Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Inner Harbor Sunrise


Here's a shot from my camera phone of the sun rising along the Inner Harbor as I walked to work this morning. I like my commute.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Eyewitness Report from the Tsunami

This is an email from some very good friends of mine that live and work in Thailand.
I was very happy to hear that they escaped unharmed.

> Br. Bass,
> Thanks for the e-mail and happy holidays! We're all
> safe. We (Me, Eleanor, Miles, Eleanor's brother, his
> wife, and her parents and brother) were all together
> on one of the islands that got hit. Everyone is fine
> and we are now back in Bangkok. We were on an island
> called Railay Beach which is about 40 miles from
> Phuket. Railay Beach is only accessible by boat and
> there are no cars/roads on the island. Phuket is the
> beach resort town that has been in the news that got
> hit hard. Eleanor was on one of the beaches when one
> of the big waves hit. Fortunately, we were staying on
> the east side of the island that was well protected
> and not hit. The west side got hammered. People were
> badly injured and some people were killed. We had no
> warning that a tsunami was coming because it is such a
> freak occurrence. As soon as the waves hit, we were
> told to get to higher ground. We were on a hilltop
> from 11:30 A.M. to 9:30 with about 1,000 other people.
> It had the feel of a refugee camp, but the spirit was
> great. People were helping one another out, sharing
> food and water. It was a nice thing to see. The reason
> we stayed up there so long was because people were
> afraid of after shocks and more tidal waves. Every
> half hour we were told that the "Big One" was coming!
> I felt like Fred Sanford waiting for the "Big One."
> Fortunately, the big one never came. At 10:00 El,
> Miles, and I went back to our place. I must admit, I
> slept with one eye open the entire night on the
> lookout for water. Fortunately, none came.
> We had a 2:30 flight back to Bangkok today. The hotel
> arranged a boat for us to get back to the mainland
> where the airport was. When we got to the airport and
> we started talking to people, it became even more
> apparent how blessed and fortunate we were. Eleanor
> spoke with a woman who only had the clothes she was
> wearing. Everything else she had was gone and her
> hotel was destroyed. I spoke with a gentleman who was
> staying on an island close to us and he said all of
> the hotels on his island were destroyed. He spent the
> night helping the hotel staff. The only thing we had
> to contend with was being displaced, hungry
> (everything was closed), and we were without power
> most of the day. Other than that we were ok. It's
> great being back in Bangkok. When we went to bed last
> night the death toll was 11,000 now it's up to 23,000
> unbelievable. Miles has been a real trooper! He has
> been wonderful throughout this entire ordeal. He' s
> slept, he's played, hasn't been fussy. We are so
> blessed. Thanks for thinking of us.
> Sincerely,
> Ryan

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas 2004

Christmas 2004
Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

We had a nice time at Jon & Sally's new house last night! The house, lot, and neighborhood are all fantastic. It makes us yearn for the day when we are out of the city. We're still enjoying city living, but space is becoming an issue with a baby on the way.

In the morning Mom made her breakfast casserole which is always a nice treat. After eating we exchanged gifts and went out to a movie (that other Christmas tradition). We saw "Meet The Fockers" and it was hilarious!

Friday was Melanie's birthday and after she had a relaxing facial (Thanks Mom and Sally!) we went to The English Garden for fancy tea. That's the first time I've been to a tea party and it was really nice. It's amazing how many of those little sandwiches and cookies you can go through while putting away pot after pot of tea!

All in all we had a very nice Christmas...and even made it home early enough on Sunday to get in a mountain bike ride!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Gotta Ride

I can't stand it. After almost 2 weeks off the bike taking it easy I'm craving a ride.

It'll be a slow and very mellow trail ride on the 'cross bike this morning so this is NOT training.

This is fun.

This is a mental break from the craziness of the holidays.

Then I'll do my Christmas shopping.

Once I'm done I'll celebrate with cold beer on the couch!


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Capital Classic Cross Photos

Fitness Concepts Capital Cross Classic UCI
Sunday, December 5, 2004
Lake Fairfax Park, Reston, VA
B race

Reston pre-race

Before the race all was good. The weather was a balmy 60 degrees and sunny. The course was generally very fast with a lot of surface transitions, quite a bit of climbing, and some tricky technical spots. I arrived plenty early to ride some slow laps getting to know the course.

