Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Whitmore's Super Cross Cup Race Reports

It's a short week so we're rolling two reports and a video into one. Hold on to your coffee.

I rolled down to Southampton this weekend with Linnea and Sara. They are fast ladies, so they were hoping to take advantage of the promoters's increased women's payout to score mad bank. I am an occasionally-fast dude, so I was hoping to not get lapped by Tim Johnson.

The lapping situation was grim, though, because Southampton is a shortshortshort lap with a ton of climbing, so the fast guys are only 5 minutes away from lapping you when the race starts and the course really lets them showcase how they are "professional cyclists" and you are "not."

The rest of the UCI pack fodder stayed home, so I got the coveted back row lineup along with Pete Bradshaw. We joked about how lonely we were, then the whistle blew and he crushed it to a 16th place, last-guy-on-the-lead-lap race. Bastard.

Oh, and spoiler alert, if Pete crushed it and was last guy on the lead lap, guess who wasn't? THIS GUY.

I did not help myself out by running the CRABON file treads on Saturday, either. They were ok when I prerode, but with the sun going down and the ground getting moist at 3pm, I was "rallying," not railing, every corner. Maybe if I was Adam Craig I could have made that work. My wheels made exciting pinging sounds when I shifted, but I went around corners, and especially the HUGE OFF CAMBER, basically sideways. File treads are still the secret weapon... but they're not the ultimate weapon.

So anyway, there were 33 starters on Saturday and 25 of them were light years better than me. I rode a mediocre race and placed 30th, right where I should've been. Lonely day, though. At least I had Steve abusing me on the ride up each lap. I was not alone:

Tim lapped me after 40 minutes (ouch) on his way to riding 11 laps in 55 minutes (ouch), and slapped me on the ass on the way past (ouch). And my stupid seat cam didn't catch it! Ouch!

Sunday was a new day, with similar characters on a similar course. This time we went up the sharp climbs and down the more gradual ones, which was surprisingly a lot more fun. Or maybe it was just because I was running Fangos, which felt like I was velcro'ed to the ground after a day of file treads. Anyway, mojo was higher!

And it's a good thing my mojo was higher, because I put myself straight into DFL about two minutes onto the course. We went over the the methane hill bottleneck, I was on someone's right side on the downhill, overlapped wheels, and when they swung wide I had nowhere to go but into the tape. Rookie move. Worst of all I slammed on the brakes and the damn stuff stretched out a mile but didn't break, leaving me wrapped up as the race rolled away. (2:00 in the video) I had to unhook from my brake levers, bars, and seat cam (!!) and then back up before I could be free, taking over the DFL spot from Zach. He said "I'll wait for you," and I was like, cool.

So he did, I guess, anyway we rode the rideup together and looked good doing it. At least if you didn't know we were the last two guys in the race.

Soon after that he had an innocent little lay-down on the descent, but since it was on an off-camber he went sliding several miles under the tape and was never seen again. (3:55 in the video)

And now I'm alone! Again! On a short lap!

This time, though, I vowed it would be different, so I gunned it for a half lap to catch Chris Hamlin just in time for the long pavement stretch. He expertly blew the turn onto the pavement and I accidentally rolled past him... oh goddammit now I have to pull? If he did that on purpose it was one of the slicked moves ever. I pulled for 2 minutes, he jumped around just in time for the first climb. NICE.

I did cling to his wheel long enough to finally pick up some draft on the next lap, and then "attacked" on the steepest climb to open a little gap and set off alone again. At this point I assumed the "grim reaper of the elite field" role and rode around ending people's races. Ricky had a biological/mechanical thing going on, so I rolled around him. Pat Bradley rolled a tubular, bam, another victim for the reaper!

Unfortunately Tim and Jeremy then lapped me before I could claim any more souls.

All in all, it was kind of a bummer weekend, because it turns out that racing no one for 28th is nowhere near as gratifying as racing 20 of my closest Cat 2 friends for it at a Verge. I can't even tell if I rode well, because there were so few guys to compare against.

Luckily, my carmates slayed it both days to come away with serious loot and yet more UCI points, and they dragged me outta there on Sunday in time to catch the 5pm ferry back home.

Hey, dudes my speed: COME TO STERLING. Please?

Whitmore's Cross Cup Day 2 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mercer Cup Day 2 Cams

Don't tell anyone, but I'm going to this party purely to see what Dave does when he's not beating me on a bike... cuz, you know, I've never seen that before.

