Saturday, December 30, 2006

Der Schmerz

Well, the new year has come and gone without much notice really. It's not like you could tell from the weather it's January anyway. We haven't really been up to much, although I did log a pretty big week as far a miles.

Let's see, highlights of the past week:

1. The Riley's were in town, got to hangout and have dinner with them, unfortunately didn't get to ride. John even brought out some sweet new rides fresh from the Trek factory.

2. Survived Christmas at the in-laws

3. Got in my first fixed gear ride, 3 hours. Legs are still screaming.

4. Hung out at the Nystroms for an early New Years dinner along with Sean, Cynthia, Bernie and Tina.

5. Went to a New Year's party which saw the entire Mt. Hebron fire department show up at 11:30 for what turned out to be a melting roll of electrical tape left in a sconce by the previous owner of our friends new house.

6. Realized I can no longer stay up past 11pm without severely hampering my ability to sleep.

As for New Years resolutions, I don't believe in them. I quit making them a long time ago. You feel better about yourself at the end of the year that way.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Boulder was up early, he knows it's Christmas and he was crying for me to get out of bed so he could have his present. Shortly after removing the squeeker and some stuffing from both his and Riley's toy, the boy was wore out...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Belgian Santa

I was in the liquor store and just had to pick this up for the holidays. If this is what Santa brings you in Belgium then we're moving.
Update: This is not a Santa or and elf, it's a Gnome. After a visit to the brewery's website it made more sense. Thought the Belgian's just had a twisted sense of Christmas, oh well.


It's been a while since I made the Saturday D-ville ride, it's probably been just as long since I did a 3+ hr ride. I think this ride may have also marked the first time the entire team Board was together at one time.

I rode the 'cross bike as I just wasn't ready for the fixie in a group. The gearing was perfect though for spinning, but I did get pinched at the end when Ace wound it up on Harwood and I just ran out of gears to hang on.
Here's Dana in his Velo Bella wind vest, and he wonders why we pick on him? As if the pink bar tape and the teddy bear pictures weren't enough.

The casual pace at the start made it easier to take pictures. Later on it wasn't so easy. Make me respect those photographers riding on the back of motos alot more.

Stop to fuel up before heading down to North Beach.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Truth Is, I'm Not Natural

Yes, I know with all of the scandals plaguing the sport, why would one more person come out? Well, I'm here to say that yes, my cycling perfomance is not natural. I wasn't born with some incredible Vo2 to LT ratio or an incredibly high power to weight ratio or whatever other ratio makes guys like Trebon and Nys wicked fast on a bike.

I have to work for every watt my scrawny ass can put to the pedals. So, unlike last year when I took a few weeks off, got fat and slow before starting what was to be a severely inadequate off-season preparation and base program, I decided to hit the gym today. I like the gym, I just hate the first workout, to be more exact, the after affects of the first workout. I lifted legs as my shoulder still can't bear weight. On the first rep of my first set of squats I realized why my season sucked.

Where had all of my strength gone? I've never come back into the gym this weak.

Makes me glad I started today.

Gina asked me what I was going to post about now that 'cross was over.

Just random shit like this I guess.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

CX Nats Race Report

The Experience

There's nothing much I can say that will fully convey the experience of CX Nationals to anyone who wasn't there. It's just one of those "you had to be there" kinda things. But it was just a bike race you say. Well no, not exactly. Yes, first and foremost we're there to race, but there's so much more. That's why it's taken a few days to let it all soak in and begin to organize itself into a cohesive memory. It was also difficult since it marks the end of the season, one that went by way too fast and won't be here soon enough next year.
After a crappy stay at the Super 8 in Stamford, CT Wednesday night, Gina I made it to Roger Williams Park around noon and meet up with the DCCoD crew to help setup the "MAC Althletes Village". This was a super pimp setup brought together by the organizational mastermind of Tom MacDaniel. What do you expect, he promotes Granouge and make awesome race faces
Once erected, the tents housed a fully stocked food area and a rider lounge fully heated with plenty of seating. Trainers were setup outside the tent and a pit area for storing the bikes, and the trailer was used for changing (also heated), someone likened us to a religeous cult compound.