Reston head down

When the race started it was all business and I was focused riding hard and staying with the front group as long as possible. I started fast and stayed on the tail of the leading group for a couple of laps before I had to back off just a bit to avoid blowing up. The pace was very fast and I had pushed my limit at the start. This strategy paid off because by the time I went out the back of the group there was a big gap back to the next riders on the course.

Reston 04 Gravel

Everyone found the ~secret~ line on the right side of the gravel. There were few spots on the course to get any recovery, but as you can see we were looking for any draft at all. The faster paved sections were good for group riding, but the group I was in was splintering as the attacks came from riders looking to get clear and into the top 10. Each time up the road someone would jump and force the rest of us to try to latch on. This took it's toll...

Reston 04 Me and JH

I'm gasping for breath as John Hostetter catches me after the hurdle hill. At this point I'm in survival mode. I held John's wheel for a lap, but was gapped as he was riding the technical stuff flawlessly and powering away on the grinding sections. The gap was around 15 seconds the last two laps, but I kept riding hard to hold off the rider behind me, who seemed to be getting closer.

Reston super fan

Luckily I had a lot of family and friends cheering me on, including SUPERFAN and little brother Scott ringing his monster cowbell every time I came by! I was tired and suffering but the cheers kept me pushing myself, especially on the last lap as I caught back up to John on the final climb.

Reston 04 me

Reston end of race

Just after the finish my heart is still pounding, but I'm pretty excited to have caught up to John on the last lap and taken him in a very close sprint. I ended up 16th, my best finish yet in a MAC race. In fact, our whole crew rode great all season long, getting better every race. Most importantly, we had a lot of fun practicing and racing.

Reston Me Mel Scott

Here's to a fun day and a fantastic 'cross season. I'm happy to have some time to relax and get away from training. I'm glad that everyone came out to check out the race.

Monday, December 06, 2004

MABRA 'Cross Championships Photos


Me and John slogging through the mud.

MABRA CX remount

Preparing to remount after the hurdle run-up.


Approaching the steep drop-in.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Midpack Mayhem in Highland Park

Highland Park Cyclocross
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Highland Park, NJ
B Race, ~70 starters

HP cross me hurdles
Over the hurdles

The Course

~150 meter flat road section, hard left onto soft grass, short/steep muddy run-up, right back down on soft grass to a relatively high speed double hurdle. ankle deep mud past the pits and onto a wet sand baseball infield, back onto more deep muddy grass. paved walking path, 180 degree right onto combo of slick dirt singletrack and soft grass. soft grass winding back by the pits, more soft grass onto a short stretch of road to more soft grass to a chicane at the base of another short/steep muddy run-up on the same hill. steep muddy rutted drop back onto soft grass winding around to the road for the finishing straight. i was off the bike 5 times per lap.

The Race

It's a double race weekend...
so I'm drinking lots saturday evening to stay hydrated
Sleeping on an air mattress on the floor makes standing up for the late night pee's
agonizing after those steps at beacon! Yikes, the quad demons are haunting me!

Wake up, take stock of body and mind...
Mind strong & motivated to race. Legs shaky and look like they've been at it with a
cheese grater, but they're still there!
The stomach is another story.
I'm questioning eating TWO french dinners, especially gallette # 8.
The vittles were good, but sacre bleu dem belly is bubbly!

Time to check bike and gear.
There's no mud, just sand everywhere.
A quick 'n e-z clean and we're ready to roll.

Warming up I see the course morphing before my eyes.
First time around everything is ridable, even the hills.
This doesn't last for long as the combination of wet turf and bike tires turns things
pear shaped in a hurry.
The deterioration is quick as the course goes from nondescript to epic within an hour.

I head to the road to continue the warm-up as more laps on the course will only drain the
already shaky legs.

It's almost time to start and I score a spot mid-bunch and anticipate the brutality that
will soon follow. All of a sudden we get the 15 second warning and we're off!
I spy a gap immediately and zip up onto the wheels of the leaders.
Seconds later i'm spinning out my 39x12 as we approach the left turn.

