Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Chicago Cyclocross Cup Highlights

video

Dude Where's My Bike?

I have felt lost these last two weeks, just sort of wandering around and feeling like I am forgetting to do something. Since the season ended on the 7th I haven't even looked at my bikes, and I have still have a an assortment of race clothing in my backseat, just in case right? I'm not even sure I have a complete bike anywhere in case I wanted to go for a quick spin, wheels and frames are just haphazardly strewn about in my basement, its actually quite sad to look at.

Here is looking forward to January 1st and plenty of time spent on the rollers!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Southside Ice Cross


Did the Chicago Cup end prematurely for you, too? Are you aching for some muddy and icy cyclocross racing? If so, the South Side Ice Cross series calls your name.
When?
Sundays at 10am until we're tired. December 14st, 21st, 28th... with January TBD.

Where?
We'll race a modified version of the Jackson Park course.

Who?
All levels welcome. You'll have a chance to race multiple times, including tag team/madison style.

How much?
$1 to cover modest prizes and refreshments.

The course will be lightly marked, and not taped off -- so the honor system is in effect. There will be (plastic) barriers. Hope to see you all there. It's looking lovely and muddy this Sunday. All riders and all bikes welcome, so bring your friends!

To RSVP & for more information, email j@taticycles.com

Monday, December 8, 2008

What Goes Into A Season

I was curious what it takes for a small team like ours to wage a successful season of both road and 'cross racing. The results were staggering to say the least. All numbers are approximate but pretty close.

Number of Races entered: over 200
Entry Fees: $5600+
Top 20 Finishes: 68
Top 10 Finishes: 15
Podiums: 7
Miles Driven To Races: 16,604
Miles Training: 145,600
Bicycles Raced: 38
Wheelsets used: 53
Tires: 80
Inner Tubes: 100
Cassettes: 65
Chains Broken: 4
Short Sleeve Jerseys: 49
Long Sleeve Jerseys: 13
Shorts: 32
Gloves: 39
Hats: 28
Socks: 50
Helmets: 23
Energy Gel: 400
Energy Bar: 200
Energy Drink: 75 gallons
Water: 375 gallons

I am sure the list could go on and on and on. Once I started figuring out how much time and effort has gone into this little thing we call bike racing I was absolutely floored. For the thirteen of us to race, just in 2008 it cost nearly $70,000. Are you kidding me? And I am sure I missed something somewhere.

Our 2008 season would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors, Beverly Bike and Ski and Vee Pak, Inc., SRAM, Cannondale and Spinergy.
More importantly though our season would not have been possible without the love and support from our biggest fans, our families. Without them allowing us the time to train and race none of what we accomplished in just a few short months would have been possible. While none of us will ever be champions in the true sense of the word, our families have given us the opportunity to chase our dreams. What we do on a regular basis may seem ridiculous to someone not familiar with cycling, but for those involved, especially the athlete that pushes to their breaking point day in and day out for even the smallest bit of glory, the sacrifice does not go unnoticed. From sacrificing on a personal level, to making ones family sacrifice their precious time, none of this is lost on the cyclist. We do battle with our bodies, with our bikes, with our heads and with our commitments in order to fulfill a dream. For every cyclist from every team, we appreciate what those around us do so that we can race our bikes. From the new Cat 5 down to the best Cat 1, we are all thankful for the support that is provided to us year in and year out.

To all those that look to this blog as a source of information or inspiration, or for any other reason, I thank you. This has been an incredible year, and while 2009 will bring new and exciting challenges, I know that BBVP will step up to meet those challenges head on and conquer them. From the rolling roads of Hillsboro, to Michigan Ave downtown, to the hills of St. Charles and the roads of Wisconsin we will give it our best, no matter the result. I know this to be true because I have shared hours upon hours with those men that I call my teammates, and I know that each one has the heart, and soul, and drive to not only fight for something that is important to him, but also important to the team. That is the essence of a team, the quest towards a common goal, the unrelenting drive forward to create something that is unique and exceptional. I am grateful to call these men my friends and I am grateful that we can achieve something together that makes the team stronger and greater than any of its individual components.

And Then It Was Over...

As they say, parting is such sweet sorrow. Sunday saw the conclusion of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series and as usual the weather played a significant role in the racing, or the mayhem depending on how you chose to look at things.

I knew things were going to be rough after speaking to Tony who had to do the Masters 30+ due to familial obligations. I think he said treacherous at least a dozen times during our brief conversation while recounting his race to me. He mentioned that he went down 5 times during the 45 minutes, 3 of those occurring during the first lap alone. This wasn't going to be a walk in the park by any stretch. He mentioned deep snow, deep wood chips, a sand section and the nasty underpass. What he failed to mention was how everything seemed to be turning icy.

After my brief course inspection where I saw Scott from SRAM go down I knew things were going to be rough. And with a family cruise scheduled for next week, I wasn't in any position to take any unnecessary risks. I had resigned myself to more or less riding the course rather than racing it, and proceeded to spend my pre-race in my car staying warm. As we approached race time, Elvis, Patrick and myself found our way over to the start area. I managed to have a brain fart during the lining up process and found myself sitting in the third row with Patrick and Elvis close by. Maybe because I had taken the pressure off of myself and any expectations I had about finishing, but in the corral I did not feel any of the usual pre-race jitters. The final instructions were given and the countdown began.

Thats when things changed. The whistle was blown and we were off and I was racing, without even realizing it. About 200 yards in there was a massive pile up that had bodies in the air and bikes on the ground. As the leaders rode away from us I had no choice but to hoof it. So I got off the bike and started making up ground as best I could. I could hear Elvis behind me telling me to get back on, but I seemed to be passing people so I continued on foot until the under pass. I am assuming that Patrick was caught up in the initial scrum, as I was onlt able to catch glimpses of him when the course double backed on itself.

