Friday, November 4, 2011

Freakin' Out in Noho

I haven't updated this thing in a year. Did anyone miss me? No?  I didn't think so. The three of you who know that this thing exists (hi Mom, Solo, GeWilli) know that I've been staying plenty busy with announcing, riding, and racing cross (if you can call it racing at my speed). Not to mention real life.  There hasn't been much time for blogging.

Dick Ring didn't have cycling dirt, to help him revive all those old sayings he used to use.  Does anyone remember his classic "groove in on that" while he was killing a minute or two listing the upcoming races?  But Anthony Clark does have cyclingdirt's undivided attention and therefore "freak out" has taken on a new life within the NECX scene 40 years after it's cultural high water mark as the title of an early Frank Zappa album.  If freaking out is what it takes to go from tagging along to JPow's wheel on a department store bike to scoring legit UCI CX points within a couple of years, I'm all for it.

Since the last time I updated this blog, Western Mass has survived tornadoes (June), microbursts (July), historic flooding (August), and most recently a pre-winter snowstorm with widespread blackouts lasting almost a week (there are still 10s of thousands without power today).  I am curious to see what's left of my old "stomping grounds".  But instead of picking up my number at Noho Coffee this evening and stressing out over tomorrow morning's impending race, I am sitting here at home.  I wish I was there in Noho with the NECX, but I whacked myself hard riding in the woods yesterday and I know I can't ride yet.  I might have cracked a rib going over the handlebars on a steep rocky drop off that I should have had the good sense to walk down.  I'm hoping to race Sunday, but it doesn't look likely.  It's a good thing I'm not announcing this weekend, I can barely take a full breath and announcing is harder work than you might think.

But I can't stay away.  I'll be there watching this weekend if not racing.  And, if I can race, I am looking forward to a major freak out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cyclocross Smorgasbord

When I can fit it in between announcing and racing, I've been snapping some pictures at the races.  Most are out of focus or too dark or too light.  But every once in a while I get lucky and get a good shot.  Here are a few of the best working backwards in time from Coonamessett to the Mayor's Cup:

Coonamessett Farm Cyclo-cross

 Roger Cadman (Newbury Comics/High and Mighty Beer) wasn't wearing his number so I didn't know his name during the race.  So, as he finished the race, I just said "He's not feeling so High and Mighty now, is he!"  He laughed so I guess it wasn't over the line sarcastic.   Congrats to the NC/H&M Beer team on assembling the best ever combination of sponsors in cyclo-cross.

During the race, George Sykes (Corner Cycle owner) bet Synjen $20 that he couldn't catch up to Jonny Bold who was about 50 yards ahead.  It only took two laps, then Johnny gave Synjen his front wheel after Synjen flatted.  Jonny's Crossresults ranking is going to take a beating with that DNF.

Steven Hopengarten lined up with two current national champions and a former national champion and only two other guys for cover.  He had fun anyway.

Cycle-Smart International Day 2, Northampton, Massachusetts

After racing (badly) in the morning, and then a road trip to Jiminy Peak, I made it back to Look Park just in time for the start of the elite men's race on Sunday.  My camera has a feature that stitches three photos together to make a panoramic view.  I think it's meant for the Grand Canyon and stuff like that, but here is a panorama of the mens' starting lineup.

The race started off well for Luca Damiani, hopping the barriers and in the lead here on the first lap.  It would end for him a couple of laps later when he sliced his leg open on another rider's chainring.  Maybe you have seen the picture of his leg taken in the hospital with 16 stitches (it looks like a lot more than 16).  Nasty nasty nasty.  Luca is recovering at home in Italy now, his cross season is over.


Luke Keough was lucky enough to be in front of Luca when he tangled with the chainring.  That sprung Luke to get away for good.

Podium: Nineteen year old Luke Keough on top, with Adam Myerson and Justin Lyndine.  Luke took the win both Saturday and Sunday while race promoter Adam was 4th and 2nd.

Thom was filming for  I asked Thom to make a face as if he was imitating Christopher Walken.  This is what I got.  Not very Walken, but very Thom.  We were the last of the cycling crowd to leave the Dirty Truth Saturday night.  At least Thom didn't have to race at 8:30 Sunday.

The Night Weasels Cometh - Ward Hill, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts

Staging the elite men's race. 

Night Weasels are always slightly out of focus.

Lyne and Linnea.  Lyne came out of retirement (again) for this one. 
Sorry I didn't get any shots of you guys during the race.

Meridith Miller (on the right, if you don't know who she is yet) took the win and received her trophy from Leah the creator (of the trophy, not the entire universe, hence the lower case c).  Meridith will be sure to find a prominent place for her Night Weasel's trophy back at home in Colorado. 

I like taking photos of the aftermath of races sometimes.  Here I used the panorama thingy to take a picture of the course after all the tape was down. 

Gloucester (aka New England World Championships)

Curtis Boivin in the 35plus race

Waiting for the whistle, elite men

Everyone was dropping dollars for the riders on the run up past the beer tent.  I upped the ante by adding a drink ticket.  I think it was Shaun Adamson who later scooped both in one swipe.  I really didn't need that last beer anyway.

It's all smiles on the starting line on Day 2 - Manny Goguen and Peter Bradshaw

Larry Longo, race announcer

Solobreak sporting the StartFinish Productions T-shirt.  We closed the beer tent on Day 1.

Who's stuff could this be?  National champion, Sox fan, and Red Bull helmet.  No, not Ryan Trebon.

Meredith Miller over the barriers.  The pink kit was a special issue for breast cancer awareness month.

Mo Bruno Roy.  She is out of focus because she is going so fast on that run up. Not cause I am a lousy photog or anything like that.

Manny Goguen on the run up.

Post race with Jamey Driscoll and Jeremy Powers

A well deserved beer from Great Brewers for Meredith Miller.