I think I finally maxed out the internet in my life. I've had a half-edited picture-in-picture Northampton video sitting here for a week now. I didn't get around to seat-camming Mercer Day 2 until Thursday night because I was busy with results/shirts/blogs/fantasy nordic. This is not a "pity me and my million web projects" blog post... I just want you to understand. I wanted to make videos, really I did.

Anyway. This one is pretty nice visually. No commentary this time around, but it's got two classic techno tracks, a great crash (9:00), high quality, and picture-in-picture. Fullscreen it for the full experience... maybe not if you're watching at work.

I had to use IMovie for this one to do the P-in-P, and I gotta say, Apple tries really hard to make stuff simple and intuitive in their apps. That's great when it works, and maddening when it doesn't. WHY DOES EVERY SINGLE OPERATION HAVE TO BE CLICK/DRAG ARGHHHH WHY DOES IT AUTOPLAY ANY CLIP MY MOUSE GOES OVER ARGHHHHH.

Ok, I'm done.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

USGP Mercer Cup Day 2 Race Report

Despite a DNF after 25 minutes of racing on Saturday, I was loving life Sunday morning. Why? Super-nice housing, thanks to my crossresults uploader-friend Jess and her husband Vinnie. They have no internet presence, and even if they did, THEY'RE ALL MINE, so no links for you. 15 minutes from the venue, full bike shop in the basement, gas-powered pressure washer (!!), overzealous hosting. Between this and last weekend with Meg and JD, I am irreparably softened on race housing. I will never be able to get up at 6am or sleep on a floor again. Alas.

But anyway! I was STOKED Sunday morning, unlike my competitors, who had poured their souls out onto the course Saturday and were but shells of men. Skipping a muddy Saturday is practically cheating... it's right up there with good start position on the "secrets to a breakout race" checklist.

I sure didn't have the good start position thing going, though. We were milling around during callups, as always, when out of the blue the officials decided that staging everyone correctly was too hard, so after 3 rows of UCI callups they gave us the old "everyone else line up" dismissal and all hell broke loose as 50 guys charged the line. Seriously? The biggest race on the East Coast just tried to "mob rule" stage us?

The racers took matters into their own hands and started bitching, with a ferocity ordinarily reserved for RMM's blog. At first the officials tried to ignore us. Then they tried to placate us by moving the guy with a 70 number out of the 4th row, into the 9th. They were unsuccessful! We whined pathetically (you oughta hear me whinge) and eventually they caved, backed everyone off the line and re-staged us the right way. Victory!

I ended up in the exact same place as I had been before, but it's the principle of the matter, dammit.

Go time! This time my tires stayed inflated for the entire start straight, which was pretty awesome, and I got off the pavement solidly in the top three quarters of the field. It sounds bad, but you gotta remember, the predictor told me I would only beat six people.

I had such a good start, you still can't see me in this picture! [ dave august ]

Even better, I have been hanging out with Adam "I've forgotten more about cross than you'll ever know" Myerson and he's helped me get my head around the style of cutthroat racing that is appropriate and required for something as big-time as a USGP. So every time I could beat someone to the good line on lap one, I did it. It was not a contact-free experience, and I did get the door closed on me more than once, but damned if I wasn't having the most fun of anyone out there. Riding aggressively creates adrenaline, which makes you ride aggressively! It's a vicious cycle, like blogging and coffee.

On the straightaway past the fried food tent I was going really, really fast for someone with my wattage riding through stiff mud. I remember thinking, "I have no idea why I am not in extreme pain yet." Then we got out of earshot of the crowd and I was like "oh, there it is." Pain time!

The course was basically the same experience as the day before, albeit a lot warmer and sunnier. Still covered in thick mud, still mainly a wattage contest. But I after only racing 50% of Saturday, I was actually halfway competitive in a wattage contest, for the first time ever!

They had attempted to add some technical features to the barren plain we were racing on, but the only trick in their book seemed to be the super-tight double 180. It was not fun to ride, at all, but at least it was a mandatory 5 second rest -- another thing that went a long way to keeping me competitive.

Near the end of lap one I was still riding a wave of adrenaline, in the low 50s, and surprisingly happy about that. So then I decided to fold (not roll) my rear tire in a corner, and fail to clip out in time, and bounce my face off the ground while getting stuck under my bike. The only good thing was yet another crash on camera -- look for that tomorrow.

