Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: A Map

Do you like maps? I sure do, so yesterday whilst staring out the window at the Blizzard of 2010 that has shut down most of Southern New England I decided a good way to summarize the year 2010 was to do it by map.

So, below please enjoy how I spent 2010 in map form.

View 2010: A Map in a larger map

Royal Blue: January-Early March
Red: March
Green: Late March-Late August
Light Blue: July
Yellow: Late August-December
Purple: December

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Podium? There must be an error in the results. NEBRA Cyclocross Champs Race Report

I closed out the 2010 cyclocross season by heading on out to beautiful Fitchburg, MA to contest the singlespeed category at the New England Cyclocross Championships, I was originally planning on doing the category 3 race the next day, but I needed to fly to California that day for family vacation, so I converted one of my bikes to singlespeed in about ten minutes on Friday night and I was ready to go on Saturday.

I drove out with Dave Chiu, who I really wanted to hang out with during the race because every time he is near me during a race it lights a fire in my soul.

The start, the holeshot was not to be mine, photo: Abel Tomkinson

So anyways, went to the start, and lined up on the first row of 2 because I'm pro like that and some "scrub" behind me commented he feared my holeshot winning abilities. Anyhow, when we got the go I did not win the holeshot but I quickly settled into third wheel behind Shawn Mottram and Chris Borrello and we went not terribly hard for the first lap or two. Racing singlespeed is weird like that, because you have a speed limit. The field was lined out like that for the first lap and change.
The bunch early on hitting the fly-over, I'm in 3rd, photo: Abel Tomkinson

After 2 laps the lead group was whittled down to Mottram on the front, Borrello in 2nd and me in third. I was at the front of a bike race and it was business time.

I was pretty content to sit on the group because I couldn't really go over the limit and attack because I only had one speed, and it was windy. I thought about attacking a couple of times, but then remembered that is a pretty easy way to ruin my day.

I'm somehow still in the lead group midway through the race, photo: Abel Tomkinson

Things stayed the same for a while until we hit the finish line at 2 laps to go and Mottram attacked. Borrello didn't respond so I jumped around him and tried my darnedest to chase down Mottram, dropping Borrello in the process . For the next lap and a half I was chasing hard, but I couldn't close the gap, Mottram was gone and I had to keep going if I wanted to keep Borrello at bay to get 2nd place.

Just after the attack by Mottram, now I'm in 2nd, photo: Abel Tomkinson

But, it was windy, and Borrello had a better gearing, he caught me and sat on my wheel for the last half a lap while pathetically tried to shake him. At the last 180 before the finish, he took the inside line and got away from me to take 2nd, I rolled in for 3rd place. I was disappointed for about 3 seconds and then I realized it was the first top 3 I had gotten since 2008 at the Penn State Collegiate B Downhill races.

Podium? Sweet! photo: Dave Chiu

Then I stood on a podium for the first time ever at a bike race. What a great way to cap off the season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Ice Weasels Cometh 2010!

Ice Weasels! Even the name is ridiculous and for the third year running the event was great.

I spent the day prior to the race out in the cold slamming stakes into the ground with Colin, and his lunatic band of volunteers in balmy 22F degree temperatures for 6 hours. Which was great, especially because the ground was so cold we really had to force those suckers into the ground, or in many cases had to use a mallet and driving stake to get a hole in the first place. Lauren was chief smasher, she was excited about it.

Anywho, on the day of the race I got there at about 9:30 am and rolled into the parking lot to be greeted by Cary and Chip who were already holding beers, so the day was off to a good start.
Greg wore his helmet for protection from angered heckling victims, I wore my hat too high. Photo: Itai Halevi

After mulling around for a bit I found my way over to the microphone where I met up with my co-star, Greg Whitney to announce all the early races. After I had doubted him all week on the twitters, Greg was actually a great announcer which was a surprise to everyone but himself. There were a few hiccups along the way, we couldn't see the lap cards so we kind of guesstimated how many laps were left in each race, also, there were times where we simply lost track of the leaders on course, and said things along the lines of "oh who the hell knows."

So, after standing around for 3 & 1/2 hours yelling at people with a microphone I got changed into my Israeli team kit and left a slightly inebriated Ryan T Kelly in control of all announcing. After that I rode a lap or two, I was "warmed up" and went to start somewhere in the middle.
"Racing" Photo by Lee Toma

Then I raced my bike for a bit, until we hit the barriers for the first time and I stopped to have some beer. I got going again and I spent a lap or two near McKittrick, "racing." Sometime on the first lap a guy commented that he couldn't read my ass, which was surprising because I thought everyone could read Hebrew.
Mr. McKitty Stacks the Fly-Over, Photo by Lee Toma

Then Matt Aumiller started commenting on the PA system about the epic showdown that Mr. McKitty and I were having so I tried a little harder, and then I had a cupcake, Mr. McKitty gapped me and I stopped caring entirely. Somewhere in there I got wheel chopped by Colin, and a little later by Evan Murphy, my old friend from Canton, but then he sent me an e-mail apology the next day, what good sport; Colin didn't, he's a jerk.

