Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
In addition to the team championship, Rutgers riders also took home individual titles. Freshman Patrick Bradley won the A men's championship. Senior Amy Cutler won the B women's championship. In the C men's standings, Rutgers came close to its sweep of the podium last year by placing Rich Kassan, Matt Bathe, Eric Rundstrom, and Joe Gilch in 2nd through 5th in the overall standings.
Rutgers will finish of its cyclocross season this weekend at the US Cyclocross National Championships in Kansas City, KS where Rutgers riders will be competing in the Collegiate, U23, and single speed races.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I joked with Richard Sachs, who runs an eponymous elite team and builds their eponymous bikes. I walked the course and yelled at the Elite Womens with Sheldon, who had warmed up with me. I got a debriefing from Deedee Winfield, who had finished third in the Elite Women's race.
Among these other vignettes of American cyclocross, I spent a little time with the Secret Henry's team at their freaking awesome EuroVan. Jeff is a 15 year old phenom who has yet to lose a B race this year, Lauri had earned my boundless gratitude for loaning me embrocation, and Tom is the director of the Granogue race (which elevates him to deity status as far as I'm concerned). Nice people, and a pleasure to talk to.
When Jeff's dad joined the conversation, Tom introduced me as "the Rutgers recruiter". Now, I hadn't mentioned Rutgers at all, and I certainly hadn't mentioned the stacks of brochures in my trunk... but yes, I suppose I was recruiting Jeff.
I've recruited for a youth group, a fraternity, two Universities, and a cycling team. I've attended and given lectures on the fine art of recruitment. If there's anything I've learned, it's that it's easiest to recruit when you really love the organization. So yes, even though I wasn't recruiting Jeff, I really was.
That's the way the weekend went in the Rutgers camp. As a group, we did everything with such intensity that it oozed out us like an aura of unfiltered awesomeness. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, sure, but not by much. The Rutgers crew, for all of our youthful indiscretions and lengthy conversations about farts, rolls at least as cohesively as possible.
On Friday, for example, we arrived in Northampton well after dark. Patrick, despite being the youngest on the team, has been around the racing block once or twice; he insisted that he was going to go on a leg-opening ride. In the dark. Without any lights.
After a brief deliberation, we came up with the best solution (better than my "do a few thousand laps around the back yard" proposal, anyway): the team would ride on the road, with me and Cristian driving my car behind them. They put on their full uniforms, all Scarlet Red and big R logos. I turned on the hazards and lit the road with high beams, shepherd to a flock of exhilarated young'uns. The uninformed might've mistaken us for a ProTour squad. Cristian took pictures out the passenger window, but none of them turned out well.
It's the most fun I've ever had in a car at 20mph.
Andy, Patrick, Amanda, and I arrived at Look Park on Saturday in time to watch the C race. We ran around the top of the course, screamed at Rich, Joe, Matt, Eric, and Cristian, and got hassled by Richard Fries. Joe clipped the last barrier at broke our hearts... but you'll never hear him complain.
Saturday posed its own challenge, of course. Starting in the 8th row, I'd have to be aggressive during the first lap... not my strong suit. When my friend Josh from Colby flew by, I knew his was the wheel to get on, and so get on I did. We passed a handful of riders, took some rather entertaining lines through corners, and I was feeling fine.
Knobby tires make a distinct sound when they rub each other, like combining a two-stroke engine with a zipper. Josh's body wiggled as his front wheel contacted someone's rear wheel. The noise stopped, and he recovered. And then he didn't, and he was on the ground. With nowhere to go, I ran directly into his back, somersaulting into my patented ninja roll. It would've been perfect, if I hadn't caught a handlebar with my ribs.
Of the hundred-plus people in my race, I crashed into one of the two with whom I'm friends. Sweet.
When I got back on my bike, I was in dead last. I got out of the saddle, stomped on the pedals, and nearly ran into some dude who'd dropped his chain and stopped in the middle of the course. After grazing his hip with my knuckles, barely avoiding further calamity, I shouted an apology back to him.
I fought and fought and fought, swapped spots with a few collegiate guys, and ran out of gas a half-lap from the finish. Andy rode brilliantly to take the top D1 spot. A cadet from Army caught me at the line, taking 2nd D1. I'd like to tell you that I don't hate him.
