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 crossresults.com 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.