Monday, October 29, 2007

Lehigh Valley Velodrome Cross - Cap'nChaz

Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain. Um, that was the weather leading up to Lehigh Valley Cross at the velodrome. How about race day, you ask? More rain varying from drizzle to downpour at times. The course turned into the most beautiful mess.

As a result, half of the technical areas were completely and utterly unrideable, so I wasn't able to take as much advantage of these areas as I like, but I still had a great ride. My start placed me mid-pack as usual. I should have started harder, for I got caught in a ton of less-skilled and less-aggressive traffic running through the slippery stuff. The rest of the race was spent bridging up to groups and picking through them. The best part was when I bridged up to a group of four right before a set of four switchback turns on a baseball infield. I passed three of the four guys in these corners, one on each of the first three!

Most of the time I was even able to put a respectable amount of power down on the soggy straights, which made me ecstatic! One guy did pass me on a power section right before a corkscrew downhill, he took a poor line, hit the brakes and turned, and I blasted straight down on the propper line, guiding my handlebars and forearms into and past his thigh. Sorry man, take a better line next time; rubbin' is racin'. I did not see him again.

After eating through most of the field, and finally getting the 6th place guy out of reach behind me (this took a lot of effort), I had the fourth place guy (nicknamed Woody?) just out of reach. Instead of sitting up, I continued on my tear, figuring that if he made a mistake on the last lap, I had a good chance of catching him. Plus, keeping the hurt on would be good training for future races. He made no mistake, but the announcer still thought that there would be a battle for fourth. Though I had got to within 25 feet of the guy, the announcer was wrong. On that course, 25 feet was a long ways to go. Woody had felt the pressure but did not make a mistake and stayed just out of reach for me to contest the position. We congratulated each other on our efforts after the finish line.

Fantastic race! So much fun! Finally, some mud. Good physical racing. Action all the way 'till the last lap. Good times with alumnus Jay and regional 'cross regulars. Coming home with some good schwag on an extended podium. What a great day!

I am going to have to figure out how to start a bit harder without putting too much hurt in my legs. Oh well, there should be a few more opportunities to learn this before nationals.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Granogue Report#2 - The C-men heros!

I'd like to elaborate a touch on Don's post... I am flattered by your compliments, but I have to give my 'tip-o'-the-hat' to C-men Dave and Rich! I blasted corners well and 'sploded up the short steep climbs, but didn't exceptionally turn myself inside out or overcome a typical weakness.

Raise your glasses to Rich and Dave. A quick glance would reveal that Rich was especially deep into the pain cave, and his effort was rewarded with an impressive placing. Rich hit the ground more than once, but rapidly tugged his shifters back into place and continued tearing grass up by root to propel himself towards the finish line. Every time that I saw the ever-smiling Dave, he was chasing with determination after the nearest competitor's wheel. He refused let a cyclist out of sight, unless the competitor was disappearing in his wake.

These two racers exemplify the determination we'd like to see in all our team members. They did something special this last Saturday, and I hope to be inspired by them for the rest of this season. Maybe then, I'll accomplish something exceptional and accept the title of "big story of the day." This weekend I respectfully decline Don's accolades to congratulate our amazing C-racers, and fortunately, the future of Rutgers cycling.

Brief Granogue B report

I love Granogue. I LOVE Granogue. I had a huge smile plastered on my face all of Saturday, with the exception of the "oh boy this hurts" look during the race itself.

It is important to start near the front. Not terribly important, mind you, as our very own Mark was able to blast through two rows of Killer B's to take the holeshot, no small feat in such a competitive field. Charlie started more steadily from the 3rd row, while HighlandParkJenks and I had to start waaaay back and got caught behind a half-dozen pileups.

Mark's early efforts were soon replaced by less-than-stellar sensations in his legs, but he hung on admirably for the rest of the race. When HP Jenks stormed by me like I was standing still halfway through the first lap, it served as a convenient wakeup call, and I started moving my way through the field.

Throughout the whole race, we could hear the cheers of our enthusiastic supporters, including AlumniTed, SoigneurHeidi, and C-racers DK and The Kassassin. Every "Go Don" served to boost my power by at least 600 watts, according to my finely-calibrated internal powermeter, and I think I speak for all the B racers when I thank everyone who cheered for us.

The big story of the day, in my book at least, had to be Captain Chaz, who "couldn't pedal powerfully after the runup". Despite this tragic 10sec/lap limitation, Chaz drove his bike to a brilliant top 15 (or so) finish.

