Sunday, December 7, 2008

Congrats to Chris Mattingly

Proteus rider Chris Mattingly gets big props for cracking the top 10 this week at Capital Cross Classic out in Reston. Chris finished with a sweet 10th place finish in wicked cold weather in a huge field of something like 90 guys in the end of the season finale.

Great job Chris!

Photos from Capital Cross

If you rode in the Cat 2,3,4 Master Men 35+ & 55+ (B-Master Men) or the Cat 2,3,4 Men (B-men)out at Capital Cross today, there's a picture of you somewhere in the 326 photos below. Enjoy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The wheels have been turning on this for a while now. So it's time to let the cat out of the bag. Registration's not open yet. But Check BIKEREG for details. More information will be posted here as it comes up.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Photos from Tacchino Ciclocross

In case you're interested, here are some photos from today's race:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wonderland Cross Report

Well let's get this out of the way up front. I DFLd. It was a small race and a good crop of folks but I certainly would have liked to have finished higher. I know there was a guy behind me who wasn't on the print out - likely DNF'd - but when the listing comes out on Bikereg I will in all likelihood be listed last.

In spite of my poor place I had fun and I think I learned a fair bit today.

Wonderland Cross 002
Elite Masters Getting
Snowed On
First some background. It was cold. When I dragged my butt out of the car to head over to sign in it was below 30 degrees out -- more in the 25 degree area -- and the wind was occasionally whipping around. It snowed maybe 1/2 inch in Lancaster Friday so there was a nice coating of snow on the course when I got there. This made for a course that after a few laps got a bit muddy in spots and occasionally got crunchy where the muddy spots refroze. I was even lucky enough to get to ride while it was snowing during my last lap. See the photo to the right of the guys from the next race who got even more snow.

All in all my race wasn't too bad. I was pleased to see that under race conditions the improved technique that I worked on at Thursday's practice would actually work. I was able to remount and get my feet back to the pedals pretty quickly - much quicker than before -- almost. Unfortunately the conditions and my inexperience kept me from translating the smooth remount into a quick pedal away.

Unfortunately after a couple dismounts and run-ups the bottoms of my shoes were packed with snow and grass and mud - unfortunately so were my pedals. This made it extremely difficult to get my cleats back into the pedals. This slowed me down quite a bit on one of the uphills. I actually ended up getting off my bike at one point trying to clear things out and get moving again. This ended up being a huge time waste. In hindsight - in the car on the way back to Annapolis in fact - I figured out that I should have just ignored the screwed up pedals and cleats and pedaled along like they were flat-pedals and just waited for things to work out. Lesson learned. I'll know what to do next time I get out there in some cold and wet conditions.

Wonderland Cross 016
Brakes in this condition
don't stop well
Another big take-away was that cantilevered brakes don't tend to grab so well when they're coated with mud and snow and ice. I noticed this before I rolled out of the start after the pre-ride but I really discovered it in one of the corners. I was on the way down one of the down-hills and came into a corner and started to touch the breaks so that I could take the turn - BUT WHOA - WAIT, what's this! NO BRAKES! That's a fine how-do-you-do. I tried my damnedest to take the turn sans brakes but between the muddiness of the grass and my not the greatest cornering skills I took the corner sans bike. Fortunately I just slid across some grass (upside of the wet course) and was able to get back up and get on the bike and roll out relatively quickly. I rode the rest of the course anticipating that my brakes would be a bit soft in the corners and did fine.

While I was certainly not pleased with my placing I certainly learned a few things and had a great time riding on a good course and enjoyed some authentic cross weather. On to Tacchino tomorrow.
Cross-posted on 528,000 Feet

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pre-Race Strategery

Originally uploaded by bmpskier
Chris and Tom help Jake develop a pre-race strategy...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

DCCX: awesome event. great day!!!

wow! Lots of folks came out today! DCMTB/City Bikes put on a fantastic event!
Not too much else to say. Thanks to everyone for coming out and being so loud! Rockburn is next week so hopefully more of the same. Let's hope Ryan from Racing Union's shoulder heals up too!

Some Photos

Some photos from today. Details and such to come soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Make Mine a Double

This weekend was 'cross times two - Granogue on Saturday and Wissahickon on Sunday.  It was a blast of a weekend and a TON of cross fun!