Everyone kitted up and got ready to hit the course for a few practice laps. This was one of the best experiences of the weekend, probably 30+ Mid-Atlantic 'crossers taking to the course at once. This reminded me of the Thanksgiving day mountain bike ride at Avalon. Everyone just soaking in the course and the company of fellow 'crossers. We rode like we owned the place, and by the end of the weekend, some did.

The Racing

Persoanlly, this weekend was not what I had expected. Warming up on the course Friday just a couple hours before my Masters race I took a hard spill. I went over the handlebars and landed upsidedown square on my right shoulder. As I hit the ground I heard a crack and in that split second thought to myself, "did I drive 400 miles to have my season end like this?" As I lie on the ground in a heap, I got that nausious feeling when I've really hurt myself and I realized I could barely feel my right hand. As I sat up I knew it wasn't my collarbone, but something wasn't right. BB came by and helped me back to the compound where the ice and advil started.

By the time my race came around, I was sore and stiff. My back fared worse than my shoulder and dismounting/remounting was difficult. My front row start kept me in the chase until the first time up the run-up where I dropped my chain and had to stop to get it back on. From then on my race was survival mode. 53rd.

fatmarc scaring children and small animals with the Trucker 'stache

BB smoking it in the 30-34

Saturday was a rest day but we got up early to go watch Morgan in the Junior 15-16 race.

Face it, the kid's got more skills than you. I managed to do a few laps to try and stretch out my back and see how the shoulder would hold up. Bike control was sketchy as best and I couldn't stand and pedal. Things weren't looking good.

Bad Andy taking Dan Coady to the woodshed
on the turn at the base of the run-up in the
Elite Champs.

Sunday came and so did more pain. The weather was chilly and the stiffness was even more set in. We got on the course for the morning warmup session, a little damp but nothing to worry about right? Hell no. I already posted the carnage of my lap two in the B- race. Worst part was I knew to be careful as I watched E-town dump it on the first lap on the same section. Ethan went on to have an awesome ride along with alot of MAC guys, Ferrari, Ellicott, Spanky, Linder and Lindstrom we out there killing it.

I can't say I happy with my riding but I wouldn't have traded the experience of this years nationals for anything. Thanks to everyone who made this happen the list is long but at the top are Tom and Suzy, THANKS!

Monday, December 18, 2006

'Cross nats - The Pile Up

Thanks BB for capturing my lowest point of the 'cross season on video. Sitting in the top 15 I got a bit cocky going through this section on lap 2 taking too high of a line and paid the price. It wasn't so bad that I dumped it, but somehow my chain dropped and got stuck under the chainguard, then to spite me it wrapped around itself several times for good measure. I ran to the pit as most of the field passes me.

The rest is just what the carnage of 140 or so guys trying to ride the course looks like

More to come...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Last Minute

I know with a whole two and a half days left before rolling up to Providence I will forget something. I just hope it's not my shoes.

Yesterday Gina and I hit Sunny's Surplus to pick up a rubber rain suite and some nice waterproof boots. Last year I ran around in sneakers all weekend, not a good choice.

Later, Nystrom and I headed out to Rockburn for a short spin on the pit bikes to make sure they were dialed in. Of course, I can't seem to get the headset and fork tight enough so the whole front end was rattling and braking was horrible. We decide to venture over to the Patapsco side where Chris flats so I did my best impression of an ITT and rode back to his house for a tube and a CO2. I get back, Chris replaces the tube and goes to pump it up and of course the CO2 is spent. Fortunately we're near the trail entrance so I take his wheel down and borrow a hand pump from some guy riding a fully rigid cro-moly Trek 820 circa 1994, decked out in full downhill gear, okay, whatever. We decide to cut our loses and take it easy on the way back.

The rest of the day was spent watching football and decorating the Christmas tree. I'll be surprised if this thing is still standing by the time we get back. Boulder loves Christmas ornaments.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Because This Is What We Do

The final countdown to nats, days and hours, not months and weeks or even weeks and days. Right now if you ain't got it, you're not going to get it.

