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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Verge Points and Downeast Day 1

After a series of finishing in the top half of Verge Series Races a lot last year and not getting any top 25 finishes and thus Verge Series points I grew frustrated, and wanted some way to glorify my mid-pack presence each week, so I came up with the Fastest Guy Without a Verge Point standings and had Colin crank out the results using the power of the internet to determine if I was in fact the fastest guy without a Verge point, it turns out I was 2nd.
So this year I was determined to either be good enough to win that title or be just slightly better and get real Verge Points. Now turn back the clock 1 week, and I sent Colin an e-mail offering him $10 to make a page on so I could easily track my standings, and he did a fine job, Go HERE to check it out.

Thus, going into this past weekend at Downeast I looked at the pre-registered list and the race predictor and determined I was going to either be on the cusp of real Verge Points or claim the glorious title of the fastest guy without verge points.

Now, time to race. I started on the third row, which was OK, and knew that the course was tight and I needed to have a really good start to take advantage of my sweet cornering skills on the tight, twisty course to open up gaps. I made my way up early into the top 20, passing Bramhall in the process and tried to hang out as far up as I could in the pack.

(Railing a sweet turn, Photo: McEwan Flickr)

I was having a nice time railing the turns and keeping the chase groups behind me at bay because apparently, nobody can go around corners and I would catch a guy here and there to put them between myself and the chasing group behind. Somewhere in the middle part of this race I saw Ian on the deck and flew by him hoping to take advantage of his misfortune and reclaim some glory in the Hebrew Cup. Then Bramhall came flying past me letting me know I was winning the Hebrew Cup and then I never saw him again.

By this point in the race things were really strung out and I was chasing a CLR guy with a group of 6 or so 10 seconds behind me. At 1 lap to go I caught and passed the CLR dude, because he couldn't corner for his life and I was going to use his lack of skills to block the group behind me, which contained Ian who had recovered from his crash, STRATEGY.

Of course, on the back half of the last lap the CLR guy passed me back and I couldn't get back up to him, but Ian was hard charging for my wheel. I tried to cruise through the last few turns to open up the gap, but Ian was being annoying and just wouldn't go away. When we hit the pavement I opened up the sprint and Ian came around me just nipping me at the line for the Hebrew Cup and whatever place we were in.

(Sprinting Ian for the Hebrew Cup, photo: Back Bay Cycling Club)

After the race I assumed I was in the top half and figured given my track record I finished 26th and I would be leading the fastest guy without a verge point standings. But no, I got 23rd! VERGE POINTS. I Don't suck that much! Alright! But the $10 I paid Colin was now lost forever, and I won't be able to enjoy it.

After the race we looked at Ian's leg, which had some big cuts in it from his crash and I had to take him to the hospital, he got 14 stitches, he's a tough cookie.

Other Race Notes:
  • The Downeast Crew created a new course, which was LEAPS and BOUNDS over last year's course, it was a blast.
  • The volunteers were friendly and helpful, a trend I've been liking.
  • Ian is a tough cookie
  • Dave Chiu was safely crushed

MRC Race report

LAST Sunday I did the MRC race out in Lancaster, I was forced to do the P/1/2/3 race because, well they didn't have a cat 3 race and I was ok with that.

I started near-ish to the front and hoped to race well for sixty minutes.

In short, I had a really good start, getting away from my primary rivals for the day, Ian, RMM, Dave Chiu, and my teammates Benny and Jeff Z.

(Near Pete Smith on the Flyover early on, photo: Todd Prekaski)

I stayed up in the top 20 for the first couple of laps my by sitting on Ryan White's wheel as he carefully moved his way up in the field. But as the race progressed things started to spread out a lot on the course and I ended up spending a lot of time fighting the wind to keep my advantage. During this period the Wheelworks combo of Jeff Z and Benny came flying by me (Jeff doing his 2nd race after a solid performance in the 35+ race) and I just tried to hang out. A lap or so after that Ian came around me, for Hebrew Cup points which was a little discouraging as I had kept behind me for half the race, but again I just rode my tempo. Shortly after I saw Jeff Z walking his bike with an untimely flat, ruining his great ride.

(RMM and Dave Chiu in hot pursuit of me, photo: Christopher Intercontinental)

After that is when things started to get bad. RMM decided to be a total jerk and pull Dave Chiu around the course for what seemed like an eternity about 10-15 seconds behind me. Also, from a few seconds behind RMM reminded me what beating him would do for my points, that was nice of him. Eventually RMM caught me as I was starting to get sloppy, asked me if I was getting sloppy and then sprinted by me, leaving Dave Chiu right on my wheel. At 1 to go Dave was inches behind me and then I used my sweet cornering skills and raw determination to open up a gap and keep him behind me, taking 29th place with small gap at the finish. I was happy, and yes I know I spent the WHOLE RACE in the BRKZ.

