Sunday, November 25, 2007

a season to forget

Mercifully, there are only two more weekends left in this season. I normally dread the arrival of the last race of the year but between injuries and mechanical issues this season has been one to forget. Here's my Sterling report...

I've raced Sterling 4 times now and it is always fast, always frozen and always a great event. The night before I put in a good effort on the trainer to open up the legs and was ready for the race, new tires and all. CJ was alongside cheering... man do I love that little kid.

Two laps around the track (1 3/4 as Perham pointed out) and then up the run up. Between the left and right at the base of the run I'm riding towards Pascal Bussier (I think) who has hit the deck so I touch the brakes. My front wheel instantly dissappears out from under me to the left on the frozen ground and I go down hard. I'm "that guy" and the pile up starts, I could even hear Fries commenting on the carnage. The bike is clearly messed up and so is my left hand so I run to the top to assess the damage. Wheel is cockeyed in the fork: fixed. Bars are listing about 45 degrees to the left, anyone here watching have a wrench? Nope. My left thumb is killing me. The last of the field rides past and the lst guy says "at least I'm not last" in reference to me standing there like a dope.

I roll around the course watching the race ride away and asking everyone for a wrench. I stop at the Keogh's trailer, no luck. "Wait!" a 10 year old dissappears into the trailer and I wait a few seconds before he emerges with a huge monkey wrench. I should have been more specific. Roll up the pavement and Zank asks "What happened" and "Is the bike ok?" like any good parent would. At the pit Mark executes a perfect bar realignment (thanks) and I'm off. I think briefly about dropping out and trying again in the 2/3 race that is nexy, but my thumb tells me that I should take advantage of the natural pain masking powers of adrenelin and race now.

I chase and pull back a dozen and half guys I guess, I wasn't counting. CJ was cheering hard each time around, man I love that kid. Too bad they didn't have a kids race as they have in the past, he was ready to crush some souls. I took 42nd, went to a friends apres-party and had some fantastic lasagna, then went to the hospital where they showed me how unstable my left ulnar collateral ligament really was. No fracture, splint on for 4-6 weeks and see an ortho. Thanks to my history of illness, I don't just know a few orthos, I know a few hand specialists and will probably go with Ed Caulkins. He's a nice guy & leaves minimal surgical scars.

I'll probably race Portland and the last RI weekend, and if so I will race them hard, but I'm looking forward to the start of the offseason so I can heal completely (ankle still isn't 100%) and prepare for next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NJ recap and Thanksgiving thoughts

It is late so I'm going to do this post in one take -

This past weekend was the USGP in NJ. New Jersey is a strange (to me) section of the country. Well, anything outside of NE is pretty strange given my travelling history, but there is something particular that is strange down there. Every square yard of land has been developed, and the Walmart/Target/TGIFridays/Pottery Barns/PEP Boys just run one into the next. Neighborhoods are everywhere, and no apparent center of town like here in Massachusetts. The entire place is one giant suburb from town(ship)line to town line. Then smack in the middle is this beautiful park... this was where the the race was held. Wide open fields, a meandering entrance road, and tons of recreational facilities. They had an ice Rink, a rowing lake (which hosted the 1996 olympic trials), and vast picnic areas. Bubblers stuck up in the middle of fields for no apparent reason. It's like they took all of the open space for miles around and cramed it into this one place.

So the park was really nice but the weather wasn't. The course was great and only took a few small changes to turn it from a power course on Saturday to a technical track on Sunday. Add in dry and windy coonditions Sat and rainy and muddy Sunday and the only thing that was the same was the zip code. They used a random starting order which had me towards the back both days. My race on Saturday was bad. The legs were not responding so while I was suffering like a dog I wasn't going very fast. I took 47th out of the 96 starters, finishing just ahead of the guys fighting their pot bellies to hold their bars. Not sure how I'd feel on Sunday so I just decided to have fun in the slop and not worry about results. Another bad starting spot had me far back but I rode much stronger, had a great time in the mud and got 28th. The bad weather makes warming up, cooling down and cleaning yourself off much more unpleasant but actually makes the racing easier.

The best part was the NE group that was down to race and cheer. NE racers made a strong showing and had some impressive results. Thanks to all for your support during my race, I hope you heard me during yours.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. The two day nature of the thing really allows you to just relax and enjoy the day, take in some good food and swap stories with friends and family. Plus, this may be the least commercial holiday of them all. No gifts, cards, or flowers... In fact, the whole idea is to be thankful for the wonderful gifts that you already have, not create false need for additional material posessions. So with that I give thanks for close family, great friends, and good health. Cheers!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Road Trip

Heading to the USGP this weekend in lovely Trenton NJ. Highlights will include a kitchenette in the hotel room, a mulch pit, three sand pits, and best of a ll a flyover.

Let's hope it all goes well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

slick as snot

In the parallel universe that is Vermont, it seems that the driest summer and fall on record still isn't enough to dry out the muddy track at Putney West Hill's cross course. Last year the track was greasy, but it had been misting all morning and much wetter in the weeks before hand. This year, with hardly a spare drop of water to be found, the course was once again slick and of course... fun as hell!

