Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rutgers Cycling Superprestige #1

Wednesday night marked the kick-off of the newest Rutgers Cycling jersey competition: the Rutgers Cycling Cyclocross Superprestige Series.

This points series is contested over the course of the season during the Wednesday night 'cross workouts.

We started the first round off with a bang.

The usual RU 'cross crew of Jay, Charlie, and I came out with special guests Don and Blake both free from class. With five on the line and points only going three deep, sparks were gonna fly.

For the first interval RU Cycling advisor Andy set a blistering pace at the start to get the hole shot. The rest of the group eventually came together and rode steady until the dreaded off-camber section by the volleyball court. I came into it right behind HermesCraig to find Charlie and HermesRalf sprawled on top of each other... crash-o-rama.

I took this as an opportunity to attack.

I set a hard tempo and killed it going into the barriers. Once I hit the road, I decided to let Charlie latch on and do some pace making. We rode together for half a lap until I popped off the back. No warm up will do that to you sometimes.

Okay, I'll settle for 2nd to Charlie.

Going into the barriers, I notice a very stealthy Don has latched onto my wheel. Like a ninja, he came around me at the barriers and that was the last I saw of him. Don not only dropped me, but caught and dropped Charlie and then held off HermesRalf for almost the entire interval!!!

For the points, Don rolled in for first (7), Chaz for 2nd (5), Mark for 3rd (3).

Round 2 came around and Charlie made the unfortunate discovery that one of his spokes had ceased to be affixed to his rim. He decided to pack in it rather than risk taco'ing his wheel. Blake headed off to class.

Then there were three...

The "whistle" blows, and I go out hard to get the hole shot. I lead all the way past the volley ball court and into the back section before Ralf comes around me. I look back and there's a pretty good gap between Don and I. I hammer on the flat leading into the barriers and who is on my wheel? NinjaDon. Don attacks, I counter to lead into the barriers. I panic a little when my foot re-clips into the left pedal and I hesitate over the barriers. Don is on his bike and leads into the off-camber telephone pole section.

Then, well, Don fell on his head. Okay, actually, he fell on his butt. Hard.

I checked to make sure NinjaDon was okay and then drilled it.

I spent the rest of the interval futily trying to close the gap between Ralf and I while looking over my shoulder to make sure NinjaDon wasn't on my wheel and Jay was far enough back.

I rolled in for 2nd behind Ralf, first in the points (8). Jay took 2nd in the points (6). Don DNF (0). Am I missing any RU guys here? Lemme know.

For round one of the RU Superprestige, the points standings are as follows:
Mark 11
Don 7
Jay 6
Charlie 5

This week, I got the leader's jersey. I'm going to sleep in it. I might have my bike painted to match it. It's hott.

The Superprestige series continues next Wednesday with a 5:30 start time. Can I hang onto the leader's jersey? Well, Don won't be there, so maybe.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bleed From Your Eyes ride, Sep 26

Will and Chris climbing Mt Horeb Rd

Perhaps it was the weather getting a little colder, or perhaps it was the fact that classes are in full swing. Either way, turnout for today's ride was less than it has been.

Nevertheless, Chris, Will C, and I decided to kick it old school... and by kick it old school, I mean ride really really hard.

A few weeks ago, I bragged to Charlie that I'd just set a personal record on the Mt. Washington climb, beating my old time by a full 30 seconds. Today I rode the climb even faster... 38 seconds faster! But I still finished well behind Will and Chris!!!

Raritan Valley, from the top of Washington Rd

We were all pretty hurt at this point, so we rolled slowly over to Mt. Horeb rd, where I darted ahead to position myself for some photographing.

Chris and Will climbing Mt. Horeb Rd

Once past the climb, we agreed that running an individual time trial (for lack of enough riders to do a TTT) would be a waste of time, and boring. So we did a 3-man TTT all the way to the end of the road, with nice short pulls to keep the speed high. Will's aerobars didn't exactly hurt, either.

The final climb was Morning Glory rd. The tactics here were simplified by the small number of riders, but the (relatively) gentle grade of the road kept the speed high. I sat at the front, keeping the pace high in the hopes that nobody would have the legs to attack. Will's efforts on the first climb proved to be his undoing on this last climb, and soon only Chris was on my wheel. He came around with about 700m to go, but was unable to drop me. Still, the pace was now up around 25 mph, and we were still climbing. I tried to sprint around him, but the wind was brutal. I ducked back into the draft, then surged again with 100m to go, finally cracking Chris.

Usually, I pedal down the descent to get my speed way up, but today I sat up and coasted the whole way, gasping for air. Yowza.

Rolling Home on River Rd

With a 3rd and a 1st for me, a 1st and 3rd for Will, and two 2nds for Chris, we each got 8 points. Furthermore, Will's joke-cracking while he tortured Chris and me on the first climb earned him a -12 point penalty; however, Will squared his score, then called "no backsies!" in anticipation of my rebuttal. Also, for tearing up the first climb (seriously, that was the fastest I've seen anyone climb that thing), Chris and Will both get 2 bonus points.