The TD Bank Mayor's Cup, Boston, Massachusetts
This was a fun day: I raced Suckerbrook cross in the morning then watched the Mayor's Cup on the way home.  The light this day was weird due to the overcast and as a result the photos are just so so. 

The women's field early in the race.

The Women's race was neutralized for several laps due to a crash

Adam Myerson is already thinking about cross season here on the start line

The decisive break has formed and local hero in the making GavinMannion is at the front of it.  He finished the race in second place.

Luke and Allain didn't make the break but they did finish the race.  The look on Allain's face should give you some idea how hard this race was.  They averaged over 29 mph for about 90 minutes

Dave Towle interviews race winner Daniel Halloway after the race

That wraps up this edition of Cyclo-cross Smorgasbord with the Mayor's Cup crit thrown in as well.  Maybe someday I'll learn how to use my camera properly and the percentage of decent shots will go up.  There's still a couple of weeks in this cross season left for me to figure it all out. 

I'll race at Sterling at least one day, maybe both.  Then, I'll be announcing both days at NBX.  And to cap it all off, I'll be bringing the PA system to the Ice Weasels for open mic heckling.  I don't want to be the announcer at Ice Weasels, I just want to race and party.  Like last year it will be a free for all.  I'll have at least two microphones set up and 800 watts of power so you can take your heckling to the next level.  But this year we are going to listen to my tunes for at least an hour before Thom puts on the Pere Ubu!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This Just In.....

NEWS FLASH:  There will be beer at Coonamessett!!!!

Bill and George Sykes are putting on the Coonamessett Cyclo-cross this year and I volunteered months ago to help them out by finding a beer sponsor.  It was looking grim there for a while, but the good folks at Harpoon have saved the day at nearly the last minute.  We will have varieties of Harpoon for sale and as an added incentivewe will havew a six pack for all four race winners (as long as they are 21 or over).  The cost per beer is yet to be determined but I think you will find it quite reasonable.  If there is any beer left at the end of Thursday, we will use the rest to sweeten the prize lists Saturday and Sunday in Plymouth.  Unfortunately we can't serve beer on school grounds Saturday and Sunday so there will be no beer tent.  And remember, both races are at Plymouth South on Long Pond Road this year.  Don't go to North.

If you haven't been to the Coonamessett Cyclo-cross before, it is a great venue for a race and the course is super fun.  Not exactly UCI-legal but not quite jungle cross either.  And the beer tent goes right through the course.  Err, strike that, the course goes through the beer tent.

The pre-reg for Coonamessett is looking a little light so far so this might be your best chance ever to podium.  Join us for the first ever mid-week daytime race in New England at Coonamessett then follow that up with a full weekend in Plymouth.  .

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Verge New England Cyclocross Series #1 and #2, Vermont

We have some great venues for cross in New England but this one is the most scenic (sorry Gloucester):

The view from the top is even better, but I didn't have my camera with me then

In the elite men's ranks, it was the Tim Johnson show both days as no one else could hold his wheel.  The cast of characters that tried included the cream of the New England crop as well as Danish, Italian, and Canadian contenders.  Tim, the current US National Champion, simply rode everyone off his wheel within the first two laps of racing both days.  I guess it was worth it to miss the national pro championships for two wins.  Here is Tim post-race Sunday:

The women's elite races were more competitive and saw first time winners at the UCI level.  On Saturday the new team took their first UCI and Verge victories with Sally Annis.  The Ladies First crew was well represented also and took second spot with Crystal Anthony.  Mo Bruno Roy (Bob's Red Mill) and Crystal rode together until the end and they had a very close sprint for second and third a little more than half a minute after Sally crossed the line.  Crystal surprised all, maybe even Mo, by leading it out and gently shutting the door on Mo in an out of the saddle sprint that didn't quite follow a strait line to the banner.  Mo tried to go by on the right but Crystal wisely took that line away with a gradual fade to the right that was just enough to close the door but not so much that the officials took offense.  Neither did Mo for that matter.  It was more savvy than I would have expected from a triathlete with relatively little road sprinting experience.

Day two for the women was an open book with both Sally and Mo not taking part.  Sally was at the Portsmouth crit and Mo was making preparations for Cross Vegas.  The Ladies First team took full advantage and, along with Sara Breznick Zocchi ( and Rebecca Blatt (Silver Bull) separated themselves from the field.  SBZ was in the lead group until just before the last lap started but had a mechanical and lost several places while in the pit.  Rebecca also lost several spots and fell out of podium contention while making a pit stop of her own.  In the end it was Ladies First sweeping the top four spots: Andrea Smith, Ann D'Ambruoso, Christina Tamilio, and Crystal Anthony.  SBZ and Rebecca rounded out the top six.

The Masters 35 plus races had a familiar look to them with Roger Aspholm (Westwood Velo), Johnny Bold, and Kevin Hines (both Corner Cycle) setting the pace.  Roger took the win by comfortable margins both days with Kevin second both days.  On Saturday, Bold was third, but on Sunday Kurt Perham ( showed excellent form in taking third with Jonny just off the podium.  It looks like it is going to be another battle in the Verge series this year, but Roger has the early advantage with 8 races to go.  Look for Jonny to get stronger as he recovers from a nasty crash at Masters Road Nationals a month or so ago.  Kevin is probably in top form having recently captured a silver medal at Masters Mountain Bike Worlds, it remains to be seen if he is already at peak form or still building. Here is Kevin, Jonny, and team mate Jamey Tosca warming up on the trainers:

I have no idea what they are looking at.