Knowing the first hill will be FUBAR i give it full gas on the lead-up to the slop.
Things get surreal now as the guy on my left goes over the bars on the uphill! wtf!
That was sweet! A massive traffic jam ensues, but i find a clear lane up the inside.

I'm back on and closing in on the leading group.
Over the barriers and ready to close it down.
But wait, I'm not going anywhere in this muck!
Stubbornly I continue to grind past the pits and into more muck, going nowhere fast.
Awwww muck! the leading group of 15 or so is just ahead but i feel like i'm sinking!
Note to self: run this mess from now on, and I do.

Onto the paved path and i'm at the front of the second group, just seconds behind the
tempting draft of the front runners.
This is the part of the course where i need to get a quick recovery but it's not
happening this lap. As we make the turn around the tree I'm starting to go from
redlined to meltdown mode...not good.

I back it off just a touch and immediately I'm passed by two or three groups. I try to
latch on, but I've started too fast and need to settle in.

Dusty comes by and I ramp it up again to get his wheel. Riding with someone you know
makes the pain more bearable. We get into a good rhythm and start to pick off riders.
We're flowing now, measuring our hard efforts and taking what the course gives us.

HP cross me run up
Dusty and I on the run-up

HP cross me slop
And on the soft grass

Now we've caught a good group and make continued progress, but the group is a little big.
FJ drills it along the river every lap and it's back to survival mode.

Our group has splintered and I'm gapped as we come by the pit. In a last ditch effort to
maintain contact I take the left line after the pit and all of a sudden I'm back at the
front of the group. Yeah!

HP cross my group
The group

The adrenaline boost from that bit of luck gives me the juice I need for the last lap.
Over the barriers I really focus on taking long strides and breathing as I lope through
the ankle deep mud and goose dung. I have about 5 pounds of it on my bike, not to
mention in my eyes, ears, and mouth...mmmmm organic foie gras.

It's the last lap and I'm hanging on as our group keeps the heat on and eyes each other.
Down the trail and onto the soft grass we push, chests heaving and legs mashing the
pedals without elegance. The left line does the trick again and I move up to second
wheel as we hit the short stretch of road.

Back onto the grass and I move to front, but slide and almost go down in the process.
I try to keep the pace high as I consider my options. Undergeared with a 39T single
chainring I'm thinking that I don't have the winning hand in a sprint.

HP cross me group 2
Last lap as I'm moving to the front of the group

That leaves a late attack. The chicane leading into the final run-up seems like a good
place to get a gap as it squeezes everyone into a single file line. I gear up and give
it a last burst into the dismount and get the bike shouldered cleanly.

The legs are screaming, but the toe spikes gain traction and I'm really moving up the
muddy slope. Back on the bike and I'm back in my pedals immediately (love the Candy
SL's!). I'm committed now so I start pedalling and drop down the hill fishtailing, but
making it through the ruts cleanly.

I'm really hurting now, but I know I have a small gap so I keep giving it full stick.
A quick look back and I see the others are driving it, but the gap should be enough.

I make the transition back to the road without going down and now I'm giving it one more
effort up the road to hold the gap to the line. As I approach the finish Richard Fries
is making a wisecrack at my expense, but it's all good. I love ya Richard!

Crossing the line I'm exhausted and elated at once. I finish 24th, so why am I so happy?
Yeah, I scored my first MAC series points in the B's (woohoo!), but it's really just the
joy of racing and competing.

In 'cross, no matter where you are in the pack you're still racing, trying to catch the
rider in front or hold off someone behind. All race long you're locked into these
intense micro-battles. The combination of this level of competition and the wonderful
community that comes together for the season makes 'cross the best thing on two wheels.

Thanks to everyone that makes it happen and extra respect to my fellow mid-pack dwellers
who race with such passion and intensity week after week.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Beacon 'Cross

Beacon Cyclocross
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Bridgton, NJ
B race, ~65 racers

Beacon 04 Sand
The Sand Pit

The Course

The start was up a nice slightly uphill road stretch of about 300 meters before a sweeping right onto the hardpacked sand trail system, wide enough for passing but pretty crowded on the first lap. The trails were fast and twisty with loose sandy turns that were fun to slide through at high speed.

The high speed trails dumped you down a fast hill leading onto a lakefront beach. This was about a 100 meter running section of deep sand ending with a tall step to exit the beach.

