Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Green Mountain Cross

Not much to say aside from having mixed feelings about my results.

Today I'll go with highs/lows format

Highs:
  • Staying in Burlington on Hyde St, with some of the UVM crew, man those kids are nuts
  • Day 2 Mud was fun
  • Finished mid pack each day (about a 2o-30 place improvement from last year in B races)
  • Met more cool 'cross people
  • Not dying the entire race like last year
  • The Alchemist on the way home
Lows:
  • Buckley crashed me at whistle on day 1, spent the rest of the race moving up, getting through traffic.
  • Over half the 3 race was pulled on Day 1 because the leader of the U-19 race had a 2 minute head start. Most annoying.
  • Day 2, another crappy start, had to spend forever getting through traffic.
  • Having to clean 10 pounds of mud and grass off my bike after day 2.
  • Day 2 course was LONG!
  • Failed to achieve goal of getting Verge Points
  • My shoes are at the end of their life and must be replaced
  • LONG sustained climbs, flats, false flats on Day 2.
Lessons Learned:
  • Find holes at the start and move up quickly, "the race can't be won, but it can be lost from the gun"
  • Get ahead of slow people heading into corners.
Thoughts:
  • I should be happy with my improvements over last year, but I'm not.
  • Gloucester should be fun.
  • UVM Derek is a tool.
  • New Wheelworks Jersey fits kinda funny.
  • The season is long. I should be getting stronger as the season gets longer.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

An Ode to Cyclocross

As the weekend draws close I can feel it
The cheering so loud I can hear it
The whistles will blow
And with the word "go"
the riders fly off with spirit

Without too much flash
The racers will clash
And fight for some small chunk of cash

With each fall a thud
In snow, sand or mud
Each racer will earn his cold bud

Some fans at the run up will cheer
While others are likely to jeer
Mostly because they've had some beer

All the racers feel pain
And some will want rain
But undoubtedly they will all complain

But they'll come back each week
Because they are geeks
And because they all love the races

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cyclocross is Hard

Why (oh why) do I race cyclocross?

A question I've been pondering heavily over the last week and change after two races of pain, blood and disappointment. Let's face it racing cyclocross is hard, I mean really hard in more ways than one. It's not like a crit or some road races where you can just hang in with some moderate fitness and finish mid-pack or a mountain bike race where technical skills can keep you competitive. Not at all, simply put there is no hiding in cyclocross, it's just each rider giving it their all and with some good skills and fitness (along with a bit of luck) they'll get a good result. But what about those who are lacking one (or all) of those key elements for success? Over the past week I fell victim to both my fitness and some bad luck.

Fitness - Last week I hit my season opener, QuadCross in Bedford MA. I decided to do the race at 11 the night before whilst hanging with the UVM MTB squadron out in Greenfield MA and spending the day at the UMass MTB event. So I got up at 5:30, ate some chow, got in the car at 6:15 or so and arrived at home at 8. Then went to sleep for an hour, got up and scurried over to the venue arriving about 1 hour before my start. Of course I walked around, checked out the course and tried to get my timing right. After a short warm up I got to the start and had my usual hope for the best thought. After a pretty good start I managed to stay in the top half of the race for a while.

After a couple of laps I had a few harsh realizations.

  1. It was Freaking Hot and Humid
  2. Cyclocross is hard! A small detail I had forgotten in the 9 months since my last CX race.
  3. I'd not done enough intensity training and I was paying for it.

Then when just as my eyes were starting to bleed and my inner monologue changed to, "Ouch it hurts, I wanna go home" I had a crash while dismounting and cut up my left leg in a few spots around the knee. Then I got back on and basically started to go backwards in the field eventually finishing on the lead lap, good enough considering I was often lapped in the B race last year and I had crashed. But still had the feeling in the darkest sections of my soul, that I don't belong in a cross race and why do I do this nonsense because I involves two things I hate most in bike racing, a combination of fitness and the desire to make it hurt, (a lesson I should have learned this spring in the Collegiate A field).

