NECX Champs Bar Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.
I had to support the NECX Champs on principle, because I am always in favor of things that involve more cyclocross in the world. And not just because I make ONES of dollars on a cyclocross results website!
Ice Weasels holeshotter/beer-drinker Jeremy Durrin was asking me about the bar cam midweek so I ended up putting it on his bike. I appreciated the result, mainly because he talked about stuff being on camera the entire time, rode waaay to hard to try to make the front group, then exploded so bad that I caught him and ended up finally seeing myself on camera.
But I get ahead of myself. For some weird reason I ended up staged on the front row (Verge points? I guess? I was seeded higher than THE WILICHOSKI so there must be some mistake) and nailed the clip-in. Four pedal strokes in I realize that there is only one person next to me, Adam Myerson. Which means I am definitely going to have to get the holeshot, if only only to say I got it in Adam's final pro race of his career.
(Of course he would've totally let me have it, since he rides "smart," but that's beside the point, shut up!)
So I smashed it, like, way too hard, gapped everyone, blew myself up, realized that I was riding with only about 18psi in the front tire, couldn't corner to save my life, and eventually finished 17th/19 at the end of the race.
I did hold a spot in the top 5 for the first five minutes of the race so I claim I did NOT Shopengarten it. I was on my way to executing a somewhat-plausible "recovery slide" out of the top five when Jonny Bold of all people crashed on the barriers and I stepped all over his bike. Untangling the mess rocketed me back to 15th and the buffer was gone! I chased the group I should've been in for a lap, gave up, and dedicated the rest of the race to riding the flyover.
At the end, I caught a totally blown Durrin and we rode around for a while. He agreed to a final-straightaway drag race, but then started cramping so bad on the last lap that I had to ride away just to keep a hard-charging Matt Domnarski from catching us. And those were the only two people I beat!
|If this pic was taken a few seconds later you would be able to enjoy the "shit-eating grin because I have a totally pointless holeshot" face. [photo credit: Michael Foley]|
Blog! Remember me? I'm at a transitional period in my life and insanely busy, but it's ok, we can still hang out sometimes!
One of the things I was insanely busy with was PROMOTING THE WEASEL. Every year you run a race, it gets a little easier, which is why every year we add more stuff and do even less preparation. To make sure it doesn't get any easier!
This year's highlights included barely visiting the venue until the day before the race, somehow losing the numbers I bought for it, adding a flyover built from scratch by 5 Goguens in 5 hours, and doubling the number of kegs. And having pizza and sausage vendors. And having Thom end up going to Nationals instead of promoting the race with about seven days notice.
So if I ignored you on Friday that was probably why.
But! Thanks to Miriam (Thom's wife) stepping in and saving the day, we pulled it together in 24 hours. Bonus thanks to MRC for coming up with some number sets we could use, and everyone else who volunteered on Friday for 6 hours pounding step-ins into the frozen ground. And thanks to the Saturday volunteers! And the people who offered number sets that I didn't need! And thanks to everyone who came to the damn thing. Yeah! THANKS!
But this is a race report. Focus, Colin! Focus!
Because I was the promoter I got them to hold the start for 2 minutes while I rode back to my car to pick up my bar cam. Because I was going to start on the back row and ride like a jackass, and that stuff NEEDED to be on camera. So I did. Watch the video, it's good. Assuming you like dive-bombs and trash talk.
So I diced my way through the 60-rider field (yes, 60 starters in the 1/2/3 at Ice Weasels, that's RIGHT) for a while. Kyle Smith disrespected my promoter-status and managed to hold me off for a solid 3 minutes despite me yelling at him. I ran into the back of a guy of BOTH of my first two laps trying to do the barriers at warp speed.
Originally my plan had been to race for thirty minutes before taking a beer feed. When I got mercilessly heckled on lap one for ignoring the beer feeds AND being way far back in my own race, I knew this plan was in trouble.
|My roommate/total baller Cary Fridich stopped midrace to drink a beer and give an interview. Then he beat me anyway. [ Keith Reynolds ]|
So after crushing a limited number of Cat 3 dreams for a while I got up to a group containing Alec Petro, Bob Bisson, Mark Suprenant and Matt Domnarski. I assumed that since they were all masters I would crush them. I forgot that because they were all masters, they would be ignoring the beer/cupcake/cabbage feeds.
I lasted 'till about the 25th minute before taking a beer. Choked on it, slammed it chased back onto the group. NO PROBLEM.
Next lap, beer feed, chase back on. DONE. I started getting cocky and fighting my way through the group.
Unfortunately, my preferred method of passing was to CRUSH the flyover remount while everyone else was trying to "not die." This time I slipped a pedal and hit the bottom with all my weight on the back of the saddle... CRACK!
My seatpost survived the impact but my seat angle did not. Guess I should've (over)tightened some bolts, but hey, it could've been worse. It was still rideable, provided you didn't want to sit comfortably.
I retreated the the back of the group while I thought about how uncomfortable my new riding position was.
Then I took a carrot feed.
Then I realized I had taken a carrot feed and started scanning the crowd for someone to throw it at. Here, I have just found my victim Rob Bauer, who gave me a beer while getting a carrot tossed in his face.
|TARGET ACQUIRED. COMMENCE CARROT PELTING. [Roseyscot]|
Then I drank the beer, threw the empty cup at Kyle Smith for annoying me earlier, and chased back on. I noticed it was much harder this time.
The rest of the race was a blur of awkwardly drinking beer on 2% of the course and racing my face off on the other 98% just to try to get back to the guys I had been riding with.
It "worked" up until the last lap, when Rosey gave me a full can of Red Rider and told me I had to drink it. I foolishly attempted to comply with his request, which led to Bisson and Domnarski riding through me YET AGAIN while I tried to get my heart rate low enough to a do a proper chug.
I eventually gave up with half a can remaining and gave chase. I only had two minutes of course left to solve the problem, which was surprisingly difficult with that much beer in my tummy and two motivated masters ahead of me. I got back onto Domnarski's wheel right before the runup, and the sprint practically starts from the remount... by the time I could get everything properly ramped up, we were running out of room and flying through lapped traffic. I got him at the line by a bike length at best, with Bisson just ahead.
Then I almost threw up from going anaerobic with that much beer in me.
Then I wore my chamois for another two hours while cleaning up from DA WEASEL!
And then I was really happy for the next 72 hours, because I love it when people have fun at my races!
|4 Kegs worth of this going on, because Kevin's got connections. [trigirlpink]|
|If you aren't taking savage produce feeds at DAWEASEL, you're doing it wrong. [colddayforpontooning]|
My plan of not sleeping and drinking too much continued to catch up with me at Baystate Day 1, where I lined up second-from-last and finish sixth-from-last. Not much to say about this one as most of the race was gone by the end of lap one; but I did appreciate putting Hopengarten's elite debut on camera.
I've had a lot going on my life (see previous post, infrequent readers -- thanks for and thanks for the emails/comments, frequent readers) so this race was already marked as a "do shitty, have fun" race. Tacking on a "get up too early, don't warm up, spend four hours on your feet" to it was no big deal.
What was a big deal was trying to not be terribad at announcing. I'd say something like "I have a newfound respect for Richard Fries," but I already knew it was going to be hard, which I why RMM cornered me when I was drunk to get me to sign up for it.
It went ok, which is not the same as "good," but it was a good experience. I would like to try again. Maybe at a place where I can actually see riders numbers, and we have two mics.
Anyway! Race time! I got pinned up all of 6 minutes before the start, didn't get a preride lap in, lined up dead last. I didn't care. Racing bikes isn't deep or meaningful, but it helps for getting over that stuff. Even if you suck. Maybe especially if you suck.
So we start and I'm DFL, until Hopengarten somehow managed to bump Matt Aumiller and flat his tire on the first slight bend. Matt was appropriately displeased and hey, now I'm beating one person!
I tailgunned around for most of the first lap. It was not noteworthy, although a slow trickle of dudes did get put on the chainstay cam. By the end of the lap I was "warmed up" and ready to race my bike super effectively for a brief period of time.
