Friday, August 31, 2012

Datamining Crossresults - Part 2

Round two of the datamining series was delayed by the decision the tile my shower. Much like bike racing, tiling a shower is a surprisingly long exercise in frustration that leaves you mildly satisfied when the dust clears. But I digress. One stat I missed from last time was "biggest overall race day." You won't be surprised to see the race series at the top of the chart...

Largest Race Days

RankDateRaceTotal Racers
110/03/2010Cross Crusade: Alpenrose Dairy1482
210/16/2011Cross Crusade #31476
310/02/2011Cross Crusade #11466
410/04/2009Cross Crusade #11434
510/24/2010Cross Crusade: Portland International Raceway1323
2811/13/2011MFG #6 Woodland Park888
3110/01/2011Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 1828

Turns out you have to go all the way down to 28th to find a non-Cross Crusade race on the list, and 31st to find a non-Pacific Northwest race. They basically do Gloucester EVERY WEEKEND in Portland.

On the flip side, here's the smallest races we've ever seen:

Smallest Race Days
DateRaceTotal Racers
11/11/2008Jaarmarktcross Niel (GvA Trofee #2)10
10/04/2009Officially Unofficial Illinois State Cyclocross Single Speed Championship12
10/13/2011Cross at the College12
10/20/2011Cross at the College16
01/09/2010Belgian National Championships17
01/11/2009Dutch Cyclo-cross Championship18
02/03/2010Parkcross Maldegem19
01/15/2012KnoxVelo CX #319
01/14/2012KnoxVelo CX #220

Some fun stuff here. Jaarmarktcross appears to be partial results from a race in Europe (or THE HARDEST RACE IN EUROPE, EVER) since last place is Kevin Pauwels. The Officially Unofficial Illinois SSCX Champs... yeah, with a name like that, you know some weird stuff happened. The other hundred racers in the event probably DNF'ed due to alcohol poisoning.

Next we've got some rinky-dink training races in Oregon (but they have results on, so they COUNT, DAMMIT!) and some rinky-dinky National Championships from the two best cyclocrossing countries in the world.

As for the KnoxVelo series... maybe Tennessee just isn't ready for January 'cross, just yet. But I applaud you for trying!

But enough about races. Let's talk about RACERS.

One of the most lovable features on crossresults is the NEMESIS/VICTIM display, based on a totally made-up statistic called a "defeat." A defeat, of course, is when you beat someone by ten or fewer places, making yourself TOTALLY ANNOYING because you were SO CLOSE.

What if we change the definition of "defeat" to "beating someone, once, by any margin, as long as you both finished the race?" (I made up the stat, so I can change the definition whenever I want) Who DEFEATED the most people in the last 12 months?

The guy at the top of this list is a true legend of the sport, the busiest racer in the game, often appearing in multiple races on the same day and sometimes even multiple events, in different states, on the same day... the one...the only...UNKNOWN RIDER!

(Waits for applause to die down)

Most Unique Defeats, Last 12 months, Men
RacerUnique Defeats
? ?801
Craig Etheridge704
Jerry Troiano689
Gregg Rice609
Alexander Bremer604
Edwin Bagley603
Edward Gadient596
Philip Stango592
Timothy Durrin592
Chandler Delinks590

To get on this list, you need to finish at the front regularly, but you also need to MOVE AROUND a lot. Just dominating the same hundred guys week in and week out isn't enough -- you need to jump fields, or even better, regions, to find fresh blood.

No one did this better than Craig Etheridge, Raleigh's sponsored sandbagging singlespeeding machine, who got sent to EVERY USGP to bring a SS beatdown to the locals, and also won CrossVegas, and also won both the SS race and 2/3 race ALL THREE days of the Cincy C3 weekend.

Apparently the only people safe from Craig's wrath were folks with UCI licenses. AHEM.

In second place we have Jerry Troiano, who took a more traditional route to beating lots of people -- racing fast in the Mid Atlantic and New England, and upgrading to Cat 3 in the middle of season. If you're a Cat 3 or Cat 4 on the East Coast, Jerry probably beat you at some point last year.

Third place, Gregg Rice, one of the benefactors of the epically-sized Masters 35+ C races in the Cross Crusade that we talked about last time. Winning one of those was worth over 200 defeats -- and while Gregg didn't win, or even come close, he branched out into Singlespeed and traveled a lot, at least for a Pacific Northwest guy. His 609 unique defeats put him well behind the top two, but leading the pack of the rest.