After what felt like a few hours, Pat reached the pit and threw the bike at the ground. He'd only lost a half-dozen spots, and the race was only half over. Having procured a spare wheel from Neutral Support, I resumed the semi-lap migration. I shouted encouragement at Pat, but he'd lost his rhythm and wasn't gaining ground.
When he approached the pit a few laps later, pointing at his rear wheel and looking despondent, my heart sank completely. Pat had utterly destroyed a tubular tire - an expensive, hard to repair tubular tire. This time he threw the bike at me and muttered something not fit for print.
Back on his original bike, but floundering in 28th, Pat kept riding, even if no longer racing. He would finish on the lead lap... first in the Collegiate race, too!
I got us quite lost on the way home, which gave him plenty of time to vent. Slowly his tune changed from proclaiming "I quit forever" to sighing "it happens". Back at the house, the guys patted him on the back and we put up a giant pot of water. We had an absolutely classy dinner of pasta, meatballs, and garlic bread. We happily bid farewell to Daylight Savings.
I creaked out of bed on Sunday morning - and by bed, I do mean couch - and took stock of the previous day's carnage. The butcher's bill was lengthy... my left arm and my right butt cheek were the only body parts from the neck down that didn't ache.
There's a difference, though, between aching and hurting. Learning to recognize the subtle, paramount chasm between discomfort and pain is a rite of passage for endurance athletes. Consciously or not, we learn how to silence the discomfort and push through it, and also how to listen to the pain as it signifies some physiological compulsion to stop. Pain protects us from injury, but discomfort only protects us from excellence.
Think about it.
Patrick and I were sitting in the back of Bad Boy, the Rutgers van, an hour before my race started. I rubbed embrocation onto my legs, working the stiffness out of my uncooperative muscles, and Pat pinned numbers to his skinsuit. "You know," I thought out loud, "we rub chili pepper goo into our skin, then ride around in the cold and wet for an hour, knowing that we're going to suffer profoundly and probably not win".
"Yeah, so?" Pat didn't look up from his safety pins.
"I'm just saying, it's a pretty ridiculous sport we have".
The morning races had been even colder. The frost on the ground betrayed the chill in the air, and friction from hundreds of tires had melted it and flung it up at the riders' legs. Their tights were damp, and sand stuck to them like glitter.
Joe, Rich, and Eric were burying themselves, and it was beautiful. Rich was in pain, but he soldiered on. Eric was mired in the middle of the field, where people surged mindlessly, only to fade and impede the others' surges. It was ugly on the hill, the sort of chaos that snowballs as rider after rider dismounts.
See if you can spot the guys who didn't expect to dismount
and lost a ton of spots!
Lap after lap, a lone figure emerged at the top of the hill from within the cloud of kicked-up dust, riding forcefully between the exhausted-looking walkers. Elbows out, savagely turning over a huge gear, Eric rode like a champ when he could've justifiably wimped out, and it was inspiring. My voice grew hoarser with each lap.
Joe rode his best race yet. Mostly riding alone, in no man's land, he put his head down and worked. Worked. We ran around the top of the course, screaming encouragement, because no man's land is a demotivating vacuum and that's what teammates do. Joe rode across the finish in 9th place, putting the hurt on Army and UVM (10th and 11th) in the process! A thing of beauty.
After a bit of ibuprofen and a solid hour of stretching, I actually felt good during my warmup. Snappy, like. The first lap was calamity-free, and I spotted the Army guy who'd caught me yesterday. Oh yes, Army guy. Today would be my day. Oh yes.
I charged around packs on the pavement, cornered aggressively, attacked the barriers, sprinted like a maniac. It was probably the hardest I've ever pushed during a first lap. Which isn't too fast, but that's beside the point.
So, there I was, scrambling to earn every collegiate spot I could. The first lap had ended, and I was just a few spots behind Army. I dove down the descent, hopped recklessly over the rail road crossing, threw my bike to the left, put my elbow in the course tape, straightened out before catching a stake, sprinted out of the turn, touched the brakes, and made the next turn. And then the problems started.
As I floated over the rail road, the rear wheel got a bit of air, and when it landed, it grabbed at the dirt. It grabbed so hard, in fact, that the glue between the tire and the rim was sheared to oblivion. The tire was no longer attached to the wheel. Fwip, fwip, fwip. I couldn't move anymore.