So the weekend plan was such - ride up Saturday morning arrive ~ 8:00 a.m., reg, pre-ride, race, drink beer, watch pros, eat lunch, camp, get up get to Wiss at 8:00 a.m., pre-ride, race and go home.  For the most part the weekend went according to plans, but it certainly wasn't as simple as it sounds above.

Lets start with our friends at Google.   I am a big fan of Google - I use reader, I use GoogleGroups at my kids religous school, I can't live without GMail.  What exactly does Google have to do with cyclocross.  Well nothing really, but Chris, myself and probably 30 of the riders in the Mens Cat4 C can attest to the fact that GoogleMaps has absolutely no idea how to find 2900 Monchanin Rd.  As Chris (Chris rode up with me Sat a.m.) and I make the last turn on the the list of GoogleMaps directions we drove for about 3 miles and start to wonder why we've passed the prescribed 2.1 miles yet haven't seen a field full of bicycles.  We ride a little farther and see a car with two bikes on the top.  Ah-ha these guys must be going to the race.  We'll follow them.

Yeah.  They're lost too.  They pull into someone's driveway we talk for a few minutes and follow them some more, thinking for whatever reason they might know where they're going.   The guy's driving like a nut and we eventually get dropped.

But look more guys with bikes. Surely they know where the race is...and they pull into a church driveway.  Ok.  Time to brake out the GPS.  Chris cranks up the GPS in his phone, puts in the address and we figure we can put this excellent adventure to bed.  We tell the other lost guys to follow us and we'll be off.  I proceed to do a 3 point turn to turn the Corolla around.  1 - 2 - crunch.  Yeah I wasn't so much looking out the rear window

And I backed into the other guys car.

And broke Chris's bike off my rack.

Onto the other guys hood.

Fortunately we were being followed by the coolest guys in the world and the guy was like "I'm not worried about the car, how are the bikes."  Turns out that Chris' bike was ok and the cool guy tossed it on his rack and we headed to the race.

We made it to the race, but not nearly as early as we would have like.  Chris had to beg them to re-open registration so he could race and so many folks had gotten lost by the crappy directions that the promoters had to bump the start back time 15 minutes.   All this before the race started.

As for the race.  Since we were late, I only got to take a quick pre-ride of about half the course.   Even if I had had a really nice pre-ride it would have been hard to be prepared for the race.  It was very challenging and highly technical.  There were a number of off-camber runs integrated into switchbacks.   There was also a long run on the side of hill that was the cause of one of my two crashes on Saturday.  It wasn't anything super exciting but I did end up whipping out on a turn and jamming my knee into my top tube and as I found out after the race running my calf along one of my chainrings.   It was a race where my inexperience as a cross rider really showed.  I just haven't ridden enough to be able to intuit how to attack certain turns and runs.  I imagine that when I go back to Granouge in the next couple years I'll be able to acquit myself better on the technical parts of the course.

I also left a little bit of skin in Delaware.  There was a turn that transitioned out of grass across some asphalt and onto some dirt.  As I made the turn out of the grass and across the asphalt, the bike came completely out from under me.  I slid my right hand across the asphalt taking the skin off of two knuckles and my index finger and got a nice patch of road rash on my right thigh.

I am puzzled though.  I was wearing bib short (spandex) and the shorts weren't shredded but my thigh has a good 4 inch circular abrasion where the skin has been removed.  (Jim promised pictures)  I understand the part on my hand - the road sanded off some skin.  Simple enough.  But what happened to my thigh?  The spandex - which I can't imagine is any more durable than skin - wasn't harmed, but my thigh looks like crap.  Is the road rash on my leg really a friction burn from the spandex rubbing down my leg?  Regardless it still hurts and probably won't heal well.

More importantly though, was the reaction I got from folks.  Right as I went down I got a "COME ON - GET UP - GO GO GO" from a woman standing nearby.  This was awesome.  Seriously.

It was a combination of "you're a bad ass and you can do it" and "no lollygagging Proteus this is a cross race" and "come on that wasn't so bad."   It was actually really inspiring to have someone yell at/for/to me after I crashed.  It wasn't the worst crash in the world, but feeling sorry for myself certainly wasn't an option.  Anyway, I got up and went.   And felt good about it. 

