Tag Archives: cyclocross


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.

A Sudden Stop

1 Dec

I should have been wolfing down some oatmeal and mixing up bottles of Cytomax.

I should have been putting the bike on top of the car.

I should have been debating which base layer to wear under my skinsuit and whether the thawing mud meant I should run a different tire pressure.

Instead, I was watching my kid play with his new-enough-that-he’d-only-broken-one-of-them birthday toys and trying to find an internet feed of the World Cup CX race going on in Belgium.

I got sick a couple of years ago, wound up in the hospital for a time.  In part, it was because I raced when I should have rested.  The docs were firm on the risk of recurrence, that in the future even the slightest cold means laying off the bike almost completely.  So when I went to bed Friday night with tender sinuses and a scratchy throat, I desperately hoped it was the drier New England air and the woodsmoke from the fireplace and that I’d wake up ready to go.  It wasn’t, and I didn’t.  Sick?  No racey.

So there I was at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table, listening to the commentators on Sporza and watching the pros trudge through the sand dunes with bikes on their shoulders.

There’s a human fragility in us that most of us — especially bike racers — try to ignore, to ride through.  Otherwise, a bad crash renders you unable to sit in the middle of the pack or stay off the brakes through that slippery off-camber.  The weeks, months after my hospital stay were full of that fragility.  It lasted into the spring, when my teammates were adding intervals and hill repeats.  I felt funny on the bike, didn’t know if I really had a green light to push it.  Every twinge, every ache — the everyday sensations that come with impending middle age — they were like  a door creaking in another room when you thought the house was empty.  Just the wind, or something more sinister?  Is it back?  I was, bluntly, scared.

This cold last weekend decided to play with my head the same way.  Fever, chills, aches.  Just the cold?  Normal stuff?  Or did those openers on Friday do me in?  Is it back?

It’s not back.  It’s just a cold.  (One that is particularly vindictive, as I have been voiceless for about 36 hours now.)  But it stopped me in my tracks, and with that, cyclocross season is over for me.

The problem with never wanting to admit that a race is your last race of the season is that when it actually becomes your last race of the season, you haven’t prepared yourself for that fact.  So, unlike FatMarc, I haven’t managed to put the race wheels away yet.

Maybe next weekend.

I love this race report.

26 Nov

How to Lose a Bike Race, by Heidi Swift.

Perfect antidote to the “cyclocross is fun, don’t take it too seriously, let’s all dress up in costumes. Every. Single. Race.” mantra.  Not taking it seriously has become a form of taking it too seriously.

Of course, this fall alone we’ve got the other end of the spectrum too: bike-tossing, fight-picking, Dugasts glued on carbon wheels in the C race, masters racers using EPO.

What I love about Swift’s post is the reminder that it’s ok — and maybe even cool — to really want to win.  That it’s cool to try hard and work to go faster. That you don’t have to have to wear an ironic disclaimer (“It’s ok I was mid-pack, I was just out there to show off my fabulous drag queen outfit”) as insurance against facing up to the fact that you didn’t win.

(Confession:  Outside of Halloween weekend, if you wear a costume or outlandish knee-high socks in the same race as me, I will give myself an aneurysm trying to beat you.)

And at the same time, you can race hard, focus on winning, bury yourself to try to grab the brass ring — then come up short and still be a normal human being.

‘Cross can — and should — avoid becoming either a sideshow or a grim, joyless parade of snobbery and angry masters racers.  We can have our beer tents, heckling, and cupcake feeds and still race with an unironic, all-out desire to win.

I’ll probably be mocked for this

24 Nov

…but I can’t be the only one who gets that “Superman” rush upon looking into my closet and seeing a long sleeve skinsuit hanging there.

Continue reading