Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shedd Park: 11.21.10

It wasn't my idea to sign up for the P123 @ Shedd Park. My daughter was going to be singing at church that morning, precluding me from my usual master's field. The 3/4 was too early, so the only option was the main event. Gave me butterflies all week.

Sunday morning heading into church I was delighted to learn that cherub performance had been cancelled. Now I was going to get my nuts squashed to oblivion for no good reason. Hooray.

Nearly 50/50 split between scared/pissed, I did actually manage to get a good warm up in, getting to the racing part always helps. I think the key for me is to ride the course before the event I'm racing in starts for at least two laps, and get some hard race pace efforts in during that time. Then stay moving for the next hour, with perhaps a little effort if I didn't get one in on the course. I'm writing some of this stuff for the future me, who should do exactly what the current me has been doing this season... except for the tire thing. Get that sorted out earlier, ok future me? Great.

After Adam Myerson bowled through the field from the back row at the start the rest of us were left to sort it out before the first bottleneck, a 180 us a small bump and around a tree. I think I was the last guy not to put down a foot, as there was a great deal of swearing and crashing sound coming from right behind me. The field was already split into two groups at the front, the first 7 and the next 7, and I was tailgunning this second group.

The first ride up the main hill wasn't bad, neither was the speed out of it at the top. I know I breathe heavy but one of the B2C2 guys came up next to me and was panting like this:

soda's panting from normah on Vimeo.

I thought he was going to die.

The split stretched out approaching the descent, but no one was getting away there, everyone was just trying to stay upright. As we came across the field to go to the second half of lap one, the guys I was riding with started attacking each other relentlessly. This continued for the first four laps. One guy would take a flyer, blow sky high and would come back. Then the next would go, and the next, until the first guy was ready to go again. They'd sit up on the track and look around at each other, and invariably someone would take the bait. I surfed the back and burned surprisingly few matches to stay in touch.

Chandler Delinks was in the group, and I wondered if I'd have to read about myself in his blog if we stuck together long enough. He was gone from my group before the end of lap 2 or 3, so I guess not.

Synjen Marrocco got on the front for a long while, took some of the worst lines I've ever seen through the corners, and got dropped shortly after Chandler. That kid is strong but spent way too much energy getting back up to speed after each turn.

Greg Whitney clipped a pedal, almost got thrown from his bike, and lost touch after hanging out for a while too. Either he or Mike Wissell took a sketchy inside line through a turn on me at one point, but not enough to complain about beyond what I just wrote.

Cary Fridrich came through our group on lap three and made an attempt to get to the front group of 7 that was unsuccessful. He stayed 20 seconds away from then basically until the end of the race. Half way through lap 3 Toby Wells took off to join Cary, but never made it there. At the end of lap 4 there was some sitting up again on the track, and Sam Morse was the first to blink and he took off. He must have been getting antsy, because it seemed to me like this was all working out just fine with the youngsters kicking the shit out of eachother. Anyway, Wissell gave chase and I followed him.

When Wissell pulled off and no one else came through the remants of the group slowed a bit and I knew that the kids were tuckered out from all that bike racing. I jumped across to Sam and right up to Toby, bringing only Chris Hamlin from UVM with me. The four of us reformed a group and started to pull away as the others faded back.

With three to go Sam started to get gapped, and I let Hamlin and Wells do all of the work. Hamlin was strong in the corners, but Wells was so smooth and powerful... it was great to watch. *Man crush alert* He carried ridiculous amounts of speed through the fast turns, especially the downhill going towards the tennis courts. He was taking it very easy up the ride up though, and I thought for sure he was playing possum and would rip up that thing on the last lap.

Hamlin's bike creaks like a rusty old wrought iron gate. Like he lubes his chain with salt water and beach sand.

Half way through that 5th lap we were making ground on Cary when Hamlin sat up a bit. After a moment Toby said something about catching Cary and he went to the front, but the hesitation was enough to keep Cary away for good. Hamlin tried to go inside Toby in the woods before the track and I scolded him for it. Bad line, bad place to try to pass. Damn rambunctious kids and their helmet cam thingamajings.

Just before two to go with Sam pretty far back I got to the front for a second time and put in one long pull on the track to see how much of the gap to Cary I could close down. We gained a little, but he was moving pretty good and we realized we weren't going to catch him.

