Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm sorry, so sorry....

Now that the cyclocross season is basically over worldwide, I thought it was time to change the masthead photo. If you missed it, here is the old one:

I found the new picture on It is the finish line photo of some race last spring. Sorry to bring up a painful memory for someone, but I like how the camera and the speed distorts the shape of things. Or maybe that's what caused the crash?
Anyway, enjoy!

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?

Damn, the AARP sent me a membership card in the mail today. That's a kick in the teeth for a middle aged guy like me. I didn't ask for it and I am hoping it is some kind of mistake, but my BFF Rose sure got a laugh out of it. I don't plan to send in the $12.50 membership fee anytime soon, but I might hang on to the card to see if I can get a few dollars off at the early bird special this weekend. Even if 42-year olds are eligible for membership, my retirement savings ballance tells me I have a long way to go before I can actually retire.

I did 'retire' from bike racing about a dozen years ago. I treated it as a part time job at the time, but given my limited income from that endeavor, I don't think that is what piqued the AARP's interest in me. I suspect they are just trying to raise their membership numbers and fill their war chest before the election in November. Combine the might of the AARP, the NRA, and a couple of oil companies and there is nothing that can't be bought.

So, I am now more motivated than ever to come out of retirement before the AARP counts me on their roles. I'm gonna lose 30 pounds, train 3 hours every day, increase my VO2max, double my power output, increase my max heart rate a bit. If I can do all that and enter only very flat races, I might even be able to finish in the pack of the 35 plus field. On second thought, maybe I'll just wait until I'm 65 and stay behind the microphone until then.

It's probably a good thing that these flashes of motivation pass quickly, that was a close one.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

woooohoooo top ten!!

Congratulations Luke Keough, 10th place at the CYCLOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS. When I informed my girlfriend of Luke's success she asked me "10th out of how many?" And in any other race that would have been a fair question. But this is WORLDS!! I had seen that there were about 60 in the race, but that isn't the point. He was tenth out of all the kids in the entire world less than 19 years of age. That's a hell of a lot of kids. Sure, there are a few kids in deep sub-Saharan Africa that haven't even heard of cyclocross, but I am pretty sure he would have beaten all of them too. Tenth anything in the world is something to be proud of the rest of your life. According to Velonews, Luke said "That was my goal, I came here hoping to finish in the top 10 and there's no way I can be disappointed with that. This is only the second European race I've ever done." He has another year in the junior ranks to improve on his top ten finish today.

Gavin Mannion didn't do too bad either, finishing better than all but 31 kids in the entire world. I am pretty sure Gavin also has another year in the junior ranks to improve upon today's result.

Tomorrow Jonathan Page, Tim Johnson, and Katy Compton will be vying for podium finishes in the elite races, among others.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Do you want to make tea for the BBC....

It's been a great winter for riding here in southeastern Massachusetts so far and I have gotten many hours on the winter/cyclocross bike, but still, the rollers are the necessary evil of the off-season. I haven't figured out yet what it is I am training for, maybe just to lose a kilo or two, or maybe I'll actually race this year when I am not behind the microphone. Either way, the early evening darkness and the temperatures keep me off the road more than on it and the rollers are the only alternative. But they are godawful boring and my genitalia fall asleep after 20 minutes. There, I said it!! The only thing that gets me through it, and always has, is Phil Liggett. I've been vicariously competing in the 1994 Paris-Roubaix via VCR during the last few roller sessions and Phil's commentary is always spot on. I expect to win the race alongside Andrei Tchmil the next time I ride indoors. And Phil is going to make the call -"Here is the cagey American veteran literally towing Andrei Tchmil into the velodrome. Both of these men have been riding as if their lives depend on it since the snow started in Compiegne. I just hope the American has enough left in him for the sprint because he has been doing all the work since their two man breakaway started 3 hours ago and he deserves the victory etc. etc. etc." I have always had Phil's commentary in my head while riding on the road, especially during July. Even more so on the rollers.

We all do what we have to to stay motivated this time of year. Imagining Phil Liggett calling my name and describing my every move in the winning breakaway is my thing.

The king, nay, god, of all cycling announcers, Sir Phil with two other blokes.

Only a few more weeks until day light savings time starts (thanks George W. Bush).

Monday, January 14, 2008

It was a very good year....

The 2007 -2008 season in New England sports has been one for the ages. The Red Sox won it all again only three years after breaking one of the longest droughts in sports history. The Revolution reached levels of 2nd place consistency not seen in sport since Raymond Poulidor by once again losing the MLS championship game. The Celtics are off to the best start in NBA history. The Patriots only need two more wins to secure their place as the best football team ever. The Bruins? Hmmm, haven't heard much about hockey recently, so I assume all is going well. Hockey is now the sixth sport in America after Baseball, Football, Basketball, real Football, and Cyclocross and therefore doesn't get the press it used to. NASCAR? Anything propelled by petroleum is not a sport in my book. And don't get me started about ice dancing!!

