Tag Archives: bike racing

Aching.

17 Nov

I love the Mid-Atlantic ‘cross scene.  I really do.

But New England cx…just, yeah.

Gloucester was on the calendar this year, but didn’t happen.  Next year.  For sure.

Maybe this helps explain why:

DCCX 2011 Race Report: A Difference of a Year

24 Oct

Amazing the difference in perspective from one year to the next.  Bottom line up front: same place as last year — 9th in the 3/4.

Last year, I was pretty ecstatic.  This year, I wanted better.  That said, I’m pleased.  I went into the race fighting off some sniffles, courtesy of my daughter, and still had it for a solid placing.

Thanks to 2nd at Hyattsville, I had a front-row start, and jumped out to take the holeshot for the first time ever.  Diced back and forth with Kyle from The Bike Lane/November/um, what team do you ride for, exactly? for the rest of the first half, lap, and unfortunately faded too much to jump up and grab the first-lap prime.

From there it was just a slow ebb of power.  I had one speed, whether I was trying to jump out of a corner or motor along on the flat, so I would close gaps on the technical sections and then see them open up again as soon as the course straightened out.  The DCCX course was still soft from a drenching on Wednesday, and the long power climbs were like riding through bubble gum.

Like I said, perspective.  An off day this year equals one of my best days on the bike last year.

There’s more to come later this season.

Race Report, in Brief: Winchester Apple Cross

4 Oct

I’m just out of time to do this report properly right now, but aiming to post something before I forget it all.  We all (me, wife, son, daughter) headed out to Winchester for the Apple Cross on Sunday.  The rain of the previous week weeks month, plus the 2:00 start time, meant the course was torn up and downright boggy in lots of places.  I had a great time.

Not sure what my favorite part was:

  • starting from the back row of 76 starters, and working up through the field to finish 16th;
  • the mid-race wedding ring handoff to my wife, live-commentated by race announcer Bill S. from In The Crosshairs;
  • hearing “Go Daddy” all over the course as the boy rode around to different spots to cheer;
  • having my wife volunteer to wash my bike afterwards in exchange for chasing the kids around the playground;
  • seeing my son figure out how to get started pedaling on his bike (no training wheels) for the first time and watching his confidence grow as he ripped around the registration pavilion;
  • hanging out by the delightfully large fire in the pavilion’s fireplace; or
  • seeing teammates and friends and just soaking in the community that has developed around this little race that barely had a couple hundred racers a few years ago.
We needed all of that.  It’s been a rough couple of months, and a particularly stressful last two weeks.  I missed my first three races of the season, including my own team’s event.  I needed something to blow out the pipes and get a race under my belt; we needed to hang out as a family; the kids needed to burn off all the excess energy from being cooped up over the last few weeks; and I needed to see my wife in some of her many roles, beautiful woman, athlete, mother, caretaker and supporter.
 
I think would have been happy with a nondescript mid-pack finish.  Add in all that other great stuff and improving by a few places on last year’s finish, and I’m delighted.  I’ll be going back to that well of happiness a lot in the months ahead, I can tell.

Love me some Tacchino

28 Sep

…even if I had to miss it this time around. Life intervened, and besides discovering that when I’m stressed and can’t ride my default reaction is to eat more (great recipe for maintaining racing weight, eh?) I was utterly slammed.

I was lucky enough, however, to work with some absolutely incredible sponsors in putting the race together. This is by no means the exhaustive list because there’s just not room to list them all. However, these were the folks I talked to directly and know the best.

The Sufferfest was the first to pony up, with training videos for all our fourth place finishers. Besides making the best thing I’ve found for staying entertained on the indoor trainer, that’s just plain classy.

Soigneur Embrocation came through in a major way with tons of swag. Unfortunately for me, we gave it all away, so I still haven’t tried this stuff. Definitely on the list of embro to try soon, though.

I didn’t arrange this one, but Core Wellness & Physical Therapy, who has helped keep me aligned and happy, stepped up with on-site consultations, cash for the elite race purses, and a free RockTape consultation.

DZ-Nuts also made sure there were plenty of comfy crotches out there. Best chamois cream I have ever used, so I was particularly psyched they came on board.

I might be most proud, however, of linking up with an old friend at Cyclocross Magazine and lining up digital subscriptions to give out as prizes. CX Mag is the only national publication exclusively covering the sport in the U.S., and is an absolute pleasure to read, every single issue. It’s been fun to watch them grow, and their website is really rocking as well. Why, for example, check out this race report on the Cyclocross Magazine website! Reading it makes me even sadder that I wasn’t there, actually.

This isn’t the full list; my teammates did an amazing job recruiting sponsors and our sponsors reciprocated with great support. Check out the logos on our race announcement page for a more expansive list and direct links to our sponsors’ websites.

Seriously, these folks supported our sport and helped us make the Tacchino the awesome event that everyone keeps telling me it was (rub it in, why don’t you?). Do them a solid and think about sending some love their way.

Spreading the creed of suffering

19 Aug

Two recent items caught my eye, both noting cyclists’ embrace of a certain form of discomfort:

And he has something else they say all great cyclists must have: the ability to suffer — a lot.

“If you can’t suffer,” Johan says, “what good are you?”

–From “Colombian Cyclists Dream Of Racing Out Of Poverty,” on NPR News.

Then this, from the outstanding blog Red Kite Prayer:

To Suffer Is To Learn.”  T-shirts available here.


Giro di Coppi: Get ya head right.

19 Jul

I went too early.

This thought entered my head with about 200 meters to go in the race, as the first two riders came by me on the left shortly after the DC Velo guy in front of me came to a near halt.

What was the tactical plan here again?

