Thursday, September 29, 2011

GMCX Day 2/Noreaster Race Report

I'm not quite sure how this happened, but by making my day job instead of my night job I actually got busier. The last few weeks since I got back from vacation out west have been as busy as I've ever been in my life. In case you were wondering why I wasn't cranking out blog content like the old days.

Last night I went out to the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross and it was totally dope. It turns out that participating in a night race is almost as fun as putting one on. Luckily the original New England night race is next week so I get to do both! Yay!

If you need me between now and then, I'll be NOT SLEEPING.

Also, can we get a third night race next year? Then we could make an awesome series and no one would ever sleep in the month of October.

But anyway, before I talk about Midnight Ride I should discuss Green Mountain CX Day 2 (the Euro-ing) and Noreaster (return of the Euro) because there were bike races that happened and must be logged.

GMCX Day 2

Day 2 was the UCI day of the GMCX weekend, which meant SERIOUS dudes showing up. Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll appeared and also some giant French guy named BAZEEEN who has been 13th at Worlds. Meanwhile I can't even get 13th in a UCI race in New England, so yeah, lining up against guys like that is what I live for.

Somehow they made a course with even more climbing/less recovery than the day before so I didn't try very hard in the start, because at some point I knew all the riding up hills was going to break me and really I'm just a giant wuss.

The reality of my crappy start was evident from a spectator saying to me "don't worry about your start, Colin, move up, you got this" at the barriers. Ooooh it was that bad? I looked back and there were a max of eight guys behind me. Crap.

Then I rode my face off for forty five minutes. I hitched a ride whenever possible from other dudes who could "pedal hard" and it mostly worked. Somehow Donny Green started behind me and came through at approximately 8 billion watts; he was not one of the wheels I stayed on. Nor Ted King, who rode from dead last on lap one to fifth overall.

Aside from those two guys I drafted pretty successfully.

Near the end of the race I had gotten picked up by the one and only Austin Pferd, who rides corners more aggressively than anyone I've ever followed. This is actually not awesome at all, because when you enter a corner behind him it only goes two ways:

1) Austin shreds it so hard that he defies physics and you get gapped, having to chase
2) Austin shreds it so hard that physics puts him in his place, and he crashes/bobbles, slowing you down.

Either way, every turn is an adventure.

We had also picked up a Canadian U23 and Manny Goguen. Manny's special talent is riding stupidly fast despite a lung disease, which means sometimes he ends up not riding so fast at all. Aka "with me."

Usually when we catch Manny he has gone to a very sad place and goes straight out the back of the group, but this time he was somehow functioning at 90% of normal Manny, which is exactly my race pace. So he stuck around. Then, with one lap to go, he turned back into ELITE MANNY and hot damn did we get shredded. By the time I realized what was going on Austin and I were already gapped pretty bad and Manny had dragged the Canuck off with him.

My efforts to close the gap by riding my face off led to riding my legs off instead and dropping 40 seconds to Manny in the last lap.

But, I still finished in 21st, in the money, on the lead lap, and only 7 minutes behind BAZEEEEEEEEN so it was ok.


The next weekend I returned to the glorious town of Burlington with my secret 'cross prodigy Christin for MORE UCI RACING. Adam, JD and Al had made a totally sick Northampton-esque racetrack at North Beach in Burlington... and then it rained. And rained. And rained.


Seriously, that sucks, I don't really know what the heck you can do when your race is in a public park and it rains that much, except cancel it? This is why I run my races at places where they say stuff to me like "we don't really care if you rip it up too much since we're gonna blow snow on it a month later."

As for the actual racing, the race started and about 3 seconds later Michael Rea was surfing Evan Huff through the start line. As with most ugly crashes, I assumed Evan was dead and I was going to have start answering the phone at BikeReg, so I kinda lost my nerve for a bit and hit the grass ahead of like, two people.

Then everyone pedaled as hard as they could in mud for a while, then it got even deeper so we ran in the mud. Somewhere along the line, Cary got the world's most tenacious course tape wrapped around his derailleur and dropped like three minutes fixing it. It was really bad. Even I would only wish a, say, 1-minute handicap on him.

There was one sketchy mud chute on the backside of the course that I crushed on lap two to get back into the "group" I was riding with of Chris Hamlin, Noah Tautfest and Synjen Morocco. Some spectators were audibly pleased with the shredding, so for all of five seconds I was enjoying myself.

Then Synjen started riding away from everyone by pedaling hard in deep mud, and I stopped having fun.

Also, I had lost both of my handlebar plugs at this point since 'cross is crazy like that.

SO. The setup. I come into the mud chute on lap three and I'm thinking "I AM GOING TO SHRED THIS SO HARD SOMEONE WILL TELL ADAM CRAIG ABOUT IT." Unfortunately, I am not as good as Adam Craig so when I attempted to increase the previous lap's radness by 25% I instead increased my over-the-bars-ness by 100%.

FORTUNATELY instead of going over the bars all the way I was able to catch the end of my handlebars in my groin. UNFORTUNATELY the bare metal that had been exposed by my loss of end-plug caused the bar to cut straight through my skinsuit and into my groin about 2 inches away from one of my favorite body parts.

