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Showing posts from 2007

Cross Nationals' Growing Pains

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've seen Ryan Trebon get crashed out of the elite race at Nationals. The internet hullabaloo spawned by this video was impressive, but the conclusions drawn from it were few. This being America, everyone knows that the first thing you do when tragedy strikes is assign blame. The most common reaction was to blame the organizers for an unsafe course design, one that saw riders who lost control on a slippery corner head into oncoming traffic. This is a legitimate point, and I have no doubt that that particular course feature will be substantially different next year -- and hopefully local promoters, too, will think twice about separating traffic going opposite directions with a thin barrier of tape.

However, this being bike racing, not everyone was content to chalk it up to bad luck. After all, why post on the internet if you aren't going to bash someone you don't know? True to form, the internet cx pros quickly called out t…

Trebon's Crash From Nationals

Josh passed this along, it only has 42 views right now but I assume the whole internet will see it in the next 24 hours.

Notice the rider who goes ever further into oncoming traffic right after the crash. I'll take "unsafe course design" for $100, Alex.

CX Retrospective

Hey, it's that time of year where everyone talks about their cross season in the past tense. I'm joining the party, mainly because I made a post this summer about some goals and I basically got them all. Pretty easy to do when you make goals based on your current fitness + 5%, instead of current fitness + 50% or whatever other wishful thinking floats your boat.

Whatever, let's run down the goals list anyway.

1) Learn to cross mount -- this took me most of the season to get around to spending the required practice time to get it right, but I can do it now. It's not very good when I'm tired, and I stutter step when it's bumpy, but it's not like the giant, terrifying mental block it used to be. Good enough for me.

2) Win a non-Verge B race -- Done and done. This was definitely a case of plugging away and racing a lot until I got the right combination of course and attendance to get the win(s). Both of these courses rewarded Mtb skills and none of the super …

Curse You, Rumsey!

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So tonight I was kept inside by freezing rain in Albany. Not just kept inside, but kept inside a crappy hotel room. There was only one solution -- get a large cup of coffee and crank the nerd factor.

Two hours later, there's a new feature on crossresults.com called "Nemeses and Victims," which highlights the people you most often narrowly defeat or are narrowly defeated by.

I know it works because here's my list:

And every single name on the left side of that list makes me shake my fist and mutter, "I'll get you next year, [Racer Name]!"

And then I cry myself to sleep.

NBX Grand Prix Race Report

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One final Verge race.

One last chance to make the top fifteen, one last chance to get a Verge point, once last change to be halfway respectable before packing it in for the season and admitting that all my best rides come in 3/4 races on MTB courses.

Oh, what's that? I got Verge points yesterday and there's another race next weekend? Well then, let's just go race bikes and have fun.

The NBX course was mostly the same as last year, lots of turns, two hard sand pits, and one fast road section. The one difference was that this year we staged at the bottom on the hill, not the top, so no crazy 30 mph downhill pack cornering was required. I like to think that I can handle myself pretty well in traffic for a MTB'er, but I sure didn't miss that part.

I lined up on the far right side in the third row, after getting stiffed on callups (come on man I had six Verge Points, surely that's top 15?!). The whistle blew, Brendan Cornett and Ryan Kelly let out some kind of cr…

W.E. Stedman GP Race Report

This blog was dead all week because I was busying working my butt off and living out of a suitcase, and any time I got a spare second I was trying to catch up on sleep in the (possibly vain) hope of peaking for this weekend. Sorry!

The rain/snow Friday afternoon hardened up the Stedman course, but with the temp nearing 45 things were softening fast in the sun. The early races happened on bulletproof dirt track, the late races on a tacky mud one. Right in the middle were B men, with the greasy mud on top of frozen dirt I think we had the hardest conditions of the day, exactly what I was hoping for. A super long, uphill paved section gave the roadies plenty of space to turn on the jets, so I was happy to see that putting the power down elsewhere required plenty of finesse.

