Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nothing to Say, Nothing to Post

I am currently residing in the cold, dark post race season cave. So deep, I wonder if I'll race at all next season. I've been spurred by Rick to write. But I am uninspired. I stopped riding altogether the day before Thanksgiving and am simply bored with my life off the bike. Why would I bore anyone else who might read this?
I highly recommend you check out the following links instead to help brighten your day:
Jonny Bold Wins Natz
Any bike-related movies. These are funny as hell!
Other NE cyclocross blogs
See you on the flip-side of winter.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Calling it a Season

The finish came quicker than I thought so I just coasted across the line.
I had every intention of closing out the CX season by attending the final 2 doubles. But the real world got the better of me and I finally put the priority list in proper order:
1. Family

2. Work

All season #1 and 3 were inverted. It was time to do the right thing by being a dad and husband and spend the weekend with the family at a hockey tournament instead.

It was close though! I actually had the bikes loaded on Tuesday as the plan was to have Thanksgiving on the Cape then Friday and Saturday nights at a hotel in Exeter, NH a mere 90 minutes away from Sterling.
My dad was slated to come up and take the fam to the Saturday games while I raced. Then we would all go to the Sunday event hoping the team didn't make the finals. That was just stupid thinking!

Instead, I hung the bikes for the winter, ate and drank like a starving cyclist all weekend and had a blast! Of course I missed the opportunity to race. But my biggest regret was not actually the riding the bike thing, but missing out on earning points for the overall series. More stupid thinking! Big picture reality is no one really cares where I end up so where's the motivation?
It was fun while it lasted though and I'll be watching the results for all the cool guys still racing out the season.

Looks like a major restructuring of my goals and race plans for next season is in order.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holy Hockey Weekend!

If this past weekend is any indication , the finish to my cycling season is a sprint away.
I spent more hours in a rink with my boys this weekend than I did on the bike all week.
Friday: Drake's game
Saturday: KHS exhibition game sadnwiched between a Fenix double header plus the UMaine vs BC game in Orono!

Sunday: Drake's game
Add the fact I worked at the rink half-day Saturday and all day Sunday, I am semi-frozen.
Hopefully I can get to Sterling this weekend but it conflicts with, what else, a hockey tourney in NH.
The season, she is a changing!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

KHS Bike Polo 2009

What do you do with a mountain bike team when the season is over and it's snowing? Play bike polo of course! 1 kid actually broke his leg later. This ain't no Sunday group ride!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sunday's Epic Cycle-Smart Cyclocross 2009 Pro Men Crash

Here is the wreck I avoided. It's a blink of the eye after I pass with the Boo guy and it's a crash fest! I can't imagine the impact some of those guys had to endure. It ends with poor Adam Craig looking slightly out of sorts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Verge NECCS #10 Cycle-Smart International Race Report

