Thursday, November 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
1st thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nationals Preview?

Originally uploaded by girl_named_fred.

Searching Flickr I found some photos of Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI where Cyclocross Nationals will take place in just over 2 weeks.

I haven't heard any details about the course so I thought it would be a good idea to get a feel for the terrain of the park. It takes some imagination, but from the looks of the photos this is a fantastic location for a 'cross.

In this photo it appears that there are enough hills to make for some decent elevation gain, as well as to design some tricky off-camber features.

It could be like this...

Originally uploaded by eepie.

There's a decent chance that this is what we'll be dealing with. Rhode Island in December. Cold, Snow, Ice, Wind. What kind of tires and pressure do you run in snow?


Originally uploaded by eepie.

This section has good potential. Cut back the brush just a bit and you have a choice...ride up the left side or run up the stairs.

yup, stairs

Originally uploaded by eepie.

Yeah, by the looks of it they'll find some stairs to run us up. Yippee!


Originally uploaded by Angus D..

I expect we'll be routed through the woods. This doesn't look flat so it should make for some fun stuff.


Roger Williams Park
Originally uploaded by gergelyd.

Dare they use these stairs?


Temple To Music - one year later
Originally uploaded by girl_named_fred.

They say the course will be fast.
Here's some pavement.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hokies vs Hoos

So...the Hokies kicked our ass yesterday, in Charlottesville taboot.

At least some good came out of it as we collected a lot of food for the Central Virginia Food Bank.

My Dad and Brother came up with this great idea and made it happen, but I got some erroneous credit for it in a news story last year and the myth has been perpetuated.

Anyhoo, I'm just glad that some positive jonxe has been created out of a silly college football rivalry.

From The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Saturday, November 19, 2005
Ray Mcallister's "Point of View" column

Tech people are rednecks.

U.Va. people are silly snobs.

Time to settle it with the second annual "Hokies vs. Hoos for the Hungry" between fans, a game-week competition for donations to the Central Virginia Foodbank.

Virginia Tech grad (and 1-800-G0T-JUNK? franchisee) Wayne Nystrom and his sons, Tech grad Jon and Virginia grad Chris, set up the "food fight."

Food or donations can be left at any Kroger grocery store through today, the day of the big football game.

Tech fans narrowly won last year. This year, they lead 3,267 can-equivalents to 2,029 (updates at

C'mon, Cavs, let's beat'em!

C'mon, Hokies, let's beat'em!

This is terrific.

But you know, wouldn't a real food fight be great, too?

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's a boy!!!

Racing yesterday and a new Dad today!
rpcx bernie

Bernie and Tina McDonald (mostly Tina) gave birth today to Sean Oscar McDonald sometime around 2:30pm. Baby and Mom are doing well!

The numbers
6 pounds, 3.5 ounces
18.5 inches

What timing! Yesterday was Bernie's last 'Cross race of the season since Tina was due with their first child in 3 weeks time. Tina was looking great and enjoying the sunshine as she cheered us on. Melanie and Thor were giving her last minute tips on parenthood and babyhood.

Congratulations to Tina and Bernie...and welcome to Sean! They are on cloud 9 right now and I am so happy for them!

photo courtesy of John Brewer

Race Pace 'Cross Photos & Words

Race Pace 'Cross
Sykesville, MD
B race
weather: 70's and sunny

My training has been spotty so I'm really counting on the races to build some form for Nationals.
Sunday was a good power workout. There weren't a lot of places where you had to use the brakes so there weren't a lot of accelerations like we had at Lower Allen.

This track was very fast with a mix of paved paths, bumpy grass, and deep grass. The first half was crit-like --> fast, with some no-brakes turns, and one little chicane that brought you almost to a halt. The middle part of the lap came by the pits with a few fast grassy curves that you could rail. Then it was a downhill leading to a set of barriers that were spaced pretty far apart. The high speed barriers were fun, but not a distinguishing aspect of the course.

After the barriers was a fast and fun downhill into a sweeping left to an "S" turn transition onto a paved path. The path wound downhill before bending back up the slope going right into the difficult part of the course. First up was a bumpy, deep grassy uphill that eventually leveled out before a quick drop and off-camber left immediately into a short & steep hill.

rpcx steep hill kd

This was tough, but ridable as long as you didn't blow the line in the turn or crash. At the top was a seemingly long, gradual grassy climb with one short steep pitch.