My travelling companion (he who is not to be named) arrived just as the first races of the day were starting. This course is old school... around the barn, over a few mounds of dirt, back towards the broken down car, behind the shop, into the field, up the run up and through the parking lot to do it all over again. The "line" was well worn, a perma-dirt offering that has seen many miles of racing. Off the "line" was a mixture of grass, potholes, debris, corn stalk, thicker mud, and bramble, not to mention the occasional out structure or stump. As each lap of the first race ticked off, one could notice an increasing percentage of riders emblazoned with large swaths of brown markings up their flank and backsides, as if the course itself was trying to recruit each rider onto team Gooey Bottoms under Directeur Sportif Haacken Von Phlemmybooger.

No call ups or order of reg funny business so promptly to the starting grid we go for the elite master's race. At the "go!" (let's chip in and buy this woman a whistle, eh?) I'm up the hill and 3rd or fourth over the barrier. A group of three formed and rode away from me after a lap. I was in between groups for three laps which cost me some energy on the straight as the wind was howling. When the 45+ studs and lead juniors finally caught me I was happy to get a break and sit in some, but soon enough they were off as well. I could feel that the seat post has gone back to slipping again, my fault for effin' with it after is was behaving so nicely for a few weeks. I was way out on 6th place, so with two laps left I went into preservation mode. One key to success was staying off the "line." Tires would pack with mud when on "line" rendering them nearly useless when attempting to steer, slow, or accellerate. Time spent off "line" helped clear excess goo and maintained the original skinsuit appearance.

At the bell I pick up a stowaway: a stick, or reed, or something organic that has wrapped itself around the freehub between the cassette and spoke. This created a fixed gear effect in that if my wheel is turning so is the drivetrain. Except I need to coast... and run... at least two more time each to finish this race. When I do, off pops the chain. I stop and get it back (never though to just remove the stick). Four of those and I'm fighting for my spot. Four guys go by in the last 100 meters leaving me 10th. Helicopter Matt was the last one, pipping me at the line: I on foot, he on bike. He even flashed me the look. ( see here, here, and here) Pissed, I tossed the bike and new helmet in disgust and sulked for 10 minutes or so.

He who is not to be named crashed trying to clip into his pedals, putting himself DFL 10 feet past the start line. He who is not to be named then biffed it on lap two, going too hard to make up ground no doubt, and bent his derailleur hangar. He who is not to be named was at the car with helmet on and beer in his hand just 7 or 8 minutes after the official yelled "go!" at him. Zank rode well, but knows he should have been at the front of his group going into the run up. Just that is the difference between 3rd and 6th. Eyebob looked good as always and took the picture above, thanks. Rosey was back in his field and sporting a bloody nose at the end of the race that was news to him. Ibex was there with some very nice but "pricey" clothing. Was expensive not sufficient that we had to invent pricey?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The rare "Double Post"

Forgot to mention...
PMC check was $33 million. 27% greater than last year. 100% of donations went to the charity for the first time ever.


thanks again to everyone who helped, see you in 2008.

I'd rather be racing

I'm missing Plymouth and probably killing my race at Putney tomorrow by working in this. It sucks, but has to get done. I'm tired of getting water in the basement every spring.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

oh no! no ho!

Big VERGE series races this past weekend: Farmington on Sat and Northampton on Sunday. Saturday's course was tough, one very long dirt climb that sucked the spirit right out of me. I rode alright, got 27th but didn't feel I was pushing that hard. Saturday was at LookPark, a place I used to go when I was a boy to ride the swan boats. The race started well, I was with a group fighting it out for 12th before I caught a flat. The flat came at a good time, I wasn't going to be able to hang with that group, and it was a good excuse for not keeping a good placing.

Tomorrow night is the PMC check presentation. Let's hope for $30 million raised. I'm getting my fundraising strategy together even earlier this year since I know I'm doing it this time. Last year was a spur of the moment decision... kind of. In 2008 there will be some slight changes. I think I'll stay "off campus" in Bourne. It was cool being there, but when you arrive before 11 am it makes for a long day of free food and walking around. I'll stay for lunch & the massage and then meet up with Ali and the kids to spend the rest of the day in town. Sleep in a real bed (tents just aren't for me). Likewise in P-town, arriving amongst the first is a backhanded honor... I got there at 9:45 am only to discover that the beer tent didn't open until noon!! Killer. I'm also considering riding from the NY/Mass border to Judy's on Thursday and then from Judy's to Sturbridge on Friday, all before the actual PMC starts. Gotta get a lift way out west for that though.... We'll see. So there will be changes to the game plan but I'm psyched already, even for the fundraising. It is a great cause that Ali and I really beleive in.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The A-Rod of Cyclocross

You know what really grinds my gears? Sven Nys. This guy has been wearing on me lately, and he won again this past weekend in Tabor. Afterwards he offered the following brilliant quote "I've got the feeling some riders can't get sleep the night before the race, they're scared out of their pants, but it doesn't keep me awake really." He should have added "unless of course it is the night before worlds, then everyone can rest easy knowing I'll grind my bars into sawdust and finish off the podium again, writing another chapter in my book of how to choke on the biggest possible stage."
Sweet picture, eh?