I starting making my way through the Cat 3 gruppetto I had fallen in with, picked up several places, only to throw it all away on the barriers. I slowed down to hop 'em like a boss (in traffic, like a fool) and Matt Budd kinda ran into my line while I was hopping the first one. As a big, big CHICKEN I slammed the brakes on, dismounted between the barriers, and everyone came back around me.
Alright Cat 3s, now you're pissing me off. I hit the rideup like it owed me money and passed no less than five people on the way up. Ian Schon had to run and hilarious/pathetically chased the chainstay cam (coming soon!) for as long as he could. But that was that.
Except for this one Wheelworks dude, who had clearly been doing stuff like "eating" and "sleeping" all week, because by lap three I wanted to take a nap and he wanted to HAMMER. So he came back around, I did not do anything about it, and soon he had ridden away. I later figured it out it was John Mosher, a badass 45+ guy, so I can live with that.
From here on out it was party time. Illegal-in-Massachusetts 4Loko handups on the rideup? Yes please.
I can see why that stuff kill college kids, because I only got a small gulp down and my throat was still burning 3 minutes later. Next lap I asked "is that 4Loko?!" and wisely took the cup that was not. Vast improvement.
I was hopping the barriers each lap, trying to impress the ladies hanging out on the rideup, but any style points I had built up were vanquished by on lap seven, when I got off balance and stuffed the front end so hard on the landing I was sure my tire was gonna rip off. Somehow it stayed on, but I looked like a fool, put a foot down and dumped the bike. Since I'm already a huge wuss about hopping, that was the end of that.
I think the only other thing worth reporting was that my decision to toss my gloves like a pro mid-race was definitely regretted by the end, when the sun was nearly gone and the thermometer said 38 degrees.
Chainstay cam coming soon, right after I meet my support group at the bar. Thanks for all the kind words internet, but you can stop now, cuz I GOT THIS.
cyclocross × Race Report × TMI
You might've noticed that it's the end of the week, and once again I've got no race report up. This time I have a totally legit excuse -- my girlfriend of the last seven years broke up with me.
YEAHHH THAT'LL STING.
I love talking about myself on the internet, even when things go shitty (except usually it's just a "race report" instead of a "relationship report") so let's give this one its own paragraph.
We had a good run, no doubt about it, but ultimately people change a lot in their 20s. There's no exciting scandal, no screaming matches, nothing dramatic about the end of it at all -- just the trite-yet-accurate phrase "we grew apart." But at least we both grew. I'm looking forward to seeing where my life goes now that I really know who I am -- and I'm sure Linnea 2.0 is going to make some guy very happy down the road. But we're not doing it together, that's for sure.
In the meantime, yeah, I could use a beer feed.
A power course masquerading as an old-school cross course. After 3 or 4 years of this thing I'm finally wise to it's tricks -- the cornfield kills you, the road kills you, the runup kills you, the barriers kill you -- then you get all of 2 minutes to recover before the cornfield starts killing you again.
A whole bunch of my cat 2 nemeses showed up (Wilcox, Fridrich, Huff) so slacking was not an option. Matt was very interested in me taking a beer feed on the runup (because beer goes down so well at 200 bpm), so I told him I'd do it at the end as long as either I had dropped Cary or he dropped me.
Then the race started.
I made "the group" on lap one, because the group was going so slow that 9/16 starters made it. Ahh, non-Verge races, where a good result seems actually plausible for over FIVE MINUTES of racing.
Obviously my legs were trash from partying and not racing Saturday, so while I was sitting in quite comfortably I noticed I went into the insta-pain-cave any time I had to go fast. I couldn't hurt effectively, but I could ride tempo like a champ.
Needless to say, if you can only ride tempo The Wilcox will drop you. He eventually took off with Shawn Milne and Kevin Gauvin leaving me, Rob Hult, Cary and Huff riding for 4th. Pulling through was not in the cards for me so I went in to my standard "wicked annoying riding companion" mode by doing as little work as possible. At one point Rob and I gapped the others and we could've totally tried to ride away if I wasn't USELESS. I bet Rob was thrilled.
So around the midpoint I ended up tailgunning (as is my nature) and Huff had a pretty sweet crash at the top of the descent that gapped me off something fierce. I chased my little heart out for a few minutes and regained contact at the road -- and I was feeling so good about it I went to pass Rob on the super-bumpy trail after the descent on the next lap. Dropped it into the 44x13 and...clunk.
Ok, my goddamn front derailleur must be too high/angled wrong, because this NEVER used to happen and ALWAYS can shift it back on when I drop... until this year.
So when I finally gave up trying to shift if, stopped, and put it on manually, they were GONE. Like 15 seconds, you aren't chasing back on, it's not even plausible, gone.
Well that sucks.
Luckily Huff was so discombobulated from his crash he was miles behind, and sixth place looked like a lock for me. Except Huff is full of roadie power, and I have to do a beer feed...
My 20 second lead with two to go was down to 10 seconds with one to go, and then I stopped at the top of the runup to choke down a beer directly in front of an official. And just like that, Huff was BACK and SHIT WAS SERIOUS. Oops.
But I had a plan! Make it to the road and fast-twitch your way to victory! I somehow convinced Huff not to attack me in the cornfield by riding so pathetically slow he started mugging for the camera. Oh yes, I am totally cracked, you're gonna smoke me on the road...
We hit the road and we both knew what was up. My plan was to either let him go first, or attack at the slight bend if he hadn't already, since the first guy to the runup has a huge advantage. I could see his hands on the drops in his shadow (thanks, late afternoon sun!) and when the bars started moving, I knew he was coming.
He got a good launch but there wasn't much surprise, so I clung grimly to his wheel for 15 seconds and then counterattacked just in time to come around for the runup. A shining moment in my career of otherwise questionable tactics! I flipped out and slayed the runup (no beer this time, thanks) and thrashed my way across the line, not realized Huff had pulled the plug on the runup and I was sprinting all-out to turn a 2-second gap into a 10-second one at the line.
Ouch. Cary and Rob put almost a minute on me after the chain drop, which makes me think I wasn't gonna beat them anyway. Sixth place was worth an entry fee refund which was immediately contributed to the Putney Co-op. So I might not have a girlfriend, but I've got FREE AMATEUR BIKE RACING on the weekend, which is nearly as good. Right? Right??
Not to foreshadow, or anything.
Since I bonked my face off on Day 1, the one thing I got right was adequate food consumption on Day 2. I did this while watching Beta Ryan murder the Cat 3 field. Again. It was awesome.
Then I went to preride a lap and made the mistake of expecting a SRAM shifter to shift gears. Instead of the paddle snapped off, which makes total sense since I did crash on it that one time, and there's no reason to expect a cyclocross product to withstand any kind of crash.
We snap shifters like it's our job, so Linnea had her extra Rival levers over to neutral support in no time flat, and the Mavic dudes were like "hell yeah we'll strip your bar, swap shifters, and recable everything in 45 minutes, and no you can't give us a beer in thanks."
I like Mavic dudes much more than SRAM components right now.
Meanwhile! One of the better women's cyclocross races of all time went down, with Sally and SBZ representing THE TEAM in the 5-rider elite group for 40 minutes straight. Linnea conveniently hung out 30 seconds behind the group, which meant I could pit for Sally and Linnea at the same time.
So I ran around the pit for 40 minutes with two bikes, then watched SBZ snag 2nd, and then realized that I had to do a bike race in 15 minutes.
Me and my resurrected bicycle took an awesome five-minute ride on the trainer and headed to the start. We started. I had a typical near-death start experience where a chain reaction of lane changes puts some dudes hip straight into your bars and sends you screaming into traffic. To quote myself: "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah"
But part of having a UCI license is not freaking out physically (verbally is still ok, luckily) so we kept it upright and I went back to sprinting. Sprinting really, really hard. Somehow I was back into the top-25 on the pavement and rolling past Jonny Sundt and Cary when I overheard this:
Jonny, to Cary: "Dude, you're going too hard."
