Matt Myette said to me "Cary's 13 seconds up," and if there's anything to keep you motivated it's news like that. I picked it up for a 6:26 lap and then a 6:21 to catch him, and thought, ok, now I can rest a bit. It sounds stupid, but it's true. Beating Cary is the #1 reason to race bikes, ask anyone.

The inevitable mid-race lull happened -- between minutes 20 and 40 of an hour cross race I always end up backing off a bit. The start adrenaline is gone and the finish adrenaline isn't there yet. So I stalled out in my climb up the standings for a bit, although a I did pick up a place when the guy ahead of me crashed, I crashed trying to avoid him, and then grabbed my bike off the ground faster. Ha-ha!

I also took an opportunity to pull a Tim Johnson and ditch the gloves. It's getting to be a mental block for me to race with gloves ever since I had a great race at Noho when I didn't use them. Something about having my skin right on the rubber of the hoods just feels better. Gosh, that sounds dirty. This is going to be a problem in about a month, but for now, I'm diggin' it.
It's not being vain if the picture's really good, right? Photo from Matt

Glove-free and seeing the lap cards dropping, I found a second wind and picked it up. I realized that I could ride the uphill sand pit, which was a bit faster but most importantly was one less time per lap I had to try to clip in with shoes packed with mud and sand. I caught the Petes from Cambridge Bikes at the sand pit and went super hard up the climb in an extremely painful show of strength... the last thing I wanted was to end up in a group with two guys on the same team.

During the closing laps I started lapping people from the internet left and right. They were all in too much oxygen debt to call me a sandbagger, which is too bad. In return for this courtesy I will not mention their names, except Ryan Kelly, who told me that it was the "gayest thing ever," and then dropped out.

Even though I was lapping up a storm I was still barely hanging on the lead lap -- Mr 10th-at-World-Juniors Keough was destroying the field and getting closer and closer to me at the clock ticked down. I ended up escaping by a mere 30 seconds -- that kid is gonna win a World Cup someday. You heard it here not-first.

I ended up in pulling out an 8th, with nothing but true heavy hitters (instead of faux-heavy-hitters like me) ahead, so I've got nothing to complain about. Third overall was Kevin Hines, age 48, in his second race of the day -- so yeah, he's much better than I am at this sport.

Ryan dropped out so he could be the loudest guy in the pavilion on the last lap. Hidden by the sign: his beer.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What the Myerson

Where the hell is my confirmed riders link?!

Half the fun of hitting refresh frantically at 9:59 is rubbing my front row start in other people's faces. NOW WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!

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