Archive | September, 2012

Sunnybrook Racing Cycling Caps

26 Sep

A couple weeks back while ordering new kits we decided to get some cycling caps to boot. We decided to keep it local and went with local cyclocross racer & hat maker Gary over at Rothera Cycling

He gave us a couple of teasers via the all popular Instagram to peak our apatite. And last weekend at Charm City he gave me the first one he completed to try out. The rest of the team will have to wait but as for me, Ive been testing it out on the commute the last week. I think he plans on tweaking a couple of subtle things but its pretty on the money.

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Charm City Cross – Saturday & Sunday

24 Sep

Day 1 – Saturday

After maybe having a couple too many large mugs at an Oktoberfest celebration/friends birthday party (im a sucker for fest & smoked beers…) Friday night we woke up early, packed the car, and drove down to the ‘not so charming’ city of Baltimore. Game plan was to drive down to Druid Hill park, get some laps in before the 1:15pm 2/3/4 ‘B’ race, then watch the elites later that day. I had never raced the course at Charm City but heard wild things. The first thing I noticed was how spread out the course was. There were also many interesting obstacles like huge barrier type blocks that you had to hop, make a quick U-turn around a tree then hope another set, 2 sand pits, really tall stairs up a run-up, and the tallest regular barriers ive ever seen. Minus that it wasn’t all that technical other than a couple of turns that were a bit wet. The course was lots of power and NO recovery.

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Staris run-up

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Luckily I managed to squeeze out a couple points last weekend at Nittany Cross so I got a call up to the 3rd line. This was going to make life a lot easier even though the start/most of the course lended it self very nicely for passing in the long/wide straights. The start is a long wide pavement section before jumping into the grass. It doesn’t bottle neck until the first sweeping corner which makes it fast and interesting. After the first turn im sitting ~20th or so and sit in trying to get a feel for everything. Once we got to the back section I realized that these front dudes keep a wild pace that the legs couldn’t handle right then. I had to back off a bit as the heart rate was higher in the 200s than I would have liked. I think everyone was in the same boat but it was really hot out for the end of September and the back section was completely open and painful. I felt like crap. Strong riders from behind would pass a few of them I semi knew and realized there was no way I could beat them, and I would pass some of the front few as they were fading. By the end of the first couple races you know the people who youll be contending with for the most part. With about 2 to go I was battling with a guy from Wooden Wheels for a while going back and forth which kept me motivated until he eventually dropped me.

Ive found that in some races you get in the zone and you do your thing, but this race wasn’t like that. It was pain from the start, pain in the middle, and towards the end I wanted to quit/thought why am I doing this again?? Thje good thing is when that bell/last lap gets underway most pain vanishes and you get back to hammering and making moves. I had 2 riders in front of me not too far away, a rider from Wooden Wheels and from November. I eventually made my way behind them both right after the barriers. There were a couple technical wet turns that led into a fast downhill right sweeper, then a slight uphill on the pavement sprint. I made my move on the inside of the right sweeper trying to pass the rider from November but as he saw me coming he moved in and it got a bit sketchy but I got past. The rider from Wooden Wheels was already powering and I couldn’t quite grab his wheel to outsprint him at the line. I ended up 18th out of a full field of 125 and was most than excited after I caught my breath. We ended up doing 7 laps and it took us right under 49 minutes, a lot longer than I expected.

Oh and during the first lap on a downhill with a quick whoop to a sweeping left the GoPro broke off the mount for what the 3rd time now… I slowed down as I saw it fly off my bars but decided not to stop for it/ I should have about 3/4 of a lap later this week though 🙂

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We stuck around to watch some of the Elites crush the course then headed to our hotel for the night. We ran some priceline and got ourselves on a baller 4 star hotel room right by Camden Yards. Alright the rooms wernt amazing but there was a pool/hottub and a sauna! I couldn’t wait. We hit up a pizza place a couple miles away before we got our soak on at Johnny Rad’s Good pizza + good beer = a good time.

Photos of  the elite mens cross race: #1 UK cross racer and #43rd in the world made moves Saturday and won it.
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Stevie ‘Snax’ doing what he does best

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Day 2 – Sunday

After the hot tub/sauna action the night before the legs felt a lot better than Nittany Cross Day 2, or maybe it was just mental. We got up early to cheer everyone we knew in the Cat4 ‘C’ mens race. I tried to pick up some pointers and get a couple more laps in on the course than the day before. Today the course was slower and a bit more technical with a down hill with a quick right U-turn at the bottom for the stairs run-up, then a left U-turn at the top right back down the hill with a fast 90 degree turn at the bottom. The snad was also a lot deeper/harder to ride especially because they would rake the lines in the sand after each race and even saw them taking out the lines during races as well… My goal was to run it unless there was absolutely no one in front of me to bog me down. I saw how many people would get stuck behind someone then have to hobble to try to get off and get passed.