The two New England guys on this list were both fast mid-level New Englanders who also did a fair bit of travel. In addition to feeding on the fat, 150-rider Amateur Men's fields in New England, Chandler regularly hit local 1/2/3 races, traveled to USGPs, and Nationals, all in his quest to be the most prolific and annoying man around. Durrin, meanwhile, started as a Cat 4, beat everyone, moved to cat 3, beat almost everyone, and threw in most of a NYCROSS series as well, beating Delinks by 2 defeats for the title of "most defeats in New England."

Onto the women!

Most Defeats, Last 12 months, Women,
RacerUnique Defeats
Victoria Gates293
Crystal Anthony278
Michelle Blackwood265
Ellen Noble264
Jennifer Johnson263
Becca Schepps261
Kaitlin Antonneau259
Kari Studley256
Lori Cooke254
Rebecca Blatt253

I'm not gonna lie, I was SHOCKED not see a woman from the Pacific Northwest top this list. While they have the biggest women's fields, they're in the beginner race, which sees more casual competitors and less travel -- or at least, that's my theory for why the aren't more women from the Cross Crusade here. Only Michelle Blackwood and Jennifer Johnson made the list.

The list is actually topped by two super-busy racers from New England -- Victoria Gates (29 3/4 races in the last 12 months, pretty much everything in New England, plus ChiCrossCup and Nationals) and Crystal Anthony, who raced nonstop UCI and 1/2/3 races in the Mid Atlantic and New England all year, finishing up with Nationals.

But still, Elite Women's fields are practically the smallest out there. How could Crystal beat 278 UNIQUE humans?

Her secret, of course, was entering and winning the Men's 3/4 race at Ice Weasels, bagging her 70 unique defeats, none of them with ovaries, in just 45 minutes of work!

So, the simplest solution to beating a lot of other people if you're a woman? Start racing with the men. Prediction: Emma White will top this list in 2013, as she appears to have a full season of racing Cat 3 men at UCI events planned.

I compiled lists for "most defeated," as well, but I will not post them out of respect to the people named. Getting beat by 655 different people in a year hurts enough, you don't need me putting your name on the internet for it!

I think I can wrap this up next week with Part 3! Stay tuned!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Datamining Crossresults, Part 1

As starts its seventh season, with a results database now tipping the scales at 478,000 results, I thought it would be fun to do some proper data mining while we're all STOKED and just waiting for the season to start. Meg Curry, the Gloucester sponsorship coordinator, asked me if the sold-out Gloucester women's 3/4 field was the biggest women's field in US CX history, so let's start there.

Sadly, it's not. The field limit at Gloucester was 125, but that was shared with the Cub Junior field -- and on Day 1 of the Gloucester GP the 3/4 Women's field recorded 103 finishers. That's impressive, but not quite big enough to take top honors -- in 2010, Cross Crusade: Alpenrose Dairy logged 106 Beginner Women to take the crown of "biggest women's category ever."

Coming in 3rd? The 2009 National Championships Elite Race, with 102 racers -- the biggest elite race in the database. The full list of the top women's fields:

Largest Fields, Women

DateRaceCategory# of racers
10/3/2010Cross Crusade: Alpenrose DairyBeginner Women106
10/1/2011Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 1Amateur Women103
12/13/2009Cross Nationals Day 4Women - Elite102
10/2/2011Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester Day 2Amateur Women100
10/3/2010GP of Gloucester Day 1Cat 3/4 Women99
12/12/2010Cross Nationals Day 5Women Cat 1/2/3 Elite 97

So, if I was writing Gloucester sponsorship proposals, I would say that Gloucester had the "biggest women's cyclocross field in the history of USACycling." Heh*.

* - I just realized that Jeff Bramhall already made this joke on the internet, and my brain convinced me it had come up with that line on its own. BAD BRAIN! NO COFFEE!