At the bell Hamlin was on front, and led us up the hill with a bit more speed. Toby didn't spring the attack I expected, and I was content to follow the two. Wells went to the front near the tennis courts and I didn't want to be third wheel, so I out broke Hamlin and got in between them. Wells attacked hard coming out of the forest of Lowellenburg and I matched, though we were careening through the woods so fast I didn't want to get to close for fear of slamming a rock.

The accelleration did drop Hamlin and we came to the last few turns together. Being in front, Wells had the better line coming out of the woods and could start his acceleration sooner. He got a gap and held it to the line to take 9th. I'm happy with the 10th place (paid $20) and the best results point wise yet @238. If we had driven we probably could have caught Cary, but then again he may have been saving something in the event that we got any closer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Putney: 11.14.10

What’s more exciting than craps, slots, table games, sharing needles, unprotected sex and hipster parties combined? Day-of Registration Roulette. Now that deeper VERGE points and staging by crossresults.com rankings is commonplace, there is very little to get excited for in the build up to a cyclocross race as there was in the past. So I put a little excitement back into the registration process by spinning the DORR wheel.

Racers... Do you have a few options for the DLR coming up this weekend? Have you got Masters, 3’s, 123’s fields available to you? Before deciding, be sure to check the payouts, registration fees, and most importantly… check that pre-reg list and find out who you will be racing… it’s mostly correct.

Promoters really can have fun with this... .Have you got a number in mind that you need to reach to break even? You should worry, because while the DORR almost always rewards you with ample Day-of registrants to push you over the top, one cold or rainy day could sink you faster than the Edmund Fitzgerald.

This past weekend at Putney I got caught staring into the sun that is the pre-reg list for Putney. Elites (2:30 pm, cost: $30, pays $500 seven spots deep, ROP had me around 4th) or Master’s 35+ (11:00 am, cost: $25, pays $135 five spots deep, ROP has me around 3rd)? I was sure that the DORR wheel would land on Jeff Molongoski and Eric Gutbier for the 35+ field, perhaps Toby Wells and Al Donahue for the Elites. Oh the pressure!

In the end, the decision was easy. I raced the 35s because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tailgate for 3+ hours afterwards. The fact that I had beaten the two guys that were predicted to finish ahead of me the weekend prior helped too.

So I hedged my bets and sure enough, Molongoski shows up. He’s 45+ now though, maybe he’s doing that group. In a word, no. Frantically scanning the parking lot for other DORRer’s I spot a guy in a spiffy Cannondale team kit. That’s none other than Johs Huseby! Sweet!

I started on the left side and at the whistle Johs comes through me bumping and grinding like a teenager on roofies and I settle in around 8th wheel. Johs and Jeff M. were doing all of the work up front, and the only difficult parts were catching back on after the log run and barriers during the first lap. I think the whole field came to the run together… it certainly sounded like it behind me.

First time up that hill and Johs schools us on how to run. He had 10 bikes by the top and we darted across the gap. These little efforts came easier to some than others, and I jumped across when I had to to stay on. Still, through three entire laps the lead group had whittled all the way down to… at least 10 guys. Including ***. That gives you an idea.

Sheldon Miller (the pre-race ROP favorite) mentioned that there was a lot of looking around going on (which was fine with me) just as Steve Roszko rolls up and animates things a little bit. Nothing really came of that, but I think it woke people up because we started to go just a bit faster and after the 4th lap the group was down to 6 with Johs, Jeff, Sheldon, myself, Stephan Marcoux and Dave Connery gapping the others.

Here's Stephan folloging my PRO line off the dirt and in the grass. photo courtesy of eyebob

During that lap Connery takes off, and someone says “pay no mind to him, he’s not a threat.” Ouch. Worse that he said that or that I’m repeating that here for everyone to see?
Sure enough Dave was back and finally someone other than Johs leads into the run, meaning there was no mad sprint at the top. Two to go.