What else could I do? I shouldered the bike and started running for the pit. Racer after racer passed me, and I was powerless to respond. Goodbye, bike race. I got to the pit, maybe 30 seconds after the back of the pack. My heart pounding, I hunted for my spare wheel. Shift into the proper gear for a wheel change, unfasten the brake - augh, the tire is stuck and I can't dislodge the brake! - neutral support comes over and helps me change wheels. Another minute passed before the bike was rideable. A solid shove on the small of my back from the neutral support guy, and at last I was on the course once again.
I changed bikes a few times. Remember how I said that Eric is my hero? Here's why. He ran to the van, got me Joe's bike, hustled to the pit, and exchanged bikes with me. Then, while I floundered on an ill-fitting, mis-shifting bike (seriously, Joe got a top-10 on a bike that was horribly mis-tuned), he fixed the drive-train and called me back in to the pits. A more selfless teammate you will not find.
By two laps to go, I was asking the judges what their lapped-rider policy was. Basically begging to be pulled out of the race. When I finally finished, I grabbed my jacket and rolled back to the car. Some non-cyclist passers-by shot a quizzical look. "Dumbest. Sport. Ever" I replied, only half-joking.
I washed the chili pepper goo from my legs. I'd ridden around in the cold and wet for an hour, suffering profoundly. I did not win.
Time, though, heals all wounds. In my case, 5 minutes of spinning my legs out, followed by 1 minute of changing clothes, followed by 30 seconds of cheeseburger consumption. Cheeseburgers, in fact, heal all wounds.
As great as hamburgers are, Taco Bell showed its virtue that night. One of the guys, I don't recall whom, announced that he was craving some Bell, and the idea spread like a virus or a wildfire or some other metaphorical spreading-thing. We would spend nearly an hour wandering southern Massachusetts that night, pulling U-turn after U-turn, exploring the dark recesses of the Mass Pike. Because by God, we needed that Taco Bell, and damned if we would be denied its spicy, greasy flavor. Burgers are dandy, but Taco Bell, especially as part of a team adventure, is earth-shaking.
Mega was racing once I'd inhaled my cheeseburger, so I took my trusty noisemaker and wandered the course. She may not be my teammate, but she is worth every ounce of encouragement. Nobody outside of the Rutgers team is so vocal a supporter of the Rutgers racers. So I made noise and screamed "faster" and tried not to be scared of Meg's INTENSE game face.
The Elite Men's race started, and I stood at the bottom of the descent, pan and ladle at the ready. The field streaked by, and I tried to pick Pat out. Perhaps I wasn't paying close enough attention? Two corners later, they came by again. Still no Pat.
Eric, who was standing in the pit (it was his turn to Pit for Pat, which is such a fun phrase), called me and asked if I knew what the story was. "The official said that EMTs had been called to the start line." Upon hearing this, I took off in a dead sprint, faster even than I'd run during my race. The pavement at the start was empty. I started running along the course, until JD pointed me to a corner where there was a small swarm of people.
Pat had suffered a freak accident, bumped while remounting so that his knee was wrenched awkwardly. His race had ended after 30 seconds.
Eventually we all found Patrick. Joe took his bike, Rich found his jacket, Eric brought the spare bike. The EMT wrapped his knee with ice and sent him on his way. We walked slowly back to the parking lot. Mega and the DCCoD guys stopped us en route to the van, a gesture we won't soon forget.
Over decadent Taco Bell that night, I realized something important. I could've talked to Jeff, the super-fast DCCoD junior - or any other prospective student, for that matter - about the merits of Rutgers until I was blue in the face. Maybe that would've convinced him, probably not. Pontificating only goes so far. However, if he saw the team walking back to the car, he saw something unique, and more poignant than any sales pitch.
People get injured in racing all the time. How often, though, do you see an entire team rush to the crash? Not even knowing if anything can be done to help, just knowing that we had to be there for our guy? It happened at Hillbilly Hustle, when C-Money fractured his collarbone, and it happened at Northampton for Pat. It's not a fluke, but a mindset. For all our petty squabbles, we are a team.