Beacon 04 me beach
Me and Sean exiting the beach run.

Beacon 04 Beach
This is how the pro's do it.

This brought you by the double-sided pit before bending right and heading onto another section of fast and fun trails. At the end of a particularly fast stretch a 180 degree left fed into a 180 degree right and a set of double hurdles. Once back on the bike you hit a steep off-camber drop onto a short section of road running parallel to the finishing straight.

This was downhill and led you back onto the turf for a quick run down to a hard left turn into a sand pit. When entered at speed this was ridable, however most of your momentum was taken by the end making it faster to run for some.

Beacon 04 more sand
First lap traffic in the sand pit. I'm about to dismount.

Exiting the sand pit brought you past the pit before a left turn into a short, steep dirt climb. At the top you did a 180 and dropped back down into a hard left into the "Amphitheatre of Pain". This was a series of 8 'steps' each roughly 16 inches high. This was painful for everyone and doubly so for those with short legs.

Beacon 04 me stairs
Sean and I on the stairs.

After the remount and a short trail section you dropped down a steep dirt embankment immediately into a paved right hand turn back onto the finishing straight of road.

The Race

I got a spot about 4 row back and worked hard to move up on the road section. I made pretty good progress, but ran into trouble as we approached the right turn. The line of guys I was following got cut off and had to slow dramatically. After watching riders pass me on both sides I found a hole jumped to the right. This got me moving again for about 5 seconds before we hit another logjam at the first tight left turn. By this point the front group was gone.

Once through the turn I got out of the saddle and hammered in an effort to improve my position. I saw Sean and Dusty up ahead and set my sights on making up to them.
By the time we hit the beach the first time I could see them just up ahead. I gave it all I had on the run and made it up to them as we exited the sand. This was a big boost psychologically.

We ended up with a big group barrelling through the sandy trails picking off riders one by one. Dusty, Sean, and I were all staying near the front trying to keep the pace high to whittle down the group. John was also in the group, but further back, and eventually got gapped by another rider messing up one of the sandy turns.

After a while we looked back to see that the group had disintegrated. It was just me, Sean, and another guy. Dusty had been the victim of another blown turn by another rider. Sean and I kept the pace high and worked really well together to share the work. We kept it together very well until Sean dropped his bike at the start of the stairs. I was leading and didn't realize that he had bobbled until we hit the road.

I eased up to get the other guy on the front and left him to pull up the road section to start the final lap. I was hoping that Sean would catch back on, but at the least I was getting a little recovery. Unfortunately the guy got a gap when we hit the trail and I didn't respond. I had him in sight the rest of the way, but finished 6 seconds back in 26th place. Sean rolled in for 27th.

This was my best finish yet in a MAC B race, though 1 spot out of the series points that go 25 deep. The race was very fast from start to finish and a whole lot of fun. After our race we watched the Elite Men's and Women's races. These were part of the Crank Brothers US Grand Prix of Cyclocross and they attracted the top riders from across the country. Read about those races at

At the end of the day we drove to Sean's cousin Phil's house in Northern NJ and ate two dinners before falling asleep!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Baby Outfits

Yesterday we ordered a crib, glider, and footrest. It was actually pretty cool.
We also picked up some baby clothes...

baby clothes

Friday, November 12, 2004

Another cool day

It's a boy! Posted by Hello

We had our 17 week sonogram today and learned that our baby is a boy! He was really moving around in there. What a cool experience.

Making the most of days

Yesterday we had the day off for Veteran's Day so we honored our Veteran's by enjoying our freedom in the outdoors. The weather was wonderful with sunshine and temps in the 50's.

Mel, Bob, and I met up at Loch Raven for a nice, relaxing Fall mountain bike ride. The trails are very tame up there, relatively smooth and flat. This is a perfect spot for a mellow ride. Mel did the first two hours with us as we cruised some gorgeous single track along the water, before winding our way out to Providence Rd. and looping back to link up with another nice stretch of narrow twistyness.

