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.