Elvis and I rode together for the rest of the race trading pulls and bringing back riders. I was starting to feel good and was taking the corners pretty well just as the race was starting to wind down. On the third lap we started to hit lapped traffic and therefore lost a bit of the impetus and caught fewer riders. Going into the last lap we surged in an effort to bring back just a few more places and also to keep from getting caught from behind. Things were working well and the minutes were counting down to the end of a succesful season when with about 5 corners to go my front wheel washed out and I went down for the first time all season. Elvis was able to capitalize and came past me without hesitation. I chased back but couldn't close the gap any further. As we neared the finish another rider capitalized on my fall to close the gap to me. We started a sprint, but I was a bit undergeared for it. I threw the bike at the line but was nipped for 27th. Elvis finished 25th and Patrick 33rd, never able to make up the ground he lost in the first pile up.

After finishing I quickly made my way to the car and some warm clothes so that I could take in the 4B race. I missed the start and Bob's first crash after he and Jorge had great starts. Turns out he also took out Jorge when his front wheel washed out. They both chased back and only lost a few places. Things didn't go to well after that though as Bob was brought down again just after the underpass by a fallen rider. Bob remounts and heads for the left hander in the wood chips when a rider goes down in front of him again and Bob has no choice but to ride over him, or at least try to. Back on the bike and he is left no choice but to chase Jorge and the rest of the field.

The remainder of the race was clean for both Bob and Jorge as they steadily made up lost ground. Bob was able to put down his TT power in the straights as Jorge made his way through lapped riders. Bob was able to claw his way back to 21st, while Jorge pushed through and finished 18th. Incredible considering both men have only completed 9 events previous to this.

So with this report, the 2008 season is now in the books. From our beginings til now we have come a long way this year. If this is any indication of things to come for 2009, I can hardly wait.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Snow Or Mud?



While the hill isn't this steep at Montrose, it does appear that we will either have a fresh layer of snow, or several inches of mud to deal with come Sunday and the series finale. Might I suggest a pair of toe spikes. Either way work on your running while you can, you will definately need it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

T-Minus 7 Days


The race we have all been waiting for is finally just one week away. On Sunday December 7th, the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series will culminate with the Illinois State Championships. Some of the overalls have already been locked up, but the Womens 123, Womens 4, and both the A and the B of the Mens 4's is still up for grabs. Look for the racing in those races to be particularly aggressive in an effort to clinch the overall title to what has been a great season up to this point. With a chance for snow several times this week look for Montrose to live up to its expectations and provide us with a sloppy and freezing cold course again this year.

I would also like to pose a challenge to all teams in an effort to give back to Chicago and its hungry this year. Turin is teaming up with the Greater Chicago Food Depository again to help erradicate hunger for Chicago's homeless by sponsoring a food drive at the race this weekend. Lets see if we can get Chris at Turin to offer a prize to the team that donates the most food, based on weight. Of course some teams are larger than others so this might not be exactly fair, but if they could calculate based on a percentage of total team members then a smaller team might have a chance at beating a team like xXx. Lets show the rest of the cycling community what a bunch of scrappy 'cross racers can pull off and donate over 1,000 lbs of food products.

Based on the results from Woodstock there were roughly 200 racers. If each person would bring just 5lbs of food products we could meet that goal of 1,000 easily.
If you look at it in terms of cans, I am only asking you to scrounge up 5 cans from your kitchen cabinets, or just one bag of rice for that matter. How much are those five cans worth to you? Probably no more than $7 or $8, yet to someone who doesn't have the means to provide a meal for themselves or their children it is priceless.
So I implore everyone to dig into their cabinets, or take their kids with to the grocery store. When they ask what you are doing, tell them you are helping to make a difference.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Be Thankful

Take a few minutes and think about how truly lucky you are. You have a home that provides shelter and security. A family that loves you. A job that provides both the needs and wants of your family. We are also lucky because we have strong minds and bodies that propel us on our rides.

I am thankful for all of this and so much more, too much to even imagine. Take a second and be thankful for all that we have, whether we actually needed it or not. Cycling can become a bit of a sport about who has what and what the latest carbon widget weighs. Lets all just slow down for a second and realize how good we really have it. Just the fact that we have the opportunity to ride our bikes is pretty great. The fact that we can race them is even better. Now add to that the fact that most of us are riding around on bikes that cost as much as some people make all year, and things come into perspective a bit.

We, as cyclists are truly blessed. Whether we are blessed with talent, or the the time to train, or the means to buy the things you want , we have a lot to be thankful for. Don't let that thought be lost on you this year. Especially this year, as many people struggle to make ends meet. More families this year are looking for a way to feed themselves and keep a roof over their heads, while we are out racing our bikes.

Rather than sit by and do nothing, you can help. And helping those that need it most can often times be more rewarding than anything else. This year at the Illinois State Cyclocross Championships hosted by Turin is supporting the Greater Chicago Food Depository in their "One City, One Food Drive" program. The goal this year is to donate 200lbs. of canned food after the race, which is only about 1lb. per racer.

I say lets take it one step further, lets see how much the 'cross community can donate. Lets double that number, heck why not triple it. All it will take is a can or two per person. Take a second, look in your cabinets, grab a few cans. Those few cans may not mean much to you and I, but they can mean the difference between a single mother feeding her family after she lost her job, or them going hungry, again.

Lets show that we can care about something other than tubulars and carbon this year. We always talk about doing the right thing, lets show that we actually mean it. If you have the means to do so, donate , $1.00 provides 4 meals. Let someone have the chance to have a hot meal this holiday season before they spend the night on the street because they are homeless. While we are thankful for all of the things that we have, someone else can only dream of a life like ours.

Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful that you have the means to achieve it. Be thankful that you are healthy. Be thankful that your family loves you. Be thankful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In The Mood


This outta get everyone in the mood for Montrose!