For that reason I made the journey to the 1st state to hang out and practice with the DCCoD instead of doing some local training on the road out in the cold, alone. That's for after 'cross. The DCCoD has a nice course setup at a middle school around Newark. I was up at 6:15, I don't get up that earlt to go to work! On the road by 7:15, get gas and coffee (but coffee shop not open, apparently never there that early either), and with a slight detour and a call to my GPS Gina Gina for some navigational assistance, I made it.

fatMarc, E-town, Tom, Paul and the rest of the DCCoD were out in full force for the last practice of the season. Auer showed up with a bunch of C3'ers to round out a good little mix of Mid-Atlantic 'crossers. With the freezing temps overnight, it felt like we were riding on the road, the ground was frozen and fast. After some hot laps and some barrier work, we all headed off to a local restaurant for some pizza and make predictions about nationals and how pimp the DCCoD setup will be.

After practice I anxiously drove home to see if the shifter I bought was in the mail. The mail hadn't come by the time I got home so all I could do was hope. The mail finally came and there was a little box, sweet, the missing link to completing my pit bike, well almost.

I love riding bikes, but almost as much as I like riding them, I lke working on them, sometimes. Tonight started out as one of those times, but quickly turned sour when I realized I bought two sets of brake cables, one Dura Ace and once XTR, the XTR was suppose to be shifter cable and housing. Shit, trip to the Bike Shop. That's ok as I still needed bar tape.

Finally get home, shift cable, housing and bar tape in hand I go back to work. I decided to work in the laundry/dog room as the garage is a bit chilly right now, the dogs were so confused. Everything was going along fine until I ran the front brake cable and realized the housing was too short, F@$%! Redo the housing, fumble with stupid cable noodle, spend next hour dialing in front brakes, again. I love Empella brakes but man they can be finickey. Bar tape, no one had white bar tape, so I went with blue, but it was Bontrager. I love Bontrager components, but some things they just shouldn't make, tires and bar tape are at the top of that list.

3 hours later, pit bike complete. Why build a pit bike now you ask? Because this is what we do, and if for no other reason, why would I travel 600 miles with only one bike? I could have spent the season with Frankenbike in the pits, but I decided Frankenbike and I just needed to part ways, a clean break, it was better that way, for both of us.
So a chance listing on eBay a few weeks back led me to purchase another Ridley Supercross. I'm really happy with this bike, so much so I'm probably going to ride it on the road this winter. Plus, it was a good deal and now I have a pit bike for next season, kill two birds with one stone.

Number 2, ready for nats

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What Not to Do

There are some simple rules in life you learn such as

1. Don't piss into the wind,
2. Don't tug on Superman's cape,
(Ok, those two were from Jim Croce)
3. Don't eat the yellow snow
4. Always check the beans and frank before zipping up

To name a few. Well, I'm adding to my list:

Don't watch horror flicks while riding the trainer in the house alone while it's dark out.

I'm usually not freaked out by horror flicks, I'm usually laughing at the rediculous plot or the idiot character who didn't pick up the dead cops gun. But for some reason while watching Silent Hill last night I was just freaked out. Doesn't make 15 minute LT intervals any easier I can tell you that.

I'll go back to watching action flicks from now on.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

MAC Verge Series Part 6: The End, Well Almost

Sunday was the final MAC race of the season. This course would have suited me a month ago, but after HPCX and the PA weekend my fitness went downhill for a bit and I fell off the training wagon so this course hurt a bit when it shouldn't have. Although it was fun, I don't think 4 days for a total of about 7+ hrs on the singlespeed mountain bike was adequate training last week.

The race start was a Cluster-F, thanks to fatmarc's storytelling and an officical that decided to NOT give us a 1 minute count down. Nothing like standing straight legged with two feet on the ground when the whistle is blown. Most of us stood around like lost tourists staring at each other.

For the most part a rode a technically solid race, the only blip was on the first lap getting caught behind some guys who couldn't make the short, rooty hill on the backside and a gap opened.