All in all, I give the Saturday at Granogue a 17 out of 5. It is my favorite course, the atmosphere is warmer and more inviting than any other similarly-sized race, the weather cooperated, the organizers did a fantastic job, and everyone had a blast. As always, Granogue was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Westwood Velo Cross report

With the team split between Long Island and North Jersey, the Rutgers Team didn't have the massive numbers of racers we're used to at the Westwood Velo race... however, with 7 Rutgers racers (Joe, Dave, Andy, Blake, Jay, Will, and Don) plus some alumni (Ted and Matt) and associates (the victorious ProfessorRalf and also-victorious Jim), we definitely made our presence known.
DK is ready to go

Jay got the holeshot in the C race.
"I prefer to start slow" said Jay last year

He then proceeded to open a huge gap. Huge. To explain how huge this gap was: When Jay flatted about halfway through the first lap, he ran about 400m before being caught. Unfortunately, he had no pit wheel, so Don ran to the car to get him a spare. By the time Don reached the pit, Jay was well behind the race. Rather than help Jay change wheels, Don photographed him.
Don is a terrible friend

With the exception of Andy and Blake, every one racing the C race in a Rutgers kit got a flat. Jay rode Don's wheel to avoid a DNF, Will and Dave pulled the plug, and Freshman Joe fought a slow-leak all the way to the finish. Joe and Jay finished 24th and 25th, respectively.
Joe dug deep in his 2nd-ever bike race

Andy and Blake pushed each other to the finish, trading positions at least twice in the last two laps as far as I could see. They finished in 12th and 13th, respectively, with young-gun Andy putting 30 sec into nearly-graduated Blake by the end.
Andy was the top Rutgers finisher in the C race

In the B race, Rutgers had a good start once again, with Don riding 3rd and Jay and Will close behind. Will took himself out in what was reportedly a spectacular yard-sale over the "natural barriers". Unfortunately, the crash was not captured on camera.
Don runs the just-barely-unrideable logs
that took Will out of the race

Jay eventually pulled the plug on his own race. It seems that it is pretty tough to train once a week, then race twice in one day. Don dug deep for the remainder of the race, but gave up a couple of spots in the last two laps as the heat and the pace got to him. Jay and Will, sitting in the shade at one of the tougher sections of the course, "encouraged" him to stop being a wimp. He finished 7th.
Don fought hard but faded towards the end

Professor Ralf won the very-competitive Masters 35+ race. Congratulations!

With better and better results every week, experience gained, and the big numbers one would expect from the defending ECCC 'cross champions, the Rutgers Cycling team is looking forward to some fantastic races through the rest of the season. Stay tuned for more results, stories, and exciting action shots!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oh, it's cyclocross season

We headed down to South Jersey for a little cyclocross action today at the Hillbilly Hustle .2. As always, it seems, we had a big crew with The Jenksster, FarmerAndy, Craig., Todd, Pluto, The Kassassin, NinjaDon, Dave, Freshman Joe, Matt P. and Me (and Noah too!).

I'm always super psyched to watch the C race when we have oodles of teammates in it. We had six. To the surprise of no one who saw his ride on Wednesday, Todd (RU Cycling Alum) rode away from the field to take the win. It was sweet! It's also his first win ever . That's awesome. The Rutgers boys were in full effect. At one point, we had 4th-6th - all Rutgers guys. FarmerAndy is clearly in good fitness after his cross country bike ride this summer and was positioned for third until a mechanical and a crash knocked him back. I'm not entirely sure where everyone ended up in the Cs. Rich finished strong after suffering a flat at an entirely inopportune part of the course

Big props to Joe in his first ever cyclocross race! He looked fantastic out there!

In the Bs, Jenks, Craig, Don, Will P (cuz he can't get enough from just one race), and I toed the line. Despite the course suiting neither of us, Jenks and I both had solid races with me spending most of the race in 3rd to 5th until I fell apart in the last two laps to finish 7th and Mike coming back from 3 crashes to finish 11th. Craig's bike didn't hold together and Will DNF'd, but Don put in a solid ride despite a lingering cold to finish in the 20s.

With my ride today, I think (if my math is correct) I took over the lead in the NJ Cross Cup. Cool.

The biggest congratulations go out to Todd for putting out an amazing ride today and bringing home the win! Well Done!!!!