You Have Been Warned

I have created individual pages for some, but not all of the riders yet on the team. A few of us are making use of the bandwidth to relay their own experiences both on and off the bike. If you care to find out what makes us tick, simply click on the name of the rider on the right hand side of the page. A disclaimer follows:

Neither the Beverly Bike-Vee Pak, Inc. Racing Team nor any of its riders, makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the Beverly Bike-Vee Pak, Inc. Racing Team. The opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Beverly Bike-Vee Pak, Inc. Racing Team and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And Then There Was One

With the race today in Woodstock being the second to last in the Chicago Cyclocross Cup series, I became a little sad. Sad about the fact that this season will be over very soon. Sad about the fact that it will be very cold very soon. And sad about the fact that all of the great people that I have met this year, I won't see on a weekly basis.

Enough of the sob story, lets talk racin'! The course today was huge! It also offered a bit of everything, everything except sand. Personally I think my bike has seen enough sand this year, and my shifters will wholeheartedly agree. From the nice wide start/finish chute into the two climbs on "singletrack", that spit you out onto a false flat on the asphalt, then into a bumpy grass section with the token pinwheel thrown in. I knew the race was going to be fast, but I didn't think it was going to be that fast.

The off-camber sections were nice since they were actually rideable without any fear of serious personal bodily injury. Although the barriers seemed a tad bit too close together, maybe it was just me. I loved that fact that there were power sections followed by recovery sections, that led back into some more power sections. I just wish I had the power to put down today.

As for the team we all lined up in the second row today. When I say all, let me clarify, just Tony, Patrick and myself for the A's race. We all had a great start with me just getting ahead of Tony and Patrick initially. Tony came past me as we entered the woods the first time and took up position just a few riders ahead. I dug deep on the climb but hadn't realized there was a false flat. Ouch! He opened up a gap that wasn't to be closed today. Going into the pinwheel, Tony was just ahead and Patrick just behind, but slower traffic allowed the gap to grow even further. Through the end of lap one and Tony still led myself then Patrick.

Apparently Patrick had different plans though on the second lap. As we climber the second singletrack climb he came past me like a rocket. I worked for the next few minutes to bring him back, then settled into a rhythm, albeit a painful rhythm. The whole time Tony was dangling just ahead of us.

As we came around with one to go I put in a big acceleration in an effort to bridge up and Patrick and I got rid of some dead weight, or so I thought. Patrick passed me going through the barriers as I struggled with their placement again and I was left to chase back to his wheel. The ground down by the lake was getting a bit soggy at this point and my legs apparently were also. Patrick accelerated and I tried to go, to no avail. He slid out of my reach by about 20 feet or so as we crested the final climb out from the lake. At this point I figured I would have an easy finish as there was no one behind me. Well, there shouldn't have been anyone behind me, I thought we dropped everyone. Yeah, not so much. Someone slipped past me before the last off-camber section so that I finished in 23rd, Patrick in 21st, and Tony in 20th.

Jorge recieved yet another call up in the B's race which is incredible since he has only raced 'cross 8 times so far. His power and fluidity are something to behold. He just seems to float through the tough sections, often times with a smile! Off the start he was sitting in 10th, but he wouldn't be able to hold it for the remainder of the race. As the race progressed he slowly slipped back a few positions each lap.
The top ten finish that he wants so bad was not going to happen today. A bad knee and consecutive work weeks of 60-80 hours are taking the their toll on him. Hopefully the week of from racing and the holiday will afford him the time to repair his body and rest his mind. I'm not sure where he finished, but probably from 20-25th is a good guess.

I think we are all looking forward to a week of no racing and no driving. The rest and time with our families will be good. The race at Montrose can usually be pretty ugly with the weather conditions and the course turning into a muddy, sloppy mess. The week off should give everyone time to tend to both their bodies and their bikes. This has been a long season, longer than we have ever had locally for 'cross and rest week will surely be welcomed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

10,000 Visitors!!!



Sorry you don't receive a prize or anuthing, just keep checking back for more great stories, pictures and opinions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Playing In The Sand

Tony, Elvis and myself went out and did an hour of intervals in the sand today. Our techniques have definitely improved in the last few weeks, and for the most part we cleared the sand pit which is probably 50-60 feet long.

By the time we left our drivetrains were sounding pretty crunchy and the sand had scoured the sidewalls of the rims to a bright shine. We worked on a few more skill drills then called it a day.
From what I have been told, Lansing will be a much more technical course this year, which should make up for the lack of elevation change. Only three races left in the series, so make sure you don't miss out on any valuable points!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Northbrook Picture Dump

Since I am feeling kinda lazy today I decided to just do a picture dump of the images from Northbrook. As always the photos are courtesy of Eric Nelson, and the entire photo set is available here










Sunday, November 9, 2008

Northbrook Delivers First Time Out

Being new on the calendar, you never quite know what you are going to get when you arrive at a new venue. The boys of Flatlandia surely did not disappoint with today's stop of the circus we like to call the Chicago Cyclocross Cup. This course offered up a little bit of everything, and in extra servings in case anyone was hungry for more.



I drive 294 maybe once a week and I swear I have never seen the hill that was thrown at us today. But I know every time I drive past it in the future I will never forget that it is there. Off the start we hit a technical section that kept you busy between braking, shifting and re-accelerating out of every corner. After the that, there was a brief power section before hitting the first climb of the lap. Stairs or run-ups have never been that difficult for me in the past, but because of the spacing of the stairs getting a good rhythm going proved difficult. After ascending the stairs you had the pleasure of riding the most challenging section we have ridden all year, three off-camber muddy, greasy turns where if you had too much speed, or hesitated just a bit you found yourself upside down. And believe me, more than a few people were trying to ride that section who had no business doing so, and some were making it look easy.



After that you were shot back into some off-camber, twisty technical stuff that tested the traction of your tires before heading back to the hill for more running, more off-camber insanity that prompted a bit of puckering if you know what I mean. Off the hill and onto the pavement for a bit of power and then right back to a short twisty section and a hill climb that wasn't so bad at all. Down the hill and towards "4 guys on a couch" with a serenade from a trumpeter and a bull horn, into a pinwheel, through some chicanes and then back towards the finish line. Definitely a sweet course, but a really difficult one at that. This race to me would be more a matter of staying upright when others hopefully couldn't, and minimizing any mistakes.