Saturday 20th/52

So what was left today? After a night spent in Cambridge where I reloaded calories and took an ice bath, it was back to the scene of the crime. It’s hard to say whether I was actually fatigued or whether I was just trying to convince myself I was; a perfect alibi for a lackluster performance. Fact is I was not superpsyched to race. But the weather was phenomenal and course conditions were as pristine as the day before so at the very least, I told myself it’s a great day for a ride!
I spun a few laps again. The course had a similar feel but the sand trap and off-camber climb were significant fixtures this time. We rode the entire length of the sand and it was difficult not to get bogged down by the end. The climb was totally rideable. But a cleverly placed s-turn just ahead of it limited your ability to get good speed heading into it. I planned to drop to the middle ring. The legs felt OK, but my warmup was lackadaisical aiding me in my plan to use fatigue as an excuse.
The big question was, what was the start going to be like? To my surprise, it was set up exactly the same as yesterday. I joked with Adam Craig at the line (he was a row behind me, again!) how he missed the previous day’s wreck. He said he wanted to talk with everyone before the start and stress to chill out. Well, before he really got the chance, an announcement was made there was a $200 preme for the first lap leader! So much for rational thinking. Throw money at some starving pros and it’s a dog eat dog world. Thankfully I was not wearing my milkbone kit!
Sure enough, the whistle blew and it was a gongshow. I was 2nd row in the middle with my hands in the drops ready for powerful braking. I had some room and just worked my way through the gears. I heard some commotion but never laid eyes on what occurred. Colin has the video from the crash. Everything must have went down right behind me because as I rounded the first turn desperately trying to hold on the Sexual Camel’s wheel, there weren’t too many blokes behind me. I couldn’t believe my fortune! In fact, I was so elated I forgot there was a race going on and I was missing out on the train ahead of me. Crap those guys are fast! I was quickly the caboose and gaps formed out of every turn. Whether it was lack of legs, cardio, or bike handling, I was going nowhere but backwards. I think I was actually telling myself to go into conservative mode rather than capitalize on my start and bury myself for a few laps.
Either way, despite the encouragement from Nathaniel Ward to “close that gap,” I was soon in no-man’s land for the first couple of complete laps. At some point I connected with Wayne Bray and I rode behind him but never close enough to benefit from a draft. This was really dumb riding on my part. Then I started noticing a colorful trio in the turns. John Burns (unlucky DNF the day before : read fresh legs!), Dave Wilcox and Colin were working to reel us in. apparently we all ride the same speed because the names were all the usual suspects from the day before! I checked their time gap for a couple of laps and realized they were closing. Wayne must have sensed this before I as he virtually sat up and let me by. At this point I made a commitment to go hard and see if I could at least maintain my distance solo. At my time check in the upper section they were even closer so I knew the gig was up. I wouldn’t say I let them bridge up, but I will say I couldn’t go any faster. So I hopped on the train. Burns did his share of work but it looked like Wayne was really the strongest of the group. After the climb with a few to go, Burns Wayne and I put a bit of distance on Colin and Dave somehow. I spurred the boys on but it was not meant to be. Colin and Dave were right back on. We rode around as a pretty fluid unit for the remaining laps and minds started shifting to how the final lap would play out. I felt pretty confident I would have something if it came down to a sprint finish as the group riding was a bit easier than my solo efforts. The monkey wrench in my plans was the sand pit. I lost touch with the guys every lap. I consistently entered it way too slowly and exited barely turning the pedals over. Colin I knew was killing it! My only hope for earning a gap to the finish was for some kind of entanglement to occur that didn’t include me. Thus, my plan was to run the pit the final time. I dismounted right at the entrance and to my delight watched Wayne go head over heels! He righted himself quickly and was still out of the pit ahead of me, but had bike issues and I got by. Unfortunately, my plan was slow and the trio got ahead of me eliminating me from a sprint possibility. Colin capitalized on his advantage out of the sand and went on to finish first in our group followed by Wilcox who rode Burns’ wheel until the last second. I was content to have won my “sprint” out of the sand by beating Wayne by one spot for the 2nd day in a row.
I was thrilled to have made the top-20. I felt a little regret for not having delivered a better finish to coincide with a good start. But once the results are in, who knows how it came about and who cares?! I’ll take the points and $ and run, err, ride!
Got a couple of weeks off, then I hope I can squeeze the Sterling races in around Drake’s hockey tournament. Until then, I’m enjoying the nice fall riding, but really starting to hate the training!

