Sunday, September 27, 2009

Planet Bike Cup USGP #1 and #2

Here comes another blog entry from my phone so bear with me. We are driving back from Madison, WI after the first round of the USGP's. Zach, Andy and I drove up on friday afternoon to check out the courses as usual and get settle into the hotel for the weekend. My personal soigneur Lauren had to stay home this weekend because of sorority obligations... Anyway. We were staying at the oh so luxurios Super 8, along with half the other bike racers in town for the weekend.

Saturday I didn't race until 3 so I had time to sleep in and still get plenty of time on the course to dial in tires and tire pressures. I went with my semi slicks and they were money all day. My lingering 1 UCI point from last season (my most recent points kick in next week) got me a 3rd row starting spot and I got a good start from there.
I wasn't really sure where I was riding, but there were lots of big name guys around and I was setteling in nicely. Before I knew it my group was scooping up guys like Troy Wells and Barry Wicks. Believe it or not, we dropped Barry and we came to the last technical section with Marko Lalonde, Brian Matter, Tristan Schouten, Troy Wells and Myself. We were sprinting for 11th place in a freaking C1 race. I jumped to try to be first to the tough section. Marko beat me to it so I was second We pretty much went bleed through your eyes hard for the last 60 seconds of the race and we came to the line exactly how we went into the woods. That gave me 12th on the day and another 6 UCI points. That was a whole lot better than I thought I could do at a C1 race with a small handfull of euro pros to boot.

Today was day number 2 and it was just a C2 race, so points only went 10 deep. Once again I had plenty of time to preride and mess with tires beforehand, but it didn't matter much because it started raining right before our race started.

I got to staging and saw that I was the only one riding an all around challenge griffo. Everyone had their super muddy race tire, the Dugast Rhino. I had some rhinos handy, so I went and swapped wheels. The only problem was I hadn't ridden them at all since the sun had been shining all day. So I guessed on a tire pressure, banking on the rain to continue and it to get soft. Well I guessed low, waaay too low... And it stopped raining once we were on the grid.

I knew I was going to be hurting for grip, but this was pathetic. If you've ever tried to corner on a flat tire then you know the feeling I was dealing with every tiem I tried to corner with any speed. Since I was getting gapped out of every corner it was a lost cause trying to stay with decent groups. I just kept going backwards. It all boils down to making a stupid decision on my part, but I just didn't know what was better; the right tired at the wrong pressure or the wronf tires at the right pressure. Not totally sure, but I think I ended up 22nd.

I'm still really pleased with the weekend because I finally made the group that I've been wanting to make. It's really motivating to ride at the front of a big race like this and I think it has helped me set some new goals for myself, something I struggel with doing. I really appreciate all the nice texts, emails and calls from everyone the last few weekends. It was cool to hear that I was far enough up yesterday that they were following me on's live updates.
This weekend there aren't any UCI's within a reasonable distance, so I'll be heading to Louisville to do the OVCX. Then its the Triple UCI weekend in Cincinatti after that. It will be nice to have some light travel days the next few weekends.

I have a few pictures from the weekend and hopefully I find some more and I'll get them up on here sometime this weekend. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Charm City Cross UCI C2

After Saturdays race we drove down to Baltimore and got our hotel in the ghetto. Strangely enough didn't say anything about about the fact that our arrangements were located in the hood. Oh well, I was going to sleep like a rock anywhere. I spent the evening eating pizza and trying to see if I could get my sliced Challenge Griffo to hold air... GREAT SUCCESS!

In the AM, Lauren and I headed down to a not so ghetto area of Baltimore, called Inner Harbor. Lots of cool boats, restaurants, light houses and all sorts of things like that. It just so happened the Red Sox were playing the Orioles that afternoon, which would have been cool to check out, but I had some racing to do. After some breakfast out on the awesome little dock, we headed up the Druid Hill Park for the Charm City Cross. I wanted to get plenty of laps in on that tire to see if it would still hold up underneath me. It was holding like a champ, so I decided I was going to run that tire/wheel combo since it was a bit dry, dusty and slippery at times.