After the call ups, Tony, Elvis and myself wiggle into the 2nd row. Whistle! Go! I am a bit over geared for the start, but Tony and I are riding strong with Elvis just a few behind us. Up towards the hill and I decide to run the corners and save myself from crashing. I think Tony and Elvis both rode it cleanly. I wasn't losing any ground, nor was I gaining any though. Tony and I are still together heading toward the 2nd hill where he opens a gap on the decent that I cannot close for the rest of the race. Meanwhile, Elvis is closing down every chance he gets.





First time going through the tennis courts and I think Tony lost his chain, as I can see him running up ahead. Now is my chance to close it down, yeah right. He just has so much raw power, that I do not possess. Back towards the hill and Tony is still in sight, I run the section again, this time passing a few riders in the process. Into the technical section and now Elvis has joined me in pursuit of Tony. As we hit the pavement, I let Elvis come past to take his wheel and a breather. Through the pinwheel and past the "4 guys on a couch" and we have now been labeled the Olsen Twins by Al and crew.

Elvis and I continue to trade pulls, and continue to reel back in Tony. At some point he drops his chain again, and we move that much closer to him. But again, his power is incredible and he hangs on just in front of us. Elvis makes a great jump as I get caught behind a lapped rider as we enter the finish chute, Tony 22nd, Elvis 23rd, me 24th.

The B's line up with Jorge, Bob, Sergio and Joe. Jorge and Bob make it into the 2nd row again but get a bit swallowed up at the start. They still probably make the top 20-25 though as they head for the hill of death. With Bob leading the way and Jorge just a few wheels back, Bob charges toward the first corner with confidence and BAM! He goes down, it looks terrible, but he quickly gets to his feet and remounts. Jorge manages to pass at this point and never looks back. Sergio, then Joe make it cleanly through the first of 3 laps.



Every time I see Jorge on the course, I shout encouragement and instructions and he listens. Everyone takes the downhill off-camber cleanly and then head out onto the backside and out of sight. On the second time up the hill Jorge cleans every corner, puts his back down and hammers, trying to close the gap in front while putting some time on those behind. At this point I was sure that Bob would run the corners, but not Bob, he comes into the first corner again looking good only to have his front wheel come out as he exited the bottom of the corner. He manages a quick remount with only losing two places, a testament to his drive for a top 15 finish.



The second time through wasn't so good for Sergio though. He cleans the first corner and is about to enter the 3rd when he is taken out from above. A crashing rider from turn 1, goes careening downhill just as Sergio is passing by. BAM! He goes down hard, but quickly remounts not losing any position in the process. Luck would not be with later as he slid out twice on the off-camber downhill, luckily no damage was done though. Joe meanwhile is slogging it out and passing riders in the process.



Bob is making up ground every lap on the back half of the course where he is able to put down the power. Bob is able to pass Sergio and make it stick after the Sergio slide out and he hangs on for 31st. Sergio finished just behind, but I'm not sure where exactly. Jorge rode an impressive race and again finished in the top twenty at 19th, racking up even more points in the overall. Joe finished just a bit behind Sergio, but again I'm not sure where.


This course was definitely the toughest we have had all year. I look forward to the flat course next week at Lansing and the dreaded "Pit of Despair". A little inside info between you and me, I was told there will be a corner introduced into the sandpit this year. This course suited all of us last year, so I know we will be placing high again this year. Bob should be able to realize his top 15, and Jorge could shoot for a top 10. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us, and if it doesn't so be it, that's one of the things that makes cyclocross so special.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Go Get Some


There is no doubt that the buzzword in cyclocross this past year has been "embrocation". And there is also little doubt in my mind that before most of us discovered BKW we had probably never heard of Belgium Knee Warmers or knew what a true "hardman" was.


Let me tell you this, if you value your lower extremities as much as I do mine, then you owe it yourself to go grab some embrocation. The product that I have begun using is from Qoleum Sports Care out of Belgium. And lets not forget how nasty the weather can get in Belgium during the Spring Classics Campaign. The true hardmen of our sport scoff at the idea of using lycra or even wool leg warmers in favor of a good layer of embrocation. And boy does this stuff work.


The weather last night was unfavorable to say the least. A combination of pouring rain, brisk winds and cool temperatures are enough to sap the strength out of any ones legs. Before rolling out for what was supposed to be an hour long 'cross session, I applied a nice layer of the embrocation to my otherwise bare legs. I immediately noticed a warming sensation, especially as my legs became more wet. However, it almost seemed to me that my legs never actually were wet, I attribute this to the combination of petroleum and paraffin wax. These ingredients served as a water proof layer giving me the sensation of actually having dry legs.


While the temperatures were never too cold last night, neither were my legs. In fact, had I not been thinking about them the whole time and determining how the embrocation was working, I wouldn't have even given them the slightest thought. I guess this stuff works then. Maybe the Belgians have known all along that a good quality embrocation not only protects the legs, but also invigorates them with the capsicum and peppermint.


The weather for this weekends Chicago Cyclocross Cup in Northbrook looks like it will really test all of our mettle. With predictions in the low 40's with a combination of rain and snow, the winner of the day might be the one who battles the elements the best. Cold wet clothing robs the muscles of heat, so with that, if you can eliminate the amount of clothing required you may just have an advantage. Using embrocation on the legs cuts out the need for full tights or leg or knee warmers, and the waterproof capabilities forgo the need for any of this additional clothing.

Therefore, you can stay warmer by wearing less. Quite an interesting concept actually.


If you have time go out and get some your knees will thank you for it. There are many products available like this, or this, or this, or this, and finally this.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

VOTE!