Verge NECCS #9 Cycle-Smart International Race Report

Saturday 25th/53

Whew. That weekend took a lot out of me! It has been a challenge getting back into the work and ride routine. Spending time blogging was bottom of the priority barrel. After a day off and 2 recovery rides, the motivation is returning and I’m beginning to feel whole again. Best part is I didn’t have to dedicate any time to cleaning the bikes. Weather and course conditions were that pristine!
So the racing was both memorable and forgettable. Start line crashes are certainly at the front of the memory bank as well as the course in general. But a lot of the actual middle part of the racing was not dramatic enough to highlight. In fact, I am having a hard time remembering much about day 1. Really makes you want to read on, eh? Well, here goes.
I drove down solo per usual straight to the gorgeous venue that is Look Memorial Park in Northampton, MA. Sun and dry temps in the 50’s made for primo conditions. I got a few recon laps in on the course. It dizzyingly wound its way on the lower flat grass section where fast cornering was the norm, then after a loose dirt run up, looped about a wooded section where avoiding the roots was the focus. Fun bonus sections included jumping over train tracks a few times. The start section was what warranted the closest scrutiny. It began as a 10-wide road section with metal barriers on either side. The barriers eventually tunneled to like 5-wide in an attempt to get us over a curb at 90 degrees and onto the grass. The assumption was racers would realize this was a hazardous section and hopefully chill a bit as the race would most certainly not be won here but easily lost. The carnage that was the first lap of the 2nd Downeast race should have clued people in! Well that assumption made an ass out of whoever thought it.
I had a sweet 2nd row call up. I’d been practicing my starts and was pretty confident I’d get through in good position. The rest of the course had me a bit concerned as there were a lot of power opportunities and I wasn’t too sure where I stacked up there. Fortunately, there were no super long stretches and I was optimistic I could escape with a top-25 if paired with a good start. Of note, Adam Craig lined up behind me. Apparently his UCI points had not been tabulated yet. I really wanted to just get out of his way! We took off and I was in the swarm of killer bikers. From what I remember, we made it to the grass but that’s where bikes and bodies started flying. Apparently front rower Josh Dillon’s chain broke on the pavement and that started some of the calamity. I managed to get to the grass but was brought to an abrupt halt as Michael Broderick turned into a barrier in front of me. I managed to hop off the bike in constant fear of getting run over from behind by the likes of Craig. Somehow my handlebar was caught in
Here's a video of the calamity. I'm all the way across along the course tape in white.
Broderick’s front wheel holding me up further, but I got it untangled and got underway again.
Funny thing was before the race Broderick was joking how it takes a bit of magic to have a good race. Looks like he got tapped by the black magic wand. There were a few others guys around me but we were way back. We hit the sand and encountered another traffic jam. I hopped off and ran then totally botched the remount relegating me to absolute DFL. I immediately went into decision-mode: pull-out and save some strength for tomorrow or push on and take what I can get. I gave myself a lap to decide. I got into a decent rhythm, was picking off riders and was pretty much having fun and enjoying the course despite the major effort I was putting out. So the remainder of the race was using riders ahead of me as goals to pass. It seemed to work pretty well. If I remember correctly, with a few laps to go I encountered folks like Colin Reuter, Christian Favata, Wayne Bray, and Dave Wilcox. The way I remember it is Wilcox was on a late-race resurgent ride and drove the pace. I got into the middle of the group and was trying to stay on Favata’s wheel who would kill it on the flats but slooow in the turns. I found myself leading after the upper section but didn’t want to pull everyone on the flats since I had worked hard enough alone coming up through the field. I slowed before the barriers and let folks pass (pro logic). I ended up botching the remount and they all got a gap (amateur execution). So instead of working within the group, I now had to bury myself again just to catch it. Thankfully I made it back. From there I really don’t remember what happened. The pace was spicy thanks to Wilcox as he sensed the urgency of not getting lapped and I lost contact with him and Favata after the final sand pit. Colin had dropped off after he and Favata tangled on a turn. Wayne was upping the ante behind me forcing me to give ‘er to hold whatever my position was. Glad I did, because I nipped the final points and $ place. I would have been pretty bent if I expelled all that energy and had nothing to show for it.
In summary, I survived a major wreck and for once was able to salvage a decent finish despite the adversity. The big question was, what did I have left for tomorrow?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

NoHo: Run over Broderick in crash @ start. Eat grass after sand pit remounting. DFL. Ride rear wheel after barriers. Don't get lapped by Powers. Finish in $$!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


This past Saturday was the championship race for the Maine High School Mountain Bike Series.
I wish we went! The H1N1 virus arrived on the Kents Hill School campus last week and the athletic department decided to cancel all contests in an effort to minimize the spread to others.
This was a fitting cap to a wacky season that saw 2 races washed out. Pretty much sums up the whole XC race scene this summer. Oh well, good thing 'cross stops for nothing or no swine!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Verge NECCS #8 Downeast Day 2 Report


Don't worry, these results are not going to my head! Although the weather conditions were dramatically improved to a warm sunny day, the course was in my opinion uglier than the day before. Gone were the big wet puddles and rain showers to wash the liquid mud off the bike. In its place was the hateful drying, sticky mud that hung on to your bike and body like crabs to a crotch. The shit just kept multiplying! The wooded sections were barely rideable up or down and the open fields were saturated leaving you no break from keeping power to the pedals.

I took a 15 minute pre-ride on my pit bike, bagged half the lap, scraped the mud off the bike and dropped it off in the pits hoping I would never have to see it. I gained no course knowledge and didn't even have an idea how the start was going. I returned to warm up alongside John Burns and I had nothing but disdain for the course and my thoughts on how I thought the race would go. "Suck" was my best descriptor. JB tried to motivate me be letting me know how cool it was that I beat MTB pro Mike Broderick the day before. That was cool, for a second, then I realized the pressure was on to have another solid performance again today, in this swine of course.

An oddity I noticed was folks like Myerson, Lindine and Ward weren't even spinning on trainers. What did they know that I didn't? Was this race going to be such a shit show it didn't even matter if you were warmed up?!

No matter, I was going to get through this and be happy with a finish, period. I did my best to recover the night before with a sushi, pizza meal, followed by an ice bath, a restless night's sleep, then blueberry pancakes in the morning. The legs felt decent, probably given the fact they weren't taxed too heavily on Saturday.

Today I got a 2nd row callup! WTF is happening?!

That's Manny Goguen behind me. I was hoping we would be riding together again today but he had a stellar outing and finshed about a minute ahead.