I finished 84th out of 90.  Not too bad.  Not great by any measure, but it was a ton of fun.

We hung out and watched Shaun from the team race the Mens B.   It was a blast.  He's hardcore and raced really well.  Was hoping to see him bunny-hop some barriers, but that'd probably be pushing it in a race.  He rode really hard.  Kicked some hill butt and looked great.  Here's some video below.

We grabbed a couple free beers and then headed out for lunch.  Jim delivered with some local turkey burger excellence.   I was able to snag some licorice taffy and we rolled back and watched the pros.  This was the first pro race that we watched and it was inspiring and demoralizing simultaneously.  These guys killed this course for an hour and they made the parts of the race that made my lungs burn look like nothing.  These guys were just amazing.   It was incredible impressive to see these guys put in such a strong showing for so long.  Reinforced how much I suck. ;-)

That night was not nearly as eventful as the morning.   We didn't have too much difficulty finding the campground and Chris made some yummy veggies and we hit the sack.

The morning was COLD.  There was frost on Chris' sleeping bag when he woke up.  My car thermometer said 38 degrees when we broke camp and headed for Wissahickon.  

Getting to Wissahickon was no problem.  We got there and even though the sun was out it wasn't much warmer.  It had warmed up to maybe 42 by the time we got there but there was a fair bit of wind and it was just biting cold.   I mean COLD.   Not too cold to ride, but boy am I luck I decided to throw my leg warmers into the bag just in case.  As cold as it was though I was still sucking wind heading around the course.

Wiss was a completely different course than Granogue.  It was much flatter and a bit faster, but still quite hard.   The race took place at a horse show fairground.  One of the obstacles was the course sand-pit that the horses perform in.  The first couple laps in this I ran the course and this sucked alot of juice out of me.  By the fourth lap the sand had been packed pretty well and I was able to ride the whole pit which saved me alot of time.

The highlight of the course had to be a "death spiral" where riders came in a circular spiral and went back out through the spiral again in the opposite direction.  It was really cool to see. (Photos above and right by Dennis Smith)

Somehow the officials missed my finish and listed me DNF -Did not Finish.  Fortunately Jim was able to estimate that I finished somewhere around 80th.

All in all a great weekend and I will definitely do it again next year, but I think I'll go up the night before, get better maps, and stay at a hotel.

Photos from this weekend

Cross posted on 528000 Feet.

away games

this weekend was a big "away game" for us.
I think the race fields were significantly more competitive than the local races.

the granogue race was super technical. tom went down hard and got some good war wounds (pics later).

wissahickon was COLD. like stupid cold. chris did really well. I made a few dumb mistakes and lost some spots. Tom fell victim to the "end of the race, inattentive officials" curse and was listed as DNF. By my estimation he came in like 80th (based on some other names of people that I saw come in after him.

DCCX next week. I'm definitely setting up the tent. probably bringing some hot beverages.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Men about campus

With the sun deciding that it wants to set earlier and lots of folks on the team still having to work until reasonable hours in the evening we've been finding that mother nature has been robbing the Thursday night practices of sunlight earlier and earlier.

Tonight we were about 20 minutes into the practice before we were almost completely without sunlight. Fortunately, we were able to get two laps of the normal course in before nightfall. Being that we weren't quite tired yet and still needed a workout, we headed out exploring the rest of the UMD campus. Turns out it looks like there are some fairly well lighted portions of the campus that should keep our training options open even as the sunlight trickles off earlier and earlier.

As we went exploring campus we discovered some steep hills, a good bit of slogging in thick grass, some off-camber runs and nice areas for sprints. I think we're going to be able to cobble together a good circuit over the next couple weeks.

Even better after a couple loops we'll have scoped out the potholes and be able to hammer without fear of losing a front wheel. Below is the map of our explorations of campus. (Check it out in Earth 3D - take a min to load, but worth the wait)

Friday, October 10, 2008


So practice yesterday was extremely successful, not because it was well attended. I was the only one there, which was actually beneficial. I decided that instead of riding the course by myself, I would work on mounts and dismounts for 45 minutes. In the last maybe 10 minutes, I finally got my mounts dialed in. Well, maybe not. I might be doing the "superman" instead of the stutter step now, but it feels much better.