The entire team helped Pat back to the van. Professionals don't have that many support staffers.
Behind the scenes, the "old guys" of the team spend a lot of time wondering how to develop the organization into an elite cadre of racers. Yes, we're always looking to recruit the fast juniors, as should any ambitious team. If any junior racers stumble across this post, though, there's only one message I want them to read:
No matter how fast you ride, how many races you've won, who you think you are... if you're with Rutgers, you run to your teammate's side.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The are all available for immediate order right here:
Purchase Rutgers Cycling Jerseys
Our cycling jerseys are custom made for us by Verge Sport. These are the same jerseys worn by members of the Rutgers University Cycling Team.
New this year is the Rutgers Cycling casual line featuring hooded sweatshirts, t-shirts, and (coming soon!) embroidered polo shirts. T-shirts and hoodies are a 50/50 blend custom screened for Rutgers Cycling by American Youth Enterprises based in Cape May, NJ.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In recognition of the growing size and wide range of fitness levels of the team, the organizers of Rutgers Superprestige have opted to give out two prizes each week. As with years past, the Bumblebee jersey (despite its less-than-impressive name) will be given to the fastest Rutgers rider. New this year is the Day-Glo jersey, the luminence of which represents the inner strength of its owner... in other words, the Day-Glo jersey goes to the rider who shows the most heart.
Today's Bumblebee jersey goes to Patrick Bradley, who put his Elite-level experience to use and rode away from the pack.
Far more importantly (no offense, Pat), the Day-Glo jersey was awarded to Cristian Adams. On a course that is notoriously fast, built more for a road bike than for its trail-worthy cousins, Cristian rode a MTB through the entire session. Never complaining, and spending most of the windy ride in no-man's land, Cristian rode like a champ and impressed the judges. He even dismounted and cleared the barriers at speed, a feat of which most MTBers dare only dream.
Honorable mentions for the Day-Glo jersey go to Amy Cutler, who attended her first 'cross practice today, and Eric Rundstrom, who destroyed a tubular tire before we even started riding.
See you next week on Livingston!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
To order, please visit our order page on Bikereg.
In addition to cycling clothing, in a few weeks we'll be adding a full line of Rutgers Cycling casual clothing including t shirts, hooded sweatshirts and winter hats.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Once again, Rutgers Cycling is proud to announce its new and returning sponsors for 2008-2009.
New sponsor this year is Berkeley Heights and Beyond, specialists in New Jersey real estate.
Returning for 2008-09 and increasing their commitment to Rutgers Cycling is Maul Electric, Inc., your choice for commercial electrical services.
Also returning for its third year as shop sponsor is Efinger Sporting Goods. Located in Bound Brook, NJ, Efinger Sporting Goods is your source for professional-level bicycles and repairs in additional to a vast selection of outdoor sporting good and apparel.
Rutgers Cycling will once again be donning Rudy Project sunglasses and helmets.
Cycle-Smart is once again the coaching sponsor of Rutgers Cycling.
Rutgers riders will be riding Specialized bikes to victory.
Ritchey Components will once again take care of Rutgers Cycling's component needs.
For its 5th straight year, Verge Sport will be the official clothing provider for Rutgers Cycling.
The ever-genrous Schwartz Family is once again sponsoring Rutgers Cycling.
Friday, October 10, 2008
So this is long overdue, but right after I went to nationals I got caught up in a whirlwind of exams and applications, but here is how it went.
Me and my dad headed out of BWI EARLY Wednesday morning on our way to Colorado Springs, during our connecting flight in Atlanta I met two other guys on their way to nationals, one guy from a small college in South Carolina and one guy from Georgetown who I raced with earlier this summer. When we all got to Denver safe and sound and went our seperate ways for the hour drive to Colo Springs. When we got there, we found our hotel room, which, thanks to my girlfriend's dad's Marriott points, was so nice I almost didn't want to race. We went to the track and tried to sign in. I learned a great lesson hear, for all cycling nationals you need a proof of enrollment from you registrar. Luckily I had the wonderful Linda Yost, RU Rec Sports Director, on my side. She faxed me the forms and I was good to go registration wise.
