The Tour of the Hilltowns was my first road race ever. I rode Cat 5. Figured that I would do well, since I was an expert mountain biker. I WAS WRONG.
I came back 2 years later, as a stronger rider, in Cat 4. I figured that I would do well. Was I wrong? Let's find out!
We talked a bit about this being a Back Bay team race, but eventually attendance whittled down to me and newly-upgraded-Cat-5 Harrison. We had some discussions about tactics, but mainly I used my "vast" experience to tell him that planning in advance was pointless, it all comes down to who isn't cramping on the hills at the end.
The field was full, 100 guys, and the first 20 miles of rolling downhill saw absolutely no action. This led to a lot of tight riding and no less than three Cat-4-tastic crashes, at least one of which resulted in a free ambulance ride. First we accordioned into an uphill so hard that some guy got taken down and half the field went through the grass to get around. Ok, whatever. Then, on the real 35+ mph downhill, some guy decided that a 6-foot lane change was the appropriate way to deal with a crack in the road, and that led to absolutely nothing funny at all. I was right next to him and I decided that I would never lap wheels with anyone on a downhill again, after seeing the result.
Finally, with a mile before the real racing starts (East Hawley Rd), a guy went off into the sandy shoulder, tried to ride back on, got his front wheel up, not his rear, and caused a crash that blocked off half the field. Harrison was caught behind this, which was a pretty bad deal for him with a monster climb just four minutes away.
I was surprised how easy it was to roll up to 2nd wheel right as the climb started. A UVM kid led it out and then exploded completely after a minute, and lo and behold I'm leading the field up the climb. I was about to break out the Chris Anker Sorensen pain face when guys started coming up next to me. Wait, 350w isn't good enough? Shit.
So I was 2nd wheel, then 3rd, then 5th, then 8th, and I started to have not much fun at all, riding 7mph in blazing sun with high humidity at threshold. My powertap started showing me numbers beginning with "2", and gaps started opening ahead of me. Danger, danger!
Out of nowhere, some guy rides up next to me, breathing really hard, and says "whew, this is tough!" It's f-ing Harrison, back from the dead! He had just climbed from off-the-back position at the start of the climb, through the entire field, up to me, in 10 minutes. And he wants to talk about it. Amazing.
We hit the next steep pitch, the one with the switchback, and he rode off ahead, because there were still ten people in the race he hadn't passed on the climb. Meanwhile, my face was on fire and I was praying for death.
So after 18 minutes at 300w, I got over the top, in what could either be considered "Chase 1" or "Chase 2." Harrison was in chase 1, which made contact with the three leaders so fast it could barely be considered a chase. My group, meanwhile, grew to five people, and I got some practice for cross season by dying a thousand deaths to stay on a wheel while we chased.
Suddenly I realized why I felt so terrible, now that my HR was down to a pedestrian 182 bpm -- holy crap did I have to pee. So I decided to execute the saddest sixty seconds of my bike racing career:
I took a pull and swung off. I stopped pedaling and peed my shorts. I couldn't pee fast enough, so I got gapped off the back. I started chasing, tipped my head down, and my sunglasses fell out of my helmet and onto the pavement. I did not stop for them.
So, in the name of bike racing I have just soiled myself and cost myself $100 in equipment. Beautiful.
Eventually our chase group caught the leaders and it was time to start trying to recover. I was AMAZED at how bad I felt anytime I wasn't coasting. Recovering from above-threshold efforts is not something I practice. This should probably change.
Soon after, Shane from Threshold pulled the Matt-Green-trademarked-demoralizing-midrace-conversation on me. I was trying to figure out how to ride 30 more miles with cramping legs, while hanging precariously onto the draft, and he wanted to have a pleasant conversation about cyclocross. I was not pleased to find out how chipper he was.
Luckily I was not going to be hanging around him, or anyone else in the lead group, much longer. We turned the corner into the feed zone, I shifted to my little ring, and the friggin chain jammed between the rings. Did you know it's possible to put your inner chainring on backwards? Yes? Well, I didn't. Until now.
I jumped off and ripped the chain out with the fury of a thousand Andy Schlecks. I leapt back on, ready to chase, and it went right back in. Or maybe it never came out? I have no idea, but this broke my spirit. I stopped, ghost-rode my bike into the ditch, and sat down to feel sorry for myself. Because bike racing is serious business.
Keep in mind this is all 50 yards before the feed zone, and Linnea (along with everyone else) is watching me. At least I didn't soil myself again.
After a few minutes of sadness the Cat 4 grupetto rolled by, and I jumped in with them to ride 20 miles back to the finish. Near the end it started pouring rain, and then I cramped up and got shelled by them on the last climb, just in case there was any doubt that Hilltowns totally owns me.