Now that I was worried about my pedal release tension and my softish rear tire, it was time to do the PRO thing and come in for the B bike. This time I'd waiting long enough that Linnea could make it to the pit, and I let her know how seriousbusiness I was feeling by yelling "plus three rear" during the bike change.

With lap two finishing up, that could only mean one thing: Wilcox time. Right on cue, the cheers for Geekhouse picked up and Dave came storming past on a straightaway. Well, I rode that wheel to "victory" last weekend, might as well try again. I found that extra level of suffering that only exists when chasing your #1 nemesis and got down to business.

Unfortunately we were going about half the speed of Northampton so there was no "sit on his wheel and win the sprint" strategy to be had... we just rode as hard as we could in the same general vicinity to one another. The only exception was on the pavement, where I put in a couple huge efforts to close the gap for a brief draft.

After four laps it seemed like I'd gained the upper hand, as I'd established an insurmountable five-second lead.

But Dave does not feel pain like normal men. After a particularly tough uphill section in mud, I tried to back off for a mere 20 seconds before going back to KILLKILLKILL mode. Bad idea. He closed the gap and went right by, and just like that I was chasing again.

Make no mistake, the course was littered with other racers, but the only one I was paying attention to was Dave. I was dimly aware that I kept having to pass guys to stay with him, which was getting kind of annoying, because I wanted to rest on their wheels, but stupid Dave kept going around. So I'd chase after him, yet again.

The other guy in the race worth worrying about was Tim Johnson, because he was slaying it -- 50 seconds over Trebon, last I heard on the PA -- and when he's putting that kind of time into Ryan you better believe I'm getting lapped. Starting my sixth lap Linnea gave me a heads up that I was down to a 60 second lead on him -- so that's the bell, right there.

I was all over Dave's rear wheel, because hey, bike racing! And eventually I paid for it -- lapping wheels when he slowed and took a line I didn't like, foot down, off into the deepest, stiffest mud that no one was riding. And there's the gap.

We weren't alone, either, a Canadian guy was up there with Dave and they were pushing each other hard. My chase was briefly interrupted to let Tim pass (he declined the high five, of course) and I when I got back on the gas I was pretty much resigned to not catching them. They hit the loooong finish stretch a good five or more seconds ahead of me and Dave opened the sprint up.

I will assume his opponent was too PRO to try hard after being lapped, because he had zero response -- either that or he totally failed to hear them explain how it works when you're lapped each day. In any case, he pedaled like he was glad to be done, 200m from the line. I recognized an opportunity for a ninja attack.

I gassed it as hard as I dared while looking casual and staying seated until he looked back. As soon as he looked ahead, GO TIME! I got a good six seconds of full out-of-the-saddle afterburners in before he looked back again. He tried to sprint, but I had a solid 15 mph head start. It was like I was a hawk diving out of the sky on a rabbit. He never had a chance. I went smoking past and pulled off 39th place at a USGP. Holy crap!
The final sprint. [ artist's rendition ]

USGP Mercer Cup Day 1 Race Report

I went to the Mercer Cup last year, and it turned out to be a bland, unfun mudfest with some organizational issues. So why the hell did I come back?

The real answer, of course, is that Linnea wanted to go, but let's pretend for a second that I have free will. The USGP, despite all its flaws, is simply the biggest show in town, and until there's another race on the east coast of that magnitude, it's the closest I'll get to racing Nationals every year. With 80 starters, it was only a marginally larger field than Gloucester, but according to crossresults it was significantly stronger. I was predicted to beat a grand total of 6 people.


The location was different, but the conditions and course managed to serve up the same experience as last year: interminably long straights that could be ridden only slightly faster than they could be run, and a bike change every half-lap. That's REAL CROSS, remember, for all of you who complain about grass crits. And yet I was inexplicably discouraged by said conditions.

I spent most of my prerace timing pitting for Linnea with Cary, and when her race went long, my warmup went with it. I jumped on the trainer for 10 minutes, while she rolled directly from the finish of her race back to the car to put her wheels on my bike (why? it's a long story, involving the phrase "too lazy to change carbon pads").

Anyway, slightly warmed up, I took my spot in the 8th row and got ready to try really hard to go slow anyway. The race had one of the longest holeshots I've ever seen, probably 300m of straight pavement, so it was going to be fast.

