Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bay State Cyclocross - Sterling, Mass

Like a fine wine or beer, a fine cyclocross course has some basic elements that must be there, and some subtle tastes that set it apart from the rest. The essential elements in ‘cross include grass, mud, tricky corners, barriers that require dismounting (being a traditionalist and lacking the skills myself, I view the bunny hop as an impurity in the sport), and hills that are too steep to ride. To the basic elements course designer and sponsor Tom "the Steamboat" Stevens added some off-camber on the corners, drop offs that led to barely ridable climbs (depending on the traffic conditions and the ambient temperature), a natural barrier that looks like it belongs in the Grand National (the famous steeplechase horse race near Liverpool, England), and a dirt track hole shot that changed character completely throughout the day. Then, Mother Nature added a few ice patches overnight to make sure things stayed interesting.

The day started with 99% frozen conditions for the Cat 4 race at 8:30 AM. With the sun up for less than two hours at that point, the ruts on the dirt running track that is used for the starting holeshot, and incorporated in every lap, were frozen solid and could grab a tire and suddenly redirect a bicycle either left or right from its intended path. That can be an uncomfortable thing when vieing for position elbow to elbow with almost 70 entry level 'cross racers. All of the day's races were intended to do 2 laps on this track before hitting the grass for the first time but, as it turned out, the Cat 4s were the only ones that did. Bikes and riders were weaving i nthe ruts in every direction as the Cat 4s got up to speed and the more experienced road racers (like myself) had their elbows out to protect the bars in the bumper pool of the opening laps. There seemed to be a couple of small mishaps but what felt like a cautiously slow initial pace made these laps a great opportunity for those with confidence to ride from open space to open space and gain important places before the grass.

I loved the 2 lap promenade/hole shot and used my long dormant criterium boxing skills to maximum advantage to gain quite a few places after starting in the second to last row (and I pre-registered for this one!). Then came the first grass sections with a big crowd still together. Everyone cleared the first turn, but the next two turns around the backboard were tighter and one of the few places with some slick mud at this early hour. After one guy close to the front blew it, traffic backed up and it became faster to shoulder the bike and run unless you were extremely lucky. Then came the big run up and another opportunity for carnage. It wasn’t too bad once the crowd got sorted, but on the first lap when your line is pretty much dictated by the traffic around you, you’re likely to end up finding some ice that you didn’t know was there (especially if you didn’t get to the race in time to pre-ride the whole course, d’oh). Local bike shops (like race sponsor Gear Works Cyclery) might want to stock up for an increase in demand for shoes with toe spikes after this one because they sure would have helped. After the big run up, the course drops into a sweeping right hand turn that was fast but stable on the frozen white grass. Later races, including the elites, would see most riders unclip the right foot for extra stability on this high speed corner on softened ground but in the morning that wasn’t necessary. Then the steeple chase dismount was followed by a series of switchback turns with just enough change in elevation to penalize those that were in too big of a gear. Then it was onto the power sections of the course where a short paved section led to the pit. More kudos to Tom Stevens for locating the pit Euro style. In other words, one pit that could be accessed twice each lap at approximately equal intervals. There must be a UCI rule for that but it doesn't happen often in the local races.

Bill Kenney (Bike Barn Racing) led the race almost from the start to the finish and won it with a comfortable lead. Gladly, I can no longer call Bill the "Raymond Poulidor of Cat 4 ‘cross" (i.e. the perpetual 2nd place finisher) now that he has won one. He might have one or two more in him this season before the rest of the field starts muttering “sandbagger” when they see him on the start lines. If you are interested, I almost made my goal of finishing in the top half of the field, and likely would have if not for a couple of crashes on ice that I should have identified during the pre-ride. It was another positive step on my road back from retirement, but I am still a better announcer than a racer. If three paragraphs about a Cat 4 race isn't enough for you, check out this website that I stumbled across toaday for another perspective:

The Masters 55 were set off on their promenade laps/hole shot, but before they got more than a few yards past the start line there had been a serious accident. When the officials realized that those that went down weren’t going to be out of the way before the field came around to complete the first lap of the promenade, they neutralized the race. The ambulance was brought in for the one rider unable to get up. I did not see what happened but I heard later that a rider who crashed had broken a vertebrae and would be spending the night (at least) at the UMass Medical Center. After the ambulance was clear, the race was re-staged and there must have been some anxious thoughts on the line after seeing one of their own seriously injured. The promenade/hole shot was shortened to one partial lap from this race on. Dusty Adams (Mosaic) rode away from the rest of the field for the win by almost a minute.

