Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Robertson Road Dirt Ride

This ride really did not have a name (Mike has not christened it) but it did have 47 total miles and about 12 miles of dirt roads which were all blown clear!

The ride started out of Bethlehem (it was Christmas Eve day) and traveled north past Statham and toward Arcade. Most of the dirt roads were long (1-3 miles) and had a predicatable downhill to a creek and then back up. One of the roads (below) had a significant climb back up from a stream.

The ride was pretty uneventful and the only flat happened in the last 2-3 miles. The temperature was a nice 50 degrees or so and it was nice and sunny. We only had around 10 folks come out and a few of them were new to the club. We did see a few folks on horseback and even a two horse carriage full of revelers.

Mike was showing off his new Campy gruppo on his old steel custom racing bike. He upgraded to 9 speed and had a revoltingly pink handlebar tape, his testament to Italy I guess. Will I ever be invited over for New Year's Frutti del mar??

I rode my cross bike and the tubular clinchers that got no use during the CX season since they were for smooth surfaces. They did great on the dirt roads and offered little resistance on the road sections.

I think this was Carlos's last dirt ride since he will be going back to Peurto Rico. Of course he did not wear gloves in the 40 degree staring temperature. I will miss him on rides and his cheerful disposition.

All in all a great ride on the disappearing dirt roads of the Gwinnett-Barrow-Walton area.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Some Choice Quotes About Cyclocross Nationals

From Cyclingnews.com...

But during the 35-plus race (started 1pm on Friday), conditions changed for the worse when the barometric pressure plummeted and the wind accelerated to a sustained 40 mph with 60 mph gusts. "The fencing all blew down," began Fries, "the course tape ripped apart, the signage winged around the venue, and 10x10 tents were cartwheeling everywhere. At one point, a pop-up tent lifted out of the pits and dropped squarely over the course! The 35-plus riders simply went through it."

"After buttoning down the venue as best we could Friday night, the core staff met in an RV in what I can only say was a war council. We had a 3,200 meter course under eight inches of snow, glazed with sleet. In some places, the course tape had disappeared. Signage was all over the place, expo tents were loose on their moorings, flooded and nearly uninhabitable."

"There was eight inches of snow covering a 3,200 meter-long by three meter wide course. That's 9,600 square meters of area that needed to be cleared. We had 80 outfits of clothing for volunteers provided by Voler and Adidas but we ran out Saturday morning when the volunteer base ballooned to 140; people who didn't ask for so much as a bowl of soup."

"At one point I literally broke down and started weeping," Fries said. "My 11-year-old son was came and told me, ‘Dad, it isn't so bad,' right as the wind was blowing the course tape off course and the expo tents apart. I had two earpieces in, and in one ear I had people telling me racers needed to see the race doctor, while in the other ear the doctor was telling me she was overwhelmed with people who needed attention. We had three heated RVs to treat racers, and they were overflowing. It was like Gettysburg out there."

Richard Fries, venue anouncer

For those racing on the first day (December 9 th ) it was a true test of the “ boast” that cyclo cross racers can handle any weather and any terrain. Snow, rain and then icy snow, combined with thunder, lightning and hurricane force winds to create white-out conditions that often made it impossible to see the course markers. However all but two of the day's scheduled races took place before the organizers gave way to the blizzard and sent everyone home. Course markers, banners, tents and other temporary equipment was blown down and strewn all over the Roger Williams Park. Some of it even ended up being blasted onto the nearby large and frozen lake.

Cycling Revealed

These things happen, and being ‘cross, you better not complain about it.

Bike Magazine

Sunday, December 11, 2005

2005 Cyclocross US Nationals, Providence, R.I.

New England is often seen as THE place in the US to race CX even though it is not the oldest CX scene. What makes it great is a combination of unpredicatable weather, an expectation that you will race CX as a young cyclist, and some very dedicated folks.

Touching down in PVD I saw immediatel
y that there was some remnant snow left over from earlier in the week. The temperature was in the 20's and the enxt day would call for sunny skies but never get above 32 degrees. I flew in late Wednesday and was picked up by one of the patrons of GA CX, Lamar Mauney. The next day we waited for Shey Linder to arrive (GTC/Bikeman) and then decided to go over to the course and pre-ride. Lamar and i went over and the course was fantastic. Roger Williams park is like the Cental Park of Providence. The course included lots of small elevation changes, grass (hidden by snow), about 1/2 mile of pavement (2 sections), 1 double wooden barrier section, 2 wooden/dirt step run ups, 1 cement run up, and many tight 180 degree turns, especially through the pit/spectator area. There were many vendors, a huge grandstand, and a beer garden.

The course was muddy in many places and
even though it was cold, I felt really good during the warm up. We did about 5 laps and it gets dark very early in PVD so we packed it up and went back. We agreed that with the snow storm expected the next day, the pre-ride would not really give anyone an advantage since most of the course would be covered in snow and hidden, and the temperatures would make any muddy patches icy underneath the snow.

All day they were only expecting 3-6 inches, but we were warned that if the low pressure system joined with the storm, a nor'easter would develop and that would bring lots more snow and high winds.

We went over to the Biltmore hotel in PVD to get our numbers that night and were greeted with a star studded array of professionals-Dale Knapp, Mark McCormack, an
d Todd Wells to name a few.

