Tag Archives: wet

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.

Wednesdays

27 Oct

I’ve not been everywhere.  But as far as I can tell, every local cycling scene has its own version of it — Wednesday Night Worlds, the Mid-Week Training Crit, the Hump Day Hammerfest.  Or in fall, Wednesday cyclocross practices.  In my old corner of Boston, summer was for the Concord Hill Ride, with the midway sprint up Strawberry Hill.  Fall was for bandit cx practice on Wednesday night, followed by burritos in Davis Square.  Around here, it’s the Hills of the North ride on spring and summer mornings, super-secret ‘cross practice in the fall.

Wednesday is both far enough from last weekend that you’ve recovered from the race or the all-day adventure but close enough that the sense of achievement (or disappointment) can motivate you.  Close enough to be fired up about the upcoming weekend but not worried about irrecoverably burying yourself.

Racers take it up a notch on Wednesday.  Tuesdays may be for the detailed, power meter-governed workout your coach prescribed.  Thursdays are a calculated risk to put in just that little bit more before pre-race recovery.  But Wednesday?  That’s when you take out the stops, gather up some of your fellow lunatics, and beat on each other.  Preferably with some sort of imbibing of food or beverages afterward.  As that coffee chain is telling us lately, “Take Comfort in Rituals.”

Hell, even after this morning’s cx practice got rained out (concerns about preserving site access weigh heavily on the mind of the semi-urban crosser) but I was still psyched even though it meant a day in the basement on the trainer.  The carryover euphoria (Wednesday!  Wednesday!) was enough.

I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of bike racers who suffer from the Hump Day blues.

Gear Review: Specialized Neoprene Shoe Covers

10 Feb

I have an annual love affair with mudguards, neoprene, and other wet-weather bits that enable riding through winter and early spring.  My latest fling has been with Specialized’s Neoprene Shoe Cover.  These improve on the basic bootie in ways that make you wonder why no one thought of them earlier.

I’ve trained and commuted with these covers through Washington DC’s coldest and snowiest winter on record.  The neoprene is good and thick and works as expected.  The bonus in colder conditions, though, is the improved zipper and ankle closure.  Specialized moved the fully-separating zipper to the inside of the foot, and added a reflective hook-and-loop strap at the top of the bootie.  The result is a tight seal keeping heat in and wet out, and less work getting the covers on and off.  Apparel manufacturers: spare us our epic stories of mid-ride duct tape repairs and switch to this setup for less strain on those delicate zippers.

One quibble — despite scuff-resistant material reinforcing the toes, a hole is already starting in one cover from putting a foot down at traffic lights and my short post-lockup walk at work.  For $50, booties should last more than one season.