Monday, November 19, 2007


I must share this race report written by Kona's Erik Tonkin. The event was won by co-Kona racer Barry Wicks pictured above:
2007 Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championship
Man, that sounds like fun!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Plymouth 'Cross Pics

Thanks to Verissa for snapping some fanastic photos!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Plymouth South Cyclocross 11/11

Pro 1,2,3

I zipped down to the Cape Saturday after Drake’s first hockey game and classes. I stayed over at my mom’s and polished off one of her infamous lists Sunday morning. Then it was a short drive to Plymouth South high school, site of today’s event, a new one on the calendar. There was quite a nip in the air, but it was sunny so it felt OK. As this was a local event, the Elite field was predictably small and there were some familiar faces at the start line like pro roadie Mark McCormack, fellow Elite masters Johnny Bold, Kevin Hines, Colman O’Connor, and mtb single-speeder Thom Parsons. I anticipated the race to be a fun, hard event given the cast of characters.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of today’s race was the spectators. KHS alums Joey K, Verissa, and the Moff were all in attendance in addition to my dad and Katherine. I actually had a small fan base who didn’t have to cheer for me just because they’re related to me, although my dad and Katherine did! I chatted with the KHS trio as I was warming up. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this may have been when the pressure to perform well took root.
Here's a LINK to the course.
I took a couple of laps on the course after the Elite women finished. I wasn’t immediately sure how the track did or didn’t suit me. It began on pavement to spread things out, took a few turns, then narrowed to singletrack through some woods. There was a quick pitch up after a loose left-hander that demanded preparation by shifting well in advance. Then we crossed a road to an open field where we were sent up a small hill that had a 45 degree turn right at the top, then down and around a baseball field, half of which was into the wind, then into a nice singletrack descent which naturally led to a climb which also needed to be planned for by shifting to the right gear in advance. The final stretch had us back into an open field followed by 2 sand pits with barriers in between. I was unable to ride either pit during my warmup, but figured at race-pace they’d be rideable.
I lined up on the back row with Thom and a Bikereg guy whom I’ve raced with before. The start was uneventful and I thought I was in decent position heading into the technical stuff. Got passed by a few on a turn which surprised me, I guess I didn’t have a good line. We get to the road crossing and suddenly I’m down! I must have either leaned in and tried to turn on the road or stood up to accelerate and lifted up the front end. Either way, my wheels washed out from under me and my ankle, thigh, and elbow all kissed pavement in that order resulting in some superficial scrapes on bike and body. I was in such shock! I quickly righted myself and sprinted to catch back on. All but Thom and Bikereg were now pulling away from me. I pinned it to the summit of the climb on the back side when fate knocked me down again! I believe I caught my handlebar on a little pine tree right at the top and it hooked me resulting in a fairly harmless lay down. Thom and Bikereg had to take evasive action and did some bushwacking of their own to get down the hill unscathed. I felt like a total dip for making them lose touch with the group. What was the deal with me!? I think I know, anytime I race Elite, I feel pressured to do too much too early. I was racing over my concentration level. Plus, I had all those fans there, I didn’t want to disappoint! Well, if they wanted to see me DFL, I gave them their money’s worth! So there I was, last watching the line of riders get thin and small as they cruised into the distance. Last time my dad watched me race, I was DFL thanks to a flat. Now I had only myself to blame, so I set out to try and salvage the day. Thankfully, I had no further bufonic incidents. I just set my sights on any rider ahead of me and worked on reeling them in. I quickly reeled in Bikereg, he later DNF’d. Then it was Patrick Goguen I think, he DNF’d. then it was Thom. He was a tough nut to crack as he had a proper gearing for the straights and killed it every time. unfortunately, I think the long climb actually killed him and that’s where I passed. Its hard to remember if I nipped any others in the long, middle stretch of the race. The funny thing is, apparently folks were DNFing anytime Thom and I passed them, what are chop liver?! With a couple to go, I heard 2 things from the announcer that motivated me to dig deep to finish up: 1. Mark McCormack was closing in on me and I did NOT want to get lapped and 2. The rider ahead of me was in 8th place, the final $ spot. So I found another can of whoop-ass deep inside and I set out for the CCB rider ahead of me which in turn should keep me ahead of McCormack. It all played out. I passed the finish line with Mark still a minute or so behind and I sensed I gained a lot of space on the CCB rider. See, I had been trying to be a tough guy and ride both sandpits I mentioned. The first one was tricky as it was just after a turn, so momentum was minimal, plus the entrance had evolved into a hole where more speed was scrubbed off. I finally just ran it like I’m sure everyone else was doing. I came to this realization after my right calf locked up in a cramp when I straddled my bike when I came to a dead stop mid-sand pit. The 2nd pit was no sweat as I found a nice line on the outside and could power through all day. I officially reeled in the CCb guy on the final lap at the top of the little hill which was just what I hoped would happen so I could sit on his wheel in the wind. About mid-way through the field I made my move and passed him so as to be ahead in the singletrack. It worked like a charm. He either gave up or had an issue as he was not in sight as I snuck a look back before the final journey through the sandpits.
I crossed the line out of the money officially in 8th, but still on the lead lap and with some dignity restored for just finishing. It was great to have people there, I just wish I could have given a better showing. Katherine kept me going with her cheers twice a lap. I think Joe, Gerry, and Verissa were a little unsure of whether to cheer or not because I was so far back, but knowing they were there made me work harder than I perhaps would have.
Next up is Round 5 of the NECCS @ Sterling, MA on 11/24. This looks to be my last race of the year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Porky Gulch Stage Race Report 11/3-4