It's amazing how your expectations can change in a few hours. My whole goal for the weekend was to get at least 1 UCI point to secure a decent starting spot for this whole year. Well now after some minor success and a whole lot of what coulda been talk I was nervous again, but because I wanted to race at the front and try to get on the podium. No more of that 10th place and 1 UCI point nonsense. These guys are actually human and now I was actually believing that I CAN race with them.

Same second row starting spot in pretty much the same exact field. I got a little better start and didn't have to work as hard to find the guys I wanted to be racing with. This course was quite a bit harder and with a lot more getting off the bike and running. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't run unless I'm being chased, I'm practically allergic to it. The running sections made it pretty tough on me, but everyone was suffering it seemed. The front group had basically the same make up as the day before, but Frattini crashed early and it took him a bit to get back up there. I went a whole lot deeper to stay in the front group on day 2, but it the group kept steadily shrinking.

Coming through the start/finish I head the bell and looked up and couldn't believe that it was actually THE bell. I didn't even realize that the race was almost over. Frattini was off the front and gone at this point, but Myerson and former Canadian National CX champ Mike Garrigan were only a few seconds up the road. I didn't want to make the effort to drag myself, Ryan Dewald and Wes Schempf across to them and then get last out of the 5 of us, but we also didn't have time to play games with Tyler Wren chasing hard by himself. Plus, he had been so fast all day on the uphill road section leading to the finish, that I didn't want to let him into the sprint. Decisions decisions... Well we didn't quite make it across to Myerson and Garrigan, but Wren didn't catch us either. I opened up my sprint as soon as we hit the pavement and got a nice gap and was able to ride across for 4th place and 12 fatty UCI Points. No I didn't get to stand on the podium, but this was the ride that I had wanted to put together and I was pretty jazzed up about it. Hopefully finally turning the corner and racing at that next level with some of the guys I was able to race with this weekend will lead to some more good finishes in the big races this

I don't know what that face says, but it's the one I was making as soon as I climbed off my bike. Pain? Surprise? Fear? Who knows, but I can tell you that I was pretty pumped.

Off to Madison, WI this weekend for the first 2 USGP's of the year. Thanks for readin'!

Nittany Lion Cross UCI C2

With the Tailwind UCI cross races falling off the schedule for this season I had to try to find some other UCI races to do so that I could scoop up some early season points.

Lauren and I headed out to Eastern PA for Nittainy Loin Cross, a C2 near Philly. We made sure to get out there early enough to get some laps in at the course before the sun went down. It was mostly grass with a few sections back in the woods. I was feeling pretty comfortable about things when I went to bed that night.

I was pretty nervous before the race on Saturday because this weekend could potentially have been one of my few chances in the first half of the season, to score some points with some bigger USGPs and other decent sized UCI's on the horizon. I ended up with a second row call up since there were about 15 or so guys there with UCI points. My plan was to play it conservative and keep it upright and hopefully make a good group.

I got an average start and went pretty hard for the first lap to get on the back of a group with some good guys driving it. Soon I found myself in a group with the favorites, hanging out on the back just letting them do the work. We all stayed together for the most part until Davide Frattini attacked us and was gone. This split the group for a few laps while we all tried to chase, but it eventually came back together with 6 of us racing for 2nd-7th places. With just over 2 to go I came down a little drop off and almost lost the front wheel and nearly ended up on my face. I checked to see what the deal was, and the front tire had gone flat. I went from a pretty comfortable spot, to trying not to freak out because all those points were riding away from me. I rode it to the pits where my bike was unmanned and ghost rode my damaged whip off into the distance and executed a nice spin move with my back-up bike and headed back out to try to catch the group. 2 laps wasn't enough to catch them with Tyler Wren driving the group. I was able to stay away from Wes Schempf who got uncomfortably close in 8th. So 7th on the day was good for 6 UCI points and my best result in a UCI race, but I could help but think of what could have been if I got the chance to sprint for 2nd with those guys.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Little Somethin'...

...about where my 'cross frames are coming from. Courtesy of Justin Spinelli of Svelte Cycles.

Spooky Bikes Tour

With some encouragement from Steve at BikeReg, Mickey was kind enough to hook me up with 2 Green Anodized Spooky Supertouch frames for this season. They're in the mail now, so look for a write up soon.