I forgot to mention that my bike took a different route to nationals. It went with my buddy Will Fissel from the Univ. of Delaware, who was staying with me and my dad in return for the bike transport. Unfortunately will was running late and didn't get in until 1am in the morning. So after about 5 hours of sleep will and I both got up and went to the track. After getting our bikes together we had about 5 minutes on the track before the women's 2K went off. So we did a few laps and spent the rest of our time waiting for our event, the 3K, on our rollers. After about two hours, it was finally my turn to go. Will was nice enough to let me use his Zipp disc wheel, which is now my disc wheel!! I got up and after the first two laps that 6,000 ft difference in elevation kicked in and my lungs started to scream, but I held on for a time of 3:57.644. This being my first 3K I don't know if it was an improvement, but it landed me 53rd out of 80+ guys.
Friday was suppose to be my 1K time trail, but the morning session got rained out so it was postponed to Saturday morning. The days wasn't a complete wash, I got a good workout on the track and David Espinoza from Penn State won his first national championship in the match sprints that night.
Saturday was crazy, we got to the track and got ready for the one kilometer time trial, better known as the kill-a-meter. This is tough because it is like the 400m in track, it is not a short spring, but it is not a long distance event, it is everything you have for a little over a minute. My first lap of the kilo went smooth and the other two were a blur of pain and more pain. I finished in the middle of the group with a 1:12 and change, 4 seconds faster than my previous best. David Espinoza continued his dominance by winning the kilo in a new collegiate record 1:05 (he is fast).
All in all a good trip and I am pretty happy with my results. I just hope Rutgers can keep sending guys out to Nationals until we are track phenoms!
Monday, September 15, 2008
In the collegiate men's race, Rutgers swept the podium, going 1,2,3. 2007 ECCC B men's champion AngryMark came off the disabled list and stormed off the line on a wisely chosen single speed cyclocross bike with the Kassassin and Charlie T. (aka C$) in close attendance. With two laps to go, the Kassassin faded in the heat and technical conditions. AngryMark took the win with time to zip up his skinsuit. Kassassin took a convincing 2nd and Charlie rode an amazing 1st cyclocross race to finish 3rd.
Donning a Rutgers kit for the first time this weekend was first year Patrick. No stranger to cyclocross, Patrick took on a small, but talented Elite Men's field. In stiflingly hot conditions, Patrick took an early learn that looked insurmountable. The heat, however, took its toll and Patrick had to step off the gas. Andrew Crooks from Hampton Velo bridged up to Patrick and then attacked to take the lead. Crooks would go on to win, but Patrick rode an excellent 60 minute race to take second.
Rutgers is in action again next weekend at the MAC season opener, Nitany Lion Cross (Fogelsville, PA) and Charm City Cross (Baltimore, MD)
Monday, August 18, 2008
After a long summer of track racing, I headed down to TTown for the Regional/NJ Track Cycling Championships (One event, NJ Track Champs taken by the best results from people from NJ). Mike Jenks, Andy Singson, and myself were registered for the 4K TTT and the Olympic Sprint. In the individual events Mike was doing the Elite 4K, Andy was doing the 40+ 1K and 3K, and I was scheduled for the 1K, 4K, Scratch Race, and Points Race.
We started with the 1K, I was first up. My first track event with aero bars, it was a little shaky, but I finished in 1:17:22. Andy bested me with a really smooth ride for 1:17:00 (giving him a bronze in the state). After a bit of a wait, Andy was up for the 3K. Andy was on the track against a really good track trialist (they ran two at a time), but Andy held his own with an awesome ride for silver in the state. Next up was the 4K. Jenks and I ended up racing together. I thought I was doing fairly well, but when Jenks past me with a little less than half the race to go, I felt like I was standing. Lucky for me Jenks is just that fast, Jenks got 2nd in the region and 1st in the state, and 30sec later I got 3rd in the state.
My attempt at a 4K (college student = no carbon wheels)
Next up were the team events. With the help from Tom from Verge, we headed out for the 4K TTT. Jenks and Tom took full lap pulls, with me and Andy taking half-lap pulls. We stayed together and rode a smooth race, coming apart a little at the end because we couldn’t hold back Jenk’s speed. We ended up 4th in the region and 1st in the state. Next up was the team sprint (1K with each member leading one lap) with Andy, myself, and Jenks. Andy had an excellent start and got us up to a blistering pace. After Andy pulled off, I didn’t think, I just wanted to spin as fast as possible. I pulled off and Jenks did his thing (went fast, went REALLY FAST). We ended up with our best time yet 1:12 (which got us 2nd in the region and 1st in the state).