I have never been so close to Timmerman's ass before! It's shapely. I was deep in the doubting-my-ability-cave when the whistle blew and I ride off blindly following the wheels of the front row guys. I'm pretty sure I lost a handful of positions en route to the first wooded descent where all hell broke loose in front of me. Turns out these guys up front are pretty committed to either winning or losing a race on the first lap no matter the conditions as Colin and I surmised after the race. A little give and take early on could go a long way towards having a solid finish.

Guys were criss-crossing and banging into and yelling at each other all over the place forcing many of us behind to hop off our bikes. Funniest thing was Colin riding through laughing and yelling "Yeah, bike racing! You guys are doing it all wrong!" The melee put me in a long run up a normally rideable climb and relegated out of the top-20. So much for a good start and having a good day I thought. From there, it was survival mode riding slippery sections in a group. On the pre-ride there was a stone wall that I thought was un-rideable and I dismounted in preparation for it. When I came upon it someone had done some altering and it was now rideable, which was nice, but not for this lap. I stayed on the gas where I could and began the long and slow process of picking up positions over the next couple of laps. At one point I was the cream in the middle of the Colin and Kevin cookie battle for supremacy and got to hear some of the heckling those guys have to endure!

I soon deduced I was going to have to race the course and let the result come as it may. Second lap I bridged up to Burns and Rubijono. I cut JB off a bit on a quick run, then got my just desserts as Rubi stumbled and I had to dismount as well. What I wanted was to essentially mountain bike race: get alone and find my own line through the crap. There were a few stealth lines on the trail edges, including a nice piece of singletrack through the trees that I found a couple times. The bike was performing really well save for a couple of skips in the gears. For the record, I didn't use my pit bike all weekend. I dragged that race bike from start to finish with half the course on it.

Long story short, cheers from fans (sorry I couldn't thank you all out there, I was in the pain asylum and not allowed to acknowledge visitors!) and Freye plain old yelling at me to ride harder kept me going. LaFlamme's encouragement saying I had "only 4 laps to go" was tough to swallow though! I was happy to hear my placing at the end. My time wasn't exactly stellar and I no doubt advanced spots thanks to some of the leaders taking each other out, but I feel OK about backing up Saturday's result with this one.

Major equipment advantage today was my Shimano/Hutchinson tubeless wheelset. The traction and mud-shedding ability of this combo really helped get me through.

On a personal note, I relished the support from folks like my OA/CycleMania teammates, friends like Freye and Hattie, the McEwans, Stephanie Chase, even fellow competitor Tom Gosselin on Saturday and anyone else I missed. It's the motivation gleaned from the likes of their encouragement that make racing fun an good finishes rewarding.

But the downside to my selfish ego-boosting is that just yesterday I missed my youngest score his soccer team's only goal in a 1-1 dramatic final game of the season to remain undefeated. To make matters worse, I didn't see any of his games all season and my wife was the coach!

I also missed the whole family participating in a 1 mile Halloween run that my oldest son won outright beating everyone with a time of 7.33.

The icing on the cake is the fact that the family hasn't seen one of my races all season, that's going all the way back to March. That's simply totally fucked up. What was once a family affair has turned into my own selfish pursuit. I guess that's why there aren't too many 40+ pros with a wife who hasn't divorced him yet and kids who still recognize him. I'm afraid the writing is on the wall and next season will see a much more limited but no less rewarding schedule.

OK. I had to get that off my chest. In the meantime, it's ALL IN this season and I'm looking for ward to NoHo! Bring on the power!

Verge NECCS #7 Downeast Cyclocross Report


Not a typo! I guess the stars were aligned for me today resulting in my best CX finish evah. A fan best summed it up by saying mid way through “You’re having the race of your life.” And from there, the Dirty Dancing song lyrics rang through my head spurring me on to the finish.
As much of a pleasant surprise the result was, I think it’s pretty cut and dry how it came about. Conditions were deplorable as a cold rain fell all day long relegating this new course into a muddly mess. I rode 1 lap on my pit bike and it took like 15 minutes as the going was slow. When I was done I had no recollection of what I rode and prepared myself to go into the race blind. The layout was typical for this venue: pasture, dirt path in the woods, several elevation changes. I would not call this a typical CX course, but then again what is? The week before I was riding on a sidewalk along the ocean! So my mindset was transformed to the knowledge everyone else was in the same boat (no pun intended!) and I simply needed to stay positive and just ride.
Photos by real man Paul Weiss braving the elements as well!