Sheldon hit the gas at the top of the run and I was able to stick with him pretty well. I thought for sure that Johs or Jeff would try and come around me to get better positioned for the turns at the top part of the course, but they did not, and when Sheldon rode the log hill I followed. He punched it towards the parking lot and I gave chase, airing it out in spectacular fashion over the jumps behind the shop. We caught him after the downhill but he never slowed down. Looking back it was only Jeff and I that had made it. One of us should have gotten in front but we didn’t, and Miller never slowed down. He scampered up the run and attacked again, forcing us to chase. Same thing on the logs. He kept finding strength to go hard all around the course. We would catch, he would go.

After negotiating some lapped riders we were on his wheel with a half a lap to go but he got a small gap on the barriers and kept the heat on. Jeff was chasing but this time we weren’t making up ground, so Jeff sat up. I should have done the same and let Jeff lead me down the road to the run and then passed him just before but I didn’t… I wanted to try and make the bridge to Sheldon and didn’t want to get caught by anyone behind. I drove to the hill and Jeff came around at the base. He held me off at the top and took second by three bikes with Sheldon winning 10 lengths ahead.

So the ROP had me in 3rd but Marcoux was replaced with Molongoski. Huseby ended up 4th, which was a shock to me. I’m pleased that I earned my entry fee back and was able to race with Molongoski, who I haven’t been able to stay with for the past few years, including last year at this very race. It was all pretty easy too… like other races this season I’m working hard (well, for the second half of this one at least) but am not totally blown at the end.

Apres-ride Jim Airgood and his wife Gwen brought chili, cornbread, pulled pork, and ribe. I had all of it… and a few cups of Opa Opa Octoberfest as well. We fed the 3/4 field cookies and the elites beer. We were worried a bit about what the USAC official (who was standing right there during the feeds) would think of these shenanigans but he was very cool indeed. He was even cheering on racers that were taking the hand ups. Someone accidentally chucked a cup right at him, but he thought the whole thing was great and even told stories about it to the other officials. Questionable move right there.

As stated the best part of the day was getting to spend a few hours with Chip and Dave driving up to VT. Chip had his best race of the year and Dave took second over Keith Gauvin… a friend of mine from Master’s racing and…. another DORR entrant.

Damn that day of registration!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I got it.

It’s about friends. Seeing the old ones, learning more about the new ones, and the potential of adding to your collection every weekend.

That’s it. I wouldn’t go to these races just to race. Wouldn’t be worth the time or expense. Once you’ve done a race and see the people, you want to hang out, experience what everyone else is, get familiar. So you train, glue tires, swap parts, join a team… though that hardly matters. You race hard, bump elbows, sit on, attack, and flop on the ground after the line. You have a beer, exchange some swag, bring some cupcakes and steal someone else’s.

Here’s the latest development…

I had the pleasure of driving up to the Putney West Hill Shop race with two first class NECX hombres, Chip B. and David W. From the outside, you’d never think to put those two together. Chip’s a 45+ mini-van driving stay-at-home dad with a couple of kids living in the suburban sprawl of Needham. Dave’searly 30's guy working "in the biz" and living in a house full of friends. Chip’s conversational and extroverted, Dave’s slightly more soft spoken and reserved. Chip sports a puffy, Dave’s all wool. Chip fights it out in the B master’s fields, Dave’s one of the best local elite racers around. Ok… there is some commonality there... Both Chip’s and Dave’s races feature a lot of carbon wheels, but for different reasons.

I’m really just getting to know these guys this year, though it’s been plain to me for a long while that they are both good people. I jumped at the opportunity to carpool to the race because of the stark differences in outward appearances and lifestyles between the three of us.

Getting to learn about Dave’s NJ upbringing and how he made it to Boston was great: an interesting story told by a guy with a heard of pure gold. Chip lived in Cali for years, and some of the stories he had about people he met and the way life was out there were fascinating.

So three guys with tremendously different backgrounds climb into a van… and the conversation came easily. We covered Noho, Putney, Gloucester. Racing in snow, cold, rain. NBX. PDX. PVD. Tom Stevens courses. Steel and aluminum. Tube construction, skinsuits, food, training, east coast vs. west coast, mint Newman O’s. Kids, soccer, reading. Injuries, work, parents. Training. Fitness. Goals and aspirations. Strategies, victims, results. Texting. The van was full of love for riding… and racing… with a common tie of cycling in general.

