Monday, October 30, 2006

ECCC CX #1 "Total Domination"

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Jay has style (photo: Dennis Smith)

Before the Rutgers football team extended its undefeated streak on Sunday night, the Rutgers Cycling Team continued its dominating cyclocross campaign.

The collegiate cyclocross series kicked off this weekend in Bridgeton, NJ at a race sponsored by Team Beacon. After several weeks of preseason action, Rutgers was ready to rock. Rutgers had an enormous presence at the race, bringing seven racers down to put their stamp on the collegiate series in its opening weekend.

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Don displays his technical prowess and new Scott Cross Comp bike (photo:

Rutgers did not disappoint.

In the Men's C, Rutgers went 2nd, 3rd, and 5th in the collegiate category with Blake, Ted, and Andy representing big time.

Rutgers swept the men's B with Charlie 1st, Don 2nd, Mark 3rd, and Jay 4th.

With this incredible weekend, Rutgers take a commanding lead in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Cyclocross Series.

Mark, RU Cyclocross DS, had this to say about the weekend, "We're over the moon. It's been a natural progression for a team that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three years. We've won a number a state championships in 'cross and been on the podium in the Mid-Atlantic and New England series, so it's natural that we came prepared for the innaugural collegiate cyclocross series. Now we just have to keep our lead."

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Mark does something weird (photo: Dennis Smith)

Racing action continues with ECCC races in Connecticut at Chainbiter 6.0 and Massachusetts at the 16th Annual Cycle-Smart International. Rutgers will again bring out a massive and gifted team to extend its lead.

ECCC Collegiate Cross Schedule
10/29 Beacon 'Cross - Bridgeton, NJ
11/4 Chainbiter 6.0 - Farmington, CT
11/5 Cycle-Smart Int'l- Northampton, MA
11/5 Nittany Lion Cross - Fogelsville, PA
11/11 CX Easterns @ UNH - Durham, NH
11/12 HPCX - Jamesburg, NJ
11/19 Evo - PA
11/25 Bay State Cross - Sterling, MA
12/9 Stedman's Cross - Kingston, RI
12/10 Caster's Cross - Warwick, RI
12/15-17 Cyclocross Nationals - Providence, RI

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Photo Blog - Rutgers Superprestige 10-25

my class let out early tonight, so i got to go watch the wednesday night 'cross practice, camera in hand. some of the pictures i took tonight came out pretty well, so i decided to post them... want to fight about it?

mark at granogue... not technically from wednesday, sue me

scrumming is a bit more relaxed on wednesday

if ralf has to run, he does it in style!

farmer andy's crash causes chaos on the ralf-switchbacks

ted rolls through the scary narrow gate

mark likes to go hard

mark and mike in pro-ish matching kits... so hot right now

kyle did his first 'cross ride ever and couldn't stop smiling

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

MAC Opening Weekend

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Don has his mail forwarded to the pain cave

This weekend marked the kick off of the Verge Mid-Atlantic Championship Cyclocross Series with races at the Granogue Estate in Delaware and a horse farm in Coshocken, PA.

Rutgers rolled deep on Saturday at Granogue with Ted, Jay, and Don in the Cs and Mark and Charlie in the Bs.

In C action, Don fought back from a terrible 6th row start position to finish 8th in a field of 70+. Jay finished not too far behind in 15th, and Ted rounded out the Rutgers crew in 54th.

In the Bs, 90 guys lined up for the toughest course on the Mid-Atlantic calendar. Charlie and Mark both had inspired rides on this grueling and technical course. Mark finished 23rd and Charlie right behind in 25th.

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Charlie and Mark avoid first lap chaos and power away.

On Sunday, while the rest of the 'cross crew were taking a break, Jay went out to race the Wissahickon 'cross race in PA. Inspired by his solid result on Saturday in the Cs, Jay started with the Bs and had a great race to finish 49th.

Next weekend, the Rutgers crew is doubling up with a NJ Cup race at the Craigmeur Ski Resort in Rockaway, NJ on Saturday and the Collegiate CX series opener on Sunday in Bridgeton, NJ. Look for solid rides both days as the RU crew only seems to get stronger!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

NJ Cross Cup #1

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The Rutgers 'cross crew headed up to Mahwah, NJ to let their presence be known in the first round of the NJ 'Cross Cup Series.

In the C race, Blake and Ted toed the line. Ted met with some bad luck and flatted early on, but Blake hung tough on the very difficult course to finish 11th.

