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.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Ed Sander Memorial 'Cross


Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross 10/02/04
B race, 45 minutes, 6 laps

The Course
The start was a short, uphill stretch of road that turned left onto grass and gravel before dumping us onto grassy doubletrack on the main course. After passing the start/finish there was a very muddy uphill left turn that gave people fits.

Then the course turned hard right onto a hard packed dirt road with mudpuddles before heading onto the grass. A series of tight, grassy turns led to the only barriers, a set of widely spaced (25 ft?) doubles on a flat grassy straight. After two more turns on the grass there was a long grassy straight that ended at a 180 degree turnaround onto another hard pack dirt road with several mud holes.

Then it was back onto the bumpy, momentum sapping grass for more twists and fun leading to a short gravel road uphill. Next technical skills became important as the course dropped down a twisty off-camber descent leading to a short, but very steep run/ride up. In the morning this was wet, slick and tough to ride, though by the time of the elite races it was dry enough for most everyone to ride. Once at the top of the run up it was a quick turnaround and right back down the same slope. The following downhill was a very brief respite before a right hand muddy drop into a 90 degree lefthand turn, all off camber.

The last part of the lap the course rolled through a combination of grass and mud before turning left into a short grassy climb before dropping back to the finishing straight a few turns later. This was not a fast course. It demanded constant power to maintain speed. Additionally, it had rained the night before and that morning so the course had a number of wet, muddy sections.

The Race
I lined up on the right side of front row to get a good position for the hard left turn off the road. This would have been a good call if I had actually engaged my pedal right away. Instead I fumbled for a split second...just long enough to find myself mid-pack as we made the turn.
The first half lap of a cross race is usually chaos as everyone is giving it full stick and battling to get to the front. That makes every turn, every barrier, and every dismount even more tricky as there's more traffic. Later in the race when the pack gets strung out you have more space on the technical spots.

I did my best to ride hard and defend my position without going so hard as to blow up in the first minutes of the race. I was passed by a few riders that were making huge efforts to advance. Predictably, they hit the wall by lap two and faded.

I rode a steady effort the whole way, putting in an extra effort on the hard pack and grassy climbs. Other than that I just focused on handling the technical parts of the course smoothly to avoid losing time to a crash.

I suffered the whole race as there was really no place to recover, but I actually felt a little better as the race went on. For most of the race I was leap frogging another racer. He would accelerate and pass me for a while and then I would pass him. Also, just behind me was my teammate Sean. He was riding a strong, steady race and always just a few seconds back.

With 2 laps to go I had a small gap on Sean and the other rider. I put in a few hard accelerations and had established a solid gap by the time I got the bell to start the final lap. At this point I just wanted to ride a smooth last lap since it would take a mistake by me to lose position. I rode most of the lap very well, smooth on the technical stuff and fast on the straightaways.

When I reached the base of the run-up the guy in front of me was suddenly in sight and struggling. Now I wanted to pass him as well. I was a little sloppy on my remount and my rear wheel caught a ledge and slid down a few inches. Unfortunately, the tire grabbed enough ground at the top of the ledge to peel right off the rim. I hear a pop and thought I had punctured.

With a puncture on tubulars you can still ride the tire, albeit with zero pressure. I rolled back down the slope and immediately the tire was flopping off of the rim giving me no traction in back. At that point I was in some mud and had no other option but to run. I momentarily passed the guy in front of me as he was fixing a dropped chain.

After 30 seconds of running my heart was about to come out of my chest. I continued to trudge on up the grassy climb, but I was passed by three riders, the guy I had just passed, Sean, and the guy I had been battling all race. Sean went by with a lot of speed and held on for 10th place.

At the top of the climb I remounted and rode the rim down onto the finishing straight where I dismounted and ran across the line to finish 12th.