Monday, December 24, 2007

Catch Up

Way behind on this...

So cross season is over. Yep. The second Rhode Island race (NBX cross) was an even better race than the day before. I managed to pull out a 5th place finish. No hole shot glory, but a good performance overall. Of course now I realize that when I weigh 158 pounds, (only 4 more than when I finished the long trail, and equal to when I was hospitalized way back for kidney failure) my strength to weight ratio is pretty solid. Anyway, I have some upgrade points - If I kill it at the beginning of next season I can move on to being pack fodder in the B's - or I can time it right and try to sandbag Gloucester... Decisions, decisions.

So what now? There's that whole notion of winter training, assessing goals, and all those other motivational time-wasters. I'll get to it eventually. For now, however, I'm mucking about in Vermont for the next few weeks. Grabbed some new telemark skis, so I'll be climbing that learning curve for the next few weeks. I may try to find a nordic race here or there. Maybe climb some snowy mountains.

I'll drop in more often with something more.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Morning Commutes and an Open Letter to Dudebro

What is it about morning commutes?

As I rolled up behind my building at BU this morning I prepared to make my usual right hand turn into the parking lot. One of the brilliant grounds crew was creeping slowly out of the driveway in his red truck-of-death so I was obliged to slow down through the apex of my turn and engage in the usual bike / idiot driver game of right-of-way-chicken.

Out of nowhere enters one of my perennial favorites: Boston Dude Bro on a Mountain Bike.

He let's out a jager-bomb fueled "ON YOUR LEFT, WATCH OUT!" as he cuts a sharp turn into the parking lot ... a sharp, right turn, on my right side.

I calmly reply "Pretty sure that's my right."

His alpha collar immediately pop's: "Why don't you signal where you're going, you dick"

Amused, I respond: "Are you serious?"

He continues his hair gel fueled fit: "I'm gonna slap the stupid off your face!"

He proceeds to narrowly miss getting struck by a car, and mashes his pedals away.

I offer this open note:


Chill out, chief! I realize that you're in the zone, cruising along the sidewalk on 26" tires at 20 psi. Sure your back wheel washes out whenever you hit a puddle - its tough to be the man when you're riding your sister's purple Magna and swallowing your knees. 34x24 is a blistering gear ratio, and the wattage you were putting out surely could've lit an incandescent light bulb - or at least a few compact fluorescents.

I know, its never easy when the world gets in your way when you're cruising to GNC for your muscle milk. I can only imagine what would have happened had we collided (can you even get those GAP girl-flare jeans anymore?) but I'm confident your tough guy leather jacket would've saved your axe shower gel covered skin.

See you around the squat rack,


Monday, December 10, 2007

W.E. Steadman Grand Prix of Cross

This weekend marked the end of my first season of cyclocross. For once, the weather bordered on Belgian, with an Alberta clipper rolling through and dropping some serious cold weather precipitation across New England.

The prospect of two 630 am departures was enough to make me fork out the dough for some plush accommodations at the Best Western in West Greenwich, which, along with the Super 8 that occupies the same terribly named road, win the prize for being situated on New England's worst-named roadway - Nooseneck Hill Road.

I digress.

I arrived to cold weather and snow on the ground. I settled into my usual pre race panic routine of getting from parking lot to start line in 45 minutes. CB was on the ball (trolling the net) for the pre-registration, so Erik, Nick, and myself were able to line up in the front row. The usual pre race nervous chit chat gave way to the minute of silence, or rather, minute of Richard Fries babbling about some nonsense, before the whistle. I had a good jump, was clicked in, and began working the gears on the extremely long uphill paved start. The pace gradually increased as I worked around a few riders and settled into the front group.

This idea of "racing" wore of rather quickly as most everyone decided that the big ring was off limits. So I was faced with a decision. Sitting there in the draft this was far too painless for a cross start. I drifted a bit out of the draft to test the wind. Yep, that has the potential to hurt.

So I went for it.

I came around the left hand side of the group as another rider came around the right. He and I hit the hole neck and neck. I wasn't about to let some snot nosed cat 4 brat steal my glory. After all, this was the ultimate goal - the Verge Hole Shot. I made one move to cut the kid off on the first turn.

There I was - leading the race.

This oddity lasted about 2 minutes, long enough for me to assert some sort of dominance on the field, but not so long as to put any real gap on the field.

Soon enough I fell to the back of the group of the top 4. I held the group for a while until a few guys, including CB teammate Erik, got past me, leaving me in 7th. On the last lap the sand pit decide to swallow my front wheel during my dismount, effectively pile driving me into the ground, and eliminating my hopes of reclaiming any places.

The good news? I got a point! 7th place gets me my first upgrade point (finally) of the season. 30 seconds off of first ain't bad either.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Minuteman Road Club Cyclocross - Wrentham

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur. An unnecessarily drawn out move to an apartment down the street, thanksgiving in VT, and a completely useless cold have taken up most of my time. The rundown:

What happens in Vermont, stays in Vermont:

..but nothing much happens here.

I got some cold weather acclimation training in, and also began my pattented "intensive immune system intensity training block." Its best to schedule these training blocks before important events, and with the final Verge races around the corner it was high time I caught up on some serious T-cell work. The workout itself is fairly simple. The trick is to get a bit of a sore throat going - once you feel the burn put in some 2 x 2am nights, and finish with some jager sprints to really get everything moving. You know its working when the burn in the throat reaches the upper respiratory track. We're working towards the kind of cough that says "I'm a homeless man sketching you out on the bus."

MRC Cyclocross - Wrentham
Partially recovered, and feeling wholly unfit, I signed up for Sunday's race at Wrentham. Get good sleep? Eat well? Fuck that. What good would racing in 20 degree weather be with fresh legs. Can't feel anything at that temperature anyway.

Thanks to colin and his work down in the nerdatorium, I was seeded fairly well based on my points. Do I get credit for all the referrals I just gave? So a 7th place seed, puts me on the second line of a 5 wide start.... ok. That's fine. 45 seconds to go. Someone asks "how much time do we have." The whistle blows. Cross is great.

Slow start into a series of S-turns. One thing you learn in cross, is that you don't "keep a line," there's a competitive advantage to cutting off your opponent in a series of turns. However, the next time a cyfac kid almost wrecks me in two subsequent turns, the story is gonna be me putting him through the tape. So we roll on - and I'm feeling surprisingly good. The cold weather has left the mostly grass course incredibly bumpy, but I feel like I made a good tire pressure course, and for the first lap I stay closed onto the back end of the front group of six - first place is clearly within my view.

As the second lap progresses, I become aware of a bit of a rattle. These things are hard to notice in these conditions, or at least to identify with any degree of certainty. But still, I was certain that I was rattling more on the course as time went by. I lost two spots in the second lap, but was still holding my own. A primordial ooze was excreting out of my face - a thick amalgam brought on by the cold temperatures. While I am no medical doctor, I'm certain that at least some part of that cold weather snot is liquefied brain, most likely the bit of sensibility that every cross racer must kill on a regular basis. Snot rockets were all the rage.

But the rattling. It got worse. Soon I noticed that I was having to rotate my right heel quite a bit to disengage from my pedal. I soon realized my cleat was loosening. My release angle was about 100 degrees. Three dismounts per lap, three remounts, and I could feel my cleat sliding each time I ran. Pretty awesome.

Not worth quitting for, not many things are, so I pressed on, fearing the inevitable endo (do people still say endo?) at each barrier. I held it together though, lost a few spots, and came in 10th. You know, the usual - slowest of the fastest group of the slowest racers. Upgrades are lame anyway - too much pressure. Plus, I'll be laughing on the front line in RI next week.