Sunday, November 16, 2008

USGP 2 - Hooking the Tape

Besides the fact that it was 45 degrees with 30mph wind gusts, the conditions were identical to yesterday's. I planned to have a better start today and give slightly lower tire pressure a shot, maybe stay on the bike longer since the running was so exasperating and since I felt I should have ridden more yesterday. I was psyched, then had a dismal start, then just kept on going backwards and hooking the tape and crashing, all day long. It was awful. I pretty much was having nil fun. Pictured: warm-up attire, the course conditions, and photo from the men's race, featuring former New Haven resident Chris Jones.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

USGP 1 - Slogging Through Muck

After a steady rain last night, today's forecast of a deluge with lightning did not pan out, unfortunately, so we raced through a maze of drying, bike-sucking Portland-esque mud under a cloudy sky at close to 70 degrees with barely a puddle to clean the bikes or offer a single fast line. I was not so good off the start and was quickly constrained in a mess of riders veering unpredictably sideways as they got caught in mud ruts. Found my way through this traffic, but that was it - I certainly was not moving forward. Had some battles mid way, including one with Rebecca, who noted "ah the Tom Stevens line!" during the race - and it was exactly that - the twice-as-far but dry line that traversed back and forth across the muddy rut. Then I tried to ride a swampy ditch and toppled over, still clipped in. Probably safe to say 50% of the time in the race, and really maybe even more, was spent running. It just seemed ugly - either I was heaving my way riding through mud with my upper body rocking violently, or I was gasping for air pushing my bike for minutes on end. Bike changes twice a lap. We raced 3 laps- maybe 10k? Or less? Average speed was maybe 5mph? The epically-long sandpit turned out the be the easiest part of the course. Apply power on pavement? That was the single opportunity to recover! Mo Bruno rocked the race, dancing her way to 3rd place! Teammates not too shabby either. I was 16th not bad since I did what I could but those +1 places, especially just out of the money, are always a bit irksome.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

USGP Approaches

The blog is black again, whatever that means - stealth and speed! Did not fly across the country with a double bike bag, but how does bike commuting to school in a deluge then spending 5 hours in an overly air-conditioned building wearing soaking wet pants, socks, and shoes compare? So tired and with such chilled feet at the end of the day that I inadvertently gave away $1 million in a mock negotiation. Heard Andy Revkin last night, think I might need to start a blog on issues of environment, health, and energy. Some buzz at school with professor Dan Esty on the transition team and on some short lists for EPA director. Psyched to race the USGP this weekend, give that sand pit a try. New derailleur hanger plus a hair cut so I am set to go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adversity Found in Toronto

The hunt for UCI points (to maintain a good starting position for when I do get stronger), the appeal of a new adventure, and aversion to the unbearably long New Jersey Turnpike trek to Beacon resulted in a last-minute road trip to Toronto with Rebecca. The race promoters were infinitely helpful, setting us up with host housing and helping our crazy plan materialize over a matter of hours. The Centennial Park venue rocked. Saturday the course was a mix of power sections and lots of grassy corners fast mucking up, plus a dirt ride-up. A few puddles grew progressively deeper. Warming up I was reluctant to test one puddle, given 40-degree temperatures, instead just watched repeated masters riders endo spectacularly to try to gauge the line. Off the gun I was pretty good – I had horsepower for the first time all year!!!! I closed to the third place rider but by then I was cursing myself for a loosening saddle, unsure whether to pit given Josie on my tail. Didn’t pit, and rode differently to avoid total saddle malfunction, but maybe a mistake as I fell back to 5th. But it was a very hopeful ride. I was disappointed I didn’t ride that puddle. I picked the method that was 100% effective and pretty slow versus the method that’s fast 70% of the time, disastrous 30% of the time, but maybe I gauged these odds wrong. It was just a puddle. Sunday’s course featured muddy switchbacks on the side of an alpine ski slope. I would have loved a compact (especially given that muscular strength is my big limiter right now) but found myself riding in a quality 4th place coming off the first climb. Then I ate it in downhill corner, cracking my derailleur hanger. Got a bike once I made it to the pit, but I had fallen out of the race. I wasn’t gong to gain much time riding up those switchbacks at 30rpm. Plus I had gotten overzealous on the low tire pressure and was scrubbing speed into any fast corners for fear of rolling a tire. So it was a bit of letdown – but exciting in the broader context. Natasha Eliot is rocking this year. On to New Jersey! Pictured: Sunday's slope-side course. Oh and check out this NYT story, and few photos of the puddle and live-action endoing here.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Race report between FiveThiryEight and realclearpolitics: There’s no such thing as the friendly local UCI race this year. Lots of people are racing super fast, and suddenly pack racing and tactics are playing out in even hometown races like Northampton. Not to mention the 70-strong B field chomping at the bit, packed with riders who would be giving us all a run for our money if they had only thought to buy a $150 UCI license a few months sooner. Pretty awesome even while I hope to finish better than 8th one of these days. You run what you brung and so it was. Saturday I missed the first selection off that fast quick start into the gravel holeshot corner, but was close for a bit, feeling comfortable until I wasn’t, and then the race was riding away further and further away. It sounded pretty exciting – a battle into the steep ride-up and through the barriers to settle the podium spots. Sunday I had a better start, made the right call to run the sandpit on lap one, then approached the ride-up behind someone who bobbled and lost contact with the front group. It’s hard to follow anyone up that steep ride-up, and I was happy with my choice to go up that in the 44 but not that lap. On following laps, duking it out with Amy Wallace, she was killing me in the sandpit riding as I ran, but then eventually I blew and she dumped me there. But then she slowed and I closed again – it was a quality battle. I switched to riding the sandpit, much preferring not to have to get off the bike. I can use a lesson in crossing those railroad tracks sans drama. The usual suspects tearing it up, plus Mackenzie back in action. No shortcuts but hoping to get stronger asap. Do you think an appeal to patriotism will help? Next stop looks like Highland Park. Still debating Beacon's Amphitheatre of Pain given that long haul and just not going well enough to justify the enticing trek to Toronto. New photos from rockstar Mark Suprenant. Start, the fateful sandpit decision, and pedaling 30rpm.