Saturday, October 31, 2009

Canton Cup Race Report

You can only count on three things in life: death, taxes, and the Canton Cup being windy.

At least this year it was warm and windy. Instead of hypothermia, I finished the race with a pounding headache. Said headache was temporarily improved by drinking the only liquid available at the Said headache has returned, as I type this.

I am generally not super-excited about Canton, what with the mile of pavement and all, but this edition of Canton had me STOKED because I was running dual Flip cams for the first time. That's right, nearly a pound of camera was attached to my bike, thanks to man hands Jerry. With both forward and rear views, I was sure to capture at least one amusing incident.

Two Cameras! Sore back! [ uri ]

I got to the race four hours early (IBC co-promotes it, so I was volunteering) and of course, with that kind of buffer I was bound to be the last guy to the start line. I squeezed in ahead of Thom "hipster costume" Parsons on the third row and prepared to create gigs of video.

I started pretty decently when we were on pavement but became inexplicably skittish on the fire road soon after. I couldn't really see anything, so I was scared of hitting a rock. This makes no sense since I was riding freaking tubulars, and I managed to hit a rock so hard a few weeks ago that I knocked my bars out of my hands.... without flatting.

So dudes that wanted it kinda pushed in around me, which was fun from a video perspective. We were in tight (in both the literal and slang sense) traffic for a while, but then Peter Sullivan folded (not rolled) his back tire really hard in a turn and basically exploded. It made a cool farting noise, but I had to lock 'em up to avoid running him over. That opened a huge gap ahead of the crash and we got comfortably strung out trying to close it.

Eventually it came back together. The front guys were gone, but there was a 15-strong party train rolling around and obviously, I was on the back of it. Joining me in "accordion hell" at the back were Guenter Hofer and Greg Whitney.

I've raced enough cross to know that the back of a group that big is a baaaad place to be. And yet, I was having enough trouble just staying on that my legs made a plea bargain, and I decided to tailgun it for a while. Cuz maybe it will work this time!

First Greg was one wheel ahead; then two, then three. I watched him, thinking, gee, that's what I should be doing. So I passed Guenter (putting me behind only 13 other guys) and was like, phew, that was hard work. I let a gap open, Guenter came back around, and that was that.

In addition to the accordion effect, trying to stay on the back is extra hard when the group is that big because guys keep exploding and going off the back, trying to take you with them. It's like Donkey Kong throwing barrels at you, if you forget to jump one you'll end up 10 seconds off the group in no time. GAME OVER!

It should be noted that to win Donkey Kong you can just stand in place jumping barrels, you have to make forward progress. I did not apply this knowledge to the race. I just kept jumping guys who came off the back. Eventually my legs had had enough of this and a metaphorical barrel hit me in the face.

The barrel was actually me failing to ride the runup, which was stupid, because no one was riding the run up (including me). But I KNEW I COULD DO IT. And I wanted to make the crowd love me. So I stalled a few steps from the top; no problem, quick top-tube straddle and remount -- except I kicked my pedals backward, dropped the chain, and SHIT.

I had to get off and run a bit to gain speed so I could shift the chain back on. This left me 10 seconds off the back of the group (which was pretty ragtag at this point, anyway) and seriously bummin'. BUT I KNEW I COULD RIDE IT.

So the next lap, I was finally free from those pesky "drafting opportunities" and I nailed the ride up, just squeaking over the top while the crowd went wild. Several women in the crowd proposed to me. The heavens opened and a single ray of sunlight shone down, directly on me. It was so much faster than I instantly teleported into the lead of the race.

I will tell my grandkids about this. Daily. [ uri ]

Actually I saved one or two seconds and no one was especially excited, except me.

Then I TT'ed around the course for a while with Bill Kenney. Even in a group of two, I still couldn't hold a wheel to save my life. Every time he took a pull I yo-yo'ed pathetically. I rode the barriers but he passed me by running them. Glorious.

Finally Kevin's verbal abuse of me became too much, and the finish line became too close, and I attacked the shit out of myself, Bill and the last lap. Too little, too late. Kevin's final heckle was "if you had ridden this hard half an hour ago you might still have a wheel to follow." So true.

I crossed the line and Colin Murphy, already nicely recovered after finishing 7th screamed in my ear, "WHO'S THE ALPHA COLIN NOW???"

After another mediocre result I am going to do the unthinkable and take a day (!!) off. No Putney, nor Orchard Cross, for me. I will use the extra time to figure out how the heck to get some amazing picture-in-picture video edited up from Canton. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Great Face for Radio

Next time someone says to me, "I don't think you're a big deal," (this happens daily), I am going to send them to this post to correct them. Why am I a big deal, you ask? Because I was on the radio. On the internet.

You might think "oh, he means a podcast," but I assure you I don't. Podcasts are small time. Radio is big time. Do you not also gather with your family each night to listen to it? I rest my case.

(Dorky side note -- it's been exactly 61 years today since the War of the World broadcast. If you've never read about it, you should.)

So yeah, I was on a podcast, except they called it radio, because it was live, but you can listen to it later (like a podcast), which I guess a lot of people do. So if you want to hear me on the radio-cast, you can download the October 27 show from here. I make an appearance starting around the 43 minute mark. If you want to listen to the whole show in your browser, it's here, but you can't fast forward (?).

My overall impression of the experience was very mixed. Hearing it later, it's amazing to see that I was on for seven minutes; it felt like two minutes. We definitely didn't cover a lot of stuff that we could have, but on the other hand, we're mainly talking to a road cycling audience that is only dimly aware of cross. I think. I think I could have done a better job leading them with some of my responses, too. Clearly they wanted to talk about nemeses and victims, but I was unable to actually segue into it.

This talking business is hard. Hence the reason I stick to hiding behind websites. Oh, and don't get me started on the trauma of hearing your own voice played back. I don't sound like that! Do I?

To further support the idea that I am a big deal, here is current leader for "best photo of me, ever." This is the on the only fun part of the entire New Gloucester course. I'm pretty sure I had my tape-hooking incident directly after this; no surprise, look how fast I appear to be going!

It was taken by Natalia McKittrick, who has the best talent/mass ratio of any photographer in New England. If you have an important event to photograph (like, say, Thom's wedding), you should give her money to attend, the results seem quite good.

And thus endeth "the most narcissistic blog post ever, until the next one!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Downeast Cyclocross Day 2 Race Report

When we last left off, I had just finished sucking at bike racing. This was well deserved, premeditated, sucking. Granted, I didn't know on the start line that I was going to suck, but if you'd been a socioligist, hiding behind a cow, trying to write a thesis on cyclists' prerace mannerisms, you would have jotted down "guy in gray and black is going to suck."

