Tag Archives: stoke


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:


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.

Speed. Suffering. And Italian Food! (Giro di Coppi presented by Vapiano)

6 Jul

So there’s this little bike race my team puts on every year:

The Giro di Coppi has rightly earned its regard as a classic on the mid-Atlantic summer calendar.  Sharp, steep climbs over a gorgeous course in Montgomery County, Maryland.  The weather is always a factor, whether it’s the heat or summertime torrential rains.

This year, there’s even more excitement: Italian restaurant Vapiano has signed on as our title sponsor for the race!  Combining fresh, top-quality ingredients with fast, make-it-in-front-of-you service, Vapiano has been a huge hit with the team in the year since we started having our monthly team dinners there.

As part of their sponsorship, Vapiano is hosting a gift card giveaway on their Facebook page this week, and a number pickup happy hour on July 15, the night before the race.  (Yes, come, come, have a beer the night before the race.  Or several.  Carbo-loading is very important.)

So, what should you do after reading this?

1.  Go to Vapiano USA on Facebook and win yourself some stuff.

2.  Go register for the Giro di Coppi presented by Vapiano.  (No day-of registration, so this is your only way to sign up.)

3.  Come to Vapiano in Ballston on July 15 to pick up your race number.  Save yourself some stress on race day morning.

4.  Come race your brains out at the Giro on July 16, and refuel with a delicious dinner at Vapiano afterwards.

That is all.

Reunion Ride

3 Jul

“His twenty-two was still clean as a whistle.”

Image courtesy of Dartmouth Cycling Team

R. and I were riding up Kinsman’s Notch, quoting lines from Krabbé’s The Rider to each other like we were old friends. Which we were, though neither of us had read Krabbé when we used to ride together. No matter; scores of hours and hundreds of miles spent in the saddle together over these same roads made for an easy comfort when we met up again for the first time in 13 years. We could share a reference and be confident the other guy would get the joke. Neither of us had a clean 22 cog at that point in the day.

I smiled to myself in the first ten miles of the ride (and, for a moment before I could break free of the tar of self-awareness and arched eyebrow irony that drenches modern life, smiled at myself smiling at myself), heading out on the familiar rollers of Route 5 across the river and north from the College. I could glance up the paceline and see two others in jerseys like my own, lime green slightly faded from being over a decade old but still in good shape and, cushion to the ego, still the right size.  Even more comforting, I could have picked them both out by pedaling style.  Both of my old teammates claimed they hadn’t really been riding at all, much less in a big group, but both were clearly right at home.  Smooth, steady.  You could tell they were racers.  Others in the group looked strong (and would prove to be such) but they weren’t riders whose wheels I would comfortably follow.

Three old guys

You can start to take it for granted after a while of riding only with other racers, but a mixed group will quickly remind you of the difference.  It’s a joy to ride with experienced racers, and on this cool morning heading north through Vermont and New Hampshire, I was practically gleeful. Riding with old friends, on familiar roads through gorgeous country:  I just couldn’t stop smiling.

We cruised over some of the smaller climbs early on, swooping down through the covered bridge at Thetford, around Lake Fairlee and crossing back into New Hampshire at Orford.  Our new friends from the Strava.com team had turned back around Fairlee, and the group riding the 100-mile route was down to six as we headed up Mt. Cube.  This was where things started to split up a bit, former teammates M. and R. and I having to deliberately throttle back to avoid rudely dumping the rest of our small group.  There were still over sixty miles to go, after all.  R’s flat tire partway up gave a convenient regrouping point.

Magic as we came off the descent from Cube and turned north to Warren: the first sight of Mt. Moosilauke.  Poking up baldly among the other wooded hills, waiting there.  It felt like it was asking me if I wasn’t really a bit overdue in coming back, hm?

Into the wind

The sun was warm as we headed north towards Haverhill and Woodsville, but a growing breeze kept the air cool.  The three of us (with occasional help from one or two others in the group) switched off pulling into the headwind, with R’s familiar low, forward-leaning posture on the bike seeming to tear a hole in the air for the rest of us to follow.  We caught up on kids, careers, home buying decisions.  I was already delirious from the sweet, clean air and the nostalgia; hearing R. talk about moving to a small town in New Hampshire as everything he and his wife ever hoped for was almost too much to bear.  I wondered for days and weeks afterwards if I could or should do the same.

Kinsman’s Notch was our penultimate climb of the day, and we slipped the leash a little bit, finding a hard rhythm that still allowed for literary references and noticing the waterfall on the side of the road.  The descent is a speed freak’s joy, ramrod straight and wide open sight lines.  It dropped us off at the foot of the eastern climb up to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, and I decided to just punch it.  Thirty minutes and a short regroup later, we dropped down the last descent to the access road turn and two miles of mostly uphill dirt to the Lodge.

The College could guarantee record rates of alumni giving by getting every graduate to the Lodge once a year.  I have no doubt the return on investment would be worth it.  I wanted to kiss the building timbers, I was so in love with that rustic old place.

Dinnertime at the Lodge

No white-tented event with nametags and caterers could come anywhere close to this for reminding me what I took with me from college, but even more, The College, and hell, all of New England itself.

Everything I adored about the College — the outdoors, the sense of independence, bicycle racing, the dizzying feeling of limitless possibility — all of it merged in that moment as I sat there admiring the strip of sunburnt skin on my thigh and drinking a cup from the keg of Switchback Ale the cycling team students had procured.

Image courtesy of Dartmouth Cycling Team

It won’t be another decade before my next trip back.

Image courtesy of Dartmouth Cycling Team

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.

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