10 seconds in I felt a little shimmy in the back tire, but I was sprinting, so maybe that made sense? Two seconds later I was riding on a totally flat tire... so apparently not. So I put my hand up (I've always wanted to do that) and went straight out the back, because everyone else was still sprinting.

Thanks to the stiff bottlenecking going on, I managed to ride back into contact, albeit still last, at least twice. The pit was close, so I wasn't even that far out of contention when I got there.

And here's where the jinx comes in. My pit crew (Linnea) had just finished a race, so I told her "I won't need a clean bike until the 2nd time past the pit" to give her some extra time to get cleaned up. Guess whose pit bike wasn't in the pit yet? Whoops.

After some debate I decided to take a neutral wheel, and my casual attitude about the whole thing definitely didn't get a mechanic running over. Eventually the neutral guys realized that I was actually racing and one of them leapt up with a wheel, and I was back in business... only a minute off the back of the fastest field I'll race all year. Sweet!

The PRO thing to do was to ride two laps as openers for Sunday and then drop out. I need all the help I can get racing these guys; I'm not going to burn matches racing for "not last" after spotting the entire field a minute or more. Don't judge me!

I did manage to pass five or six guys on my "openers," and I managed to get off the course before Trebon and Timmy lapped me, thus disappearing from the results and relegating this to a race that didn't happen.

Are you worried? I'm not. It's not like it was Sunday or something.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cycle-Smart International Day 2 Race Report

Sunday at Northampton I faced a new dilemma -- how to get motivated when you didn't suck on Saturday? Usually I have a crushing defeat from Saturday motivating me to KILLKILLKILL on Sunday, so there was definitely a big, empty hole where my motivation should be. I remember sitting at breakfast, thinking, "no matter what happens today you got 27th yesterday. You're a decent bike racer. It's ok, buddy" Not exactly fire and brimstone, and yes, I call myself "buddy" in my head.

I think the real turnaround in my desire was due to the fact that the Northampton Day 2 course is awesome, the weather was perfect, and the spectators were out in force. Even the grinchiest curmudgeons would have fun. And if you're having fun racing your bike, everything else just works out. Funny, that.

So we lined up with a palpable sense of fear in the field -- after yesterday's start issues, most of us were just hoping to make it through the first turn intact. Our reaction to the $200 lap one prime showed it -- when was the last time you told guys they could have extra money for riding fast and heard groans from the crowd? We were SCARED.

And of course, scared racers are definitely more likely to go down. Adam Craig pleaded with us not to kill him. We tried anyway.

I was in the crash, but I stayed on my bike, upright and unharmed. I was on the brakes early (good reflexes or scaredy-cat?) and thus got pushed into it by guys who weren't on 'em as fast. In the end, all cameras on the bike survived (phew) and I got a bit of a jump on much of the field.

Unlike the day before, though, the front group got away completely clean, so I was on my own from the beginning. On the first lap I came across Dylan, who was getting up after stacking it behind the sandpit (kinda like me the day before, actually) and I got on his wheel and thought, "take me to the front, baby!" Then Dylan dusted me so fast, I had a 2008 B Men flashback. He is strong. I bet you already knew this.

I ended up behind Dave Wilcox, who unlike Dylan at least stays in sight while beating me, and I heaped all the pressure I could on him about riding the runup. Shockingly this didn't help him clean it in traffic, and thus, I was running too. Bah.

On the top of the course we picked up the Embrocation train of Pete Smith and PVB, with PVB's "apprehensive race face" making a great seat cam appearance. After the pavement we discovered Pete had a softening rear tire, because it was making that awesome fart sound whenever he tried to turn. At least his glue job was solid.

So we dropped Pete off in the pit, Ethan Gilmour and Manny Goguen came through, but eventually things settled out into the regular crew of guys I have ridden with this year - Wayne Bray, Todd Wheelden, Dave Wilcox. Somehow Wayne and Todd got up the road (as usual) probably while I was trying to think of something dumb to say to Adam Craig as he passed me. In retrospect it would have been the only time I could ever say "Adam I love your blog" and pass it off as a joke. God, why didn't I say it?? And his blog is awesome, by the way.