The Cat 3/4 Masters 35 and 45 were sent out just a couple of minutes behind the 55s. By this time the sun had turned much of the frozen-solid mud into liquid mud, especially on the dirt track. After 40 minutes of racing their faces were covered in grey mud from the track like they had been made up to play Death in The Seventh Seal. When it was over, Micheal McKittrick (Cambridge Bicycle) won by ten seconds. You can get all the details that I missed from Mr. McKittrick himself at

The next race featured guys of the same age, only faster, in the Masters Cat 1,2,3 race. With Mark McCormack (Fuji) (a former National Champion), Johnny Bold (Corner Cycle) (Verge points series leader, 35 plus), Kevin Hines (Corner Cycle) (current Verge points series leader, 45 plus) and the rest of the cream of the crop for guys over 35, this was going to be a barn burner. At about this time, I ran into Mr. Dick Ring (the “Voice of New England Bike Racing”) and unfortunately paid little attention to the rest of the race (hey, it’s only a blog, if you want journalism (and the proper use of commas) check Velonews!). I can tell you that Roger Aspholm (Westwood Velo) beat Johnny Bold in a tight finish. Three of Bold's Corner Cycle teammates followed: Mark Stotz, Kevin Hines, and John Mosher. Hines' place gave him the victory for the 45plus and furthered his points lead in the season long Verge series.

Next up were the Juniors under 19, Juniors under 15, and the Cat 3 / 4 Women in separate fields. Luke Keough and Gavin Mannion had a repeat of last year’s match up which, if memory serves correctly, was won by Gavin. This year would be Luke’s year as his form developed while racing in Europe in October and November paid off big time. These two young guys have big plans for the near future: After next week's Verge series wrap up in Rhode Island, they will both be heading off to Kansas City where Gavin will try to take the national championship jersey that Luke will be trying to defend. Then, Gavin heads off to Belgium for Euro cross camp during the holidays followed by a month of racing before the World Championships in Holland on January 31st. Luke, having already done a couple of months in Europe this season, will stay home and get his butt kicked by his brothers to stay in shape, then head over to Europe in mid-January to get a couple of World Cup races in before Worlds. Either of these guys could realistically win the World Junior Cyclocross Championship (Luke is on the left, Gavin the right):

Curtis White (Capital Bicycle) and Nate Morse (CLNoonan) entered the U15 race dead even for the Verge point series lead. By the time their half hour race was complete, it was Curtis who would take the new jersey home by just a few seconds. With Nate picking up the points for second, it is still just a 10 point difference with two races left next weekend.

The Women’s 3/4 race was won by Anna Barensfeld (Minuteman Road Club) as she continues her roll through the Women B races this season. Anna was very generous two weeks ago at Brockton to offer me space to set up a trainer under her pop up tent so I could warm up out of the rain. I have never gotten to a race in time to warm up properly so I never bother to bring the trainer, but thanks for offering, Anna. She is as nice as she is fast. And her teammates at the MRC are pretty good too. They got 4 of the top 6 places in this race.

From here on, I was spectating on borrowed time. My plan was to watch the start of the Killer Bs then head home in time to take care of some domestic duties before dark. But, as usual, I got carried away and stayed the whole day. And there wasn’t even a beer tent!! Fortunately, my Significant Sweetie was happy to have me out of the house for the whole day so I stayed for the rest of the races and called it research for future announcing duties.

The Men 2/3 (aka the Killer Bs) took off with a field of more than 75 including Jim Tosca (Corner Cycle) who was out to pad his lead in the Verge Series. However, Dylan McNicholas(Noreast) (in second place in the series) had other ideas. By this time most of the mud on the track had either dried out or gotten stuck to bikes and riders in the previous races and the course was getting faster. When this one was over, Dylan had about a minute on Tosca for first and second places respectively. Of note, the web guru behind the amazing, Colin Reuter (International Bike Center), finished a strong 4th. His web programming skills are almost equaled by his ‘cross skills. Thanks Colin for the great website. You can go directly to the race results on by clicking on the title of this post.

Here is the last half of the swarm the first time up the run up:

Elite Women – The Women’s race became, within the first few minutes, the Mo Bruno Show. She led the field of about 16 around the track from the start with Rebecca Wellons (Ridley) on her wheel and the rest in tow. By the top of the first run up, it was clear that Mo Bruno (MM Racing/Seven Cycles) was probably going to win with only Rebecca within striking distance. An interesting battle for third developed with Amy Wallace (RGM/Sachs), Sally Annis (NEBC), and Cris Rothfuss (NEBC).
With Verge series leader Amy Dombrowski not in attendance and Wellons and Bruno only a few points behind in second and third places, a new Verge Series leader was going to be crowned. Wellons started the day 33 points ahead of Bruno, so a second place finish would secure her the series lead even if Bruno won, at least until next week.

