Saturday, October 30, 2010

Canton Cup Race Report

Canton Cup Chainstay Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

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!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Downeast Cyclocross Day 1 Race Report

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, points, and embrocation sheens we could be ranked by.

Racing time!

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.

 I'm a gazelle! [rick]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

MRC/ Race Report Bar Cam Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

I'll be honest with you, I completely forgot to blog about this after I made the videos. I had so much fun at the this race, and the internet was so abuzz with talk about it, I had this idea that I had contributed to the discussion as well. But then I went to write up Downeast Day 1 today and was like... wait... my last post was Mansfield? Really?

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 ( 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) CX Bar Cam - Finish from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross Race Report

Mansfield Hollow Cyclocross Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.

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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Providence Cross Fest Day 2 Race Report

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.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 2 Race Report

I think the bar cam is actually my own personal guardian angel. Put it on the bike and NOTHING can befall me. I want sweet footage of crashes as much as the next guy -- but I and everyone around me seems to stay upright as soon as the camera's on.

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!

Monday, October 11, 2010

GP of Gloucester Day 1 Race Report/Bar Cam

GP Gloucester Lap 1 UCI from colin reuter on Vimeo.

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.

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