i don't know if you've heard, but there was a bike race in jamesburg this weekend.
saturday afternoon, basking in lovely weather, we met in thompson park for course setup. that's one of the things i love about putting on a 'cross race: you have a great deal of direct input into the outcome of the race. last year, for example, charlie and i fought over the placement of the inside corner at the top of the "runup" at donaldson - charlie wanted it lower, so he could ride, and i wanted it higher, so i could pass people on foot.
i don't know how others reacted, but when i saw the little surprise craig, mark, and jenks had planned for us halfway up the climb, i had a mild seizure. it was a series of sharp corners, zig-zagging along a steep part of the hill. i resisted the urge to punch craig... he probably had enough stress the day before his race without having to deal with beating the hell out of me.
we prerode the course, learning its ins and outs, but that was pretty useless on sunday. for example, i was able to ride the evil mid-climb corners on saturday... on sunday, everyone had to dismount before the first turn. on saturday, i was able to take the inside or outside line through the now-infamous downhill-off-camber-left-hander... on sunday, i high-sided and somersaulted away from the bike (in front of my parents, too!)
sunday was everything we could've hoped for. the rain held off, for the most part, until the men's elite race. the course, however, was completely torn up by the beginning of the c race, and the mist kept it soggy enough to ensure a mud-fest.
the rutgers (and hermes) c's had a great race, across the board. jenks took a flabbergasting 5th (since when can he ride off road?), and blake was close behind in 7th. kyle, ted, and andy put in solid rides, as usual, with kyle adopting an unorthodox method of dismounting at the barriers. gerry, in his first ever bike race, with 0 training under his belt, finished towards the back of the middle of the pack (note: this is NOT the back of the pack). all things considered, gerry kicked ass! espectially at the barriers. between his lack of background, his decent performance, and his emo-boy self-criticism after the race, i'm predicting that gerry is the next angry-faced mark... now we just have to work on his sideburns.
the b's did pretty well. i have no idea what happened with charlie... it's clear that he went fast, but after i spotted him at the first hairpin, i never saw him again. mark started pretty conservatively and rode steady (he calls this racing with "promoters' legs"), pulling me back with about 2 to go. we worked together for a lap, passing a number of riders. i pulled him through the straights and the climbs, and then i followed his lines through the techy stuff. it was beautiful. then mark passed a guy that i couldn't get around until the next corner, at which point the gap between mark and myself was huge. still, without that lap-and-a-half of teamwork, i might've finished an entire 3 or 4 spots back!
the rest of the day was pretty typical of helping out at a race. chris ran around the course, fixing the tape when riders couldn't hold a line, which was often. jay and i pitted for the fiordifrutta guys. blake shouted embarrassing things at ralf.
it's worth noting that having the whole team at races is really great. when we roll up to races in connecticut with vans full of racers, there's going to be a significant effect from the cheering section. but man, hosting a race? we were EVERYWHERE! i don't think non-racers understand the effect of encouragement during races. when someone says "go faster", you go faster, whether you want to or not... when there's someone at every corner saying "go faster", you fly through the course!
bonus: someone (not me!) came up with the idea of a fundraiser for the team. blake and i walked around during the women's elite race, getting signatures of the top elite men on two rutgers jerseys. we plan to continue this at nationals, and then we'll ebay-auction one jersey and do something cool with the 2nd. the list of pros so far:
check back later for more photos