Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brief Opinions of Boston Area Cycling Teams

Ok, so I remember reading on the twitter that McKittrick was going to give his opinions on the major cycling teams in and around Boston, but he hasn't yet so I decided to give it a shot. (And yes I know I'm doing this from Colorado, but I'll be back in Mass later this week.) Also, the descriptions are brief and probably inaccurate, but who cares.

The cool kids, the up and comers, the USAC team that comes closest to a collegiate squad. Masters of Cat 4 destruction. Generally awesome all around.

The hipster, twenty-somethings, lots of style, lots of beer, have the right attitude, and seem to show up at everything. A good crew. I also love that they kind-of "promote" Wednesday Night Super Prestige!

Triathletes, watts-based, number crunching nerds that are quirky and awkward. But, they show up at stuff, so I guess they get a little love. But for heaven's sake, nobody cares about your training data if you're a cat 3! Also, don't be huge dicks to my teammates at the Tour of Connecticut.

A collection of masters who seem to "rock the house" down at the Womp, they tend to be a little "mastersy" but generally they are fun fellas and always willing to strike up a conversation. Can be competitive for sure and always shut down my breaks at the Womp, but hey, they can't let those young punks getaway right?

I swear I've never seen a BRC jersey at a race that wasn't Wells Ave. But still, they rock simply for putting on Wells ave. The guys who do show up at Wells ave, tend to be old, overweight, or both, but are wicked cool. I have much respect to anybody that keeps racing into their 50s, so long as the keep the mood light, as the BRC guys always do.

A mishmash of people, some fast, some not, consistently nice, approachable and cool. MTB squad seems to be more prevalent than the road crew, but whatever. Bonus points for showing up on the road and at MTB.

Basically the faster version of the Cambridge Bicycle team, with nicer gear, more ironic mustaches and "pistol" Pete Bradshaw. Much respect for them bringing up a lot of cat 2s. Also, gotta love the kits, man I think that is a hot look.

A huge club, I can't even wrap my head around how big the clothing order must be. Mostly, masters types, aside from the "elite" team, which I think is only Dave Chiu. They would get bonus points for putting on the Charlie Baker TT series, but TT's suck. Basically, just people from Concord. Oh, they do have a good women's elite squad, almost forgot about them.

Lords of Cat 3 destruction. Gotta respect them for that. But other than good results, I don't know anything about them, so I have to assume they all have no personality and thus must be lame.

What was the Tufts university alumni squad. Basically a Somerville/West Cambridge/Arlington version of Cambridge bikes, but a smaller or less notable presence. I do love the color scheme on the kits. Other than that, mostly a quiet crew, the few I know are nice, but eh, whatever.

A good source of juniors with nice gear, some fast female 'crossers, and then a bunch of other folks who race occasionally and live outside of 128. Never really see top results (aside from women's cx), but always seem to be around.

A team mostly filled with shop employees, so there's a little bit of hipster going on, but it's all good. They make up for it by being way overly nice and cool. Also having great results and an awesome blog doesn't hurt. I expect some big things from them in 2010 after a stellar 2009.

A shop team, not much to say, don't really know them aside from the fact that they seem to be mostly cat 4's and 5's. So, yay!...?

A two part team really. The first being a masters squad, with totally random people who I don't really know. The other being a wicked fast and really ghetto cat 1/2 elite development squad. They are all riding 6 year old Time frames, they all seem just to have one really used kit and are just generally ridiculous, but they can still throw down.

Another multi-part operation, I rode for the 'cross team, and we were awesome, funny and had some flashy kits. But the other side is some masters dudes I don't know and a "pro" mtb rider.

I only know people on the the pro development team and I hate them with a fiery passion. They are huge jerks and I want them all to suffer greatly. (No, it's not because I'm jealous that they all get to ride IF SSR's for the season, fuckers.)

SPECIAL COLLEGE SECTION:
A great crew, a large range of riders from elite to beginners, a good women's team and they know how to ride fast and still have tons of fun. I love these guys.

Not supa-fast, but generally goofy, ridiculous and have an affinity for white kits. Don't know really know any personally, but I like their style.

Oh man, where to begin? On the one hand you got to love that they show up, with a huge team, a large women's squad , are nice and win national championships. On the other hand, they are MIT nerds and sometimes they can be just a bit awkward.

Wentworth Institute of Technology Cycling
Awkward is the least of their problems, the MTB team and the road team divided, and basically the team always seems to be struggling to survive. Regardless, they are another college team that knows how to have fun, rather than go fast.