While we are at it, here is Gewilli doing the same:

Those guys must have been looking at Gewilli

Saturday was the first time I have tried to both race (Cat 4 masters) and announce at a Verge race.  I don't think I'll try it again because I was exhausted by the end of the day.  Announcing takes more energy than you might think and all the caffeine in Vermont can't help you sort out the many random thoughts that pop into your head while announcing, some of which are useful and some of which are just stupid and need to be filtered before they reach your mouth.  Fortunately, Alan Cote was the other announcer so it wasn't so obvious (I hope) that I was dragging by the time the elite men's race was going.  I decided not to let that happen again Sunday and skipped my race so I could do a better job announcing.  In Saturday's race I was doing ok despite a course that didn't suit me very well.  It seemed like it was all climbing.  Let's just say that my power to weight ratio is skewed a little more toward weight than it should be and leave it at that.  I was sitting at about mid field halfway through the race when I rolled my rear tire.  It was only a 6 inch section so I rolled it back on and soft pedalled to the pit.  Unfortunately, I had just passed the pit when it rolled and had to do just about the longest ride to the pit that was possible on the course.  I lost a bunch of places but Mark (Bicycle Support by Mark) got me out of the pit quickly once I got there.  Back in the race, I made up several of the spots that I had lost, but still finished pretty far down and didn't make my goal of finishing in the top half of the field. Oh well.  There's lots more races coming up and I feel stronger than last year.  We'll see how it goes at something flat like Sucker Brook.

That's all for now.  Sorry I am not doing recaps of all the other categories but I need to cut down the length of time it takes me to get these things done this season or I'm not likely to do any blogging at all.

Thanks for reading, and leave me a comment if you made it this far.  It's the only way I have of feeling the love since I have no idea how to put a hit counter on this thing (anyone?).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cycling in Heaven (almost): D2R2

In my heaven there are no hills to ride up, only descents.  But in the real world Newton's First Law of Cycling applies:  for every uphill there is an equal and opposite downhill!  As a result, you have to do a little work to get to the reward.  Other than that, the D2R2 is cycling in heaven.  There are almost no cars, beautiful views, plentiful food and water (in heaven there are going to be beer stops, I just know it), and super nice people volunteering and watching.  Even the drivers of the very few cars that we saw were totally cool when they had to wait for us. 

I signed up for this ride a couple of months ago and had been looking forward to it for a while.  I have never in my 24 years as a "serious" cyclist done more than 100 miles in a day and the last time
I did that was years ago.  So, I opted for the shorter of the two rides, 100km.  Part of the reasoning was the 3 extra hours of sleep I would be able to get Saturday morning before driving most of the way across the state.  But I also knew that if this course was as hard as the bloggage from last year indicated, this was no place for me to try and set a new personal best for distance, time, or anything else.

After checking in I found the Cycle Lodge crew (Jim, Beth, Barry, Dave, Simms, etc) and headed out with them at a very reasonable 9:15 AM.  Those on the long ride (180km) had mostly left around 6:00.  The first hill came after about 10 minutes on flat farm roads and it was an eye opener.  I'm not a great judge of steepness but this was steep, maybe 10%?  More importantly, it was mostly soft sand with plenty of stretches that just sucked up whatever speed you might have generated on a more forgiving section.  Plus there were just enough loose rocks on the surface that you were sure to bump into one at the worst possible time.  After switching tracks one too many times looking for a good line, and trying to get around others already hiking it, I succumbed to the sand and had to walk quite a bit of it.  At this point we were about 20 minutes into what I expected could be a 7 hour ride and I was already questioning my choice of gear (39x28), tires (35 mm city tires) and footwear (road shoes and pedals).  Oh oh, this is going to be a really bad day if this is how its going to be.  At least I had my trusty steed, my Indy Fab Planet X cross bike.  Although not as efficient as my road bike, it was the only sensible choice for this ride although I would soon realize that cantilever cross brakes with last years worn out pads barely have the stopping power needed for 15% grade descents with 90 degree corners at the bottom.

Fortunately, this first climb was the worst climb of the day, although not the steeepest.  I managed to keep the pedals turning on every other climb but I couldn't even begin to count how many times I double checked to make sure I was really in my lowest gear.  I rode almost every hill bottomed out in the 28 and checked two or three more times on many of the hills looking for one more gear only to feel the limit screw.  Better than feeling the spokes I guess.

I can't really remember all of the hills now, but we basically headed northward, upward, downward, upward, and downward until we were well into Vermont.  I noticed that I didn't see a single town line sign on the entire route, but I did notice a granite marker for the Mass/Vermont line that looked like it has been there since Shay's Rebellion (i.e. a very long time ago if you don't know your Western Mass colonial-era history).

If you missed the granite marker, you knew you were in Vermont when you reached the covered bridge which is the turnaround point for the short ride and the lunch stop.  Here is a picture of the diabolical genius who created the D2R2, Sandy, in front of the bridge:

By this point I had let the Cycle Lodge crew go ahead so I could just enjoy the ride without having to suffer on the climbs.  An extra gear would have helped, but I had decided that I was just out for a tour at an easy pace.  The last I saw of them was as they pulled out of the lunch stop.  But I ran into a team mate, Steve Curren, and we rode the rest together and even found another Mass Bay guy, Peter Lastnameidontknowyet, to ride with.   None of us are naturally gifted climbers so we made a pretty good group.  We also seemed to pass and then get passed by the same 6 or 7 riders the rest of the day so they were like part of the group too.  After the lunch stop the long version of D2R2 goes strait up a long hill but the 100km version mercifully follows the Green River downstream for several miles so lunch can digest.  Then there is a sudden switch back turn and it goes straight up hill again.  The good news here though, is that the ice cream truck is parked near the top.  I haven't yelled "ice cream truck" so loud since I was about 10 years old.  Bart's ice cream is almost an institution in Western Mass.  Their Mass Mocha flavor (get it? MOCA= Museum Of Contemporary Art in North Adams) has chocolate covered espresso beans in it and I figured I could use some of that for the rest of the ride.  Knowing that hard exersise and dairy are sometines not a good combination for me, I ate most of the beans and less than half the ice cream, but that was enough to make it well worth the $3 investment.

