Thursday, September 30, 2010

Promoter Madness & Race Report Catchup

Hey, blog, remember me? That guy who used to write stuff on you? Yeahhh. I'm back! You still love me, right? Right??

It's Gloucester week. Gloucester is staging by 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.

The dope Night Weasels logo designed by Thom P, coming soon to a T-shirt near you.

Blog excuses over! Let's do some quick race reports.

Vermont Cyclocross Day 2 Race Report

You 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 Report

I 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.


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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cross Vegas Video

I am not cool enough to go to Vegas, but Linnea is. I gave her the camera, with instructions to generate me some non-embarrassing blog content, since all I have is videos of me getting dropped by Cary.

This is her contribution:

Cross Vegas Elite Women Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

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.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Green Mountain Cyclocross Day 1 Race Report

Race reports! Do we still do these, internet? Or do we just update our Facebook status and be done with it? God, I hope not.

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."

Race travel, clown car style.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Green Mountain Cyclocross Day 2 Bar Camn

Not a typo. A "Camn" is just a cam that looks damnnnnn good.

Green Mountain Cyclocross Day 2 Bar Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Lap highlights:
* 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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Precross Rambling

It was only a matter of time. My plan of "do as much stuff as you can before you die" has finally backfired and now I have TOO MUCH STUFF TO DO. The blog is now far enough down the todo list that I can barely do it justice, but with cross season coming up I'm hoping for a resurgence starting next week. For now, let's catch up.

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."


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.
We all know what's next.  Here's hoping for 20 race reports, 20 seat cams, 2 successfully promoted races, 1 successfully run team and one non-crashing website.  I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it.  GO!

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