Me, with GeWilli in tow, Photo by Lee Toma

Hanging out with Evan and GeWilli, Photo by Lee Toma

From then on it was a blur of cupcakes, beer, an onion(?) and I would continually stop to drink beers instead of taking them on the fly and constantly passing GeWilli until late in the race because I didn't want to be near him anymore. Also, I lapped Cosmo, which made me SO happy, and I gave Durrin a high five at some point.

Why did I take an Onion hand up? Why was there an Onion hand up? I wanted a cupcake! Photo by Keith Reynolds

I finished in the scrum, but who cares, I had a blast.

Monday, December 13, 2010

NBX Day 2 Race Report

After having a few moments of glory on the front of a UCI race on Day 1, I went back down to the kids (cat 3) race on day 2 in hopes to claim a few more Verge Series points as the series came to a close.

Heading into the race I had a major problem, I was still sick. My head cold had decided that our friendship was not over and wanted to stay with me throughout the weekend, so I coughed and sneezed my way through warming up before heading over to the start.

I lined up in the 4th row, because I have Verge Points and marginally do not suck and used what I'm going to call my "strategy" from day 1 and lined up on the left side of the grid. I knew it was important to have a good start because I had promised Chandler that at some point I would ride him into the tape this season, and he was on the first row, so TARGET ACQUIRED.
(In the top 15 Early on, photo by: Double Hop)

The plan worked out pretty well, when the whistle blew I had a great start and when we got to the first turn I had moved up to about 12th position, Kyle Smith was there, and he said hi. So I hung out in the top 15 for a while and I was trying to stay there, I was actually on the cusp of a really respectable race, and I was ANGRY for no reason in particular. This was most prevalent when I was pulling a group of about 10 riders through the twisty parking lot after the finish line trying to catch the leaders and I turned around to yell something like "YOU ALL SUCK!" Because, at the time I felt like they were not contributing to the chase. (It was only later on that I was told that everyone behind me just hanging on to my wheel for dear life).

(Still trying to get a top 25 a quarter of the way through the race, photo by: Double Hop)

So, after an exhaustive effort on the first 2-3 laps I started to fade and I just wanted to stay in the top 25, the group I had been pulling had passed me and now I was on the cusp of NOT getting Verge points, and then my cold had something to say, however, my cold did not really have communicative skills, and expressed it self by forcing me to cough alot, and then I was well out of the top 25.
(Head cold has taken control, photo by: Double Hop)

Ok, my race was over, and I wanted a beer. When I came by the second beach I had pretty much given up and I asked Colin for a beer, he told me to try for one more lap. I did, and sure enough the next time I came through I was rewarded with a nice cold one to relieve my sore throat.
(Yep, just coasting a late lap, photo by: Double Hop)

So, I was now phoning it in, and then I saw the guy in a grey t-shirt from Gloucester, and I decided to try again. But only enough to keep him behind me. When I made it to the second beach on the last lap Ben Corbalis was there and he took my beer feed as he passed me on the short run-up. He made up for it though, by taking a swig, flinging it into the air and then Scott Glowa snagged and finished it off, it was absolutely amazing.

Oh, then Ben and I decided to race for whatever position, and had a fun sprint where I won to take 44th of 90ish starters.

This race was still fun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Backlogged Race Reports Lowell and Baystate Day 2

(This picture sums up how awesome Lowell was, photo: Toro Loco Cycling)


So, Lowell was a great event. I had a swell time. There was fun stuff there, such as ride-ups, hupcakes, barriers, hardpack, it was good. I also did the Elite (P/1/2/3) race because, I've pretty much had enough of the chaos of the cat 3/4 race for a while.

Anyways, I started in the middle-ish, I think, and I had a decent start. Unfortunately somehow got my foot stuck in Matt Aumiller's wheel on the opening sprint, and broke the valve off it, who knows how that happened, anyway I stayed upright and I spent most of the first lap on the Adam Sullivan train, things were going well.

Then Colin came flying by as I was sitting on RMM's wheel and I sprinted around RMM specifically for some chain-stay cam time. That was fun. Then I hung out with John Mosher for a bit and tried to stay with the Adam Sullivan Group. But couldn't and during this period RMM got around me.

