Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Welcome

This post is a work in progress. Launching a fancy new blog locale soon. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NBX Grand Prix - ECCC Championships

Never Graduate

In the week leading up to the race I spent my days looking all over the interwebs and on the telephone trying to get information on different grad schools I'm interested in my ongoing effort to not get a job upon graduation in June. Right now I'm mostly interested in a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering, so if you have any recommendations, or attend a school with such a program and a good bike team feel free to drop me a line.

Running the Conference for the Weekend

Leading into the weekend another piece of information had come across my inbox, and that was that the ECCC cyclocross director and sideburn enthusiast Mark V was unable to attend the weekend and thus award the cowbells to the team victors. So, being a good citizen of the ECCC I volunteered to do the tallying of the individual and overall points for the weekend as well as run the podium ceremony on Sunday.

Day 1

Oh heavens. It is so nice to upgrade to the Killer B's. I absolutely adore those 12:30 starts, I got to sleep for a whole nine hours the night before the race and even had enough time to drive in to Somerville to pick up Jeremy (Tufts Alum) who was also going to be in the 2/3 event. The 1.5 hour drive was pretty easy with the exception that I missed the last exit I was supposed to take and needed to rely on my superior geography skills to get us to the venue on time, which we did, with plenty of time to get ready.

When I got to the venue I took the opportunity to scope out the course which, much like Baystate Cross with lots of long and flat sections that require lots of power. Additionally, right after the start there was a large cement "S" turn which could have been a disaster if someone lost their cool and couldn't hold their line. Finally after rolling around the venue for a while and catching up with the Wentworth Boys, AJ and Taylor, I headed on down to the start and took off my layers.

Just after the gun I had a poor start and immediately found myself about two thirds of the way back in the field near the familiar face of my "rival" Mickey who is the owner and operator of Spooky Bikes. Fortunately the field made it through the S turn safely and hit the longer of two sand sections (see video of elite race below). Of course, it being a large field of around 70 riders I pretty much came to a complete stop when we hit the run up at the end and I was surrounded by bicycles. The field started to stretch out when we hit some of the woods section and I was in a group with Mickey, and a guy in a gold and white kit. We rode together for a while and eventually when we hit the start/finish Mickey and I agreed we were racing for "not last" and were competing for who could make it the farthest on the long sand section. As the race went on I continually found myself losing ground on the long straight sections of pavement and grass. However, I was much faster on the dirt sections and would bridge back up to the group I was with. By about 3 laps into the race my highlight had been riding the whole sand section and about halfway up the run-up, which resulted in the good/bad photo (link) because I could only take the right hand line and I needed to put my bike on the opposite shoulder for the last part of the run up to avoid falling into course tape.

Eventually our trio was caught by Jeremy (Army) with 2 laps to go, who sat on our wheel for, oh about 2 seconds before he sprinted away, I tried to bridge back to him briefly, but soon gave up. Finally, on the pavement section at the top of the course I was dropped by Mickey and saw AJ (Wentworth) well ahead of me. Then when I got on the following grass section I was passed by the leaders. By this point I lost all motivation and pretty much cruised to the finish and tried to clean the last sand section and rolled into the finish.

Ugh

Photo Courtesy Paul Weiss

After the race I was less than happy, as I had come in DFL, 68th of 74 starters. At least I scored some collegiate points and kept my team in the hunt for 3rd place overall for the season. But I was probably most upset by the fact that I was beat by AJ for the first time since the Beanpot Road Race in the spring. At dinner I told him I vowed for vengeance.

Day 2

After another night of wonderful sleep at the ole homestead I knew that Sunday was going to be a great race. Why? SNOW! I mean, come on, what could be better? I've utilized a very sophisticated method and some complex software to demonstrate my point:

Cyclocross: Fun Vs. Conditions

That's Right. When I got to the venue I found it blanketed with an in or so of fresh, soft, fluffy snow! Which meant I was going to have fun. Aside from the ideal conditions the course was also a lot more twisty and mountain bike like with more dirt, less pavement and snow. I was really looking forward to this day in the saddle.