I was the first called up on the 3rd row and I picked a sweet outside line. After the whistle we sprinted up the short pavement and onto a long dirt section.
It sounded like there was a bit of congestion behind and to my right. I motored on sucking the mud and water flung up by the Sexual Camel in front of me. Given the conditions of the rest of the course, I opted to start in my small ring and avoid the possibility of a miss-shift once things got hairy on the trail. It seemed to work as we soon strung into a single file and I was amazed that I was holding my own and not getting dropped or passed. It’s hard to remember much from there as the remainder of the race turned into a focused individual effort of riding a smooth line and staying mentally tough. Manny Goguen and I swopped spots back and forth for a while. Unfortunately he was underdressed for the conditions and ended up dropping out. I was very glad to be rocking the old-school Kona skinsuit with thermal undershirt, leggings and storm gloves.

My finish I think is fairly easy to justify and explain. I had a great start and was in mountain bike-mode using the years of mud riding experience to my advantage. The course conditions also eliminated the power riders’ (read: roadies) ability to crush any open sections and I happily spun around in my 36/25. I was still hating the course, but the prospect of having a great finish on the day kept me motivated and on the gas. Plus, the fans’ cheering in miserable conditions were huge ego boosts and I was grateful for that.
Equipment-wise, the top mount brakes were a huge advantage. What the hell do people have against them?!

And every mountain bike racer knows s/he should have this in their toolbox:

So I got to post-race spin alongside my bovine friends and relish the moment.
As one of the Pete's from Embrocation Cycling demonstrates. This is no joke. Since it was pissing rain, many of us set up trainers in the cow barn. It freakin' stunk!

But the moment was fleeting as my thoughts soon turned to tomorrow’s race. The course was simply going to be run in reverse meaning conditions would be similar and I would have to back up today’s finish with another strong run. So much for celebrating.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 Bay Cyclocross Race Report

Elite Masters

Thanks to the good folks at Bath Cycle and Casco Bay promotions, a local grassroots race was held in Portland last weekend. Sure, there were other options, but I wouldn't have been travelling out of state just to get a race in. This was my only option since I was hosting the Maine High School Mountain Bike Series on Kents Hill School's campus later that day. Based on timing, the Masters' race was what worked with my schedule.
I was excited to race against some of the guys who are competing for position in the Verge NE series. But with it brings some pressure to perform since I've been running with the pros thus far. I had no results to guage where I stacked up against my fellow age-bracketers.

I zipped down early and got a couple of laps in on the course. My immediate reaction was ambivalent.

The layout was essentially on a hillside along the coast of Portland (which was gorgeous!). There was a long gentle paved climb at the start/finish area, then a couple of off-camber grassy turns followed by a long sidewalk straight exposed to the chilly coastal breeze. The back half of the course was where it got entertaining. There were some tight grassy S-turns, 2 long run-ups, a white-knuckle descent ending in a 90 degree turn and a gravel singletrack cut into the side of a hill with little room for error at speed. Lots of elevation changes to say the least. The warm-up laps left me figuring the open sections could allow for group racing and I was concerned.
We 35+ guys lined up with the 45 and 55's behind going off after a time delay. I matched the acceleration of the others and got the holeshot onto the grass. However, teammate John Meerse came around me on the sidewalk stretch and I backed into 2nd as we hit the tecky sections. I followed his wheel closely, which brought me to a unique approach of the first run-up.
I figured to take this wide and hit it with speed and carry as much momentum up on the bike. John cut right into the side of it leaving only a short run to the top. This was a great line and the one I used for the rest of the race. Unfortunately for John, he stumbled, I got by, and went solo from there for the rest of the race.

The cool photos are courtesy of Don and Dana McEwan

Team Bikeman racers Alan Starrett and Ryan Rumsey were working like a train together to chip into my lead but apparently Big Al had a bit of brake rub. Its hard enough in these races, you don't need to add resistance training!

Turns out the course was very entertaining and demanding. The run-ups and the paved stuff hurt. But the rest of the course allowed for recovery as I was focused more on bike handling than the pain in the legs, a nice mix. It's easy to say the course was unique, but what CX course isn't?! I think the guys made the most out of the space they had and I really enjoyed it. Winning probably didn't hurt!

I won a couple of cool preme prizes and bucks which promptly went to the benefit of my school mountain bike team racers. So thanks to all who helped pull off the event. It was a great day and super to see so many first timers out there trying this wicked cool sport!
Next up is another couple of events close to home as the NE Series hits up Pineland.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

NECCS #3 Gloucester Race Report


One Race Wonder
As scheduled, I made the day trip down to MA for the 2nd of the 2 “New England Worlds” races held in Gloucester. See, I coach our school’s mountain bike team and we have races every Saturday until November. Funny thing was, the HS race was cancelled due to rain and for a moment, I realized I could make it down to hit up the CX race. Then I looked at the radar and MA was getting walloped by rain and I came to my senses and stayed home. I made the most out of the opportunity to spent QT with the family celebrating Fenix’s 6th birthday at Margarita’s and a movie (a fitting one given the day's weather, especially in Gloucester).