So we needed to fix that. I had chat with the SBZ and she pointed out that I either needed to get my act together prerace, or stop racing until I cared enough to get my act together. Ouch. I tried to argue that I had my act together, and was just a victim of neverending bad luck. She was not convinced. Neither was I.

Fine. I'll get my shit together. I don't want to suck on Sunday.

10pm Saturday -- I'm in bed, after drinking four pints of water in the last two hours. Hydration is serious business. So is getting up to pee three times.

8am Sunday -- Gotta get up to eat breakfast. Why do you need to eat breakfast at 8am for a 3pm race? So you'll be hungry at noon for a real lunch. Serious business is getting up seven hours before a 1-hour race to start fueling.

10am -- Both bikes cleaned, lubed. Valve extender located, so I can use all my wheelsets no matter what pump.

11am -- on the road to the race, lunch in hand. My act is so together it hurts. No, wait, that's my bladder.

The one caveat to all this preparation was that we were racing on the same course as yesterday, only backwards. The same course that we rototilled into four inches of mud that was now drying in the sun. You can put the right fuel in me, you can make my bikes work, but you still can't make me get stoked to slog in mud.

I decided that I would preride the course and see if it met my standards for being fun enough, or at least interesting enough, that I would not automatically hate life if I was racing poorly. The early prognosis did not look good, since our promoting overlords had decided against restaking any part of the course, despite the fact that were in the middle of a giant field.

Grass sez: Bet you wish you could ride on me.

I went to go pit for Linnea and I was decidedly on the fence about racing. My bike was already destroyed, the hoses were in use, and the course was a disaster. What's the point? At least Linnea made my life easier by stubbornly refusing a pit bike until the last lap, so I was free of washing duties.

But wait! My day was turned around by the actions of a few cyclocross gods. First, Adam Myerson prerode the course, and went to have a little chat with the promoter. I assume the chat was basically "I'm on the UCI 'Cross Commission and you're not. You should restake these horrible mud bogs. Don't question me."* And boom, the course became 30% more rideable. Killer.

Then, I get back to my car and Jerry is so stoked to test out his bar cam contraption that he has not only installed it on my bike, but also cleaned the entire thing. Seriously, I left a bike with 2 lbs of mud on it, and I came back to a totally clean, lubed machine with a handlebar cam attached!

Well damn. I better race that bike.

I was positioned in the mid-rear of the pack for the first minute. Then we went down the first downhill in four to six inches of thick mud, and the race exploded. It was like everyone forgot that we were racing for 60 minutes on a course with zero drafting and decided they HAD TO MAKE THE FRONT GROUP, regardless of who else might be trying to steer a bike through this quagmire.
[ You can see the photographer taking this photo in my video. Whoa, meta. dmcewan ]

Through the glorious sound of metal-on-metal biketastrophies I wove my way up to a solidly midpack position. Despite the carnage and random reshuffling of the entire field, I still managed to end up directly behind Kevin with 58 minutes to go. Well at least that makes the rest of the race straightforward. Follow Kevin, beat Kevin, go home.

For awhile we hung out with some other dudes. Guys like Ricky and Nathaniel rode in our group, or even behind me, until they remembered how to not crash into stuff, and then we never saw them again. No matter. Kevin is right there.

Then a spectator said "24th" to me as I rode past, and that changed "everything."

Verge points go 25 deep. Money goes 25 deep. Guess who has two thumbs and hasn't scored at a Verge race all season? THIS GUY.

Ok, so instead of worrying about Kevin I need to worry about not dropping two places. I'm not sure how this changes my strategy, though. So I kept riding as fast as I could, which wasn't very fast.

I briefly passed Kevin and assumed that I was going to "totally own him," but before said owning could happen, he passed me back, so I started riding like an idiot.

First I communicated very poorly to Linnea when I wanted a pit bike, so she was at the wrong pit while I was looking around angrily for my pit crew. "I'll get a clean bike around this corner.... PSYCHE!" is not good for keeping you focused. Of course Kevin had no clean bikes at all. So this wasn't much of an excuse.

Now I'm flustered, so on the only fast part of the entire course I managed to jacknife into the tape on a corner because I'm riding too aggressively. Shit! It's in my bars, dismount, flail, yank the stake out of the ground... and I'm free! Only eight seconds lost!

Oh but wait, we better make up that time by getting overly aggressive on the sketchy downhill and riding off in the grass/rocks/trees.

Soon after that, I noticed I was starting to doink my rim on more stuff than usual. Now I generally consider the rim-doink to be a good sign that your pressure is justright, but when you start doinking it once every 10 seconds, when there's only a solid object in the mud every 20 seconds, that's a bad sign. I was pretty sure it was going flat, but for some reason I wasn't losing any ground to Kevin. Huh. It wasn't until I came down the hill before the stone wall, and instead of going "doink" it went SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAM that I knew I was riding a flat.

Of course the benefit of racing in that much mud is that the flat didn't really affect ride quality or handling at all. By the time I got to the pit to get a new bike, I was still only 15 seconds or so behind Kevin, not bad for a lap with a tape incident, off-course incident, and a flat incident!

Now free of incidents, with two laps to go, I put Kevin squarely in my sights and hit the afterburners. In only half a lap I had narrowed the gap to 14.5 seconds. Victory was inevitable.

But then, disaster struck. Justin Lindine lapped me, because he is the real deal on a bike, not some joker laden down with cameras and ideas about blogging. And suddenly, we had under half a lap to the finish line, and I still had to make up 14.49 seconds on Kevin.

So I rode really hard for another four minutes, and got the gap down to 10 seconds, so I was just close enough to see the f-ing smirk on his face when he turned the last corner and confirmed that I was too far back to sprint him to the line.


No, wait, the goal was top 25 and I finished 23rd! So I got points, money, and a good time, racing my arse off for 56 minutes. Maybe I'm not burned out... the only way to tell for sure is to do six more double weekends. Let's go!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Downeast Cyclocross Day 2 Bar Cam

Jerry has been doing good work up in his crazy Vermont enclave. As the seatcam's #1 fanboy he took it upon himself to fashion a proper handlebar mount to increase the footage that can be captured. I picked up a second flip cam with the hopes of being the king of dual-cam dorks, but it was too muddy to actually run the rear one.

Here we have lap one, in all its jerkiness. The camera mount is rock solid, make no mistake, but when you're riding in 4 inches of quagmire you tend to make a lot and handlebar movement. So the camera is all over the place, especially on the gnarly downhill that half the field crashed on.