After Mel headed home for a nap Bob and I explored the other side of Providence, getting a good workout on the fire roads before dropping down a stairstep descent that dumped us out below the dam. From there we climbed back up to the T-intersection via the road. We decided to explore a lollypop loop that was marked on the map, however this ended up being pretty dull as the trail was not only superhighway wide, but completely covered in leaves. Nevertheless we got more miles into the legs and enjoyed the outdoors, which was the goal in the first place.

After this excursion into the trail equivalent of Soviet apartment blocks we needed a hit of something stylish and interesting. That meant another run through the singletrack of the Sam's Grave loop. Perfect! This is the essense of mountain biking! We looped back out and decided to hit Sam's Grave again on the way out. Usually repeating sections of trail is a bit dull, however this was just as fun and exciting as the first run through. In a way it was even better as we could anticipate a lot of the tight turns, and thus carry more speed. I got a little carried away with this and clipped my handlebar while squeezing between two trees. This led to a quick spill into a soft bed of pine needles. Allgood.

In the end we were out for 4 hours, an excellent day of riding. Our legs and backs were ready for a break since we had been on the singlespeeds. This was a fantastic way to enjoy the day that honors the men and women that have served to ensure our freedom.

Today we awoke to a steady rain outdoors. Sometimes the weather works out just right to allow us to make the most of days.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Faces of Pain

Here are some photos from Saturday's race in Camp Hill, PA. As you can see, I was suffering...c'est cyclisme.

The Run-Up

Negotiating the steep off-camber switchback

Looking for traction on the off-camber

Grimacing at the top of the run-up

Digging on the run-up to hold off the group behind

"When will it end?" Another time up the run-up

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Lower Allen Classic 2004

Lower Allen Classic 2004

Troy Wells, Jeff Weinert, & Josh Snead rock the off-camber in pursuit of Jed Schneider and Todd Wells.

Saturday, November 6, 2004
Camp Hill, PA

The B race had over 70 racers and as usual it was chaos from the start.
I didn't have great legs, but I kept riding hard to the finish.
In the end I finished 32nd after huge amounts of suffering for 45 minutes.
The course suited me well with numerous tight turns and off-cambers, but I never had the power to do anything other than defend my position.

After the race I felt awful, tasting blood and fighting nausea. As usual, 30 minutes later I felt fine and had forgotten how hard the race had been.

Take a look at this photo from early in the B race!

Lower Allen Classic 2004 B's

Monday, November 01, 2004

Evolution Cross Start

Evolution Cross Start

I'm on the far right side of the photo about to make my way to the front.
From there I dropped my chain about a minute later. 8-(

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Fall Ride

Melanie 10-31-04_1328
Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
We had a nice ride of just under 3 hours today. It was a nice slow ride checking out the Fall colors in Baltimore County. This is a great time of year to be on the bike.

Evolution Cross photo

Evolution Cross
Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
MG rocketing towards the climb on his pit bike after his main bike "blew up!" (his words) 8-) He finished second and won a bunch of cool stuff.

Baby update

We're into the 2nd trimester....yeah!...and things are going great. Mom2be is feeling better, but is still dealing with some heartburn and the occasional upset stomach.

With less than 6 months until the due date we're trying to figure out how to organize the guest room into a combo guest room & nursery. It'll be tight, but I think it'll work just fine. Melanie and our Mom's are working on the artistic side with design, colors, etc. The general theme is going to be Chamois Lambie from Pottery Barn Kids. Click on the post title to check it out.

I'm in charge of researching all of the baby gear that we'll need. I'm a gear-head anyways so that's the perfect job for me.
I wonder if anyone makes a Titanium stroller or a Carbon Fibre crib with Bluetooth capability???

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Evolution Cyclocross

Evolution Cyclocross
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, VA
B Race, 45 minutes

The Course
95% Grass 5% dirt trail
Decent amout of climbing with several short, steep ups.
Handful of very tricky off-camber slick turns.
One set of double barriers that you could hit at decent speed.

The Race
35 Starters in the B's
I got the whole shot and led into the first technical section.
During the Masters race one of the steep ride up's had become a run-up.
Of course, first lap I tried to ride it since I was in the lead and could pick the line.
I made it most of the way up before losing traction. In the process of scurrying the rest of the way up I dropped my chain and jammed it up pretty good. While I spent a good 30 seconds fixing my bike the entire field came past me.
Once back on I tried to pass as many people as possible, but I was still a bit spastic from the chain incident.
I bobbled a couple of easy sections and had to tell myself to calm down.

