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.