The Gloucester races have been a bit of an Achilles heel for me over the years. I’ve flatted twice, been hung up in other folks’ issues, been lapped and generally disliked the wide open trait of the course. so my expectations were limited but I was eager to go out and race and I was determined to at least work on my start. What better place to do it?

I arrived and kitted up for course inspection under mostly cloudy skies and mild temps. I checked the condition of racers’ bikes and bodies and saw no signs of mud. Turns out the remodeled course from the day before was virtually bone dry and actually tacky. Additionally, it was fairly technical, almost dizzingly so. I was stoked. After a good warmup on the trainer I lined up 4th row and took off with the whistle. I was surprised at the room I had as we rounded the road bend up the hill and I reminded myself to take advantage and move up as much as possible. I did a fair job of it and figure I was at worst top-40. I held my ground until the course got into the more techy stuff and then it was battling the bobbles ahead of me. At 1 point there was a hold-up in a u-turn section that was totally rideable and I got hooked on a course stake. I was off the bike now and didn’t want to lose spots so I kept moving forward while trying to untangle myself. I hear someone saying “Stop, stop, stop!” and I’m wondering why I haven’t gotten loose yet. I look back and see I’m pulling Colin and his bike around as his front wheel is hung up on my handlebars! This was an absurd game of Twister. Somehow he freed us up and we were once again underway. My issue is once again saved for eternity thanks to Colin’s seat cam here. I lost touch with the group for a bit and was alone briefly but then caught back on to Colin’s group that had a couple of Embrocation guys in it. As we hit the start/finish road section they slowed and I thought it was a recovery period but I wanted to keep moving up. Turns out the course routed us off the road and onto a nasty off-camber section that I totally missed on the pre-ride. I went into it HOT and hung on for dear life! Thanks to my TOP-MOUNT brakes I made it out alive albeit after losing the positions I just gained.

Thanks to Zach Magoon for the cool pics
I settled back in and set out to pick off as many riders as I could ahead. I had to keep reminding myself chances were I had fresher legs than the others and I needed to capitalize on their bobbles in the corners and try to outsprint them out of them. Some guys just can’t ride this stuff.

The laps were long, but overall fun. At one point I came through the start/finish checking for the lap cards to gauge how much more I needed to put out but couldn’t find one. I heard lots of cowbells and thought for a bit this might be my last lap so I dug in for about half a lap. Then I heard announcer Fries talking about the leaders had 2 to go and I was like oh dang I hope I didn’t burn out. I made some final passes over the last laps, used Burns trailing behind me as motivation, and used the KCCX/Verge rider ahead of me as the carrot. Turns out I finished where I started 32nd. I was totally satisfied.

Next up is a duty weekend here on the Hill, then it’s the local Casco Bay event, then the double in ME.

3 final thoughts on the day:
Best Gloucester course evah
Worst lap card placement evah
Best racing experience at Gloucester evah

Friday, October 02, 2009

New Blog Site

A blog has been set up that lists many of the New England CX racers' blogs. Check it here:

New England Cyclocross Blogosphere

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Build it, Ride it."

out to meet Brian Alexander of CeMENEMBA to do some trail maintenance yesterday.
This was actually my first time working on what I ride.
What an ass I've been!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Verge NECCS #1 & 2 Race Reports

Elite 20th/39
Elite 26th/43

The tale of 2 races.
I played catch-up all last season for missing the opening round of the series last year and garnering the precious points for call-ups. This year I committed to clearing my schedule and making the Green Mountain Cyclo-Cross Weekend at the Catamount Family Center. Unfortunately this meant having to miss one of the Maine high school mtb series races but I had to be selfish here. The goal was to earn at least one top-25 spot and secure a call-up based on points rather than registration for the rest of the season. I left the fam @ their Saturday soccer games and headed due west to Williston, VT.
I arrived in time to get some laps in on the course. I was fairly unimpressed with the length, lack of tech, and the climbing. Unbelievably there were 2 sections where I had to drop down to my small ring in order to get up the steeps. Perhaps this was their version of tech. The course basically wound its way in a rolling grass field. I was concerned.
I got a 2nd row callup thanks to my quick online registration ability. The race got underway and I was immersed by the pack. A couple of guys got tangled up around the 1st turn and pushed their way into me, but everyone stayed upright and we chugged on. I was my conservative-self and just tried to minimize the number of people passing me rather than going Hulk and sticking my bike where it didn’t belong and forcing the issue so early on. Racers started stringing out and I would find myself dangling with 2 or 3 riders trailing a larger group of 6 or so that was being led by Adam Myerson. I thought fans were kidding when they were shouting he was up there. John Burns was there too but I could never close the gap and eventually ended up in no-man’s land behind them. This hurt in the numerous open sections where the wind was a real factor. I ended up rolling in satisfactorily in 20th, exceeding my goal and happy for the outcome.