Skills & Luck - After a week of anger and frustration remedied by some hard training and skills rides I was ready for cross adventure number two at Sucker Brook Cross in Auburn, NH. This race was total disaster in many ways and a complete success in another.

  • 20 minutes before the race I realized that my brand new open tubular had portion of the tread that was peeling off the casing and had to change it out for the stock tire I had from the Tricross (which folds over a lot).
  • I had a front row starting position.
  • When the whistle blew the race organizers forgot to remove the piece of tape that kept the racers at bay and we all slammed to a stop.
  • During the restart I was in the second row, but then I double slipped out of my pedals and lost 10-15 places
  • For the beginning of the race I was feeling really fit and thought I could be competitive
  • I made it to the woods in the bunch when I hit a stick/rock/root, had my hands knocked off the hoods and I lost control of the bike.
  • As I was crashing I sliced my knee open and knocked my handlebars askew.
  • After spending a minute or two straightening out my bars and assessing my knee I got back on the bike.
  • I spent the race of the race chasing, eventually going from 58th (last) to 44th. Not bad considering the timing and lost time of the crash.

But after this race I was actually in a pretty good mood. So what I had crashed hard, and yeah I have a big slice in my left knee cap, and I spent the whole race chasing alone. There was still some reason that I kept going.

Why?

The fans, the atmosphere, riding the long sand pit clean, Dick Ring announcing the race and of course keeping Colin from destroying my cross results page.

Next week: Green Mountain Cross, Verge Series #1 & #2

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finally getting back to racing!

Oh thank heavens summer is over. It's finally time to start racing again. I just can't stand that hot summer weather. Doesn't everybody know that the best weather for bike riding is September to May? That being said I've started preparing a bit. This of course is a multiphase process:

  1. Help Start the new Wheelworks Cyclocross team! - Check.
  2. Acquire New CX Bike - Check. (2010 Specialized Tricross Expert w/ upgrades-Thanks Specialized!)
  3. Acquire fancy new skinsuit and team kits - In the Mail.
  4. Retire the road bike for the year - Check.
  5. Start Riding trails - Check.
  6. Plan out Racing schedule: Check (below)
  7. Race them bikes
Fall Race Schedule (Tentative):

Sept. 12 - Alumni XC MTB race at Mt. Snow hosted by UMass
Sept. 13 - Landmine Classic MTB Race, Hingham MA

Sept. 26 - Green Mountain Cyclocross #1, Vermont
Sept. 27 - Green Mountain Cyclocross #2, Vermont

Oct. 3 - GP Gloucester CX #1, Mass
Oct. 4 - GP Gloucester CX #2, Mass

Oct. 10 - Providence CX #1, RI
Oct. 11 - Providence CX #2, RI

Oct. 17 - Mansfield CX, CT or Casco Bay CX, ME


Oct. 24 - Downeast 'Cross #1, New Gloucester, ME (?)
Oct. 25 - Downeast 'Cross #2, New Gloucester, ME (?)

Oct. 31 - Canton Cup, MA
Nov. 1 - West Hill CX, Putney VT (?)

Nov. 7 Cycle Smart CX #1, Northampton, MA
Nov. 8 Cycle Smart CX #2. Northampton, MA

Nov. 14 Plymouth CX#1, MA(?)
Nov. 15 Plymouth CX#2, MA(?)

Nov. 21 Shedd Park CX, Lowell, MA or Whitmore Cup #1, Long Island
Nov. 22 Easthampton CX, MA or Whitmore Cup #2, Long Island

Nov. 28 Bay State CX #1, Sterling, MA
Nov. 29 Bay State CX #2, Sterling, MA

Dec. 5 NBX GP Cross #1, RI
Dec. 6 NBX GP Cross #2, RI

Dec. 12 or 13 Ice Weasels Cometh (I Hope this race happens again!), Wrentham, MA


This is going to be a whirlwind, I'm looking forward to it!