Stop reading this immediately and go VOTE! White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, young, old, fast, slow, shaved legs, hairy legs, cat 5, cat 1, northside, southside, city, suburbs, democrat, republican, conservative, liberal, moderate, gay, straight, undecided, Muslim, Christain, Jew, first time voter, doesn't matter. Just get out and Vote. You owe it to your country!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Results Up For St.Charles Campton Cross

USAC has updated the results page from this Sundays installment of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series in St. Charles.
Click here for info.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Like Mike Seguin said, if I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any at all. Seeing as how I made so many blunders I can remember what I was thinking quite vividly. Here's what went through my head:

The 1st lap: Not too bad about 15 in front of me. Could have been better if the guy in front of me clipped in faster. There's Damon, good start. Too wide before first barrier. There's Scott from the Pony Shop, I at least have to catch him. Come on Max (Cuttin Crew) get back up. Damn, snagged my shorts over the double barrier, remount, lose 2 spots. Too much traffic on the off camber, dismount. After the 360 turn and twists POWER UP. Whoa, Watch out for that slower rider, lost momentum. now POWER UP. I hope I have enough gear for the back end.

Second lap: Max just passed me. How effortless did that look? Damon's just in front of me and Scott just passed him. Through the 360, now POWER UP. Damon's got the line on the transition from the gravel to the grass. Stay on the gravel, power. Got past him.

Third lap: Heart rate 191, nothing out of the ordinary. Chew the gum. Mouth not too dry yet. Through the off camber section. Bad line. Do I correct? No, just go right through the tape. Good I didn't get tangled. Through the 360. POWER UP. There's Scott I almost got him. Turning from gravel back to grass. What just happened? I can't believe I just went down. Too hot on the turn. Lose at least 2places. Damon passes me shouts encouragement. Feels like my heart is beating out of my chest.

Fourth lap: Just passed the start finish. Hear something coming from the bike, don't see anything. Stop tippy toeing up the hill. Big steps. Be careful around the off camber with that noise. Back section. There's the problem. The front wheel is wobbling, hitting the brake shoe every rotation. Stop at the start finish, no there's only one more lap. Oh great there's 2 more.

Fifth lap: I hope the wheel doesn't come off the fork. Run the off camber. after uphill on grass to down hill pavement. POP! There goes the front tire. Time to take it easy. Run around the 360. Get heckled for running. Now they see I have a flat. Back half. There's Jorge and Bob. "Hey I need a bike!" Did they hear me?

Last lap: OK, how does this bike exchange work again? Not too bad of a transition. Thanks guys. Who's bike am I on? Jorge's. POWER. We'll see how his tires work. Triple X right behind me. POWER. Last barrier Tiple X says "Lets do this" No way is he passing me. What just happened? Dropped the chain. Lose 2 spots. Don't even feel like riding hard to the finish.

So that summed up my day. I hope yours was better. And if not, I know the feeling. Onto Northbrook! - Tony

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mud, Money and Beer

Today's race had it all! The course laid out for us today in St. Charles by the Chicago Cyclocross Cup was a doozy. Not necessarily very difficult, but there was no place to let your mind wander. From the winding climb just off of the start, to the off-camber section on the back of the course, to the twisting downhill and of course the best section on the course for me was the improvised beer garden. This section was an absolute blast to ride through everytime. Riders were shouted at, heckled, encouraged, some beer hand-ups were given out, bells were rung, pictures were taken, money was handed-up, you name it, it happened all within these 25 yards. Incredible fun!


As for our race, I managed a front row line-up for the second week in a row. Elvis and Tony filed in right behind me. Numbers were checked, tires were squeezed, and at the last minute I remembered to shift into the big ring. I wasn't going to get swarmed like I did at Bartlett, at least I was going to try my hardest not to. At the whistle I clip in instantly and begin putting the power down. Through the first few corners I am sitting 5-8 or so. Up the climb still with the leaders, hoping Tony and Elvis had as good a start as I did. Coming through the end of the first lap I had slipped back a few places as I am sure the heart rate was into the 200's. I was using the big ring for about 75% of each lap and that seemed like a good thing.


Everytime I race against Tony and I happen to get in front I always know it is just a matter of time before I get passed. There is always a little countdown going on in my head the longer he is behind me. Well the timer went off on the second lap as we entered the gravel after the beer garden. The match that I had burned trying to stay with the leaders was beginning to take its toll, and Tony capitalized on it. I grabbed his wheel, albeit briefly, as we worked toward the start/finish line. I was holding on for dear life when we came through and my heart sank a bit as the lap cards read 4. Typically our races have only been 4 laps long, so to see 4 to go was an odd experience. Granted we are still only racing for 30 minutes, but the mind sure has a way getting used to only 4 laps. Oh well, here we go.


At this point, with Tony just ahead at least I had a rabbit to catch. Up the hill and onto the back side of the course things were looking good until the off-camber section. Tony came in really hot and couldn't correct his line so rather than risking a crash, he did the next best thing. Crashed through the tape, twice, to the cheers of those watching shouting "if you can't go around, then just go through it"! I got caught behind him momementarily as we turned to go back up as Scott from the Pony Shop rode a perfect line through and blasted right past us. I tried to take his wheel, but he bombed the next little downhill and I couldn't latch on.


I believe Tony stayed just behind me for the remainder of the lap, again there goes the countdown timer in my head. At this point Dave from Flatlandia also caught up to us after his first lap shenanigins with the double barriers. Now it was game on, as I could hear Dave heckling me from behind. This is where things get a little fuzzy for me as far as events concerning Tony. At some point he flatted a front tire, grabbed Jorge's bike, crashed, and dropped a chain. I just can't remember how it all unfolded. Sorry Tony. Dave and I rode out the remainder of the race together as I tried to shed him at every opportunity. No such luck though, much like herpes, he kept coming back. Sorry Dave, I know you are reading this. Anyway, through the beer garden one last time with Dave hanging tight and back onto the final stretch of gravel. At this point Dave asks me how my sprint is, I reply awful and try to wind it up a bit, yeah didn't work, he jumped and I sat up. We traded places from last week him 19th, me 20th. Tony rolled in at 29th on Jorge's bike and Elvis at 30th with at least one dropped chain hurting his placings.