For some reason, I started feeling better at this point (caffeine is my friend) and pushed the climbs a little more.  Apex Orchard had free apples and peaches for us but you had to climb a nasty paved hill to get to them.  As with all things D2R2, the reward is well worth the effort.  Then you get to descend and that is something I think I do well.  Some skills I guess I developed to make up for sucky climbing ability, good equipment, and thus far never having a serious crash on a descent probably all help.  But the key is weight to surface area ratio.  At 205 pounds, I generate momentum pretty fast and can usually pass smaller guys even if they pedal.  Plus, I'm the master of the slingshot.  I love descending and D2R2 has some places you can let it fly.  There are also some places you should definitely not let it fly.  I probably got lucky once or twice because I had no problems and never flatted (I've definitely jinxed myself for next year now).  There were lots of people with flats stopped on the side of the road on the descents.  Fortunately, everyone that I saw was ok and well equipped for repairs.

At some point the climbing was mostly done with and there were only a few turns still to be followed on the cue sheet.  I knew I would make it to the end but every few minutes I ended up saying to myself  " I'm really glad I didn't try to do the 180km."  I must have said it 5 more times while I was drinking post-ride beers from Berkshire Brewing Co.  But today, two days later, I'm already starting to think about next year and maybe doing the long version.  I must be nuts, I know better.  I did the right thing this year.  One year older isn't going to help. 

The post ride spread was great, as was the beerSolobreak bought me a beer, and Steve didn't want his so I had his and mine.  Three nice beers after 7 hours in the saddle and I was feeling very mellow.  I managed to lose about three hours in what seemed like 20 minutes.  All of a sudden it was time to drive to Easthampton to go to Adam Myerson's "How to Train for Cyclocross" seminar.  It was 6:30, the seminar started at 7:00 and my GPS said it would take half an hour to get there if all goes perfectly.  GPSs are amazing (thanks Mom).  I almost got Solobreak to join Steve and I under the pretense that he could heckle Adam during his seminar.  But in the end Foley couldn't bear the thought of the $25 entry fee so it was just me and Steve.  We got there right on time while Adam was still working out the tech details of the power point presentation.  He must not have been an AV Club kid in high school, although it wouldn't surprise me if he was.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet that cycling generally has a much higher percen12 tage of AV Club and marching band geeks than other sports, but that is a topic for another day, I still need to find time to practice my saxophone tonight.

Adam got it going while I poured us some beer.  Fortunately, Al Donahue had some nice commemerative glassware left over from the Gran Fundo so we didn't have to drink Allagash Triple out of dixie cups.  Now, at this point I had been up for 18 hours, driven 200 miles from Cape Cod to Western Mass, ridden the toughest 65 miles of my life, drank three and a half beers, haven't showered, and Adam breaks out the power tap files from some races he can't even remember in 2004.  Zzzzzzz.  Actually, I was so psyched to be talking cyclocross with Adam and all the other bike geeks at the seminar, that I was wide awake the whole time.  The main point of Adam's talk was that you have to do your training for cross at highly variable power outputs.  Cyclocross isn't like a time trial so don't train for time trialing.  That's the condensed version, you'll have to sign up for next years seminar and skills camp to get the details. 
After a quick stop for beer and frites at the Dirty Truth the day was done and we found a hotel to crash.
I have a couple of weeks off from announcing now but I be co-anouncing the Vermont UCI cyclocross-Verge weekend with Alan Cote on September 18-19.  So, I'm going to race early in the day then jump on the mic with Alan and talk the rest of the day (both days).  I can't beleive it but this will be the first time I have ever raced or announced within the borders of Vermont. 
And if anyone is looking for something to do next Sunday August 29th, come see my band at the Marshfield Fair Roots and Blues Festival.  We play at 1:30 and the music only gets better from there.

Thanks for hanging out with me at startfinishbikenews, see you soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rick Newhouse Criterium - Ninigret RI, April 17, 2010

Spring time at Ninigret RI generally means nasty conditions for bike racing and after the Chris Hinds "Sunshine Criterium" at Ninigret two weeks previously actually lived up to its intentionally ironic name, there was little chance the Arc-en-ciel sponsored Rick Newhouse memorial race would also luck out with the weather.  As per usual, it was a cold, rainy, and windy day at Ninigret but nowhere near as bad as was predicted.  The Jens Factor was never worse than JF3.

Arc-en-ciel racing put on a full slate of races with proceeds from the race going to their former teammate's family.  Considering the predicted weather, the early season schedule, and competion from other races, the turn out was good with about 160 participants.

Category 5: The day started with 15 Cat 5s.  Three or four of them seemed to do the bulk of the work setting the pace at the front of the field while everyone else was along for the ride.  That isn't atypical for a Cat 5 race where no one has much, if any, tactical experience.  For Alejandro Cifuentes and Anthony Clark, it worked out well placing 1st and 2nd after doing way more than their share of the work throughout the race.  One other rider set the pace for 4 laps in one long pull but over extended himself and couldn't recover as the race went past him.  After the race I tried to explain that he should take shorter pulls and not wear himself out past the point of no return like that.  I think he got it.  Hopefully we will see him at the races again.  

Masters55:  10 Riders took the line in the 55plus race including former national champion Mark Hagen (CCB).  Hagen and Ed Deming (Mystic Velo) got away off the front of the race in the first half of the 55 minute race while the chase group was trimmed to 4 including Demings two Mystic Velo teammates, Jim Themig and Chip O'Lari, who obviously weren't going to chase.  Hagen and Deming built up a lead of a couple of minutes by the end of the race.  Knowing that Hagen is a time trial specialist, and a very good one, we all expected that he would try to drop Deming before the finish but it didn't happen.  At the finish, Deming came around Hagen to take the win.