Coming back by the pit the course returned to a paved path for the last 50m of the climb. This climb was very draining with a couple of steep bits to hurt you. It was hard to stay on the gas up this climb lap after lap. Once at the top it was a high speed downhill "S" curve back to the grassy finishing straight.

Laps were fast at around 6 minutes.

Based on previous MABRA races I figured that the scrum was the way to get a good starting position so I loitered near the course entrance for a good 20 minutes prior to the start time.
Sure enough, there was talk of call-up's, but none actually happened. I got a spot on the front row and got into the pedals cleanly on the whistle.

rpcx start 2

I was happy to be up front, but didn't want to go too hard and blow up pulling the whole field around the first lap. I went just hard enough to keep it single-file, but hoped that someone else would take the reins. Thankfully, FJ Hughes, rocking the sweet Duvel kit, passed me and led it out. He was pushing the pace on the straights, but slowing too much on the turns.

rpcx lap 1

I took the barriers really fast to pass him approaching the tough part of the course.

rpcx barriers 3 kd

I still didn't want to be on the front, but I also didn't want to get stuck in traffic. I hit the grassy climb at a pretty good pace and was feeling the hurt, but a handful of guys attacked and took off up the climb. I tried to be patient since it was first lap. Trying to stay with them would have blown me sky high a few minutes later.

I finished the first lap in 7th in a nice group with my Alan teammate JH3 and NCVC's Erik Leaver. Both of these guys had gotten top 10 the week prior at Highland Park so I was happy to be riding with them. My LSV teammate Mike O'Hara was way off the front setting an insane pace. He was flying.

rpcx moving up

The 3 of us settled into a good rhythm and chased after Harley's Steve Fife and HVB's Sean Mealey who were working together in 3rd and 4th. John was setting the tempo of our group and I was sitting on Erik's wheel.

rpcx leaver and me

We were gradually gaining on the 2 guys in front and a mystery rider had overtaken Mike in the lead. It really helps to ride with guys that are good bike handlers and can push the pace. It keeps you moving forward and makes it harder to ease up.

Eventually John got a gap on Erik heading to the barriers so I attempted to bridge. I came into the barriers hot and managed to get alongside Erik.

rpcx barriers 1

I jumped prior to the downhill and got a little gap on Erik. I made it up to John and got in front on the downhill path.

rpcx downhill 2

rpcx me and jh3

rpcx jh3 me leaver

We just about closed the gap to Steve and Sean on the climb. Of course, once we hit the second part of the grassy climb I found a new level of suffering and John and Erik passed me. I stayed just behind them and really should have closed the gap immediately, but I started to drift mentally.

rpcx hurting

rpcx focused

The next lap I kept drifting further away, but didn't seem to realize it at the time. That was my worst lap...I had zero focus and just wasn't pushing myself. John Brewer had been a good ways behind us a lap before, but all of a sudden he was passing me.

rpcx chasing

This woke me up and I dug a little deeper to close the gap to Brewer, who was absolutely motoring. I managed to catch and pass Mike, who had gone out a bit too hard early. 8-) On the last lap I closed the gap to J. Brewer and was ready to attack prior to the steep bit, but I just didn't have the jump. Cresting the top I was just behind him, but he sealed the deal on the next gradual uphill, pulling away from me and getting very close to catching Erik and Steve.

rpcx home stretch

I finished up 7th and aside from that one lap where I zoned out I was happy with my race. I'm better on a course that emphasizes bike handling and 'cross skills. On a course like this where it's all about putting out power I'm typically weaker. In the end I got a terrific workout and learned more about the mental side of bike racing/suffering. Congrats to JH3 for a huge 3rd place and I think Leaver held on for 5th and moved a little closer to first place in the series standings. John Brewer scored 6th. Watch out for this guy as his bike handling skills improve. He's got the motor. It was great fun racing with you guys!

Big Thanks to Kevin Dillard and John Brewer for the photos.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The beginning

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

I went for a mtb ride early this morning over at Avalon and while on the Rockburn loop noticed that they've finally starting work where our house will be. It looks like they've cleared some of the area where the road/driveway will be and put up silt fencing.
It was nice to see some progress considering that we were supposed to be in the house by the end of this year. Now it will likely be late Spring or sometime in the Summer of '06.

Needless to say we're excited by the prospect of hitting up primo mtb and road riding right out the front door. Plus, the Park has a bunch of great facilities for Thor.

Thor's Creek looked beautiful as it was covered with a colorful array of fallen leaves.