2007-8 was a great year in New England cyclocross. The best yet. More races, more racers, more teams, and more fun. And the best part is it ain't over yet. The World Championships is coming up in Treviso, Italy On January 26th and New Englanders have several native sons to cheer for.

In the pro ranks, Jonathan Page has spent the year racing 'cross as a full time euro pro based in the spiritual heart of cyclocross, (not Roger Williams Park) Belgium, but he hails from New Hampshire. Check out the fall issue of Cyclocross Magazine for an interview with Jonathan He flew back from Belgium for the National Championships at Kansas City in mid December only to lose to another New Englander, Massachusetts's own Tim Johnson. I must admit, until this year I have always gotten their names mixed up but fortunately, never while announcing a race. I think I have them sorted out now. These two are our best hopes for a men's US podium spot at World's. Page was second place at last year's worlds but has usually finished between 10th and 20th in European races since then. I can't even imagine how there can be that many guys that are good enough to go faster then him over there, but they do.

Luke Keough winning at XC Nationals

In the Junior ranks, repeat Junior National Champion Luke Keough will be heading to Italy to try for his first rainbow jersey. Luke is one of five brothers from Sandwich Massachusetts, all of them ride. The two oldest are going big time with the CRCA Sakonet team for 2008, and Luke won't be far behind them. Joining Luke Keough on the trip will be 17 year old Gavin Mannion from Dedham, MA. Gavin got my attention when I saw him sprint around former pro Frank McCormack to take the win at a training race this past March and made it look easy. Maybe it was, Frank has nothing left to prove and even if he did, Charge Pond training races in March wouldn't be the place or time to prove it, but nonetheless, I was impressed by the (then) 16 year old kid torching past the former pro. Gavin spent his Christmas school vacation week racing in Belgium so he now has international 'cross experience under his belt. That has to help when the gun goes off and all hell breaks loose in the holeshot.

Go Tim, go Jonathan, go Luke, and go Gavin. Allez!! There are other New Englanders going also, these are just the ones that come to mind first.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

there must be something wrong with me...

I guess I have been looking at too many bike websites recently, especially

Although I am old enough to realize that I will never again be hip no matter what I do, I have somehow decided that I need to possess the hippest of all bikes, the fixed gear. The shed is already full, but still I need the fixie.

I've done it before and hated it. As a roadie, the concept of never coasting is completely foreign to me. But one winter I tried it. I converted the old Basso 14-speed (this was many years ago) by replacing the back wheel with a fixed hub wheel and shortening the chain to bypass the derailleur. It was OK until I came to a patch of ice. I instinctively got up off the saddle and stopped pedalling to coast over the ice. But on a fixie, that's about the worst thing you can do. I immediately felt the leg on the upside of the pedaling stroke start to launch me off the bike. The rest of me tried to compensate while the front wheel hit the ice. I was completely off balance. Before I knew it I was horizontal with my butt sliding across the cold wet ice. Once I got home from that ride, I never used that fixed wheel again. The only cycling experience I ever hated more was stoking a tandem mountain bike (another post for another day, but thanks Johnny A.).

I still have that old frame (plus a lot of ferric oxide) and I still have that old wheel (what is the chemical name of that white stuff growing ever so slowly?), and for some reason I feel a need to combine them again and ride messenger style. I think I will wait for ice free roads this time, at least for the first few rides. Maybe I'll even send a photo to when I have it all put together.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Let me count the ways

The top five reasons why cyclocross is the fastest growing sport in America (says me, that's who):

5. What else are you going to do in November and December?

4. It never lasts more than an hour no matter how slow you go.

3. Mud is better than road rash. Added benefit: shaving is not necessary because legs are usually covered with either lycra or mud.

2. You're going to need to get a bike specifically made for 'cross. That old mountain bike in the shed weighs a ton and you wouldn't want to ruin your nice road bike in the mud. If romantically involved, cyclocross may be the excuse you need to indulge your bike addiction: "I know I can't get to the lawnmower with all the bikes, but honey, I just need this one more bike for 'cross."

1. You're going to need a B bike too because what's the point of even trying to race with only one bike. Stuff breaks and gets clogged with mud. If you have a mechanical and no back up bike in the pits, you DNF and lose your entry fee. DNF 20 times in your career and that's enough wasted entry fees to buy a decent pit bike for free. Don't wait any longer. Hopefully you didn't need the "just this one more bike" thing above to get your first 'cross bike approved by your significant other.