Since I was currently passing them it was safe to say that I was also going too hard. With no warmup. I AM SO GOOD AT CYCLOCROSS! THIS IS TOTALLY GONNA WORK!
...for 30 more seconds. Suddenly I didn't feel good, couldn't hold a wheel, and the entire race passed me during lap two. It got to the point where I was sure I had a flat tire and I was swinging off the racing line, waving people by.
I got pretty close to dropping out, but I have actually learned a thing or two over these years -- five minutes after dropping out, you will start regretting dropping out. Unless your leg was just almost amputated by a chainring. Then you can be happy you dropped out.
And sure enough, after thirty minutes of rolling around thinking about how much I sucked (and everyone else sucked, and Northampton sucked, bike racing sucks, my fitness sucks, my position sucks, my tire selections sucks), a switch flipped and suddenly I was okay with life again. So I started riding hard, now that it was way too late to matter.
I rode so hard that I actually made up a tiny bit of ground on THE WILCOX for a few laps. I was GAINING on the Wilcox/Sweeney group and I was doing it without any help! This is unprecedented!
Of course they were a minute ahead of me, but whatever, I totally took 2 seconds outta their lead in two laps.
While I was clawing my way out of the grave the race started ending. How unfortunate. I managed to get through an impressive cast of characters in the closing laps though -- but it would be tacky to list them, right? The only one who stuck around was John Burns, because he'd rather be doing a six-hour mtb race or something (and beating me by half an hour in the process). I gapped Burns with two to go, only to drop my chain shifting for the ride up (don't start with me, Matt Roy)!
He passed me back and it was ON. I trailed until we got the bell and then attacked before the ride up. Shifting was clearly not worth the risk so I rode it in the big ring, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. Should've been doing that all along.
I finally dispatched Burns with this move, drooled on myself a bit, caught Mike Wissell, and caught a TOTALLY BLOWN Corey Collier to somehow make three places on the last lap. I even ended up close enough to John Hansen on the pavement to launch my patented totally-pointless-and-painful-sprint-just-to-keep-him-honest. John was honest and held me off by 1 second.
So... if you took the first half of my Day 1 race, and the second half of my Day 2 race, I'd have a totally solid sixty minutes of racing.
AND THAT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING! DAMMIT!
Then again I haven't drawn back row yet, so I could be a bit biased. Anyway, I snagged good ole #27 on Saturday, which was on the first row of non-UCI riders. Good deal? And also, just about where I would be if we staged by crossresults.com or Verge points. How convenient.
For some awesome reason everyone wanted to be on the right (even though we turned right) so I grabbed far left of row four. Obviously everyone is going to squeeze right through the turn (obviously!) so if you're not in row 1 or 2, it might be the shortest path but it sure isn't the fastest.
Thus endeth the extent of my protips for UCI cross racing.
The gun went off and some clown in front of me, who rides for Embrocation, and also has the bedroom next to me, slipped his pedal. I went through the gap like a man who hasn't beaten Cary on a cross bike in 24 months now and was FLYING. Like "I can see the front of the race" flying. Exciting times for us Cat 2's.
So I made it to the runup in 15th or something ridiculous like that, hung out in the scrum, watched Manny eat it hard on his bad shoulder (only to return the next day and get 7th, holy crap) and generally tried to hold my far-too-good place in traffic for as long as possible.
Pete Bradshaw, aka Embro rider who lives on my couch, not to be confused with the Embro rider who lives in my room or the one in the other bedroom, rode around behind me outriggering turns like it was his job and then lit me up on a straightaway because he is a better bike racer.
Lap one video!
No matter, though, Cary is behind me and Cary is the enemy.
I did the predictable shuffle-to-the-back-as-the-group-grows move, because I was a bit over my head. Somewhere along the way we were joined by Sweens, Wilcox, Wayne Bray (I was wondering when Wayne would show up and crush me this season) Sean Smith, and Mike Jenks. I hung out at the back, dangling like a big wimp.
Luckily Cary blew the rideup twice during this time (apparently staying in your pedals is part of riding a bike uphill, who knew?) and went OUT THE BACK instead of TO THE BACK like me.
Crushing my housemate was now a very real proposition. Just so long as I don't get popped off this group before the 40 minute mark...
Apparently getting up at 7 and having two clif bars for lunch does not make for 60 minutes of power in a 3pm race. Should I know better than this? Oh yes. Yes yes yes.
So I rode a lap thinking about how dumb I was, watching the group ride away from me.
Then Mike Jenks crashed on his face or something and I passed him, so that was a brief respite.
Before I could get excited about taking a place from possibly dead man, I realized that Cary was suddenly closing on me, and he was not alone. He was apparently riding a team time trial with Pete Rubi (an Embro rider who *doesn't* sleep in my house, therefore, not a real Embro rider at all) and dragging half the field with him.
And I realized that I was totally screwed, because I was getting so lightheaded it was affecting my steering, and Cary was going to take my lunch and make fun of me YET AGAIN. The dread as I crossed the finish line with two laps to go and a 10 second cushion was palpable. I am Colin Reuter and I am not good enough at bike racing.
Coming into the sandpit with 1.2 laps to go they made contact, and I prepared to hang on for dear life and see if I could work some magic in the sprint against Cary, who is a legendarily bad sprinter. Pete Rubi passes me for all of two seconds and then endos in the second sand. I magically levitate over his body, Cary doesn't. Exiting the sandpit Seamus Powell comes through hard and I grab his wheel. Cary and Pete don't. I'M NOT DEAD YET, BABY!
With one to go my body suddenly decides that adrenaline is an acceptable substitute for glycogen and starts functioning again. I attack Seamus on the pavement (seriously, ON THE PAVEMENT, how rare is that??) and lead into the top section. Go go go! Seamus is gapped, cary is gapped, Rubi is gapped, everyone is gapped except... Mike Jenks? Really?
I mean, I'm pretty I saw him die on a corner twenty minutes ago. Well, that's annoying.
Mike came around me heading into the lower field and I got the sickening feeling that he WANTED. IT. He just kept sprinting out of every corner like a man possessed, and I kept hoping he'd settle down and let us sprint it out. Yessss Mike, you should totally leave this up to a sprint. I'd never come around.
But alas, Mike was HUNGRY and I was just STARVING. Five bike lengths became fifteen bike lengths, and I can totally close that on the last straightaway, sure I can, except he's STILL sprinting out of every damn corner. Now it's 3 seconds, we're on the pavement, and who am I kidding?
22nd. Ahead of Cary, who apparently decided to crash multiple times on the last lap (or every lap, with him you never know) and in the money!
Every time I go to write this blog entry, I get caught up in the beauty of the chainstay cam and forget what I was doing. Gaaaaahd that looks good. I can't believe how stable it is. Seriously, just watch it. Yowza.
Ok, so after lasting ninety seconds at Canton, I had a problem. I don't actually train at all during the week for most of cross season, and it totally works, as long as you race every weekend. But now I had a giant bruise on my knee (my bad knee!) and the prospect of racing for under 2 minutes in the whole weekend. Crisis!
Obviously this meant I would be ignoring my knee issues (heard that before?) and heading up to Orchard Cross on Sunday. I was relieved to see that golf ball-sized lump I went to sleep with was mostly gone in the morning, I had decent range of motion, and the frigid breeze was sure to keep the swelling down.
Despite the blasting sun it was freezing up at the Orchard, so I went into winter cx racer mode, where you do a warmup on the course an hour before your race, sit in your car for 45 minutes, do a hot lap, and race. When I was sitting in my car, surprisingly cold, watching the sun go down, I did not really want to race and my legs felt like crap. Once I was on the start line, my brain was like "oh yeah, skinsuits and numbers and ProTour riders, sweet," but my legs still didn't want to race.
So of course I rode lap one way too hard. I had a mediocre start, picked off a few guys on the climbs, and suddenly realized that PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST TED KING was just in front of me. We were coming into a gravel road climb. He rides professionally in Europe. I make websites. I should definitely, without a doubt, accelerate to get on his wheel.