I spent a few laps working my way up to Sean, who had dropped the guys riding with him. He was making good progress through the field. When we connected I was pretty spent and told him not to wait for me if I got gapped. He just told me to get on his wheel and that he would pull the rest of the lap. This was a huge help as I was able to recover just enough to keep pushing. We worked together very well. Though this was not a course that provided much opportunity for drafting or group racing we were able to motivate each other to keep the pace high. This is pretty important because usually about halfway through a cross race you start to fade and ease off the gas.

We kept the pace high and and caught and passed a number of riders in front of us. We also had a nice cheering section on the climb before the start/finish. They gave us a nice boost with encouraging words and even doing "The Wave" once. It's not easy to smile when you're about to puke, but they got us grinning for sure and gave us the impetus to pick up the pace yet again.

On the last couple of laps we started to feel stronger as we could smell the finish. We really hammered the last lap, knowing that the pain would be over in a few short minutes. We were able to pass two more guys and really give it full speed the final time around the course. It's a nice feeling when you still have some kick in the legs on the final lap.

I crossed the line 8th and Sean came in 10th. We were pretty happy to have worked our way through the field on a tough course to score top 10's. I think we got enough points to protect our positions in the series standings for now.

Though I made a bad decision to ride the run-up first lap I gained a lot of confidence from being able to regain my composure and come from the back of the field into 8th place. This was a big effort both mentally and physically, but I tried to just focus on passing one guy at a time and maintain a steady pace, ramping it up at certain points on the course. If I can get my bike dialed in and my early race nerves settled down I might be able to stay with the leaders the whole race.

I'm gaining experience every race and I'm having a blast in the process.

Next Saturday is another UCI race in PA.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Wissahickon Cyclocross

Wicks, Jacques-Mayne, and McCormack lead the field at Wissahickon. Posted by Hello

Wissahickon 'Cross
Sunday, October 25, 2004
Belmont Plateau, Philly
B race
~76 starters

The Course
Classic hillside course in a city park with a nice view of the Philly skyline.
200 meters of road, 75 meters of dirt trail, the rest soft grass

Here's a quick tour
Stage/Start on the road for a short 200m funneling into a
Narrow opening, loose gravel left hand turn leading immediately into a
Long (~1 minute) climb...1st half soft grass, 2nd half dirt/rock trail.
Left turn around a tree onto a bumpy soft grass section along the ridge.
Bear right slightly down into a twisty soft grass & mulch section winding around trees on the backside.
Hard off-camber left around a tree onto another soft grass section curving right and then into a
180 degree off-camber putting you onto the finishing straight...uphill grind on very bumpy grass.
That was the starting half lap.

From there the course twisted around mostly downhill all the way down the hill next to the road before
Winding right back up the hill in a twisting fashion with many many soft grass sections that sapped your power.
After climbing most of the way back up, the course shot down a bit into a fast, soft left hand turn that required nerve to stay off the brakes.
Then it wound back up a little ways before sending you into the double barriers off a sharp right turn...our right hand barrier practice paid off here!
The barriers headed back up the hill. Although the hill was ridable, the fastest way up was to run the hill after the barriers to where it turned left and down the side.
This run-up was easy compared to the Granogue run-ups!
There you could remount and hammer the long curvy downhill back to the road. The curves were a bit off camber, but you could give it full throttle.
At the bottom you had to drop off a curb and make an immediate left turn back onto the road.
The loop continued as described above.

Overall the course was not technical, but required a lot of power to keep momentum on the soft grass climbs. There was a lot of climbing packed into this course with a couple of downhill sections that allowed you just enough recovery to hit the climbs again.

The Race
I got a good starting position on the second row right side, but I hadn't felt good in the warm up and had nothing to give on the start. I just didn't have the acceleration to take my place near the front. As I struggled to get up to speed a bunch of guys passed me. Then we slowed as the huge field had to squeeze through the gravel turn with the narrow opening...not good, but there were no crashes. Of course we drilled the long climb and the field was strung out immediately. Those with bad starts, but good legs were hammering up the climb trying to make up places. I did not have the legs so I settled into a rhythm so as not to blow up early. It was still very hard and even harder to watch guys pass me so early. However, I knew it was best to race my own race. When you have the legs you open it up and push it to the limit early, but when you don't it's more about damage control.