I’m never less than amazed about how many really good people I have exposure to every weekend. The one person that I encountered this season that I though to be less than friendly walked straight up to me one week later and formally introduced themselves, started asking about my race, shared their thoughts on a particular line that we were watching people try to ride, and was basically over the top nice.

Thanks to all my friends in NECX, even the ones I haven’t met yet.

Friday, November 12, 2010

CSI Northampton Day 2: 11.7.10

SLURRPPP! That's the sound of me riding behind anyone and everyone this past weekend. I really do wish I had the power/ability/courage to get in front of a group and drive it for some reason other than to slow the pace down, but that just isn't what works for me. I know that riding from the back is harder out of the turns but gawd damned I love to hide as much as possible. I don't even think it is the draft really, because there has got to be a pretty minor advantage in sitting on, especially when you consider how hard it is to get back on a group after a corner. I think it is psycological. Sitting in gives me comfort. It lets me know that I'm able to hang out. When I'm on the front, I'm constantly thinking that I'm not going hard enough, and that the others are sure to come around me at any time.

Day 2 at CSI a plan was hatched to grab some food and drop me at the venue so the kids could go back to the pool for a final swim before checking out. Worked like a charm. Kids got to swim and I was there early enough to ride the course twice before really starting my warm up. At some point during the undressing-dressing process a little too much skin was exposed, though I was unaware of it at the time. Chip had to see it. Sorry pal. My folks were up to see the race as well, a great treat that I did not expect. It was kind of weird hearing my mother cheering for me using my college nickname.... ;)

Let's go racin'!!!

The left side worked so well at the start the previous day that naturally I lined up on the right. Same third row start but it was nice getting the call up. The herd seemed to be thundering a bit more ferociously on day two, everyone must have been all excited to be first to get to the button hook>run/ride up thing. The leaders were two turns ahead of me when they got there and I saw JONNY BOLD (that's two hyperlinks to JONNY's blog in two posts... I'm starting to act like GeWilli) was going to be first to the hill. Surely he would win the day now, because riding the hill clean was clearly the best way up it, right? Apparently JONNY didn't think so, or he wanted to keep it fair, or something... he unclipped and ran from the front of the race. No consequence to me, just thought it was odd.

By the time I got to the buttonhook the boys were running it, and as I stepped off my bike behind Ryan LaRoque his rear wheel kicked up and caught me in the groin. Not felled by searing abdominal pain (it was merely a flesh wound) I ran around the scrum and towards the hill proper. To my left someone fell on top of someone else, and I believe this shot was taken right at that precise moment.

ewww... boys touching boys! photo courtesy of doublehop

Up the hill we go and I'm in that high teen position again and feeling really great. Kevin Hines was hanging out with us, as were some of the bikeman.com dudes. The second day's course at Noho is great, as you get all of the rooty turns out of the way all at once. That root section is also a great place to rest and work on being as smooth and fast as possible. Before I know what's going on Hines is gone, and not just pulling away... like so far ahead that I can't spend the time or effort to look around for him... and he wasn't out of the race (yet) either.

I lost contact with the front of the race on the field on that first lap, though I'm not sure how or when. Actually, i'm sure it was because I suck. What was undeniable was that I was now IN THE WIND and wanted to GET OUT ASAP!

I was taking on water fast and LaRoque and Sheldon Miller were chugging up to me. I heard Zank tell me to keep the pressure on, and I did manage to stay in front of them half way through lap two. Wanted to make it seem like I wasn't imploding, which I thought I was. Coming into the fields for the second time I had found my happy place, surfing behind Sheldon and Ryan. The three of us moved along at a nice pace, and half way through lap 3 we caught and passed Bill Shattuck and added Aaron Millette to our party.

Laroque was running the barriers like a gazelle on the left side and he opened up a miserable gap each time through that part, causing us to sprint to catch back on. Miller rode the power sections well but was checking the brakes a bit to much for my liking in some of the turns that you really didn't need to slow at all. I encouraged him to let it flow. He later called me a back seat driver (only half-jokingly).

With two and a half laps to go we caught Pete Smith when he dumped his bike in the sand. He had been shed off of the group fighting for 10th but made us pay for ridig with him by laying down a serious pull through the start finish line. He never got out of the saddle but pulled away from me like he was sprinting. Sheldon and Ryan came around and I was fine with that... fill in the gap please! At the run up Pete was leading and like JONNY BOLD he unclipped and started to run, forcing us to do the same. He's a clever little devil.