Game Over

That's ok, it was still fun and I rode that course better than I did 2 years ago.
I rode this uphill with the logs in warm-up but found it was just faster to run, granted I could get unclipped. For some reason my pedals just didn't feel right, really loose. When I wanted out I couldn't and when I didn't want out I was fighting to get clipped back in.

The high speed decent kept you on your toes.

I think I ended up 18th in the MAC series. Not what I had hoped for but then again the competition was top notch. We may be the Killer B's but damn we have fun.

I'd post more pics but Nystrom beat me to it and snagged the good ones. I'll remember not to share them until after I post! I get first dibs on nats pics.

Awesome season to everyone, can't believe it will be over in two weeks. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Back to Back Wins

I scored my first two wins of the season today. Well, they actually came back in October but the results weren't official until today. Both wins came at the Cyclocross Nationals Registration held online in October at

Overcoming fierce competition from a 175 entries in the B field and 105 in the Masters, my superior Internet connection and almost flawless information entry process allowed me to open up the winning gap in the entry process in the B Men's Under 35 and Masters 30-34 categories. The two wins should secure me a front row start at each race where I can make a complete ass out of myself by not being able to get clipped in at the start and being passed by the field.

"I was worried there for a second as the website flashed an unfamiliar screen asking me if I thought there was any reason I deserved a callup for the Masters race. After composing myself, I checked No and continued on. Apparently it didn't affect the outcome of the race, however, others I talked to were completely baffeled and their hesitation may have cost them some spots." - Chris Harshman

Atleast being front row Dennis Smith will actually have to take a picture of me, you would think.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Please Clean Up Your Gene Pool

Mama don't let your kids grow up to be Dumbasses. I bet someone's parents are proud.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Turkey Day Vacation

Nothing like a 4 day weekend to make you hate Mondays even more than usual. This year Gina and I decided to actually host dinner, as we kept offering in the past but always bailed. Instead of having it Thursday though, we waited until Saturday when my brother and his wife could make it up from Virginia. Gina's parents came down Friday and spent the weekend and my parents and grandfater made the trip down off the mountain Saturday.

Gina and her mom were up early Saturday preping everything, I slept in for a while recovering from a wind blown road ride on Friday, first ride since the race weekend. Not long after getting up I was put to work making the stuffing and cutting up potatoes.

Around 11 I slipped out for a short mountain bike ride, our traditional Turkey Day ride got rained out and it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving w/o hitting the dirt. Since it was short notice and somewhat unplanned, I ended up riding solo. I ran into Nystrom trying out his new singlespeed. The trails were nice, with some slop here and there. My legs we revolting from the previous days torture ride, but it was fun.

When I got back I helped throw everything in the oven. Until Saturday I didn't really ever see the need for "good china", maybe it's not so much quality as it is just quantity, as we used every plate, utensil and serving dish we own. The turkey came out great, and Gina's dad took to diassembling it, we got ripped off b/c our bird had no wishbone.

It was a good meal, everyone enjoyed it, or so they said. Afterwards we took to the family room for some dessert and football where I then realized we don't have enough furniture.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

MAC Verge Series Part 5: When it Rains, There's Mud

What a weekend. I think I'm just starting to recover enough to talk about it. There's not much to say, this photo pretty much sums the whole experience.

Photo by Todd Leister
Apparently there was alot of complaining about the course and the race all together. I'll admit I was a bit upset at the lack of hoses, but atleast we had a river to clean our bikes in, just like the Pilgrams used to do. Plus, if it weren't for the mud, this course would have been pretty boring.

Overall it was my best 'cross weekend ever and got to spend sometime hanging out with the C3/ADG guys. Saturday I finally got into the top ten, even with the stacked field. I probabaly ran a good 3rd of the course. There were sections that were just completely unridable, ankle deep mud the consistency of peanut butter, and others that were just suspect.
Photo by Todd Leister
Nystrom was on my wheel for then entire race, I realized early that running was the better option as I could re-open gaps after he closed them on some of the longer power sections. Sometimes the difference was dismounting a few feet earlier and remounting a bit later to keep momentum and not getting bogged down. Fortunately (for me atleast) Chris thought he was in the top 10, if not I would have had to work alot harder. On the downside I somehow managed to shred the casing of my rear Dugast.