Harrison was 13th, and Bret Bedard dominated me in yet another sport by winning it, so good for them. I will be going back to the mountain bike scene with my tail between my legs, once again.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Tour of the Hilltowns was my first road race ever. I rode Cat 5. Figured that I would do well, since I was an expert mountain biker. I WAS WRONG.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Lots of stuff went on this weekend (guess what? It involved bikes!) but none of it is screaming BLOG ME. So here we are, on Wednesday, with nothing reported. I figured leaving my bike sale post up for a few days would be a good idea, anyway.
Alright, so Saturday was the big bad Gran Fundo out in Easthampton with J-Pows. It was hot as hell, but not a race. However the front group (gruppo Tim Johnson, as the say in Europe) didn't get the memo and periodically rode crazy fast anyway. After 33 miles, there was ice cream. This ended my time in the front group, because I retired to the shade to be majestic for a while with my ice cream.
Rolled the rest of way with Jake, Linnea, Dave, and other unknown stragglers. The pace was reasonable except when cameras were in sight, or when Linnea insisted on climbing at over 300 watts, because she didn't have a powertap telling her that was too fast. I sucked it up and rode fast, too. Then we drank beer and ate pork with probably 50% of this blog's readership, and it was good.
Sunday I had to go to work in the afternoon, because apparently part of being a software developer is actually finishing stuff. So I couldn't do any racing this weekend... or could I? Wait, I can still sneak in some training in at... wait for it... a TRAINING race! So long as it's done in time for me to get to work. And off to the Wells Ave B race I went.
Apparently some guy who is "just getting back into racing" went from the gun and averaged 26mph for an hour. So he sure got some training in. I never actually saw the move go, and discussed whether or not someone was up the road with Rosey -- "We're averaging 25.5, you're telling me there's a Cat 4 holding us off solo? Yeah right."
Luckily he was so far ahead of us that the primes were field primes, and I ended up CASHING IN. There was basically a prime every 2nd or 3rd lap for the entire race, so opportunities were plentiful. I discovered that the finish straight at Wells is way too long to go from the last corner, but that doesn't stop people from doing it every damn prime. So I surfed "early jump guy"'s wheel to the tune of 3 prime wins, including the lucrative $15 halfway prime.
Rosey happened to be "early jump guy" on the halfway prime, so I tried to repay him for his sacrifice with a leadout for the last Lara Bar prime. Competition was minimal, since we were racing for $2 worth of product samples at two laps to go. I want to make a joke about headbutting here, but it's about 3 days to late for that. Anyway, we crushed it, and then I sat up because I'm terrified of the finish sprint at Wells.
Final note! Ryan's sexy crossresults.com kit is available to you, valued-blog-reader-who-reads-to-the-end, for the modest sum of $61/jersey, $75/bibs. This is at cost unless I get a million buyers, and can increase the order size -- but you're still doing me a favor because I have $4000 worth of kits on my credit card right now! Yikes.
I fit a men's small (jersey & shorts), and we've got women's sizes too. Email me an order (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the next week while I can still change sizes around and BAM, it's yours in 4 weeks. Paypal, check, cash, money order, Nigerian email scams accepted. $5 extra for shipping if you want your stuff before you see me at the races, or if you don't want to see me under any circumstances.
Update! The guy who won the Wells Ave B race by riding solo for an hour just won the 2/3 TT at WMSR, which makes you wonder how the heck he was in the Wells Ave B race to begin with... Source 1, source 2
Friday, July 16, 2010
Update: These have both sold.
Hey! Do you like cross bikes?? Do you like buying cross bikes? Are you 5'7" to 5'11"? You are?? Well then I've got a deal for you!
Bike #1 is a 2008 Ridley X-Fire. This was raced by me during the 2008 cross season and placed 4th in the Verge 2/3 Men's series (damn you, Jeremy Dunn!). Last year it was my pit bike and saw limited use. The specs:
54" carbon frame & fork (geometry available at Ridley)
SRAM Rival gruppo, except for --
SRAM Red rear shifter (bling!!)
FSA Gossamer compact cranks (38x46)
Cane Creek SCX-5 Brakes
Bontrager Select Aluminum Bars
Ritchey Comp Aluminum Seatpost
FSA 100mm Stem
Ksyrium SL SSC Clincher Wheelset (2005, new rims 2009)
Up next is a legendary New England cyclocross machine -- a 2003 Giant TCX previously owned by the one and only PVB. He raced it for an unknown number of years before selling it to Linnea in 2007. She raced 2 seasons of UCI Women on it. This bike is BATTLE HARDENED. It will last longer in the cross scene than you will.
