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.