After the race we hit the hotel just across the river in Jersey to get cleaned up and finished dialing in the bikes for round 2. We hit a nice little restaurant for dinner with Auer, the Gerlaks, Bad Andy and his wife Kat. Good food, good company.

Sunday came way too early, even after calling it a night at 9. I kind of expected the course to firm up a bit but that didn't happen. I think someone actually went out with a hose and and soaked some of the course. The promoter took out the long running section and added another long power section through the hay field but for the most part it was another day filled with running anything that was suspect.

Sunday was probably my best start, no one seemed to want to take the lead out until fatmarc finally drilled it and Mayhew and I jumped on his wheel flying into the second corner that was a soupy mess. I took the far left line right up against the tape so I didn't even make the shot.
Photo by Dennis Smith
I quickly realized the toll all of the prior day's running had on my legs. One one goal for the day was to not get beat by anyone who didn't race the day before. At one point I'm coming by the pit and Nystrom is running out the entrance and I asked him what the heck he was doing. Apparently his pit bike wasn't in the pit, and unless you change bikes, you can't go out the exit. I finished the day in 14th, which I'm really satisfied with, and I didn't get beat by any one-dayers.

All-in-all a solid weekend. Now it's time to recover and prepare for Reston.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


No way I'm ready to post a race report, just too blown physically and mentally. I do feel the need to send a few shout outs.

1. Promoters rock.

Regardless of how well a race is run or not run or how much the course doesn't suite your personal strenghts, be thankful there are people out there willing to take the time and effort to search out venues and put on races in the first place because without them we would just be dorks with expensive bikes and alot of really tight clothing, so quit your B-atching and race your bike.

Here are just a few you can say thank you too at some point in your illustrious cycling career: Tammy Ebersole, Tom MacDaniel and the DCCoD, Mike Hebe and Kris Auer.

2. Cycling Spouses.

Be thankful you've found someone willing to travel with you every weekend to bike races, or atleast support you as you travel without them, cheering you on out in the cold, wind, rain and snow while you ride your bike with your freinds through the mud. There ARE better things they could be doing.

Even though Gina couldn't make it this weekend to snap more awesome photos of us playing in the mud, I came home to a nice big pot of chili and some cornbread.

3. Anyone who supports cycling

Let's be realistic, we're not in Europe. Cycling in the US is below red headed step-child status in the world of sports here. First, we were blessed with a land owner willing to let us trash his property in the pursuit of a bike race this weekend. Then there are all of the other volunteers and supporters who help make things happen.

Special thanks to Suzy Gerlak, after Saturday's mudfest, she collected our muddy, sweaty kits and headed back to the hotel and not only washed them, but scrubbed them by hand first, clogging her own shower in the process.

4. Last but not least, the Racers

'Cross is unique in that both on and off the course everyone is a brother in arms. There's no other sport out there where as you're passing by someone on the opposite side of the course, they're cheering you on, even though you may be seconds from catching them. When was the last time someone said, "Hey man nice job, keep going" as you pass them in a road race?

Some of the good people: Chris Mayhew, Marc Vettori, Ethan Townsend, Chris Nystrom and the list goes on...

Monday, November 13, 2006

MAC Verge Series Chapter 4: Law of Averages

Day 1. Lower Allen, PA "The Classic"

LA is another one of those fitness courses, not overly technical, just a need to ride clean lines and grind out a steady diet of tempo. This course has never favored me, but things are a changin'. I used to suffered on this type of course but for some reason this season my fitness has changed so that my body prefers this type of course.Another good start up the road and through the rather long prologue kept me in a good position starting the first lap. I don't even remember the gaps opening but that's how it usually happens. Once again I find myself riding with Morgan along with Nystrom and going back and forth with a couple other guys.