Around the midpoint of the race, John Burns caught Wilcox and me, and he was MOTIVATED in the way that only a guy who DNF'ed Saturday could be. With his Mainer buddy Wheelden just up the road, Burns wanted to GOGOGO, and since I was already suffering to hold Dave's wheel, I wanted to STAYSTAYSTAY. So Burns flies by, saying "come on guys, we can get there," and I shoot myself in the leg to stay with him. Basically it was the friendliest attack ever. I want to try that some time, attack the shit outta someone but say "come on, let's go" as you launch. But I digress.

So I hung on to Burns and Wilcox, just barely, and only because I could roll back onto the group in the corners (told you it wasn't a pure power course). At one point I railed a corner and had a shot at leading, so I took it. After a 60-second pull I was DONE. I cleaned the ride up (showing the guys behind me the line, I might add) and then went up in flames. They both passed me back with WATTS, but once again I was able to hang on by letting it hang out on the 180s.

Soon after that I noticed how big Dave's calves are, and I decided that if I had any hope of staying in this group I couldn't pull ever again.

They hardly ever asked me to, luckily, Burns and Wilcox just kept hitting it and I kept getting oh so almost burned off, only to get back on under braking. Soon we picked up Wheelden, and then Wayne Bray (public enemy #1!), to make a group of five with 3 or so laps to go.

We made Wayne go last because his wheels weren't caaaaahbon

And of course, I was tailgunning, because I couldn't keep the gaps closed on the straights, and rightfully, no one wanted to ride behind me. We passed a drunk-or-just-sounding-drunk solobreak and he said to me, "you're the smartest guy in this group, make a plan!"

Of course I have three years of blogging about stupid things I do on a bike to dispute the first part of that sentence, but whatever, the second part is what matters. You mean I have to use my brain? Yes Virginia, there are tactics in cross. Ok, I'll make a plan.

Wayne was also using his brain. With the lap cards ticking down, cooperation was becoming less desirable, so he sat in for a half lap and then attacked. Of course I could do nothing except spectate, but Dave "two laps to go" Wilcox and his giant calves shut it down. So Wayne sat in some more, then attacked again. Dammit Wayne, stop thinking!

After 60 minutes of this I was dying, but in a "I can die a few more times" kind of way. So I started with the plan, which wasn't rocket science -- don't get dropped, move up in the sand, win the sprint. The sand was the only place on the whole course I was dominating the group, and it came 90 seconds before the finish, ideal.

Of course before the sand on the last lap, Wayne attacks again, and with the finish coming up no one is as keen to chase it down. He gets 5 seconds and it looks like we're racing for 2nd (there was no one else in the race at this point in my mind), but then has a huge crash over the bars, almost like riding a sandpit at a higher than usual speed when full of lactic could be difficult or something.

Obviously I was last into the sand, but due to sand magic/adrenaline/luck I slayed it and came out first. It was actually too good, because I had never planned on being first wheel from this far out. The only thing I had going for me was a bit of a gap, and hesitation from Burns to close it (the seat cam knows all!).

My calves had been twinging for the last few laps so I was definitely not sprinting from that far out. Burns and Wilcox rolled back onto my wheel before the last 180 onto the start loop, when suddenly I got a great idea -- "this 180 is only about 250m before the finish line, and a launch from 200m is no problem on the road!"

Yes, because cross speeds are just like road. You're the smartest guy in the group, Colin.

But anyway, cornering had been saving my bacon for an hour, may as well work it. I punched it for all I was worth out of the last corner and looked back -- 3 bike lengths, so they aren't drafting much -- oh sweet, I am going to hurt REALLY BAD for a bit now.

So I did! But it worked! And it turned out to be a sprint for 17th place!

Let's be fair here, without Dave dragging me around for 30 minutes I would've had no chance. I basically did nothing except chase back on four times a lap until the last two minutes -- but as they say, "that's bike racing."

Picture-in-picture video coming one of these days.
Did I mention how much I like JD's sand pits? [both pics from df ]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cycle-Smart International Day 1 Race Report

solo caught me messing with the camera when I should have been putting out watts

The world is full of terrible, horrible, misconceptions. One of the least terrible ones is that people think Northampton is a roadie course. You want evidence it's not? Look at my results there for three years running. How the heck could I have my best results of the season on a roadie course?? I rest my case.

Don't get me wrong, winning Northampton requires power, just like any other bike race, but it's more than just a festival of watts. It's just not a steady-state power course (like Gloucester, or Downeast in the mud), it's a sprinter and bikehandler's course. Put on by Adam Myerson, who is a sprinter and a bike handler... how convenient.