Cat 3/4:  Within the first 10 minutes of the 55 minute race, Scott Glowa (Svelte Cycles) and Gary Aspnes (Horst-Benidorm) took a flier off the front of the field to shake things up.  Aspnes has been on great form recently and rode away from the field at the Myles Standish Road Race the previous week.  But in my memory Glowa has never been a break away type rider.  He will be from now on, at least on flat courses like Ninigret.  Working together, they built up about a minute lead which is approaching half a lap on the 0.9 mile Ninigret loop.  Geoff Williams and his tream mates from Providence Velo tried to real the break back in but without success.  Both leaders had one teammate in the field to help control the pace.  After the race, several riders mentioned how Spike McLaughlin (Horst) did an especially good job blocking for the breakaway.  It isn't often you hear other racers compliment someone's blocking so he must have been doing something right out there.  At the finish, after about 45 minutes of two man team trialing, Glowa outsprinted Aspnes for the win by less than a bike length.

Masters45:  I could try to tell you what happened in this one, but I'd rather link you to the race winner, Dave "Solobreak" Foley (BOB), so you can get the first hand version .  I'll just say that he played it perfectly, getting everyone else to watch him roll away from the break away in the closing seconds of the race.  Well done! 

Masters35:  When David Potter (Arc-en-ciel), Tyler Monroe (CCB), and Tom Francis (Bikebarn) took off the front it looked like it was going to be for the long hall.  They built up ove a minute lead by working smoothly together throughout the race.  Ciaran Mangan (CCB) tried to get across in the closing laps without dragging anyone along with him but his move was shut down when the host club (Arc-en-ciel) went to the front and picked up the pace to ensure that 4th place would be that easy to snag.  David Potter took the sprint from 200 yards out to give the host club the victory while Tom Francis took second, Monroe third.  Ernie Tautkus, who had won three prime sprints for 6-packs of Newport Storm earlier in the day took the field sprint for 4th.

Pro1,2,3:  This was the third race of the day for a few of the riders including Tautkus and Aspnes as well as a couple of the Arc-en-ciel riders.  Surprisingly, this was not an especially tactical race.  It stayed together from start to finish with no serious break attempts.  The finish was a mass gallup to the line that crossed most of the width of the road.  Squirting through the flailing bikes to resach the line first was 16-year old Evan Kirk (CLNoonan).  A split second (literally 0.1 seconds according to the official results) was Ryan Serbel (CCNS) followed by the man of the day, Ernie Tautkus (CCNS) just another 0.1 seconds behind.  It is worth noting that Evan Kirk was sprinting on restricted junior gears which equate to something like a 45x12 tooth combination (or 3.75 revolutions of the back wheel for each turn of the pedals) while the older riders where probably in or near their max gear, typically 53x11 (almost 5 revs per turn of the pedals).  I don't want Evans head to swell up as big as his hair so don't tell him I said so, but I think we might be looking at a real prospect here.

Women and Juniors:  The women and juniors took the line together to start the race but after some discussion and a quick vote on the stasrt line they opted to race separately, starting with a one-minute gap between them.  This didn't stop them from catching and passing each other but both fields were small enough (8 and 15 riders that it wasn't a problem).  Both races came down to two person duels.  In the women's race, it was between Anna Barensfeld (Ladies First Racing) and Silke Wunderwald (Kenda).  They lapped everyone except Kimberly Edwards (CVC).  At the finish Silke passed Anna for the win with Kimberly less than a minute back for third.  In the Juniors race, it came down to the McCormack twins, Cameron and Brendan (both Hot Tubes).  Peter Vollers Jr and his Killington Mountain School teammates hung in with the McCormacks for a while, but they couldn't contain them for the whole race.  The twins would replay their sprint from the previous week at Myles Standish and the result would be the same with Cameron just edging out Brendan by less than half a bike length. 

I have a couple of weeks off from announcing now so maybe I'll do a little racing myself.  I never did make it to Wells Ave last week as threatened in the previous post.  I'll either try to get there again this weekend or I'll do something I haven't done in about 20 years - a mountain bike race.  Paul Curley is promoting a new race at Massasoit State Park near Taunton on Saturday.  That should be fun even though my MTB is a 20 year old totally rigid (except for the loose headset) beast.  The thing should be in the recycle bin at the dump, not in a race.  I am thinking about getting a new MTB so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.  29er?  Full suspension or not?  Frame material?  Brands? Deals?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Myles Standish Road Race, April 10, 2010

The State finally re-paved the main road into Myles Standish State Forest from the Plymouth side.  So, this year's race returned to the College Pond loop after a year on the training loop at Charge Pond.  Or that is what we thought would happen.  As it turned out, 14 inches of rain in the month of March (a record) on top of a rainy 2009 raised the groundwater levels so high that a portion of the College Pond loop was flooded out.  Race promoter Bill Sykes had a tough choice to make: move back to Charge Pond again or shorten the College Pond loop to avoid the massive puddle.  No one really wanted to race the Charge Pond loop again for the 6th straight week, so he wisely shortened to College Pond loop to avoid the pond/puddle on the south side of the College Pond loop.  That left just a 2 mile loop that was pretty much all either climbing or descending with a couple of small rollers in between.  Maybe someday the State will fix the dam at East Head Bog near the forest headquarters and the race will be able to return to the classic 7 mile loop.  I'll bet most people that raced MSRR this weekend weren't even around for that version of the course, it's been more than 10 years since the dam has been closed.

Before we go any further here, I should point out that the staging and the finish were the only parts of the races that I could se from my vantage point as the announcer.  As a result, the race summaries below are a combination of what I could peice together from the USAC officials' race radio transmissions (thanks Kelly) and reports from riders after the race.  Sorry if I don't have it all exactly right.