We passed Pete Bradshaw on the climb, which is weird because I never pass Bradshaw, but that's ok, I'm just riding 140% of threshold without really warming up, no big deal. Ted dismounted early for the stairs so I ran past him, figuring I should at least get him on camera since I came all this way.
Over the top of the hill I moved up to Jonny Bold's wheel (yeah, nothing weird about that) and set about recovering.
Two minutes later I was not recovered at all, we got out of the twisty part, and I threw out my parachute like I'd just done a sub-10 quarter mile. Ted, Pete and Mike Wissell went by me, never to be seen again.
Worst of all, my lap one heroics had given me all of a ten-second gap on Ryan Kelly, and it was going to take me a lot more than 10 seconds to recover. As if he isn't always motivated to put me in the BRKZ, his girlfriend Amanda was running around yelling at us -- so yeah, I went ROCKETING into the BRKZ on lap 2. Stephen Pierce and Collin Huston were also kind enough to come around me while I tried to figure out how if I was actually going blind due to lactic acid.
Then I had the prerequisite "lap where you feel sorry for yourself and think about quitting, then remember you can't quit because you need the training."
Then I sat on Collin Huston's wheel for a bit, and then I WANTED TO RACE AGAIN!
The lap cards said three to go, and Ryan was still in sight. Sometimes. All hope is not lost.
So I started riding really friggin' hard. Like Dave-Wilcox-Is-Behind-Me hard. I said to Collin "we have to get Ryan" and he just scoffed. So I had to drop him. I caught Pierce, he asked me how I was feeling. "I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO CATCH RYAN T. KELLY OR I WILL NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT. IT IS A SICKENING FEELING. I HOPE YOU NEVER EXPERIENCE IT," I told him. Or at least that's what I meant to say. Might've just panted "gotta catch Ryan" as I blew past.
Somehow after two laps of riding really friggin' hard I caught Ryan. Last year, Ryan would've talked some trash to me at this time. This year, he said nothing, because SHIT. IS. REAL.
I attacked him on the downhill past the pit as we got the bell, expecting him to crash his roadie brains out, or at least hit the brakes and get gapped. He did neither. This worried me.
Luckily the course was laid out in a fashion that put the Colin-favorable part at the end of the lap. As long as I could make it to the top of the runup in the lead, I could make it safely into my briar patch and escape. So I did the logical thing... get on the front and slow it down.
Because lets face it, when it's down to you and one other person on the last lap, and you've been riding your balls off for 55 minutes, and he says "hey, let's go a bit slower for a while" -- you really, really want to agree with him*.
And just like that, we made it to the runup, I ran as hard as I could, held the lead, railed the twisties, and scampered to the finish with a six second cushion.
*Unless your name is Dave Wilcox.
I lasted ninety. freaking. seconds.
I had a front row start, which I converted into sixth wheel off the pavement. Lindine, Keough and Goguen were CHECKING OUT after 90 seconds and for no good reason I wanted to be up there. I lapped wheels with Sam Morse, ended up on the outside of a corner that was much rougher than I realized, lost the front end and PLANTED my left knee in the grass. I bounced to a stop and was really surprised by little desire I had to jump up and grab my bike.
Instead I sat there in shock while the field rode by, stood up, determined that my already-questionable knee was gonna have a massive bruise on it, and decided not see how much damage I could do to it with 60 minutes of adrenaline.
Lame, but at least the footage was solid!
Downeast Cyclocross Day 1 Bar Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.
Last year's Downeast CX was traumatic. Not only was it 38 and raining, but the course was bland on a level usually reserved for Canton (burnnnn). I was so not looking forward to coming back here that I thought long and hard about scheduling this as my "off weekend." As Verge series staff, I might have to show up -- but you can't make me race!
Then. I looked at the course map and EVERYTHING changed. It was just an MS-paint scribble on a google map, but the message was clear: we are changing everything about this course, and it's going to be twisty as hell.
Combine that with everyone fast being at the Louisville USGP and suddenly, I had a longshot at UCI points in front of me. What little training plans I have were scrapped, it's time to peak, baby!
Of course the first step to having a surprisingly good race is to get a good start -- and I drew big bad #68 out of the hat for staging.
What's that? Did that last sentence MAKE NO SENSE?
Yeah, so we agree.
The UCI decided to enforce the ole "people without UCI points get staged by drawing lots" rule, which meant we had to see Alan and literally pick a number out of a hat to see where we'd be called up. He had the digits 1-80 for 25 guys, so while drawing #68 didn't mean I was 68th... it still meant back row. Because we only had 33 starters (some poor bastard was the only guy in row 5!) it wasn't that bad, but come on, this is a really dumb way to stage when we have Verge points, crossresults.com points, and embrocation sheens we could be ranked by.
Race starts. I correctly predicted the left-side pinch in turn 1 and got situated about where I belonged. In the first minute, Justin Lindine gets into a crash and ends up back with me. In the second minute, David Wilcox gets into a crash and ends up running with a bike without a rear wheel. In the third minute, Justin Lindine was riding so slow I got gapped off the wheel ahead of him.
So that was a pretty weird way to start the race.
Justin eventually pitted and sorted his issues out, rode back to my group, hung out for a while (?!), and then finished 2nd after taking the first 2 laps off. That must be cool.
I ended up with a group whose composition I totally forget once we settled in. Greg Whitney was steadily closing on us, so I figured instead of attacking the group I'd just wait for Greg to go through it and try to go with him, because I'm nothing if not lazycrafty.
Sure enough Greg catches us, immediately moves to the front and starts riding away. I jump on him like the lamprey I am and think, "take me to the UCI points, baby!"
Two minutes later he gaps me because he might seriously be riding up to the UCI points, holy crap. And since he pulled me away from the group, now it's time to ride alone and wonder how the lap cards could still be so high!
My primary concern now was the Wilcox. As pretty much anyone to race in the "Cat 2 zone" (that's ahead of the BRKZ, but outta that UCI points) can attest, Dave Wilcox turns the fastest two laps this side of Tim Johnson to end the race. If you ride the first 45 minutes with Dave, you are going to lose the race. If you have a 30 second lead on Dave after 45 minutes, that should be considered a dead heat.
I had been watching him chase me (having found a rear wheel, sadly) and the gap was steady through the middle of the race. Suddenly, with three to go, it started coming down. Sure, it looked safe, but I've been here before. Time to panic.
And by "panic" I mean "ride some really good laps." Greg's quest for UCI points had blown up and I caught him with two to go. Last year, I would've sat on his wheel here. This year, I knew the Wilcox was coming. I told Greg he was coming. I took the lead, tried to get Greg to work with me, but he just didn't have THE FEAR needed to keep the pace. He probably thought I was attacking him. I'm only attacking you to save you, Greg! We gotta goooo!
Alas! Greg was lost to the unstoppable force that is Dave Wilcox on the final lap. He was a good man, god rest his soul.
But I rode WICKED HARD (GUY!) and made it the finish with 10 seconds to spare over the Wilcox. Sure, his wheel fell out, and sure, he ate up 15 seconds in the last two laps, but the point is that I SAW IT COMING WITH ENOUGH TIME TO HANG ON! And gosh darnit, that's still a hard-earned victory in my book.
In non-Wilcox news I was 14th, which is my best UCI finish ever, and missed the last UCI points by 54 seconds. I guess that's noteworthy too.
So yeah! MRC overcame the 36-degree rainfest at their mediocre venue to summon up blue sky, 60 degrees, and a sweet new race location. Say it with me... CLOSE TO BOSTON = PROMOTER SUCCESS. Lancaster was a 45 minute drive for a lot of people and around 350 cross racers showed up. Awesome.
Even more awesome was everyone fast driving to 6 hours to Granogue when this was in their backyard. This race became the ultimate Cat 2 redemption event after 4 straight weekends of us getting beat on by Cat 1's and pros (not that there's anything wrong with that...Mid A, I'm lookin' at you). There was literally only one sub-35 Cat 1 in the race, Phil Wong. And then a bunch of 35+ Cat 1's, but we all know those guys are slow, I mean, have you seen their races? *
We staged by the best thing in the world (crossresults.com points) and I got second row, but with Manny separating his shoulder there was an open spot on the front row. I didn't roll into it, but I did have a clear shot at open space from the gun, which I converted into second wheel behind Phil in the holeshot.