Anyway, the deal is, you come ripping into the sexiest grass 180s the world has ever seen about 15 times a lap, lean the bike over about 45 degrees, and then gun it for all you're worth for 5 seconds coming out of the turn to get back up to speed. Wash, rinse, repeat. These are the only two things I am legitimately good at on a cross bike, so yeah, I loves me some Noho. And you should too.

Northampton finally got a free date on the calendar (those still exist?) and thus the field was stacked, with strong depth all the way through the field. I was stoked to ride with a bunch of dudes, but I was not stoked to almost die in the start. The start straight is narrow and fenced, so when not one but two guys broke chains before we were off the pavement it got SKETCHY. I jacked my brakes on twice to stay off the fence, then finally found some clear space and gunned it over the curb, just in time to narrowly avoid the monster crash we finally got around to having.

If you watch the video you'll see I'm the last person to get through unencumbered, as Dylan's Redline goes flying behind me and blocks the last clear lane. It was like an action movie where the hero dives out of the building as it explodes behind him (or like Wedge Antilles shooting out of an exploding Death Star, if that strikes a better chord with you), but either way, I was the last guy through clean and thus lucked into a top-20 position on lap one.

I got immediately gapped off because Jeremy freaking Powers was on the front of the train, but it was actually a good thing, so I got some free space to slay the sand and earn Colt's love, seen here at 0:53.

The rest of the lap was a parade of people cheering "you're doing awesome!" at me while I thought "yeah, it's not going to last." And I was right, of course, because guys like Adam Craig and Josh Dillon were in the crash, and I can't hold them off for 60 minutes with a 20 second head start. (Or 3 minute head start, in Josh's case, but whatever.)

So I slowly bled places, but not as many as I thought I would. Despite my sweet start, Greg Whitney managed to come flying past me within a lap, and the other usual suspects (Ricky, Wayne, Pete B, Pete S) came through a bit later. Wayne went down pretty hard on the roots up top, and since he is basically public enemy #1 these days (beat me by one place 3 times this year!) I was very interested in getting back past him.

After that it gets a bit fuzzy; Eventually I ended up in no-mans land with 3 to go and a lot of guys I feared behind me -- a chase group of Christian Favata and Todd Wheelden about 10 seconds down, and then Wayne and Dave Wilcox a bit behind them. Making the situation all the more dire, a spectator had just told me I was in 23rd, which is points and money and babes*.
It took me about 4 laps to remember how much better shouldering is here, but hey, plenty of guys never figure it out. [ solo ]

They were closing on me fast enough that I wasn't going to TT safely to the finish, so I sat up and waited for Favata and Wheelden. Favata has been top 20 at MTB Nats before, so I don't know why he was behind me, but when he came through it was clear that he was truckin' and Todd and I were just along for the ride. Works for me, since the group was still 23-25 on the road.

This situation quickly got better when Todd stuffed a remount and got gapped. With Favata pulling at 9000 watts and me hiding in his draft, contributing nothing, we steadily pulled away. With just over two to go, I knew what I had to do: die a thousand deaths to stay on this wheel.

And it was all going so well, for 30 seconds, until we went flying into the turn behind the sandpit and this happened:

And BAM, it's officially PANIC TIME. Getting rolling again after a brisk soil sample like that is always hard; you get the adrenaline rush that launches you off the ground and back on your bike, but it's always gone before you're back in the zone. Before I get everything squared away mentally and physically Todd was by, and then Dave (public enemy #2) and Wayne (public enemy #1). Shit.
The Northampton sandpit is kingly. JD does good work.

I finally got back on a wheel, but it was Dave's, and with two to go Dave turns into the strongest guy in the field. Really, I don't know what he does for the first 50 minutes, but he clearly doesn't experience fatigue like a normal human. Or maybe he didn't smash his face off the ground a minute ago. Whatever it was, he was still hungry and I was still dazed, so he rode me off his wheel just before we got the bell.

Then I realized that we'd just gotten the bell, which meant I didn't get lapped on a sub-seven minute course with JPows and Driscoll in attendace, so it's not all bad. In fact, I got out my time machine, went back to talk to myself in 2006 after my first cross race, and 2006 Colin was mega stoked on that. So with his blessing, I decided to mail in the last lap, because it really hurt anyway and those guys were going fast.