When we got the go I was so excited I actually got a good start! In fact I kept up so much speed that I rode most of the first sand section, which was the same as the previous day. As a results I even got a few compliments front the dudes I was passing while they were running their bikes. After the sand section and a short run up we then went down the hill, through some parking lot, hit the barriers and did a whole lot of dirt turns. It was SO MUCH FUN! Dudes were falling all over the place, during the first lap I must have passed at least 7 guys who had slipped on some section. For a while I was mid pack, right near a few guys from CBRC who I did some riding with while I was back at school. I spent most of the race just behind them with Bikeman.com rider. As the field began to string out I continued to enjoy sliding out in most of the turns, riding the sand as much as I could and taking three feeds by the barriers. The first being a brownie feed and the next two being beer feeds. I swear this could have been the most fun I'd had in a race in 6 months, and I've done a LOT OF RACES this year. I was cold, I was slippery, I was having an absolute blast and I was also doing way better than I'd done in any of my previous B races. Because I beat 2 collegiate riders, (one of which wasAJ! HA REDEMPTION SON!) I finished on the lead lap in a 2/3 race and I passed my NAV team mate Nate who I'd been just behind in about 5 races this season. Oh and did I mention that it was snowing! I couldn't have been happier. At the end of the day I had finished 59th, a ten place improvement from the day before and had earned a good amount of collegiate points.

Snow bitches!
Photo Courtesy Paul Weiss

After the race I washed of the bike, and got changed quickly so I could crank out the results for the events. I hustled on down to the pavilion and opened up my trusty laptop to crunch the numbers. After about twenty minutes I was done and since Pat Bradley didn't start the elite race I even got to watch the elite race as the snow fell. Of course I had a beer and sprinted about screaming at the pros trying to motivate them by saying "go faster" to pretty much every one and "they're right behind you" to Jamie Driscoll who had about a 30 second lead on the chasers. I even got to plug the collegiate podiums on the Public Announcing system.

When the race was over I rushed inside and did the podium ceremony which basically was the Rutgers team and Callie McDowell (BU) because everyone else had to go home. I was pretty disappointed that most everyone had bounced because there were 3 teams within 1 point of each other for the last spot on the D2 podium (including UNION!). But it was fun and I give a whole lot of respect to the Rutgers team who trounced the competition by taking the Division 1 Title.

There's just so many of them!
Rutgers Atop the Collegiate Podium, way to go guys!

Nats Schamtz

So, since my ride from some school in Burlington Vermont bailed I will not be heading to Kansas City for nats. It's just as well as I'll probably close out the season by doing a local race in Wrentham Mass promoted by Colin of CrossResults.com. It should be fun and I'm looking forward to getting of the bike and getting out on the snowboard before I head back to school.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Baystate 'Cross and The Collapsing of the Universe.

Training

For the first time in oh, about 6 weeks I actually got a full week of training in leading up to the Race. On Monday I got out for a couple of hours with Keith C, and Mark T of Northeastern and showed them some sweet roads in the Boston 'Burbs. I took Tuesday off and then knocked out a 2 hour ride solo on Wednesday throughCarlisle . Then on Thursday morning I did an hour plus trail ride on my cross bike in my beautiful hometown of Lincoln, MA. Aside from one guy giving me a hard time about riding on trails I've ridden since I was 8 it was wicked fun to explore these trails for the first time on a 'cross bike. That night I went to the Big Family Thanksgiving dinner up in Peabody. Good time as usual. I didn't ride Friday so I could possibly feel fresh for the race Saturday.