Best of all it has front & rear disc tabs, so if you want to pick up a cheap disc cx bike to mess with now that UCI has gone crazy, this is your chance.
54" compact aluminium frame w/carbon fork
9-spd Ultegra shifters
FSA Carbon crank, 130CD, 42 single ring w/chainguard
Froglegs front brakes
Generic canti rear brakes
No wheels (wheel in picture for demonstration purposes only!)
Both of these bikes can be test ridden/purchased from Somerville, MA or at a random selection of MTB/Road/CX races in New England. Email email@example.com with inquiries.
Posted by Colin R at 9:45 PM
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I'm pulling a Parsons on this one and sending you over to the Back Bay Cycling Club site to read about how my Attleboro critsperience went.
Check back later in the week for a special "preorder" price on the crossresults.com kit, aka "wow kits are expensive and I don't want to put 30 of these things on my credit card."
Thursday, July 8, 2010
You might've noticed that it was 99 degrees and humid earlier this week in Boston. What's that you say, every other blogger on the facetwitter already mentioned this? Good, because that's not what I'm thinking about, anyway.
So the other night I stayed at work until 11, because hey, air conditioned internet is only at one place in my life, and it's not at home! And then I rolled out into the sticky haze of the night to ride home, and some weird stuff happened -- I had a flashback to when I used to ride home from work in Florida at night. Same hot air, same darkness, same absurd sense of freedom despite the fact that all I was doing in the morning was coming right back to work.
And I was hit with one of the strongest waves of nostalgia I've ever felt. Which is messed up. You know why I never blog about when I lived in Florida? IT SUCKED. Everything about it. My life is better in every single measurable way now than it was back then, and yet, given the right stimuli, my brain suddenly misses it.
So, that's how I realized that nostalgia is stupid. Just say no! Live for the future, not the past, because your brain is probably just lying to you about how great the past was!
We now return to your intermittently scheduled cycling blog.
So I kind of forgot to mention that I have been riding for the Back Bay Cycling Club since late May. It's one of those things that just never really fit into a post, like everything else that isn't directly about ME and ME RACING BIKES. Like there's this girl I race bikes with, but I can barely even remember to mention that SHE RACED BIKES most of the time, so the team has no chance here.
Anyway. My former relationship with IBC was dissolved due to, shall we say, broken promises. A common thing in the dirty underworld of amateur sponsorship, I'm sure, but one that has to be dealt with nonetheless. Now I'm on a real team, with kits and a mailing list and team races and all kinds of crazy stuff. It's very exciting, it even gets me kind of excited to race on the road.
Of course no sooner do I stop dealing with IBC than I snap the goddamn chainstay on my Trek.
Luckily I live in a city full of Trek dealers, so I can run around being a bike shop tramp until I find a new suitor willing to take on me and my baggage.
Lastly, to hit the rule-of-3 for this post, I guess it's time to announce the crossresults.com cyclocross team, which is my new ridiculously time-consuming endeavor. You might think that this makes no sense, because I just joined Back Bay and they're awesome. You are right. But it is just bike racing, so I think making sense is totally optional.
It's just like making a website, except instead of programming you write emails, and instead of getting emails you stare at your inbox all day wonder why no one will write back. Sometime during this process I realized that running a team sucks, but being a CRAZY TEAM DICTATOR is awesome, so awesome that it makes it worth it. HEY RYAN, CHANGE THE KIT DESIGN! AGAIN! BECAUSE I USED MS PAINT TO DO A THING!
Really though, I had to do it, just to keep up with the Myersons.
James "King of Branding" Morrison from Embro has been an amazing resource for advice on this project. That dude can answer the hell out of an email. It is glorious.
As long as I'm drunkenly name-dropping, it should be noted that Pedros, JRA Cycles, BH and Challenge are also pretty cool. Everyone else who ignored my emails -- not as cool. Except Edge. I can't stay mad at you. (Call me?)
Whoops, out of coffee and time. If you're excited by Ryan's kit design, you can probably buy one, but only if you refresh this blog every day for the next week to prove your dedication.
Posted by Colin R at 7:37 PM
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Up until about 8 days before this race, I had no plans of going to Wisconsin for the Subaru Cup, because air travel is expensive and I'm a Cat 1, so I can get pretty much the same race experience out there that I do here. I figured I would let Linnea go out by herself to do the pro thing and I would sit at home and count my money.
Sometime around the Pinnacle, though, I started to notice that I had put together some pretty decent races against New England Pros in the last month, so maybe I should try to do something interesting with this alleged fitness, before it disappeared? I bought some tickets to Wisconsin and prepared to (obviously) win the Cat 1 Open race there and get me a pro upgrade.