Millette and Shattuck started to fall off our pace around that time, and Miller seemed to be really trying to get away. Out of the sand with one to go he got a big gap and his teammates were screaming at him to go go go! Pete and Ryan worked hard though and brought him back by the bell.

Somehow I ended up in front of the group around the turns near the pit. There were four of us fighting it out for 14th place, and coming into the buttonhook I thought about pretending to start a dismount then clipping back in quick and riding away. Just as I'm about to unclip LaRoque says "we're riding this right Matty?" and I lost all desire to be a prick to my freinds. We were a long way from the finish too, so I'm sure I would have done more harm than good in terms of pissing them off and loosing any sort of gap I could have possibly gotten anyway. We rode the hill (Pete ran and never lost any ground) and started the root section for the final time. Somewhere in there Sheldon lost contact and Pete was tailgunning. To the barriers I took the far left to steal Ryan's favorite spot, and while he did get past me, it was much easier to stay with him afterwards. Three of us hit the sand together and Pete got a bit hung up, loosing two or three bike lengths on the exit. Ryan led it from there to the line, taking 14th and opening up a huge gap over me in the sprint. I held of Pete for 15th, he had burned a lot of matches to get back on after the sand pit bobble but still almost got around me.

"in the draft" photo courtesy of Lynn Lameroux

Charlie did another kids race and it was a nailbiter, though I've got to tell him to look forward and chase that guy instead of worrying what is going on behind him. He was moving faster than the day before and going into the final turn he was second. He took first with a sweet inside line. The thrid place rider came over the top on everyone and took the win at the line.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CSI Northampton: 11.6.10

Last year I missed Noho thanks to the H1N1 virus.... remember that little special friend? I know Kurt Perham does. With no avarian flu or rhinovirus lurking in our home 2010 would be different, and in more ways than one. We crossed a threshold as a family this weekend, actually paying for a room for just the four of us. No sleeping on the floor, no driving hours upon hours back and forth from home just to save a some money... we actually opened the wallet... err... bad choice of metaphors... opened the checkbook.... and made a weekend out of it.

It was worth every penny.

Rewind to last week. There were no rooms to be had in Northampton as late as Thursday. UMass Football, a lacrosse tourney, and "some bike race thing" (direct quote from hotel reservationist) meant that the best rooms were down in Springfield. Buahh... I got myself on a waiting list and crossed my fingers. At 1:20 pm on Friday, the call came... I was in at the Clarion, the hotel with the indoor pool. Sealed the reservation with the credit card. Daddy just hit one out of the park!

I went to a meeting at 2 pm Friday, returned to my desk at 3 pm, then got ready to leave at 5 pm. Hey... where's my wallet? I looked for an hour and finally left without it. Turns out my wallet pulled a Thelma & Louise and made a break for it. Must have got bored just driving around though because it went on a little shopping spree too, to the tune of $2300 in electronics from Best Buy, Target, Game Stop... all of my favorites!!! Of course, I wasn't buying any of this stuff so it wasn't so much fun for me. Hopefully the thief enjoys their time with the stuff, because Commerce Security is on the case. I'd rather have the FBI looking for me if I did something wrong. These guys mean business.

What is the first order of business when your wallet gets stolen the night before a weekend away at a race half way across the state? Print a permission to ride form of course! I've got no printer at home so Zank hooked me up with the official stuff. Zanks alot! Everything else can, and would have to, wait.

After two days of steady rain the course was damp in spots Saturday morning but drying out nicely. I pre-rode after the 8:30 race and again after the 9:30 and the difference was significant, but things were still to soggy to go with my beloved file treads. The Bikeman.com guys hooked me up with a bit of sealant for my moody rear Fango and I was off to the starting grid.

Being my first VERGE races of the year, I didn't have points and thus got no call up at staging. I was apparently the fastest guy without a VERGE point once again, as my number was the first one called by crossresults.com rankings after the VERGE point holders were placed. I had let Hopengarten play with that title long enough and I was glad to have it back, even if only for 45 miuntes. Ohh, the foreshadowing!!!