But a more important success. The Kelley Acres REsults are in and Ben B Got 14th in the Men's B race!!!! He also rode as the pacer for the Little Belgians race. Here he is on his Unicycle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

weekend recap

all the results aren't in yet but we seemed to be split up and represent at 2 races this weekend.

Hagerstown Breast Cancer Awareness on Saturday:
Shaun and Jen both raced. Matt B was there too (his jersey's coming). CHRIS M got 8th!!! Also it looks like J-dogg from Artemis will be wearing a Proteus Jersey through 'cross season. Nice!

j dogg

Kelley Acres on Sunday:
This is a new race and it is a really good, technical course. It had a stream crossing over some logs that I would have felt fine doing on an MTB, but on a cx bike I wimped out. Ben B didn't though.

I was racing in the Men's C Cat 4, and Ben T was there as well!
Ben B was killing it in the B's. I didn't get to stay for his finish, but when I left it looked like he was moving up significantly. J dogg didn't race until much later so I missed him.

if anyone else has updates or impressions from this week's races, please feel free to put them up here!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I get passed pretty early

but here is a video from cross vegas.

Las Vegas CX

a continuation of the proteus interbike adventure.

Wednesday afternoon aroudn 4, I made the 6 mile ride out to the race. I was staying 6 miles from interbike, so all in all, I pulled 24 miles for the day along with racing. It was a gradual uphill the whole way and the hot, dry desert air made it seem even longer.

cross vegas
After I checked in, I left my bag in pit. I didn't have any pit wheels or anything, but I still needed a safe place for my stuff. The course felt hard due to the spongy grass. I began to regret my "devil may care / run what ya brung" attitude towards the race which led me to bringing a 39x16 singlespeed cross bike to Vegas.

jill took this picture of me with her phone.

We started @ 6:30 and the pro's didn't start til 8 so not so many people were there. But, my race included the clif bar guy and former national champ Mark Mccormack. The other familiar faces were a guy from DC from the League of American Bicyclists, A guy that I watched the race with last year who was representing Krieg saddle bags (but not Sam Krieg, he's crazy fast and races Elite), and Sheila Moon (who only recognizable because she was wearing an extremely flashy kit).

The course starts with some turns and an off camber hill then more turns until you hit the run up. The run up was shorter than it seemed as a spectator last year. You then get to rest on a short downhill and then ride up into an off camber. Turning into an off camber at the top of a hill felt mean and unfair. a left turn and you hit the concrete where a lot of people wipe out. A short section with little grass gave me the opportunity to make some time up on some people but then it led into a BRUTAL uphill onto a sidewalk. The sidewalk allowed for funny commentary like: You can look over by the Carl’s Junior (burger place) and see that Trebon is in the lead. back into some flats and then you start again.

I fell behind pretty quick and got passed by the only familiar faces there (Jeff from LAB, The guy from Krieg, and Sheila Moon).

I passed Sheila Moon fairly quickly, The Krieg guy stays ahead of me for a while, but I eventually catch him. he’s pretty darn fast. On the last lap, I catch up to jeff and then finish out catching some woman (couldn't make out the kit).

the results are posted. I'm in the 90's. I think there are a couple errors because the other Krieg guy didn't seem to show up in the results and I think the person to cross the line just after me was a woman. But it's cross and after 2 years I've come to accept that the results @ the bottom will never be totally accurate.

pro races:
These were more interesting, because as time goes on, I'm getting to know the names , faces and habits of more and more pro-cross racers and this makes it a lot more interesting. Thanks Cyclofile!
women’s. Katie Compton and Katerina Nash were ahead of the pack the whole time. Gould in the back for 3rd. It was exciting, but kinda predictable.

Trebon was out front with Johnson and some others for most of it. Geoff Kabush made some awesome attacks and it would have ruled to see him pull one off for the win.

That one guy who won the Thrift Drug Classic a few times was also in it. People were really excited about this. He did pretty well. If he made top ten, I would have been annoyed (but I can't really say why). My favorite part was when they asked him afterwards if he was going to follow through with his plans to go to Gloucester and some other bigger CX races he replied:

"I might have to re-evaluate that."

