Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Podium? You never get on the podium!" - Orchard Cross Report

You're darn right I got on the podium, mom.

But before we get to that, I'll talk briefly about the weekend as a whole.

Saturday's plan was to do the cat 3 race at Canton, a race that I've done well at in the past. And based on my recent string of not doing terrible I figured I had the legs to pull out a decent performance by wheelsucking my way to the front of the race. I of course prepared for this on Friday night, by eating barbecue, having some beers and playing Golden Eye.

OK, BOOM race day.

I started 2nd row, and had a plan, it was to get up in the front group and hang out. I managed to avoid a couple odd bobbles at the start and make my way into the top ten no problem heading into the field.

A few gaps opened with some shenanigans and I was back in the low teens heading into the long power section (well the whole course is a long power section). Anyhow, as the lap drew to a close Cosmo came by me and I thought to myself "TIME TO GET ON THE COSMO TRAIN TO THE LEAD GROUP!" But it was not to be so, as Cosmo cruised by in a full sprint my legs responded by saying "nah, that's ok, we aren't going to catch that wheel." And then, pulled out the parachute, yes, it was lap 2. From there on it was a gentlemen's slide into the 30s and found myself in front of some regulars and cruised in for an unimpressive result (by this season's standards).

Not pedaling that hard, photo by Meg

But after that I was mulling around, chatting up some folks and somehow decided to do the elite race. Which went just as well, where I rode "hard" (if you can call it that) for part of the first lap, and tempo for the rest of the race, finishing NOT LAST, which I'm calling a small victory.

That night I had some dinner, and NO Golden eye in preparation for Orchard Cross.

Now, let me tell you about the Orchard Cross course, it was amazing. It had a minimal amount of long power sections,but a maximum amount of greasy non-pedaling turns, weird off cambers and a pump track section.

With this in mind I rocketed off the front row at the start and did not win the hole-shot on purpose, and let Oscar take the charge for the first half lap. I then passed him in the pump track and gunned it up a small power section. Then it was time to SHRED. I made the most of the off camber section, railed the turns as best I could and at the end of lap one I had opened up a gap on the field.

Now, unbelievably, this lasted for another lap and I came through the finish line with Chris Zigmont totally butchering my last name over the PA, but who cares I WAS THE FRONT OF THE BIKE RACE.

Tragically, it was not to last, and Matt Sousa used his messenger watts (it's a thing) to blow by me halfway through lap 3 and brought Oscar along with him. Now it was time for some strategery. I sat on Oscar's wheel for the next lap and a half or so, recovering (also a thing) and put a lot of faith in him to not eat it on a greasy corner or let anyone catch us.

At 2 to go I put in an attack on Oscar in hopes to dispatch him and his dad legs (double the power as he has another on the way). I managed to keep him at bay for a while. However, he made his way back to my wheel early on the last lap and I panicked for a moment, but he subsequently disappeared into the abyss after trying to make a pass that wasn't there and took a spill.

From that point forward I just tried to ride steady and not make any mistakes. I rolled in 15 seconds behind Sousa for 2nd place.

Now, for those of you taking notes, the difference here was the Golden Eye the night before the race. So, if you want to podium bike races, DO NOT play Golden Eye the night before races, this works 100% of the time after you played Golden Eye the night before. Another interesting fact, I haven't podiumed at a cycle cross race since 2010.

Anyways, my plan for the Cycle - Smart international is Golden Eye on Thursday.


Friday, September 28, 2012

How to be a career cat 3

Tired of sucking? Tired of waking up at 5am to race? Tired of being pack fodder for Tim Powers? Do you just want to be competitive, but not enough so that people call you a sandbagger?  Then this blog post is for you!

In just a few easy steps you too can master the skills needed to be a career cat 3 cyclo-cross racer! 

With my years of experience I've learned how to be around 30th in some of the nations biggest cat 3 races, and so can you! 

Approach
The first and most important thing for you to know is that your race DOES NOT MATTER. Regardless of how much it may matter to you, it is so totally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. In reality, it's just a way for you to call your self a  "bike racer" to your co-workers and not just some other loser that rides alone on the weekends. 

Priorities
Another key principle is to remember that you have more important things that you should/could be doing with your time and money, like your taxes, cleaning your room, paying off loans, just generally all the important adult things you put off to go play bicycles. Once you don't think, but KNOW, that you have more important things to do, you are ready for the next step.

Training
If you have any of the following things, get rid of them:
  • A Coach
  • A Plan
  • A Power Meter
  • A hear rate monitor
Now that you are a coachless, planless, meterless human you are ready for the next step. Don't train. Don't even use the word "training," riding your bike outside of racing is simply that, "riding." No intervals, no structure, just ride enough that you enjoy it. The added bonus of this strategy is you never "have to" ride, you ride because you want to, because the weather is nice, because you need to get out some frustration, because it's fun. This alone removes so much stress from your life.