Mo combined smooth skills and strength to power away and built on her lead very lap. Rebecca had no problem holding on to second place while her two road racing teammates from NEBC tried to figure out how to stay ahead of Amy Wallace. Wallace seemed to have a bit of an advantage on the technical pieces. With about a half lap to go, Amy managed to ride the short but steep and slippery climb coming out of the barriers while the NEBC duo had to stop and run losing 30 yards in the blink of an eye. But in the end Wallace could only stay ahead of Cris Rothfuss while Sally Annis passed Wallace in the last half lap and got away for third place.
Here is Mo Bruno alone on the run up a few laps into the race, I think she is smiling:

Here is second place finisher and Verge point series leader Rebecca Wellons, not smiling:

Elite Men – Nick Keough (Jittery Joes/Sonic) came into the race leading the Verge series for the U23 with Jamie Driscoll (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) leading the series for the open age group. Those two were called up to the front row followed by Adam Myserson (Cycle-Smart), Matt White (Bikereg/Joes Garage) and most of the cream of the crop in New England cyclocross. I don’t know if he has always done this or if it is something he learned while racing in Europe earlier this season, but Adam Myerson was intently watching the UCI Commisaire to his right until she blew the whistle for the start. Maybe he was even watching for her to inhale to get a split advantage. Adam was making sure he wasn't going to be caught off guard while everyone else was passively waiting to hear the whistle. That’s PRO!! Sorry, Jazzy, if I just gave away your secret weapon.

Once the whistle blew, Nick Keough, Matt O’Keefe (CCB/Volkswagen) and Adam Myerson led the pack into the first turns on the grass. Jamey Driscoll hovered a few places behind after getting a slow start and did not show his jersey on the lead during the first couple of laps. Maybe all the Cannondale guys have this, but Driscoll is the first bike racer I have seen with his name across the shoulders of his skinsuit. It's part of the design, not just sewn on.

Race announcer Richard Fries, who never seems to run out of ways to describe the action, pointed out that Driscoll is typically not a fast starter. But however long it takes him, he usually finds his way to the front as evidenced by his 4 wins in 6 Verge series races so far this year. In fact, the only races he hasn’t won were two days in Gloucester when Ryan Trebon and Tim Johnson were in town. Only those two riders and Jesse Anthony have placed higher than Jamey Driscoll in any Verge series race this year.

Within two laps Driscoll had made his way to the front and the only one that could stay with him was Nick Keough who had been leading the race so far. Keough even put a gap on Driscoll for a breif time. O’Keefe, Myerson, White, Justin Spinelli (RGM/Sachs), and Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta) remained in contention through the first half of the race while Will Dugan (RGM/Sachs) was a bit further back in second place for the U23s after Keough. At about the half way point, Keough, who is just 19 years old, suddenly lost the mojo that had helped him hang with the fastest cross racer in the Verge series. It was clear that either he had over extended himself riding with Driscoll or something was wrong. As the race announcers would soon say, it looked like he had withdrawn too much from the bank and was now paying the price with interest. But a lap or so later it was clear that Nick was not just “doing the slide" after a hot start.

As Nick drifted further back from Driscoll and continued to lose speed, Spinelli powered himself and White into 2nd and 3rd places. Dugan was closing the gap to Keough very quickly with eyes on grabbing the U23 victory. It was excruciating to watch Keough soldier on not knowing what was wrong. Not even Diabolito (aka little Didi) could make a deal that would bring Nick Keough back:

With Keough gone and no one in sight, Driscoll even had enough confidence to start going for extra air off the big drop off at the top of the course the final two laps. Spinelli and White moved past Keough into second and third, then Dillon and Myerson went past for fourth and fifth. Soon after, Dugan and two other U23s from collegiate teams also went past Keough to take him out of the podium spots for the U23 race. It stayed about like that until the end except that Matt White outsprinted Spinelli to take second place at the line.

A visit to the Keough’s family compound on wheels after the race revealed that Nick had aggravated an injury from a crash that happened the previous weekend and was basically pedaling with one leg during the last half of the race. Let’s hope he is feeling good in time for nationals in two weeks. It's a good thing 19 year olds bounce back fast.