Notes on the Race:
  • New venue for the MRC race was excellent, the course was superb, they made mountains out of molehills
  • Volunteers were cheerful and nice
  • Weather was beautiful
  • Flyover was cool
  • Ryan Kelly made me a grilled cheese after the race, it was delicious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mansfield Hollow Race Report


Yes, now I am excited to blog the shit out this past weekend, because A) it was wicked fun, and B) I just had a cup of coffee (it is 8pm as I write this).

So, I raced bikes this weekend (that is a familiar sentence, right?) it was fun.

I got things started on Saturday by heading down to the TCC Mansfield Hollow race in Connecticut. I drove down Colin (aka Internet Cyclocross Commander), who later got 3rd in his bicycle race, so I'm taking partial credit for that using the transitive property.

Anyhow, before that, I raced the B race, which was surprisingly categories 2, 3 and 4, and thus there were a few cat 2s in there that made things a little faster than my usual category 3 affairs.

Ok, now to the gritty details. I missed the race to the start line, because this race is OLD SKOOL, and they don't use points for staging. In fact, they are so old school they don't even use computers and printers for results, it was all hand written poster board, AWESOME.

So I started in the 3rd row and off we went. I had my typical terrible start and I picked all the wrong lines and had to stop and walk a lot going through the first off camber. Even, frickin GeWilli got past me because he used his "experience" to tackle the section and ran it while I tried to ride through it in traffic. Shortly after that though I passed him and gave him a "See you Geoff," and tried to move up in the group as the field strung out.

Through the first section of turns and barriers, I just tried to play it cool and not lose any places, figuring that the course was technical enough that I could crawl back spots as dudes fell over. But I soon saw the leaders way far ahead of me and realized I was seriously in the back of the pack.

Then we hit the first of 2 beaches, and I rode it CLEAN, as everyone around me ran. Cosmo was behind me and said "Steve, you're an animal!" Yes, Cosmo, I know, I have technical skills. He later explained that he was going to call me out when I fell over, but I never did, so yes, I AM A BADASS.

Then we hit the second beach and some long flat sections and I stayed in my place until we hit the hard ride up, which most people ran, but I was like "I HAVE SKILLS, I'm going to ride that shit." Of course, the guy in front of me ran slowly and I hit him and fell over, causing the people behind me to hit me and also fall over. Then, I ran, remounted and noticed that my rear brake wasn't working. So I stopped and saw that my cable was knocked out of the caliper, and I fixed it as the line of dudes whizzed by.

From then on I spent a long while trying to reclaim spots, I was in a very bad place in the back, because as Colin informed me, "GUYS WITH KIDS ARE IN FRONT OF YOU," referring to GeWilli, I was determined to chase him down. So, I rode my bike hard, cleaned the first beach EVERY LAP and picked off people, including GeWilli to get a decent result. Final result 34th of 57. Oh, yes Ian was there, he got ahead of me early, and stayed away, that little punk is crushing me in the Hebrew Cup.

A Few Other Notes:

  • Mike Wissel is a beast, taking 3rd in the B race and then 7th in the A race. Nice job.
  • This course was fun and hard, ridiculous off camber, 3 sets of barriers, 2 beaches, a sweet flowing wooded section, fast speed control turns, it was fun to ride.
  • The race was well run, with excellent volunteers and free food for the racers. This event is highly recommended.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Providence Cross Fest Race Reports

After my total lack of trying at the Night Weasels on Wednesday, I was determined to not suck at Providence.

Day 1
I started in the back near the usual suspects and had an ok start but I very quickly let all the people I wanted to beat get away (Jeff Z, Bramhall, Jeremy, and Jake) so I rode my bike really hard to move up, but on the day 1 course that was 7 minutes long and had about 30 seconds of space to recover, I was not very happy. It was eerily similar to last year.

I tried hard to go fast, but I sure felt like I was not going very fast. However, I did catch Jake, who crashed a few spots in front of me and then got up and smacked my ass as I passed him, thanks dude. But regardless, I was not very happy for the next few laps as I was getting passed by guys I usually slaughter. Fortunately, about two-thirds of the way through the race I came across Dave Chiu, who I let get away early and was suffering a similar fate. We had a nice chat about how much we were each sucking and I went on my way past him to maintain my mid-pack location.

