Wednesday, November 29, 2006

vicarious ride

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
I just received this camera phone photo from the trails at Avalon. It looks like a nice morning to be out on the bike riding through the lifting fog and the fallen leaves.

I'm stuck here at a desk...

Though I did get a ride in this morning.

However, it was on the trainer in the basement doing intervals...watching Hincapie get tag-teamed by the Domo Farm Frites boys on the muddy cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

Sunrise mtb rides will begin very soon. That's the way to start the day.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good reads

I'm really into travel adventures. There's some really good travel writing out there, both in book and blog form. Here's some stuff I've been enjoying.

Harlan Price is talented rider & writer. He does a really nice job of weaving elements of travel, culture, and cycling together. Check out his ongoing race report from La Ruta here.

This guy, Andy, has been travelling the globe hobo-style for more than 4 years and blogging about it...interesting stuff.

I'm a sucker for good tales of euro-travel.

I just finished A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke.
A British dude gets a job in Paris and deals with immersion in French culture.

My current read is Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson.
A writer/storyteller with a good sense of humor wanders Europe retracing a backpacking trip of his youth.

And I listen to Rick Steves' travel podcast every week.

All this stuff gives me the itch to travel. Perhaps that trip to Cyclocross Worlds will work out. If not, I'll keep on reading and planning the next adventure.


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

We planted two red maples and a birch in the backyard.

Mmmmm trees. I'm looking forward to a bit of shade on the deck next Summer.

My 'cross bikes are still in pieces in the garage, but at least they are clean.

I hope I'm not rebuilding them Saturday night. I think there's a cardinal rule against doing major bike maintenance the night before a race.

Speaking of the race, it's looking like another smallish, but stacked field in the B's. At this point in the season it's down to the hard core 'crossers. Some of the early races had up to 90 racers in the B's, but a 50ish rider field is still pretty damn big!

Other than not having a double pit I really like the Reston course. I'm looking forward to the race and hope my legs are there. My pick to win the B race is Evan Ellicott. It's his local race and he's been riding really well this season.

My new helmet is on order from Joe's Bike Shop (best bike shop I know of and recipient of a substantial % of my earnings). This will be my third new helmet this year. The first two ate it on over-the-bars crashes over on the Hilton/Hilltop area at Avalon. The trails over there are technical, steep, rocky, rooty, and so much fun.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thankful for good helmets

In lieu of racing this weekend and due to a need to burn some calories I got out on the mountain bike both days this weekend. These were the maiden voyages on my Bianchi Rita 29er singlespeed. Here are the pro's and con's of yesterday's ride.

-Temps in the 60's
-Trails in pretty good shape
-Great crew to ride with
-The new bike is sweet
-2.5 hours on the trails...legs cooked
-Plenty of hard efforts grinding up the steeps on the SS
-Helmet technology. Thank you Giro!

-Leaves hiding nasties
-Rock slipping from under my front wheel after hopping a log on a rocky downhill
-Flying over the bars suddenly and violently
-Slamming head into large rock
-Slamming bike into another large rock
-Two big dents in helmet
-One nasty dent in new bike
-One big knot on right forearm
-Whiplash or something like it
-Losing my nerve on the sketchy stuff the rest of the ride

To do list
-Use heating pad
-Take plenty of anti-inflammatory meds
-Buy new helmet
-Place sticker over seatstay dent
-Recover before the weekend
-Finish rebuilding 'cross bikes

I am very grateful for the amazing job my helmet did. I slammed the side of my head very very hard into a large rock and didn't even have a headache afterwards. My neck/back are a little tweaked and the helmet is pretty dented, but that's it. I will be buying another Giro Atmos this week.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fried Hokie

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.
Jon & Charlie
2 Hokies
Fried up a good turkey

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lemons --> Lemonade

The love of the cyclocross community was in full effect this weekend.

Team affiliations didn't matter. Everyone was out there supporting and encouraging one another.

I'm not going to focus or comment on the shortcomings of the weekend...I think most everyone knows what needs to be improved.

I'd rather highlight the spirit and camaraderie of the MABS.

It was really cool to see the crew take tough circumstances and turn them into a positive experience.

Special thanks has to go to the DCC of D for their enthusiasm and tireless work in the pit.
If you took a bike you can be sure that one of them helped out in the operation...and they had fun doing it.

My bikes are made of adobe

Sunday - Evo 'Cross

I was cooked from Sat. but a big breakfast, including a BELGIAN waffle put some fuel back in my legs.

The course was better...less running, but plenty of mud that was 50/50 as to whether to run or ride. There were definitely some good lines out there and I did my best to find them. Quite often it was riding the tape and stiff arming the stakes like a slalom ski racer.

I'm glad I was able to ride most of the muck, because I left my running legs on the course on Saturday. I was barely getting my feet over the hurdles.

I got a great start following fatMarc, Harshman, and Mayhew through the first big mud bog. We smoked it! I swear mud was flying everywhere. I was running my tires around 25psi. I could push them all the way to the rim with my thumb. They were rolling all of the bumpy stuff smoothly and hooking up like drunk college kids in the mud. I think I was smiling at that point because I had a lot of mud in my teeth after the race.

I settled into a groove (of pain) after the start and conceded some places to guys that were making huge efforts to move up. Once again Morgan came by me on his way to the front. His breathing sounded like a freight train and he was moving like one too.