Here is Jamey Driscoll and his porn star mustache in a post race interview with Richard Fries where he said “I had to ride himself cross eyed to drop” Nick Keough:
Next week is the finale of the Verge series in Warwick, Rhode Island. It isn't quite confirmed yet, but it looks like I'll be doing the announcing subbing for Richard Fries who will be busy at the races out in Portland, Oregon next weekend. Stop by and say hello if you have read this blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marciano/Kerouac Cyclocross Weekend

I had no race announcing duties scheduled this weekend, so I had time to do a little racing myself. I decided I was only going to one race so I had to choose between Brockton on Saturday or Lowell on Sunday. How to choose?

As you may know, both cities are a little bit past their respective industrial primes (not pronounced preems in this context) and both cities apparently have not seen a new home town hero come along in some time. My apologies if I am forgetting something more recent, but Brockton was the hometown of world champion boxer Rocky Marciano, and Lowell was the home of "beat generation" writer Jack Kerouac. A little wikipedia research revealed that they both lived from 1922 to 1969. Both were in their primes in the 50's, long before cyclocross came to town. But which man would have been the better bike racer? Sentimentally, I want to say Kerouac and he had the build for it. But he smoked and drank like a bike messenger. Rocky Marciano was an athlete, but had too much upper body to be a great bike racer. Based on the quotes below, the smart money would be on Marciano.

I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion. - Kerouac

I have always adhered to two principles. The first one is to train hard and get in the best possible physical condition. The second is to forget all about the other fellow until you face him in the ring and the bell sounds for the fight. - Marciano
In the end, I chose Brockton because it is closer to home by about a half tank of gas and I stayed home Sunday to get some chores done.

This was the fourth year that Travis Cycles has put on the Brockton race but I hadn't been before. Word on the street was that it was a small time race and the course wasn't that good and riders would be wise not to use their expensive tires. But no longer. This year Travis Cycles asked local guru Mark McCormack to design a new course for then. and everyone this year had rave reviews for Markie's new route around the lake.

It started on the paved road and, after a quick grass section with a muddy run up, went onto a paved but bumpy bike trail. After a couple of dirt trail sections and a grass switchback or two, the remainder of the course alternated between sections of the paved road and soft but non-technical trails. If not for the recent wet weather, this would have been a very fast course. Even I used the big ring the whole time. The total elevation change on the course was probably not more than 20 feet. A lap took the good guys a little less than 8 minutes.

The first race of the day was the Cat 4 men. About 26 riders took the line and those that started fast stayed fast and won the race. Bill Kenney and Jacob Morrison led the field into the first grass section after a few hundred yards of sprinting off the line, and they stayed together at the front throughout the race. 3 laps later, Morrison led out of the last single track along the lake and onto the final 40 yards of pavement to the finish line. The finish was close, but Morrison held onto a half bike length lead to take the win. Here is a photo of Morrison about half way through the race:

Here's second place finisher Bill and his teammate Andy recovering after the race (Bill is on the right with severe helmet head):

This guy (whose name I didn't catch) came in sixth place on this beast of a bike:
Apparently, the Surly Pugsley is made for some kind of survivalist post-apocalyptic psycho bike racing done on snow and deep sand. Note the single cog on the front wheel. The owner told me he can put the front wheel on the back and run the bike as a single speed in case the rear axle breaks, which he says has happened to him a couple of times. Maybe that wouldn't happen if the bike didn't weigh about 40 pounds (before adding all the mud). He beat about 19 others in the race with this machine, but I wouldn't want to have to carry it up a run up. The flat muddy course today must have worked in his favor.

The women and juniors lined up next. Unfortunately, there were only three of each so there wasn't much competition. Anna Barensfeld won the women's race while Emily Curley was the fastest young women and Julie Lockhart was the fastest of the masters. I didn't catch names of the junior riders and without access to the start lists or results, I can't even make up a good story, sorry.

The Masters 45-plus were next. Paul Curley won it, but I didn't see much of the race as I had to get ready for the 35-plus race. And when I got to the start line I regretted not doing the Cat 4 race earlier because I found myself behind Markie, Kevin Hines, and 6 others who all looked fast. Alan Atwood blew the start whistle and Markie and Kevin were out of site in no time. It's hard to hide when there are only nine guys in the race, so I took my position of shame at the tail end of the train and tried to stay on the wheel in front of me as long as possible. It lasted about a lap before the two guys from Minuteman Road Club slipped away. From then on, it was either keep riding hard and hope someone would crack and let me catch up, or just try to keep from getting lapped. My lower back made the decision for me within the next lap as everything tightened up and I couldn't ride hard. I was doing ok with the not getting lapped part of the plan for a couple more laps, but Hines shot past me on the fourth lap and was out of site again in no time. Holy crap, doesn't that mean he is doing the laps about 2 minutes faster than me? Next up was Markie a few minutes later. He says "Having fun yet?" as he goes by. I wasn't sure so I just said yeah. Besides, a longer answer would have taken more than one breath and Markie was gone too quick for that. The good news is now I have not 2, but just 1 lap left. I finished it uneventfully and made sure that I did have some fun while I was out there. That's when I realized that it's a fun course if you aren't suffering too badly.