By this time I had settled in with a group of dudes and most notably Chris Bailey who has a bazillion watts and would pass me on long flat bits and then I'd get him back. During my battle with Chris I came up on Jeremy who had flatted (for the second time) and eventually ran his way to finishing on the lead lap, NICE WORK!

Ok, back to the battle with Chris, on the last lap I thought I had successfully gotten rid of him and then out of nowhere he came up behind me and I was like, "OH SHIT I NEED TO TURN ON THE GAS TO MAINTAIN MY MIDPACKNESS!" Going into the last run up I made sure I was in front of him and railed the turns in order to get a gap on his lack of technical skills. So, coming out of the grass and into the last long pavement section up to the finish I went all out my like my legs were steam engine pistons and hoped to stay away, but apparently I forgot that Chris has a bazillion watts and he closed the gap on me to take the a very well earned 53rd place to my 54th place. Hmm, 54th, that is the same neighborhood as my races at Gloucester last week, 55th & 54th.

Day 2
On Saturday night I did normal people stuff like eat "comfort food," drink beer and watch football, before getting 10 hours of sleep for my day 2 adventure. Thanks to Adam Sullivan, (who is not very internet, but is very nice) for housing me.

Right, so got to the race, rode around, got loose, tried to rock out to some fresh jams and got excited to race my bike. When I went over to the start I was staged near the same people as the day before and knew I needed to kick some ass.

When the whistle blew I went out hard, passed most of people I wanted to beat and I got in to the top 30, which was a good place to be. I thought I saw Jeff Bramhall near me and then he disappeared, and after talking to him later, he was crashed really hard. So damn you whoever you are, I wanted to beat Jeff fair and square.

After the start I rode really well, sprinting out of every turn, and on to every flat, taking advantage of the on/off nature of the course. I found myself near some people I didn't know and I was feeling good. But, for the whole middle section of the race there was one guy from NBX who would wheel chop like crazy, albeit not dangerously, into turns and then fall, or drop his chain or whatever and I 'd pass him back. He was really aggressive and bumped shoulders, but hey, he was being safe so I let it slide. Until way late in the race when had passed me for the 3rd or 4th time and dropped his chain on a fast flat section after a downhill and decided it would be a good idea to stand in the middle of the course to fix it. Yeah, thanks dude, I almost ran you over.

So, after that I come through the finish line with the bell for 1 lap to go, and take a guess who has come out of nowhere to be all up ons my wheel? Chris Bailey! Bah, I thought I didn't have to try anymore! Now it was back to work to keep Chris behind me, but Chris continued to close the gap. On the last few sections and the last hard ride up I kept my shit tight and didn't let him get around me. But then, on the last set of stairs, just before the finishing straight, Chris got around me and I went deep into my database of tactics and figured I could just sit on his wheel up the finishing straight and come around him. But, for the second day in a row, I forgot that Chris has a BAZILLION watts and accelerates like a formula 1 car and he opened up a gap that I couldn't close, and once again I came in just behind him taking 35th to his 34th.

Hey, a 19 place improvement in a field of over 110 each day? I'll take that.

Other race notes:
There were some things about this event that were not so great and I'm going to get my bitch on, so deal with it
  • There was a ton of glass on the course, a few minutes of raking could have helped a lot in several places. I know a few racers that went out and pick up glass by hand.
  • There were a lot of places to pinch flat. There was one spot where 5 people I know got a flat, one guy twice. Would have been nice for the promoters to fill that stuff in with gravel or sticks or something.
  • In addition to being very flat inducing, the race didn't have neutral support. LAME. For a big event where teams have to pay for the privilege to bring tents and the organizers can afford a few hundred yards of metal course fencing, they should be able to afford some neutral support. 35 people did not finish my race on day 1 and 41 didn't finish on day 2.
  • Day 2 course had some seriously sketchy sections. Most notably a section along the water that had 1 line, where if you botched it you'd either run into a metal fence or would end up in the drink.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And the weasels came... IN THE NIGHT: A report

Um, so I totally rocked the Night Weasels Last night.

But let me preface by saying that Chip, Colin and Linnea, along with the Ski Ward Crew deserve a ton of e-mails, thank yous, HUP-Cakes, beers, praise, less mean heckles for all the work they put into making the event happen. I helped a little bit on Tuesday with some course building and Wednesday night with course breakdown, also praise to the team, and B2C2 crew for helping with tearing things up, (get it?).