Eating
Eat whatever you want. I mean, you totally burned 3000 calories over the weekend, so of course you deserve BBQ chicken and beer for recovery. If gluten free vegan cupcakes are your jam, have a half-dozen. The point is that you've already told your co-workers you are a bike racer, so they assume that you, much like Lance Armstrong need 10,000 calories a day just to survive. 

Racing
Race all the time, because it is your only real form of training. I usually do 40 races a year across all disciplines, road, MTB and cyclo-cross. Also, go to training races, as many as you can. This allows you to FEEL like a bike racer, but you don't actually have to go out and do intervals on your own to hang out. You get all the benefits of a high intensity workout, without having to be anti-social. It's amazing how much you can race by spending all week on the couch and then smashing your face each weekend. Also, racing all the time will improve your crossresults.com points, which means that you won't necessarily start front row, but you won't be last row either. 

Race day
The first thing you do is ride the course, just fast enough so that you'll know how to handle everything at speed, but not so fast that you'll tucker yourself out. This is far more important than doing a real warm up, because if you can't pedal fast at least you wont fall down, and look a fool.  After that, be sure to socialize, people only know you are a bike racer if you walk the walk AND talk the talk, so be sure to talk about the weird off camber, the angle to the barriers or your "training" from the past week. 

During the race
Don't soft pedal, don't give up, and race hard. Give the fan(s) a show, if people really, truly believe that you are trying they can't insult you for sucking, and since you haven't been training you sure won't be at the front of the bike race either, so they can't call you a sandbagger. It's a truly beautiful system. 

After the race
Don't cool down, socialize! That's what post race is for, talk about the off camber, or the guy that "totally dive-bombed that corner." 

NOW REPEAT. 

Remember that if you do all these steps, you'll never actually get good, but you sure as shoot won't get really bad either. You'll be in the happy medium (somewhere around 30th) for the rest of your life!

Good lack and happy mediocrity!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September is awesome

September 2012 is one for the ages, and it's only going to get better. I started it off in my happy place, Maine's North Woods, where I went for some swell bicycle rides around a very large lake.






I then made a quick trip down to Maine's Mid-Coast where I took some more photos and was rather pleased with life.

I then spent a few days back in reality at work, home etc... and did the Portsmouth Criterium, which was just the best. I followed that up by fixing up my cycle-cross bicycle and gluing up some tubular tires in preparation for the Green Mountain CX weekend.

After that I'll be doing the TD Bank Mayor's Cup with 13 teammates around Boston's City Hall, and that will be just super.

I'll close out the month with the GP of Gloucester and some beers.

I'm so thrilled that summer is over, because I love cool mornings and not sweating all the time.

So in summary, September is Awesome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I still don't totally suck at bike racing

Despite what my road results profile might say, I just wanted to dispel the rumor(s) that I suck at bicycle racing.


So, I have some proof from the Portsmouth Criterium! 

That's right, I called my shot, like the great Bambino and delivered.



Also, I won $25 (AMERICAN) by sprinting and a pile of Skratch slaying it on the front. 

SO TAKE THAT.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cyclocross: The answers

I've had my fill of everyone asking the same questions about what to buy and how to do this, that or the other.

SO, for you newbies out there these are the answers to your questions.

What clincher tires should I buy? Michelin Mud 2
What tubular tires should I buy? Challenge Grifo
What clincher wheels should I get? Mavic Open Pro
What tubular wheels should I get? Mavic Reflex
Do I need tubulars to win? No
Do I need a carbon bike to win? No
Do I need a custom bike to win? No
Should I get disc brakes? No, neutral support only has clinchers
Should I get 11 speed? No, neutral support only has 10 speed
What clothing do I need? A single longsleeve skinsuit, or a standard jersey/bibs combo
Should I do a step through dismount? Yes, when arriving at high speed
Should I bunny hop barriers? No, if you have to ask, you aren't good enough to try
What is Adam Myerson always talking about? Unclip your left foot before dismounting or you're going to get hurt
How do I pick up my bicycle? By the downtube, always
Ride up or run up? Depends
Do I need to wear gloves? Whatever works for you
Who's a sandbagger? Anybody who wins more than 2 races in a non-elite category, unless they can't upgrade because of rule restrictions
What do I do? I'm freaking out? Calm down, you are doing this for fun


Monday, July 9, 2012

New Britain Highlight Reel

I didn't do much down at the New Britain Crit yesterday, but I did come away with these two amazing highlights from Adam's live coverage of the New Britain Category 3 Senior Men's Criterium World Championships of Central Connecticut. :
Then, 1 lap later:

After that I tried to "lead out" my team, and almost killed myself when a pebble took out my back wheel. Teammate got 4th, so I suppose that is good.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Mornings at the Office

Coworker: "I got out on the bike and did 25 miles yesterday. Did you get to ride at all?"
Me: "yeah"
Coworker: "How far did you go?"
Me: "I rode out to Wachussett had a PBJ and rode back"

I'm a jerk.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Best Commute Ever

Today, was probably the best bike commute ever. I mean ever.