Race Pace 'Cross tomorrow in nearby Sykesville. Sue Haywood is doing the men's B race so that should be a hoot.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


'Cross racers enjoy's a well known fact. If you're out on a training ride and the group stops for an espresso you don't have to go with the herd. You have an alternative. There is a beverage made specially for you!

is the German word for Cyclist.

Radler is also the name for a beverage made of half beer and half lemon-lime soda.

Bavarians love their beer and they also love cycling and hiking. The Radler is the compromise.

The Radler was concocted to allow a cyclist to enjoy a light, refreshing brew after climbing a long Alpine pass without getting too shitfaced to ride back down the mountain and make it home safely.

I first experienced the Radler in Bavaria back in 2001. We were having lunch (roasted chicken & potato salad, what else?) and had plans to drink a few later that evening. I didn't want to get a headstart on the festivities so I ordered a Radler. I was a little skeptical of the concept, but I loved it!

In places where the goal is to get stinking drunk (like a beer tent at Oktoberfest), you'll catch a lot of shit for ordering a Radler, but you wouldn't do that anyway.

The Radler hasn't caught on here in the States, but that's ok. A German friend taught me how to make one and it's super easy.

1/2 Pilsner-style beer, like a Bud
1/2 Sprite

The Radler is a great, refreshing drink for the summertime, or anytime you want to enjoy a brew and still be able to ride your bike.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Thinking about Nationals

'Cross Nationals are going to be crazy. From December 9-11 Providence, RI is going to be the capital of the 'Cross Nation. With riders coming from all of the country the fields are going to be jam packed. I've cut back my racing & travelling this season to make CX Natz my road trip for the year. I'm doing the Masters 35-39 and the B's.

The Masters 35-39 race is at 141 riders and counting.

The B field had to be split up by age as 300 riders on the course might be just a little too ridiculous...not that 150 will be much better. The B 35+ race is already at 144 riders!

Fields that size will make for complete insanity at the start. The leaders will be well onto the course before riders at the back have even clipped in.

The one thing that I have going for me is the start line seeding policy, which favors early registrants. I was lucky enough to check the race website the morning it went live so I registered right away.

For the 35-39 race it'll be the top 10 from 2004, recent from National Champions, medalists from younger category in 2004, and then by order of registration. So that will probably be about 15-20 riders called up. I'm listed as 3rd on registration order so hopefully I'll get a spot on the third row. There are a ton of strong dudes way faster than me, so I have no illusions of riding anywhere near the leaders. But, having a decent starting position should allow me to ride a decent race and maybe stay in front of the chaos until things settle down.

For the B race they say it'll be strictly by order of registration. I'm on list list at 2nd in order of reg so even if they do some discrectionary call up's I should be in the first two rows. I'll do the start like I'm trying to outrun an avalanche, because with 144+ riders it'll suck to get buried in the middle of that scrum.

I'm going to Providence to race hard, but mostly to have fun and enjoy the experience. It'll be easier to enjoy and to actually RACE if I'm not starting 100 riders deep. After racing the focus will be on pitting for teammates, ringing a cowbell, and drinking Chimay.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Lower Allen Classic 2005

Lower Allen Cross 05

Lower Allen is one of my favorite races. The course is always interesting, offering both physical and mental challenges. The venue is first class with indoor registration, flush toilets, and fantastic viewing of the entire track. Plus, this was my 1st MAC race (and second ever 'cross race) back in 2003. Mike Hebe does a phenomenal job promoting this race and I'll keep coming back for as long as he puts it on.

Usually I arrive really early and get a few slow laps on the course to figure out the lines and the appropriate speeds for the turns. This year I left the house a little later, but made great time, arriving at the Park in about 75 minutes. I registered, pinned on my number, and hopped on my bike for a quick recon prior to the start of the Masters race. I jumped on the course just after the barriers and crashed on the second turn, a tricky off-camber 180 to the left. It looked harmless enough, but I picked a crappy line and then lost it when I grabbed a bunch of rear brake...lesson learned.

That woke me up and got me focused. I did just about 2 laps on the track taking multiple passes at a few of the sections. With so many tight and tricky turns it's really important not only to figure out the line, but to determine how much speed you can carry. Too little and you're having to jump out of every turn. Too much and you're braking in the turn, losing momentum and traction. If you're screwing up the turns you're wasting a lot of energy getting back up to speed.