The B's race looked like it was a huge field. It always seems to be twice as large as ours, maybe it just strings out faster from the gun. Off the line Bob found his pedal and quickly jumped in with the leaders, with Jorge just a few behind. As they came through the beer garden though Bob got caught behind someone who drove him into the tape, Jorge came through clean and took over Bob's former position. Bob got things going again quickly and only lost a few places in the process. Sergio came through later in the field, a testament to his lining up in the rear. Dude, move up!


Through the next few laps, Jorge and Bob were both maintaining position, if not improving on it. Sergio was also making up places, but the field was so strung out, he wasn't making much headway. Sergio is so strong, yet for some reason he always lines up in the back and has to work to pass people that should be behind in him in the first place.

As they entered the last two laps Jorge was still within striking distance of a top ten finish, but he bobbled the tough entrance going into the beer garden. He lost those two important places, but quickly got back on to minimize the damage. Bob also had trouble through this time nearly stalling out and then catching the last troublesome stake on the left hand side. He to corrected and got into his big ring to finish strong. Sergio made the move of the day the last time through the beer garden. As he approached we shouted instructions to him for how to ride the section and he listened. Up and around the chicanes he went then into the throng of spectators shouting and cheering on every competitor, and just before he exited the melee' he grabbed the single out of Ben's hand
much to the delight of the crowd.


Jorge came oh so close to his first top ten in only his 5th 'cross race finishing 12th. Bob came in at 19th, again and Sergio couldn't remember his number so we will have to wait and see how he finished.


After the race as we were all relaying our personal races, Tony summed up 'cross racing. Its not about riding a perfect race, which for us will probably never happen, but about minimizing the number of mistakes we do make. If we can eliminate some of the mistakes we make each lap and capitalize on them instead, we can surely move up in the placings. Here is to next week then, and perhaps only making a few dozen mistakes!

Digitally Enhanced












All photos courtesy of Eric Nelson and are available here

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Today In 'Cross



Sven Nys won today in Koppenberg for the fifth straight time over Lars Boom. The course was absolutely atrocious as nearly every inch of not only the course, but also the riders were covered with mud. The mechanics were surely kept busy in the pits with bike changes not only from the mud but the numerous crashes.

These guys were riding sections of the course that we would have difficulty walking, yet alone running, and forget about even riding them. Towards the end of the race, Nys, Boom and Albert were all crashing, a testament to the ridiculous course conditions.

It doesn't look like we will be seeing conditions anywhere near what they saw today, and sure most of us are pretty happy about that. MAke sure you watch the video all the way through and just check out these guys as they cross the line. If it weren't for the announcers, it would be nearly impossible to tell them apart!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Results Official For Bartlett 'Cross

The officials wasted no time in making the results official for the 5th stop of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup in Bartlett. While the results are not yet available on the Series website, they are available on USAC.

The overall has also been updated here.

Mens 4A
Damon 19th
Tony 23rd
Elvis 28th
Patrick 30th

Mens 4B
Bob 19th
Jorge 20th
Joe 35th
Sergio 36th

Tabor World Cup

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brrrrrrr!!!!! in Bartlett

I guess this is the weather we always talk about racing in right? How it would be so cool and epic to be able to race in the wind and the rain and the mud. While we didn't exactly have rain, and the mud really wasn't that difficult, we sure has heck had the wind today. The wind coupled with the rapidly dropping temperatures made for an interesting pre- and post-race. .


Remember Montrose last year? Compared to how it felt today, Montrose was downright balmy. Maybe it was just the fact that it seemed like it was supposed to be warmer, but I can't remember shivering that much before a race. And the goosebumps were so big they almost hurt! Once we were finally off and racing the temperature was no longer a factor, but the wind never seemed to let up. The key to a successful race today was to be able to stay on someones wheel when it mattered. Getting blasted by a 50mph wind is no fun, especially when you are at 195 bpms and frothing at the mouth. At one point, after exiting the short wooded section I was nearly knocked over by a gust of wind. I also experienced a new phenomenon of the course tape trying to reach out and grab your handlebars at every opportunity. It kinda reminded me of being in a haunted house at the carnival where ghouls and goblins try and snatch at you in the dark. Enough complaining though, lets talk racing

After the call ups were complete, I quickly scooted to the front row on the outside hoping for a good start. Tony and the rest filed in behind me. At the whistle, the guy to my right has absolutely no ability to ride in a straight line or be able to clip in at the same time. I actually had to push him off of me for the first 50-75 feet, all the while I can hear Tony making his own opinions known. We quickly lose twenty places to this goofball and are left to try and make our way back up. Tony manages to pass in the 2nd or 3rd corner and Dave from Flatlandia goes with him. I quickly jump onto their little train heading for the first barrier. Up and over without any problems but slower traffic ahead of Dave and I on the first uphill caused us both to dismount. Of course I had to give him a hard time, and he apologized for it. Did he really think I was serious? Anyway, I spent the first lap chasing Tony and the leaders while not getting passed myself.


Onto the second lap and I'm still dangling behind Tony, but closing quickly. Into the wooded section and heading for the mud pit and I made my pass through the mud. I was sure Tony was going to come with me, but heading for the next corner I could hear him shouting encouragement at me, so I drilled again hoping to bridge to Brian from Mission Bay. I did close as we passed the Cuttin Cruiser and Al asking us if we liked gettin' dirty! I was sure Tony would catch us as we entered the asphalt, but I was honestly too afraid to look back. Typically when I race with Tony it is just a matter of time before he catches and drops me.