After a long day, there was one more race, the 20 lap scratch race. After just getting my Cat 3 I was eligible for this race. This race was kind of intimidating for me, most of the guys I was racing with had either coached me or I had watched race the Friday night pro races. The race was fast, really, really fast. I held my own, bridging a couple of gap and taking a few laps off the front. I finished in the back of the pack, but I was the only one of the few guys from
So a successful day at the track for hermrutgers (10+ medals). The Points race the next day . . . ugh. I waited around for 5 hours watching sprints to have them cancel the race b/c all but 3 guys left.
So the state championship went well and gave me some good confidence going into the next two weekends of collegiate weekends before nationals.
Here is a pic of the hardware (State Medals: 3 gold, 1 bronze Regional Medals: 1 silver)
Monday, June 23, 2008
This report will be short, because there isn't much to tell. Neither of us felt particularly fast, and neither of us started particularly well. Jay was in 4th or 5th wheel going into the woods, and I'd moved from 15th up to 6th. I passed him at the end of the 2-mile "prologue" lap, and some dudes with geared bikes were able to get past him when we crossed a field, so he was a few riders behind me going into a relatively simple log obstacle.
The guy in front of Jay bobbled. One thing led to another. Jay landed on his shoulder and leg and head.
About an hour later, I was by myself in the middle of nowhere, on totally smooth trail. Somehow, while setting up for a corner, I went over the handlebars. It will never make sense to me. They don't call me "the Ninja" for nothing, though, and I rolled as I hit the ground...
...and then my bottom bracket hit me in the face.
I ran over my own face. Didn't think that was possible, did ya?
Jay and I finished the race about 1 minute apart, placed 11th and 13th (at least according to the official results). Bloodied and bruised, we were just glad it had ended.
Next up for Jay is the 24 Hours of Allamuchy, teamed up with Captain Chaz and other friends. Next up for me is a return to road racing, sweet sweet road racing.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
We're once again proud to present the 2007-2008 Rutgers University Cycling team.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The race started well enough as I managed to sneak myself into the third row. Andy was a little farther back and Craig even farther. At the whistle, the chaos began. Much jostling, bumping, and missed clip-ins ensued.
I've never done Somerville. Did I mention that?
A few laps in, and I remembered what criterium racing felt like - ouchy.
A few laps more and they announce a $200 prime. The mad dash for cash results in a huge crash at the finish line. It goes down right in front of me, and by a miracle I stay upright and get through the crash and chase back to the field.
Another lap in and another crash goes down in front of me. Again, I keep it upright and get into the field.
With 3 to go, Andy rolls by me and tells me "my bus has arrived." Andy delivers me in great position at the front for the last two laps, but my lack of fitness is evident as I can't hold it and get shuffled back to mid-pack.
On the bell lap, I sat way too far back to have any shot at the finish, but I had a good idea of how the finish would play out: the left would open then close down, then the right would open up. I came out out of the last turn in maybe 70th wheel.
I went left. I went right. The field opened up. I found myself in the top 15 and in the midst of the chaos that is the Tour of Somerville field sprint.
I'm told I had a few near misses in the finish. I kept it upright but decided not to go full bore and risk crashing on my still-injured hip. I rolled in for 26th place just 6 places out of the money.
All told it was a pretty good day of racing on a beautiful Memorial Day. A big thank you to everyone who came out to support us!
I should probably mention that Jay and I have an ongoing rivalry that is simultaneously amicable and fierce. Every ride so far this year has been sharpened by the impending race season, every climb was an unspoken yardstick. We even pushed each other to first ad second in a spontaneous karaoke-night limbo contest! Whether we'd find ourselves riding in 1st or 21st, we would be racing each other.
Charlie, with an upcoming wedding and a mid-day race start, wisely pulled out of the 3-lap Expert race after difficulties on the second 7-mile lap. No need to get sick before the big day!