Downeast Cyclocross Day 2 Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

When you're done watching this, you should really check out Kirt Fitzpatrick's bar cam from the same day, since he was leading the race and whatnot. He's using a GoPro wideangle camera, which does an amazing job of reducing the bar shaking with the angle. Plus the fisheye makes him look CRAZY FAST. Which just might be because he is.

Let's be honest, his video is tiiiight. I gotta raise my game before Jerry divorces me for a faster guy with better editing!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Races That Didn't Happen

I spend a fair amount of time here bragging about how I race 53 weekends a year, year after year, and I don't burnout, because I'm totally awesome.

Now I don't want to say "I was wrong," because I'm never wrong, but let's just make a little revision here.

If you race every single damn weekend, you will have zero motivation for cold, rainy mud slogs.

It's true. You can try it yourself. I just can't get into flogging myself against unrelenting mud for 60 minutes anymore, not when I know there's another, potentially less traumatic experience racing bikes just 5 days ahead. Bike handling against mud is still cool, don't get me wrong, but the pure power fests that pit you against the course? Meh. I'm not good at them, so they aren't cool. You know how it is.

So yeah, MRC Cross was over a week ago and I never wrote about it. Race morning was 45 and pouring rain. By the time the elite race started we were down to 38 degrees, pouring rain, and windy. Yup, every racer and promoter's nightmare. I got to the start late, lined up at the back, an attempted a cross race. I think the deep puddles on the rocky fire road were what broke me -- each time through, your feet got soaked in ice water, and you were rolling the dice against hitting a hidden rock.

After nearly getting my bars knocked out my hands by a rock, hitting the rim 10 times each lap, and having completely numb feet after 12 minutes, I suddenly realized that I didn't have to do this and rode off the course.

Initially I felt like a big wuss, but when I finished changing and re-emerged the parking lot was FULL of recently dropped-out racers. Still shivering, I headed back to the course to see if I could increase the "fun factor" for those foolish enough to still be riding bikes.

I yelled at Cary "IS IT FUN???" and literally one turn later he exited the course to head to his car.

"There's your answer" he mumbled through chattering teeth.

Before I could heckle anyone else into dropping out, I realized that I was still really freaking cold, so I retreated to JD's heated truck. By the end of the race, 50% of the field had DNF'ed and it was snowing. EPIC! EPICALLY SHITTY!

I wish more people who promote cross races had come to Wrentham just to be reminded what the total worst-case scenario for running a race is. Maybe then we wouldn't have four races on the same day in October. Wait, I'm one of those people who is running a race... in December... OH MY GOD.

So dropping out of MRC Cross was no big deal, but it softened me up for Saturday at Downeast, which was a UCI/Verge/BIGDEAL kind of race. It was also high 40s, raining, and increasingly breezy.

While I was warming up with the cows/Embrocation Team in the barn, Linnea was out in the rain having the best UCI finish of her career (6th). I was certainly not pitting for her, but she knows pit bikes are a sign of weakness, so it's all good. If she writes anything about it I'll link it up because it will assuredly be more positive than how my race went.

In fact -- we had better just gloss over that bit of the report -- I rode what felt like "pretty damn hard" for three laps and had absolutely nothing to show for it in far as placing. When my stupid overinflated Fangos slipped for the 80th time on a 4% incline, I got off my bike, threw it over the tape, and walked back to the car. Because quitting is PRO.

Lest you think this is a permanent turn to EMO for the blog, remember the golden rule of midweek happiness: DO NOT SUCK ON SUNDAY. This was only Saturday. It barely even happened.

[ Borderline hypothermic,Verge-point-scoring hardmen. Not pictured: me. from robot ]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dudes are coming to hang out!

I don't know if you've noticed it, New England, but there's been a steady influx of Cat 3's into the Verge Elite race this season. That's right... a grand total of four guys have moved up -- Kevin,Greg, Corey, and of course, the notorious "BW". You might think to yourself, how much do four guys really matter?

A lot.

You know how many guys upgraded from Verge B to Verge A mid-season in the last two years combined? Zero. Remember the Dylan McNicholas/James Tosca domination from the last year? Remember John Peterson, Josh Lipka and the ebay auction? It used to be that whatever guy won in B's in Vermont stuck around and won the series, and everyone who was fighting for 2nd stayed locked into B's right along with him. Hell, I know I did.

But this year it's different. And I think I know why. And, sadly, it's the one Verge series change Myerson pushed for that I didn't agree with.

When they dropped Cat 2's from the B race, it was a subtly powerful statement about what that field should be -- fast(er) guys who aren't dead serious about bike racing. Secretly, a large portion of the B field was dead serious about racing bikes (for example, me) and while we raced the 2/3 field, we waved our Cat 2 status at anyone who'd listen. See, you can get to be a Cat 3 just participating in a lot of Cat 4 races, but to be a Cat 2, man, you gotta beat people. If you're a Cat 2, you're either wicked talented, or you spend a lot of your time worrying about bike racing.

My tongue is firmly in cheek, but still, this is one of things you might outwardly joke about but inwardly believe. You wanna see how much people value their Cat 2 label, look at how many Cat 2's downgraded to Cat 3 this year. (Zero)

So, it used to be that you could have the glory of a Cat 2 license AND the glory of racing at the front of a race (2/3 Men). It was the best of all worlds -- no wonder no one wanted to upgrade.

But that little number on your license means so much, for such silly reasons. Dominating a Cat 3 field just doesn't have the same appeal, because it means (1) you're a Cat 3 and (2) you're beating Cat 3s. And if you eat/sleep/drink/breathe bike racing (like many of us do), having that little number on your license annoys the shit outta you. Because dammit, you're good, not like the rest of the riff-raff, amirite?

So here we are. Now, if you want a license that says "I'm serious business" you gotta line up with a field of guys who are also pretty serious business, and race longer and harder against guys who are faster and better than you. No more faking it in the B race.

These four guys won't be the last. There's plenty of U35 Cat 3's coming up who are pretty serious about bike racing, and vain enough to want you to know that they're good at riding a damn bike. So they'll come up as well.

I think this is a good thing. Sure, sometimes that means we have to race Pros. Sometimes we get lapped. But at least we aren't having a self-congratulatory group ride at the front of the B race, getting top 10s each week, and thinking about how we are the shit.

Instead, Tim Johnson shows up to point out that we are shit. Instead of racing for 1st, you're racing for 30th. But so what? It's still racing, as hard as you can, against guys you're competitive with. And that's the whole reason I started racing cross in the first place.

