Thursday, August 31, 2006

thursday morning ride report

there is nothing to get your day started like a group ride. a little bit of socialization, a little bit of intesity... okay, a lot of intensity. it's better than coffee.

jay, mike, will p, chris, and i met up this morning to ride 1st bridge. i'm not going to pull punches... relatively speaking, this was a pretty strong group. jay and mike can mix it up with the best on single-track, chris is capable of some "monster pulls", as will put it, and somebody needs to explain to will that "out of shape" doesn't exactly describe his fitness level.

so we start rolling down river road, then cut through bound brook, and it becomes pretty clear: while the power we're putting out as a group is plenty good, the skill level leaves something to be desired. little things, like going from 2nd wheel to first smoothly, pulling smoothly, dropping off smoothly, not braking EVER, things like that. generally, smoothness.

so, by the time we got to elizabeth road, the plan had evolved. instead of doing a group ride at moderate pace, we picked the pace up a bit so that pulls would be no more than 30 seconds long, forcing us to practice the smooth.

the improvement was immediate. we've still got a lot of work to do and a lot of experience to gain, but there is no doubt that the group was more cohesive, more productive, and way less scary by the time we got to the sprint on van cleef. technically, i guess i won, but that's only 'cause i caught the other guys looking at each other when i attacked early. chris almost bridged up to me in one decisive move, showing yet again that he is going to be a powerhouse over the coming year.
we continued to cruise through franklin, getting to the "Greg Lemond Hill Sprint", so named for reasons that i've never understood. it was mike's turn to pimp-slap us; he looked at me and said "when can we start sprinting?" (there had been some confusion at the first sprint). i replied "well, now, but we've got like a mile left, and i'll just jump on your wheel".

he sprinted. i could not get his wheel. dude is fast.

alas, the length of the effort got to him, allowing the chris and will train to catch him. chris took the KOM points (do you get it yet? chris is strong!)

residents of franklin, jay and mike left chris, will, and myself to softpedal home. when will turned towards college avenue, chris and i decided that the burning in our legs wasn't quite painful enough. we did a nice little team-time trial from landing lane to old town. personally, i kept hoping that we'd get pulled over for speeding... perhaps someday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Victory at Iron Hill!

Rutgers Cycling brings home another Mid-Atlantic Super Series victory.

Charlie brings us this race report:

"Jay, Mike, and I headed out to Iron Hill near Newark, DE for a great
race on Sunday. The course was alot of fun with some rocks, alot of
loose stuff in the tight turns, and some fast decents and even a jump
or two. The course was well marked and in great shape, making for a
very enjoyable race. A prologue lap + 3 was the menue for the day.

The prologue and first lap was a great time to get your lungs FULL of
dust from the loose stuff and we had a good time finding some of the
surprises lurking around the sharp bends. Things opened up for the
second lap and I started turning it up (I was in fifth or so, playing
my usual start slow and wind it up strategy). I started feeling
really good as I started pulling riders back behind my wheels. Jay
had put in a big effort at this point and by the end of that lap he
had gone too far into the red and had to retire. Meanwhile,
Mike 'hopped-up-on-redbull' Phelan was crashing hard from the peak-y energy drink effects. Oh yeah, and he forgot to drink water due to his X-treme buzz. As a result, he had to pull over and try to catch up on hydration, but he definitely got back into it...

In the last lap, I had passed everyone (though I thought there were
still a rider or two ahead of me). I kept pushing and put 3:00 on
the field, obtaining the best overall time for sport class. Mike got
his act back together and finished a very strong 7th in Sport Single
Speed, now wanting to work on his descents where he lost some time.

All in all, I think we each learned something about our riding, and I
am amazed at our body's adaptability, being that I just started
getting back on the bike 3 weeks ago.


Congratulations to Charlie, Jay, and Mike! The results just keep on coming.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

We Like to Go Hard

This is my favorite part of the year. Everyone starts rolling back into town, and you get to see who has done his or her homework over the summer. I'm pleased to say that a lot of the Rutgers crew have done their homework.

I wanted to do a "hard" group ride today. Sometimes that can be hit or miss. Today it was a hit. The boys must have watched a motivational video because we were rolling pretty fast.

Dave is going good, real good. He's rapidly developing into a great rider. He's got the 'cross bug too, so he'll continue to get in some great training throughout the fall and winter.

Don is well-rested from his time off the bike, and looking fast. Wow!

Alessandro (once again) put in some monster pulls. He'll be missed when he and Alicia leave for Texas at the end of the month.