Jay and I started well in the Sport Singlespeed race, hitting the singletrack in 2nd and 3rd wheel - exactly where we wanted to be. Our field worked its way through slower traffic from other Sport fields, and I yielded a spot to another racer. By the end of the first big double-track climb, though, I was riding in first!
Then I went kaboom, crashing hard on a slippery descent. I immediately lost 2 spots, and another two singlespeeders passed me as I rode over-cautiously for the next few minutes. I finally got back in my rhythm and raced hard for the ensuing 45 minutes, but I couldn't catch the leaders, who rode superbly to a fantastic finish.
I was pretty spent on the last climb, the sort of spent where I stare at my front wheel and nearly ride off the road. I was hurting bad enough to entertain the thought of walking up the steepest section... until I heard a spectator say "oh, it's a Rutgers jersey! GO RUTGERS!", a cheer that was taken up by a bunch of the spectators. It's amazing how a simple cheer can buoy a tired rider to the top of a climb, and how widespread pride in Rutgers has become.
Awesomest of all has to be Jay's performance on the day. He rode to a strong 10th, which is made all the more impressive by the fact that he executed a hard-fought pass on the final climb... immediately after taking a PBR-feed at the bottom of the hill!
Next is Neshaminy. Last year, it was the first race where I successfully beat Jay, although his flat tire and the helmet-cracking crash it caused made the result a controversial one. This year, the racing will be even more intense, and hopefully our rivalry will continue pushing us toward the podium!
Monday, May 05, 2008
Rolling out in the morning it was foggy. So foggy that we almost missed the turn into beautiful Wawayanda (say that 3 times fast) state park.
Luckily, when the spot class race started at 10:30 the fog had cleared and the sun was starting to come out. I tore though the first few miles of the course sitting in second wheel where there was not too much technical stuff and my fitness from the road season definately came in handy. Once the rock gardens started I slowed down a bit and ran a lot of stuff. I made it though the first lap feeling pretty good and really amazed that I did not flat though some of the technical sections. The second lap went pretty much like the first lap, except it hurt more...still I finished at about an hour thirty min, which was good enough for 4th in the 19-29 sport class. I'm pumped for the rest of the season!
Shout-outs to Jim, Kat from Bard, and James from Effingers/Colavita for tearin' it up in the expert race and to Olivia for taking sweet pictures and cheering!
Sunday, May 04, 2008
The course was balanced, yet completely unbalanced. There were ~3.5 miles of fast smooth trails (almost completely contiguous), then ~3 miles of rocky, technical trails with some impassable sections. So, you spend the first half of a lap reaching for all the power you have and making yourself a bit delirious, then, you try to finesse your way through the rock gardens and technical climbs.
I took the hole-shot and lined things out, for there was a single-file bridge over ~40 meters of flooded trail about a half-mile into the course, and I wasn't interested in throwin' 'bows and risking a mechanical on the first lap.
Feeling pretty good yesterday and this morning, I kept the pace up, but soon realized that I was overcooking my legs, for there were no technical sections in that first 3.5 miles to let the legs recover, unlike most places I ride. After going backwards for a few miles, I got back into rhythm and regained a number of places on lap 2, especially where it got technical. I was able to clean a number of climbs that other riders were having trouble with, and I was quicker down the descents and over the rocks. On lap 3, I got in a bit of trouble, as my legs were starting to fade in the long power section. By the end of it, I could feel some previously distanced riders about ten seconds back. Digging really deep, I put everything that I could into holding them off, but they were closing on me even through the technical sections! Some delirious bobbles in the rocks held me from opening the gap back up, and I was sure that at least one of them was going to catch me. He was only ONE meter from me before the final climb before the descent to the finish line. I remembered the sport singlespeed victory that I took on the last climb at Granogue two years ago, upshifted, and cranked out the last climb out of the saddle. My opponent was not able to chase, and I blazed down the final descent to a second place finish in the expert 19-29 category.
Special thanks go to Olivia, who kept me well fed with moral support and sport drink.
You can see here, can't you? She's the one holding the bottle. Oh, and she also saw a bear today!
Special thanks also goes to Efinger Sporting Goods, who built a really tough rear wheel for me (thanks Dustin), provided a last minute bearing adjustment (thanks Chris), and had a high-end tire in stock (thanks MarcC) for the back of my bike to help me over the climbs and rocks that most couldn't seem to manage.