But then I got dropped and I was trying to pursue RMM because, well, because, I wanted to beat him into the ground. So I rode hard, whilst still taking waffle, four loko and cupcakes during my pursuit and at two laps to go I had caught RMM and blew past him. Then I tried to close the gap to Josh to get back some dignity in the Hebrew cup, only to finish 10 seconds behind him as I claimed back 6 spots back over the last two laps.

Final result: 24 of 36

Bay State Day 2

After getting what I thought was a very respectable dead last in the UCI race on day 1, I was looking forward to a solid ride in the cat 3 (aka Kids') race on day 2. Especially with the more technical and twisty course that really suited my skill set.

I started in the 3rd row or so and just hung out for a while with the usual suspects and had a plan, suck wheels like crazy while things spread out.

Early on I was riding with Ian, Casserly and Benny my teammate. I was rather enjoying this group. Everybody pulled, everybody tried to move up and we were in the Verge Points zone.
(Railing a turn with Oscar in tow, early on Day 2. Photo: Ryan LaRocque)

Eventually, Ian disappeared because he doesn't agree with corners and I was left to hang out with Benny and Casserly. I felt bad for a moment, then I recalled I could finally reclaim some Hebrew Cup glory!
(Hanging out on with Benny & Casserly. Photo: Roger Cadman)

At maybe 2 laps to go I was following Casserly down the big hill that had a slick rock on the descent and I saw him eat it, hard. I said "Sorry dude!" and whizzed by as he lay on the ground. He later told me it was one of the more demoralizing moments in his entire life. SWEET.

So, last lap and it was just down to Me and Benny, who have been going back and forth all season to be the alpha Wheelworks Cat 3 and I make a tactical decision to sit on his wheel the whole time until the final short hard ride up before the finish. When we hit it, I took the high line, then dived down onto the track to get in front of him and I took 22nd of 87 and he took 23rd and I snagged few more verge points. Pissah!

Monday, December 6, 2010

How to ruin your race, NBX Day 1 Report

I think I've finally figured out the proper steps to totally ruin a bike race:
  1. Race in a category in which you do not belong
  2. Show up sick
  3. Get a good start position
  4. Ride your bike as hard as you can at the start
  5. Think it'd be a good idea to get in front of the people who can win the bike race
  6. Go to the front
  7. Go into the first corner way too fast and almost eat dirt
  8. Blow up spectacularly
For those of you who haven't seen it on the twitters:

So, basically, I went down to NBX, and all I really wanted to do was hang out with PVB in the back because, well said I would be close to him. On Friday, I was pretty excited about it:
But, when I got to the race, well, things changed. Because of UCI rules I wasn't staged in the back, like I should be, like I would be in a local race, instead, thanks to the random draw, I got third row, just behind the guys with UCI points.

When we got the whistle, I rode my bike pretty hard. I closed down a gap so that I wouldn't get gapped on the long straight-away up to the first turn.
(Starting in the middle, Photo by Peter Ozolins)

And then I saw some holes and I went past Al Donahue, and I found myself next to Adam Myerson and Derrick St. John. And then my brain went "I guess I better get to the front." So I got in front of Derrick and railed it. I was on the front of at UCI race, it was sweet.
(What now Mr. Keough? Photo by: Jay Walsh)

(On the front, why? photo by Jay Walsh)

Then I went into the first corner way to fast, almost came to a complete stop then tried to stay up there, only to blow up spectacularly and get spat out the back, seriously fast.

I was definitively last by the end of the opening loop. Then, I started coughing uncontrollably, stopped to get it out of the system and after 3-4 laps of a solo time trial off the back I dropped out.

Yeah, it was awesome.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Baystate day 1 Race Report

Aww yeah, I raced elite. It was great. Did you know that the elite race is insanely fast at the start? I sure didn't.

Oh, right so I decided to do the UCI race at Bay State because, well, I had the license, and I figured "why not, right?"

Anyhow, Jeremy Powers was there to win some small series title. If you don't know who Jeremy Powers is, all you need to know is that he gets paid to race his bicycle and races all over the world, so he is fast. While, I've raced all over, I'm in fact always losing money racing bikes, I think my total profit from bike racing is about negative $5,000. Needless to say I was excited.

Before the race I sat in the car with Tasha, because it was cold and we had a dance party, mostly of songs that sound like this:

So, I was rocking out, it was great, and then I went over to get my number, the person at registration said I was "a sandbagger" for doing cat 3 on Sunday and UCI on Saturday, little did she know I was reverse sandbagging.