And that was that.
Phil can't really corner, but he puts out about 4000 watts every time the course is straight. The course was twisty as hell which almost meant I could stay with him -- so I spent lap one chasing back onto his wheel under braking, and when I finally checked where everyone else was... they were GONE.
Alright, so all I gotta do is hang on as long as possible and then roll in for second, my brain said.
So two minutes later, the fatigue of riding 105% of race pace caught up and I STACKED. IT. HARD. Check out the end of the video. I hit the ground and was in immediate panic mode, mainly because I assuming the crash had broken one of my Rival shifters (note to self, stop running SRAM). But no, my bike still worked, and I still had 10 seconds, so it's time to toughen up and try to hold it for 55 minutes!
After 30 minutes of very legitimate "holding it," everyone was gone except Curtis Boivin, who was slowly clawing his way up to me from a back row start. Curtis is still my favorite dude in the world for jumping on a 24-hour team with me on short notice so I figured I would let him catch me. Then I figured I would ride a few laps on the limit drafting him, because he's better than me. I'm a nice guy like that.
But despite his clear superiority, I was still in contact with one lap to go, which meant it was TACTICAL RACING TIME. And immediately Curtis sat up, and I had to lead.
I was perplexed by this, because this meant I could ride at 95% instead of DYING%, which meant I was recovering, which meant I was gonna roast this old man in the sprint.
I figured he was gonna make a move on the road after the flyover (side note: awesome) and lead out the sprint. I knew it was in the bag since 1) I might hold him off on the road and 2) I can totally win a sprint, on gravel, around a corner, from second wheel, anyway. You're screwed, old man!
Then he passed me in a spot that was totally not fair (right before the flyover), we went two-abreast up the flyover, he took the lead, and I promptly got way too gapped coming into the final turn, because bike racing is always harder than you think it's going to be.
We hit the gravel road and I was at least five bike lengths back, and my attempts to "light it up" did nothing except cause my back wheel to slide around disconcertingly. By the time we hit the 40-yard straightaway I was closing on him... about a month too late. He sat up, I went ripping past after the line (of course) and then coasted off into the grass, lay down, and tried to choke on my tongue for a while.
* (tongue firmly in cheek on this one)
Mansfield Hollow is a "classic" cyclocross course that's actually pretty legit these days. Back in the day (oh yeah, I can totally say that after 4 seasons) it had a million dismounts and an insane runup that you needed someone to belay you for, but now it's pretty "normal," except for the 3 sets of barriers and the 2 sandpits. And that's a good thing! This would actually be a pretty sweet course for a Verge race, as it's got something for everyone and some nice sandpits, er, features.
ANYWAY. I keep coming back to this one even though the wind in the field is always strong and I always wilt like a daisy in the face of it. This year was no exception, 30mph gusts that were a tailwind on the finish straight and a punch in the face everywhere else. I was ready to SUCK SOME WHEELS. Like, even more than usual.
We rolled out with the standard 15 starters in a local 1/2/3, right into the wind, and it was so bad that I think people were already trying to sit in before the first turn. I was like sixth or seventh, before James Harmon owned me on the off camber (check the video), and then we got a bit gapped into the uber-long finish straight.
Luckily with a huge tailwind it was pretty easy for me to rocket back into contact with the front group. Unluckily for Manny G, it was also pretty easy to hit the gravel pile at the end of the straight going STUPIDFAST and separate your shoulder. When I saw him in the fetal position as I came by the crash I thought he was dead, so I'm glad he's not.
From there it was typical lap-one conga, I was hanging out in 7th or whatever, which seems good until you realize there's only 14 guys still in the race. I passed Mark Gunsalus on the rideup because I wanted to crowd to like me, and it totally worked. Then I got to the windy field of doom and had to sit up because Adam Sullivan was 5 seconds back, and let's face it, he was catching me there whether I tried or not.
So Adam and I settled into a 2-man time trial (just like last year!) and "worked together" for a few laps. We caught some dude who had gone out too hard and suddenly were until the top 5, aka THE MONEY.
At this moment the lap cards came out and they only said THREE! Because the A race was 45 minutes. I don't know why, exactly, but it was positively thrilling to skip straight to the endgame of a cross race for once, instead of having that horrible period from 20-40 minutes where you're just counting down the laps and trying not to crack. Or is that just me?
Adam was so excited by the lap cards that he promptly crashed and gave me a 10 second cushion. I debated waiting for him, because I'm afraid of the wind, but decided that hardening up and trying to go it alone was worth a shot. And it worked! He was closing me down in the wind, but I could open it up in the technical stuff (surprise!) so the gap was steady.
With time winding down the guy in 2nd mechanicaled and dropped back to me. Suddenly I was racing him for the last podium spot! The crowd was noticeably confused by the fact that I was fighting for the podium and thus heckling me made no sense.
The guy (Keith Gauvin) was stronger than me and also pretty crafty. He took a big pull in the wind and then sat up and said "I'm done." I didn't trust him, so I attacked instead of pulling through (I'm a dick) but then he mysteriously covered it (so he's a liar) and then attacked me back before the sand (and a strong liar, at that). I was pretty much beaten, right up until he crashed coming out of the sand and dropped his chain under his chain keeper AGAIN. I passed him while he swore at his bike and scurried home to hang onto 3rd. Whatever works, man!
And yes, that is totally a podium, albeit in a race with 15 guys, 4 of whom were on their 2nd race of the day, with the fastest rider in the race separating his shoulder on lap one, and me being the only non-Master in the top four. I'LL TAKE IT. SHADDUP.
After Night Weasels I was a wreck. We shot for the moon and pretty much made it, but being a first-time thing it was way stressful. Chip's blog entry about dropping out the Cat 3 race to do Cat 4 awards is a good example of how strung out we were. When I went to bed at 2am that night, I made a rare good decision: I was skipping Providence Day 1, which was just over 48 hours away.
I also decided not to register for Providence Day 2 until the day of the race, just in case my legs continued to be MIA on Sunday. This was of course stupid, because after spending all of Saturday AT THE RACES my brain was 110% into racing Sunday, legs or no. So I had a back row start, but oooh boy was I excited.
I did the ole "back up 10 extra feet" and hit it with a rolling start trick, and it worked pretty well. A surprisingly number of guys sat down after 10 seconds, so I also went ripping past them. It was actually a bit too good, because I got into the thick of traffic by the top of the hill, had to slow, and then got dive-bombed by the laggers under braking. During the bunny-hop off the pavement John Peterson adjusted his line in a way I didn't anticipate and I watched with horror as his rear skewer went into the spokes of my front wheel. A yelp and brake-check later, 10 guys went past and that was the end of my good start. Check the video if you don't believe me.
I also learned on lap 1 that a whole week off the bike did not do wonders for my snappiness, as Ryan Kelly of all people passed me on the off-camber. This meant I was in the dreaded BRKZ and receiving the full brunt of the crowd's heckling until I could get out of it.
I noticed that my rear tire was making that ominous farting sound when I cornered hard so I started yelling at everyone I could find about getting a bike change. Despite seven years of dating Linnea and I still don't have a telepathic link so it took me a LONG time to find her in the crowd and get her into the pit to swap the bike -- but it was slow leak, so not the end of the world.
The only real problem was going back into the BRKZ on the bike change. I busted out of the BRKZ very briefly, but then it was time to get my bike back -- and I returned to the BRKZ. And now the laps were ticking down, and they were talking about Tim Johnson on the finish straight when I was at the barriers. Time for redemption was running out.
Further confirming the failure of the telepathic link was the fact that I got my bike back with the same wheel on it! Can't believe she didn't figure out I had pit wheels that I never mentioned off in a corner of the pit, and I wanted a new rear wheel. Instead I got my rear tire inflated to 30psi and another 15 minutes of non-farting cornering.
But that's ok! Getting one's bike back (even if it does have a softening rear tire) is always good for a boost. I extricated myself from the BRKZ as well as several other zones -- the BJHZ and the BSPZ, as well as behind-kid-I-didn't-recognize zone.