I had a great starting position and was able to get the last spot in the 2nd row. Oooooohie! Whistle blows and were off fast! A guy in front drops a chain or something and isnt moving so I have to make a quick left around him but get on a good wheel. The goal for today is not to burn as many matches so early. Minus one guy trying to make stupid moves everyone in the front works well together and is fluid. A couple people I let pass as im trying to stay in my rhythm but im able to pick a couple off later in the lap as they start to fade. By the end of the first lap Im sitting at the back of the front pack with no one behind me in 14th. The legs were feeling good and things were going well. I made up some time after the first barriers and was trying to move my way up. As we got to the barriers around the U-tree turn I went to the inside to pass a guy before the downhill. The inside had large roots from the giant tree and I must have hit one of those or something but then next thing I noticed was my foot went completely numb along with my entire leg from the shin down. After that it got really hot. Idf never experienced anything like that other than when Ive broken bones. After a second of thinking I jumped back on the bike and tried to get going but wasn’t able to clip in as my right foot was still dumb. I made it to the bottom of the hill, turned left slowly and pulled off the course… a few seconds later I saw the rest of the field fly by while I was standing there trying to figure out what happened. After about 5 minutes I could feel my leg/foot and half cranked back to the pit. My day was done and my first DNF.

Looking back I wish I would have kept pedaling but was too unsure of what happened. I think I did something to my shin muscle as its really tight today and hurts of it left my foot towards my knee but luckily isnt bad at all and probably just needs to be worked out. After a bit of being pissed off I got back in the spirit of things and started cheering for the rest of my friends/competitors in the B race. The weekend was a great time of hanging out, racing, cheering, and I ended up with my first top 20 in the B race. Next weekends Whirlybird Cross and after not finish Sunday I think Im going to sign up.

Showing off that new fresh skinsuit for the ladies.

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Gary!

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Thom!

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Mitch!

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Jeff crushing it this weekend.

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This kid was amazing!  Smallest person out there in the real race with clipless shoes and everything. Some of the barriers were easily half his body height but he was doing damage.

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Nittany Cross 2012 – Day 2 – Video

20 Sep

My search for a better video editing program that is cheap to free is still underway. For some reason the iMovie on the ladies computer doesn’t have a speed up/slow down option which sucks when trying to show a course but not make a video too long/boring. Oh well, enjoy

Nittany Cross 2012 – Sunday – Mens B 2/3/4 Race

Nittany Cross 2012 – Day 2

19 Sep

Sunday was about the same as Saturday At Nittany Cross in the Men’s B race: dry, fast, and not very technical. Started this time in 63rd and after a couple of fast turns there was a massive line of riders as far as I could see. The legs were feeling the effort put in the day before so the stand up and sprint out of corners didn’t work so well. I tried to make a few passes in the very beginning but didn’t have the gusto I did the day before. Something I need to work on I guess. We got to the run up/log hop and like expected it was pretty bottle necked and we had to run the climb and the log. The rest of the course was about the same just backwards. The root section seemed to get pretty slow the first few laps but it was a nice period to recover a bit. I didn’t get into the zone until the 3rd or 4th lap but was able to put in a couple moves and ended up in 33rd. I didn’t take many risks with the game plan to stay upright and out of danger. Hoping to have a video up tomorrow if all goes as planned and I can stay out of the bar tonight…

Nittany cross pictures:

Quick picture of Maria about to crush the masters womens race

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Stole some stitch pics from lauren

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Men’s B Sunday results

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Local beets

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We had to hurry up and leave before the UCI Men’s race was over to make it to Vegan Treats in time. unfortunatly they were out of most of the good stuff.

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Nittany Cross 2012 – Day 1

17 Sep

This weekend was the first cyclocross race of the season for a lot of us that live in the Mid-Atlantic at Nittany Cross. It usually draws a huge crowd since its still warm out, a lot of people are still in good shape from road season, and it’s an UCI event in the MAC series. This was also the first cross race I ever did last year, so it was nice to kinda know the course. For this year there were a lot of new things going on. For one I moved up to a cat3 this year which meant a start time in the middle of the day compared to the early morning, I was racing a different bike with the added benefits of tubular wheels! On top of that the lady was signed up for day 1 at Nittany which meant I needed to dial one more bike in the night before and get there early to get some practice laps in with her to get her ready. Its hard to help someone with aspects of racing that your still trying to learn but I did the best I couldn’t and passed some of her questions onto friends with a tad bit more experience.