Of course this left me with 27th place (so close) and Wayne in 26th (OMG NOT AGAIN), so 2009 Colin wasn't really thrilled about that.

Northampton Day 1 Bar Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

* (Babes may not be available to all racers; depends on who you date)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How We Went Down

Sometimes I just like overanalyzing the crap out of something. Don't mistake the following piece for a sign that I am all bent outta shape about the crash we had in the start at Northampton; I am just excited to share what I can figure out from watching multiple videos of it.

Video #1 is the "epic cycle-smart cyclocross crash" from Youtube. Video #2 is my own bar cam footage, currently unreleased. Neither one provides very clear coverage in the melee of the start, but that's why this is entertaining. Check it out:
The excitement starts on racer's right at the pinch in the fence. Note that riders lining up on racer's right have to go straight for just a bit before they can turn right, but riders lining up on racer's left can head straight down the starting straight. This puts pressure on racer's right as it gets pinched. Here we see a Sachs rider (Dugan, I think) and Derrick St John approaching the slight turn on the inside. Note how different their direction of travel is relative to Timmerman, leading.

Here we can see Dugan is pinned to the fence by St John, pushing his bars back into the course so he doesn't go down. It's unclear why St John is invading his space so much, but it's probably the general swarm of racers ahead of them who don't have to worry about that turn in the fence.
In response to this contact, St John shoots across the road, toward the center. Once again, look how different his direction of travel is compared to the majority of the field. It's unclear if this was his choice, or if he had to swerve to stay upright after contact with Dugan.
St John gets abruptly brought back in line with the field when he hits Lindine. Note how close together their wheels are. Lindine has half a length on him so he isn't really affected by the contact, but it sends St John back across the road in the other direction.
All hell has broken loose. St John is now an entire bike length behind Lindine, illustrating the speed difference. A leg (highlighted) can already be seen on the ground, and Ward, Bradley and Keough are all making contact as they try to avoid the crash.

So that's the front view. It took me about 10 viewings to find where the crash starts (Dugan and St John). Let's try the back view and see who actually went down first.
Bar cam, prior obvious carnage. Ricky V of Echappe is highlighted. You can see Dugan ahead and right of him, partially inside the highlight.
Just a half-second later Ricky has moved over a bit and looks uncomfortable. This is definitely in reaction to St John and Dugan making contact. Ward is already very close to Bradley, perhaps because he can see the badness coming.
The last moment of uprightness. The perspective is changed a bit because, don't forget, I'm jerking my bars like crazy and looking to move up, just like everyone else. Note that Ricky is now partially ahead of and very close to Ward. You can see another rider directly ahead of Ricky, CCB's Dylan McNicholas, who was held up as St John and Lindine made contact directly ahead of him.
It's over. Ricky is trying to stay upright and keeps drifting left, but he's going faster than McNicholas, who had to avoid a swerving St John. Ricky's front wheel can't go to his right because his speed made him overlap wheels with McNicholas. His body weight, though, is already going right, and since he can't steer that was he has to take a foot out. You can see Ward and Bradley are in full contact now because of the impending crash.
Ricky's foot is clearly on the ground now, Ward and Bradley are now picking up Keough as well. Note the bars of an Embrocation rider have abruptly jumped into view as I'm already braking.
Ricky is on the way down (look how low his shoulder number is) and Keough/Bradley/Ward are hopelessly close together. Now that Ricky's down, we can see St John ahead of him in pink, as a reference point to Video #1.

And of course, that all leads to this:
Honestly, I haven't been racing long enough to really judge if someone was at fault here. The simplest explanation is probably the right one: shit happens.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Canton Cup Cams

Sadly I've had a ton of issues editing video from my rear cam (it's HD, MP4, Widescreen) so I gave up on picture-in-picture for this week. I was able to render it but it has no sound; anyway, I'll put it on vimeo in a bit, and you can play them at the same time in two broswers or something. The rear footage wasn't too good, anyway.

I tried to make it up to you with a commentary-laden video of lap one.

Canton Cup Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Canton Cup Seat Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

If you sync these up it might be pretty cool. The seat cam starts about a second before the bar cam, so hit play on it first.

Final note: Put the seat cam on the HD setting, and watch at the 1 min mark. Look at Wilcox's Edge wheels spinning. IT'S BEAUTIFUL!!

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