I ended up on the start line next to Rosey, so when the whistle blew I immediately went left before he could crash me. Up the start hill I was pretty boxed in around 30th place, everyone was hauling in a typical B …

MRC Cross Race Report

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In case you weren't aware, it was below freezing Sunday in Wrentham. Not below freezing "in the morning" or "in the evening," but rather the entire day. This is allegedly "real cross weather," and coincidentally happened to be the day that I agreed to help with timing and gain a better of understanding of what is required to be an official at one of these things. Oh, and there was also a race I had to do, but since the day started with 3 hours of standing around freezing, let's start with that.

Justin and I were the #2 timing crew for the Cat 4 and Cat 4 35+ races in the morning. Our duties consisted of writing down numbers for every lap (not just the last lap) and then doing numbers and times on the final lap. Our priority was a time for every finisher -- the other scorer did a number of every finisher and times when possible. Combine the sheets and you have all the data.

Certain officials couldn't actually be bothered to write down all t…

Critical Massholes

I had my first experience with Critical Mass on my commute home today.

If someone can explain to me how a bunch of cyclists intentionally blocking traffic does anything other than make me more likely to get killed on a commute/training ride some day by an irate driver, I'm all ears.

Until then, I will stand by my conclusion that I would rather not have a bunch of assholes on bikes out there giving the rest of us a bad name.

Palmer Cyclocross Race Report

I don't want to bore you with my non bike racing life, but man, it's been a busy week. So busy I completely forgot about a race report for Sunday's race! Which is a bummer since I tried to allude to it in the Baystate report.

So anyway, I got my butt kicked at Baystate, so I drank a bunch of water and did the Anna McLoon recovery jog special that night, I figured I'd try anything to get some form back. Sunday morning hits and I still feel like crap, but is it crappier than the average post-race morning? I can't tell. Get in the car!

The Palmer course was a pure reversal from Baystate. Narrow doubletrack that was singletrack if the guy in front rode in the middle for 70% of the course. As rooty as any woods trails that's been ridden on for 20 years. Five dismounts per lap, triple barriers, three runups, one of which was obscenely long. I don't actually know what old school jungle cross is like, but I suspect this is it.

We lined up with what felt like …

Whoa

I had nothing to do with this but, wow, that's pretty intense.

Amazing what people will do when they're anonymous.

Ridiculous

I took my car in to the shop today. I talked to the guy about what I needed done and then I started taking my bike out of the trunk so I could ride back to Boston. I was expecting to have to explain that 18 miles back to my house isn't really that hard of a ride, even in November, since OMG BIKE TRANSPORTATION is so extreme to most of America.

"Do you ride cross?" he says.

It is not every day that random people are able to tell that I am on a cyclocross bike, and not some touring road bike with fat tires. Even less often do they know it's called "cross."

"Yeah," I said, "...you know cross?"

"I used to race when I was a junior," he says.

"Seriously?"

"I was fourth at nationals in Leicester the day Tim Johnson won."

Seriously.

Apparently he also went to Worlds at some point (probably that year, although I was too awed to get the details from that) and raced a Superprestige while he was over there.

So in addition t…

Baystate CX Postmortem

Much like Putney this summer, there isn't going to be much of a Sterling race report. Basically, I got up, went to the basement to get my bike, and as I walked up the stairs I was like, "wow, my legs shouldn't burn walking up the stairs carrying a bike."

Combine that with some poor fueling decisions in the morning and I was already giving up on the start line.

Some sneaky moves got me into the top 20 anyway, from a 6th row start, as people cluster-f'ed around the start track and the first runup. But it didn't really matter, the race got sorted out and I didn't have anything resembling the gas required to hold my spot.

I crashed on lap two trying to make up for worthless legs by cornering too aggressively and that was pretty much the end of me fighting. C Todd came cooking by me somewhere along the line, slapped me on the back and said "come on" but I couldn't even pick it up to make a token effort to go with him. I tried to figure out how t…

Hazards of the beer feed

My previous race report mentions "two IF riders" but if you look at the results there is only one IF rider listed. Was I hallucinating that second black and green jersey? Hmm. Perhaps I was. But wait...

