Sunday, November 23, 2008

My broken clavical is healing but i'm still not out on the road or doing any cyclocross training and that is really killing me. Today, i sat on the trainer for almost two hours while i watched old VHS tapes of the 1996 through 2000 World Cyclocross Championships. I believe it was 1999 in Poprad, Slovakia that the US bagged its first two medals in the 50 years of World Championship racing, when Matt Kelly took 1st place in the U19 and a young Tim Johnson bagged a silver medal in the U23 race. What was interesting in watching all these races was the severe cold weather in Munich, Poprad, and Middlefart. The Worlds take place in early February, so it should not be a surprise, but so far, we have been spoiled here in the Northeast this year when it comes to CX weather. Another observation of note was the course layouts in Europe. In Munich, the course was built around the Olympic stadium and its surrounding grounds that were the site of the infamous 1972 Olympics. The courses in Europe are hard. Steps or stairs are common. On one course i counted four separate places on the course with barriers. One location had three barriers together and two other locations with a single barrier just to force a dismount before a hill or a pit location. The announced attendance at the 2000 Worlds in Belgium was 50,000 people. Woensdrecht, Netherlands is the site of the 2009 World Championship Race... who's going?

Monday, October 27, 2008

suffering on the trainer?

So with a busted collar bone, i will be off the bike for a while. I am setting up my Serotta with a spare rear wheel and a hefty rear clincher and a big ol' steel skewer to hook up to my trainer in the family room downstairs. What an awful thought...months on the trainer. Earlier this week i was leaving work and i saw a CBRC kit whiz past on a local training road. I drove up alongside Schill, who was obviously doing some seriously hard intervals or something. He was all kitted out in tights, long sleeves cause it was freezing cold and spitting some precipitation. Even so, the sweat was dripping off his nose. I shouted some words of encouragement (actually i heckled him severely) and sped away. Here it was nearly dark, the weather was cold and wet, and i was wishing i could have been out there suffering and doing what Schill was doing. i can't help it, but i am still whining about my misfortune.

Beside this blog, the only person that hears about my whining is my wife. This past weekend we took a trip to Bennington Vt to see all the guys and gals racing at the Wicked Creepy. It was a great course, a fine event, and a beautiful day. On the way over, i described my encounter with Schill out on his training ride and how i really missed the suffering in true Cyclocross fashion. Connie thought for a minute and suggested i set up my trainer outdoors in the back yard. I could ride in the dark after work, she said. It will be cold and dark. She continued... "heck i'll even turn on the garden hose and spray water in your face, and if you want, i could throw some mud at you too and clang the cow-bell too." She was serious. I love my wife.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Oh how i look forward to Gloucester. Its such a cool venue, in Stage Fort Park right on the harbor. My wife and i make a weekend out of it, staying overnight at least two nights, getting to the Park early and staying late to watch all the days' races. This year we brought along our two new puppies, Hudson and Ruby. These two are such great travelers and they love to spend the day in the Park doing puppy things, like looking cute and drawing tons of attention from all the CX fans. Ruby also loves other dogs and tugs fiercely on her leash to get closer. Hudson does not like curly haired dogs. Neither do i, so we're good.

Anyway, i loaded up the one spouse, two dogs, three bikes (a road race planned for Monday, too) and the usual pile of bike stuff, clothing, tools, pump, trainer, etc. I got there early to get a good spot to set up the Club tent on Friday late afternoon and to scope out the course. Arriving at the venue, there was the usual flurry of activity going but the course was completely done and a bunch of people were riding. I drove to the little parking nook all the way at the end of the parking lot, just above the staging area, and with the best view of the harbour. Whoa, parked right in our primo spot was a massive Specialized trailer, fifth wheel truck, and several demo tents. Oh well, first come first served. I scoped out the area and there appeared to be room in front of this huge pro set-up. I approached the young man that was in front of the trailer and asked if i could set-up my puny team tent (empblazoned with a lame K-Mart logo or some equivalent), and he said sure, no problem. We became friendly neighbors by the end of the weekend.

Saturday, all the other execs and CBRC dudes had arrived and we had a great gathering under brilliant blue skies in our little grassy camping area. First up was the Cat 4 guys. James, aka the MonkeyMan, and Tim from RPI had great rides, finishing 21 and 26 respectively out of a 120+ guys. I think Tim's starting position was so far back that he was in a different zip code.