After the starting loop we pretty much settled into postion and began all the small group 'races' that make 'cross so much fun. A couple of guys would pass and I would dig and pass them back. It was a game of leap frog out there as we'd each play our strong suits to full advantage and try to hang on where we were weaker. On about the second lap Zombor came past me as we started the climb. He said something about catching the group ahead, but I was suffering badly at that point. As he flew up the hill spinning a fast cadence I was grinding in my 39x25 just trying to keep moving. He caught and passed the next group looking very strong in the process.

There was a good group out there cheering. Morgan and his Mom, Auer, Meg, Kami, John Hostetter Jr. were all super helpful. Having people you know out there cheering makes it harder to ease up or give up. With a couple of laps to go I was chasing a group of four, catching on, but getting gapped on the climbs. A little behind me was John Hostetter III with another 4 riders right with him. I was hoping that John would make it up to me, but I didn't want to wait and have to deal with 4 more guys so I kept pressing trying to close the gap to the guys in front of me.

On the last lap I took some extra speed into the barriers and hustled up the run-up to get on the heels of the group of 4. On the descent Auer yelled at me to catch them and drop them. That fired me up so I got in the drops and ripped the downhill passing one guy through a high speed turn and passing another on a tight turn just before we hit the pavement. Next up were two Wissahickon riders that were trying to push the pace.

I was glued to their wheels on the pavement and got a little bit of recovery before we started the hill. They led up the first half of the hill just hammering trying to drop the rest of us. I was hurting, but I could tell that they were suffering as well. To be honest I was at my limit but I told myself that I wasn't just going to follow these guys around and settle for finishing behind them so I decided that I would attack. This seemed like a stupid crazy thing to do because I was hurting so bad, but I knew I had to try. As we started the second half of the climb I sprinted out of the saddle up the inside line (where it was a bit less soft) and hit the dirt part of the climb. As I came past the two Wissahickon riders I could tell that they were not responding. That gave me just a bit more adrenaline and I gave it a maximal effort up the rest of the climb. My legs were so full of lactic acid and pain but I now knew I had a chance to drop these guys for good.

As I made the left around the tree I could see that I already had a nice gap of a few seconds so I shifted up and powered through the grass trying to ignore the pain. I had practiced the next twisty section a lot and knew the best line so I felt confident now. I kept the speed up and hit the twists perfectly keeping my momentum into the last soft grass section before the uphill sprint. One of the guys was giving it a go to get up to me but at that point it was too late. I was able to cruise across the line solo for 35th as the 4 guys sprinted up to the line for the next place.

Hostetter finished shortly thereafter and Phil was a little ways back. Shawn Johnson was also back out there after months on a ship and off the bike. He got lapped, but hung in there and will get his legs back after a few weeks I sure. Zombor rode strong to get 29th. This was a very fast, hard race up front. The leaders were on another level.

35th place is nothing to be too proud about, but on a day when I had bad legs, sore lungs, and not a lot of mental fortitude I still rode hard the whole race and surprised myself by catching and dropping 4 guys that had been gapping me on the climbs all race. I really pushed my limits and gained a lot of confidence from the effort. Overall, it was a hard race and a fun day. I got to hang out with Phil and his Dad by the barriers as we watched the Elites fly around the course. Those guys are fast! There was a lot of attacking, aggressive racing up front and many smaller battles further back. It was a lot of fun to watch.

The ride of the day was Morgan (12 years old) taking 2nd in the Juniors against fied of 15-16 year olds. He laid down an awesome attack last lap to get second and come pretty close to the kid that won. It was impressive. Now I'm ready for some recovery. I'm still bruised and have a swollen ankle from my crashes at Granogue.

Granogue Cyclocross

This is the 'easy' (ha!) run-up at Granogue. I'm in there halfway up huffing my way up with the bike on my shoulder. Posted by Hello

Granogue Cyclocross

Big field, fast start for the B's at Granogue Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Barrier Posted by Hello

Gravelly final corner Posted by Hello

Chasing back to the lead group Posted by Hello

Hagerstown Breast Cancer Awareness 'Cross

AVC Breast Cancer Awareness 'Cross Posted by Hello
Saturday, October 9, 2004

B race, 45 minutes, ~9 laps

The Course

After a short paved section of maybe 50 meters the course turned left onto the grass for two more slick left hand turns around a set of tennis courts. Then there was a sharp right hander that led into a single barrier.