From the Cambridge Bikes guys:
Jon Bruno on IF took a beer feed from us mid race which unfortunately led to a DQ. (those officials are hiding out in the trees) Maybe it was the beer mug socks he was rocking that tipped them off.

Funny thing is, I remember coming through with one to go with the IF guys and the offical saying as we rode past, "you two, after the race." Burn.

I for one am glad that the scourge of the beer feed was eradicated! We must be ever vigilant against people having fun while racing bikes.

Preemptive disclaimer: Yes, I realize that you probably aren't allowed to have open containers in Shedd Park and you aren't allowed handups of any kind. And if the right people complained to the city of Lowell, BRC could lose the venue, blah blah blah…

BRC Shedd Park CX Report

This ended up being a one race weekend for the first time in a long while, and I even had a free Saturday. It was a transcendental experience. I hung out, watched some WCSN cross, went to a park and learned how to remount. It wasn't really that big a deal it turns out, just have some coffee, lower the seat an inch and go someplace where no one can see your flailings. Anyway, nice to check off one of the easier season goals. I'm not gonna say it's perfect, but I figure doing it consistently in races will eventually get the kinks ironed out, much like how 1.5 seasons of stutter-stepping the remount led to me being really smooth about doing it the wrong way.

In exchange for not racing Saturday I decided to ride the 1/2/3 race at Slick Willy. With all the big time riders down at the USGP, this meant my chances of staying on the lead lap were good, and since many of the 3/4 blog-stars weren't in the race I wasn't missing out on throwing down with the Hup/Zanc guys.

WCSN

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It's not everyday that someone creates a product that I've been asking for for several years. But WCSN has.

Back in the day I used to spend days downloading bits and pieces of World Cup skiing from Bittorrent, scouring newsgroups to find urls and begging the few people in Europe with TV capture capabilities to grab and post races. This was a ridiculous amount of work just to get crappy copies of Eurosport a week or two after the event.

I said "why is it, in the global, digital world, that no one is making money providing coverage of niche sports on the internet? I would pay hella bills to not have to spend hours getting error-filled vids from Bittorrent."

Well someone started doing it. WCSN. If you read this blog, go to their site, and pay $5 for a one-month subscription. I promise they will cover a sport you like that you will never see on ESPN in the states. You get access to world cup skiing (nordic, alpine), world cup cyclocross, and a host of other non-mainst…

Dusseldorf Sprints Live Blog

Another niche on the vast interwebs that is somehow going unfilled is the nordic skiing live blog. You can find hundreds of sites live blogging during football games, but not one talking about nordic skiing. Thus, I am a pioneer! So here we go with a cup of coffee and a WSCN.com subscription, watching almost 2 hours of sprinting in October on a massive tape delay.

The average reader here is a cyclist and doesn't follow nordic skiing. Sorry dudes. If you're a nordic skier and you find this stuff interesting, leave a comment so I'll be encouraged to do some more in the future. I know that I like reading live blogs/diaries of sporting events I didn't get a chance to watch, but I might be the only one.

10:26 -- Welcome to Dusseldorf! Apparently WCSN doesn't have the rights to commentary so I only get the video feed. Given that the normal Eurosport guys think that everyone drafting has amazing wax, this might be a good thing. Currently I see nothing but slow pan…

A Dilemma

Much like a dog that actually caught the car he was chasing, I have a problem.

I have 25 upgrade points, plus a 1st and two 2nds from races with less than 30 entrants. In other words, I have a case that I could be upgraded to cat 2.

This was theoretically my goal for the season, so I gotta do it, right? Right? Leave all my 3/4 buddies behind and go live the life of pack fodder in the A race?

Here's the thing. Everyone says Putney was great, the course was great, and most importantly the atmosphere was great. So Putney-lovers, how was the atmosphere during the 1/2/3 race?

Oh wait, you don't know, because you all left.