We lost Nystrom a couple of laps in, apparently due to an unexpected pit stop on a slick sweeper. So, as it has been for the past couple of weeks, Morgan and I worked together to try and close the gaps as we knew we were getting close working our way into the top 10. As we came through the switchbacks at the start of the last lap after the barriers, as if scripted, my last lap bad luck continued as my chain jumps off the chainring to the other side of my chain guide. I dismount to replace the chain and Morgan goes, I don't blame him, I'd would have gone too. After finally getting the chain back on after a second try I start to chase. The gap was only a couple of seconds, not too bad. I managed to pull Morgan and another guy back on the long back stretch but couldn't hold them to the road for the uphill finish. I finished 14th, best of the season so far.

Day 2. HPCX, Jamesburg, NJ "The New Classic"
It's sad that this may be the only year for this course venue. This was a brutal followup to Lower Allen compared to the traditional Highland Park course which was basically a flat dirt crit with two fairly insignificant climbs. Although we awoke to no rain, it was obvious it has rained over night to leave the course sticky in some places, slippery in others and just plain sloppy everywhere else.

We got there early and I got a few practice laps in, learning the course and riding different lines, all of which changed by our race. The first 500m of this course was the determiner. Up a soggy incline to a 180 turn then a short stretch to a twisty run-up similar to the old HP course, up, down then up again. It was ridable in warm ups but the early races made it quesitonable to ride, especially in traffic. The killer was the long uphill stretch of road and grass afterwards. This entire section was my undoing.

My legs felt great during warmup, but as we took off from the start, I knew I was in for a long ride. The first time up the run-up I flashed back to the last lap at Beacon atop the Ampitheater when my legs just seized. As I remounted and tried to pedal, there was just no reponse from the engine room, complete power failure. I kept going hoping to recover as I was being passed by what semed like the entire race. As usual, Morgan works his way up to me and we are once again riding together. This time I just could hold it, I lost contact after the run-up and could just never close the 20m or so gap. The last 2 laps I fought off Luke Sauders of HVB and finnaly got a gap on him of all places after the run-up. I ended up a disappointing 22nd. I love the mud, but this power course just put a hurting on me.

So if I take the 14th from Lower Allen and the 22nd from HPCX and average them, I'm at 18th. Pretty much where I've been most of the series.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Close Call

We almost lost a dear and beloved member of the family this week.

As I was driving up to Lancaster Saturday I knew something wasn't right. She kicked and groaned and made me pull over to the side of the road to give her a chance to catch her breath. And when we arrived at the race the horrible smell emminating from her told me it was her time.

But I'm happy to say that after a major tune up, Special Sauce is back, stronger than ever and ready to rock the MAC circuit this weekend. From E.C. to Harrisburg, PA to Princeton, NJ and back to E.C., SS will be humming like brand new, well almost brand new.

It really was a close call, I thought for sure it was something much more major, not unlike the half-blown transmission we drove to Providence, RI and back on last year for Natz'. It was one of those rare occassions in automotive repair when the parts actually cost more than the labor.

Anyway, get well gift baskets of candy and fruit can be dropped off if you feel so inclined or just stop by and say hello at either Lower Allen or HPCX. Don't know how I would get to my races if SS died.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


No MAC racing this weekend as I was still a bit blown from Beacon. I spent most of the week fighting off a cold and my training was in the toilet, so it was for the better.

With 2 MABRA races, but not quite ready to make a withdrawl from the pain bank, I decided to hit a non-series race up in Lancaster, PA. For several reasons I was hesitant to enter this race to begin with, the least of which was the potential for just a poorly designed course. There were only 14 registered, but there was atleast one MAC racer I knew I could benefit from racing against.

The course was "swoopy" as another rider described it which pretty much summed it up. It had all of the classic 'cross course feaures and plenty of barriers, 3 sets of doubles and a couple smaller ones at the bottom of each incline you could either dismount for or as I chose to do, bunny hop.

The race quickly separated on the first lap with a group of 5 breaking away. Unfortunately the guy I expected to be riding against pulled out with a mechanical after the first lap. But there was a Fort rider there I've never seen and he was pretty fast. He opened up a gap and I was just not willing to put in the effort to close it, so after dropping the two guys on my wheel at the start of the second lap. I rode steady tempo working on skills and tried to not work harder than I had too to finish second. A good effort to keep the legs open on the off weekend.