When the Masters race started I headed out on the road to warm up. I found a nice stretch of rolling road where I did some short efforts and sprints to prepare for the suffering to come. I made it back into the park and did another half lap on the course before heading to the starting grid extra early to get a decent scrum position. Waiting around for 30 minutes kind of undid the warm-up, but I think it was worth it to get a spot on the 3rd row.

The start was on gravel adding an extra dose of sketch to an already sketchy endeavor. The guy in front of me didn't get clipped in so I was back to mid-pack by the time I got moving. Once I got going I tried to advance a few places before the track narrowed. I got a little better position, but avoided digging too deep in the first minute of the race.

After the short prologue loop around a baseball field we dropped back onto the gravel and began our first full lap.

These guys were long gone locked in another mano-a-mano contest for the win.

I was focused on moving up one place at a time.

The first part of the sand pit was better to run.
The second pass through the sand pit had a tricky entry, but was ridable.

You could carry some good speed into the hurdles, which was nice. We've been risking injury all season long doing super high speed barriers in practice so these felt pretty comfortable.

The tufos hooked up very nicely on all the off-camber turns. I was running them in the high-30' s psi. They felt too squishy when I had to sprint at the end, but otherwise they were perfect.

The course was very twisty, but surprisingly there was still some good group racing.
There were a couple of spots where you could grab a decent draft, but for the most part it payed to lead the technical sections.


On the first lap it seemed like guys were crashing left and right either taking bad lines or carrying too much speed into turns. I was just trying to dodge the carnage and get clear so that I could pick my lines. I ended up solo for a while with a large group of about 8 guys close behind me. I didn't want to get absorbed by that group so I punched it a few times to maintain the gap. A couple of those guys ended up bridging, which was fine. One of them was my teammate Dusty.

When he made it up to me I got a second wind. He was flying and that motivated me to dig a little deeper. We worked together and picked off at least 5 guys in the last 2 laps. It felt good to get stronger toward the end of the race. Usually I start strong and then just try to hang on.

I think I have the bike dialed in. I raised the saddle a bit after Granogue and now feel like I can power the whole pedal stroke. The quick handling was really welcome with all of the turns on this course.

Thanks to all the people out there cheering on the course. Just when I was feeling bad and thinking about backing it off I'd hear someone yell my name, reminding me that people were watching. It's a lot harder to give up when there are witnesses so thanks!

Congrats to my teammates that tore it up at Highland Park on Sunday!
An injury at Lower Allen slowed Mike down, but he came back strong the next day to take 7th.
JH3 found his groove in NJ and pulled off a huge top 10.
Both of those guys are having fantastic season.

photos courtesy of Bill Deputy , Rob Campbell , and Kevin Dillard
Check out the links for many more photos.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


10-14-05 Steps
Originally uploaded by Norma Tub.

Plenty of stairs at Patterson Park.

Patterson Park - Pagoda in the Fog

08-29-05 Patterson Park - Pagoda in the Fog
Originally uploaded by Norma Tub.

Patterson Park...perfect for 'cross.


Thor's first halloween was yesterday. We dressed him in a bunny jacket, complete with rabbit ears on the hood. He was warm and curious as we sat on the front stoop awaiting the candy seekers. His eyes got wide when he saw some of the costumes, but he didn't seem scared. After an hour or so he did get tired/bored/hungry so we took him back inside for dinner. He dozed off in my lap at the end of his bottle and snoozed for about a half hour. Then it was off to his new high chair for fresh baked squash mixed in rice cereal. He loves the high chair and it looks really comfortable.

For dinner we heated up some leftover white chili and made some amazing Jiffy cornbread muffins. I completely doused the chili with Crystal Hot Siz-auce. That is some good autumn eating.

This morning I went to the gym to get an hour of zone 2 on the spin bike. The legs felt pretty good, though my calf is still tweaked from Granogue. The run-up at Lower Allen could really suck.

So while I'm on the spin bike, listening to some bluegrass on the shuffle, drinking coffee, and reading the WSJ a spin class starts all around me. It's a bit strange having all these people get their bike-aerobics on while I'm chilling and enjoying my morning. Some of the people are really working hard and sweating, but others are barely breathing. I think the instructor needed to get in their face and make 'em work or get out. That's what I'd do if I were a spin instructor. I'd also kick the shaved leg, coffee drinking, newspaper reading guy out of the room unless he got with the program! 8-)

Anyway, riding indoors pretty much sucks, but sometimes you have to do it. I think it's time to start rocking some singlespeed night rides soon.