Saturday morning came around and the game plan was to go out early and watch a bunch of friends/teammates first ever cross race in the C field at 9am. We packed the car up and left around 7am so we could get up there a bit after 8 in order to get a couple laps in before their race started.

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After being a bit stressed about watching/cheering, getting practice laps in with Lauren, getting my own practice laps in, making sure I ate early enough but not too much, it was finally time to do some more cheering in the womens 3/4 race.  Lauren started conservative and was a bit weary of the very fast start into the gravel. She was doing really well making up positions and was making a pass up a steep hill when she tried to shift.  Unfortunately the chain dropped, got stuck, she continued to pedal, sheared the derailleur hanger, bent the rear derailleur… she ran to the pit, got a neutral support bike (with platform pedals), did half a lap and picked up my teammates bike and continued the race.  Minus the broken bike status I think she liked it.  Or at least liked it more then the 16mi run she had planned for the next day 😉  I think shes hooked.  I just need to get her bike running again so she can race asap.

After all that nonsense I had to get ready mentally for my race.
Men’s 2/3/4 B race

This was my first go at a 2/3/4 ‘B’ race so i had no idea what to expect. I didnt want to start near the front and get in anyones way, so I waited a bit to register and ended up starting 73rd out of 120 some people. The game plan was to NOT start in the middle of the group but i ended up smack in the middle. The prologue was a lot longer this year (luckily) before the 180 U-turn back through the finish line. The start went off fast and as I approached the U-turn I saw a big pile up. I went to the outside. Then saw a guy flailing his bike like he was trying to juggle it… someone then fell into him and another larger pile-up happened. I took a foot off and scooted by and cruised down into the the finishing straight. I was able to pass some people here and got ready for the quick gravel spot that led into an uphill. The bottle neck at the top of the hill wasnt quite as bad but we were about three people wide at this point. After a couple turns we made it to the off camber section that lead into a quick down hill, a right, then a left U-turn into the deep gravel section before the barriers.

I took a stupid line trying to avoid a person who had just fallen and almost ate it turning into the gravel. I somehow kept it upright but my left foot came off trying to dab the ground. I unfortunately didnt notice this until i was coming hot into the barriers. I also didnt realized until later that my bars were crooked about 15degrees to one side. Anyways I usually leave my left foot on when dismounting and almost ate shit trying to make it over the first barrier. I shouldered the bike and cranked the pedals around with my other hand while running making sure the chain was still on. I hopped back on and started hammering trying to catch back up to Matteus my rival for the race. The rest of the upper/back section is alot of turns and straight-aways until you got into the hella-rooty back section. I found a line that worked alright during my pre-race laps but was forced off that the first lap due to the amount of people in the way. The rest of the first lap was pushing hard trying to get closer to the front. I luckily was able to get some really great advice from my buddy Jeff and stayed left through last years ‘mud bog’ which turned into a hard packed rut filled war-zone for this year. There was no way to avoid the hellish bouncing that would rattle your cage and punish your legs. The plus was that you knew evereyone else was going through the same pain as there was no ‘great line.’

After the first lap I got into a groove and as I saw people I recognized, marked them, and made sure to pass them. I sat on Ryan’s wheel for a while and yelled abit about ‘doing this!’ I was weary to pass in any technical areas since I cant corner as well as him and didnt want to take a friend out. Eventually after we passed a bunch of people together, I hammered a bit and made a (im sure semi-sketchy) pass. The heart was pumping. I looked down multiple times and saw 200bmp… 198bmp… 208bmp on my garmin… After coming by the pit again my buddy and teamate Ben (who was playing a great pit man for me!) gave me the rundown on placement. He yelled ’33rd!’ In cross you usually have NO idea where you are placed. I was in this boat, no clue at all. he could have told me 50th or 70th and it would have sounded about right. I was beyond excited. I was really shoiting for top 50, maybe top 40. Things were going well. After keeping with my rhythm and taking the sketchy turns reaaaally gingerly, I was catching people as they started fading back. My starts arnt usually so great but I find my legs can keep motoring all day. I was in a good pain cave zone.

As I passed the finish line and heard the ‘1 lap bell’ i saw a group of 4 riders ahead of me just about to climb the hill. Game plan: catch that group and move up = mucho spots. I stood up to mash but the legs were diminishing a bit. I didnt have anyone behind me so i didnt force any of the turns. Came to the off camber turn and gave a lapped or blown up rider a ‘on your outside’ unfortunately he moved to the outside and made me rub a little tape. I might have said something not so nice to him but didnt mean it… i made some time up on the run up after the barriers and was able to catch one on the long back straight. a couple more were in front of me through the wooded section, i couldnt pass there though I stayed with them until the last quick down and up before the end grass section. I made a move around one guy after a corner which stuck and the guy in front of him went down on the next turn. I was able to slip past and put a qap between them and myself. I hammered over the basketball court and tried to bridge the gap to the next rider. It seriously seemed line there was just a line of riders in front of me… I made it to him in the mud bog and saw he was hurting. I conserved some energy and rode his wheel for a few seconds. Right at the pit but before the crowds I made my move. I dont think he knew i was there and figured the crowd would alert him. I stood up and cranked, but i wasnt as sly as i thought and he looked over, stood up and started to mashed. As we go to the turn before the the slight downhill into the final sprint I had a wheel or so on him and moved slightly left boxing him out. I was able to hold him off in the sprint for 22nd. Super happy with the results. Glad to have everyone cheering as well.