For a local race with little turn out, they paid cash for the B race so I was happy to atleast make back my registration plus some, even got a nifty, plastic trophy to go with it. Unfortuantely Gina couldn't make it so no pics yet, although there was a guy snapping photos, hopefully I can track down a shot bunny hoping the barrier on the run-up.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Happy Halloween! From Riley and Boulder

Monday, October 30, 2006

MAC Verge Series Kapitel Tre: The Pain Bucket

I knew I had to wait until today to post a race report because the amount of soreness I felt yesterday after racing Beacon was going to be nothing compared to what I would feel today. And my body didn't let me down.

Yesterday was fast, super fast, I almost felt pro (almost). From my bike handling to my cross skills, I just felt on.

Photos courtesy of Natsha Bunten, Mike's fiancee. Thanks for the great photos!

I put in a hard week of training even after coming off the first double race weekend of the season so going into Beacon with it's long, power sections and killer runs, I was just hoping to not blow up on the first lap. Fortunately I got one of the last call-up spots in the third row and as usual set up behind Mike. Beacon is another smooth paved start, not as long or steep as Granogue but fast. At the top you make a hard right onto the wide gravel trail. Beacon has one of the most critical starts of any MAC race as the course immediately shrinks down through a sketchy hard left on loose sand/dirt. Always a log jam since eveyone for some reason wants the inside line.

I had another awesome start, even better than Wiss. My plan from the pre-ride was to take the right turn off the road on the far inside as everyone would be swinging wide from the left. It seemed as though I was the only one to take this line and it allowed me to move up and also gave me a straight shot to the outside line of the hard left where even after scrubing some speed to stay on the course I moved up a few more spots. From a third row start (20+ deep) to 6th or 7th wheel, right behind Vettori, Mayhew, Totaro, Szczepanski and one or two other guys. Chad and Adam immediately opened up a gap on the long series of sandy trails leading to the beach. Vettori and I traded spots trying to close the gap to Mayhew. Soon after Matt Ferrari went passed us, that's ok since he won the race.

Matt, kudos on the fishnets!

Lap 1 up the Ampitheater of Pain

My running really sucked today, atleast on the beach. As we hit the exit the beach on the second lap E-town passed me and I watched as fatmarc opened up a gap on the short paved section. Protection mode on. Soon after, I find myself once again with der Wunderkind (Morgan) along with Ray Ignosh. I've never ridden with Ray but I know he's fast, because he's usually ahead of me.

The three of us on the beach, MARCH!

The controlled slide, this is what the entire Beacon course is about. Speed and bike handling.

Morgan rode a smart race, like last week at Wiss I preferred to take the lead so I could get the clean lines through the turns but it also meant I had to be the one setting the pace which allowed him to sit on and rest. With one to go we finally dropped Ray who wasn't contributing too much at that point anyway but we had picked up JH3 and Rob Campbell.

Powering through the sand pit. Last year I had to run this everytime. This year I rode it all 5 laps, only dabbing once at the exit as Morgan lost momentum and I had to change my line.

On the last lap I slipped on the uphill before the ampitheater and let a gap open up to Morgan, JH3 and Rob. I closed it by the top of the run-up but my legs seized when I remounted and just couldn't stay with them before the road. I manage 18th, a hard 18th which I'm happy with.

My form is getting there, working towards peaking for one or two events over a three month season is somewhat frustrating and mentally difficult but I'm starting to see the fruits of my patience. Thanks BB!

The Morning Buzz

I'll readily admit I'm addicted to coffee (well caffeine that is). I've tried quiting, but why? I'm not a quiter! My only hang-up is the hassle of making it and all of the coffee maker parts that need to be cleaned. Here's where espresso comes in handy. With espresso I can get my entire morning pot of caffeine in a convenient 4 oz. serving with little to no effort.

It's actually amazing that espresso is so popular in Europe, since there in lies the paradox. The brevity of consuming a cup of espresso belies the centuries old virtue of the slow and easy going lifestyle engrained in most European cultures.

Espresso is much more suited to an American way of life, run here, run there, no time to sit down and enjoy consuming an entire 16 oz. cup of Joe, I need my caffeine NOW!