I got up to the wheel of Collin Huston and prepared to reclaim the status of alpha Colin. Then my tire started folding over in turns again, and we got pulled for being 81% behind Tim Johnson. As always.
WELL THAT WAS ANTICLIMACTIC!
On the other hand, if the battery dies and I take it off on the start line...
We were back to the traditional uphill start, which is about 100x better than the sketchball downhill start. Best of all, it's nice and long so that you can pick up a ton of places by going full gas all the way to the grass and then smoking some brake pads. I started in the drops for SPRINTING POWER but didn't really make much headway until we crossed the finish line... then BAM, like clockwork everyone started backing off and I slingshotted forward into the top 30, for the second day in a row. In the biggest race on the east coast. Legs and brain were on the same page for once: LET'S DO THIS.
So that's how I ended up all of six inches off Isaac Howe's wheel in the downhill corners after the runup. Isaac was USA Crit pro champion or something like that -- all I know is that he gets paid to race a bike on the road. So he's good at that. But unbeknownst to me, this was only his third time on a cross bike in his life. Had I known that, I might've given him seven or even eight inches of space...
It being lap one we were going STUPIDFAST and he washed out his rear wheel on the right hander down the hill from the beer tent. My initial reaction, as it is for every crash, was "oh sweet, free place" but this time it was followed by the realization that I had absolutely no chance to do anything but hit him.
So I T-boned his bike, somehow didn't break anything on either bike, went F-ing flying through the air, through the course tape, somersaulted a few times, rolled to my feet and sprinted back to my bike, which was tangled with his. Ta-da! The whole thing might've only been 15 seconds (thanks for nothing, missing bar cam), but that's 15 seconds on LAP ONE, so it was also 15 places.
I was now in the dreaded BRKZ. It is an unmistakable place. It reeks of impending mockery.
So it took me a few laps to fight my way through traffic up to the DRKZ (Drafting Ryan Kelly Zone), because RKelly has gotten a lot faster at racing a cross bike this year. This is also the first year he has ridden for the greatest team in the world. Coincidence? Please.
The DRKZ is technically also the BRKZ, so I had to leave. Luckily Dave Wilcox had done his traditional slow start/fast finish thing and was back there with me. So, the race became another rousing game of draft-the-Wilcox.
I rode a few laps with Wilcox and Stephen Pierce, with Dave on the front almost the entire time. I took a pull at one point just to see what it was like, and the answer was, "not pleasant." The only good part of it was that when Dave attacked, er, pulled through on the road after, I had put out 9000 watts to stay with him, and this gapped Stephen off.
As the race neared its conclusion, we started picking up casualties -- Manny Goguen had mechanical'ed early, chased too hard, and was coming back to us, and Shaun Adamson came out of the pit just ahead of us. With one to go it was basically a group of four, and I knew that some SWEET last-lap hijinks were going to ensue. I was already planning on being 3rd wheel off the last corner and dusting everyone, because I "never lose sprints" (except when I do).
Then, outta nowhere, Diane whistles us off the course. We were a solid 60 seconds ahead of Tim Johnson ON THE LAST LAP, so there was no reason to pull us -- in fact, the rules specifically say that the 80% rule doesn't apply on the last lap.
So it was just complete and utter bullshit, and it deprived the four people who were going to stick around the finish line for seven minutes after Johnson finish from seeing a freaking NICE 4-up sprint. See, I'm not upset, I'm just sad for the fans, you know?
According to Diane it had been instigated by Pierre the French-Canadian UCI official. Canadians! And to think, I once patronized a Tim Horton's in Rhode Island. Never again!
Over here at UTSE we are running a week behind on race reports. You know how it is! In fact, this one is mainly a video report.
For some reason we did a downhill start on Saturday at Gloucester which was INSANE. I actually ran out of gears (44x11) on the hill, you can see me clicking the right shifter in the video until it clicks no more. So that's a bit fast to be going in a cross race when you have a 90-degree turn coming up.
Sure enough someone hit a hay bale and someone else came together with Justin Spinelli, and Spinelli got all f-ed up, and a bunch of guys got held up and BOOM, GOOD START FOR COLIN!
I was definitely into the top 30, which is pretty awesome in a race with 85 starters or so. There were legitimately fast people blowing by me as they tried to rectify their poor starts, but it's all good. Man, it's so much nicer to casually slip 10 places back to 35th on lap 1 and 2 than it is to try to claw your way up to 35th from 50th...
So anyway. Things get sorted out eventually and I ended up in a group with baby Myerson, er, Shaun Adamson. I decided he would be my buddy for the next few laps and set about mercilessly drafting him until we hit the 45 minute mark.
But! Then a fast Canadian came through (Thierry Laiberte) and I was feeling SO GOOD that I decided to leave Shaun and chase him. I was "drilling it" like I could race a bike and everything. Closed up to Thierry's wheel, started trying to recover, and... THWACK. Rock, meet carbon. I thought I had all the rocks on the course dialed, but this was a hidden one on an off-camber, and 30 seconds later I was FLAT.
Worst of all I had to ride past club row, descending like a total puss on my flat tire, while everyone wondered why I was being such a wimp.
Eventually I made it to the pit and did my own wheel change, which went about as well as these things ever go. 38 seconds later I was back on course (thanks, bar cam!) about 15 places lower. And ANGRY. SO ANGRY. Because there were no wheels to suck and I had to try to get back to the front.
I don't remember much after that, except slowly working my way up, even seeing Cary a few turns ahead, and then JUST BARELY getting pulled at two-to-go because I was 81% back or something. Josh Lehmann made it through and he was not more than 15 seconds up the road. Argh!
In summary, good starts are good, smashing into rocks is bad, that's bike racing.
It's Gloucester week. Gloucester is staging by crossresults.com points. It's the most awesome legitimization of the last three years of my work I could ever ask for. It's also completely terrifying. There is no way, with 1600 racers, that everything will go perfectly. Someone, somewhere, will end up staging further back than they think they should be. Just as long as they don't know where I live...
The awesome thing is that that's not even the craziest thing I'm pulling together this week. We're doing this little race you might have heard of next Wednesday and holy crap, it's out of control. Baker of Hearts is on the staff so I am perpetually inundated with an inbox of "enthusiasm." No, Chip, we cannot give everyone who registers a puppy. Stop asking.
Seriously though, this thing would never happen without Chip and Linnea stepping up. I just do the emails. Oh god, so many emails...
Aside from the puppy thing falling through, we have a lot of cool stuff planned that should make this more than just your average local race. In addition to the obvious $4000 in prize money, with equal payout for women, we've got Richard Fries on the mic, glow-in-the-dark T-shirts, insane primes (my favorite is "last cat 4 on the lead lap"), food, music, glowsticks, winner's trophies made by Leah P-B, and whatever other good/bad ideas we come up with this week.
So if you're buying what we're selling, throw me a bone and get your prereg on. I'll save you a glowstick.
Vermont Cyclocross Day 2 Race ReportYou probably already saw the bar camn, but let me tell you, lots of other, less awesome things happened after lap one.
At the end of lap one I rolled up to Cary's wheel with some very legit work on the finish straight. After getting smoked by him the day before, priority #1 on Day 2 was not to get smoked twice. So this was looking good. I know whenever someone catches me at the end of lap one, they're usually going to beat me.
I recovered as best I could on the brutal Vermont course using my preferred technique of intentionally gapping myself going into corners, and then rolling back onto the group. GOSH, I thought to myself, I am SO SMOOTH. Look at me, playing that accordion effect like an...accordion? Slick.
Mysteriously I did not recover and start feeling like attacking the group, probably because I was racing a UCI Cyclo-cross race and the only person who ever feels good in those is Tim Johnson. But, I stalked Cary successfully for two laps. It was only when I went around him after he ended up on the wrong side of the tape did I realize that things were not as hunky-dory as they seemed; he passed me back within 30 seconds, as if to make it clear that when I was leading we were not riding fast enough. And sure enough, when he came around I did need to ride harder. Ruh-roh.