At the whistle I moved up the left hand side quite nicely, as the elongated starting chute afforded the opportunity to move up by braking late. Like those people who try to merge into a backed up off ramp by riding along side all of the suckers who played nice and stayed in queue. At the first hard left hander I had the inside line, and much like Gloucester Day 1 I drove past the post, then turned left and gained a ton of spots by using my body and bike as a gate around which "None shall pass!"

The trip through the top half of the course on the first lap was strange. Very easy going, there were just so many people and the lines were too tight to really try and move up. I took the opportunity to recover from the starting effort and think about where I would need to start spending energy. The turns down in the field were so flowy and fun, you could pedal them and really push the traction to the edge while making up time. That's where I started to really mash away on the pedals, and I was happy with my position in the field after having picked up a few spots towards the end of the top rooty section.

Things really got sorted out about half way through the second lap near the barriers. John Foley was about 5 seconds behind a group with Kurt Perham, Pete Smith, Ryan Rumsey, Al Starrett and Bill Shattuck, and I was about 5 seconds behind him. Through the sand I managed to catch John, and I rode his wheel through the end of the that lap and half way through the third. I told him that I'd take a turn at the front, and I led us around for about 3/4 of a lap at a much more manageable pace. John apparently had enough of my ridiculously slow pace and got to the front. He took the opportunity to remind me that this was a bike race and that we were supposed to be going fast. So sorry, my fault. My legs was howling in pain and I was breathing like an excited puppy. People around the course were telling us that we were fighting for 14th. This was great news. I thought that even getting 15th would be a big win for me... a few years ago top 20 in a VERGE race seemed like a pipe dream, and the only time I cracked the top 20 I was out of the points at the time. I started to think about the worst thing that could happen while following John... really I could blow up sky high and still get top 20. What did I have to do to avoid that? Suck wheel as much as possible. Don't crash. Don't flat. In other words, play it safe. I don't think that is a good way to contest a bike race, I'll have to ask JONNY BOLD next time I see him.

The rest I got while leading helped, so when John got back up there I was able to hang with him for two more laps, not willing to repeat the mistake of getting in front again. In retrospect, I believe we could have caught that group if I hadn't taken 7 minutes of racing off: if I had drilled it we could have bridged up to them. I really have to start thinking that the race is ahead of me to go and chase after and not behind me waiting to pounce. John would charge hard out of the corners, open a small gap, and I'd roll back up to him and sit in time and time again. That may be smart racing, but it isn't going to ever get really exceptional results.

For the last two laps the group ahead began to break apart, with Rumsey and Starrett drifting back towards us. By that time there wasn't enough race left to catch them though, and both John and I noticed that Brian Rutter, Ryan Laroque and Aaron Millette had formed a little chase group behind us. The gap to them wasn't growing and may have been shrinking. When I saw Rutter on the front I wasn't terrible worried, but with 1.5 to go Laroque took up the chase and I went into panic mode. This caused me to muff the second to last trip through the sand, and Foley got away by 6 bike lengths. I burned matches to catch back on in the windy field section, and enjoyed a draft back through the start/finish to the bell. The effort to catch back on cost me though, and John dropped me quickly up the run. He stacked it up after the off-camber descent which got me back on his wheel, but ever-cool and very strong he kept me behind him the rest of the way and easily beat me in the sprint, taking 14th while I rolled for 15th.

I've not got some legitimate, old school VERGE points. None of this top 25 get points... top 15 like back in the say (2008). I was very worried early on the season about my preparation for these races, granted I had some mechanical issues but even on the days when I didn't things weren't great. It seems as though it just took some time for the high-intensity stuff to come around, and I'm feeling pretty good during these races. I went as hard as I could, but I wasn't completely blown afterwards either. Didn't even consider doing the nordic flop to the ground. Maybe there is another gear down there, just waiting to be used. We'll have to see...

Charlie raced the kids race and finished 3rd, looking over his shoulder the entire time just like his dad. He was excited to race and made fast friends with the other kids that were out there to race as well.

yes, I made him wear the garmin.