Hillclimb: 4th
Crit: 2nd
‘Cross: 2nd
Overall: 2nd

I have always wanted to try this race out. But, due to the busy ‘cross season, there always seemed to be a conflict. This year was no exception as the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the New England Cyclocross Championship Series was held in CT and MA. However, I stuck with my gameplan set in the fall: if I wasn’t in the top-15 after the first 2 races, I wasn’t going to chase the series. Since I flatted in round 2 in Gloucester and finished 80th, I was definitely out of the running! So, I lured Babs and the kids into a trip to Gorham, NH for the weekend. I got the kids by staying in a hotel with a pool and gameroom, and Babs by making a stop in N. Conway for some outlet shopping!
Here are some links that explain this unique event as well as a post-race wrap-up written by the organizers, which you should read in order so I don’t have to be so verbose. It’s best described as a fun, low-key, small-scale, non-sanctioned, amateur event.

Mt. Wash. Hillclimb:
After consulting with last year’s stage winner Anders Larson and weighing my bikes, I opted to use my Major Jake for the 1.8 mile assault up Mt. Washington’s Auto Road. When I did the full hillclimb event in 2006, I used my mountain bike to be sure I had the proper gearing. My ‘cross bike has 36 inner chainring and a 12-28 cogset, so I figured I had the proper gearing and thought the lower part of the road was less steep. WRONG! Man I buried myself. I blew up so badly, my upper body was hurting as much as my legs. I thought I had a pretty good warmup, but I may have overdone the flat start relining it from the get-go, never to have a chance to recover my heartrate below 180 until the end. There were actually times when I wanted to just quit, or at least get off the bike and walk. It was the most suffering I’ve felt in a long time on the bike. And what did I show for it? A mere 4th place. I really thought this was my event to excel in, at worst finish 2nd, not get beaten by 3 others. I wish I knew what bike and gearing they used.
I now had a 13-point deficit I had to make up in the next 2 stages.

Story Land Crit:
This was by far the most unique race I have ever been involved in. We actually rode around inside Storyland around rides, pools, over bridges/traintracks, through tunnels, it was wacked! My strategy was to actually ride behind someone because there was so much eye candy, I was not confident I’d know which way to turn for the first few laps. I thought the technical nature of the course would be in my favor and give me a chance to get away, but the other racers were strong, despite the significant accordion effect in the pack. There was a long, windy straightaway which favored group riding, so a pack of 6 of us stayed together until the final lap. There was a mad sprint on the last straight before diving into the park for the final time and I was fortunate enough to be 3rd, behind legendary Paul Curley and the overall leader Pete Ostroski in first. 52 year-old Curley tapped his years of experience and executed his planned move to pass first place on a short rise mid-way through the course as I was only beginning to figure out how I could make a pass. It wasn’t until the final turn in the park that my card was played for me. Pete caught a pedal, altered his line and missed a pedal stroke. I took evasive action and just managed to avoid rear-ending him and slipped by. Unfortunately, this bobble was enough for Curley to get away and I cruised in to take 2nd. Ostroski must have struggled to regain composure as he was passed by another rider and finished 4th. So, a good point day for me, putting me only 5 back heading into the ‘cross race.

Rockpile Rampage 'Cross:
The overall stage win came down to today. The points difference between 1st and 2nd was 5, then it was 4 from 2 to 3 on down. No matter what, I needed to finish 2 places ahead of Ostroski. The previous night's weather brought rain from the hurricane, but there were no signs of it today. It was a clear, brisk, dry day almost perfect for 'cross, minus the mud. My legs felt solid and I was ready to give it to 'er! I did a couple of recon laps to discover it was a pretty long lap, with some long open straights, little technical sections, and a couple of short steeps requiring a drop to the inner ring. My confidence rose a couple of notches when I noticed Ostroski lined up on a mountain bike! The start was clean and I was 2nd. I followed the leader most of the 1ts lap, but felt he was a little slow on the turns so I took over the lead for the 2nd lap. The pace was high and the pack was quickly whittled down to me leading Curley, Ostroski, and another guy who is in the 'Cross in the Glen Series lead. My hope was to lose Ostroski somewhere back there and I accelerated on the 3rd lap, bringing only Curley with me. Unfortunately, I caught a pedal on a turn and ended up on my side. Curley passed on and by the time I righted myself, the other 2 were in tow and it was recovery time. Curley led a lap, and even Ostroski led 1 which was nice. But I was the one with the most to gain from this race so the work came on my shoulders and I found myself back out in front pushing the pace. We dropped Pettengil and on the back side of the course with 2 to go the savvy Curley made his winning move accelerating from behind me to create a gap. I responded as best I could, but for the life of me could not close the gap. Ostroski was dropped, but unfortunately there was no one between us. I could only maintain the gap Curley had on me and he went on to victory. I knew I had to catch him, but I was at my limit. Oh well, Ostroski came in 3rd and thus won the overall by 1 point.
It was a fantastic weekend overall. Although I was preoccupied with racing well (read: moody!) I was glad to have the whole family in attendance, especially hearing Drake's cheers lap after lap! I raced 3 unique events in 2 days and enjoyed the competition. This was pure fun on the bike.
Next up is the Sunday Plymouth 'Cross race.