We were in a pretty fluid group that eventually grew to as many as 10 people. I managed to continually filter to the back of it, because people kept recognizing that I couldn't hold a wheel. No, guys, I'm gapping myself on purpose. I SWEAR.
With four to go, the bomb went off and I went straight out the back like a guy who really needs to remember to eat for 3pm cross races. NOT THAT I'M MAKING EXCUSES! But I was a little hungry. Just sayin'.
I struggled through another lap, sat up completely with 3 to go, and then realized that I was only 1 lap away from getting pulled by the 80% rule AND they had been yelling at me about a dollar prime on the last time up the runup.
Woohoo, let's get paid! I dragged my useless legs back to the runup, rode to the top, stopped and announced "where's that effin dollar?". The effin' dollar was hiding on the top log, blending in surprisingly well. PAYDAY.
Then I had to ride disturbingly hard to hold off Matt Green and John Burns to the finish line, where we were mercifully pulled.
Nor'easter Cyclocross Race ReportI distinctly remember either Adam or JD telling me that they "broke up the climbing" on the course. That was only technically true, in that there were TWO climbs on the course instead of one. And they didn't make it a 2000m runup straight to top of Loon Mountain.
So yeah, the course was hard, wattage-hard and bike-handling hard. With a jillion feet of climbing per lap, I figured that riding something sustainable from the start was gonna be more important than dying for the draft (that's mountain bike experience, right thar) so I took it out slow. I believe that the Sports Scientists would call this "optimal pacing." In cyclocross, it's called "getting passed by Ryan Kelly."
Ryan is on my team this year so it's slightly less annoying to race him. Plus, the course was hard enough that he couldn't find the breath to hurl a single obscenity at me as he passed, a first. When I passed him back on a later climb, slowly, side-by-side at 8 mph, no one said a word. Bizarre. Like we were actually focused on the racing, or something.
On lap 3 Ryan and I had kind of integrated into a group with Collin Huston, Mike Wissell and maybe Josh Lehmann? Anyway, my strategy was starting to pay off because I was actually considering trying to move up. I got as far as 2nd wheel, with the other Collin leading (a battle for Colin-supremacy! May the fewest L's win!) going into the runup, went to sprint by him, and then I remembered we had a giant windy part coming up and I should let him lead. So I backed off.
We crested the top and he took a bad line into the descent. Since I have the memory of a goldfish when racing, I forgot that I didn't want to pass him and prepared to make a sweet move when he inevitably went wide on the exit.
Unfortunately he realized how bad his line was, braked hard at the apex, and instead of bombing underneath his line I clipped his back wheel and dumped my handlebars into his spokes.
Then I chased him down the hill screaming "STOP STOP STOP" while he tried to figure out why his back wheel was locked up.
My brake lever was wedged through two spokes, the shift lever was through a DIFFERENT spoke, and the whole thing was behind his rear derailleur. After 20 seconds of fighting with it, I gave up and snapped my brake lever off so at least one of us could carry on.
Worst of all, I ended up with no bar cam video from the crash because the stupid memory card was full from Vegas and I forgot to delete it.
STUPID MEMORY CARD WHY YOU GOTTA BE LIKE THAT.
Gross. Cross has not been good to me this year. Good thing I only need a good ride at New England Worlds to forget it all.
This is her contribution:
I stayed up until 1:30 AM watching the live/broken video feed from cyclingdirt. One of the highlights was her coming up over the barriers, getting cheered on by Richard Fries, and then botching a remount with the camera focused on her. I asked about it and got this response:
"I was like, "oh god there's a crazy person on the wrong side of the barriers" and got distracted."
In case you forgot, Linnea rides for Embrocation Cycling Journal, which is a true cycling brand, not like my thing, which is mainly a website with a server that catches fire on Mondays.
I will go fight a fire now, enjoy the video. No, I don't know where you're staging at Gloucester yet.
Anyway, Day 1 in Vermont was yet another iteration of the long-gradual-climbing course they like to run up there. It is not "real cross" IMO, but of course, it is a "bike race" and therefore one should shut up and race it. The 2-minute power section from before the start line to the top of the hill, though? Gross. Same with the climb from the barriers to the top of the BMX track, although you could at least argue that cleaning the BMX track takes skill.
I remember thinking 20 seconds into the holeshot, "oh, this is going fine" right before getting bottled up dead center of the pack and having 10 guys pass me. Whoops. It was ok, though, because when we hit the first turn that required braking, two guys crashed on the inside and the crash spilled out until it was tape-to-tape, slowing a ton of people. I snuck by like a tape-stretching ninja and took my 10 places back.
Dylan was in the crash and turned on "Angry Dylan" mode which led to him passing me back about 30 seconds later and crashing against 45 seconds later. I told him to chill out, because I like to pretend that people listen to me in bike races.
Lap one of a UCI race is usually pretty fun when you aren't expecting much; just hold your place in the train and let the adrenaline do the work. It's only when you need to "make the selection" that it really hurts, and I had no intention of anything like that. So I banged out a fast lap along with everyone else and things seem ok after seven minutes.
Then we went back up the long gradual climb of eff-you and suddenly things were not ok. Kevin went around me, which was annoying, and then Cary too, which was REALLY annoying.
Side Note: Cary lives with me now, and didn't race a bike from April 24-Sept 10 this year. I haven't beaten him on a cross bike in 2 years and counting. If he dies in his sleep, it was probably me.
Luckily the climb topped out and I was able to keep it tight on the descent to kind of integrate into some kind of group. Five or more people, but I was in "conservation mode" so I did nothing to fight my way off the back. Meanwhile Cary and Kevin moved up, and next thing I know the group is strung out and they're definitely more like "10 seconds up" than "in my group."
That didn't matter, though, because I wasn't even in "my" group anymore, I was going straight out the back like a guy who spent a little too long making websites and thinking of excuses and not enough time... wait, 2010 is the year of no excuses. Shut up, me.
It turned out that laps 3 and 4 were the "bad laps" and I did actually have some pedaling in me after that. Right as I turned the corner back into being able to suffer effectively, Stephen Pierce from CB caught me and I raised the pace to stay on his wheel.
I was out-descending him, but he was out-climbing me (what is this, a mountain bike race??) so I took the lead on the descent, which really just showed him the lines. So then he was just plain out-riding me. But with 3 to go he broke his bike when I was ahead of him, and I thought he had cracked, so my self-esteem went shooting back up and I started gobbling up places.
With two-to-go we very narrowly made it through to stay on the lead lap. The new "80% rule" was in affect, and we were probably 79.5% of a lap behind Tim Johnson at that point, The official was standing there with his watch, looking at our group of 3 (me, Dave Wilcox, some Canuck) and I was READY to sprint if he stepped out to pull us. But alas, we made it through, so I had to ride two more laps. Dave was coming back from a mechanical so he promptly rode me off his wheel, but we both dispatched the Canadian in this process. I'll take it.
With one to go I suddenly realized that hurtin' time was down to only 8 minutes and I did have 8 minutes of hurting left. Evan Huff was up the road, looking kinda tired and kinda reachable, so I went all out. I was cramping (of course) over the top of the BMX track but it's pretty much all downhill from there, so let's go!
Ahead, Brian Lawney had dropped an anchor and Evan smelled blood. Really unfortunate as I was otherwise set up pretty well for a ninja-attack sprint against Evan at the finish. Instead, while I was chasing at 105%, Evan started chasing Brian at 105%, and I couldn't get quite close enough. I came out of the trees about 10 yards behind the two of them, with all of us in full sprint. Evan got around Brian, Brian sat down, and I kept it flat out all the way to line...only to go rocketing past Brian a few bike lengths AFTER the line.
As they say, "that's bike racing."
* Josh Lehmann arms hitting my brake hoods as he tries to avoid the scorer's table in the start
* A Keough crashing on the down/up and trying to go upstream with his bike to get out of the fray
* Greg Whitney getting cleaned out by an unknown Canadian on a 180
* Riding the rideup in traffic
* Slamming the door on someone (Matt Green maybe?) who tried to dive bomb me on the descent after the rideup.
