Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The U.S. Cyclocross National Championships Race Report

The 2007 Rutgers University Cycling Cyclocross Nationals Team
(left to right: Andy, Joe, Rich, Dave, Mark, Charlie, and Don)

The course on Sunday morning for the Collegiate Men's Race.

After weather delayed the planned Thursday departure of the Rutgers 'cross team, the team arrived in Kansas City in the early afternoon on Friday. The went directly to the course to pick up their bikes, check out the course, and spin out the plane ride from their legs.

Chaz tears it up on the rutted and frozen course

Saturday morning brought snow and a chance to pre-ride the course before the U23 races. The team dialed their tire pressures and gear selection for the frozen and snow covered course. Though the team was not racing until Sunday morning, they banked on similar frozen, rutted, and slick conditions. As conditions got progressively worse through the day the team retreated back to its hotel to rest up, pin numbers, and prepare for Sunday's collegiate race.

36th place!

Mark kicked off Sunday morning in the single speed race and faced biting cold (single digits!) and a completely frozen course. After blasting through the first half of the race in the top ten, Mark suffered a series of crashes that re-injured a hip issue, but held on to top 30 for 28th.

The Cap'n and AngryMark

With his hip taking him out of the collegiate men's race, Mark took to the pit to support the six Rutgers riders in the collegiate men's race. The team faced stiff competition from the 146 rider field and poor starting positions.

Charlie tore through nearly 70 riders to make it into the top 4o riders in a stacked field and rode with some of the most elite collegiate riders in the US to finish 36th. Andy, Dave, Joe, Don, and Rich fought both the course and the enormous field to take home strong rides with Dave 65th, Joe 69th, Rich 78th, Andy 91st, and Don 101st. There's some clear discrepancies in the results, but it's clear that the team rode in the top half of the field.

The team finished 17th overall in the D1 team omnium with Charlie 26th for D1 men, Dave 46th, Joe 47th, Rich 55th, Andy 61st, and Don 68th.

The team post-race

Rutgers Cycling would like to thank everyone who made this trip possible. Special thanks to Don, Tom, Kurt, and Mike at Verge Sport for all their support throughout the weekend. Thanks also to Bob Cary and everyone from Skylands Cycling for their generous donation. Thank you also to Linda Yost and Rutgers Recreation for their financial and organizational support. Huge thanks to Rutgers Cycling president, Chris for his untiring efforts in making the trip happen.

After a much deserved break, the team will begin building once again for a successful collegiate road season.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NBX Grand Prix of CX @ Goddard Park, RI

Before we get to day 2 of action from Goddard Park, let's have a shout for the amazing host housing generously provided by Hannah in Providence.

We slept in a fort; Colonel Henery Rutgers would be proud!

Mark worked the Results

Dave and I bonded

And FroJoe, well, he slept

The bikes enjoyed socializing with some new friends from Rhode Island, so we didn't feel too bad leaving them with their new acquaintances while we went to an amazing party at the Hub.

Alright, back to the action!

The Mens C team lined up in a field of 47. With FroJoe's newly taped shoe, he stood a chance to realize his potential with many meters of sand to run per lap. Dave was as comfortable as ever as he expertly navigated the field. Less words, more pictures:

For a number of laps, Joe was caught in traffic from the B masters field that allowed a Drexel rider to get away in the clear lines in front of that pack. After hearing enough shouting from us to break free of the pack he was in, he charged through and was making up some time on the Drexel rider, but it was not to be. Had the Mens C staged ahead of the B masters (as yesterday), it could have been an amazing duel to the finish line. FroJoe came across the line in 24th position. DK had an amazingly consistent race and looked so in control from beginning to end. A UNH rider was trying to catch DK in the last few laps, and DK responded by setting the frozen course on fire to ride away from him and finish 31st. These two are primed and ready for nationals; I wish that I could watch their performances.

The B men lined up after a solid finish on Saturday and were unsure of what was left in the legs for Sunday. The course was just as fast or faster than Saturday, but instead of a few long power sections, there were many shorter straights and gentle bends to get your pedal on! This suited me well, for it was somewhat similar to the type of output that you have to put in while carving singletrack in a competitive MTB field. Mark had his technique together, but the nerve in his hip was not allowing him to put the power down on Sunday. He kept it going steady, but could not muster the power to explode out of the MANY MANY MANY corners on the course. He had a pain-free race on Saturday, but the double-header was too much. We are all hoping that he will have a pain-free ride at nationals. He is looking forward to some extended recovery after those 45 minutes of effort.

I had a better experience, for the course suited me, my legs felt great, and I made a good move early in the race. Though I staged in the back, I made up a number of spots with a good starting sprint and aggressive lines through the two hairpins that followed. Then onto the beach, where a rider to the right of me fell over onto us. I was able to get off my bike and get it on my shoulder quickly and took an aggressive line off of the beaten path up the run up. Taking this line allowed me to gain a large number of spots and get me in a pack with some fast dudes! I was able to hang with them until bobbling the bike while riding the second beach. My right shifter must have got some sand in it, and it could no longer release cable. I got stuck riding 46-25 and 46-27 for the last 25 minutes of the race. Going backwards while doing a 25 minute cool down during the race probably saved my legs from a lot of pain. The group that I was with finished 19th-22nd. That was, by far, the best 30 minutes of CX racing that I have had in a 2/3 field in New England.