Once you remounted you had to make a hard left before the course bent back to the right and up a sidehill rise. The grass here was bumpy and after a few seconds there was a left that led you onto the hardest part of the course, a relatively long grassy rise. The pitch was very gentle, but the bumps and grass demanded power to maintain speed.

At the top you made a 180 degree turn around a tree before a short descent led into a sharp right and a short, but steep climb. The promoters had hoped for this to be a run up, but the dry conditions made riding it pretty easy.

After traversing the top of the climb on an off camber you dropped back down to a 180 degree gravel turn. This was tricky and really forced riders to come almost to a stop before making the turn and accelerating up a double track grass and gravel road.

At the top of the hill the course veered left down a grassy hill and stayed fast with a couple of flat left bends before hitting a hard right gravel turn that dumped you onto a paved path and the finishing straight of road.

This was a fast course with laps in the 5 minute range give or take a bit.

The course was very fun, but could have used a few more technical characteristics to slow things down and reward technique. They could have used the hill a little better with some more off camber routing or a barrier at the base to force a run up. With that and maybe another barrier to create a double the course could become a favorite with a good mix of power, speed, and technical difficulties.

Overall, congrats to the AVC team for putting on a very fun and well run race!

The Race
I was second wheel after the start and stayed there over the barrier and onto the gradual grassy climb. The rider on the front peeled off leaving me on the front. Instead of just pulling the whole group I attacked up the hill and stayed solo with a small gap until the start of lap 3.

My goal was not to stay away solo the entire race but to string out the field and create a select group to decide the race. The attack and speed of the first couple of laps served that purpose as the field was strung out all over the course with smaller groups of riders working together.

A chasing group of 4 caught me at the start finish and I swung wide to let a Coppi guy get on the front. He drove the pace and carried a lot of speed into the slippery and off camber turn 2. Unfortunately he went down hard and all I could do was run into him and flip over the bars and onto the grass.

My bike was tangled up and my bars had slipped down a little. While I got my bike sorted out those 4 took off. I spent the next several laps with the 4 in front at a stable gap and a group of about 8 (including a couple of teammates) chasing behind me. The gaps between the groups remained static until finally a YBR rider (Mark Laser, I think) attacked out of the chase and made it up to me.

He took a strong pull for half a lap and then I took over at the start line with 2 laps to go. Our combined efforts paid off as we reach the leading 4 early in that lap. We caught them just before the barrier and I was pretty stoked at that point, feeling good and ready to attack the group to take a shot at the win.

I carried a lot of speed into the barrier to get to the front of the group. I got over the barrier smoothly, but let my bike bounce on the remount and the chain jumped off the big ring onto the crankarm and wrapped around the pedal. I had to get back off and untangle the mess which let the 5 other guys ride away. That pissed me off since it was my own sloppiness that had caused the malfunction.

I dug hard and tried to get back up there but the group had just enough of a gap. The 5th guy faded off the back of the lead group and I caught him as we got the bell. I knew he was suffering since he had put in some huge efforts to even make it to the leaders so I attacked him after sitting on for just a few seconds. I got the gap immediately and drove it hard the last lap in hopes of catching one of the first four if they made any mistakes, but they stayed away with the Coppi rider winning the sprint.

I rolled across the line for 5th. It was frustrating because I knew I could have won the race but another rider's crash cost me early and then after giving it everything to catch back up to the leaders I got sloppy and bounced the bike. However, this race gave me a lot of confidence since I was able to really push it hard all race and not blow up. I was riding faster than the 4 guys up front that were drafting and working together. If I had stayed up there I know I could have attacked and had an excellent chance to stay away for the win.

However, in the end I'm very happy with the race. Before the season I really just wanted to be competitive in the B's and finish mid-pack. Though I know there will be tougher races with deeper fields I have already exceeded my expectations and therefore have found a new level of confidence that should help me in races to come.