I'm writing this from the Sun Valley airport as I prepare to miss a connection in
Salt Lake City. I'm in Sun Valley because my brother is out here (I've done this before) and I had this funny idea that a bunch of endurance rides at altitude were gonna somehow save my cross season. Am I right? Probably not, but I'm not even sure it needs saving. Talk to me after Gloucester.
But let's back up. I did the Treasure Valley Rally a few weeks back, and didn't write it up. GOSH, I WONDER WHY??
TVR is the hardest mountain bike course I've raced this year, possibly ever. It's as technical as the Gloucester Grind, but on the side of a hill. Being an EFTA race, the elite race was 3 hours long. This might have contributed to why we had a (very) modest turnout of 6 elite riders. For 40 minutes I was somewhat
competitive. I was riding with B2C2 cohort Will Crissman, with Jon Bernhard and Mike Rowell just ahead. Everything seemed pretty normal. Then, I went down a super technical descent and was suddenly unable to control my bike. Apparently this is what happens when you run out of glycogen because you didn't eat dinner the night before. Will passed me, the trail pitched back up, and suddenly I was DONE.
The next 2 hours were probably the feeblest racing performance of my life. Kevin Hines and Mike Rowell DNFed with flats, so I soldiered on in the hope that they would pay 4 deep. I eventually finished 10 minutes out of third in 2:54. I did not get paid, which is exactly what I deserved. I did manage to hold Linnea off by 11 minutes, so at least the ride home was tolerable.
And thus ended my 2010 MTB campaign! A pro contract is forthcoming, I expect.
Originally, I thought that the Landmine MTB race was on Labor Day Weekend, so I made plans to hit my Sun Valley altitude camp the weekend after. After all, with Quad cross on that Sunday drawing over 400 racers, surely no one would put a MTB race on the same day, right? Right.
So that's how I ended up missing Landmine. Too bad, because it's a great race, but
come on mountain bike organizers -- stop trying to fight 'cross, and start taking OPEN weekends for your events. The fact that Quad and Landmine were the same day, while there were zero races over Labor Day weekend, is evidence that the MTB and CX calendars don't talk to each other. But they should!
While everyone else was gluing tubulars and practicing cross (it's like riding a bike! you never forget!) I headed to Idaho to ride with my brother. But first, for the first time in my life, I talked to someone on a plane for more than 3 sentences. Let me tell you the epically nerdy tale:
So this girl sits down next to me, about my age, and I'm like "ewwww girls" and I
ignore her. I get my laptop out and start crossresultsing it up. So far, normal.
Girl opens her laptop, starts playing Warcraft 3. A nerd eyebrow is raised.
Girl gets sick of Warcraft 3, starts playing Heroes 3, a game from 1999. ELEVEN YEARS AGO. She gets a message saying "the CD is required to play."
I HAVE A HEROES 3 CD IN MY LAPTOP BECAUSE I WAS PLAYING IT YESTERDAY
This coincidence is so incredible that even I feel compelled to talk to a stranger.
She ended up being a Mormon (NTTAWWT), but still, I have now talked to exactly one girl in my life due to my video game habit, which is one more than almost every other nerd out there. I win, suckers!
Anyway. Back to the trip. I was flying directly into Sun Valley (like a boss) and the only airline that goes there is Delta. How much does Delta charge for a bike? $200 each way. Unacceptable. ENTER THE AIRPORT NINJA.
After some failed attempts to find a giant suitcase I could put my frame (sans fork) in, with the clock ticking down, I realized that Trek Top Fuel 9.8 is actually a folding bike in disguise. Take the crank off, front derailleur off, four linkage bolts out, and BOOM.
You can fold the rear triangle onto the main triangle, and you've got a remarkably tiny pile of parts that fits "easily" into a suitcase. The downside? Strip a bolt during the process and you just killed your bike. Not that suspension linkage bolts have a torque spec of 70in-lbs or anything...
|This is a Trek 9.8, I swear.|
Despite my reputation for incompetent mechanical abilities, I was able to turn this back into a mountain bike in only 45 minutes or so at the other end. I had one mechanical during the entire trip, and that was a chainring bolt loosening up. I'd like to point out that I did not remove my chainrings during the packing process, and therefore can claim it worked "perfectly."
Sun Valley might be one of the more underrated MTB destinations out there. At 6000 feet, you have a chance of breathing (so of course, we rode at 9000 feet, just to ensure I got my ass kicked), there's semi-smooth flowing trails all over the place, and for the first time in my life I saw more women on the trails than men. Seriously, it seems as though the non-working Sun Valley mom LOVES mountain biking. Being rich is cool. I could dig it.
I'm gonna assume you don't actually need to know about every ride I did out there, so we'll gloss over that. I did 7 in 5 days and it rocked. Apparently MTB Nationals is in Sun Valley next year, which should be cool, but it's at Dollar Mountain, and there aren't any trails there yet(?!) -- or at least that's what the locals told me. In any case, I'd plan on sticking around for a few days after Nats to ride, if I were you. Email me and I'll tell you where to go.
Let's wrap it up with some pics:
|Standard Sun Valley ride -- 45 minutes of climbing and then 1000 foot descent back to town.|
|I got a GoPro HD in preparation for cross season. It's also good for capturing the F-ING GORGEOUS VIEW, not that we don't have those in Boston.|
|4 inches of snow at 9000 feet on day 1. On September 6th. A snowline at 8000 feet did not save my lungs as much as I'd hoped.|
I made the crossresults.com team site. Did I mention that I started a team? I think so. So far they are a beautiful army of misfit cyclist who heed my beck and call. This past weekend they kicked off the season and did hilariously poorly. I already love them. Except for Kevin.
The crossresults.com kits came in this week and they look fabulous. One thing I forgot to mention last time I was gushing about them, these aren't the team kits so much as the website kits. The team will be racing in skinsuits with a different but equally sexy color scheme. If you were avoiding purchase of one of these because you didn't want to own the kit of team you don't race for... fear not. This will just let people know that you like THE INTERNET, and especially RESULTS. Which is a good thing to put out there when meeting new people.
Here are some true quotes from the first few folks to sport the kit publicly:
Aside from all the crossresults.com teamsturbation I've been doing, Linnea, Chip and I have been cooking up a pretty exciting night race. I've been trying to find a venue for a night race near Boston for over a year now, but after getting rudely squelched by Nashoba last year I'd kind of given up hope... until Chip-o-lini got involved this summer and started doing the dirty work of cold calling people on the phone and charming them into letting us use their property.
Chip hit the jackpot with Ski Ward in Shrewsbury. They're close enough to Boston and Providence, (35/50 miles), they've got a huge amount of cross-rideable terrain under lights, and they're nearly as stoked on doing a cross race as we are. It's pretty awesome to walk around a venue and have every single what-if question answered with a positive from the owner himself.
So it's totally on. October 6th, the Wednesday between Gloucester and Providence. I should stop writing this blog post right now and start filing USAC forms, but let's do a quick information dump before we go:
5:30 PM - Cat 4 Men (Merch, large bag of sand)
6:30 PM - Cat 3 Men (Merch, small bag of sand)
7:30 PM - Elite Women 1/2/3 ($1999/15)
7:30 PM - Cat 4 Women (Merch, possibility finishing on the lead lap, ziploc bag of sand)
8:30 PM - Elite Men 1/2/3 ($1999/15 + $175 bonus money for the top 40+ dudes)
Three dismounts per lap
Quite a bit of climbing, but we've got JD doing course consulting so it will be cool
Quite a bit of descending, and I'm a mountain biker so it will be cool
Richard Fries being Richard Fries
As many Pro riders as I can possibly bribe into attending
In short, it's basically going to be a Verge race. But at night. Should you be there? HOLYSHITYES.
If this sounds so awesome that you and your business would like to be a title sponsor...email me, and I'll even throw in a crossresults.com kit on the side. That's right, your employer/business could potentially be buying you one of those baller kits I started the post with. Come on man, you read all the way to the end, you deserve it!