My race was at 10 AM and i did the usual pre-ride and warm-up. The course was very similar to previous years so it was very familiar to me. I got a 'call up' of sorts... i think former ECV president, Dan Tieger and Alan Atwood called me up to fill out the front row even though this was my first NECCS, or UCi race of the season. I lined up next to my buddy, Richard Sachs, but there really was not enough room for 10 across, so i slid back to the 2nd row. At the whistle, i got through the front line and got a great start, charging hard up the long, long uphill start. By the turn into the grass i was third. After a slight downhill left turn, I got passed by two guys, for reasons i still do not understand, but after a couple more turns, the course went back uphill slightly and i got both positions back. This was a good test going hard uphill and i felt good and had plenty of punch after the sprint off the line. The course turned again slightly downhill and then along the sea-wall.... flat and fast... and i got by another guy. again, no problem, feeling strong. At the end of this stretch is a stoney uphill section and i took a bad line and i think Eddie Hamel, "the animal" got by me. Everyone is new kits this year and i could not keep track of who was in front of me, except i did recognize National Champ David Rath just a few bike lengths ahead. Anyway, i think i'm in 3rd position and i haven't blown up as i have in previous years, so... so far so good, but man, my heart is pegged. I love this part of the sport. I'm pushing hard across the hard packed grass/gravel area just before the turn to approach the barrier, when BAM, i felt something hit me from behind and then i saw stars. I went down in a microsecond and went down hard. That was it, my race was over, and as it turned out, my collar bone was snapped and my season was over. It hurts on several fronts. So after a trip to Addison Gilbert Emergency Room (which was a race sponsor!) i returned to hang with the rest of the guys and watched some exciting racing both Saturday and Sunday. Walking around a CX race venue with approximately 1000 bike racers, with my arm in a sling, i must have spoke to 70 - 80 people who all had broken collar bone stories. Some more scary that others. Andy J-M's crash included a broken back, and punctured lung, and gnarly scar, and more, so my mishap was NBD. Josie showed me the unnatural bump from her healed collar bone break, and nearly every one i ran into would unzip their jersey and show off their clavical scar or misshappen bump! It was cool. Bottom line advice from nearly everyone was to take the pain killers and take the recovery slow... don't rush it. Sounds like good advice. I'll see if i can post the x-rays.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Off to Gloucester... the coolest race on the East Coast, the G-ster, the New England Worlds. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Schenectady Central Park Cyclocross Race

Well, i have not been doing a satisfactory job in keeping up this blog... i've been just swamped with stuff... Mostly busy with being the race director of the Schenectady Central Park Cyclocross Race.  Tons of details to take care of at the last minute.  One thing is for certain, though, i am fortunate to be part of the greatest CX community on the face of the earth.  Our club is so CX enthusiastic.  I simply direct a large group of volunteers, folks that step up to do whatever needs to be done and i am ever so grateful.

We had a great race, with a record turn out.  I even got to race.  I usually do not race, as there are just so many things to deal with on race day, especially in the AM when people are arriving, the registration desk is busy, the officials are scurrying, course tape is being finalized, hay bales positioned, and on and on and on.  Well, things were slightly more organized this year and i had a great registration crew (Thanks you guys!) so i suited up about 15 minutes before the start of my race and i raced.  I felt pretty good, my fitness is still lacking a bit, but i love the Schenectady course and i just had a blast!

After last year's race, i made a note to try to solicit some sponsors from loacl businesses in order to bump up our prize money for the Elite races.  In 2007, we had some real CX talent... like Jamie Driscoll, Team Fiordifrutta from Jericho, Vermont, the '06 National Collegiate Champion and '06 Crank Brothers Grand Prix Series Champ in U23. Like Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta), 2007 Series Champ Alec Donahue, and Roger Asphlom from Westwood Velo. I thought that in '08, i really needed to up the $ to reflect the Elite racers that we were now attracting and we should try to build on our momentum and try to draw a bigger Elite field.  Well, i had good intentions, but i never was able to raise the $ for the Elite races, but i did get a lot of support from local bike shops and some $ from a local business that allowed me to provide some decent merchandise prizes.  In addition, my wife took it upon herself to put together some gift bags for all the Women racers that either medaled or placed in the money. These gift bags were very well received.  Turns out, the prize $ and merchandise was pretty decent and because my race was up against a UCi weekend race in nearby VT, that race drew most Elite racers to that venue to get them UCi points anyway.  All in all, i was OK with our tournout, the positive comments, and the cool zen of the day.  It was all good. Race # 2 in the 2008 Series is in the books. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First race of the CX season