Almost immediately after the 35-plus race ended, the skies opened and everyone except for the poor souls who had dished out their $30 to race the Cat 1,2,3 headed for shelter. Sorry, but I wasn't sticking around in the cold rain to watch all 5 or 6 of them come around every 8 minutes or so.

I'll be back for this race next year, but I'm doing the Cat 4 race. The new course is a lot of fun but I would suggest dropping the entry fee a little bit and putting a few signs out on the road leading to the race.

If anyone has anything to add, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Plymouth Cyclocross Weekend

Plymouth ‘Cross Day 1.

The race at Plymouth North High School is one of the longest running in the US. I would have to check with those that were there, but I think it dates back to the 1970s or very early 80s. As the story goes, Mark and Frank McCormack sat in class at Plymouth North (then called Plymouth/Carver High) and watched out the window as Tom Stevens, who they had yet to meet, plotted a course for an upcoming edition of the race. Before they had graduated from that school, they had become some of the best ‘crossers in the country. The site was the host to the National Championships in 1986 and 88. It was 1988 that Mark won the Junior National Championships.

I remember toeing the line with Mark, Frank, and other notables in those early days when a cross race was likely to include features such as the aptly named “Bud Light Hill of Death”. No one actually died, but collarbones and other parts were known to suffer. Bill Sykes has been the promoter for many years now, with help from the longtime host club, the Mass Bay Road Club. The course has been updated to reflect current standards. In other words, the hill of death is now avoided. Nowadays there are enough participants to warrant separate races so the inexperienced and the not so talented (like me) don’t have to toe the line with the likes of Mark and Frank McCormack any more. Even Mark doesn’t have to line up with the elite if he doesn’t want to. This day, he raced the Masters 35. Over 230 riders showed up Saturday, a few more than we usually had 20 or so years ago.
In order to coordinate with the Plymouth Visitor Service Board’s sponsorships of both the race and the upcoming Thanksgiving parade, the race was moved up a couple of weeks on the 'cross schedule. That seemed to have improved the weather outlook because last year was brutally cold and windy. This year the course was soft from recent rain, but not enough to get especially muddy.

The Cat 4 Men started the day off at a very reasonable hour of 10:00. Of the 70 starters, Brian McInnis (JRA Racing), who has already won a couple of Cat 4 races this season, took the long hole shot from the back side of the school onto the race course. But after a lap Syngen Marroco (Mass Bay Road Club) took over the lead and stayed away until the finish a few seconds ahead of McInnis. It’s just the first year of racing for 16 year old Syngen and only his fourth cross race. He won at Cycle-Smart/Northampton also.
Cat 4 Women - Nicole Cretien (took the hole shot and held on for the lead ahead of the NEBC’s Shannon Madison. Nicole is currently riding unnattached but it shouldn't be long before some of the stronger women's clubs ask her to join. Giula Righi (International Bike Center) was third.