A while later I got dressed, and rode the course and went to the start and stuff. I got called up by name, because this was a PRO-ASS bike race and I guess the UCI thinks we are all pros. But anyhow I started near-ish the back, which was fortunate, because I didn't want to be in the way of anybody who was faster than me.

When we got the whistle I sprinted and I hung out with Ryan and Colin, who were "freaking out" because we had to make a left hand turn of this cinder track. When we hit the run up I was still near people and I was SUPER EXCITED.

I ended up in a group with Adam Sullivan, Cary and Colin somehow and they decided to go fast. Also, since Colin had his sweet chain-stay cam on his bike, I wanted to get some sweet video time, like I did at Lowell, (skip forward to 8:19).

Baystate Cyclocross Day 1 Chainstay Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.

(I am in the video from 1:40 until 3:12, then I get stuck behind fellow Union Alumnus Adam Sullivan for a while)

But after a couple of minutes on the back of this train, they went faster than my legs would allow, and it was time for my favorite thing: SOLO TIME TRIAL OFF THE BACK. But, as my friends informed me, "Steve you are beating people!" Alright, I'm not last!

Those people were some guy (Rodrigo) and RMM. After beating RMM at Lowell, I wanted to get him again. In order to achieve that I tried to lay it down, hard, for the next 25 minutes until RMM caught me, then I almost killed a spectator, and also caught some course tape, and the next thing I knew I was last, sweet.

So, I tried to just ride tempo and then I got lapped by Jeremy Powers at 42 minutes. It wasn't that bad though, because I was pulled on the same lap as a lot of other people. So, all things considered I am going to call my UCI debut a success, except for when I rode by Frances and she yelled "Steve, what are you doing in the elite race?" She is a good friend.

Last note: Amateur racers, I got lapped by Jeremy Powers, it wasn't that bad, I still had fun. So toughen up and upgrade.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Kyle Smith Special

This past Sunday at Shedd Park, in Lowell, MA, New England was privy to the appearance of one of it's most sacred treasures, Kyle Smith:

Photo by Seth Davis

Kyle is often sought after by photographers and bicycle racers alike to bask in his cleanliness, and style, that sadly, modern photography can not truly capture.

Let us take a look at some photographs from Sunday that attempt to convey the aura of Kyle.

Exhibit A: Photo by Roger Cadman

Exhibit A is a prime example of Kyle at his best for several reasons:
  1. He is riding a section where others are running, thus intimidating his opponents
  2. He is doing it with such style and strength that the Back Bay rider to the right is checking out Kyle
  3. He has chosen to avoid the shade, so as to optimize the glow of all the white in his attire and on his bicycle
Exhibit B, Photo by Toro Loco

Exhibit C, Photo by Toro Loco

Now, Exhibits B & C show Kyle eating, which is not atypical for most cyclists, they like all other creatures must survive on whatever meager scraps they can find. But Kyle, being a man of style realized that taking food with his hands may cause his white gloves to become dirty. Thus, to save the whiteness of his gloves, the food went directly to his mouth, without the use of his hands a skill that is quite difficult to master. Not only were his gloves still clean, but he also managed to maintain proper speed and style by keeping his hands on the hoods.

After the race, Kyle was seen once again, this time in Downtown Boston, sporting a sweater, but sadly, the photographer, was unable to clearly capture Kyle alone, for he was blending in with the herd.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plymouth Day 2 Race Report

(Here is a photo of me pre-riding with Adam, let's have a photo caption contest! Photo: Flickr de Julie)

Day 2 of Plymouth had a similar to cast of characters to day 1, but it was a lot of riding around in the wind on soccer fields, I was not happy about that.

Um, so at the start I started second row and quickly found myself in the Cat 3 race, because all the really fast people were gone. So I lugged around Cim, Ian, Casserly, Zach LaBry and Benny for most of the first couple of laps. Then, I had a stunning realization that I didn't belong on the front in the wind, faded and all of those guys went away. As I faded, Kurt also passed me, just like the day before.

(Here are my legs, crushing the sandpit. Photo: Flickr de Julie)

So, I was by myself, and settled into my favorite thing ever: SOLO TIME TRIAL OFF THE BACK. I paced myself, rode the whole hour and on the last lap caught Kurt, and Benny to once again finish 11th.

Kind of some ho-hum racing, but I had fun.

Plymouth Day 1 Race Report

This report is a week late, sorry internet, I've been busy being social and stuff.

I was not expecting a good result, because well, the day before I thought I had defeated a head cold, which resulted in me going to a party. At that party I had some beverages that resulted in me not sleeping very well and the next morning, the day of the race, my head cold made a triumphant return. Also, I was doing the elite race, sweet an HOUR of 'cross.