In the end, I finished 40th and Mark held it down by outsprinting Bard for 37th. Way to push through the pain and get the job done!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Rutgers Back-to-Back Conference Champions!

In the final weekend of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference's Cyclocross series, Rutgers Cycling took the team title for the second time in two years.

Even sweeter, Rutgers riders Andy, Joe, and Dave swept the C men's omnium podium. B riders Mark and Charlie took first and second in the omnium.

That makes five individual medals and one team championship cowbell for the Rutgers University Cycling Cyclocross Team!

Next weekend, the seven rider cyclocross team tackles the US Cyclocross National Championships on Kansas City, KS.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

W.E. Steadman's CX @ Goddard Park, RI

C Mens Report

C mens Report

In the C men, DK and FroJoe lined up being placed in the last row as Rich Fries heckled the team telling them to go home. The ground was snow covered and thick with ice as a frigid chill stayed in the air. Prior to the start of the race it was announced that the barriers were going to be removed due to the icy conditions.

The field size was huge with a large showing of collegiate riders. Dave and Joe rode together for most of the first half of the race working their way up the field. Dave was crashed when a rider tried to pass him on the narrow single track and ended up wiping out his front wheel. That's when Joe decided to throw down the hammer and put out an incredible ride.... all without his right shoe, which broke on the second lap and fell off in the beach run. Joe ended up with a 32nd (5th collegiate) finish and Dave was able to out sprint an MIT rider at the line for 42nd (7th collegiate).

B mens Report

In the B men, AngryMark and Cap'nChaz lined up against a strong New England field. Due to the call ups and seeding by order of registration, we lined up close to the back of the field, but there were 45 minutes to fix that!

The course was both fast and slippery, with thick mud in spots, while other portions of the course were still icy as in the C-race. The word of the day was FUN! The course had so much variety that it served the bike-hadler as well as the towers of power. The start was more crowded than the last train home from New York with elbows flying everywhere. Charlie upset one or two people... sorry, well, not really. AngryMark found out that that he could still pedal. Maybe it wasn't as hard as he would like as he had to take time off due to the hip injury, but no pain today. We both spent most of the race mid-pack. Charlie pulled an MIT rider up the start-finish straight, and then punished him by intentionally over-cooking an icy off camber corner. The Captain put his foot and rear tire out, the other rider, well, he crashed. Bye Bye. Angry Mark attacked the technical sections today. He was able to drop much stronger riders. A new tool in his toolbox; look for him to wield it tomorrow and at nationals. Cap'nChaz and AngryMark ended up finishing a respectable 36 and 38th. In the Verge NE, we'll take that finish anyday. The questions are: will we be able to place that well tomorrow and will this form continue 'till nationals?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

MAC Series Finale Wrapup

Rutgers wins at Reston; FarmerAndy and AngryMark lock up series titles!

DK, FroJo, AngryMark, and me (FarmerAndy) killed it this weekend for the MAC series finale and the second to last weekend of racing for the ECCC.

For starters, we rolled out to Carlisle and Reston in the pro-ish Rutgers Van complete with enough bikes, wheels (9 pairs!), and assorted spare parts to rival most small elite teams.

We started our Saturday morning the way all 'cross races should start: Belgian style with yummy chocolate chip waffles and hot coffee thanks to the Waffle House that was adjacent to our HoJo's.

It was cold and windy when we got to the Carlisle Fairgrounds for the race. Definitely one of those mornings that made us all question why we choose to wake up at the crack of dawn to ride around in muddy circles while the rest of our peers sleep in their nice warm beds.

The course was nice and swoopy with some decent short hills, some nice long stretches of pavement, and a fast set of barriers. DK, FroJo, and I killed it in the C race chock full of collegiate riders from Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, and two guys from Drexel on full suspension mountain bikes.

The first two laps for me didn't feel too good as I sat 5th wheel. As I hopped over the barriers after lap 2, I started to find my legs and though I could not catch Matt Spinks and Sam O'Keefe (who are both 14), put in a solid effort to finish 3rd overall (1st if you don't include the U19 riders) with FroJo and DK also throwing down some solid efforts to finish 17th and 20th.

FroJo tackles the barriers en route to an awesome finish! (photo: Dennis Smith)

While we rode the 3 miles back to the HoJo's to shower, warm up, and check out, AngryMark was putting the hurt on the B Field to finish 2nd collegiately.

With our racing done for the day, we were more than happy to get back in our nice warm van and cruise down to Bethseda, MD to meet up with our lovely hosts Greg and Jill (thanks guys!). Not only did we a great place to stay, Greg (former Rutgers Cycling President circa-1992) showed us his old-school RU jerseys and pictures from collegiate racing back in the day.

With the Sunday forecast showing snow, rain, and bitter, cold we were ready to face the worst, but it when we rolled over to Reston, VA for the Capital Cross Classic, it was dry and much warmer than it was in Carlisle. I loved Sunday's course, lots of places to go fast, and with no Matt Spinks in the picture, I kept on the gas the whole race for a solid win in my last race before KC Cross nationals in two weeks.

DK, FroJo, and AngryMark put int great efforts to ensure that the Rutgers 'Cross team maintains their lead in the ECCC Standings with one week of racing left to go.

FarmerAndy tries out the new TT helmets (photo: Ann Rock)

Did I mention that we picked up our new team TT helmets? They look awesome and are perfect for 'cross on those windy days. A big thanks to Efinger Sporting Goods!