Thus, the score is now:
Will C. ....38

Will is in the Rutgers World Champion jersey, and looks resplendent in rainbow.

World Champion... Will C ... coincidence?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Colavita U19 Team Visits Rutgers

Saturday morning the Colavita U19 Team visited with the Rutgers University Cycling Team to check out Rutgers and learn about collegiate cycling. Rain cancelled plans for a group ride, but the prospective students and racers were treated to a meet and great in the student center with bagels and great campus tour led by Blake. Over 25 prospective students and parents came for the campus visit making it a successful and fun recruiting effort!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Blake talks to the Colavita riders about dorm life.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDon and Blake answers questions in a small group.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe meeting.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bleed From Your Eyes Ride, Sep 21

Early Thursday morning, Chris, Kyle, Steve, and I met to continue the quest for Rutgers World Championship points. After a lap around Busch and Livingston campuses to warm up, we held the first Rutgers WC Individual Time Trial in Johnson Park.

Even as Fabian Cancellara won the other World Championship over in Austria, our grassroots competition was held Eddy Merckx style, mostly because the only team members who own aerobars had early classes. The wind gusting downriver (upriver? i don't even know which way that thing flows), which may have seemed harsh to freshmen Kyle and Steve, was appreciably gently compared to the gales experienced by competitors at the Rutgers Race last spring. With the sun shining, the picturesque stage was set for eye-bleed-inducing competition.

As the only cyclocrosser in attendance, I volunteered to hold for the other 3 riders at the start of the out-and-back course. Naturally, we received more than a few confused stares from passing motorists.

Practicing the 'Cross Starts - photo by Steve

Steve set an early best time, after protesting that he's not a time trialist. Chris charged home next, narrowly besting Steve's time. Kyle, who had never TT'ed before, made a series of bottle-related blunders that cost him an inordinate amount of time. He finished in a time that failed to do justice to his strength on the bike. Having started conservatively on the tailwind leg, I turned around and charged into the headwind fast enough to finish in between Chris' and Steve's respective times (mostly due to my super-sexy skinsuit).


After another lap around the Piscataway campuses, the time had come to race the second ITT. Avoiding the complications of unnecessary mid-ride hydration, Kyle bettered his first ride by a significant margin, resulting in a time just behind that of Steve, who produced consistent, impressive results. Chris got a great start, and looked to be flying on the home stretch. However, digging deep, I just managed to beat his time - again, I attribute much of my speed to the skinsuit, the arms of which encouraged me to "Ride Hard, Ride Fast" (we miss you, Alicia and Alessandro! I know you read this blog!)

Resting after the first ITT - photo by Steve


So, Chris and I tied for points. However, accounting for equipment, time differentials, and the Badass Index, Chris clearly emerged the winner.

Chris, Rutgers ITT World Champion - photo by Kyle

Just to complete the masochistic self-flogging, Chris, Kyle, and I rode a 3-man TTT into the headwind, over the entirety of the park. Despite the efforts of a gaggle of geese (I've always wanted an excuse to use that phrase!) to interfere with our ride, we rode a strong, smooth paceline to once again flaunt the speed limit and scorch the course.

In a post-race press conference, Chris issued a challenge to Cancellara, to determine the true World Champion. Rutgers University Cycling has not yet received a response from Cancellara or the UCI.

This leaves the overall Rutgers WC standings in a state of turmoil:
Will C. ....-4

You may be wondering what happened to Will C's points. The power of Don, Ride Organizer, is great and mysterious.

With Charlie's Rutgers World Champion jersey being kept warm for the week, the competition will continue next Tuesday, with a Hill Sprint / Team Time Trial extravaganza that promises to throw the leaderboard into the depths of anarchy and cause various eyes to bleed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wednesday Night 'Cross Practice

Once again Rutgers Cycling is hosting the Central NJ CX practices on Livingston campus.

We're two weeks into the practices, and things are looking good. Wednesday night, Jay, Charlie and I from RU and Craig, Ralf, Harold, and Chris from the Hermes all came out for two sets of eye-bleeding efforts.

Over the course of the past three years, these practices have gone from a "go your own pace" training ride to an all-out training race. The crew that is coming out regularly is so even that in addition to get in efforts, we're working on race tactics and riding in a group. It's phenomenal.

On the Rutgers front, Charlie and Jay are looking good. Jay is perhaps in the best shape of his life and putting out some excellent efforts on the course. Charlie's fitness increases week to week, and he'll be ready to throw down by the time the Mid-Atlantic series begins on October 21st at Granogue. I'm continuing to see some steady improvement, and I'm hoping for a good season.

In due time the rest of the RU cross crew will make its way out to practice. Don is stuck in class, Blake is building his bike, Ted is building his bike, and some of the new folks are still trying to find Livingston...

