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.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

MAC Verge Series Part 1: The Agony and the Atrophy

Saturday kicked off the 2006 MAC Verge series at the Grenogue Estates just outside of Wilmington, DE. Unlike last year, it was a beautiful fall day with mild temps and clear skies. Little did I know that at about 8:30 that morning on the ride up 95, this was about the best my day was going to get...

Around 11:05 I was wishing we had just kept following the bus.

The previous 6 days were not as planned, yes it was a planned rest week, but 6 days of absolutely zero cardiovascular activity is no way to prepare for a race. To top it off, sitting in 3 days straight of all day meetings out of town only makes it worse. I could feel my legs getting smaller and my lung capacity shrinking by each sip of coffee. Let's just say Guiness and Buffalo wings a healthy diet not make.

To make a long story short, I suffered, threw up in my mouth a bit, and suffered some more to finish a pathetic 32nd. The atrophy to my legs resulted in zero power output and this course was full of power sections, mostly uphill. I might as well had boat anchors attached to my waist.

Here's a few shots of the suffering.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hello from Beer town

I'm sitting here in the Dreary, uhm Drury hotel outside St. Louis watching CSI New York. That's about it, the Cards are in New York so there's not even that going for me. Did have a nice dinner at Kobe hanging out with work folk I've never meet. Nothing like getting you eyebrows and eyelashes scorched at the hibachi. Ate some surf and turf and threw back a few Fat Tire ales. I remember when you couldn't get it east of the Mississippi so I would bring home 6 packs from trips whenever I was somewhere that sold it.

Anyway, looks like I'll be going into the double MAC weekend with 6 days of no riding. Should be interesting. Atleast the carbo loading is in full effect, need to work more on the hydration rather than the dehydration though.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Someone Listened

I listen to NPR radio almost every day in the car, I think that was the first sign I was "getting old". On the way back from grabbing coffee I was listening to an interesting piece and decided to visit the NPR website (for the first time coincidentally) to see if there was a live stream of the show when I stumbled upon this story.


I posted not too long ago about one of my all time favorite bands, Bad Brains. After being "Banned in D.C." the group took up a second home in NYC at the world famous CBGB club. The Peoria of punk music if you will.

Well, soon like the original 9:30 club in D.C., so too will CBGB be closing their doors. Unfotuantely I didn't keep up and missed three shows this week as Bad Brains reunited to come out and show their love for the club. Hopefully after three sold out shows they'll realize how much their fans miss them and start playing together again.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rainy Day Blues and Racing Cross

I started this post Friday but never finished it. Friday was a shitty day, the fact that it was Friday was the only good part about it. The constant rain and feeling run down was no way to go into the racing weekend.

We hung out with Cynthia, Sean, Sean's B-in-Law Joerg and her friends Friday night for a bonfire and smores. The skies had cleared up and I started thinking Saturday's race was going to be a good mud-fest but not a soaker. Well, come Saturday morning we awoke to pouring rain, even worse than Friday. I loaded up Special Sauce and got Gina out the door (on time and in the car promptly at 9am, that was my big win for the day). She's a trooper though, I wouldn't have wanted to go out if I were her, I barely wanted to go myself but I like the mud.

As we made our way over the mountains past Fredneck the skies were clear and the roads were dry, so maybe a mud-fest wasn't in the cards. We got to the race venue at the fairgrounds which to my surprise have been converted to a municipal park with soccer and baseball fields. I grew up near Hagerstown and played all of my youth sports in and around the city and spent much time in the emergency room of the Washington Co. hospital for everything from sprained ankles and a broken collar bone to anaphylactic shock (that shit can kill you as I almost found out).

Any hoo, we arrived early enough that I got to pre-ride before the masters race. The course was rather short and not anything special. I returned to the car after 3 laps to find that I managed to break off the handle to my trainer with the car door making it impossible to tighten the wheel so I was forced to warm-up on the roads around the fairgrounds.