While Cross Crusade has the top spot for women, the next five races are outside the Pacific Northwest. On the men's side, though, things are different:

Largest Fields, Men
DateRaceCategory# of racers
10/2/2011Cross Crusade #1Masters 35+ C217
11/8/2009SSCXWCMen SSCXWC213
10/3/2010Cross Crusade: Alpenrose DairyMasters 35+ C212
10/24/2010Cross Crusade: Portland International RacewayMasters 35+ C203
10/16/2011Cross Crusade #3Masters 35+ C197
11/13/2011Cross Crusade #8Masters 35+ C192

Yeah. Week in and week out, the 35+ C race at Cross Crusade is RIDICULOUSLY HUGE. The only thing to compete with it at all is the 2009 Singlespeed CX World Championships (also in Cross Crusade land!) In fact, you have to go all the way down to the 16th place to find a non-Cross Crusade Masters 35+ C race on the list, the Men B 35+ race from 2006 CX Nationals (with 160 finishers). To find a non-Nationals, non-Crusade race, you have to go all the way to 27th, where GP Gloucester Day 1 shows up with 150 Amateur Men.

If you're curious, the biggest field ever recorded in Euro? Masters World Champs, 2010, Men 45-49. 78 racers. Ha! Euros ain't got nothin on this!

For women, Azencross Loenhout sets the bar with 58 Elite women in 2008.

Of course, sometimes it's not the SIZE of the field, it's the SPEED of the field, right? Using our glorious points system (not to be confused with the poor imitation found of, lately), we can look through the database and find out which race had the most scrub-free, average-fastest race field show up.

Hey guess what the top five races are all in Europe!

Fastest Average Fields, Men
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
2/5/2012Superprestige HoogstratenElite Men GvA29132.18
2/12/2011Superprestige Noordzeecross MiddelkerkeElite Men GvA28136.28
2/6/2011Superprestige HoogstratenElite Men GvA26136.56
2/11/2012Superprestige MiddelkerkeElite Men GvA32138.06
1/8/2012Belgian National ChampionshipElite Men GvA16140.56

So yeah, small races in Belgium? TERRIFYING. Same story on the women's side, although, since the Superprestige series doesn't think women are people, it's all World Cups:

Fastest Average Fields, Women
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
1/16/2011World Cup #7Elite Women GvA29286.10
12/26/2011World Cup #6Elite Women GvA28291.89
1/15/2012World Cup #7Elite Women GvA26297.59
1/29/2012World ChampionshipsElite Women GvA32300.76
2/13/2011Internationale Cyclo-cross Heerlen GP HeutsElite Women GvA16301.03

But hey, you're reading this from AMERICA, so you really want to know where the hardest races in AMERICA have been, right?

Fastest Men's Fields Outside Europe
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
10/6/2007Whitmore's Landscaping Super Cross Day 1Elite Men27199.18
11/6/2011Cincy3 Harbin ParkMen UCI Elite Men30201.35
11/12/2011USGP Cyclocross-Derby City CupMen Pro/Cat 160 202.33
11/18/2007USGP Mercer Cup p/b Knapp's CycleryMen Pro/Cat 147203.58
12/11/2011USGP of Cyclocross Round #8Men Cat 1/250204.73

Unsurprisingly, we see three USGP's on the list, but none of them were harder than CRAZY MYLES'S 2007 Whitmore's Landscaping Cross Cup, which featured Erwin Vervecken atop a podium, with Wicks, Trebon, Johnson and Powers beside him. More importantly, the race is on Long Island, so it was a decent drive for the "elite scrubs" of the world, and even more importantly, there were 14 DNFs out of 41 starters -- so the few scrubs that did show up got ruthlessly lapped and dropped out. Only 17 riders made the lead lap. Thus, it had the average fastest finish ever recorded outside Europe.

A big factor on this list is UCI races in a region that doesn't have a lot of UCI races -- thus your "normal Cat 2" doesn't own a UCI license, and doesn't drag down the field quality by getting himself into the elite race. A great example of the is race #2, Cincy3 Harbin Park -- only 30 racers, and a ton of speed at the front of the race. Meanwhile the local fast guys were down in the 2/3 field.

This applies to the Derby City Cup (only UCI race in the Louisville area) and USGP #8 (only UCI race in PDX), but it doesn't explain the Mercer Cup p/b Knapp's Cyclery, back in 2007 -- this race took place in a heavy UCI region (Mid Atlantic) and featured 47 finishers. Yet, it was CRAZY FAST. Last place? Danny Summerhill. 45th, Ethan Gilmour, 37th, Derrick St John, 31st, Nick Keough, etc etc. Myerson and McCormack both missed the top 20, the field was so fast!