The first thing that comes to mind is "Beer," then racing. An awesome MTB crew, who put on great races, show up with a large crowd and love the term "party bike." The road crew, only slighty more serious, but not really at all. A fun crowd who like the social side as much, if not more than the racing side of cycling.

Can't ride, graduated all their fast people, used to be big, now small. I like the alums I know, but can't really speak to the current squad.


Obviously there are a many more teams in eastern Mass, but I didn't talk about them for a few reasons, first there are a few that I simply hate and I think are full of douche-bags, so they don't deserve the space on my blog. Others are junior teams, and I guess "you can't make fun of juniors," so they have been omitted. Also, there may just be teams that I forgot about, which means you have no personality and thus I don't care. Also, there are many teams I like, but are just out of my geographic range, which is, I dunno, inside 495. And yes, I've omitted cyclocross only teams (Geekhouse, HUP united, etc...) because I felt like it.

If you don't like my opinions (and I was pretty gentle), I don't really care, if you are taking this seriously, you need to chill the fuck out and realize it's just biking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Great Group Ride Conversation

This past weekend I rode on down to Boulder for the big racer group ride called "The Gateway Ride," it's big, it can get fast and heck this particular day Tyler Hamilton showed up. But the highlight of the day goes to two guys who were behind me while heading north on the foothills highway, fairly early in the ride.

Rider A: Hey, I see you got a power tap, how's it working for you?
Rider B: Pretty good, still kind of figuring out some of the features.
Rider A: Cool, so how many watts are you putting out right now?
Rider B: It ran out of zeros.

That's it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Comparison of the People's Republic of....

WELCOME TO THE SHOWDOWN, the ultimate battle, a battle of titans, the combatants: the People's Republic of Cambridge vs. The People's Republic of Boulder.

Ok maybe it's not that epic, it more of a slightly skewed, brief, inaccurate comparison of the people's republics, but fear not dear readers it's mostly about bikes and things bike related. The winner may be the place I settle down in after my time in Israel. Anyhow on to the contest:

Round 1: Coffee on Bike Rides
Well this is an easy one, the two are both home to a litany of small, quaint and independent shops with good selections. Heck, I even found one in Longmont where the staff, and all but 1 of the 6 customers all seemed to be from Massachusetts, so both can cities can qualify for folksy charm. However, the victory here is clearly Cambridge, because when you go for a ride out of Cambridge you aren't out in hick country and it's not damn near impossible to find a coffee shop 2-3 hours into a ride. Also, there's not a Dunkin Donuts 10 minutes in every direction in Colorado, so you don't even have a back up plan. SCORE: Cambridge 1, Boulder 0

Round 2: Getting out of Town
No question here the winner is Boulder. Why? Simply because Boulder has no urban sprawl, when the city ends, the city ends, and you're immediately out in farm land or climbing up a canyon. There's no navigating out through Arlington and Lexington before you get to some sort of open space out in Concord, and then it's still kind of busy. SCORE: Cambridge 1, Boulder 1

Round 3: Road Ride Quality
Well this category can be evaluated in several ways. Is this based on road surface quality, road variety, scenic vistas or difficulty in terrain? Each area has its positives, Boulder is nice in that the canyon roads are quiet, twisty and long, additionally, the Flat land roads tend to have a mix of flat roads, rollers and small climbs, and there's a good amount of dirt roads too. But Boulder is seriously lacking in road variety, the areas surrounding the city are really just a series of large grids, you can go east-west or north-south, the flatlands are really exposed and pretty much no tree canopied roads and even the canyons only have evergreens.
(A Winter Ride with Spencer in the Foothills near Boulder)

(A Summer Ride in Greater Boston)

Cambridge and greater Boston is great as it is flooded with many twisty, cool, tree canopied roads, and you can basically find a new road on every ride and drift from one town to another, sprinting with friends for each town. line. After which you can easily find some ice-cream or coffee to share midway through the ride. As an added bonus, greater Boston has lots of rolling roads, but no major climbs and I hate big climbs. So the winner is Cambridge. SCORE: Cambridge 2, Boulder1.

Round 4: The Group Ride
This one is difficult, as each is so different. On the one hand, Boulder has a series of really fastestablished group rides, where attendance can be over one hundred people and Pros from both continental and European teams can show up and raise the level. Where as Cambridge seems to be more based on teams/friends riding together and having a good time rather than getting in a few hours of training. Likewise, there are organized fast rides in the Boston area and groups of friends do get together in Boulder for a casual base ride. But, I'm going to give this one to Cambridge, as I've always enjoyed riding with collegiate teams, GREENLINEVelo and generally having fun, rather than"getting in some good training." If I want some training I'll gorace Wells Ave. SCORE: Cambridge 3, Boulder 1.

