Monday, December 24, 2007

Bike for Sale

One, slightly used, well loved Trek XO 1 is for sale. MY Trek XO 1. Know anyone looking for a cross bike, cheap?

Here are the details:
- 2006 Trek XO1 frame, 58cm
- Winwood carbon fork
- Thomson post (Ooooooo...)
- Shimano 105 10 speed shifters (Ahhhhh...)
- Bontrager Race Lite Aero w. Michelin Mud, Ultegra cassette
- Bontrager Race front, Open Pro/Ultegra rear, Ultegra cassette

There's some other stuff too. Like I said, looking to move it quick, easy and cheap.

Staying occupado

It's been nearly 4 weeks since Sterling. It's been nearly 4 weeks since I stopped riding and started kicking back with some good Belgian beer. Here is the extent of my physical activity of the past weeks, with descriptions:
- Finger power cleans (Opening beer with bottle opener)
- Thumb press (Opening beer that has a cork)
- Typing
- Thinking about biking
- Getting coffee

I've also picked up XC skiing. I couldn't take the easier route and try classical skiing...noooo. Instead, I opted to learn how to skate ski. And you know what? It's HARD. H-A-R-D. There's no faking on skate skis. If you don't know what you're doing, you don't go anywhere but face down in the snow.

And it hurts. Not the "good hurt" with glowing legs. This is a full body kind of hurt. Legs, abs, arms, fingers. Nothing is spared, and I love it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

And the award for coolest series of cycling photos by an amateur photographer goes to...

Tonight I was cruising through my iPhoto library and came across this great series of photos.

During the 2007 season, the BRC Wells Ave series was lucky enough to have some great photographers show up. Fellow BRCer Ted Richards sent out a bunch of photos from the BRC Championship that his wife had taken. Among them was this uber cool photo series shot during the finale of the B-race. If I were to guess, all 6 were probably taken within a 10 or 15 second span.

Crappy commentary added by yours truly.

I think I can, I think I can.
My spidey (sp?) sense is tingling.

Crap! Where did they come from?
Stay on target...
Almost home...
Woohoo! Made it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Adios cross season. Hola Belgian ale.

Well, I was registered to race down in RI the past weekend. Guess what? I didn't. After racing at Sterling, the season had lost its fun and my motivation had disappeared. After the race two weeks ago, I hung my muddied bike on the work stand and shut the light off. Yesterday was the first time I had stolen a glimpse of it in two weeks. It was a great season though. Met some really cool people and had a blast on and off the bike while at the races.

A quick summary of the cross season:
It started slow. Amesbury was an eye opener for me, after making the leap to the 3s. Getting lapped by Jeremy Powers in the P/1/2/3 was pretty awesome too. Really. The Maine weekend was brutal due to the heat and some back issues I had. Gloucester was fun, except for starting so far back. Returning to Canton, where it all began for me, was a sweet experience. At that point my season started to improve through New Jersey. Plymouth showed me where I stood among my fellow 3s. Sterling was a great race for me, despite my not having any fun.

Now it's time to kick back, drink some Duvel and Chemay, watch cyclocross races on a 1-year tape delay, and reflect on my entire 2007 campaign. I'm sure that will be the subject of some sappy post in the near future.

Until then...Cheers!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coming to the end of the line

My body is still hurting from Sterling. Tripped over the barriers warming up and bruised my hip. Tripped again during the race and thought my wrist was broken for a moment. Altogether, the race was not fun. My head wasn't in it, and cross isn't a sport you can pay lip service to during competition. I think that the nearly 11 months of racing I have done are finally taking their toll, meaning my season is probably done.

All of that aside, it was a great ride for me, and not because I earned a result I'm happy with (I'll get you next time Eager). Every time I bobbled, slipped, caught my shorts on the saddle and launched the bike out from under me, or made some other stupid mistake, I chased back on. Instead of letting the group get away and riding my own race, I'd grit my teeth and fight my way back up.

Great races aren't about the result, but how you get it. Cross taught me that. My best result last year was a 3rd place, but it was a hard fought fight to get it. I rate that among my top-5 races of all time.

Now, for something fun. After doing some digging, I've found some sweet pictures (of me) from the Mercer Cup. I'll be back to update this to give credit to the photographers, but here they are in the meantime.

First up, a sweet black & white of me chasing Zank down during Sunday's race. Notice the almost smile on Zank's face. The chubby dude in the middle is from Washington, but doesn't know how to ride. He's one of those "I'm gonna pass you in this turn, then go slow," guys. He also told Jamner that he was "On your [Jamner's] right" going into the finishing sprint.