Our lone junior, Andy (affectionately known as FarmerAndy), raced the 15-18 race. Not only was this his first cyclocross race (and 2nd time on a cross bike), but it was his first bike race ever! Andy rode a brilliant race and displayed some great technical prowess to finish 4th.

In the Bs, Rutgers represented big with Charlie, Jay, and Mark lining up front row to battle for the hole shot. Charlie avoided a first lap crash that split the field and scooted off with the front group to hang on for 4th in a tough field. Mark rode a steady race and finished 8th in a vaguely dramatic sprint finish. Jay had another great ride to finish 15th. Jay continues to just simply get faster.

Next weekend, the crew is in action in Wilmington, DE for the MAC series opener at Granogue. Last year, weather played a key factor with mud making difficult sections even harder. Don finished 2nd in the Cs and is looking for the win this year. Charlie had a great race and is looking to improve on his 12th from last year.

Guide to Cyclocross Technique

Episode 1: How to Take the Barriers

1) grab a lot of brake. mostly the rear one, as you don't want to flip forwards. it's best to lock up the rear wheel, as this will let the treads really bite in to the turf.

2) unclip your left foot. then clip it back in.

3) unclip your right foot, then swing it over the seat in as wide an arc as possible. this stretch will keep you loose as you acrobatically clear the barriers.

4) swerve a little. this will let your competitors be more aware of your position. they'll appreciate the knowledge, and you'll have that much more room in which to maneuver.

5) grab some more brake. you can never grab enough brake in a 'cross race.

6) keep both hands on the hoods. otherwise, you might not be able to brake enough (see #5)

7) slam the front wheel into the barrier. this will pop the rear wheel up, allowing you to...

8) grab something on the rear half of the bicycle, such as: the toptube, seatpost, saddle, seatstay, seat tube, or rear wheel (spokes or rim). this will help you lift the bike over the barrier. if you did #7 correctly, the rear end of the bike will already be at shoulder level.

9) failing #8 (don't worry, not even the pros get this right every time), pause in between the barriers. you've got 4 meters (sometimes more, cough cough AUGUSTA) of real estate in which to reset yourself before the next barrier. take your time... you paid your entry fee, this course is as much yours as anyone else's.

10) step, hop, or prance over the barriers. style points are awarded, which will then be subtracted from your time at the end of the race. remember to smile for the photographers.

11) place your left foot back on the left pedal. more advanced riders may try to clip in while rolling by propelling themselves with their right feet, but feel free to clip in while stationary if that's more comfortable.

12) swing your right leg over the saddle. again, swing it in as wide an arc as possible, to limber up the legs before you have to start pedaling again.

13) sit back down on the saddle. take care to protect your giblets.

14) pedal.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tour de Rutgers

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Chris hanging out post-Tour

On Sunday, Rutgers Cycling participated in the Tour de Rutgers. This 13 mile tour winds its way through the five campuses of Rutgers University at a social pace to provide a fun day for all.

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The ride stops to regroup while Mark shows off.

Rutgers Cycling was joined by cycling enthusiasts throughout the Rutgers community and by extra special guests the Colavita U19 team. Having missed out on a ride with RU because of rain when they last visited, the Colavita gang came out again for a fun day of riding on a sunny Sunday morning.

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The TdR was a great success! It was wonderful for the team to connect with alumni and cycling enthusiasts from around the community. We are especially grateful to the Colavita riders and their parents who joined us to tour the campus on wheels!
Post-ride the Rutgers/Colavita crew discuss plans for a training ride.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Superprestige #2

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Not from last night's practice session

Tonight we had a big crew out for cross practice... 20something or so.

Sadly, only Jay and I were came out to compete for the hallowed RU Superprestige Leader's Jersey.

Round one and I hammered off the front to get the hole shot and ride cleanly through the tricky dicky S turn. Ralf and Eric Schlauch came around me and did their go fast thing while Craig and I took turns at messing with each other. I felt terrible, and I simply couldn't shake Craig. Finally, on the last lap, I put in a mega-attack on the back side of the course and got a gap. Craig fought back and got on my wheel going into the barriers. I hit the barriers as fast as I could with no brakes, rode cleanly through the off-cambah and Craig was gone. I rolled in 3rd... 1st in the points (7). Jay rolled in shortly behind for 2nd (5).