Will C. is the new guy on the block. He comes to us from hilly Ithaca, where I also went to school. Once we get him a uniform, he'll be looking spiffy.

If this is a preview of the 2006-07 RU team, it's going to be a good year.

Quick Little Story

I did a solo training ride the other day, just hill repeats to failure (and fail I did!). On the way there, rolling through Bound Brook completely decked out in the Rutgers University kit, I passed by a middle aged couple sitting on the stoop of a townhouse. Suddenly the lady shouted at me, "hey, Rutgers! you want water?!?"

"No, thanks! Got plenty!" I shouted back, then continued on my merry way.

45 minutes (and 6 miles) later, I was limping back home. As I passed by the middle aged couple again, the lady shouted, "hey, Rutgers! you want a burger?!?". And man, I could smell 'em being BBQed... temptation!

"No, thanks! Gotta get home!" I shouted back, possibly making a bad decision (who doesn't like free burgers?)

It's cool being called "Rutgers"... I am a fan of our kits.

Monday, August 14, 2006

'Cross Under the Lights

Friday night marked the, rather early, kick-off to the Rutgers Cycling cyclocross season at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. As part of the NJ State Fair, this race attracted many spectators and drew a large and competitive field from around the Northeast.

After braving Friday night traffic heading north, the Rutgers crew arrived with just enough time to get on the course before the opening race, an individual time trial on the course. The course was short (approx. 2 min laps) and technically challenging with berms, a tight, banked corner, two set of barriers, and "Denali" a short, steep peak in the middle of the lap that claimed many a rider.

The women's race kicked off the mass start racing for the evening, and Brandi jumped feet first into her first cyclocross race. The women's field was stacked with elite riders, many of whom have appeared previously on the podium in their age group at cyclocross nationals. Brandi, however, put in a brilliant ride, riding in 6th until a crash took her back to 9th place. This is Brandi's best racing result in her quite short career, and she shows much promise for the cyclocross season when it begins in earnest in October.

In the sub-elite race, Rutgers fielded an impressive team: Ted, Jay, Mark, Don, and Alessandro. A crash in the banked turn at the start took out both Mark and Jay, but they fought back to get in contact with the main bunch. With 3 laps to go, it looked like a Wednesday night 'cross session, with Alessandro, Mark, and Craig from the Hermes riding together as a group. With two to go, Alessandro got a gap on Denali that Mark could not close. Alessandro rolled in as the highest placed RU rider with Mark and Craig finishing shortly behind him. Results, unfortunately, have been unavailable, but our best guesses put Alessandro and Mark in the 20s in a field of over 50 riders.

Thus ends the exposition cyclocross action for RU. The Mid-Atlantic and NJ State Cup cyclocross races kick off in October. Look for Rutgers to be a force throughout the season. Rutgers will also be fielding races for the 24 Hours of Allamuchy in September and the collegiate mountain bike series beginning in September.

Next weekend, some of our mountain bike crew heads to Delaware for the Mid-Atlantic Super Series race at Iron Hill. Look for more exciting race reports.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rutgers Cycling Season Kick-off!

The RU Cycling season kicks off this Friday, August 11th, at 'Cross Under the Lights, part of the NJ State Fair at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.

With one cyclocross workout behind them in preparation, the RU crew is looking pretty good. In years past, the Fairgrounds has been kind to RU with 3 state championship podiums on this course and multiple wins during the November cyclocross series held there. The Rutgers 'cross crew is primed to continue its success at the Fairgrounds.

Representing Rutgers: Don, Alessandro, Jay, Mark, Brandi, and Ted.

This race will be Don's first after months spent off the bike due to surgery. If last night's practice is any indication, Don's form is on track, and he will smoke everyone in any run. Don wants this. He wants it real bad.

Alessandro will be leaving Rutgers Cycling (and NJ) at the end of August, so this will be his farewell to NJ cycling. In 2004, Alessandro was 3rd in the state 'cross championships at the Fairgrounds. Perhaps his farewell ride will net him the win...

Jay has spent his summer doing two things: painting and riding his mountain bike. This 30 minute race will be but a blip on Jay's radar as he is preparing for the 24 hours of Allamuchy in September. Look for Jay to get the hole shot and clear the barriers in a single bound.

Mark, the resident cyclocross fanatic, comes into this race after a summer spent racing on the road. His fitness is certainly there, and he's hungry for some results in cyclocross. In 2004, Mark also reached the podium in the state 'cross championships at the Fairgrounds and finished 10th against a deeper field in 2005. Look for a mean face and flying mutton chops.