With two to go and no sign of Tony, my goal was to try and catch and pass the riders ahead. Out of every corner and obstacle I would be up out of the saddle sprinting and attacking the course. I was able to hold Tony off for the rest of the race and even managed to pull back a few riders. It seems my new mindset of attacking the course as often as possible is working. As soon as the race was over, Tony, Elvis and Patrick quickly got into some warm dry clothes so that we could cheer on the Jorge, Bob, Joe and Sergio in the B race


Much to our surprise Jorge received a call up for the top ten overall. Apparently some one had catted up since he was 11th in the results just a few days ago. At the start line then both Jorge and Bob had a great front row position with Joe and Sergio a few rows back. Off the start Jorge settled into a top ten position with Bob just trailing him. They both made it up and over the hill with no problems and rode strong for the rest of the first lap.


Coming out of the woods Jorge seemed to be in too small a gear and we were sure he was having difficulty shifting by his demeanor. But after a little encouragement he found the gear and the tempo to stay with the leaders. Bob too came out strong, and was having little problem holding his position. They were both listening to our instructions to them and were very attentive to the race around them.

During the second lap, Jorge was having a hard time matching the pace of the group he was in. Meanwhile Bob was having a perfect race, he was catching and passing riders and soon caught Jorge's wheel. They were together going into the woods, but Bob emerged first without Jorge. At this point Jorge was starting to slip off the pace but was still putting up a fight. The team did their best to shout and will them towards the finish and they did their best to not let us down.
.

As the last lap unfolded Bob was sitting probably top 15 or so with Jorge trailing just a few riders back. Bob dug deep and opened a gap as he entered onto the asphalt for the last time. However the attack didn't stick and he was caught again on the downhill stretch. Going into the last set of barriers Bob was with a group of three and working hard. He passed one rider on the climb out and tried to get a lead out from the other guy going into the wind. The tactic was a good choice, but his legs just couldn't respond after the hard effort of the day. Jorge clawed his way back and finished just one behind Bob for 19th and 20th.


All the while there was another race going on that might not have been apparent to any one else but those involved. Joe and Sergio have a mostly friendly rivalry going as to who can win the most races between the two of them. I think Joe might have had the advantage going into today, and therefore I was a bit surpirsed that Sergio was just sitting in. Joe was left to do almost all the work even on the windy sections of the course. Going into the last section of barriers Joe made and acceleration and tried to shake Sergio for good, but Sergio hung on, letting Joe take the "victory". Not sure, but I think Joe has taken a substantial lead in the "overall" with that one.

After the races we quickly dispersed to try and get warm as quickly as possible. Hopefully no one gets sick after this weather caught us off guard today.

As always, photos courtesy of Eric Nelson and they are available here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sweeeet!!!

Thanks to Ben, I came across a Velonews article that had a great photo of him and even named him in the caption. It is great to see him getting some national exposure that he deserves. Well, while reading the article I come across another picture from the Carpentersville race. This time though there is no mention of names, or even faces, but hot damn! the photo that Imelda chose to accompany her article has ME in it. Well at least my legs. I guess I will take all the exposure I can get for the team. Ha! The photo also appears on CX Magazine as well.

The article was written by Imelda March from the Chicago Cyclocross Cup Series and features photos from Amy and Luke.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faster Than You



Just check the speed at which they run-up. Ridiculous!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Goals Met...For the Most Part


As the team and I prepared for the race today, I began to compile a list of goals I was hoping to accomplish in the race today in Carpentersville. As part of the the Chicago Cyclocross Cup series, every race we do we hope to improve upon the last performance and gain points to move us up in the overall. After the race last week in Hawthorn Woods I was feeling a little down about my somewhat disappointing performance. I know a few of the other guys were as well. So for the race today I set a few goals that I hoped I could accomplish. The first being to get another good start position. This was primarily met, however I lined up behind someone I didn't know. Big mistake. At the start he flubbed his clip in and we were quickly passed. I guess I still can't scratch a good start off of the list.


The second goal was to start in my big ring and hopefully keep it there. I had read a few weeks back on Ben's blog how he was unable to start a UCI race in his big ring due to a mechanical issue. For some strange reason a light went off in my head, and I realized that I should probably take a cue from him and start in my big ring as well. As we shot off of the line I really liked the extra kick that the tall gear offered. Perhaps it was a bit too much kick as I rear ended the riders in front of me who decided to slow as we entered the first corner. C'mon guys, braking into the first corner already? As riders swarmed the first corner I had no choice but to throw some elbows and shoulder my way out of the melee. There went another few spots. Once we cleared the corner I stood up on the pedals and jammed up the first little rise with Tony in tow. Up and back down we went towards the corner and the first barrier. Tony had just passed me heading into it and I took his wheel. However, I'm not sure if he planned on running the entire up hill section after the barrier, or if he just never found a good spot to re-mount. This proved to be a bad idea, as he was being passed by myself and a few other riders as well.


As we entered onto the pavement, I was able to catch and pass Jim who apparently had a really good start. Back onto the grass and heading for the sand pit and goal number three was about to get checked off of the list. On Thursday we spent about an hour working on sand pit technique, and I was a bit surprised at how well I was picking it up. I also noticed that I felt better after powering through the deep sand than I did when I was running it. As I came around the last right hander heading for the sand I just drilled it and entered the gauntlet of screaming spectators. I floated across the sand and powered through and kinda surpirsed myself. At this point Tony was still behind me, and I figured he was chasing hard to catch me, but as he entered the sand his front wheel went out from under him and he went down. I was still holding the wheel of the guys in front of me and passing when I could. The file tread tires were hooking up well, even on the off-camber section and I was able to keep the pace in the big ring. So far so good. Not so good however for Jim as he bobbled the exit to the sand pit and exasperated and already tender ankle. His day was now done. Elvis was holding position but was getting stuck behind more timid riders.