Juniors 10-14 - Ian Keough (CLNoonan/KAM) lead from the start with Luke Callahan (Mass Bay Road Club) in tow. Ian finished alone with a big victory salute that he probably learned from his 4 older brothers.
Men 3,4 - Starting with this race, a Pedro’s discount card prime was offered for the leader coming out of the hole shot. The hole shot at Plymouth North is a fairly long 400 yards, starting on grass then switching to pavement up a moderate hill. The wide open lower ball field where it starts allows everyone to line up in one long row on equal footing, no need for call ups. Jacob Morrison (Tritown) won the hole shot prime just ahead of the Boston Road Club’s Chris Bailey. Bailey came through within the first half lap and took the Serious Cycles clincher tire prime with one complete lap done. Bailey was then joined by Mark Nicholson (Refunds Now/Casters) and Jesse Perrault (Comprehensive Racing). They tagged along for a couple of laps waiting for a chance to pounce. Then, on the last barriers with a half lap to go in the race, they got their chance and both Perrault and Nicholson passed Bailey. The three stayed together until they were out of site at the back of the course and when they come back into site on the finishing stretch, it was just Perrault and Nicholson with Bailey a couple of seconds off the back. Nicholson took a very close sprint to claim the win.
Juniors - Colin Huston (CLNoonan/KAM) took the hole shot prime and kept on going. It wasn’t long before he was riding solo at the front and he won it solo. He came with his family all the way from Kennebunk, Maine and made it worthwhile. Of note, Frank McCormack’s twin sons raced the junior race. Cameron and Brendan are 15 years old now and seem well on their way to having the same build as their dad. In other words, perfect for bike racing (“no pressure guys”).
Masters 55 - Dusty Adams (Mosaic) took the hole shot prime and stayed away for the win. I don’t mean to embarrass him, but Crag Walton (Hoosatonic) deserves extra credit for keeping the less dirty side of the bike up after rolling his rear tubular on a tough paved corner in front of the officials stand and most of the spectators. The sound of the metal rim scraping on pavement was horrendous, but somehow he held it up and was awarded a Pedro’s discount card with which he can buy some solvent and glue, hopefully before the next race.
Masters 35 - Curtis Boivin (Refunds Now/Caster’s) won the hole shot prime and by the time one lap was complete about 7 minutes later an elite lead group had formed with Curtis, Frankie (like a Brazilian soccer star, he only needs one name around here) (Team Fuji), Markie (no sir name needed in these parts) (Team Fuji), Dan Coady (, Peter Sullivan (Nantucket Velo) and Bill Shattuck (Bike Barn Racing). With three laps to go Markie and Dan were away with Frankie, Bill and Peter about 30 seconds behind. Mark and Dan went into the final sprint together but Dan couldn’t out sprint the former pro on his home course. We’ve seen Mark sit up and let others take a win in Master’s races before, but not today on the course where he learned his trade. Curtis Boivin took third about 30 seconds behind, then Frankie.
Masters 45 - John Johnson (Hallamore/Bike Works) came through the finish line out of the hole shot first and got a bit of a gap. But he faded back on the first lap (we all know that feeling when you say end up saying “what was I thinking?"). With three to go, Sam Morse (Corner Cycle) and Bob Bisson (Gearworks/Spin Arts) had control at the head of the race followed by Dave Belknap (Mass Bay Road Club/Bike Link) and Paul Curley (Gearworks/Spin Arts) 20 seconds behind. At the finish, Morse narrowly out sprinted Bisson then a few seconds later it was Curley and Belknap’s turn. They unleashed a blazing sprint (by 'cross standards) starting on the last rise with about 150 yards of pavement prior to the finish line and Curly took it by less than a wheel.
Women Pro123 – The women’s elite race drew a field of 15 racers including a couple of National Champions (Julie Lockhart and Elizabeth White, both NEBC) and one World Champion (Kathy Sarvary) (Mid State Cycling). Also in attendance was one of the top woman racers on the UCI circuit, Maureen (aka Mo) Bruno Roy (MM Racing/Seven Cycles). Mo started off fast and got faster. Andrea Smith (Minute(wo)man road club) was the only rider able to hang on through the first lap and she even had the lead briefly. But a half lap later, Bruno had her lead back and was riding smoothly though all the obstacles in her way. Anna Barensfeld (MRC) was alone in third. With three to go Mo Bruno had about 15 seconds on Smith and continued to look very smooth in her pedal stroke and was very fast over the barriers. She held on to win with Smith second followed by Barensfeld. Mo’s husband Matt (the other half of MM Racing) had worked the pit for Mo and told us they were headed directly to New Jersey to contest a UCI race Sunday. She was missed in Plymouth for Day 2 on Sunday (see next story) but we understand that she has to follow the UCI points. Here is a photo of Mo in the race and one of Matt and Mo just before they hit the road south:

Men Pro123 – Nick Keough (Jittery Joe’s Coffee) took the hole shot prime and within a lap he and Matt O’Keefe (CCB/Volkswagen) had a small gap on the field. A chase group formed with Dan Coady (in his second race of the day), Jesse Keough (CLNoonan/KAM) (only 15 years of age), Adam Sullivan (NBX), and Peter Smith (ECMA). Both Keough and O’Keefe were bunny hopping the barriers and it seemed to pay off as their lead grew over the chase group. After a few laps, Nick got away from Matt while the pace in the chase took its toll. The group broke up with Dan Coady and Peter Smith maintaining the highest speed. There wasn’t much left to decide as the remainder of the race played out so, with 5 to go, we started the “Big Air Prime” for the rider who could launch himself the highest off the wooden ramp that was intended to save rims, tubes and collarbones where the course goes over a curb just after the finish line. The ramp didn’t seem to have the kick that is needed to get really big air but Sean McCormack (Team Fuji), working on a comeback to competitive racing, narrowly got off the biggest air with race leader Nick Keough judged second by the peanut gallery consisting mostly of guys in black sweatshirts from the Cambridge Bike/Igleheart team. Nick stayed away for the win, Matt was second, then Peter Smith unleashed a strong sprint to come around Dan Coady. Coady, finishing his second race, immediately took a seat on the grassy knoll looking a bit spent. No wonder after completing his second top 4 placing of the day. Here is a picture of Nick negotiating the tricky paved switchback:

Plymouth Cross Day 2.

This day was almost too nice for ‘cross with nothing but sun and blue skies. At least it rained some overnight to ensure that the course at Plymouth South High School was good and soft. Day 2 of the Plymouth Cyclocross Weekend is promoted by Mike Keough and the CLNoonan cycling team. This is only the second year for this race and a new course was devised by the 5 Keough kids this year. Actually, make that 4 of the 5 kids. The middle child, 18 year old Luke, has been in Europe competing in World Cup ‘cross races for a month now. His parents got a call from Luke while setting up registration for the Plymouth race Sunday morning telling them he had just placed 5th in the Prijnacker, Holland World Cup race. This is in addition to a 7th place in his previous World Cup race. He is now the 6th junior (U19) in World Cup points. Check out his journal of the trip at .

Men Cat 4 – Today I took the opportunity to prove to myself, once again, that my proper place at a bike race is behind the microphone, not on a bike. I let Bill Sykes handle the announcing duties while I suited up and did the Cat 4 race. Therefore, I have no idea what happened at the front of the race, only the tail end. I started at the back and finished there, although for a while during a very hectic start, I did manage to elbow my way up through about a third of the field and then hold onto that position for a while before beginning my slide back to my normal discomfort level. I was holding my own until I crashed remounting and lost about 5 places, then 5 more went by while I was trying to get myself back together. Was I really holding up that many people? As I was told later, Jay Ledieu (Team Psycho) won it from about 1.5 laps before the finish after Syngen Marocco (Mass Bay/Bike Link) had a mechanical problem while in the lead. Brian Kenney (Bike Barn) finished a strong second. Syngen, who won the previous day, finished in the top ten. And no one lapped me.
Women 4 – I’m sorry I didn’t catch much of this race as it was run concurrently (2 minutes behind) the cat 4 race I was in. All I know is the winner passed me (ohh, the shame) and she was wearing a Dansko jersey and exceptionally long mismatched socks. Check the results on Bikereg when they are posted to find out who she was. She was going past me so fast I didn’t have a chance to ask her for an interview. She wasn’t the only woman that passed me either (ohhh, the horror).

Junior 10-14 - I missed this one too, but one of the Goguen kids passed me (more shame, more horror) so I think he won. They started a minute or two after the women.
Men 3,4 - Morgan Hiller (CLNoonan/KAM) took the lead into the grass but by the end of the first lap it was Jesse Perrault in control. He was still in the lead with 2 to go but Morgan was not far behind. I think it was somewhere around this point that the generator died and I had to locate the gasoline supply, hence my attention was diverted and I missed the rest of the 3,4 race and most of the juniors race. Sorry, but I have no report for those. Announcing and taking notes for this blog along with taking the occasional photo is about all I can handle at one time. Bikereg will have the results. I found the gas can (with Jake Keough’s help) and refueled the generator.
Masters 35 - Markie (Team Fuji) and Kurt Perham ( went straight to the front on the official's whistle and led before the technical stuff started. Within a half lap a lead group of 7 formed including three from race sponsor Corner Cycle: Johnny Bold, Kevin Hines, and John Mosher. This group trimmed down to 5 and with two to go, then Markie and the Corner Cycle trio put a small gap on Perham. Markie dropped all but his dirt bike riding buddy Kevin Hines before the finish and then beat him in the sprint. It looks like Markie decided to take no prisoners in Plymouth this weekend with his second win in two days. Then Bold stopped within 5 meters of the line to let Mosher take third. Perham came across a few seconds later for 5th. You gotta give Kurt Perham credit for coming into the home territory of 4 of the best Masters cross racers in the country and holding his own. If you had any doubt that they are amongst the best, just check the Verge points standings: in the 35 plus, Bold is 1st, McCormack 2nd, Hines 4th, and Mosher 9th. Perham, who is from Brunsick, Maine, is 8th. Hines and Mosher are also the top two in the 45 plus.