I was going to catch the bus home, but I saw the line and it was huge. Luckily the 6 mile uphill ride home was a 6 mile downhill followed by a 6 mile flat to the hotel. Not so bad really.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My First Race

Well I'm not dead. I finished my first cyclocross race on Sunday. I don't know if I finished with a smile, but I know I was smiling shortly after then end.

First the obvious question - where did I finish. I finished 78th - which was close to the end, but not the end, so I did reach my goal of not finishing last.

The race went pretty well. The first first lap was crazy. It was really bunched up at the beginning. I was able to keep up with folks for a bit for the first lap or so, but dropped off relatively quickly after fatigue and poor technique had an opportunity to do their mischief. A couple notes:

The sandpits.
The sandpits seem to go on forever and ever. It looks like they used two old volleyball courses. The way they ran the courses through the pits you couldn't blow through the pits and stay on your bike. They seemed to have at least three turns in the pits and a couple crosses across the grass between the two. The sand was relatively deep and was rough slogging through it. It was a pretty challenging little area and sucked alot of steam out of me. I also had a bit of trouble getting my shoes back into my pedals when I got out of the pits. I'll have to figure out a trick to take care of that this weekend.

The obstacles.
I was pretty intimidated by the barrier in front of the tree when I watched the video of last year's ride. It seemed really high on the video. charm city cross Fortunately when I got there it wasn't as bad as I thought and I was able to clear it by just putting a foot on the top and climbing over. It still required a good deal of effort and was a challenge but wasn't as bad as I made it out in my head.

After the tree there were a few hurdles which were relatively manageable. They were at the top of slight hill so you got some speed heading down the hill before making a turn again. They weren't easy but not the worse part of the course either.charm city cross

On the other side of the course there were a few switchbacks which at the beginning had to be run because of all the riders on the course. By the time I'd been spit out the back I was able to ride the switchbacks and then dismount and clear the hurdles up the small hill and head back out. For whatever reason I always had trouble getting back into my pedals after that spot on the course. Getting back on the bike was fine but getting in the pedals was a problem.

One fall. Nothing too eventful, just hit a patch of loose dirt on a corner and lost my bike from under me. I was able to get back up and get on the bike right away so it was nothing too dramatic - although it was nice to have a ~13 year old kid from NCVC right there to witness it. Wouldn't have been any fun otherwise.

There were a ton of great people at the ride cheering folks on, chief among them - cheerer-in-chief, Noel. It seemed like she was everywhere. I'd look up a hill and she'd be yelling "Go Honey, keep pushing." I'd come around a corner and she'd be rattling the cowbell and shaking her pig clappers. It was great inspiration to have her out there!! There were also alot of misc people out there just cheering. That was very cool. It was nice to have the occasional "Good work Proteus" along the route.

I'm really pleased with how it went. It was really hard. I was really spent at the end. And I really had alot of fun. I certainly would like to do better in the future, but I wasn't the last guy across the line, so I met my goal. I'm going to ride again this weekend, and hopefully will do a bit better. Hopefully though, I'll have just as much fun. I'm really glad I signed up for cross and am looking forward to a season full of racing. (we'll see if that holds when its muddy, sloppy and 40 degrees.)

Finally, its really nice to have a ranking. I've always done rides. Which are fun and a great time and good way to spend time on a bike, but I never knew how I did at the end of the ride. Now I have something to push myself against. It certainly wasn't the best finish of the day, but it gives me a metric to compare myself against and will measure how I do.
cross posted here

Some Photos

Here are some photos from Charm City Cross this weekend. I had a great time racing with all you guys (and when I say "racing with" I mean being in the same event with). I had a blast and was pleased not to finish dead last! Enjoy the photos. I'm planning on writing up a full race report and cross posting in a bit.

Full set of photos here.

charm city cross 072
charm city cross
charm city cross
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charm city cross
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charm city cross

Here I am

Hey everyone.