To be honest, I’d sort of meant it as a leadout.  I was shocked to be up near the front with 1k to go, delighted with the idea that I might somehow have a role to play after going way, way into the red to catch back on after a break attempt halfway through the lap.  Saw Jason sitting pretty, saw a hole opening in the front row, then closing as the aforementioned DC Velo guy jumped with a little over 500m to go, and before I knew it I’d motioned to Jason to follow (if he saw, he was smart enough to ignore me) and I was through and on the wheel.

We were going, we were launching; I glanced back under my arm and saw daylight.

Ugh, Jason didn’t get through.

Then:

Holy $#&*, we’ve got a gap.

I hit it as hard as I could, thought for a second as DC Velo started to fade and I tried to jump again to come off his wheel that I had a shot at holding the field off, that maybe I’d caught them napping by going so early.

Then the finish hill really started at 200m to go, and I was suddenly pedaling on legs of wet concrete.  Two came by.  Then another, then four, then before I knew it I was slogging through a crowd to the line — or more accurately, they were slogging past me, because I was hardly moving.

Another anonymous pack finish, though Jason shrewdly waited much later, timed his jump and took a strong second place.  Some comfort in a teammate’s success.

Jason makes his move while I've already become a bit of blue & white road furniture on the left. Image courtesy Jay Westcott, http://www.jaywestcott.net

Started to feel a bit better on the cooldown ride back to the school, realizing that as we’d been approaching the turn on to Barnesville Rd for the last four miles of the race, I’d been almost certain I was cooked and off the back.  I went in a two-up move halfway through the last 12-mile lap, following a (much more impressive) move by teammate Jordan and two others.  Unfortunately, my breakaway partner was unattached, so every other team in the race had reason to see us come back.  We still drove it, me hoping someone else would come across as much for the firepower as for the tactical help.

We had the fleeting pleasure of a lead big enough for the moto ref to move between us and the field, but it was short-lived.  And then the real suffering started, as I tried to recover up one of the tougher rolling sections of the course.  Spat out the back, clinging to other wheels as they came by.  We closed to 25m behind the field, but the gap went out again.  Then 20m, but again popped off as the pack accelerated down a roller.  The whole time, going what felt like just as hard as when I’d been off the front, even though I knew I was thrashing and flailing and generally not getting much power to the pedals at all.  Finally, got to 10m back, and I was able to make one last surge to get back in the field.

So yeah, I was a bit giddy to have moved up on the penultimate climb, to be advancing position again.  Seeing the front of the race once more was so unexpected that any sense went out the window.  “Jump on the wheel going way too soon on an uphill sprint notorious for eviscerating the early attacker?  Yeah, I can do that.”

So.  The engine is revved, the legs were well better than I expected.  But next time?

Get ya head right, son.

Update:  Apparently I missed another key detail; that after Jordan came back there was still one more rider left out front.  Oops.  Would have been helpful to bridge up to him, since he won the race in 2010.  Ah, not like I could have gone any harder in that move as it was.

Reston Town Center Grand Prix

7 Jul

Fast, fast, fast.  Jason’s got the highlights here.  Amazing how much more of the race you can see when you’re up at the front.

Reston is a great technical crit that rewards both raw speed and, with eight corners in 1.2k, bike handling.  It’s always in late June, and always a showcase crit, so guys show up flying.  This year it was even faster, coming a week after most of the field had been through three hard days of racing at the Tour of Washington County.  You can hope that the field will have tired legs after a big stage race, but a lot of the time it’s the opposite as guys are feeling the training effect of repeated hard days on the bike.  This was an amped-up field for sure.

My plans of a great start to ease the early fight for position were quashed by realizing on the line that I had a slow leak in the rear tire.  So sprint back to the car, quick wheel change from a helpful teammate, and get back to the rear of the group just in time for the last 30 seconds of the chief referee’s spiel.

The pattern was set by five minutes into the race: sprint hard to keep the gap manageable on the last two corners and uphill home stretch, then be super-aggro to close up gaps or move up through the corners on the rest of the course.  I wasn’t deliberately tail-gunning it, but I definitely heard the follow moto ref more than I had wanted.

Photo copyright Jay Westcott. http://www.jaywestcott.net

At one point, I noticed my tongue wasn’t dragging on the ground quite as much as before, and saw that the field had sat up with about 10 to go.  Amazing, I might actually make it through this thing.  Then a guy put in a short attack, and we were strung out again for a few laps, until six to go when the whole field just stopped pedaling.  Thanks to Joe Jefferson’s enthusiastic commentary I knew there was still a guy up the road, but everyone was just looking at each other.  One of the corner marshals said he had 20 seconds, which could well do it if we were all going to stare at each other.

We still had two sprinters and a late-break specialist in the field, so it seemed like a good time to light that last match and close this down.  I got to the front for the only time all day, and pulled for a lap or so.  The Bike Doctor guy off the front came back, the counter from Whole Wheel went immediately, and I was cooked.  I started looking for a wheel to grab but couldn’t hang on to anything.

As I spent a lap trying to cling to the field and finally being ejected from the rear, Jason was launching to get on what looked like the winning move.  I saw the three of them heading towards me as I came around the next-to-last turn, where the two parts of the course face each other.  The speed at which I was going to be lapped was as exhilarating as it was depressing: Jason’s move might just do it.  Those guys were flying.

I got yanked on the bell lap in order to ensure a clean finish, but the refs were kind enough to place me.  Unfortunately, Jason’s move was caught, and the guy from Carytown (who had just been in the previous move with Jason) won the sprint by lengths and lengths.

All in all, a hard, fun day on the bike.  And my teammate Jay was there with his camera making us all look like rockstars, so we’ve got that going for us.