... and next thing I know, I'm on the 10th row of the starting grid with 100 Cat 1s, and there is no way I am gonna do anything except stare at butts in singletrack for the first lap. So that PRO upgrade is out the window, good thing there's still a bike race to do here.
(Some people might say, "A real man would win, even if he started 70th." I say, if you can do that, you are a huge sandbagger.)
We were packed tight in the start grid, because it bottlenecked hard in the first minute, so the guys at the back (which would be me) were so nervous about this that we just kept pushing up until our handlebars were hitting the seatpost of the guy ahead. I see no way this could go badly.
So I avoided the first crash in the start. But, I got held up a bit, which definitely kept me out of the second crash and also put me 15 seconds down after 30 seconds of riding. But I'm not bitter.
15 more seconds of riding got me to the first bottleneck, which was a mere 3 riders wide and was currently being occupied by 6 bodies. I ran through the woods along with everyone else, and the race was on.
The first lap was angsty. I was part of the problem. Staging had been first-come, first-serve, with some people coming really early, so a lot of decently fast people (like myself, I'd like to think) were mired in traffic at the biggest race of our season and NOT HAPPY about it. Every time we'd hit a doubletrack section, half the guys around me would start sprinting, and we'd leadfrog over a rider or two and then jam on the brakes and bump each other on the way back into the singletrack.
On the long switchback climb in the woods I couldn't even see the leaders, but I *could* see at least 40 people ahead of me. So happy about this. There was nowhere to pass, which allowed some of us to save up enough oxygen to "encourage" the guys who were slowing traffic down.
Near the top of the "mountain" (265 vertical feet of the best skiing in Southern Wisconsin!) I put the cherry on top of my douchey first lap with the douchiest pass I've ever made. There was some stakes and tape coming into the singletrack with a line of guys waiting for it, but screw it, I just passed two people on the doubletrack and I'm JACKED UP ON ADRENALINE WOOO BIKE RACING, right? So there was a tiny space between the guys and the tape, not wide enough for my bars, but tape is stretchy and I'm excited. So I get two more guys (who were patiently waiting for traffic) by stretching the tape, and poking them with my bars when the stakes prevent me from stretching the tape. The final bar-poke is more of a bodycheck, which of course leaves me riding into the woods, just fine, and the other rider with a foot down.
I'm not proud. I just can't be trusted once stakes and tape are involved, my brain is just like, "what would Myerson do?"
This awesome move did not free me from traffic, just moved me further up in it. I got more dudes on the next doubletrack, got another dude on the downhill, got more dudes in the field, got held up on the climb, passed some more guys, held up on the descent, and finished lap one right where I started it: lookin at BUTTS!
But! Starting the lap means the feed zone, and the feed zone means GIRLS. Specifically, Linnea's brother's girlfriend and her sister, who were assuredly having trouble reconciling my boasting with my mid-30s position. Time to flip out! I ignored the water (it was only 85 and humid, why would I need that?) and passed like four more people in the feed zone. Once I was out of their site, I had clear space ahead of me for the first time in the race... and yet mysteriously, had to slow down.
So lap two was the traditional "wtf was I thinking?" lap, where you notice that it's really hot out, and your pacing strategy was terrible. The course was fun, and the climbs were mostly shaded, so this wasn't half as miserable as when this happens at, say, Mt Snow. But my meteoric rise through the field was definitely over. A spectator told me I was in 28th, which made me sad, especially because I couldn't do anything about it.
For the rest of the race, I just reeled in whomever I could, threw as much water on my head as possible, and rode through the feed zone as fast as my little legs would allow. This "strategy" was good for apparently seven more places, because I finished 21st.
I was kinda bummed about this until I saw the results, and discovered that I had passed and beaten GOLDEN BIKE GUY from last year. Hey, if GOLDEN BIKE GUY can only get 31st, then this must be a fast field! Good for me! Or something.
Also notable on the results was pro xc skier/Olympian Garrott Kuzzy. I did not beat him. But I was only 2:30 behind him, which is about the amount of time I would lose every 5k in a ski race with him. Seems like a win to me.
After the race I was totally messed up from the heat and humidity, so another 4 hours in the sun watching Linnea and then the pro men was a great idea. I especially liked this idea when the sun went down and I was like, why is my skin still so hot to the touch?
Linnea did not have a very good day racing bikes, but since she's an awesome girlfriend I didn't have to do anything properly boyfriendy like comforting her. She was just like, "that sucked," and I was like, "yeah, it kinda did" and then we silently agreed to never speak of it again. Until I wrote this blog. Whoops.
I have some bar cam footage from this race, which I may edit into a glorious movie about other guys' butts someday.