I have no idea why this happened, though. Do you?

Fastest Women's Fields outside of Europe
DateRaceFieldNumber of RacersAverage Racer Points
12/11/2011USGP of Cyclocross Round #8Women Cat 1/235353.92
9/26/2010USGP Cyclocross-Planet Bike CupWomen Pro/1/223354.28
11/15/2009USGP Mercer Cup Day 2UCI Women Elite27354.66
11/4/2011Cincy3 Cyclo-StampedeUCI Elite Women21356.32
12/31/2011Chicago Cross Cup New Year's Resolution Day 1Women Pro/Cat 1/2 21357.36

The locals-who-won't-buy-UCI-licenses effect is huge on the women's side, too -- four of these five women's race were the A race in a rare A/B/C women's categorization, with the B race being a 2/3 or even a 1/2/3 to let the local non-UCI racers go somewhere. Note that this doesn't happen in New England, because expect our cat 2 women to own UCI licenses, or stay home and blog angrily about the lack of a women's masters race.

The only race on that list without a true women's B field (although it did have women's Masters) was the 2009 USGP Mercer Cup Day 1. I had the misfortune of racing that race and I can tell you, it was a crappy, flat, demoralizing mudfest, and I'm gonna assume everyone doing poorly just plain dropped out, leaving only the best riders on the results sheet.

Holy cow, that took a long time to write up. Time for a(nother) beer! Coming up soon: Biggest Race Days, Smallest Race Days, Most Defeats.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Darkhorse 40 Race Report

The Darkhorse 40 sits atop my "New England Mountain Bike Races I Care About" list alongside The Pinnacle.  The difference between The Pinnacle and Darkhorse, though, is that EVERYONE knows how rad DH40 is.  This year's race sold out in March, about 2 weeks after registration opened, capped at 400 racers.  We can't be more than a few years away from a Vermont 50 style "full in 20 minutes" registration situation here.

This time around I made sure to get Christin involved, because I knew her love of DA BIG RING and DA NOT CLIMBING would mesh perfectly with DA HORSE.

The beauty of non-sanctioned MTB racing is simpler categories, so for men we had:  Elite, Singlespeed, Sport, and Master.  Thus!  Fifty or more "elite" men lined up at 8:50.  The promoter was ready to rock and told us we had "three minutes," which led to the field freaking out, because apparently everyone had a friend who wasn't lined up yet!  (Start time was "9 AM").  Sure enough, over the next five minutes, at least ten guys rode up the start straight.  PROmoter tip:  starting early is NOT COOL.

Of course Hawaiian Shirt Mike is cool so we didn't go early.

Once underway it was the usual 2+ mile dirt road start, with enough climbing to get things SORTED.  Kind of.  Greg Whits and I hung out and talked about how cool we were and how we could see the front of the race.

At the singletrack we played a little game of "foot-down" where about 75% of riders got eliminated.  I, however, did not!

Once onto the singletrack, the top ten riders immediately opened a gap on the rest of us because of THAT GUY.  You know, THAT GUY who puts in a big effort right at the end of the road section, dive bombs his way into the singletrack, and then doesn't actually have a bike riding ability to hold the great position he just stole?  Yeah.  That guy!

Luckily with forty freakin miles to go, on a wicked humid day in the upper eighties, THAT GUY might just be saving your race.  Of the ten dudes who got away... five of them finished in the top five.  The other five melted like butter in a microwave and finished way back.  I was bottled up, but it was... aight.

On the first rocky downhill, Greg was two riders ahead of me when he exploded like...uh.. an egg in a microwave.  He popped up as soon as he hit the ground in that "I'm-full-of-adrenaline-and-I'm-ok" way.  He was, of course, not really okay, because he had just broken his hand.  Dammit Greg!

A mile or so later, dude in front of me decides to look down and futz with his water bottle in the singletrack.  The Darkhorse 40 does not like when you disrespect it by breaking eye contact, so of course he clipped a sapling and YARD SALED all over the course in front of me.  Much like Greg he adamantly proclaimed his okay-ness as I skidded to a stop to check on him, but alas he was never seen again.

I continued to be bottled up behind dudes.  It was already effing hot.  I was okay with this.

I decided that I was riding how you drive on snow -- easy on the gas, easy on the brakes.  No sudden movements, smooth like water.  Sounds a lot better than "riding lazy," right?  My traveling companions were  sprinting out of turns like Colin circa 2009, which is to say, too hard, too soon.