UPDATE: Yes, the HUP United Crew helped out with registration and other random tasks! Thanks to Scot for reminding me.

The Race
Right, so my race sucked. I did very bad. After the race I figured out why. You know that little voice in your head that says, "got to move up, got to move up, got to move up, pass this guy, pass that guy"? Well, that voice was nowhere to be found last night at the weasels, that voice was off on the beach back in Tel Aviv. This was probably the most pathetic race for me ever, as I was not hurting at all, I unsuccessfully tried to ride the stairs and this was a course that suited me perfectly, a long climb, some punchy stuff and lots of turns, but I was not going full gas at all. In fact I was getting passed and passing the same guys every lap because I was coasting through so much of the course and then catching them again on the major climb.

Highlights included: busting out some sweet DJ moves on my imaginary turn table going through the finishing straight, getting crashed by Yash Katsumi as he was heckling and got some other good heckling from the crowd. I finished on the lead lap, and safely crushed Bramhall and Dave Chiu who were both lapped.

Post Race
After the race I heckled some people in the Pro Races, ran around, chatted people up and then when it was all over started with the course breakdown, packing up the stakes and what-not. Again thanks to those who stayed around to help out.

Wow, that was like the most boring race report ever. I totally need to thrown down at Providence this weekend.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gloucester Race Reports

Race reports! YES! I am so fricking excited to write them. This being the start of New England Cyclocross Superweek, I'll have to be on top of them.

Since I was starting in the middle of the 130 person cat 3 race each day, I had decided to focus on people I know both days, and just do better than them.

Those people were:
Ian Schon (For valuble Hebrew cup points)

Day 1
I'll not go on and on about the downhill 250 meter start, the rest of the internet will take care of that for me. But to be brief, it was wild and dangerous. See the video below. After that, I tried to move up early and got past Dave as he ate sand by flying headfirst into the sand pit, it was awesome, (again, see video). After a short while I made my way up to Bramhall and got around him on my adventure towards the front. He eventually got around me and put a small gap into me, Ian too had gotten around me and for the rest of the race I saw him 6-7 spots ahead of me, it was not good.

GP of Gloucester Day 1 Cat 3 Men from colin reuter on Vimeo.

Sweet video courtesy of the team.

On lap two Dave Chiu caught me and summarily slapped my ass. Soon after that, Jeff Z caught and passed me with a pleasant "WHAT NOW STEVE?!" I was content suffering and didn't chase him down. But then, I dropped Dave, who was never to be seen again and made my way up to Bramhall and duked it out with him from then on.

The last 3 laps were a total free-for-all with Bramhall for Mid Pack Cat 3 supremacy. I would pass him, then he would pass me, other dudes would get sandwiched in between. And amidst our battle there was a GUY IN A GREY T-Shirt that neither of us wanted to lose too. But on the last lap Bramhall got a gap on me and that was that, I finished 55th to his 54th. BAH!

Lost to: Ian, Jeff Z, Bramhall.
Beat: Jeremy and Dave.

Day 2
I had the same goals as day one, beat people I know. This was a little less fortuitous. On lap 1 Jeremy Jo, Jeff Z, Dave Chiu and Ian all got around me in the first grass section after the start and I was soon in full chase mode. Ian and I duked it out for a while and insulted each other in Hebrew before he went off into the distance after the first run up where I dropped my chain, and about 15 places. Then I dropped my chain again after the barriers, losing another spot or two. I quickly found myself, in less than mid-pack and decided that was not very good. But Bramhall was there with me and wanted to hang out for a few laps. But then he fell off into the abyss and I found my self chasing a group with Jeremy and Dave Chiu, I wanted to catch that group.

I spent the next 3/4 of the race trying to catch Dave and Jeremy, passing whole groups of dudes going up the hill towards the finish line and each lap they got just a little closer. But at the end, I got up just behind them and lost by 1 place to Jeremy and several more to Dave, oh the shame! But, hey a 1 place improvement from the day before, finishing 54th.

Lost to: Ian, Jeff Z, Dave and Jeremy.
Beat: Bramhall

Heckle of the Weekend:
"We've got some Wagner for you Steve!" -Nick Maggiore on the Run up day 2, I think it is some odd Curb Your Enthusiasm reference. I totally got him back by humming the start of Ride of the Valkyries the next time I hit the run up, everybody laughed, it was awesome.

Up next the Night Weasels Cometh. Supposedly I'm being offered up as a prime in the Masters race.