I did my first CX race of the season at the Kirkland CX race in Clinton, NY.  The fields were rather small but the course was a lot of fun and i felt pretty good. It was very cool to see a bunch of friends from the CX scene...too many to mention here.  It was a great day.  The bike worked flawlessly.  I had rolled my rear tire earlier in the week, and Jeff at the shop re-glued it and all was good.  Plus i had no problem with the seatpost slipping either.  Tires and tire pressure was spot - on ... about 38 lbs of pressure.  My fitness and skills are improving but i have a ways to go yet.  My buddy Don slipped early in the AM on a warm-up lap and his front chain ring made a nasty gash in his ankle and that unfortunately ended his day.  He was rewarded with 18 stitches.  Our local tribe had a good turn-out, more results to follow...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The new Redline

Here's a picture of the new Redline taken at the Cycle Smart Cyclocross Camp in Northfield, Mass...

Monday, August 25, 2008

An exemption

As a 'master' age cyclist, i have acquired a lot of stuff over the years.  i need to make room for the new bike, so i have been cleaning out the garage, getting rid of stuff unused for years, and most all that has been tossed  has been non-bicycling related.  As a husband and father of two daughters, way too much stuff accumulates in a house over the years.  So after my youngest daughter moved back home, after accumulating her own amount of stuff being away at school and a year in a condo, even more stuff has bulged the walls of the garage, spare bedroom, and basement.  So, i proclaimed loudly one of those stupid edicts.... one of those proclamations that i didn't think through well enough in advance.  I proclaimed to all family members that if something comes into the house, two like items had to exit ... to the dump, or to the Goodwill bin, or the Salvation Army, or unloaded on eBay, or on or somewhere else.  This came spilling out of my mouth because my wife was purchasing new shoes or pillows or something practical, and i was just at my limit.  I started to rant about the American way of life is all about consumerism and we buy too much stuff.  My new mantra is reduce, reuse, and recycle.  So, like i said, i clearly did not think this through because two weeks later i brought home my new Redline.  I proudly showed off the rig to all.  My wife agreed that it was quite lovely, and then calmly asked what two bikes are going to be tossed?  Yikes, i am now appealing to the Family board of directors for an exemption to the dumb-ass proclamation that i had made weeks earlier.  The Family board of directors consists of my wife, my two daughters and myself.  I get one vote, everyone else gets two votes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Bike!

I just picked up my new bike... i'll have to post some pictures.  I made the leap to tubulars this year after convincing my self that tubulars roll better, grip better, and they look cool. 

I really convinced myself after racing in the rutted frozen icy conditions at the 2007 CX Nationals in Kansas City.  I did OK in that race but i felt i could have done so much better.  It seemed that i had way too much air pressure, had the wrong choice of tires, and i was bouncing around more than going forward.  I felt great physically, i had a good warm-up, and my race preparation was spot-on. My wife Connie was there as my race support, helping with all the details that can become nerve-racking before a big race and she was fabulous.  I was phsyched.  The conditions, i thought would be favorable to me and detremental to others. It was 20 degrees out that day with 20 mph winds, and snowing but i did not mind that at all.  I had practiced, raced, and trained in similar conditions and i used to ride a mountaing bike all winter long so these conditions were not an issue. I had a good start and i really felt i would have a great race. I just could not control the bouncing and weaving of the bike which wanted to go in two different directions at once.  Relax and lean back and pedal, i thought, but that was just too slow, and i could not gain poistions. Next year, i thought.

It was several weeks later that i convinced myself that tubulars just might help. Besides, its always great motivation to get new stuff.  My old Redline was purchased in its old!  Besides, one of my race buddies remarked at the end of the NECCS last year that i absolutely need a spare pit bike.  He reasoned that i train all year, i plunk down a bunch of entry fee cash, i travel, sometimes spring for lodging, and if i have a mechanical in an important race, i should have a pit bike. I agreed.  I would get a new rig and retire the old Redline as my spare...So.... long story a bit shorter... I got a new Redline with very nice Mavic wheels and tubies.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The 2008 'cross season

The page on my VeloNews calendar has flipped to August and that means its the beginning of cyclocross season... and all thoughts turn to 'cross. Well, it turns out that the cyclocross fever cools a bit from February to July, but the season is never totally purged from the consciousness. My preparation for putting on the 2008 Schenectady Cyclocross Race is well underway. All the permitting with the City municipality and park is done, and i have my USAC race application approved. I need to get going on the promotion stuff... get the web sites updated... the flyer is done... posting on Bikereg will be done very soon.