Last, but not least, thanks to FarmerAndy, for allowing me to drench his helmet in sweat. The temperature increased dramatically from 11am to 12pm, and Andy had removed the bug net from his helmet, replacing it with the other pads and increasing ventilation. My helmet was still in cold-weather mode, and I would likely have gone deeper into delirium on the course if not for the good Farmer.
After seeing Andy's performance (more on that from him later), and looking forward to the performance of other team mates, I expect this mountain bike season to be pretty great for the Rutgers University Cycling Team!
PS - I was asked if I was on the road team after the awards ceremony. A rider wanted to congratulate you guys on some recent performances in the region. RutgersCycling is becoming a force to be reckoned with!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"Here is the Rahway Report (please excuse type-o's, I am pretty tired)
A solid RU team (David, Charlie T, Alex, Rich, Andy, Eric, and myself) headed out EARLY this morning (races started at 7!) for some awesome crit action at our old stomping grounds, Rahway River Park. Eric represented well in the cat 5 and got his first taste of USCF racing, with a little training, this guy is going to be awesome! The rest of us geared up for the Cat 4 race, which turned out to be the highlight of the day. One of the biggest teams in the field, besides Base Camp, we felt like if we worked together we had a chance of at a good showing. The race started off with the Red Train hammering the pace. Rich, Dave, Charlie and Andy put in efforts that can only be described as Pure Power, and Alex was so aggressive on the front that he was countering his own attacks! With 6 laps to go, the field was coming up on Alex after he rocketed off the front, and I countered and got a 50 yd gap with a guy from Base Camp. After towing him around for a lap I asked him to pull and he said, "No, I can't!". After a little encouragement, I got him on the front for about 30 sec, attacked, and dropped him. When the RU boys realized it was just me out front, the punched in and went to work. Everyone did their part, Dave, Alex, and Andy blocked to perfection (it may have hurt DK's powertap readings, but he took one for the team and tamed the beasts that are his legs). In absence of the Prez, Rich (the VP) took control of the pack and made sure nothing came close. Charlie . . . well Charlie attacked with one lap to go (he is just too strong to let his power tamed by pack), but he definitely did his part to keep the pack back. With three laps to go, the gap shrunk to 10 sec, but I knew my boys were working hard, so I found my second wind and gave it everything I had. I streched the gap to 30 seconds and came to the line with the notorious, the glorious LOOK . . . ZIP . . . BALLIN'! I turned around and saw that one of the hardest working guys in the pack, the Kasassian, somehow had enough legs to sprint for 3rd! After the race it was congratulations all around for the RU team, the entire pack thought we ran a beautiful race. 30 minutes later Dave, Alex, Rich, and myself decided that collegiate riders cannot do only one race a day and headed out for the 3/4 race, where we all showed that we had the fitness to hang with the 3's. Rich had the best placing, I think around 15th. All and all, it was a good day for the RU squad, and it showed that we are ready to rock NH next weekend at the ECCC CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
"Well, the mens D1 road race went a little like this:
Being the lone Rutgers rider in the Mens D, I wont lie, I felt the butterflies.
After the gun went off, or realistically the yelling of "GO" echoed through the air
i was pretty much shuffled towards the back of the pack, and around 400 meters
in someone hit the brakes hard and about 5 or 6 riders went down.
I remember one guy getting his neck ran over as i moved over to avoid the pile up.
I quickly got those bad images out of my head and figured to avoid more
crashes i had to move the front. Even though it was the first lap i decided
to see who had guts and attacked on the hills and had a small break,
but was quickly caught and I moved back into the pack. After the first lap
things picked up on the straight and and i thought since things were speeding up
i better attack on the hills if i wanted a chance to win. So i moved to the front and lead the
race and attacked on the hills again, this time breaking the field as
only four riders went with me. Since i had no clue what to do and thinking
like a runner i just kept pounding and had a nice break and was alone for awhile.
I was adventually caught towards the end of down hills. I clearly didn't have weight or momentum
on my side. As we closed in on the finish line i kept with the pack only beating a
UVM rider on the sprint and the rest beat me but i picked up 5th place out of 50 i believe.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Photos are by Tom Moroney and Will Cukierski. More photos are available on the Rutgers Cycling webpage.