It's not just lonely at the back because the McCormacks of the world dropped you. it's lonely because the spectators have all gone home.

I'm not sure I'm ready to make that jump -- although I'd just about frame a license with the number 2 on it.

Any of you cat 3's out there up for trying the 1/2/3 race at Lowell this weekend? The USGP in Tr…

West Hill Shop Cross Report

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If Ascutney was a small 3/4 race, Putney was a large one -- over 40 people were on the line, including some big names like all of Team Zanc, Rosey, and Jon Awerbuch (who is somehow still a cat 3 despite 5 Verge top 10's). It was pretty obvious that this race was going to be a real throwdown, instead of the faux-throwdown (don't you just hate those?) like yesterday.

Everyone should know the Putney course, but if you don't, the important feature ended up being the last 2 minutes of the lap -- a steady, gradually uphill grind into the wind, first on a slippery cornfield and then a dirt road, culminating in the mother of all runups, the kind that is so steep you have to fight to run instead of walk. After that, 100 yards to the finish.

The headwind section meant that groups were going to form, and getting left out alone was going to very bad unless you were one of those guys whose fitness dwarfed their technical skills.

The start was on a nice wide dirt road so we only went a l…

Ascutney Psycho Cross Race Report

I have a secret, dear blogosphere.

Last week at Chainbiter I ate it big time and "bruised" my ribs. Last week my whole body hurt Monday. Throughout the course of the week I steadily healed, except for my 4th rib up on the left side.

That rib hurt more and more as the soreness around it dissipated. It feels like having a cramp in my side 24 hours a day. Coughing and laughing both hurt.

So I am officially upgrading my unscientific diagnosis to "cracked or broken." I don't really feel like paying the deductible to get it x-rayed since they aren't going to do anything for it, so I guess we'll never know which one it is.

The crazy thing is that it doesn't hurt my side any more to race a bike than it does to get out of bed. Possibly less, if I ended up rolling onto that side at some point in the night. So I prereg'ed for a weekend of frigid Vermont cross and loaded up Justin's jeep Saturday morning, because the only thing suckier than racin…

Halloween races are not serious business

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The internet almost let me down on finding a picture of this.

Barriers are serious business

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Just ask Jeremy Powers.


From the Steve Z Photography Blog

Cyclesmart Invitational Race Report

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I awoke Sunday, having just gotten almost 10 hours sleep thanks to the time change and the later 1pm B Men's start, and I was sore. Old man sore. My shoulder, knee, back, ribs on both sides. This must be what football players feel like on Mondays.

But, I had the coveted 9th place start place in Noho. No time to feel bad for myself, it's time to go make myself feel bad!

The course was rumored to be non-technical, but after preriding it I thought it was reasonably hard. Three of the long straights were paved and flat, which seems to help me, and there were no long uphill grinds like Chainbiter. Most importantly the course was broken up by a variety of 180s that required braking. The more cross I race, the more I think that the micro-rest afforded by 180s (ideally more than one at a time) makes the difference between me recovering enough to hang and me getting blown away by the super roadie legs I end up racing against with sometimes.

Anyway, today was a high pressure day. E…

Chainbiter 9.0 Race Report

The sine wave that is my cross season continued at Chainbiter. High in Maine, low at Gloucester, high in Bennington... means low at Chainbiter.

Things got off on the wrong foot when I ate it super-hard during the preride trying to show Zank and Ronnie how real mountain bikers deal with off-camber descents. Apparently they deal with it by going in too fast, crashing, knocking the wind out of the themselves and bruising their ribs. Who knew?

Thanks to the miracle of the human body, the true pain from this endeavour wouldn't hit me for a few hours, so I still made it to the (freezing) start line in race mode. Then we got delayed because of ambulances, for the 3rd time in my short career... there's just something about the race before B men that leads to ambulance trips.

Anyway, ten minute delay, everyone gets cold(er), we reform and it's go time. I'm in the 5th row or so and it's a tough uphill clip-in. I get it on the first attempt, get halfway through the pedal s…