Some of my far flung cyclocross buddies have been blogging and writing about the upcoming season as well.  My good friend Tim has been gunning for me on the CX course for two years now and he is really serious about kicking my butt this year... he has kicked his training into high gear and recently won a gold medal at the NYS Empire State Games. I know that Tim will be a tough competitor.  Another racer that i have come to know fairly well over the last few years of Masters racing in New England... Richard Sachs, aka Richie, has also started up his newsletter all about 'cross. In it Richie talks of getting ready for 'cross, he's doing mondo miles and a hundred sit-ups a day and talks of shedding 8 more pounds!  I think the man is a 120 lbs dripping wet.  Anyway, if you think the 55+ race category is anything but seriously fast, furious, and uber competitive, then you are mistaken.

I need to get going on my Cyclocross News e-zine.... soon!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A ride with the National Champ

A ride with a National Champion

Last week, a good friend e-mailed the cycling club to invite club members over to his house for an easy ride of 50 to 60 miles. Nothing too strenuous, just a chance to get together to ride with friends and teammates. It sounded good to me. I hadn’t ridden with Tom; the host of the ride, for many months and it would be cool to ride together and to also see his wonderful family, whom I hadn’t seen since last winter when we were at the Cross Nationals in Kansas.

So I packed my old steel road bike and headed out to Tom’s house, meeting up with Barry on the road and we did the caravan thing out to Tom’s. It was a warm, muggy summer day with the air heavy and thick with rain about to drip at any second. It had rained off and on the day before and overnight so the ground and roads were damp, adding to the dampness. We met at Tom’s and suited up. A couple of youngsters were also in our group. One was sporting a US National Road Champion jersey. Very cool. How often do you get to ride side by side with a current National Road Champ?

We road at a fairly brisk warm-up pace for my old bones, but I was able to hang and I road with humility. After all, I was riding with a National Champ! The roads were beautiful rural roads typically found throughout Upstate New York. Lots of rollers, little traffic and just gorgeous scenery. There were nice vistas of the adjacent ridges and valleys and everywhere was dripping green. Rain sprinkled for a couple of minutes but never mounted to much of anything that anyone would even mention. The pace picked up and we were having a blast charging up the rollers and soft pedaling on the down sides to regroup.

Tom cut short his ride to go back home to spend some time riding with the rest of his clan and left Barry and I with the kids. At my age most everyone is a "kid", but these young men were really young… Curtis is in Middle school and Mackenzie had just graduated from High School. Both knew the roads very well and they confidently led us over hill and dale.

I pondered proper etiquette riding with a National Champ. I dared not sprint for Town line signs even though there wasn’t the slightest chance I could win one. When we headed into some headwind, I felt I had to protect the Champ, never let him pull into the wind. I watched his every move and called out when cars were approaching from the back. I pointed out potholes and road kill. The responsibility and the pressure were significant. We stopped at a store to refill our bottles and of course the drinks were on me and Barry. These young guys shouldn’t have to pay for stuff out on a club ride! Does the National Champ have to buy water? Certainly not. If we needed to carry extra bottles or food, we did it for the Champ.

Curtis led us up and down some seasonal roads that offer some mud and gravel… nice! No whining from these young guys about dirt or bumps or stuff that some guys may whine about on a club ride. If the road conditions took a turn for the worse, we simply upped the pace and went harder. The elevation changes were now coming more frequent. On every approach to any hill of any shape or size, the youngsters would slam their front derailleur onto the big ring and they would both hammer up the hill, totally exhausting themselves in the effort. This was how they road. I was more on the steady side (read slow) and would eventually catch up to them. It occurred to me though this was their riding style and it was fun! I also learned that their threshold for pain and suffering was significantly higher than mine (or even most mortals).

We finished the day off covering about 50 miles and worked up quite an appetite. Thanks to Tom and Chris for their generous hospitality and for the fabulous food. I hope this becomes a club tradition.