After every dip or corner I was up out of the saddle sprinting hard for the next corner, hoping and praying the minimal tire tread was helping me on the fast sections and was able to hold as I pushed through the corners. Second time through the single barrier and I was about to remount when I swear someone ran over my foot. I hear a quick apology and realize that it was in fact Patrick. Sweet, no big deal, but now we can work together and start making up some time, and opening up some gaps behind us. I keep up my tenacious pace and when we hit the pavement I think I opened up a small gap on Patrick. Oops, I blew that plan pretty quick. This time through the sand I didn't carry enough speed as I adjusted my line going in looking for a smoother entry. I made it about halfway before dismounting, 1 for 2 on the sand so far.

The thrid lap was an eye opener for me as I let a rider pass me early on without even challenging him. WTF? I am supposed to be racing here right? I realized my mistake and quickly closed onto his wheel. One turn later I was pushing him from behind when he went down. Sweet! I got my spot back. I jumped on the pedals to open up a gap. Goal number 4 realized, attack, attack, attack!


Back onto the pavement. Attack. Back onto the grass. Attack. I hear him go down again. Yes! Out on the pavement I can see Patrick holding ground just a few riders back. Maybe we can finish top twenty together. I also catch sight of Tony who shouts encouragement. Surely he must be gaining ground. Tony is super strong and can just ride away from people. C'mon Tony! Keep working!

This time through approaching the sand I can hear my two year old son saying "go fast Daddy" so I had to clear the sand. My wife is shouting "more speed, more speed" so I have to obey. I shift up and sprint looking for the line on the left. I hit it clean, and power though, I probably smiled as I came out of the pit and could hear the crowds reaction. I also opened up a decent gap again.

I kinda like this goal system, it keeps my head in the game and me motivated. Last time into the sand and I clean it for the third time. Up and around the off-camber and I'm chasing the rider in front of me. Over the barriers and the hill and I am closing the gap. I hit it one more time and just miss catching him at the line. It felt like a top 15 finish, but my wife came by with the bad news of a probable top 25. Oh well it still felt great to meet most of the pre-race goals I set. Most of them at least. Last year I would have been happy for a top thirty in the B's race. So I guess it counts as progress. Patrick finished a few back at 30th, Tony at 36th and Elvis at 38th.


Next up was the B's race, and Jorge got a good position on the second row in the middle. Off the line Jorge was strong and slid into 8th spot, his best start yet. I yelled at him to stay on the wheels in front of him and accelerate out of every corner. Bob was holding a top twenty until an early fall, but he only lost two places. Joe and Sergio started in the back, but Sergio looked strong as he attcked up the first rise and took back some places.

First time through the sand and Jorge found a great line, a nice solid ride kept him with the leaders. Bob, Joe and Sergio ran it because of traffic and maintained their positions. Bob went down again somewhere on the second lap and lost some more places, but settled into a nice rythym. Jorge stayed on the gas through the first half of the lap, closing down gaps everytime. Jorge entered the sand again on the second lap ready to ride it, but came in a bit slow. Towards the end of the pit he began to try and grind it out, but toppled in the last few feet. The riders were right on him and then past him as he remounted and began his chase, this pushed him back to 15-20th. Still he was hanging with the leaders though.


Bob settled into a TT rythym and rode a strong second half. Sergio finally warmed up and began taking places as well, while Joe stayed consistant and maintained position. Jorge finally lost the wheel ahead of him, but had put a good gap on those behind him, or at least we thought. Through the sand the final time, he opted to run it and play it safe. But in doing so, they were able to close the gap a bit. Up over the off-camber and into the open grass and the gap came down more. Going over the barriers they were hot on his heels and pushing him into the finish. Going into the final corner Jorge took the line he wanted on the inside and swung wide as the three riders caught him. He stood up and jumped on the pedals and took the sprint from the group to finish a strong 19th. Bob finished about 34th and I am still waiting to hear about where Joe and Sergio finished officially.


A funny thing happened during the 1/2/3 race. Maybe not funny, but an interesting experience none the less. Ben and Julie showed up today as they planned. But things didn't quite go as planned for Ben, at least not the last 15 minutes or so. From the start Ben was off the front. The first few turns he had just a slight gap, but the first time through the sand pit it seemed as if he floated halfway across before even pedaling. A few more times around the course and it was just Ben and Scott from SRAM, holding a huge gap over the field. About halfway into the race and Scott was still holding Ben's wheel until they hit the sand. It sounded as if Ben shifted UP going into the sand and by the time he exited he had 20 feet on Scott. Are you kidding me?!!

Ben kept the pace up and started catching lapped riders. Scott was still trying to bridge, but the gap seemed insurmountable. That is until Ben took a tumble, which wouldn't have been huge had a lapped rider not been trying to suck his wheel. As he went down, the lapped rider rode over the rear wheel of Ben's bike, gashing the sidewall of his tire. Ben re-mounted but was having a hard time in the corners on the flat rear. Scott capitalized and passed him back.

At this point as I was watching this unfold I decided to take my pit bike over to the pit. As I am crossing the course Julie notices me with the bike and asks if it is 9 or 10sp. I tell her 9 and she asks if Ben could use my rear wheel. Sure, why not it would be sweet if he could take a bike change and take back the lead so I offer up the wheel. The change goes well, but the gap has grown in the meantime. Ben gets on his 'B' bike and stomps the pedals and never seems to let up. On the asphalt section he is down by about 10-13 seconds, up and over the off-camber and through the field and he has closed to within 5 seconds. Had they had one more lap he surely would have caught and gapped Scott with how he was riding.


Julie and I made introductions with another and waited for Ben to come around. He was extremely thankful for the wheel and the opportunity to challenge for the top spot. It was kinda neat that he might have won or lost the race because of my timing. It would have made for an even better story had he won, but he seemed content with his 2nd place. After the race we caught up and spoke quickly about our mutual love for Kelly Bikes and trading cards.

The great thing to me about 'cross is the low key atmosphere at all of the races. I'm sure when you step up the the UCI races things can change a bit, but from what I have read they seem pretty laid back as well. As I make the long trek upwards in categories, here's hoping that I can someday find out what a UCI race feels like.