Fortunately, it was pretty Cat 3 heavy, made things more fun. Lined up 2nd row because I didn't want to get in the way of any fast people. In the opening sprint some dude crashed right in front of me and I narrowly avoided him to stay upright.

Anyhow, the fast people went away and I was hanging out with some of my friends, such as Jeff, Benny, Cim and Ian. I managed to sit on Cim's wheel for a while and we got some separation until Ian decided he wanted to get in front of us.

Then Ian got a flat and I caught him along with Cim, but sadly, Cim had an epic fail on this uphill sandy thing and Ian got a gap on us, never to be seen again, taking Hebrew Cup points with him. Blast!

Then Jeff Elie, Ben Gurley and Kurt came around Cim and I as we started to fade and backwards we went, Cim falling even further.

But, because I am a nice guy, and I hate riding alone in the wind, I waited for Cim, we worked together, and on the 2nd to last lap, we blew past Kurt and Benny. We then caught Jeff and started a team time trial in hopes to catch Ian.

We never did and then I lost the 3 up sprint with Jeff and Cim to take 11th place. I was happy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Someone to learn from

This is Uri:

Uri is a bike racer, he has been at Cat 3 cyclocross racer for just over a week. After a solid run in the cat 4 field Uri decided he'd had enough of that nonsense and upgraded. At the first chance he got, Uri then decided that he would not be challenged enough by only racing with cat 3s. So, he decided that it would be a good idea to race the cat 2/3/4 races at Plymouth, then have a 20 minute break, change his numbers, and then get lapped by big scary people with with UCI points like Manny Gougen and Adam Myerson.

At the end of the weekend Uri finished near the back in all 4 races he did, was completely destroyed and still had a smile on his face. You know why? Because Uri knows racing is about having fun, and if you get lapped by dudes with UCI points, it is no big deal.

Amateur bike racers: LEARN FROM URI.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coonamesset Eco Cross Report

(Running with bicycle, photo: Roger Cadman)

Last Wednesday, if you recall, I was pretty excited to get lapped. That's because I was going to be doing a race with 3 other people two of them current masters' national champions, Jonny Bold and Kevin Hines.

So, on Thursday, I drove down the cape to race my bike. When I showed up I learned a few things. First, Stephen Pierce had emergency oral surgery and was understandably not racing, which meant I might be finishing last of 4. But then, I learned that 3 people had day-of registersted for the event; they were Mark McCormack, who is so fast that he has a wikipedia page, Synjen who is the Verge Series Cat 3 leader, and a Junior. I had a shot over the Junior.

Lastly, the laps were 4 minutes long, which meant I was going to get lapped.

Before the race I had a nice chat with Jonny, he did not wish to kill me. I know all of you out there were hoping he and I would have a big fight, like we did on the internet, we didn't, sorry.

So, I started second row. Yes, the course was that small. And I was in front of Mark Mcormack in the sprint for a while. That was cool, but then he had enough and I dangled off the back of group with only the Junior behind me.

Things stretched out, I dropped that Junior and I rode tempo. I eventually got lapped by Kevin Hines and Mark McCormack. And raced my best to avoid getting lapped by Jonny and Synjen. I didn't, why?

I learned that Jonny gave his wheel to Synjen who had gotten a flat. So, I didn't get lapped by them. But I did finish 4th. That's cool. Mysteriously, Jonny Bold was scored last, that's going to help my points a lot.

Notes on the event:
I had a bit of an ethical dilemma with the promoters in that I loved that all categories were racing for medals, but I was displeased that there was no womens' open race. I understand that they are not required to offer a womens' race, but I still think they should have. Given those two details about the event, I called it even and raced my bike.

Also, course was short, but fun, lots of woods, single track stuff, a little greasy. Furthermore, free beer everywhere, super low key, nice volunteers and some good heckling from Paul Nixon on the microphone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cycle-Smart Day 1 Race Report

Yes, I happened a while back, but, whatever.

Ok, this is what happened:

I had a decent start with a call up because I have VERGE POINTS, which is pissah guy. It was great until there was a big crash in front of me and I got a bit tangled all-up-in-it. So, I quickly got untangeled and saw this HUGE gap in front of me and I thought, "sweet there's another 20 spots I just got for free because people are on the ground." So I sprinted like crazy with the ample loads of race course in front of me that was not clogged with 150 cat 3s.

So, then I was in the top 25 or so, and that lasted a lap. I went out so hard that I was looking for the bell after the first lap. From then on I had a pretty epic "gentlemen's slide" back to finish 50th.