Corey, Kevin, Greg, and Brian: I'm glad you guys came to hang out. I will crush you now. Unless I don't.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mansfield Hollow Race Report

I've realized that one downside to posting a seat cam with commentary is that I already used up half of my "humorous observations" (or whatever it is I do here) and now my race report won't be as ridiculously loopy as it could be.

That's a bad thing... arguably. But, since Mansfield was the only race I finished this weekend (we'll talk about MRC in a bit), it's writin' time.

So back in the day, 2006, Mansfield Hollow was the second cross race I'd ever done. This was the year I moved to Boston in August, so I'd been back to riding a bike for all of two months and thus raced C men at 9 am. I went to an MC Frontalot concert the night before and got home drunk at 2 am. On the road at 6:45, by the time I'd filled myself with coffee and breakfast sandwiches and found the venue it was 8:45. Barely had time to get a number, didn't preride, then feebly raced around getting off my bike what felt like every 10 yards (I think it was 7 dismounts per lap that year?) and finished something like 20th/30. Luckily that was the year they lost the results, so this experience was expunged from my record.

Anyway, you can see why I quickly labeled Mansfield a "must-do" race.

Also -- and we'll get to a race report here in a bit -- I think it's time for to admit to myself that my race prep needs a bit more attention to detail. This is not news to anyone but me, but after having equipment issues in 60% of my races it's time to face the music.

Saturday's problem? Worn cleats that wouldn't stay in my pedal. I'd lost a screw in my "race shoes" at Providence to I was racing on my commuter shoes, which I'd noticed had been seeming a little loose lately. Turns out the cleats were completely infeasible for cross, especially at a place like Mansfield where you could take 2 dismounts out per lap with some hopping.

The race started. I was front row. Nailed the clip-in and went to pull up on the other pedal -- clipped out. Practically hit my face with my knee. Beautiful. So much for "settling in with the front group," time to chase for a the first lap!

[ This barrier was definitely rideable if you could stay in your pedals. ]

There was a big pile of gravel we rode over each lap, and Dave Wilcox had one of the biggest crashes I've ever seen in it on lap one. We were still wheel to wheel, and I guess someone caused him to try to change his line on the back side of it, but his front wheel turned into a gravel plow instead of steering advice, sending him over the bars and his bike skyward. Dave was already up and running as I passed, so it's alright that I immediately yelled "THAT WAS AWESOME!"

Into the twisty section of lap one I was behind Adam Sullivan, who has been antagonizing me all season with his slow cornering and Cat 1 roadie power. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that per se, except that he keeps beating me by a few places and is now official Nemesis #4.

So in between pulling out of my pedal a few times I went around Adam, put a huge gap on him, and he promptly closed it all on the big power section near the start and went around me. I doubled my wattage to stay with him. It hurt.

Then we got back to the corners and I went flying past him again and quickly opened up a gap. Then I threw most of that gap away trying to ride the sand, and then we got back to the power section and he slammed the gap shut and went past me. Again.

On lap three I changed up my plan and decided not to pass Adam, since it was pretty clear he'd be coming back to me after the corners anyway. This worked, in that I was SUPER RECOVERED by riding slowly in the corners, but I needed every ounce of that recovery to hold his wheel for the damn straightaways.
[ Cornering fast is hard work, see? ]

That didn't seem any better than attacking the corners and getting caught, and was less fun, so I went back to the former plan on lap four. This time I actually cleaned the sand so I still had a pretty healthy gap coming into the barriers, and I was definitely thinking I could maybe hold him off for the rest of the lap and have "gotten away." Unfortunately I had been tightening my pedal release tension prerace (an exercise in futility, because I pulled out 15 times in the race anyway) and got hung up for a split second in my left pedal in the barriers.

We all know how that went.

Let me deflect the inevitable "see this is why you need to pre un-clip" comment: I've been racing cross for four seasons now and this is the first time I've been stuck in a pedal. It was also the first time I've ever tightened my release tension directly before a race. Lesson learned.

So, blowing my entire gap with a massive crash was a pretty big blow. I rode like an angry man for a lap and closed all the way back up to Adam on the twisties -- but this meant I was gassed and had no cushion for the power section, so I got gapped big-time while McKittrick cheered something like "I would prefer that you don't get gapped big time here."

I could never really catch Adam after that, I'd close up ever-so-close at the end of the technical bits but never even got on his wheel long enough to get blasted off it on a power section. With the laps winding down I turned my attention to Dave Wilcox, who had been dangling 10-15 seconds behind me for most of the race.

About the time I started worrying about Dave was about when I started slowing down, or either he started speeding up. In any case, a gap that had been somewhat stable suddenly got shut down quickly, and he caught me with two to go. I sat up a bit before in preparation for throwing down, but it turns out my version of "throwing down" is "clinging to Dave's wheel for half a lap and then getting dropped."

I was feeling pretty bad about that until I looked up and realized that we'd almost caught Adam (again) and in fact, Dave was passing Adam. A lap later he was almost 20 seconds up on me. I have no idea what that guy was doing for the first seven laps (well, possibly picking gravel out of his face), but god. damn. was he flying at the end.

After being crushed by Dave, there wasn't much left to do except tempo through 1.5 more laps and call it a day. I ended up four minutes down on the winners in 8th, good enough for the last paying finish, a swag bag, and all the free hot cider I could drink.

Mansfield is a good time. You should come next year.
[ If the whole course was this rideup I would have won! ]

All photos from Alex, who also drove me to the race.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mansfield Hollow Seat Cams

Mansfield Hollow 1/2/3 Lap 1-2 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

With Linnea out of town bagging UCI points in Toronto, and no Verge results duties, I had more time than usual on Sunday night. So I put together a seat cam with music and commentary. I'd like to think it's better than the raw ones, although it sure took a lot longer.

There's also some bonus footage from me stacking it really hard on the barriers, and lapping Gewilli.

Clip out fail from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Providence Festival of Cyclocross Day 2 Race Report

So, as mentioned previously, I did not have the moxie necessary to stay on the lead lap on Saturday. That's ok. Saturday is just a warm-up for Sunday, right? Sunday is the day you have to live with for a five-day work week. If you're gonna suck, do it on Saturday.

My plan to bounce back was focused around a hotel room five minutes from the venue. This cut out 2 hours of driving (or more, knowing Boston traffic), and let me control my own sleep schedule in a way that's just not possible when you're bumming someone's floorspace. Saturday night I wrangled some of the proverbial data, had dinner with Meg and JD, and was in bed by 11. Nothing special...until I didn't get up until 9:45 AM. And even then, it was only because the hotel breakfast closed at 10.