Round 2 came, and I was not feeling it. I took the start slow and got on Eric's wheel. We hit the grass and Ralf turned on the gas. We passed Rich Bauch (Colavita) who go the hole shot, and we motored through the S turn, off camber, and U turn. Coming into the flat before the barriers, Eric turned on the afterburners, and I dug deep with everything I had to stay on his wheel with Ralf on mine. I hung out by the skin of my teeth with Ralf and Eric for another lap until Ralf crashed on the off-camber, and Eric drilled it on the pavement. I sat up and rolled around as hard as I could while seeing stars. Eventually, a Liberty guy caught and passed me for 3rd, and I let him go. He wasn't dismounting, so he was faster that me. I hung on for fourth... 1st in the points (8). Jay came in 2nd (6).

Soo... I hold onto the leader's jersey for another week.

Current points standings:

Mark 26
Jay 17
Don 7
Charlie 5

I go into a rest week with a pretty decent lead. Look for someone to take the jersey from me next week. My money is on Jay.

Saturday is Cookie Puss 'Cross on Livingston. 10 AM. If it's raining, it's cancelled. Winner gets some sweet ice cream cake (so does everyone else). Mark doesn't get ice cream cake.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Whitmore Supercross Day 2

Despite a little early panic Saturday night, the Long Island race went pretty okay.

HermesCraig, HermesMike, and I headed to Southampton, NY for the 2nd day of the the Whitemore Supercross cyclocross race. With a two UCI races and big money, it was a treat to watch some of the finest cyclocross racers in North America throwdown.

Me? I raced the Killer Bs.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Mark making contact with 5th place rider Frank Zgoda

I got a good start (except for being chopped going into a corner by HermesCraig) and suddenly found myself 4th for a while. A few more laps in and I got passed and passed again. I buried myself to get up to the guy in 5th. With 2 to go, a Strictly Bicycles rider who I'd caught up to and passed caught on and wanted to work together. Unfortunately, I was so gassed, that when he came around he also dropped me.

So, I was content to settle for 6th, but I was terrified to get caught by the guys in 7th and 8th for whom people were cheering, so it sounded like they were close. They weren't. I had over a minute gap on them. I kept the gas on as much as I could and rolled in solo for 6th.

This was my first cross race since August, so I was pretty pleased with the result, despite finishing one spot out of the money. I've raced this race every year and have gone, now, 6th, 7th, and 8th. Every year the results keep improving!

This weekend is a break from racing, then the season starts in earnest with the Westwood Velo 'Cross race in Mahwah, NJ. I'm hopeful that my form continues to improve, and I can turn in another good result.

Congratulations to HermesRalf who finished 3rd in the Masters on the first day of the race. Ralf looks great in red and black!
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hillbilly Hustlin'

Saturday morning, Jay and I braved the moderate conditions and mid-day start time to take on the Hillbillies. The race, appropriately enough, took place in Gloucester county.

The course was on fast material but had more corners than one of those crazy dice from Dungeons and Dragons (which no, I've never played). Honestly, if Craig had designed the HP race that way, each lap would be 8 miles long. The B field was about 20 strong, and the start was fast but surprisingly safe.

At the first corner, I was in about 10th wheel, and the field was already lined out. Gaps were opening, but there wasn't much room for a poor handler like myself to pass. It wasn't until we hit the first mulch pit (a dismount-worthy obstacle for the first 2 laps), then the first barrier (who puts a barrier just before a corner?), and finally the pair of barriers (who puts barriers just after a 180-degree corner?) that I was able to do my usual run-fast thing and move up.

I only crashed once... the dude I was following was fooled by the weirdly-designed optical-illusion corner-that-wasn't, and found himself at a dead stop, perpendicular to the direction of the course. I tried to correct, only to find myself ninja-rolling... fortunately, there was no bum-bruising today. This was where Rob, from UPenn, passed me.

I spent 3 of the 6 laps chasing Rob down, finally catching him with 1 to go. Unfortunately, there was a hard-charging single speeder coming up behind me, and I could only hold him off for a little bit before he was on my wheel. I let him past, hoping to sit in, but he cornered too well, and after one particularly loose hairpin I couldn't pull him back. I was almost able to claw back to a fading rider, but I ran out of real estate, finishing 6th.

Jay, in his first-ever B race, fought valiantly to move up through the field. However, he was plagued by a series of dropped chains. The last of these came with about 600m to go, allowing 3 riders to pass him. Jay finished 13th, but certainly had the strength, handling, and fitness to have earned a higher placing.

If there's one thing I've learned at Rutgers, it's that you have to make your own rules about points. In the spirit of Mark's Rutgers Superprestige and everyone's favorite Rutgers World Championship competition, Jay and I tracked down Rob from UPenn to take a "Collegiate Podium" photo, because "sixth" doesn't sound as cool as "first".

Collegiate Podium (l to r): UPenn Rob 2nd, Don 1st, Jay 3rd