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.

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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!