We went to Spoleto's for some decent Italian food and then dropped into Raven books because Charlie wanted to check it out. I'm thrilled that this kid loves to read so much. We were working on a strictly cash basis so I bought him a $1 Hardy Boys mystery and an old copy of Alice in Wonderland for Cory. The kids loved the city, saying it wasn't too big like Boston nor too small like Sutton. We returned to the hotel and spent a relaxing two hours at the indoor pool before turning in.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Canton Cup: 10.30.10

Writing this race report is going to be the highlight of my day. Pretty exciting huh? Aspire to be a middle-aged (omg), middle class, middle manager with kids in middle elementary school... I dare ya! Everything about me is defined by mediocrity, so lets got to another average race report. I bet you'll give it a B.

Somehow I missed Canton last year. I recall that our friend Terry was in town that weekend as we all went up to Putney which was the day after. Canton is a good race with nice long laps and lots of pavement. Yay! It also has three sets of barriers, a log, a run up (see below) and lots of wind. Boo!

I slept like horse cr@p Thursday night, two nights before the race. Bad sign. The sleep you get two nights out from an athletic event is always the most important. Friday night was better but not great. My expectations were low for a good performance.

Wrangling a family into the car for these things should be it's own competition. Lunches, coats, gloves, snacks for the ride, toys, wheels, bikes, crayons, water, shoes, helmets... some one's got to keep track of it all. We always forget something.

Prior to the start I had this conversation with Peter Sullivan:

PS: Have you seen that log?
Me: yup
PS: Should I hop it?
Me: If you're asking, the answer is no.
PS: Are you going to hop it?
Me: yup, but I don't think you should if you're not sure.... (pause) Hey! You could try blasting right through it though, the right hand side looked rotted out a bit. You'll be fine!

We both got a lousy start, swarmed by the charging mass. I found myself behind a few dudes who could. not. race. bicycles. Thankfully they were so bad I got past rather quickly. It's hardest to pass someone who isn't good but thinks that they are. They may be alright, or not too bad, but in a strong-enough-to-be-dangerous kind of way. Anyway, these fellas at Canton sucked and must have known it because they didn't make it difficult to go around. Sucked is a relative expression here of course. I realize that I suck too. Just not as much as these guys did. When compared to me. They sucked.

Peter came around after a few turns and tried to get by an MRC rider who decided to defend his position. They almost killed each other as spokes and derailleurs came together to hang out. Peter had to slow to fix a dropped chain I think, and off we went.

In the field I couldn't help but notice a very low flying helicopter that seemed to be rather interested in our race. Had to be Domnarski. Any lower and the wash from the rotors would have blown up stuff. That aircraft has a super nice camera, and he took a sweet photo of the group right ahead of me.

For a lap I worked around the guys in the low teens and found myself around 10th. I got past Wade Summers and Doug Kennedy and set my sights on Mike Rowell, who was fading back to me. Somewhere during lap two I noticed the Peter Sullivan was no longer behind us. I caught Mike at the end of two laps and we got the two to go card. I was feeling just fine and was hoping to work with Mike to catch the group in that photo.

Half way through lap 3 I saw Peter on the side of the course right after the log. He can't recall what happened and no one saw it. So the official story is that he tried to hop the log, not smash through it like I had suggested.

Approaching the track I offered to take the lead from Mike and he agreed. We were pulling Pete Smith in quickly. Here's the run up... ... and here's us getting ready to connect with Pete.

Approaching the start finish I tell Mike "let's go! let's go!" just as the head official steps out onto the road, holds up two fingers and says "you got two more laps, not one... two." Ok then "alright Mike let's back it down a bit."

I laid it down a few turns later in the field and Mike and Pete rode away from me. Peter faded from Mike's wheel and I was about to catch him at the bell when I tripped over the barriers near the pit in front of the entire next race. Awesome! Cemented in my spot, I took the last lap off and rolled in 10th.

The kids made friends with a fellow master's kids, which is a promising development. I feel like they were on a first date and everything went well. Hoping that we'll just "bump" into them at Noho. The prospect of having something to do other than watch me ride my bike around in circles for an hour is equally appealing to them I'm sure.

GeWilli was giggling like a little school girl at the registration tent. Why? He had cornered found JONNY BOLD and was (undoubtedly) talking his ear off. GW showed me the pint glass that he had Jonny sign for him. Christ... Next time you should see if he'll sign your knee pads. Have some self respect man. Jonny... please... be careful with his heart!