Here are some pictures:

Unhappy on the run-up (photo: Roger Cadman)

"When is this crap going to be over?"(photo: DoubleHop)

Despite me sucking horribly at bike racing on day 1 and being stupid on day 2, I still had a great time over the weekend.

Very special thanks to the Kellog Homestead Bed & Breakfast for giving the Green Line Velo crew a special rate, that place was one fine B&B.

Also, Al, Adam, JD, Mukunda, Durrin, did a fantastic job of putting on a top flight event for another year. Free beer, great course, well run, all around well put together.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wilcox

At the far end of Cambridge
Where the street called Broadway goes
People learn to ride their bikes, lined up in rows
They listen to their teacher as the wind blows...

At the bicycle school, some people have fear,
for if you have a good ear, you can still hear,
the Wilcox in training,
even when raining,
until the Wilcox decides to go.

And where does it go?
And why does it always start on third row?
The packfill lives there,
Ask them, they know.

And he almost has no desire to stop.
He churns out more power
Than a large wind mill tower

Towards the end of the race
Some fools give chase,
And they learn a terrible lesson.
The Wilcox got faster,
For the Wilcox crushes those in his wake.

Images modified by Ryan White, from scans found on Google Books, original copyright: Random House

Friday, November 12, 2010

Geekhouse CX Party Monday Nov 15!

GO, it will be cool.

I'm told there will be beer, roller races, music and "awesomeness."

Middlesex Bar and Lounge, Cambridge Ma.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Preparing to fail, again

I love going into a race when I know I'm going to have my soul crushed. For some reason I get really excited. I like challenging myself against a higher caliber field, just to see where I'm at, and to remind myself that I am in fact, fairly bad at bike racing.

Thus, I'm super excited to go to Coonamessett Farm Eco-Cross tomorrow because there are 2 master's national champions pre-registered for my race. Also, I'll finally get to race Jonny Bold, who, if you recall, I had a minor disagreement with a few months back. So, yeah, that will be fun.

Lastly, I think it is pretty awesome that there have been two mid-week races this fall in New England.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Return of the Chiu: Cycle-Smart Day 2 Report

Chapter 1: A good start
After learning my lesson from day one where I burned out like crazy, I had a better strategy going into the race on day two to not suck as much. It was simple, ride within my limits early on and then wheelsuck my way to a respectable result. And, at first the execution was going well. I moved up on the first lap, slowly, rode my way into the top 30 or so and I was having a nice time.
(Here is a photo of me hanging out with Jeff, Oscar, Sean, and two juniors, by: Roger Cadman)

Jeff Bramhall was there, he and I were hanging out, it was fun, the train we were in was rocking and rolling and then, alas, Jeff started to fade off into the background. By the second lap I had found myself on the back of a large chase group, containing Ian, and thus Hebrew Cup points, but I was slightly getting gapped and trying my darnedest to get on that group.

Chapter 2: Disaster Strikes!
But then, disaster struck, by which I mean, I was an idiot, I picked a bad line going over a train track crossing and immediately got a flat. Which resulted in my riding a very long ways to the pit to get my pit bike. During my ride to the pit, I lost 30 spots easily, probably more, and even Jeff felt my pain by declaring "OH NO!" as he whizzed by. So I get going again, on my pit bike, and I find myself near Dave Chiu.

Now, Dave Chiu has been a problem for me this year. He is the rider I most fear in all of the Cat 3 field. Because if I am near Dave Chiu it means that A) I am having a less than great day, and B) I may have to live down the shame of losing to the Dave Chiu. It happened at Gloucester, it happened at Downeast day 2, and since there was almost no chance of getting any more Verge Series points (top 25) , I decided I was not going to lose to Dave Chiu again!

Chapter 3: Strategy
I started digging deep into my bag of tactics in order to ensure that I would not get beaten by Dave. First, I was going to stick on his wheel like glue. Second, I was going to take the infrequent pull on the front of our duo to make him believe we were working together. We weren't Dave, it was part of my strategy to provide false hope.

I wanted Dave to believe that we were trying to get a higher placing. But in truth, I just wanted to keep him nearby so that he could fully experience the pain and suffering of losing to me by 1 place. Because having experienced it first hand, I know that losing by 1 place to a friend/rival is a soul crushing and humiliating experience. I wanted Dave to suffer, and suffer he did.

Chapter 4: Execution
By last lap of the race, Dave and I were chasing down a junior just ahead and I started to turn the screws. With little extra sprint here and a little harder pull there I started to make Dave suffer. By the time we hit the last straight away I sat on the junior's wheel to ensure that Dave wouldn't come around.