Eventually I filtered through the traffic and ended up with some clear air around mile 15.  No longer contained by physical objects, I was unable to talk myself down any longer and started going hahdah, kid.  I passed some guys who were reeling from the heat and their early efforts, and just about the time I decided I was going to pass everyone and win, some guy catches me from behind!

Darn it.

He was coming back from a flat and going fast.  I upped it to definitely-unsustainable pace and we ripped singletrack together at ludicrous speed to finish the lap, catching more blown riders and getting informed that we were riding in "sixth or seventh."

Dude that's good!

Then the shenanigans started.

I was so hydrated that I decided to pee on the downhill on the gravel road to start lap two.  I gave my endurance buddies a little gap, so that no one saw my pee-pee, and let it rip.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

I had just finished "tidying up" when A BEE FLEW IN MY HELMET AND STUNG ME!  I immediately punched myself in the head frantically to deal with the situation.  Then I tore my helmet off and rode into the ditch, despite the fact that I was on a straight, gravel, road.


My hopes that the bee was radioactive, and that I would gain some sort of honey-producing, flower-pollinating superpower, were crushed.  The only superpower I acquired was the power to note that that one spot on my head hurt, every time I went hard for the rest of the race!

When all was said and done, my endurance buddies were now barely in sight on the road.  I timed them at 25 seconds ahead, which is still basically a tie with 18 miles to race, right?

So then I flatted, just to make sure I'd never see them again.

I flatted right on the Greg-Whitney's-Third-Metacarpal Memorial Downhill, in fact.  I was out of the saddle, but my tire pressure was low, and my sidewalls have seen probably a thousand miles of use, and I hit something bad with the back wheel.  Whatever it was, I was dead flat and cursing within three seconds.

According to my Garmin I spent just under five minutes stopped fixing the flat.  Is that good?  Serious question.  The major obstacle to flat fixage was the fact that, leaning over while stopped, sweat was pouring into my eyes at such a rate that I did most of the change with one or zero eyes open, working mainly by feel.

I think four elites and the top two singlespeeders went by during this time.

The second singlespeeder was my teammate Will, and I declared that I was "coming for him" as he rode past.  He approved this plan, but then I took awhile putting all my stuff back together, and when I DID start going I felt like crap, so yeah, maybe I'm not coming for you after all, Will.

So flatting isn't cool, but it's kinda luck and kinda skill, so I'm not gonna make excuses  (see title pic).  Although if you want to take five minutes off my time on the results in your head....that IS cool.

For a while I entertained the notion of drilling it for the remaining hour of the race and making up all the time I had lost.  Then I realized that the heat index was roughly one jillion and my primary concern was actually just getting to the finish.

At the mile 12 feed station the crowd was rowdy.  They tried to give me water.  I asked for a beer.  The cheers were loud!  I will assume that I had defended my crown from last year as the first elite rider to stop for beer.

While I was drinking my beer, a drunken aid station volunteer helpfully informed me, "your buddy [referring to Will] had two beers."

"GET ME ANOTHER BEER!" I yelled at the nice man.  Will is a middle-school principal.  NO MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL OUTDRINKS ME, DAMMIT!

I chugged my second recovery beverage and decided that I would settle for a tie with Will.

Then I burped for, like, five miles.

If you want to take another minute off my time for "beers," that would be cool.

I burped and sweated and melted for the last eight miles, getting progressively less and less racey.  But it was okay!  The Darkhorse always ends as a sweltering deathmarch.  That's why I love it!

At the end, I finished as 11th elite, in 3:19.  Then I had to sit in my car with the AC on full blast for 20 minutes before I could do ANYTHING.

Will went on to have an amazing second lap, finishing in 3:14 and winning singlespeed by six minutes.  He did not, however, have ANY beers at the aid station... it's just that drunken aid staff are really smart about peer pressure.  Well played, Darkhorse.  Well played.  Burp.

I spent a while freaking out about how Christin had to ride, like, an hour longer than me, and was DEFINITELY going to die of heat stroke, but while I was freaking out I lost track of time and she finished.  And she was not dying of heat stroke.  She was actually totally stoked!  Which was a relief.

Then we spent the next 12 hours feeling nauseous and then eating and then feeling nauseous again.  Yay bikes!

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