Next up, a fine shot from a member of the Rutgers crew. That's me descending from the flyover, silhouetted against the sky. I almost look like an action hero or something. Cyclocross MAN! Da da da daaaa!

I took this awesome shot of Tim Johnson with my phone. While it's not as artistic as the two above (and doesn't feature me) there's a good story here. Jamner and I were standing at that very corner cheering. Trebon and Wicks come through, no prob. Johnson comes though and I cheer "Go Tim!" Right after this photo was taken, he hit the deck. Whoops! That was a fluke though, and it couldn't happen twice.

After Johnson, Jesse Anthony comes through the corner. I keep my mouth shut, but Jamner cheers and down goes Anthony. At that point, not wanting to get our asses kicked, we bolted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Falling in love again

I have been at these bike racing shenanigans since March. It all started with Wells Ave and my spiffy new white Sidis (got them on sale). The season was mine to own. After some major ups and downs that occurred on and off the bike, I arrived at the GMSR.

GMSR how I love to hate thee. In my second appearance, I definitely put my best foot forward. With the exception of day 2, where my drive train acted up, it was some of my best riding to date, even if the results don't really show it. But GMSR was just the last stop on the road circuit while the cyclocross circuit lay in waiting.

Amesbury wasn't fun for me. Neither was the Maine weekend or Gloucester. A few things were at play; racing at a new level, the heat of early fall and, dare I say it, burnout. Could it be? The sport I love was becoming less than fun. Ever since those early races, training and racing has been a struggle. And even when good results came in Plymouth and NJ, it has still been hard.

That's where Thanksgiving comes in. I decided to give thanks to the gods of cycling with a couple of masters 55+ riders. I struck out early, around 8 AM. It was foggy and cool, perfect cross weather. Despite that, I took out the skinny tires knowing I was in for a long ride.

Now, it's been awhile since I have done any serious distance on a bike. On this day, I was revisiting roads I haven't seen since late August. The scenes had changed due to the changing seasons. I could see deep into the woods with all of the leaves on the ground. The reservoir I ride through was low, exposing features I had never seen. Some homes had struck up fires in their homes, filling the air with that wonderful aroma. The smell of fall was in the air.

I met up with my ride partners and spent 2 hours riding with them. We talked about how long the season was and our plans for next, family, margaritas, and our favorite off season booze.

As we parted ways, the sun started to come out. Instead of making a straight shot home, I opted for a longer route. Why? Because I had fallen back in love with my bike. Through all the training, racing, results, disappointments, getting out and riding my bike is simply awesome. If my body allowed, I could go on forever listening to the wind rush by and my tires sing across the pavement. The thrill of conquering a hill, no matter how small, is rewarding. Traveling at speed, knowing you're the engine is inspiring. Flying down a decent is thrilling. Instead of whipping past homes and fields as one would in a car, you can see the bees being kept just under the stand of trees in a field and the multi-colored stone walking path leading up to a front door. It's no wonder that these masters have been doing it for so long. They're in love with it, and so am I.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Racing in a new land...

A few weeks ago, I decided that it would be fun to race against some new people in a new place. The result? A trip to New Jersey to race the USGP of Cyclocross at Mercer Park. Regrettably, I did have to miss the Shedd Park race.

Much to my relief, I wasn't the only New Englander in this new land. HUP United was well represented by Mike Zanconato, Josh Jamner, Kenny Ambach and more. Cambridge Cycle sent a strong contingent that finished in the top-20, including a strong top-5 by Jeremy Dunn.

After two days of racing, I'm beat. I'm happy with the results I earned and had a blast racing in the tough conditions Sunday. I think I wore a Chris Horner type grin for the entire race, resulting in the consumption of copious amounts of mud. My drivetrain is less than happy with me though. Turkey day will allow me to give it the spa treatment ahead of Sterling.

Now for some general wisdom gleaned from my travels:
- The Garden State Parkway is not fun during rush hour.
- Flyovers are freaking awesome. Just don't fall off or slide down it on your ass. They are the only course feature where you are as fast as the pros.

- Locate the Dunkin Donuts before heading to the race. If you fail to do so, keep an eye out and execute action hero driving moves when you see one.
- Staging by random sort is cool. Gives slackers like me a shot at a good starting position.
- Starting guns; cool but bad. I thought someone had been shot. Others thought a tire exploded. I don't think anyone knew that we were supposed to go.
- Bring your own coffee. Even the ever trustworthy Dunkin Donuts will let you down once you travel far from its homeland.
- Pros are fast, and cheering them on can:
- Make them go fast
- Yell at you
- Crash
- Margaritas and burritos make for good recovery, but only in moderation.
- If you're going to pass, DO NOT pass then let a gap go. That just pisses people (me) off.
- Long sandpits suck, but decide races.