Cub Juniors – The cub juniors certainly don't remember the full length version of the course and that's ok because their race was just two miles (or one lap) long.  In an effort to explain the course to them, I figured I would put it in kid terms.  I told them the course is like a lollypop, you go out the stem, take one lap around the lollypop, and then come back down the stem to finish.  I got blank looks, but it made sense to me so I kept using the analogy all the way though to the Masters and Pro races at the end of the day.

Five kids lined up for the once around the lollypop race. When they came back down the stem to the finish, Ian Keough took the solo victory by about a minute.  As Joe Parkin (author of a Dog in a Hat) would say, there was no one else in the picture. Three of Ian's older brothers were at the Tour of the Battenkill and the oldest, Jake, was racing in California.  I couldn't tell which brother he was talking to, but he got some last minute coaching via cellphone while on the start line.  It seemed to help.

Juniors 15-18 – This race was a rematch of Vollers vs. McCormack through the proxies of their respective sons.  Frank McCormack had 15 year old twins Brendan and Cameron while Peter Vollers had Peter Vollers Junior (PVJ in Belgian shorthand).  The fathers raced together as professionals on the IME team that Bill Sykes put together years ago.  PVJ also had lots of teammates from the Killington Mountain School while Cameron and Brendan were the sole representatives of Hot Tubes Cycling.  They did 7 laps of the course and within the first half of the race the McCormack twins took off the front. At the finish, Cameron narrowly took the sprint from his brother. Nate Etchells (Mystic Velo)  finished third with PVJ right behind.

Cat5  – The Cat 5s were split into two fields with 35 years being the dividing line and they set off a couple of minutes apart.  Both fields had almost 30 riders which is about all you would want on the narrow twisting roads at MSRR.  The 35plus Cat 5 group came in to the finish line with a big bunch sprint and as they came into view over the last rolling hill one of the riders suddenly moved to the right taking out the 3rd or 4th rider in linfrom the front off the course and causing others to take evasive action.  Fortunately the rider that was taken down did most of his tumbling in the pine needles on the side of the road and not on the asphalt.  Still, he was banged up enough to go to the hospital in the ambulance .  The diagnosis included broken ribs and some serious road rash.  He returned to pick up his truck and bike from the parking area just moments before it was about to be locked in by the State. It would still be there now if he had been tewn minutes longer.  His wife who had picked him up at the hospital didn't seem too happy, but he said he would be back on the bike soon.  In the race, Robert Hoenick (Bikeworks) was leading out the sprint when the crash happened and was therefore ahead of the crash.  He held on from 300 yards out without even having to stand up to take the win.

The Cat5 35plus field came to the line in a big bunch also but a little more strung out.  They passed the crash victim from the previous race who was fortunate to be well out of the way.  Geremia Ortega took the field sprint by a bike length.

Cat4 – Just past the halfway mark of the 20 mile race, Nevin Rallis ( and three others took off to establish a few seconds lead after a series of chases and reformations in the first part of the race. The lead group of four was trimmed to three and they stayed clear by about 7 seconds and got to sprint it out. Rallis won the three-up sprint with a blast of speed to come around the right side of Ben McCoy and Justin Neviakis.

Masters55 - A break of three formed in this race also, lead by Mark Hagen . With one to go, and partly because the Cat4s past the Masters55, Dusty Adams, who had been in no-mans-land between the break and the field, didn’t get the word that he had one to go and headed strait to the finish. Unfortunately his official result is a DNF even though he had been in fourth. At the "sprint", Mark Hagen (CCB) powered away from the other two in the break without even getting up from the saddle followed by Graydon Stevens (OA) and Bill Sawyer (Gearworks) in that order.

Masters35 – Mark McCormack (Team Fuji) and Johnny Bold (Corner Cycle) lined up with a stellar field of about 30 riders. Mark got away with a Corner Cycle rider (not Johnny) and Tom Francis (Bike Barn). Bold couldn’t cross to the break because his teammate was up the road.  However, the teammate got dropped from the break leaving just Mark and Tom.  They later caught the Cat3 field and passed through. This lead to confusion in counting the laps resulting in Mark and Tom doing an extra lap.  Tom Francis stayed tied to Mark's wheel longer than most would have, but in the final 100 yards Markie pulled away for the win.  Here's where it really got confusing at the finish line.  The next riders through the finish were the Cat3 field, one lap sooner than the cat 3 break which never got passed by Markie and Tom. Then, the next through the finish was the Masters55 field sprint, and then finally the Cat3 winning break.

Cat3 – The Cambridge Bike team came in force to the MSRR.  Their team leader, R Michael McKittrick, had publicly vowed months ago to boycott theTour of the Basttenkill and its suddenly increased entry fee.  He stayed true to his word and dragged his team to Plymouth with him instead. Also lined up for the Cat3 race were several of the Gearworks masters team looking to get in some extra quality training miles. A group of three got off the front including Paul Curley (Gearworks), Luke Fortini (Specialized), and Gary Aspnes (Horst-Benidorm).  That group would come to the finish line with Aspnes leading it out.  If there is one thing in bike racing you don't want to do, it's lead out Paul Curley.  That man has been racing since the days of penny farthings and knows exactly how to use you up in a sprint and come around for the win.  That's exactly what he did.  Fortini felt it wasn't a clean sprint but the result didn't change.  Hopefully young Luke learned a thing or two from the Jedi sprint master.

Women – The race plan called for separate Pro123 and Cat4 fields, but almost everyone that showed up was a Cat4.  So, the fields were combined into one race since they were to be on the course at the same time anyweay. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any info from the officials during this race so I don't have any details on how it developed. But, at the finish it was Kristen Gohr (Stage 5 Cycling) from the Pro field outsprinting Sheila Vibert (NHCC) from the Cat 4 field.  Although the fields raced together, they were scored separately so they both won!  Unfortunately, the exertion of the sprint caught up to Sheila after the line and she seemed to lose her concentration long enough to bump into Kristen.  Both tumbled but at that point, 30 yards past the finish line, they had slowed down enough that neither was hurt.  Still, its a lesson to everyone that the race isn't over until you are off your bike or at least have a foot down.