Round 5: Winter Training
I think it's pretty clear which one is the winner here, I mean, it's February and I haven't had to ride the trainer yet while out here in CO. The front range has less snow, warmer temps, far less salt on the road and beautiful sunshine even in the dead of winter. Where as everyone in Cambridge is probably dying a little bit each time they jump on the trainer/rollers during the week and hoping the temperature gets over 20 degrees (F) so it's warm enough to ride on the weekend. SCORE: Cambridge 3, Boulder 2.

(A typical winter day on the Front Range)

Round 6: BikeSocial
Well, this kind of has some sub categories, which would be your personal cycling social network and then off the bike events. And this one is tough, now I can't personally speak to having a large contingent of cycling friends in and around Boulder, but from the friends I do have it seems as though the social scene is pretty similar to back east. So, I''ll move to the second half of the category off the bike events. Of course back east there are a bunch of fundraisers, team parties, talks, all of which involve beer, and from what I can tell it is pretty similar here in Boulder, with the exception that the local pro riders that attend events are much faster and internationally known. So that being the case, I'll begrudgingly have to give this one to Boulder because, "I met a Garmin-Transitions" rider is far more impressive than "I met a Mountain Khakis rider." SCORE: Cambridge 3, Boulder 3

Round 7: Urban Stuff
You know, concerts, art galleries, bars, street performers, urban stuff. This round goes to Cambridge pretty easily, I don't have to explain myself. SCORE: Cambridge 4, Boulder 3

Round 8: Bike Shops and Local Bike Companies
Each town, and surrounding area has a litany of shops of large, small, and boutique shops. So I guess that's a draw, but each area is home to a large variety of advocacy groups, frame builders and large scale distributors. But, because the Cambridge/Boston area has such a high frequency of local frame builders, like Seven, IF, Geekhouse, Budd Bikeworks, and more I'll give this one to Cambridge. SCORE: Cambridge 5, Boulder 3

Round 9: Off the Bike Exercise
Basically this round covers all the cool off bike things, like running, skiing, hiking, swimming, other neat outdoorsy adventures that occur without bikes. New England is great because of the oceans, and beaches, offering sea kayaking, sailing and more, and still is home to my beloved lakes and mountains in Maine and New Hampshire where you can hike, swim and enjoy the outdoors. But Boulder and Colorado as a whole take the win here, because it has mountains, some lakes, rafting, hiking all that good stuff, but it wins because the Skiing/Snowboarding is just on another level when compared to New England. SCORE: Cambridge 5, Boulder 4

(You just don't get views like this from the top of Mt. Sunapee, this is at ABasin)

The Winner: Cambridge
By a score of 5 to 4 Cambridge is the winner by a small margin over Boulder. But, obviously this is only a glance, and I sure haven't covered a lot of important topics about the lifestyle, the racing and probably the most important factor: CAN I GET A JOB?

Until next time.....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thoughts on Buying bikes

I've determined in the past few weeks that the time has come to retire my trusty Cannondale CAAD 8 road frame, purchased as an employee during my first summer at Wheelworks, back in 2006, since then I've bought a new bike every year at employee pricing and now I'm in the unfortunate spot of having to replace the frame with no employee deal at my disposal and I'm lost.

So, I've spent today scouring the interwebs, asking friends, looking for a deal, advice, tips, tricks, whatever I can find out about how to get a new rig. And dang it, it's hard. I can't believe that people usually have to do this. I'm so used to just selecting a bike from one of the brands the shop sells and then buying it at EP, it's pretty quick, easy and cheap. But now, without my safety net I'm so confused.

Now, I think I've got it narrowed down to just 3 options, all around $700-$800 but, I can't decide, one looks good and has a good reputation, but I'm unfamiliar with the brand in general and has a very "upright" geometry and an aluminum frame with carbon seat stays, the other is super aggressive, aluminum, small brand frame, with mixed reviews, with some manufacturing issues. The third is a safe bet, but it's a major manufacturer, but I know that it is a cheap full carbon bike, that is kind of soft and heavy.

But now, I just don't know, and all of the deals could be expiring at any time so I'm getting anxious.

How the hell do all you amateurs figure this stuff out?