Pre-Race

I rolled into the lot fairly late, sometime around 10:15 and ended up parking near team college, which consisted this week of Sara and Andrea from Colby, Matt, Sully, Emily, and Alex fromUVM and AJ from Wentworth . I spent a while chit chatting and had a talk with Nick and Paul from MIT at registration. After riding around the course for a while and then finally getting a lap in I knew this would be another bad day in the B's. Mostly because the course was mostly long flat sections of grass or cinder that need a lot of power, which I lack entirely. But then I got in a ride or two on the road and caught up with my Mom and Sister before the start.

Race

The line up for the race was kind of weird, despite registering a few weeks before I still started near the back, well after the leaders. But I wasn't too concerned because I pretty much had two goals for the day and they both seemed pretty achievable, the first being beat at least oneECCC rider and the second being finishing on the lead lap.

When the whistle blew I went hard and tried to move up on the opening cinder track section. Which I did, kind of until we hit an awkward chicane before the run up, which when the pack hit it I basically came to a full and complete stop and needed to avoid a few train wreck riders to get to the top. By the time we hit the descent the field had really strung out and I tried to stay with the pack. For a while found myself in the same group with Matt fromUVM and a few other riders for the first few laps. About 3 laps in is where I really started to suffer and had my first of 3 major crashes. At the bottom of the big hill I slipped on some mud while dismounting and slid into the "horse" which was basically a step. Then I remounted at the top and noticed I had a large amount of mud in my left shoe keeping me from clipping in. I ignored it mostly and hoped it would fall out before I hit the barriers. Of course, when I did reach the barriers I couldn't clip in and tried to pedal the small uphillunclipped , which immediately resulted in me falling on my side after losing traction when I put my foot down. By this point I was pretty much by myself and I knew thatAJ from Wentworth was chasing me.

After being by myself for a while with 2 laps to go I hit the barriers and cleared them along with the slight uphill after them, but then I got passed by the leader on the long off camber section and soon after went down on my right, which was great timing because Richard Fries on the Mic put it toeveryone's attention that I had just eaten sh*t. After slamming my shifter so it was straight and remounting, AJ had gotten a lot closer to me and was kind of hoping he would catch me so we could have a sprint for fun. But I wasn't going to make it easy for him, so I put in a big effort andgapped him pretty well. When I reached the finish I had enough time on him to slow down and try a wheelie in front of the adoring public. I was the 2nd person lapped and finished 58th, but I got 7th in collegiate so I earned a lot of team points and knocked Union into fifth place overall in division II for the season.

I was soon after had a short chat with AJ, he apparently went down and couldn't bridge the gap to me. Then I caught up with my Mom and Sister who admitted that they had a great time watching their first ever cross race.

Annie Brought the Wall Street Journal.... What a Shame.

Me and Big Sis

The Universe Collapses In On Itself

Well, it finally happened. The two Union Colleges finally went head to head in a race. This had been somewhat of a concern for myself as well as some of the USA Cycling leadership to make it clear which team was which. Sometime in the last yearUSAC renamed both teams to make it clear, so my Union is officially "Union College" and the other team is "Union College - Barbourville " in Kentucky. I'm kind of sick of these guys because they are supported by theirs schools athletic department, are treated like a varsity squad and tend to rock the house at Nationals. Which as a result makes me say "Well, it was actually this other Union College in Kentucky," when complimented on how my team did at nationals.

But whatever, after talking to the guy, Sean, he seemed nice enough and we even took a photo to commemorate the momentous achievement. To be honest I thought it was going to be like when they turned on Cern and the universe would collapse in on itself.

Oh My Lord There's Two of Them!

Myself and Sean from the other Union

Post Race

After all was said and done I rode around the parking lot for a bit and got changed. Then Andy and Sara from Colby though it'd be cool to get some treats at a nearby orchard. So I went, had some hot cocoa with them and then we came back for the elite race. After watching that for a while and chatting with some of the cross regulars, I got in the car, went home and took a nap.

This week I'll be training a bit, in addition to looking at some Grad Schools around Boston before I head to Rhode Island for the NBX weekend which closes out the 'cross season. Hopefully I can jettison the "team" into the top 3 for the season overall in Division II with some good results.