Brandi is a newcomer to cyclocross. In fact, Tuesday night's practice was the first time she had gone over barriers! She has, however, shown immense promise and growth over the course of the 2005-06 season. Brandi is a fierce competitor with a steady-state engine to match. She may very well be the women's cyclocross revelation of the season.

Ted is threatening to race 'Cross Under the Lights on his single speed 'cross bike. Ted is also fairly new to cyclocross having only raced at Highland Park 'Cross last year. Ted, however, is an impressively strong rider who continues to only get stronger. Ted will surely put in an impressive ride with only one gear.

And there you have it! Friday night promises to be a great night for Rutgers Cycling!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

hill ride controversy (gasp!)

with last week's dominators out of competition this week (mike and jay claim to have jobs, but i think that their hematocrits were too high and the "jobs" were an excuse to avoid being tested), the field was wide open... until alessandro sent out an email saying he would be riding with us.

dave kim, dave allara, alessandro, chris redmond, and i met at brower (which is surprisingly nostalgic after a long summer), then headed into bound brook to meet mike bogdan, one of the new guys. within a mile or so, we were at rt 22, about to start going, well, up. this is where the controversy began.

hill #1; washington rd:
during the easy slope at the bottom, dave kim and chris sat at the front, having a chat. neither of them had ever been up washington rd before. we hit the first steep bit, and needless to say, the conversation stopped. i glanced back and noticed that a gap had opened.

the three of us continued up for a while, with dave sitting at the front. i glanced back at the stop sign, about 1/3 of the way up, and saw that the gap was pretty big. this gave me an inexplicable nervous feeling.

by the time we got to the switchback, the reality of the situation finally got through to my hypoxic brain... alessandro doesn't just get dropped like that. i moved to the front and started hammering, knowing what was coming. as i approached the 2nd switchback, alessandro was hot on my heels, having closed a 20+ second gap in about half a mile. i just barely held him off at the top.

hill #2; mt. horeb rd:
i hit this climb on the front and started pushing immediately. this climb starts off really steep and becomes moderate by the top, so i wanted to open a gap as quickly as possible. before the end of the steep section, alessandro came chugging by.

i dug deep and tried to minimize the gap, and was only about 10 yds behind as we approached the summit. alessandro sat up and coasted to the top, giving me the chance to turn myself inside out, close the gap, and do a sloppy, half-hearted bike throw. i meant it as a joke, but by god, i pipped him!

flats; mt. horeb rd:
the plan, concocted en route to bound brook, was to have alessandro attack on the flat part of mt. horeb road, so that the rest of us could form a pace line and try to pull him back. he was being a nice guy, though, sitting at the back and chatting with mike. before i knew it, i had attacked!

okay, attacked is a slight exaggeration. let's just say that i got out of the saddle, accelerated slightly, and said to chris "dude, give me a gap before you start chasing, i can't get one on my own". i managed to hold off the pack for about a minute before they chased me down mercilessly... all of the work here was done by chris and dave kim.

about a minute later, alessandro attacked. we immediately lined out and started taking 10 second pulls. suffice it to say that our line got shattered. we only caught alessandro when we regrouped at an intersection.

hill #3; morning glory:
once again, dave kim and chris showed their mettle, moving to the front and setting a wicked pace. perhaps sensing weakness, chris opened a little gap over the rest of us. having seen over the past few rides just how fit chris is, i couldn't risk letting him solo away, so alessandro and i closed the gap and sat in.

with morning glory being relatively shallow, drafting played a huge role. when chris' pace slowed a bit, i could've attacked, but i realized that alessandro could easily have latched on. the only choice i had was to wait for alessandro's inevitable move and hang on for dear life.

but the move never came! i waited, and waited, and waited, and finally lost patience towards the summit. i probably should've waited another few hundred meters, but i made my move, looked back, and saw that alessandro was spinning behind me rather comfortably. bad news for don...

and yet he never attacked! for the third time, i reached the peak in first wheel. later, on the way back, i asked him why he hadn't come around me. alessandro replied, in his customary matter-of-fact way, "it's less work to draft"


so here is the controversy, my friends. there is no doubt that alessandro was the strongest on the day. also, dave kim and chris did the vast majority of the work in the wind. but damnit, i reached the KOM "lines" first, on all 3 hills!

what say you? who gets the KOM jersey? who gets the "most aggressive rider" award? can there be a sprint jersey for a hill ride? where's rosener?

please post a comment... this is clearly a matter of life and death!!!