I was going to embed a video of Dave and I "locked in battle", but for copyright reasons I can't, so please click here

When I opened up the sprint for 64th Dave had nothing, he later claimed he was "cramping" I beat him by one place and I basked in the glory of the moment. For I had crushed Dave, and thus had ample opportunities to shame him on the internet. Mission Accomplished.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Criticism & Attitude

A trend I've been noticing, and been a part of, during this cyclocross season is criticism from racers. They criticize other racers, they criticize promoters, they criticize the UCI, they criticize race officials, they criticize USA Cycling and occasionally they offer up solutions. But, and I know this is a large assumption, how many of this cavalcade of clamorous 'crossers are in fact DOING something about the system? Very few.

Adam Myerson said something very interesting during his podium insight interview the other day "we can fight about it on twitter all day long" but at some point somebody has to act.

Now, I can wave my "I help run collegiate cycling" flag all day, and I'm involved in the discussion for where collegiate is going across all disciplines, but aside from that I'm just another person who will go on twitter on Monday and whine about this, that, or the other thing that happened over the weekend or during the season.

The problem, as I see it, is that so many of us bike racers are consumers, few people are willing to spend hours, if not days and weeks of their lives to help run a race or to help improve cycling in general. Have you ever voted in the USA cycling referendums? Probably not according to the statistics. But it is easy to go on to your blog, facebook, twitter, tumblr or whatever form of social media you choose to bitch, but it is hard to do something.

Additionally, many of these people who complain about larger organizational issues of cycling look at it only from between their own handlebars. Everyone needs to take a step back, look at that issue and see the big picture. Yes, I moan that masters get paid too much, but that is because I think women and the back end of the men's elite races should get that money. Yes, I complain that guys are sandbagging in amateur categories, because I think it is better for them to be moved to the elite race , so the race can have 100 person fields to justify the large payouts, and teach our riders how to ride in large groups to prepare them for European racing, and by moving that the top 30 dudes in the cat 3 and cat 4 race upwards, you've just opened up another 50 spots at the bottom for more growth.

The point I'm trying to make fellow bike racers, is stop being selfish, and think about how the things you bitch about are in fact good for USA Cycling as a whole. Growth is good, large fields are good, larger women's fields are good, all of these are things that given enough time will deliver gold medals at the highest levels of the sport.

I've long been a believer that bike racing is fun and not important enough to get really mad over. This past weekend I heard about several incidents that resulted in a disqualification for unsportsmanlike conduct, and unsportsmanlike conduct warning for an entire team. Now, I'm not going to talk about the details of what happened in both cases, but some shit happened and the reactions from the people involved was deplorable and disgraceful.

I don't know how people got to the point that racing for 75th is worth getting irate over, but it isn't, have you ever watched an elite race? They are cutthroat, but not stupid and angry. Yes, they cut each other off into turns, but hey, if you give someone the space, it is your fault for letting them through and if they try and squeeze in between you and a tree, then you better close that hole, because running that guy into a tree is dangerous.

Basically, bike racing is fun, it is hard, but it should never be overtly dangerous, or malicious. You know who is doing it right by the way (aside from elites), amateur women! They race hard, they fall down, they get up, but do you ever, ever see them get into an altercation? NO. Why? Because they have enough common sense to realize that even when racing at the front end of the race the choice shouldn't be between getting on the podium and going (or sending someone to) the hospital. What I'm trying to say is, chill out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"The field must have been soft" Canton Cup Race Report

Thank Colin for that title, because that was his commentary on my race. Yes, contrary to everyone's expectations (especially my own) I actually had a great race at the Canton Cup on Saturday. How very uncommon.

I'll start from the beginning, because well, there was a lot of hype going into the race on the twitters. In brief, my friends Kyle, Natan and Craig were all doing their first 'cross race that day, all on borrowed bikes. Also, Green Line Velo teammates AJ and Keith were making one of their infrequent cyclocross appearances and lastly, a whole bunch of the Green Line Velo crew had ridden down to heckle during the race, and the excitement was palpable.

Getting to the race was a pain, because of the Football game at BC and then I had to go pick up Craig at BU, and there was traffic and road closures on Storrow drive and more traffic on 93 south. Leading to a relatively late arrival at the race, with no course preview and barely any warm-up.

Because the race is kind of old school staging was by, who got there first. I muscled my way to front before we lined up, and then we were allowed on course, I muscled a little more and BOOM front row! Sadly, Peter Sullivan crashed his bicycle and an ambulance came for him delaying the start of the race for 10-15 minutes, leaving the field of 108 cat 3/4 men chilly at the line. I heard he's ok though.