The team has a wealth of races to choose from this season. With the new NJ Cyclo-Cross Cup Series, Rutgers will be looking to dominate on home turf. With three podiums in the NJ cross championships in the past two years, Rutgers is poised to continue its local success in this series.

RU will also continue to compete in the Verge Mid-Atlantic Series which featured incredible performances by the team throughout the season, including Don taking 2nd overall in the C category.

Additionally, Rutgers riders will be again travelling throughout the northeast to compete in the Verge New England series and non-series races in Long Island.

Finally, the big goal again for the season is Cyclo-Cross Nationals with Rutgers in the hunt for a spot on the collegiate omnium podium.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bleed-from-your-Eyes Ride Report

Sweet sassy goodness. That was quite a ride.

The opening salvo of this year's Rutgers World Championship competition was fired this morning, and boy oh boy was it loud. Charlie, Will C, Ted, Chris R, and I met at Brower, rolling out slowly in anticipation of some hurting.

The details of the competition were, briefly, that there were 4 sprints, 3 of which were at the top of climbs. Points were awarded as 5 for 1st, 4 for 2nd, etc. We went around my favorite hill course (see map). We were laughing, cracking jokes, in some cases singing, all the way down to Bound Brook.

At the first climb, up Washington Road, everyone shut up. A hung-over Chaz moved to the front and set a hard pace. As far as I can tell, he never attacked, he just shed riders off his wheel like candy bar wrappers (don't worry, we didn't litter). Will held on the longest, finishing second ahead of a 3-up sprint for 3rd.

Sprint #1: Washington Rd... Charlie 5, Will 4, Don 3, Chris 2, Ted 1

We cruised over to Mt. Horeb road, at a "recovery pace". Maybe I was hallucinating, but I thought I saw a 4 year old on a big-wheel pass us, shouting "on your left!" in his little high-pitched voice. On the false-flat at the bottom of the climb, everyone was still looking at each other, and this conservative riding continued until halfway up the steep part. Impatient as ever, I put in an attack, only to have Charlie come around me like I was standing still. With Will surging hard at the end, I managed to hang on for second, even though I was distracted by the pretty stars fluttering in front of my eyes.

Sprint #2: Mt. Horeb Rd.... Charlie 10, Will 7, Don 7, Chris 4, Ted 2

After a short descent, the most tactically interesting part of the day began. The mostly-flat 5k of Mt. Horeb Rd gave us the perfect terrain on which to duke out a flat sprint. However, we were all in pain at this point, and all we could do was hold a paceline. Then Ted cramped, having missed his morning donut fueling regimen, and Charlie flatted. They waved us on, and Will put in a vicious attack, which I just barely managed to cover. I countered, but he latched on, then moved to the front to keep a gap between us and a resurgent Chris. I put in one last attack, but it was of no use, and Will held on to my wheel through the end of the sprint. (note: for safety's sake, this sprint was neutralized, such that Will and I both received points for 1st place, Chris got 3rd place, and Chaz and Ted both got 4th).

Sprint #3: Mt. Horeb Rd, flats... Charlie 12, Will 12, Don 12, Chris 7, Ted 4

Now things were interesting. With a 3-way tie for 1st (certainly, though, due to Charlie's flat tire) and a big-ring climb ahead of us, something epic was sure to transpire on Morning Glory rd. Chris moved to the front and set a withering pace, with Charlie, Will, and myself all fighting for his wheel. Towards the top, Charlie accelerated sharply, and only Will could follow... but neither of them had either done this climb before!!! They were fooled by a false flat towards the top into believing they'd finished. In all fairness, I shouted at them to keep riding, and even waved them on, but it was to no avail. Chris pulled me up to Will's wheel, after which I attacked them, almost (but not quite) catching Charlie before the summit.

Sprint #4: Morning Glory Rd... Charlie 17, Don 16, Will 14, Chris 10, Ted 5

It could be argued that Will should've been awarded 2nd for that sprint... however, I've decided to be completely selfish and rule this ride with an iron fist. So, at the end of the day, Charlie will be wearing the Rutgers WC jersey, at least until next week.

We were all looking forward to an easy ride back to campus, but then Will had the brilliant idea that we team-time-trial back. We did. It hurt. I think I died a little inside. Thanks, Will.

Once in Johnson Park, Charlie's cruel streak was exposed. He proposed one final sprint, from the Rt 18 underpass to the "stinky sewage pipe". I don't even know what happened, my peripheral vision was going. I think I found myself in first wheel, attacked desperately, then dropped back, as Will sprinted up on the right to take the sprint.

In conclusion, there's probably something wrong with us. We were all hurting, and bad... yet we were laughing, singing, and generally enjoying ourselves for way too much of the ride. As we rode through Busch campus, Will, Chris, and I had stupid grins on our faces and were talking about how much fun that was. We should be put away in rubber rooms.

Next week, the Rutgers WC competition (aka Bleed-from-your-Eyes Rides) will continue, with a Thursday morning ITT through Johnson Park. Anyone, with any bike, is welcome.