I was very nervous the next day because of the field size (158 signed up). I had never lined up in a race that big before. I was also nervous because of the nice 3 inches of snow that fell overnight and the continued flakes that were falling at about 1" and hour.

We got ourselves up to the venue and met Daryl and Kim Sawyer and Todd Mills at their tent which would be the mother ship for the day. It was very cold and Lamar and I did some practice laps early and I found out how trecherous it would be by falling on a downhill section and hitting a rock with my left s
hin. Even with the cold temperatures I had a lot of swelling and bleeding.

Lamar raced at 10 and I at 11. I did not get to see his race but did see him cautiously come around the course. He related later that he did not want to take any risks and there were 3 crashes in the firsh minute of the race. He ended up riding well but finishing around 80th or so.

I rode over to the start area and was unsure how to line up. They had plackards on the road with a range of numbers (0-14, 15-28, etc.) and we were to line up on the road in lines of 14 riders. I was 8 rows back and
was hoping I could get further up once we started. The first turn was pretty sharp and icy and there had been lots of crashes there earlier.

At the gun I was able to get a very good start and weave
up through the field until the first turn where guys were stacked on top of each other. I took an outside line and passed a number of riders and was now gunning it on the course. My first lap was great. I passed a number of riders and was sure I was in the top 30. We got to the hill where I fell (near the end of the first lap) and I fell again there (one of 3 times) and hit my leg in the same place. The paves section after that was slightly uphill and it was hard to motor up the hill, but the paved sections were the places to pass people.

As I started the second lap it
was like the course had changed in 5 minutes. I fell immediately on an icy downhill section and again near the pits. Overall I think I fell 6 times the whole race. Each time I fell I would lose a few spots. After awhile I was able to settle in and ease my speed to reduce falling.

On one of these falls I got up and started riding and my back wheel was hitting the frame. I was afraid it was my tire coming unglued. I gingerly rode the next few laps on a wheel shaped like an S. It kept hitting the frame and the brake slowing me down.

With 2 laps to go I was behind CX legend Dale Knapp by about 3/4 of a lap. I was hoping to hold him off and not get lapped. On the last lap I heard "Lead rider coming!" and I pulled over to see Knapp blow by me on a flat section. I tried to limit the damage and he won about 30 seconds in front of me. They let me cross the finish line even though I had been lapped.

Knapp had lapped 2/3 of the field on the first 2 laps! So at least I survived that.

All in all, I felt really comfortable in the race and felt like I never really gave all I had because of the weather. I was happy with my ride and a
s it turns out I came in 64th which is probably about where I should have ended up.

The weather turned nasty after my race and the rest of the events had to be cancelled for the day.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

3 amigos: Dub, myself and Perry

State Championships, Monroe CX

The weather had cooled off nicely for the final 2 races of the series. I think it was around 34 when I got to Criswell Park in Monroe. I like to get to the venues early so i can ride for about an hour on the course and then warm up on the trainer.

The course was very different than last year. Gone was the top grass field that had 2 barrier sections. UCI rules eliminated multiple artificial barriers this year but that did not stop Jay from coming up with a very technical course. The start was on a narrow, long slightly downhill paved section that merged to the left on a grassy/sandy section that led to a steep grass downhill, a 180 around a tree, and then back up the other side. The hill was rideable in the big ring but I had to be in the 27 each time. After this we traversed a short grass section, more pavement between ball fields, a nice sharp 180 and back on pavement. We then had to go across a wood chip section that was part of a playground (dismount) and then over into the challenging adn controversial woods section that was really not up to UCI regs but fun anyway. Andy Johnson would have a huge advantage here on his mountain bike.

After the woods we had to dismount 2-3 times over the same ditch. I could ride each ditch but it was too risky in a crown. Again, Andy would have an advantage on his MTB. After this we meandered on grass to the final uphill paved section that would be the finish. Each lap was very long and it really gave my back a pounding.

On the line were myself, Perry, Dub and Dave. In additionto us (among others) were Brady Rogers (past state champ), Tony Scott (multiple masters state champ), and Andy Johnson (former National and state champ). Each of these guys could have been comfortable in the A category, but they were of age and could ride in masters also.

I went out hard and tried to be off the front a little through the first 180 turn where Perry and Dub crashed. I led about 40 yards for the whole first lap, jumpting the ditches. I was soon caught by Brady, Andy, Perry and Tony. We stayed together until lap 3 where in the woods, Andy accelerated and dropped us all. Tony soon jumped on the paved hill and tried to bridge. Pery, Brady and I were not able to follow. Soon we dropped Brady and were trying hard for Tony. Tony soon sat up and Andy was gone. Tony did not hang on to Perry and myself for very long and then it was just us chasing Andy.

We soon realized that Andy was not coming back and Perry tried to murder me a few times and I had my eyes popping trying to hang on to him. Towards the end of the race he and I were in rhythm and knew on the last lap that the uphill finish would decide 2nd and 3rd. After the wooden barrier section, I pulled along side of him and accelerated. We were side by side up the hill and then I was able to pull away for second.

Now, some said that it was bad form for Andy to ride this race and win the jersey. Some said he was a sandbagger. I used to get mad at the top caliber riders for doing this and many simply would never think of it. But, they are of age and are within their rights to be there. I also think that they were undertrained and at just as much risk of losing as Perry and myself. I will let the A riders criticize these guys for being there. I do not feel slighted and was happy with the race I rode and the result.