Sunday, July 30, 2006

What I did on my summer vacation

As Don alluded to in his previous entry, I traded my knobby tires for some serious road racing this summer. While it didn't go particularly well, my level of fitness does bode well for the cyclocross season and the ultimate goal: collegiate cyclocross nationals.

The first part of the summer I spent visiting with my folks in New England.

The summer of fun kicked off with the Housatonic Hills road race on June 24th in Connecticut. This 27 mile course boasted a looooong and steep finishing climb. Despite a massive field and being dropped early, I hung on for 24th place.

Next, I celebrated the 4th of July with a few criteriums in Northampton, MA. In the 4/5, an early crash stopped the race for 15 minutes. After the restart, two more serious crashes led me to decide to sit up for the finish. I came in 31st. With my shiny new cat 4 license I decided to get my money's worth by racing the 3/4 race as well. Unfortunately, shortly after the start rain led to the race being cancelled.

The following weekend, I headed to Attleboro, MA for another criterium. In the 4 race I was feeling great until 11 laps to go when I was crashed in a corner by another rider. After taking a free lap and riding a few more laps, I chose to abandon.

The next weekend, I headed off to Claremont, NH for a technical and fast 3/4 criterium. Rain and a hard pace led to me leaving this race as well.

I returned to New Jersey in mid-July just in time to turn around and head to the Owasco Stage Race in Auburn, NY. This 3 stage, 2 day race was to be my trial by fire in stage racing. It did not begin well. In the 12 mile time trial, I finished over 6 minutes down, 68th place in the general classification. In the afternoon, we had the circuit race. I rode a great race to finish 14th in the field sprint and move to 43rd in the GC. Sunday brought the 57 mile road race with 7 "king of the mountain" climbs. Despite doing most of my training in the flatlands of central NJ, I was a trooper and tried to tough it out. I wound up finishing 20 minutes down to the race winner in 43rd place. I finished 47th in the general classification.

This past weekend I continued the multi-day racing by competing in the cat 4 Tour de 'Toona points race. Unlike Owasco, the overall classification was determined by points, not overall time. 'Toona also did not offer a TT as part of the competition, so I would be more apt to have a better race. Friday started off with the Martinsburg Circuit race; this windy, rolling 40 mile race suited my riding style well and I was able to finish in the field - 29th place. Saturday, the road race was contested. Despite being only 20 miles, the course was punctuated by a long, steep climb. I struggled early on to remain in the bunch, then halfway up the climb I came off. I found a great chase group and managed to finish 64th. Sunday, the criterium was contested in downtown Altoona. If there was one stage I was looking forward to, it was the criterium. The course is a challenging and technical affair with a slightly uphill, cobbled finish. I rode well early on but flatted. I got a wheel from neutral support and took my free lap. Shortly after I got back in, I was caught behind a crash and forced to chase. With 5 laps to go, the group I was with was asked to retire.

And thus ends my foray into road racing. In the next few weeks, the Rutgers 'cross crew and I will be checking in on our early season fitness at 'Cross Under the Lights in Augusta, NJ. Look for a large crew of Rutgers racers to descend upon the Sussex County Fair grounds and show, once again, their dominance of NJ Cyclocross.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

hill-ride writeup and scouting report

for a variety of reasons, mostly cowardice, i opted to do a hill ride yesterday, rather than the rahway practice race. this is my first time on anything steeper than a highway overpass since a duathlon in april and a long time off the bike, and so i was looking for some motivation. luckily, brandi, mike, and jay were willing to accompany/pull/taunt me.

we rode hills. it was sweet torture. ride writeup over.

now here's my scouting report. this team's got a bright future.
  • will: after a deal was made in a dim, smoky backroom of a small italian restaurant, cornell traded will to us in exchange for a promise to stop making fun of them. his results in the ECCC last year were pretty good (understatement), and while not many of us have had a chance to ride with him regularly this year, his ability to handle in a pack while being mauled by a squirrel are not to be taken lightly (see photographic proof, left). i expect that he will be an asset to the team, if only as a rabid sprinter (puns! on so many levels!).
  • mike: so what if he doesn't technically attend rutgers? mike's been racing in scarlet for at least the year i've been here, tearing up mountain bike courses and frightening small woodland creatures. well, i've got news, boys and girls: mike's got a road bike now. i've ridden offroad with him in the past, but he and charlie would drop me too fast for me to really gauge how fast he is. now that i've ridden hills with him, i can see that mike may be pretty freakin talented. i'm calling it now: mike will podium in one of his first few 'cross races.
  • brandi: after a year of mixing it up with a crooked helmet, sneakers, and exercise-induced asthma, brandi has established herself as one of the tougher members of the team. i hope i'm not spoiling the surprise when i inform you all that brandi has circumvented all of these obstacles. that's right, with a new helmet, an official diagnosis, and CLIPLESS freaking PEDALS, brandi is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
  • mark: because of (perhaps despite?) his rampant success at spring crits, our mutton-chopped, angry-faced friend has turned himself into a stage racer. now he uses words like "GC" and "ITT", neither of which are actually words. dude was fast before... now i'm just plain intimidated. my prediction: success on the sunday of every weekend; whereas everyone else will be burned out from saturday racing, marky fresh will have learned to recover quickly.
  • jay: it's fun to make light of jay, because he's so good natured. when you mock his hairy legs, he doesn't get angry. when you attack his handling skills (who crashes at six mile run?), he doesn't seem hurt. when you threaten him for not riding aggressively enough at a mountain bike race, he doesn't brood. what does he do instead? he gets fast. uh oh... jay learned how to ride a road bike. his cadence is higher, his line is smoother, and he's turned into a hairy little mountain goat! now if he can just lift the bike before going over the barriers, he's going to terrorize the MAC 'cross races.
  • dark horses: apparently we have a million new team members. as soon as we get them jerseys (i'm working on it!), there is going to be a swarm of scarlet all over central new jersey. based on absolutely nothing more than emails, i'm predicting that one of the incoming freshman is going to be the next tyler hamilton (minus the blood doping).
so there you have it. now all that's left to say is, "is it 'cross season yet?"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

back from injury

in honor of my return from a long few months of not riding (stupid stupid wrist surgery), i've compiled the following:


10. you're tempted to put a big cushy saddle and suspension seatpost on your new ti bike
9. you convince yourself that to be fast, you have to grow muttonchops and look angry
8. your knees sound like a door opening in an old horror movie
7. your heart rate goes above lactic threshold just from watching the tour
6. you lose the sexy tan lines on your thighs
5. johnson park seems really hilly
4. you pop on the monday night recovery ride
3. you lose a half-dozen spots every time you corner... on the recovery ride
2. little old ladies powerwalk past you on the climb up to hp cyclery
1. it seems like a good idea to attack while ralf is pulling

see you out on the roads!