After a great post-race meal in S. Burlington Burnsy and I settled into our uber-plush Green Mounatin Suite. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good night’s sleep for whatever reason. We woke Sunday to showers and a decidedly wet ground. I was ambivalent about the conditions. This could either help or hurt me. The fact that we were mostly riding on grass really minimized the impact of the weather. I pre-rode the course with my pit bike but didn’t push the limits to test traction. Essentially there was a long open climb then a winding descent. Bike handling was a factor, but not the difference-maker as it wasn't too mudly. It was still mostly about power and being careful to not get caught in the myriad of slippery grooves in the grass.
I lined up 3rd row today which was OK. Problem was, I did my whole lame slow start thing and was passed A LOT as we rode up the climb. I need to man-up from here on in if I want to have decent finishes. As we summited, there was a swooping left hand turn that had a puddle and rocks in the middle which was important to avoid. On the pre-ride I opted for the outside line to stay out of danger and I was on-line in the race. Unfortunately I caught a groove I never saw and was doing a power slide when suddenly the tires hooked up and shot me straight across the middle of the course and into the line of those left behind me. Some poor dude t-boned me and went down. (This entire sequence is well documented on Colin's blog HERE) He must have made contact with my rear brake somehow as there was a dragging sound coming from the rear end. I tried to determine the issue but was losing more and more ground in the race. I had braking power so I wasn’t crippled but the noise couldn’t be good. I was planning to pit but the sound eventually dissipated and I deduced it was only a cable rubbing on the tire. Well, the damage was done and I am pretty sure I was in like 40th at this point. The rest of the race was all about catch-up as I soloed the whole time.
My longest chase was behind Rubijono but he eventually was kind enough to let me go. On the last lap I finally made eye contact with a couple of riders ahead including fellow Mainer Tom Gosselin. My motivation just spiked and I dug deep to bridge up to them on the climb. I caught them at the top just as Tom was attacked by the other rider so I followed. He rode the descent pretty well so I wondered where I would get around him. Coming through the start/finish area I passed and outbraked him heading into the barrier corner, a textbook NASCAR move. I created a gap and buried myself through the next open field and held on through the finish. I was hoping against hope I cracked the top-25, relying partly on others DNFing. Turns out I was 26th, meaning I had nothing to show for the effort: no $, no points. I was disappointed to say the least but had only myself to blame for a lame-ass start.
Next weekend I’m cruising down for the Sunday race only in Gloucester. A top-25 there will be difficult to attain given the top level competition. A great place to work on my start though!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sucker Brook CX Race Report


Ah, what could have been! I zipped down to a well run event in Auburn, NH with the killer armada of Konas psyched to lay down some laps on the new Team Issue Major Jake.

Arrived in time to spend 25 minutes on the open course to shake the cobwebs off my CX skills and shakedown the bike. The bike was noticeably light and FAST! I adjusted to the cockpit position and use of the Dura-Ace shifters and got help with front chainring adjustment.

After dropping off my pit bike I arrived at the start a bit late and found myself 3rd row back. Oh well, no better time than to practice starts! I chose the outside line and was able to carry plenty of momentum through the first turn and onto the gravel. Not wanting to push it too much battling in the corners, I played it conservatively and settled into the top-12 or so as things went single-file through the grass turns. There was some cat and mousing here and there, but there were no real dramatic changes in the running order.

After the 2nd lap, things started to spread out a bit and I could see a lead group was forming and I was dangling now in the top-10 or so and it seemed like the guys in front of me might lose contact with the leaders so I advanced and landed in the top 5. At 1 point I was 3rd when suddenly the eventual winner sticks his front wheel on my inside in a turn. I give him the room and take the turn wide, but his momentum carries him back into my line and forces me into the tape. As luck would have it, the tape wraps around my handlebar and I screeched to a halt. Thanks for nothing!