I just wanted to say it was great seeing all of you yesterday and that I look forward to riding, racing, and drinking beer with you all in the very near future.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

"but i kind of like the bruises!" first race recap.

so today i raced my first cyclocross race. it's been a long time comin', but i finally did it!

i don't think a better sport exists for camaraderie. for the weeks leading up to today's charm city cross, i was pretty anxious. come day-of, i realized i couldn't ask for more positive support and feedback from a community, one to which i have not really yet been introduced.

i actually started out toward the front of the pack. i can hustle on pavement, but once i hit grass, i really had to focus on controlling my movements. at the end of the first lap i was going too fast coming around a curve, right before the last hurdle/dismount, stopped short, and flew over my handlebars and smashed into the ground. i was okay, my bike was okay, and i got up and everyone cheered, and i laughed a little bit to myself because there's no shame in crashing, no shame in being lapped, no shame in riding across the finish line no matter where you are in relation to the pack. as i finished my second to last lap i looked at the official as i passed, expecting to be cut and he just said, "i know you have another one in you!" and as brutal as that last lap was, the atmosphere was so refreshing and reviving that my energy surged. that's what i love about cyclocross- everyone supports one another, truly. you push hard and they push you harder, and make you feel good about it, and motivate you to keep going because we're all out there to enjoy the ride (just like the proteus jerseys say!). and every cheer is genuine and sincere. i couldn't ask for more from any sort of significant gathering of people, let alone a competitive one.

i didn't know until later this afternoon where i came in- and i'm happy to say IT WASN'T LAST! but frankly i don't care much about it because i finished, and i am really proud of just being able to do that.

...although it does rule that i placed.

being out on the course with everyone was absolutely rad. hopefully i can make it out to a few more races this season!

Charm City Cross Recap!

Wow. Today was a big day for the team. We rolled 10 deep, which was pretty awesome.

My race went like this:
got a decent race position in the start (3rd row). It was kinda interesting because since I was up front, I got involved in a jostling for position elbow throw fest with some guy. I saw Chris whip in front of me pretty quick. I was able to keep with the pack for a while, people were picking me off along the way, but it felt pretty gradual. The first bottleneck came around that off camber turn. I got off the bike and ran it, that seemed to buy me a few spots.

First time over the "natural" barrier, I dropped my chain, but recovered pretty quickly. Rene caught me after not too long and we played tag for a bit.

After a while, I settled in and felt pretty good, well as good as it was going to feel. I tricked myself into thinking that I was in the top half. Didn't quite make it that well, but I was still pretty pleased with how I rode.


C Masters 35+ race was something else. threw down a red bull and a lot of water in the 15 minutes before the start. started in the way back. it was interesting starting in the front and then starting in the back. The back is where I am used to being and it felt a little more normal working my way up gradually. Ultimately, I think I need to get over that and start gunning it harder from the start. I was pretty beat through the whole race, but still managed to work my way up a bit. It made me wonder if I should stop doing the C's and just do the Masters 35+.

All in all, day was great for me. Hope everyone else's race was just as good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

last week's practice was HUGE. also. the team is pretty huge now too!

the fact that the "team" is still a pretty loosely organized people who happen to wear the same jersey helps a little on that front.

Here's what we have for this year:
People that are fairly committed to doing at least 3 races or more:

Jen, Hillary, Chris, Josh, Dale, Tom, Rene, Ben, Greg C, Jim

and on "active ready reserve"
are Daren and Greg M. Not quite ready to fully commit at this point, but I suspect that it is only a matter of time.

Yo claims that she's not racing this year, but I hope she changes her mind.
I haven't seen CJ since Bilenky, but that doesn't mean she's not in.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Footwear problems abound! But not for the new guy

last night's practice was small.

I showed up, but forgot my shoes, did a quick pedal switch and rocked the platforms.
Chris showed up, forgot his shoes, but was wearing flip flops, so called it a day.
Tom, the new guy showed up with a brand new kona jake, lots of vigor, vim, and some excellent post practice beverages for the pot luck.

Hopefully we can start getting more people out on a regular basis!!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

practices are up and running again!!!

6:30 PM @ the comcast center. we ride for about 60-90 minutes. rain or shine. bring a red blinky because some of the riding is on the road. everybody's welcome!!!
here's a video from practice 2 weeks ago!