Mens Pro123 - Adam Myerson, Al Donahue, new dad Andy Mills, and about 15 others took the course for 15 laps. Donahue and Sean McCormack (Team Fuji) took off the front of the race about half way through. Sean couldn't hold the pace but Donahue kept going with teammate Dan Greenfield (both Wheelhouse/NCC).  They would hold a two man team time trial until the finish and in the process they even caught and lapped about ten riders. With only a two mile lap, the officals decided to use criterium rules and finish the lapped riders on the same lap as the breakaway that caught them.  So, when Donahue and Greenfield had completed their laps, the officials sent them all down the stem of the lollypop to the finish where Donahue took the win a few yards ahead of the field with Greenfield riding in comfortably for second.  Minutes later, Myerson (Mountain Khakis), who had broken off the front of the main field, rolled in for third to claim a little gas money.  As best known full pro in the race he had been a marked man.  The rest of the field that wasn’t lapped straggled in one at a time for a while until the last unlapped rider (Luke Fortini) finished.  Curiously, he placed 8th despite being the last rider to cross the line.

Masters 45 – Host club Mass Bay Road Club put four riders on the line. A lot of the riders in the field were in their second race of the day including Johnny Bold.  Graydon Stevens was in his third race of the day.  If you are going to drive all the way down from Maine, you might as well make it worth while.  John Stonebarger (MassBay) had a much shorter ride from the other side of Plymouth and did it on his bike.  It would be the perfect warmup except that he didn't realize that the road he took to get to the race was completely flodded in several places, worse even than the intended race course.  He was too far into it to turn back and take a longer route around so he rode through it and arrived at the race with flooded shoes and shoe covers.  This wouldn't probably be noteworthy except that it seemed to help because he won the race.  After a series of attacks late in thelate stages of the race, Stonebarger counter attacked after Johnny Bold tried to go on the high point on the course with half a lap remaining.  Stonebarger made the all-or-nothing move and managed to stay ahead of the entire field to take it all.  Bold crossed the line in second with Joe Rano (Gearworks) right behind for third. 

Next weekend I'll be at Ninigret to do the announcing for the Newhouse Criterium put on by Arc en Ciel racing.  The weather can be challenging there this time of year, but it's always a fun day of racing on the built-for-bycles road loop there.  Where else can you get so much cornering practice in one race?  And, if the weather is decent on Sunday, you just might see me making my season debut with a number on my back at Wells Ave.  I haven't been there in about 15 years, should be interesting.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Harpoon Indoor Time Trial

Richard Fries got the call to work the Cyclocross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic, but I got the call to work the next most important bike event on the calendar on January 30th - The Harpoon Indoor Time Trial.  Richard did the announcing for the inaugural HITT in 2009, but for good reason declined this year.  When they told me it would be at the Harpoon Brewery, I was happy he couldn't make it for year number two. 

As it turns out, the HITT is the largest indoor time trial in the world with about 260 participants competing in heats of 24 at a time.  It is kind of like riding the trainer in your basement but with 23 friends all hooked up to computers that measure speed, distance, and wattage.  Too bad it didn't measure BAL also, but we'll get to that in a few paragraphs.

The technical side was handled by Fast:Splits, a shop and training facility for endurance athletes in Newton.  They seem to be quite popular with the triathalon crowd, a scene I know very little about.  Fast:Splits brought the 24 computrainers and the computers to monitor and record everyone's output.  Capron lighting and sound brought 9 big flat panel screens so everyone could see their progress in the race.  And Harpoon provided the venue and the beer - lots and lots of beer.  On tap they had their IPA, the seasonal Celtic Ale, UFO Pale, and UFO Heffeweisen for everyone to try.

We started the first heat at 12:30 PM with the first 24 riders.  I don't think any of them were USA Cycling types, at least I didn't recognize any of them.  They turned in some impressive times, finishing the 8 mile course in around 20 to 25 minutes.  I was still trying to figure out this whole "indoor time trial" computrainer thing at this point as this was my first exposure to it.  In fact, this was my first exposure to the world of watts.  I am old enough that all we had in my day were heart rate monitors and we liked it that way. And that was only the last couple of years of my so called "career".  Most of the time we just rode hard or rode easy, it was very subjective.  So when I arrived at the brewery for the HITT, I had no idea if 400 watts is Pee Wee Herman power or Fabian Cancellara power.  Turns out, it's closer to Cancellara and there would be a few who would come close to putting out 400 watts for almost 20 minutes.

The route was a simulation of the final 8 miles of the 150 mile Harpoon Brewery to Brewery Ride (aka B2B).  It was mostly flat until mile 6 where a 5% grade kicks up for almost a mile then it's a downhill to the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor Vt. Last year's best time was set by Cort Cramer (Svelte Cycles) at 19:11 with an average power output of 362 watts.  For the women it was Ironwoman pro and former US swim team member Dede Griesbauer at 20:57 and 282 watts.

Did I mention that Harpoon was giving away beer?  In addition to two free beers to each competitor, they also gave away a case of beer to the mens and womens winner of each heat.  Brian Quigley (Colavita) was the mens winner in the second heat and got to take his place on the Harpoon Hot Stool which was kind of like a wobbly life guard stand with two barstools on top.  After saying "hot stool" a couple of times over the mic, I unofficially renamed it the Harpoon Hot Seat.  I think that sounds better and led to fewer chuckles from the audience.  Quigley's time of 19:52, although half a minute slower than his second place time last year, held up for several more heats.  While on the Hot Seat, he was served as many beers as he wanted and got to wear the Mavic Red Vest of Courage, the "maillot jaune" of the day.  He told me the secret to his success was a combination of lots of basement training, Rage ATM on the earbuds, and Harpoon IPA.  Quigley won the Cat 4 race at day 2 of the Downeast Cyclocross in October so apparently he has some skills to go with the power. 