SLEEPING A LOT IS PRO! You should try it. Assuming you're not in my field.

Another positive indicator was that Linnea had a good race right before mine. Things were lookin' up. I went to ride a hot lap and go to the start line, and suddenly... SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

(That's onomatopoeia for howling brakes)

I had brilliantly decided to swap in some nice, yellow, grabby, swiss stop pads with an hour to go, because I wanted to be able to stop my bike. Of course, my TRP brakes aren't toe-in-able and thus my awesome braking power was tempered by deafening squealing. Some people are able to block that kind of stuff out and race, but I am not one of them. With only 5 minutes until the start, I grabbed my pit bike and told Linnea my tale of woe.

Starting on the pit bike meant no seat cam, which is a real bummer because I crushed the start. The official was right next to me and I saw his cheeks expand to blow the whistle, I think I was already clipped in by the time it actually blew. I jumped the gun so perfectly I had to back off halfway through the holeshot so I didn't end up mixed in with the real fast people. Go me.

Certainly legends of New England course design had made turns #2 and #3 off the pavement tight 180s, so we bottlenecked to the aroma of brake pads. Tom Sampson decided to dive bomb the inside line of the first one (marked out by a tree), bounced off me, and then bounced off the tree. While I was laughing at this he squeezed through and was never seen again. Damn.

The first lap was crazy fast, probably because I was riding in the mid-20s instead of 40th. I was flat out and just could not hold a wheel, it was bizarre, I felt good, everyone was just going SO DAMN FAST. My inability to keep it tight eventually led to me hitting the pavement with a 15-meter gap ahead of me, and that was the end of my time near the front. At the top of the finish straight no less than six guys streamed past, I got on the back, and it was time to settle in.

I settled pretty well, but a the back of a seven man group is an ugly place to be on a course with this much accelerating and braking. After two laps and change, Linnea had swapped out my brake pads back to the lightly-squealing ones and I came in to switch bikes.

On the way out of the pit I picked up a train being driven by Adam Sullivan and it was even harder to stay on than my old group, which made no sense since it was one group back in the race. I was starting to wonder if something was wrong with my new bike when I tried looking up instead of staring at a wheel -- oh look, Adam just pulled us back to my old group. That's why it was hard.

It was nice to be "back" but now I was tailgunning a 10-rider (or more!) pack. You know where this is going, right? After a lap of hanging out I started to feel a bit too comfortable, and of course, that's because the group broke in half and I'm on the back of the slow half. Crap.

I tried to move up as fast as I could but the course is surprisingly hard to pass on. I passed Pete Rubi on a gravel turn by being a total sketchball, and then divebombed the next to get by Ricky. This only served to enrage the beast, as Ricky sprinted me all the way to the next corner and took the position back, but it's all good -- I just wanted some urgency from the group.

The front half of the old group continued to dangle up the road, and as we splintered under pressure I decided to make another attempt at getting to it. After a lap behind Ricky I made a pretty decent attack by my standards and was rewarded with a lot of pain face opportunities. Ricky eventually clawed his way back, bringing Manny Goguen with him, but then something happened and he disappeared completely, leaving only and impressively tenacious Manny chasing.

[ I thought I dropped Manny so many times (doublehop) ]

I didn't even realize that Manny had gotten back on terms while I was slowly gaining on a packsliding Highland Hermes rider. With three to go I finally caught the Highland guy and looked to grab some draft on the finish straight -- oh hey, there goes Manny attacking me like we're sprinting for the finish. Damn kids these days.

Highland guy was definitely letting him go so it was back out in the wind for me. Cary yelled from the pit "You're getting beat by an 18 year old," which is one of those heckles that doesn't hold up to scrutiny. 18-year olds are fully grown, man. Heck, I get beat by 16-year old girls on skis if I'm not careful. Age is just a number!

Manny was going full gas and I had him dangling at three seconds, but I couldn't close it. He was going full gas because we were down to 2 to go, and with six minute laps that means it's time for Timmy J to be paying us a visit on his way to the win. I was closer to the front than Gloucester Day 2, but the laps were much shorter, and Tim was close behind. Too close.

I knew he was close because the cheers had all started including the phrase "don't get lapped." Not good. The problem is, Tim and Jamey are so fast that by the time the crowd realizes they're close to you, you have a lap, tops, until you're lapped. With half a lap to freedom, Tim was only 2 turns behind me in the "bowl" section of the course. Argh. So close, but I wasn't going to make it. I sat up and let him and Jamey through, despite my numerous pre-race threats to cause an "incident" if I got lapped.

Missing the lead lap by half lap sucked, but the racing was so much better on Sunday -- I was attacking people, getting attacked, worrying about "the group" instead of just riding hard -- and that's what it's about. If anything, the urgency and impending doom of getting lapped got me to ride harder with three/two laps to go than I'd ever go without it -- and instead of racing for 37th place (no one cares) I was racing for lead lap (people kinda cared). So it's all good. A UCI race with a six-minute lap and Tim Johnson has two winners -- Tim, and the last guy on the lead lap. I was 4th place in the second competition. Almost a podium!
[ Chilling with 2 out of the roughly infinite number of Goguens who race bikes (doublehop) ]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Providence Festival of Cyclocross Day 1 Race Report

Sometimes, being a bike racing superfan is a good thing. For example, I don't really burn out, even though I race for 11.5 months of the year, and I can entertain myself pretty much indefinitely at any race venue just because... dude, bikes.

But sometimes being a superfan can burn you. It's a long story, but I ended up going down to Providence at stupid o'clock with Chip even though my race wasn't until 3 pm. I was kitted up and riding the course at 9:15, while TJ and everyone else who was going to beat beat me were probably still lying in bed. What can I say, I was at a bike race, I was excited!

I got to show Chip the "pro pin" (I learned it from Josh Jamner) and a host of other "pro" tricks. I think I have a future in coaching masters on race day details. Common sense masquerading as coaching! I could totally do this. Actually, is that any different from any other coaching?

I chased Chip around the course during his race telling him he looked beautiful in his white skinsuit. That could be part of my coaching package too, "I will lie to you while you race." The confidence of being sexually propositioned by a 20-something male was good enough to propel him to a 24th place finish, a season best.

Anyway, by the time noon rolled around, I'd been on my feet for 3 hours and wasn't feeling so chipper after four or five fast preride laps. BUT IT'S SO FUN!