Masters 45 - Paul Curly (Gearworks/Spin Arts) and Mark Gunsalus (Team Fuji) led with one lap done and again with two complete. But with three to go Curly was uncharacteristically dropped and Gunsalus carried on solo. We found out later that Curley had lost time with a mechanical problem. Dave Belknap (Mass Bay/ Bike Link) and Bob Bisson were a ways back in 3rd and 4th. Gunsalus won it by a few seconds, then Belknap out sprinted Bisson, the opposite result of yesterdays match up for Belknap when Curley got him at the line.

Women Pro123 – I was herding little children on bikes and announcing their races during most of the featured women’s race so I missed quite a bit of it, sorry. When I got back to the race, Elle Anderson (Noreast) had a 50 second lead with 2 to go over Andrea Smith (MRC). But with 1 to go, Andrea had cut the gap in half. Elle’s lap times had gotten quite a bit slower so there was a chance that if Andrea could keep the pressure on, she just might catch Elle by surprise before the end. But it didn’t happen. Apparently, Elle had eased off a little bit knowing that she had a solid lead and wasn't in any trouble. The gap stayed the same at the end, 30 seconds or so. Minuteman Road Club took 3 of the top 5 places. MacKenzie Dickie (Colavita) took third.
Men Pro123 – In the featured men’s race of the day, Gavin Mannion (Hot Tubes), Manny Goguen (MRC), and Adam Jazzy Myerson (Cycle-Smart) took the hole shot and led into the technical stuff as the race sorted itself into a single file line. Gavin led through the first complete lap, followed closely by Toby Marzot (Fiordafrutta), Adam, Kevin Wolfson (Indy Fab), and Manny. Then there was a sizable gap to the rest of the field. Half a lap later on the flat section barely within view from the finish line, Mannion was seen pulling away from the rest. He built up a 20 second lead on the chase of four with two laps complete. With 5 to go, not much had changed. Manny cracked but continued to dangle off the chase group. Adam put his years of experience to use and dropped youngsters Marzot and Wolfson with 4 to go. Wolfson and Marzot were still together with 2 to go and those were the only places still in doubt with Mannion far ahead and Myerson also safely slotted in second placed. Marzot survived to finish in 3rd just ahead of Wolfson. Here is a photo of Gavin doing his thing:

Let me know what you thought of the races. And, what would you think about making it a three day 'cross festival with a Friday evening race under lights some place (kind of like a mini Cross Vegas)?

Also, I plan to add a lists of cycling blog links to this site soon. Let me know about yours and I'll be happy to trade links with you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Post-election posting

I had planned on blogging a presidential endorsement prior to the electio but for a combination of reasons I never did. First and foremost, I never got around to it. Also, I decided that startfinishbikenews isn't the place for political statements.

But I can't contain myself today. I am used to being in the minority, at least nationwide, but today I feel slightly vindicated. Obama will be the next President. Or, as Chris Rock put it, Bush has screwed everything up so bad, America actually chose the black guy to try to fix it!!

Several times today I have had an unusual feeling well up inside me that I haven't felt in 8 years or so. It is part pride, part hope, and a big part relief. It is the exact opposite of the feeling I had during the weekly 'cross race last night in Middleboro which was part cramping, part lactic acid, and part lower back spasm. I like today's feeling a lot better, but I will probably do the 'cross thing again next week anyway.

If you had any doubt that Obama is the better choice from the cyclist's perspective I offer the following:

This morning I saw posted on a wall at a local store (owned by Harley Davidson type people) the following email:

"This is all you need to know -

The point, apparently, was that somehow Palin (and the old guy she is teamed up with) were the better choice for President/VP and the mode of transportation proves it. I couldn't help myself and had to get into it, albeit politely, with the guy at the store. I primarily relied on the obvious tie in to energy policy and how Obama is clearly more in tune with our future energy needs than Ms. DrillafromWasilla. The guy at the store just wanted to kill all the Arabs and didn't much care about energy policy this morning. I told him that once we didn't need their oil anymore we wouldn't need to bother with them any longer much less kill them.

Now that I look a little closer, what is up with Obama's fender? You could keep your butt dry threw the entire Iditabike with that thing and have plenty of clearance for snow build up. Aside from the fender, he looks pretty good on a bike. I think that bodes well for our country, the future of bicycle racing, and the world.