The race was staged at the top of the course on a long stretch of pavement. The Killer B field was about 45 riders. Instead of giving us the entire 200m of pavement to sort out the start before the 180 switchback onto the grass, Joe gave us a whole 50m, you do the math. Close to 50 guys trying to make a 180 degree turn at the same time, I stayed towards the front middle figuring 3 wide would work but not get pushed too far outside and not be too far inside to get pinched. Needless to say some jackass comes flying on the inside, can't make the turn and rides straight across the turn into the middle of the field, and right in front of me. Both feet unclipped I'm waddling uselessly down the course to try and get around. From top 10 to barely top 20. Great start.

Yeah, that's me there in the center standing unclipped so Jocko can get turned and heading in the right direction.

About all I've come to learn so far from racing this season is 1) My starts are horrible and 2) that I make the worst faces and Gina is always there to snap a shot.

My "barrier" face...

My standard "race face of pain"...

My "off-camber, don't dump it" face...

And my favorite, the "this run-up is totally ridable 11 times" face.

Anyway, this course was as much mental as it was physical. Surprisingly, at race pace the course was very technical and fun. It was short with alot of turns so you could always see the front of the race around the next turn. The hard part was closing the gaps. Towards the end I was riding with Mike O'Hare and Mark Russel swapping positions back and forth. On the past lap I was leading going into the second set of barriers when I totally flubbed it and lost my concentration re-grouping on the other side. Both got around me and I just couldn't catch back on. Another top 20 but not what I was looking for this weekend.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ed Sanders - MABRA Round Deux

Yesterday was the Ed Sanders 'cross race in Buckeystown put on by NCVC, just south of Frederick and the second race of the MABRA 'cross series. As is the weekend ritual, I was up early loading Special Sauce with all of the implements of my destruction for the day.

On the way up 70 we passed Secret Sean, you just couldn't let those pre-reg $$ go to waste!

When we arrived I immediately noticed a change in the course. I haven't done this race since 2004 so most of it would be new. After taking care of the usual pre-race formalities such as registration and saying hello to everyone I haven't seen in a week, it was time to get down to business.

Fortunately I remembered my trainer this week and could get a solid warm-up in before heading out for a pre-race lap to survey the course. This was another tough course, pimarily due to the fact that you were constantly grinding the pedals. There was only on small respite returning from the backside but since it was also a good place to hammer it to either close a gap or open up a gap, I saw little rest here.

What made this course fun was the mud left from the prior 2 days of thunderstorms. After last week, it would help to separate the 'crossers from the roadies.

I managed an almost 2nd row start and didn't squander it this week. Unfortunately for Mike O'Hare who was adjacent to me, he had some difficulites as he's ususally at the front hitting the rough. I was in the top 10 and managed to stay up there for most of the first lap despite almost eating the barriers earlier on. Mike eventually made it past me on the gravel road and finished a strong 6th, another come from behind week for him. He'll be winning here soon.

Second lap I was in a chase group but as I made my way around to the barriers I managed to pull the blunder of the day. Realizing I went in too hot the first lap, I dismounted prior to the left hand turn into the barrier section. As I balanced on the left side of my bike making a left hand turn realizing I was dismounting way too early, I pulled the bars a bit too much to line it up and ended up dumping it. Gina just happened to be there and snap a series of photos as I get untangled from my bike and have to switch my bike from left to right as I'm crossing the barriers. Maybe I need to learn to remount from the right. I managed to lose alot of positions here and in the next couple of yards while I got myself back together.

Lap 2 just continued to trouble me. On the backside after the big U-turn there was a run-up that was rideable, but someone decided after lap 1 to move the course tape in making it an S-turn. Well, I didn't get the memo and as I made the left hander wide to keep up speed, I was met with the tape. 2 or 3 more positions gone.

The rest of the race I spent jockeying with a guy from NCVC. I caught Ethan Townsend from FSV and realized he was cooked so I got passed him through the ponds and tried to get back to the NCVC guy but on the backside I just ran out of gas on the couple of uphills. 18th sucks, but that's what a few mistakes will get you in a 'cross race. It's all about being smooth, and I wasn't as smooth yesterday as the week before.

More photos...
Attack of the Killer B's

I have to say I was impressed at how well the Dugast hooked up in the mud. I ran about 30psi both ends and never lost traction.

Although the gravel road gave me a scare a few times bottoming out.

A little better...

I love the mud.