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.