I bounced back up from the crash, because RACING!, but thenn I realized how there was now a giant hole in the crotch of my skinsuit and a stinging, mud-filled abrasion to go with it, and I DNF'ed as fast as possible.

Then I wandered around showing people the gnarly gash in my skinsuit and my almost-balls, which was the highlight of my day, in retrospect.

Here is a picture that Kris Dobie took of me before my wardrobe malfunction.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Green Mountain Cyclocross Day 1 Race Report

This race is the perfect thing to cool off my cross fever.  I hadn't raced in 5 weeks (FIVE!  WEEKS!) and just like everyone else I was on the verge of melting due to the excitement of 'cross season.  So let's drive 3.5 hours to race a grass hillclimb!  Bike racing, guys!

Thus ends my commentary on the Day 1 course.  Shut up and pedal, Colin!  Er, blog.  Like you do.

My greatest failure was leaving the SD card for my GoPro at home, but bringing the rest of the camera.  They told us we had 60 seconds to start, I turned the camera on, and it was like... beep beep beep you're an idiot.  So if you were hoping for sick 'cross vids, it's gonna be another week.  Although watching some footage from last year might do in a pinch.

The reason I hadn't raced for a month is because I was frolicking around the western half of the country with Christin.  As you might know, the western half of this country is at "elevation" and thus I had actually been "doping" while I was out there.  My only hope was that the surplus of red blood cells in my body would make up for the utter lack of intensity training I had been doing while everyone else was getting an erroneous DNF at Quad cross.


ANYWAY, eventually we had to race bikes, and even though Day 1 wasn't a UCI race all the fast-but-not-pro guys were there and I was scared.  We took off up the frustratingly-long-hill to start the race and everything was cool right until we had to turn a tiny bit -- then everyone bunched up on the inside, Donny Green went into the groove in the middle of the course, and then Donny Green exploded.  This was not good for Donny or anyone behind him, but since I was next to him... I was totally ok with that.  Because there are no friends when you have a number on.

That is all I remember from lap one.  I just rode around telling myself not to freak out and go super-anaerobic, which is actually pretty tough on lap one of a cross race.  All in all I thought it went pretty well, in that I didn't want to drop out at the end of lap one.

Instead, I latched onto the back of a HEFTY group 'o dudes being lead by one Wayne Bray.  Do you remember Wayne Bray?  Because I sure talk about him a lot around here.  Good news, guys, this year he has even more watts than last year and I got to ride in his group on a course with lots of climbing!  It was so fun*!

The hefty group had nine or so guys and there was lots of drafting, so I was pretty sheltered from the LUDICROUS SPEED when we weren't climbing.  Of course, on the 50% of the course that was uphill, I was getting punched in the face (along with everyone else in the group, I think) by Wayne's quads.  It didn't take long before I realized that I was not going to be able to do this for another [ungodly number on the lap cards] laps.

Luckily there were also a bunch of U23s in DA GROUP and they also were having trouble taking a punch right to their just-out-of-high-school faces.  Two Canadian kids (WELCOME TO AMERICA!!) and Jeff Bahnson (PAYBACK FOR WHEN YOU BEAT ME WHEN YOU WERE 15!!) were the first to fall off the back.

Of course since I was riding on the back like an idiot/softie, I got to chase back on when les enfants suddenly quit holding the wheel in front of them.  Which I deserved.  "Chasing back on" mainly happened on the downhills, since "riding as hard as I can just to not lose ground to Wayne" was happening on the uphills.

Now, if you're chasing on the downhills and chasing on the uphills, where are you resting?  NOWHERE.  And how does Colin do when he can't rest?  BADLY.  Eventually Evan Huff came off, taking me with him, and my legs were a-ok with that.

So then I rode around with Evan (who works at BikeReg with me!) and by "with" I mean "behind."  I took a dollar prime and told him about it, which was pretty good psychological warfare if I do say so myself.  He got angry and attacked me, but no one attacks me successfully on the downhill!  So I clung like a barnacle.  As usual.  Welcome to cross season race reports.

Finally we got the bell and lil' Jesse Keough** and Sweens were actually quite close ahead of Evan and me.  I figured after 3 laps of looking at Evan's butt I would make myself useful and take a pull (ON THE CLIMB, EVEN!).  As soon as I was in front of Evan, he overlapped wheels with me in the groove and then crashed, because apparently I don't pull hard enough on climbs.  This further soured him on riding with me, and he will probably not be getting me free coffee at work anytime soon.

But, but, there was real live KEOUGH in front of me and one should never take the opportunity to race a KEOUGH lightly.  Sweens realized that I was coming for Jesse with all the old-man-wattage I could muster and wisely fled the scene.

I caught Jesse on the downhill before the barriers before the finish, and attacked him right after the barriers, because you don't go to the line with a Keough even if you fancy yourself a good sprinter, like I do.  Fortunately he didn't respond, because about 5 seconds after my attack (and 30 seconds before the finish line) I was like "wow, this is ENTIRELY UNSUSTAINABLE."  So I slowed down and held the gap for 16th overall.

I regret to note that this still put me 7 seconds behind my #1 frenemy Kevin.  Which stinks.

But hey, cross is back!

*fun not valid in Alaska or Hawaii
**not actually that little anymore

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