I got a free bagel and some coffee!

First, the weather was absolutely sublime. Cool, clear, sunny just a touch breezy. Second, it is Bay State Bike Week, which resulted in the following:

  • The streets were packed with friendly commuters
  • The police were out in force in Cambridge and Somerville making sure everyone was safe
  • I got a free bagel & coffee

Boston, resplendent from the Longfellow Bridge

The Boston Common was just amazing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Blue Hills Race Report

Oh another Cat 3 road race in New England, what could go wrong? The weather was brisk and lovely, my team had 7 dudes in the race, and it was a scant 25 minutes from home! Obviously the cards were going to come together for an amazing racing experience.

I started off the morning by having a man-date with Colin and pounding some chocolate chip pancakes, because that is definitely the best pre-race meal ever. We then drove down to the Great Blue Hill and milled around the parking lot doing the usual pre-race routines, not warming up, socializing and pinning numbers. Then, it was time to race the bikes, which, as per usual was totally exciting.

The race started at an up tempo pace and I made a point to sit in the first lap so that I wouldn't have a second taste of breakfast. The pace of the field ebbed & flowed but noting was crazy fast during the first 10 miles. Of course during this time my teammate Dave had attacked, solo off the front and was content to suck wind all day, which meant one thing: it was time to hang out all day and not care! (Except of course when people brake checked all over the place and cars were on the side of the road, then I cared about not dying).

I took advantage of this by not really doing anything, sitting in the middle of the field for a while. Only making my way to the front when Marvin Wang attacked and tried to bridge, I sat on his wheel and completed the bridge to a chase group, which surmounted into nothing and then spent the next 2 laps near-ish the front shutting down attacks and such then going to the back of the field while others of the GLV army did their share at the front.

Heading into the bell I was sitting in the middle of the pack when I saw Mike Wissell charge up the road with Matt Casserly and decided to go hang out with them. I sat on Mike's wheel 5 seconds off the front of the field feeling like a rockstar until Mike surged and I crumbled like stale bread. I then floated to the back of the field hoping to get back to the front on the finishing climb and pull out something for the inevitable field sprint, as DA BREAK was gone and this is when everything went wrong.

Heading into the finishing climb my field caught the Master's 40+ field, and they were not neutralized, which meant it was time for the SUPER PELOTON. We really merged with them halfway up the final climb when the Cat 3 field swerved to the left trying to get around in unison and then shenanigans occurred. Some clown took out The Schon, and a few others and I was run into a guardrail on the left, but stopped before critical impact. I stayed there a bit with Hughes to make sure The Schon was not dead and he managed to be scraped up pretty well, but was decidedly still alive. Hughes and I then rolled in a few minutes later for whatever place chatting about how we were terrified the whole race.


Video of the crash via Colin

Dave did manage to hang on in DA BREAK for 2nd place, which was swell, so team success!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Commute Communique March 8, 2012

I was thinking about squeezing all these thoughts into a series of tweets, but then remembered I have a blog.

Just for reference I commute from Davis Square to Post Office Square.

  • It was absurdly nice out
  • I was overdressed in my Bikes Belong long sleeve, where as last week I was on a bike with full fenders and full winter gear riding through a snowstorm
  • It was swell to see the commuter peleton double in size from just a few days prior
  • I ran into Erin (from the Wheelworks CX team), we had a nice chat.
  • I listened to some Porter Robinson
  • The Kendall Square high five count was 1
  • Boston looked really good from the Longfellow bridge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Timing

How is it already January 18th, 2012?

It seems like just the other day I was racing bikes in Chicago, beating Cosmo.

But alas, it is now Mid-January in Massachusetts, during weakest winter I can recall, where it is relatively warm, dry and sunny.

And this, presents a problem. For in past years by this time I'd have been a solid 4-5 weeks removed from bike racing, and if given this kind of weather I'd be out and about riding as much as possible. BUT, this is not past years, and my cyclocross season extended into January and instead of gearing up for long winter rides I'd rather be skiing, snowboarding and even shoveling the walk.

So I hope it snows soon, so I can play in the white fluffy stuff instead of staring out the window at the clear roads and tolerable temperatures with no desire to ride bikes.