And three hours after THAT, it was finally race time. My teammate Kevin was doing his first-ever elite race, and as the "experienced guy" (yeah, I've done four of these) I knew the most important thing on the day was crushing that newbie.

Unfortunately my crushing went immediately off track when I shifted into the gear I wanted to start in -- oh, hey, broken rear derailleur housing on my 2-week-old bike! How does this stuff happen?

I knew about 9000 people at the venue and of course, not a single one was within earshot except the guys I was racing. I could see Linnea a few hundred feet away taking my pit bike off the trainer, and I tried really hard to will her to walk over to the start so I could tell her I was coming straight to the pit. No luck. Finally, around the 1-minute warning, Matt Roy came down to the start grid and I was able to send the message through him.

Knowing I was going straight to the pit definitely hurt my aggressiveness in the start, although I still got to put an elbow on Michael Rea on the first turn like I knew what I was doing. I thought he was Ryan so I started yelling obscenities preemptively.

We got to the pit in tight traffic and I was able to check that my bike was actually there before entering, only because someone was nice enough to break the tape after the true entrance.

Switching bikes on lap one is a good way to lose a bunch of spots, too. That sucked. I got back into the race and set about fighting for wheels. The thing was, my legs just weren't there, and my head knew it, and I just didn't have the edge needed to actually compete in a Johnson/Driscoll UCI race.

I was on Kevin's wheel and feeling bad, which didn't help, because I already knew that the crushing wasn't going to happen. I put a foot down when he bobbled a corner and let him know about it, but my weak psychological warfare was no match for his A game.

So he rode away and I raced for a while with my B game. I was in a group with Gabe and Cort for a bit, and in a prime example of the difference between "A game" and "B game" I let myself get taken out of the group by tailgunning as we overtook a fast starter/slow racer. They all got around before the longest runup, I didn't, and by the time I did the gap to them was five seconds, and... waaaaaah, you know?

Thanks to Linnea and Mavic Neutral Guy (I have visited him so often this season I should really know his name) I got my carbon-wheeled bike back before the race was half over. It was interesting to feel the immediate difference in the wheels -- the pit bike has some Kysriums on it which are lighter than the HEDs, but the stiffness of the HEDs and intimidating "ping" they make while shifting make them nicer to ride.

Sadly by the time I'd gotten the bike back I'd resigned myself to riding until I got lapped and calling it a day. I nearly dropped out, until I remembered that every single time I have ever DNFed with a working bike I've regretted it.

So anyway, I rode around the course feeling sorry for myself for a while, until Tim finally lapped me around the 50 minute mark. Great. Crap like this is why I race twice a weekend.

Oh! I almost forgot, the highlight of the whole race was probably getting heckled by Steven ("You're getting beat by Kevinnnnnnn"), starting to respond ("I knowwwww") and then crashing before I could come up with a decent retort. He felt stupid, I felt stupid, it was great.

Providence Festival of Cyclocross Day 1 Seat Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Providence Festival of Cyclocross Day 2 Seat Cam

Monday morning means seat cams! Even if you never watch these, you should watch the first 30 seconds of this one.

Providence Day 2 Seat Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Bonus humor at 12:00 when Manny sees the lap cards. "SIX?!" My thoughts exactly.

Pete Rubijono and Manny Goguen are the main protagonists of this one. Pete Smith makes an appearance at the end.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

GP of Gloucester Day 2 Race Report

Let me just say that seat cams are the best way to buy time to update your other website for the first 3 days of the week. And since it's a rear-facing camera, you still don't know anything about how my race actually went, so this race report still has a chance of being interesting!

As much of the internet has noted, day two was a drier, faster, and totally different course than anything most of us have seen at Gloucester. With legions of Cat 4s and masters sacrificing themselves to dry out and pack down the prior day's mudbath, the course was getting faster by the hour. Don't believe me? My lap times would have been good enough to win the Cat 3 race by over two minutes. Er, I mean, of course I could dominate Cat 3 like that. I'm a Cat 2, after all!

Anyway, with the course getting fast and my file tread thirst unquenched by Saturday, I hit up Gabe again, to get my hands on some carbon fiber hotness. I think I might have a problem.

[ Wheels from Gabe + Pic from Dobie = As PRO as I get ]

Right-o. So the seat cam was in full effect, as you've already seen. Ryan, ever the camera whore, went into his usual routine of lining up a row behind me and saying the stupidest things he could think of while we waited for the start. Then he blew the clip-in and was never seen again. Wait, did I write that sentence about the last race too? Almost.

I've noticed holeshots are much less intense when 50% of the people in the race are way better than me. 20 seconds in, I'm behind Shawn Milne and come on, should I really pass him? That's like one step away from being the guy who registers first and finishes last. So I thought about it for a while, went around, got passed back soon after, and settled in with the rest of the Cat 2s where I belong. PVB made his required lap one seat cam appearance.

One of the unique features to this Gloucester course was the sketchy, bumpy off-camber directly after the finish line. Matt helped me out with some prerace line selection that paid off pretty much every time through. After the prologue loop Wheels and some friends came in high and hot, so I took Matt's slow and low line to pass them all back after then overshot the apex while bouncing around wildly.
[ I got some flak for hanging the leg here. What can I say, sometimes uglier is faster. From Kate ]

Alright, enough about how awesome I am. As always, Corey Lowe and Wayne Bray were directly in front of me and laying down the roadie power, so with the exception of slick off-camber passes I spent most of the first two laps wondering if I could possibly hang on to this pace for sixty minutes of racing.

I remember back when I was a wee up-n-coming B racer (story time, kids! gather 'round grandpa/first-year-elite-rider) and I started having decent races. I remember when I was 16th at Northampton in 2007, after two laps I saw the leaders go by and thinking, for the first time ever -- holy crap, they're only a few turns ahead of me! I'm having a good race! I think I belong here!

Yeah, well a UCI elite race with Tim, John, Jeremy and Jamey is NOTHING LIKE THAT. I was racing as hard as I could, clinging to wheels, slaying that stupid barrier runup (thanks, crowd), and then I saw Jonathan Page and the cxworld train going the other direction. Just like Noho two years ago, I briefly thought, "hey, I'm pretty close to the front still!"

Then I realized what part of the course they were on -- the new Gloucester course was incredibly circuitous -- and nevermind, I'm already almost half a lap down. Lap times were nearly nine minutes and I was still going to be cutting it close. Dude, pro cyclists are fast.

Well anyway. It's kind of nice to have a mutual goal of "lead lap" to share with everyone else back in 40th place. Much more civilized then fighting them to the death for first place. On the lead lap, we're all winners!