Anyway, here's to espresso, making the American worker even that much more efficient.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Burnt Noodles

Usually this refers to my brain, but in this case I actually burnt my (spaghetti) noodles. Less than a week after the dog sitter incident I manage to pull a similar yet less devestating imitation. This is why guys can't multitask. If we start two things at once, inevitably one becomes more interesting than the other. This is what happened yesterday. I was hungry and trying to lay the hardwood floor in the office. At some point the need to get the floor laid preempted my hunger.

Needless to say when Gina rolls up the driveway I have the front door wide open, the dining room window and the kitchen outside door open with the fans on high hoping to get the fresh burnt smell out before she gets home. No luck.

Monday, October 23, 2006

MAC Verge Series Part 2: The Redemption

Following a disappointing day on Saturday, we awoke again early on Sunday to head to Ludwig's Corner, PA for round deux of the Verge MAC series. Thanks to Lunesta, I'm finally getting to sleep and not waking up feeling like I just pulled an all-nighter. Once again I packed up Special Sauce, coached Gina out the door and hit the road wondering if I left the stove burner on (which wouldn't be so bad but our dog sitter left the house last week and left a pot on the stove, yes it can get hot enough to melt copper but not stainless steel).

The day started out as another brisk fall day with the sun shining brightly, but soon after arriving to the race course the clouds rolled in and became almost an exact copy of last years weather, minus about 10mph of wind. Wissahickon did an awesome job on the course this year, changing it up just enough to make it a bit more technical and adding an additional dismount. Last year this course killed me with it's long power sections and constant jumps between turns all exposed to the wind. I wasn't sure how my legs were going to react after punishing them the day before. Amazingly they weren't tight or sore or even tired when I started my warm-up on the trainer. This was either really good or really, really bad.

Like Granogue, my points from last year got me a third row start in another deep Killer B field. I lined up behind Mike who's always a good wheel to have. The start at Wiss is another long paved uphill road with the exception that's it's anything but smooth. Gravel and potholes for all 300m. The start was sketchy with guys bouncing around trying to avoid the ground clutter. Hitting the grass I was sitting good around top 12. As we wound around the series of 180's and the new run-up I was feeling surprisingly good for the start. Even as we made our way through the 100m or so of sand I didn't even feel like I was working that hard. I remember looking back and seeing a huge gap to the rest of the field, my first good start.

Coming out of the sand I had fatmarc on my wheel and he was intent on getting around. I figured my best bet was to just try and hold on to as much ground as possible and pace my effort not knowing how my legs we really going to react and let someonelse close the gaps.

Following fatmarc as he closes the gap on Mike and Mayhew.

I remembered how much this little incline hurt last year and how JD passed me on it on his singlespeed.

Following Mike's wheel on the second lap.

I stayed with the lead group of about 15 for the first 2 laps but as the gaps started to open it was time to just settle into my own rhythm.

At one point I was about 30m off a group of 3 or 4 riders and I remember looking down the long stretch leading to the "Circle of Death" as I was exiting it and not seeing a single rider coming. Talk about no mans land.

Eventually Morgan closed the gap to me, I only knew it was him by the heavy breathing. I spent the last three laps jockeying back and forth with him and we never focused on closing the gap to the group infront of us.

He was strong on the long flat stretches but was having trouble in the twisty stuff so I tried to take the lead through all of those sections. He always seemed to lead going into the barriers and I realized I was faster getting up the run-up so I used that to my advantage on the last lap and managed to open up a small gap before hitting the pave.

The last run-up, getting to the top and opening the gap....

I'd like to say I'm not proud of beating a 15 year old, but the kid is strong, he's already beaten alot of fast people this season. My legs were aching, I put every ounce of energy into that race and was rewarded with a good finish, and series points!

Following the race we hit the secret recovery drink in the large aluminum containers at the top of the run-up.

Some more photos...
Mike, fast enough to not care about the finer points of shouldering the bike.

The Circle of Death, anyone know how to get out of this thing?

JH3 recovered from the day before and had a good ride.

Next on tap, Beacon Cross in Jersey on Sunday.