It was not until the sixth heat, 3 and a half hours later, that Quigley was dethroned by Jeff Capobianco (Breakthrough Coaching) so he had plenty of time to enjoy a couple of IPAs while on the hot seat.  Capobianco's time was 19:37 and that was looking good until the 8th heat when the inter-family grudge match between brothers-in-law Dave McCutcheon (Mass Bay Road Club) and Arnold Roest (Team Psycho) took place.  This heat also included the heavyweight sub-division for those over 200 pounds.  Among them was Scott Shaunessy, a former NHL player who lead the league in penalty minutes two years in a row.  "Just putting on the foil, coach."  He didn't look at all like a Hanson brother, but he definitely looked like a big dude on a bicycle.  He turned out a respectable time of 20:56. 

But the winner of the heat would be Roest with a new best time of 19:32, beating his brother in law by 50 seconds to take family bragging rights.  Roest is the guy you might have seen at the races with the Surly Pugsley with the motorcycle tires.  He won the Cat 4 race at the Ice Weasels race on that thing.  Here's a picture of it from the Brockton cross race in 2008.  Note the fixed cog on the front tire just in case the back axle breaks.  This bike is made for survivalist nut cases.  Roest didn't use this bike on the computrainer.

Roest's time held up until the elite men's heat.  And by the time we got to that heat, the race was running way behind schedule because it takes a while to enter each competitor's name and assign them to a computrainer.  The elite mens heat was the 12th heat of the day and was two hours behind schedule.  I wouldn't bother to mention it but it played a factor in the race because not only did the elite men start their heat well after their bed times, several of them also got bored waiting and decided to sample the beer selection before their heat. 

Robbie King, Al Donahue, Dylan McNicholas, Tom Parsons, Cort Cramer, Mark McCormack, and Peter Bradshaw were all in the elite men's heat. Two time U23 national triathalon champion Ethan Brown was in this heat also. With this crew, even though some of them had been partaking of the beer supply, you knew a new best time would be set. It looked for a while like Tom Parsons would be late for the start when he couldn't get his 29'er MTB to fit the computrainer. Only Tom could be late for a start that started two hours late. It probably didn't help that he spent more time lining up his beer feeds with Kevin Sweeney than he did checking his bike. But, he found a bike that would work and made the start in the nick of time. Read his detailed account here. Ethan Brown would set the best time, showing the inebraited road racing and mountain cyclists what power per kilogram is all about. His 18:37 was nearly matched by Robbie King (Indy Fab) at 18:46.4 with Matt Mitchell (545 Velo) only 0.1 seconds slower. Average wattages over the course for the top three men were 348, 395, and 384 in that order. For Brown, that was close to 5 watts/kg. Robbie is well over 6 feet tall and weighs a lot more than Brown so his watts/kg was less than Brown's despite having the higher raw number. It was about 11:30 when the elite men's heat finished but they took over the top 5 spots in the overall standings and nobody puked.

Mark the Shark

Al Donahue (front) and Peter Bradshaw

Apparently it was past Robbie King's bed time

Mr. Big Bikes, Tom Parsons

U23 National Tri Champ, Ethan Brown

The view from the Hot Seat

Have you ever seen this look on Mark's face? Or Robbies?  Me neither.

The women's elite heat was earlier in the day at around 3:00 and included a couple of notable triathlete celebreties in Dede Griesbauer and Karen Smyers.  Karen would take the hot seat and the Mavic Red Vest of Courage with a time of 21:05 and an average power output of 265 watts.  Having the women's elite race early in the day meant that the women's final results were likely to remain unchanged unless a big upset came along.  At least the women in the remianing open heats had cases to beer to ride for and in some heats there were only one or two women so their odds were good.  Karen Smyers remained on the hot seat until the awards ceremony at the end of the evening.  Amy McGuire was the second women overall at 22:10 and 272 watts with Dede close behind at 22:19 and 251 watts.

Dede and Karen were able to fill some of the time between their heat and the awards ceremony with the team event.  This event required 8 members on each of three teams to work together like a Tour de France TTT.  The lead rider feels the resistenace of the wind at whatever speed they are riding.  Any rider within 40 feet of the rider in front of them feels less resistance to simulate the draft.  Anyone who has ever been dropped, and that is probably everyone reading this blog, wishes you could still feel the draft at 40 feet in real life, but the simulation is close enough.  The team's time is taken on the 7th rider to finish so you can only drop one rider so it doesn't matter at all how fast any individual on the team might be able to go.  Team Psycho and Blue Hills Cycling Club were on opposite sides of the room with the Boston Triathalon Team in the middle.  All three teams are sponsored by Harpoon.  Arnold Roest, who at that point was still the leader of the men's race, was not on the Psycho team because, as he said, he didn't make the cut.  That didn't make much sense until we saw the team which included Karen Smyers and Dede Grisbauer and triathalon Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker.  To no one's syrprise Team Psycho won with a time of 20:15 for the seventh rider, which was only 5 seconds behind the team leader. 
The final heat of the night was the collegiate heat with about 16 riders from Boston area colleges including MIT, BC, Northeastern, and Wentworth.  Ian from MIT won the heat, and the beer that went with it.  His time was 19:56 which was good for 15th place overall.

Here is a photo of the two individual winners who both took home a set of Mavic wheels among other prizes. 

Ethan Brown and Karen Smyers enjoying their just rewards
(photo by Harpoon Brewery)