I know, it's thoughts like that that make America's youth weak and pathetic, but how else do you explain Pete Smith not attacking the group when he rolled through it on lap four? We were already cruising at what I consider max velocity when Pete caught the back of the train, went through it, and lifted the pace ever-so-slightly at the front. Just enough to make me answer the question "can I hurt more than this?" Maybe Alex's cheers are right. Much to my surprise I hung on.
[ Pete, dude, nice wheels. Please slow down now. From Uri ]

Soon after, the party train started falling apart. First a Canuck on my wheel took a serious soil sample (near the end of the Lap 3 video), then Pete sliced a tubular on the off-camber, then Corey busted... something... that left him running to a DNF. John Burns remembered that he's better than me and Todd Wheelden remembered that he didn't race Saturday, and Wayne remembered that he's got a jillion more watts than me, and just like that I was all alone.

All alone, riding a desperate time trial to stay on the lead lap, I might add.

You might think that having Rich Fries' announcing booming all over the park might make it easy to keep track of where Tim Johnson is. You'd be wrong. Rich likes to mention how many laps the leader is going to get next time through the finish line a lot, regardless of how close to the finish line he actually is. I'm sure it all makes sense if you're spectating, but no sooner had I come through with two to go than I hear Rich start going off about Tim getting the bell lap.

Crap! My whole goal this year was to be on the lead lap of one of the BIGBIG races and here I am blowing it. Panicky, I gasped "am I going to get lapped??" at Matt as I rode the sandpit. The tone of his "no" in response made some things clear: 1) I am not getting lapped. 2) He thinks I'm an idiot for asking. 3) He thinks it's funny that this means I'll be racing for almost 70 minutes.

Fair enough, you can verbally abuse me all you want when I'm on the lead lap. I gave the penultimate lap everything I had, just to make sure, and then rode what felt like a victory lap around a suddenly-vacant course. I rolled in to 37th place, eight minutes behind Tim, with the crowd gone, sun setting, and the course already being broken down, and you know what? I felt like I'd won the goddamn race.

ow ow ow this is so awesome ow ow ow

More Gloucester Seat Cam

Two more laps with the seat cam. Corey Lowe, Wayne Bray, Aroussen Laflamme and Todd Wheelden are the main protagonists on our merry quest not to get lapped. I decided to add some pithy commentary to a few portions of the video... mainly making excuses for why I'm off the bike and blaming other people. It feels good, you should try it!

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

GP of Gloucester Day 1 Race Report

Gloucester is usually a grass crit. Ryan Trebon usually shows up, and rides so fast he leaves burn marks on the grass. With this knowledge in hand, I began scheming for some extra Gloucester speed as soon as I got to the finish line in Vermont. Having just ridden (and flatted, whoops) Cary's Grifo XS file treads, I knew I wanted more o' that shit. But with carbon. Because everything goes faster if you make it out of carbon.

This is why my extreme force of personality/wallet comes in. I hit up Gabe at Echappe Equipment because I figured if anyone has a wheel with about 100mm of carbon I can use, it's him. And he did -- but not with file treads. And I had my heart set on file treads.

I'd like to assume this is where my charisma came into play, because he decided to glue some file treads up for me this week. Seriously!

So that was a longgg prelude, just so I could say "and that's how I jinxed it into raining two inches Saturday!"

Initially I was stoked, because rain means long lap times and roadies falling on their head. I did not remember how miserable my last national-level event in a rainstorm was. Then I got there, and saw the course:

[Linnea versus the course, from Dobie]

Oh yeah. Mud sloggin'. I'm sure there's a technique to this (especially around the corners), but there's also a lot of pure wattage required to blast through 3 inches of grass and mud. When was the last time you saw the phrase "then I hit it with some pure wattage" here? Right.

And my stupid carbon file treads were useless, after all that! Luckily Gabe brought along some wheels with Fangos AND a ridiculous amount of carbon (HED Stingers) so I looked PRO and had traction while riding at 8 mile an hour through the mud. Yeah!
[Pro bike. Unpro kit. from Nathaniel]

Oh yeah, a race report. I lined up pretty far back, which is where I belong. We weren't even off the pavement when the first thought of "christ, this is going to hurt" went through my head. Thinking about stuff like that during the holeshot is not a good sign.

The first lap was "fun" because everyone was amped up and we were slamming bars and elbows like no other. No one could steer, but bouncing off other people worked pretty well. So I did some of that, while receiving some of that.

Hitting the runup on lap one was glorious, because I was sprinting up a hillside in ankle-deep mud in the middle of the elite race at one of the biggest cross races in America. Let's keep it in perspective here -- even when it sucks, it's awesome.

The running was killing me. Somehow I forgot to do any runup practice in September (Somerville is flat. I'm lazy.) and yes, a little cx-specific running would have been useful, right about the time my legs were jello on the runup on lap three.

When you're slogging mud it doesn't really matter what "group" you're with. Any attempt at drafting ends up with mud in your eye, anyway, so the benefit is definitely negated by the fact that YOU CAN'T SEE ANYMORE. But man, that doesn't stop the crowd (effin' crowd!) from yelling stupid stuff like "get that wheel" and "catch that group." Thanks, crowd. You're full of good ideas. Why don't you put that beer down and give me a push, huh?

Since there was no group racing, I don't remember much about who I was riding with. The only incident that particularly stands out was when I went by the beer tent and someone was yelling at me about being a mountain biker, so I did some sketchy no-brakes leg-hang sliding into the next downhill corner and made a very exciting pass on the brand-new-elite-rider Corey Lowe. I had been chasing him for forty minutes at that point so I was really excited about this; unfortunately the fear/tension in my leg during this made my foot cramp up (god, that's pathetic) and I had to softpedal a bit after that. Meanwhile, a reinvigorated Corey went and put 30 seconds and three places on me from there to the finish line. Whoops.
[Runup time with Corey. from Nathaniel]

The one redeeming factor about mud slogging is that the lap times are HUGE. I think I turned lap one in 11:30 and it only got worse from there. The rain had stopped so the mud was only getting stiffer as we plowed through it. At least that meant I had to lose almost ten minutes in an hour to Jonathan Page or Tim Johnson to get lapped, so I was safe... right?

Nope. Turns out that Jonathan Page was second at worlds because he can ride a freaking bike through mud like it's his job. In fact, it is his job. After just over 4 laps and 45 minutes of racing, he lapped me on an uphill mud section like I was standing still. I practically was standing still, in fact. Still, it's not every day I exclaim "holy SHIT" watching someone else ride a bike. But today was one of those days.