(I used MS Paint to show where I started, Photo: DoubleHop)

Anyhow, whistle goes and I get my sprint on, (which I've been mastering on Wednesday Nights at WNSP by winning the hole shot and then summarily blowing up). I managed to find myself in the top 10, I could see the leader, it was a nice place to be and I wanted to stay there so I let off a little bit to sit on wheels as opposed to frantically move up.

As the first lap continued I leap-frogged a bit hear and there around some guys who were slowing down and found myself with Ian. We hung out for a little while as shown here:

(Ian and I hanging out on Lap 1, Photo: DoubleHop)

Shortly after that though, Ian went a little too fast, taking the Hebrew Cup points with him and I decided to play it cool. So I found my self in a chase group with a 2-3 dudes, notably Evan Murphy, who did a ton of work while I wheel-sucked like crazy, only to offer a few scant pulls to relieve his hard efforts.
("In the chase group" Photo: DoubleHop)

At this point I should mention the fans were quite confused, especially Mike Wissell, who upon seeing my top 10 positioning early on in the race asked, (via heckle) "What are you doing up near the front?" I had no response, for I was also confused. Furthermore, when I hit the run-up one lap some of my friends on Ladies First, were almost mute, because I'd been telling them all season to give me no positive encouragement. When one of them violated the agreement with a, "GO Steve!" I reminded her that she was "being too friendly." Elsewhere on the course Green Line Velo teammates told me to stop sucking and I tried my best.
(Still going strong late in the race Photo: DoubleHop)

Right, so the bike race was going swimmingly, I was in a group, sharing the work, having a good ride, and I was hanging on to Evan's wheel for dear life. But, I had noticed that Mashburn was in hot pursuit, always a turn or two behind, and well, he stayed back at about 5-10 seconds for most of the race until the last lap when he passed Evan and I just after the run-up, and I tried to jump on his wheel with no success. Then Evan passed me back, I waited a little bit, and sprinted by him to take 12th.

Yeah, you read it right, I got 12th of 108 recorded finishers. Don't believe me? Go check the race results. Easily my best cyclocross result ever, and my best race result of 2010. YES, things are coming together for next weekend.

By the way, it should go without saying that Kyle, Natan, Craig, and Dave Chiu were all behind me. Whew, I didn't want to be behind any of them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Downeast Day 2 Race Report

So I'm not to happy about this race, hence the week it took to get up the gumption to write about it.

I'll do my best to use photos to tell the story, because Don and Dana McEwen took a whole bunch of sweet photos, and I'm assuming they live in Maine, which automatically makes them extra cool, thanks!

Ok, enough prelude, time to talk about the bike race.

I had a 2nd row start, because, I apparently don't suck that much and got Verge series points on day 1. So that was great.

I managed to avoid a bit of a cluster on the first corner by starting on the outside and managed to find my way into the top 20. I was near the front, it was sweet.

I spent the first lap in the train, passing a couple of guys here and there trying to maintain my spot near the front.

(Yes, I am indeed riding that stone wall totally clean on the first lap. Photo: McEwan Flickr)

Most of the way through the first lap things were strung out and we hit the barriers. I did it with a total lack of grace as shown in this video from B2C2, (skip forward to about 0:29):

So after that I tried to hang out and just ride my race.

By the time we hit the second lap things had started to string out and my teammate Benny had caught up to me and I was happy to have him there to rail some sweet turns with me, but then I got a flat in the woods section and I had to run:

(Here I am, displaying my hate for running. Photo: McEwan Flickr)
(I had to run for a while, here I am still running. Photo: B2C2)

After my run I got my pit bike. Yes, I am aware I am a cat 3 with a pit bike, I am a jerk. In my defense, the frame on the pit bike is kind of broken, (failed warranty issue, long story) and Adam Sullivan gave me a bunch of parts, so blame him. Anyhow, during my run and whilst collecting my pit bike I got passed by Ian, which meant I was once again losing the Hebrew Cup, blast!

(Here I am riding my pit bike Photo: McEwan Flickr)

Once I got going I was then passed by Bramhall and Dave Chiu, I tried to hang out, but well, my back hurt like crazy because my pit bike doesn't fit me and away they went, never to be seen again. Dave was kind enough to share with the internet that evening that he beat me:

So, I went backwards, by myself, around people I didn't know, I was getting heckled and my back hurt.
(Now I am unhappy with back pain nowhere near my friends, Photo: McEwan Flickr)

(Cool shot late in the race, Photo: McEwan Flickr)

I raced on, tried to make the best of a bad situation and I sprinted with a junior at the end and I got 43rd of 71, eh whatever.

Still course was fun, volunteers were again friendly and I love Maine, it is just the greatest place, so good weekend.