Thanks to a teammate for letting me borrow/steal his skinsuit since we all know skinsuits are pro. Photo Credit to Bob:

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Race results:

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Strava Data:

Ill try to post more photos from the actual camera. Day 2/Sunday’s race will be up tomorrow along with videos from the GoPro.

After racing we watched the Elite Women then Men’s race. Wild how much faster the Pro/1/2 race is!

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As the kids were calling him, JPow Jwow!

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I found my buddy and his friends doing it right with plenty of beers, and official keeping an eye on them, and perogies on a grill. cross rules.

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We got back to the city both tired and went to grab some Thai food. Its BYOB so we brought a 750mL of Belgium goodness to end the first day of cross with the right way.

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Weekend Prep

13 Sep

Last night was the last go at dialing the bike in for Nittany Cross this weekend. I tried to hammer from work and hit some extra double track along the way. the trails were a bit overgrown on the far side and the high pressure in my tires had me bouncing a bit but it was still much more fun than taking the road. I got to cross practice just in time to hear that the B’s were lining up. I got a few things together, let some air out of the tires and did a couple slow laps behind the field to remember the course going the opposite direction.

I jumped in with the A race next and proceeded to feel off my game. Im hoping it was the legs./mind being fatigued but who knows. I was pushing hard but not passing much/at all. At some point in the technical wooded section I hit a stick, bobbled/took a foot off and rammed my shoulder into a tree going around a turn. Bleh. Its raw and a bit swollen now, could have been worse I suppose.

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By the time we finished the 2nd ‘race’ it was getting pretty dark. We got back to the hood and saw they had a flugtag machine for the red bull jawn this weekend. The thing looked like a death trap

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Made some quick dinner and a buddy came over needing some tools to install a Centma front rack. The install was a lot quicker than the Velo Orange porteur rack that I had setup for the ladies bike.

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The legs were sore last night after ~45mi so I opted to sleep in and take the car to work. It was a great plan. Hoping to spin the legs out tomorrow to work and get mentally prepared for the hellfest that is cross.

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Luckily as of late I have been able to work on both my drinking game and my mental game at the bar. Cyclocross here we come.

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Weekend

11 Sep

There was lots to be done last weekend as it was the last weekend before the cyclocross season starts up here. The next two weekends will both be double headers at Nittany Cross then at Charm City. After raging a bit hard Friday night we made it out to Valley Forge Saturday morning for some cross practice with the team. Our team is pretty new and even newer to cyclocross. A few of us raced last year but most of the team this season will be their first go at it. Im excited to have teammates to cheer on (assuming I can wake up in time for their 8/9am starts)!

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I had never ridden the single track around VF but they were pretty fun on a cx bike.  It was a bit more technical than what was needed for Nittany Cross so we setup a small cross course.  There was a fast barrier that took Ben out.  Also might need to get a chest mount for the GoPro… maybe ill borrow it sometime to see.

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Then Lauren was coming in a bit too hot into a gravel 180 turn trying to pass me…

After dicking around for a while we all grabbed some lunch and headed up to Bikesport.  Glenn (whos first cx race will be nittany) has been riding an old school steel touring rig with bar end shifters… even though I know he could beat most of the field on that thing I wanted to get him on a proper bike for his first race.  Bikesport had just got in my warrentied SRAM Force shifter from when that car who didn’t feel like stopping clipped me.  We through on the shifter on the Ridley, dialed in the derailleur, and he was in business.  Im hoping he gets some miles in this week to learn SRAM and get the cockpit situated.

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Then the rain hit an ruined the rest of our plans so we gorged ourselves at Su Toa.

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4 plates and countless mg’s of MSG had me wanting to nap asap.

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Luckily for our small apartment I was lending the Ridley away just in time for the MTB to come back home.  Niner had warrentied my old Air9 Carbon that had crackled for the brand new Air9 Carbon RDO…  proper shots soon to come.

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The next day was bike riding and lounging in the park.  These legs need a rest day.  Hope everyone is enjoying the weather on the east coast, its beautiful out!

 

 

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