With my lap count suddenly reduced to 1, my motivation came rushing back, so while the guys around me were mailing it in (meh, we're lapped, we don't care any more) I was makin' places for the first time in half an hour. Solobreak's decision to throw a beer on me instead of, say, handing it up to me as I passed the beer tent served to further focus me on finishing strong. Thanks?

JP was going so fast that I rode nearly an entire lap after he lapped me, and no one else caught me. I rolled off at the bottom of the finish straight just as Driscoll was entering it, almost 2 MINUTES back in 2nd. If there's anything you should take way from this blog post it's bet on JP in deep mud. My god.

A ton of people blew up bikes and bodies, so I stumbled into 39th out of 75 starters. That sounds pretty legit, huh? With only 57 finishers, I'm sure some of the 18 guys who pulled out were well ahead of me, but hey, whatever works. Here's how I felt about things post-race:
[I just realized I'm done. Sweet. from Kate]

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gloucester Day 2 Lap 1 Seat Cam

Way too busy to write anything about another incredible weekend of cross, but I do have some seat cam up:

GP Gloucester Day 2 Lap 1 Seat Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

More to come.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Catamount Cyclocross Day 1 Seat Cam

Catamount Cyclocross Day 1 Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Day 1 I staged crazy-far up the grid. So far up I was in front of Justin Lindine for a few seconds, check it out! Anyway, this is the final run of the older, shakier seat cam. If you're desperate for footage on a Friday (or Monday), it oughta do the trick.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Catamount Cyclocross Day 1 Race Report

It's only a small exaggeration to say that lining up for this race is the biggest achievement of my life. I mean, I've done other stuff, but we live in a society where sports are king. Cyclocross might be a long way from the NFL, but it's still a lot cooler than sitting at a computer typing (which is what I'm doing now, actually). Anyway, every time I reach a new level of 'cross it's pretty much the best I've ever been at sports in my life.

That was a pretty dramatic opening, huh? Yeah. With thoughts like that all week you can imagine how well I was sleeping. I could've quit drinking coffee and just had someone whisper "UCI race" in my ear in the morning, the effect was the same.

Since I'm working for Verge now, I got staged in the second row of the entire damn thing. This was not my idea; Alan thought that I'd "appreciate" getting the first non-UCI start spot. Of course it was good for my race, but it sure wasn't good for my heart. All you need to do is watch the first 60 seconds of seat cam (coming tomorrow!) to see the guys I was racing/how far over my head I was.

Luckily starting over your head means you can do the "gentleman's slide" over the first two laps. If your goal is to win, this is bad, but if your goal is 25th, starting in 12th and drifting backward is a good way to keep most of your matches early on.

If this picture was from last weekend I'd be doing really well.

Only one person did a harder slide than I over the first few laps -- Adam Myerson. I believe he was on his 6th race in 9 days or something at that point and had just spent the night in the airport on the way back from Vegas. As you might imagine, this kind of lifestyle is a good way to slow a UCI-point-scorer down to my speed. At first I was excited to be on his wheel, but soon I realized, "wow, I think I have to pass him." Getting passed by a clown with a seat cam gave Adam an opportunity to express how his day was going:
Don't worry, he eventually got his act together enough to leave me in the dust.

So you probably guessed this, but racing the UCI race is hard, especially on a course as hilly and wide open as Vermont. There was too many fast people to draft, and too many spectators yelling at me, to ride your own pace. Coming by the Cambridge Bikes tent was the toughest part of the course because it led from a dismount into a 90-second power section; you can't let a wheel go with those guys yelling at you, but you can sure pay for it after you're out of earshot.
I am the Siberian Husky to Todd Wheelden's dogsled. Guess which of us likes this arrangement?

Finally by lap five or so, things settled down a bit. I had the required "bad lap" where the bumpy grass and excessive prerace drinking gave me a horrible stitch in my side. Meg may have actually saved my day by shouting "drop your shoulders" when I rode past whining about my side. It totally worked.

After my bad lap I was done getting passed (finally) and ended up racing with Pete Smith, Adam Sullivan, and Sylvain "wicked Quebecois hairstyle" Jean for a while. It was not a tight group because Sylvain sucks at cornering, but we all sucked at something so it kept coming back together, more or less. The highlight for me was boxing Adam out at the last second on the log ride up to the jeers of the crowd, and then me apologizing for this as soon as we were out of earshot.

Pete had come up from the back of the field and was probably the strongest guy in the group. With under two to go he was leading with all of us a bit gapped as we went by the Cambridge Bikes tent... whoops that's the adrenaline section of the course! To the delight of the crowd he dropped the hammer and as second wheel I got to chase it. Probably the hardest effort I've ever put in at the 55 minute mark of a cross race, but it was worth it. I got his wheel and the other two were gone.

I came around and told him we had a gap and I wanted to keep it that way, so I put in the hardest effort I've ever done at the 56 minute mark of a cross race. This lap was off-the-chart hard, but I was loving every minute of it. This is what I've been waiting all summer for.
Elbow inside the saddle makes you look fast. That's good enough for me.

At this point I was in 21st, that's in the money, in the Verge points, and comfortably on the lead lap. All I had to do was one more lap of super hurt and I had practically all of my season goals wrapped up already...

So I flatted with one to go.

It was my fault, the rear tire had been a bit soft all day and I was finally too tired to unweight in a rocky spot. A quick thunk-thunk-thunk and Cary's tire (did I mention I borrow his file treads? He rules.) was done holding air.

Luckily I was right by the pit. My pit bike was in the other pit, but Linnea was right there with her bike. I bellowed "LINNEA I NEED YOUR BIKE" and she got it into the pit with only a short delay. Back on the course in 24th, we can still do this...

And then her crankarm fell off.

I'd like to point out that I did not build this bike, but it was an FSA crank, which are notorious for falling off. Regardless of the reason for it being off, I was definitely screwed. I pointlessly ran for five minutes to the other pit, got my pit bike, and finished the race with a nice 13-minute lap. When I got the finish line (72 minutes after starting) the officials were surprised to see me.

I only fell to 27th place because everyone else had been lapped (thank you, Timmerman!) but the points and money ended at 25th. Burn.

So now you might understand why I dropped out when I flatted the next day. There's a limit to how many times I can break my bike and keep fighting.

I'd like to say I got all the bad luck out of the way for the season, but I thought that after last weekend too. At this point all I know is that I can ride pretty decently when my bike's intact. Is "pretty decently" enough for lead lap at Gloucester? I'll know in three days.

[Seat cam coming tomorrow]
[Photos from Kate, Dobie and Soups]

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