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


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.


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!