I was relegated back to 7th or so but was able to catch back on to the top-5. We crossed the start/finish line and the leader attacks. The guys in front of me are unsure what to do so I make the effort to cross the gap in the gravel section when I feel the rear tire take a hard hit on a rock. It didn't immediately go flat but it felt soft. The pit was right in front of me so I made a last minute decision to enter and switch bikes. I almost loose it as the tire rolls so it was definitely flat. I hop back onto my old bike and I'm like, "man, what a tank!" The bike felt so heavy and sluggish and I had to readjust my handling. I was now in no-man's land relegated to 9th. Try as I might, I could not make forward progress and the lead group was accelerating away. 1 rider had a meltdown with 2 to go and moved me up to 8th where I finished.

I was very satisfied with the experience. It was good to get cut off/a flat/bike change/etc. out of the way in a non-counting race. Should make me better prepared for next weekends' NE Championship Series.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cyclocross Season is On!

Special thanks goes to Tom of The Bike Boutique for building up the bike in short order for today's race @ Sucker Brook!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Next Generation

With the arrival of September comes the start of the Maine High School Mountain Bike Series. I coach the team here at Kents Hill School and took the kids out for their first dirt rides of the season last Friday @ Bradbury State Park. Conditions were actually dusty!

We were fortunate to be joined by fellow racers John Burns and alum Andrew Freye on Friday. They each led a group of riders and their coaching was well received.

These guys were pretty punched on the 2nd loop but still having fun!

On Saturday we hit up the Camden Snowbowl and proceeded to break 4 chains, no bones though!
Climbing, climbing, climbing, climbing, climbing!

This elite group made it to the top for the ocean view.

This endo hurt!
The high school series begins this Saturday @ ME Sport Outfitters in Rockport. Should be a good time!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

GMSR Crit and GC Results

Finished with the field but managed to win a GC time bonus sprint and knock 10 seconds off my overall time. Fred and John also finished in the field maintaining their GC positions:

Meerse 2nd overall
Thomas 7th overall
I ended up 14th overall, 1 spot out of the $!

This was a great OA/CycleMania team effort, landing 3 of us in the top-14. Only Westwood Velo matched us with 3 in the top-9.
This is me, team manager Neil Fitch with bunny ears and Meerse yucking it up after the crit

Sunday, September 06, 2009

GMSR Road Race

75 miles and 3.5 hours later I finish 20th, 1:46 back.
Meerse comes in 3rd and Thomas 8th.

Meerse vaults into 2nd GC!
Thomas in 7th.
I'm in 19th

Saturday, September 05, 2009

GMSR Circuit Race

38th, finished with main field.
Teammates Meerse & Thomas were savvy enough to put themselves in a late break with an exclusive group of 6 and gained 27 seconds on their competitors, most notably all of the Corner Cycle guys.
They moved up in GC to 4th & 3rd respectively!
I sit in 21st.

Green Mountain Stage Race TT

20th, 1:21 back.
Team OA/Cyclemania has Fred Thomas and John Meerse in the top 10.

Monday, August 31, 2009

NECS #7/MMBA #5 Maine Sport Run-off Race Report

3rd Overall

There is much to say about this race. But unstead of winding important things into long-winded paragraphs, I'm going to list them out.

-Mike Patrick made the trek up. He is battling brain cancer and is simply the most tenacious racer I know. We rode together for part of the 1st lap but he said he was having a moment and faded back. Apparently he made it through part of the 2nd lap but ended up having a seizure. Good people like Skip Brown came across him and helped out. He went to the hospital and I can only hope he has recovered. Nothing else really matters. Send him some positive vibes.

-Kilburn did not show up. Too bad.

-The midcoast received 4" of rain on Saturday. The course rode great 1st lap, but was super greasy for the next 3. I did a lot of running. I hate running and carrying a bike. Even in 'cross.

-I completed all my running training for 'cross season in 1 day.

-Although my placing looks great finishing behind only proper racers in the form of my Porky Gulch nemesis Pete Ostroski and former student/racer Andrew Freye, my time told the real story: just under 15 minutes off the lead, and under 10 to 2nd. I was semi-slow to say the least.

-I finished 3rd because Chris LaFlamme flatted out with less than 2 miles to go.

-I was semi-slow thanks to my left forearm and tricep seizing up solid on the last lap. I was like a walking mummy with my arm all out stiff. I had to hoof it down some of the tech descents because I couldn't steer my bike.

-Said cramping was no doubt due to the fact that I pumped up, deflated, installed Stan's, re-pumped up my mud tires the day before. Let's just say 1 tire didn't want to seat.

-How do you give your arms an ice bath?!
-Took a dip in the pond at the base of the hill. I'm thinking this trend that was started with Burns and Joos may be drawing to an end. There will be serious shrinkage come November!

-This was my last XC race of the season and the end of my 2 year Master of Mud reign. All good things must come to an end. The future remains uncertain.