I got a smooth bike change from my teammate Lisa after a couple of laps. It was just in time because my bike was caked with mud and grass. However, the tires on the pit bike were not near as good as those on bike #1 so I was looking forward to getting a clean bike back for the last half of the race.

After a lap on the pit bike I stopped at the pit to get my #1 bike back. I screwed up by not looking up to see if it was ready. Of course, it was still being worked on to get all the crap out of the drivetrain. Several guys rode past me as I gazed cluelessly around the pit for my bike. After a bit I snapped out of it and headed back out on the course by way of the pit entrance.

I was momentarily discouraged, but quickly put it out of my mind. As I came by the other pit my bike was CLEAN and ready. When I got back on bike #1 I got a huge mental boost and at the same time my legs came back around in a big way.

On the out and back section before the start/finish I passed all the guys that had gotten by me while I was in the pit. I felt like I was riding a paved path and they were slogging through the mud. It was strangely wonderful.

On the last two laps I bridged up to fatMarc and E-Town. I gave them some words of encouragement and was hoping we could work together to hold off the guys behind us. I went to the front after the hurdles and felt really good going up the bumpy rise. I just tried to pedal smoothly and ended up getting a gap.

On the last lap I caught Adam in the same spot, had a brief chat with him, and then rode away. My legs felt incredible and I just felt like my bike was rolling across those fields so smoothly.

As I entered the out and back the final time I could see another guy a little ways ahead. I gave it some gas and started closing the gap. When he had to dismount and run a mucky section I really started to get closer. Just before the u-turn I got by him and put in a huge acceleration after the turn. My legs were still they've felt all season.

At the last turn I was closing on Colin Sandburg. I put in a sprint, but there wasn't enough distance to the line and I finished 2 seconds back for first MAC B top 10 and a big goal of mine this season. It felt really good to have a race where I got stronger each lap and felt confident on the bike.

Morgan was at the front with the guy that won both days and seeing him up there crushing it was a big motivation for me all race long. It was so cool to see him having such a good ride. It inspired me to try just a little bit harder.

Despite the conditions I really had a great time this weekend. I think the most fun was working in the pit on Saturday. I'm sorry I couldn't stick around to help out on Sunday, but I had to get home.

Have a great Thanksgiving and I'll see everyone at Reston!

Now it's time to clean bikes, replace cables, and wrap new bar tape!

Lovely day for a tractor pull

Saturday - Guy's 'Cross

Chris Harshman and I made the trek up to PA from EC for some racing. We had a feeling that there would be mud, but the quantity and ferociousness of that mud far exceeded our expectations.

It was a lot of this on Saturday. By most estimates we were running about a third of every lap.

photo by Dennis Smith

Each lap there was more running than the last as the course deteriorated. It was hard. Where you could ride you had to put out a lot of power just to keep moving. Even on the slightly downhill sections it felt like you were going uphill.

I knew this race would be more mental than anything so I tried to psyche myself up to not get discouraged with the conditions and to just keep grinding and pushing to the line. I figured many guys would get frustrated and crack and I was determined to stay positive.

I don't really remember much about the race except for the running and passing guys that had cracked. I got a smooth bike change from Dieter and Lisa with a lap and a half to go that allowed me to finish strongly in 11th place, my best MAC B finish ever. Harshman was just in front of me in 10th. We were both happy with the race.

Our bikes were not. It quite a bit of dunking and scrubbing over in the pond and creek to get them sort of clean. We cleaned up the drivetrains a bit more over at the hotel. Suzy was the MVP of the day. She hand washed our muddy clothes in the bathtub. All of the grass, mud, and hay clogged the tub. I'm sure the hotel was happy about that. 8-)

Highlight of the race was E-Town trying to give Mayhew a high-five mid-slop, mid-race.

Morgan has gotten better every week and he is FLYING now and riding the mud like a pro. I swear he was floating over some unridable sections. He was in the lead until a flat bumped him back to 6th.

Here's Morgan - focused & making freight train noises as he passes me
photo by Dennis Smith

Most of the C3/ADG/Joe's team plus Harshman went out for a pasta dinner to celebrate the day and fuel up for Sunday. Sleep came easily, though the morning arrive too soon.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What's in your drivetrain?

Somebody was pretty interested in all the mud crusted on my bikes when I got home.

What do you call the type of mud that has a bunch of grass and assorted other shit mixed in it?
In a crazy cyclocross way, this weekend was a lot of fun.
I'll have more to say about it later.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

mud'n at Guy's 'Cross


*the real fun was in the pit

11th - B-spot, but I'm really happy with it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lotta what-have-you's

Slow afternoon in the bond business
The dude sitting next to me is streaming some old skool classic rock - foreplay/long time

Another solo cross practice on Wednesday with the helmet light
Freaked out some deer

Date night last night
Christmas shopping last night at Toys-R-Us, then dinner

5:30am Openers on the trainer watching the '05 Giro go up the Stelvio
Then I shaved my beat-up legs

On the road in the morning for a weekend of mud in No Hope, PA
One month left in the season

Time flies
I'm having fun

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pick up the pieces!

Dennis Smith captured the aftermath of my crash at Lower Allen.

I need to remember how to ride a bike

Morgan comes by. He did a nice job of not running into me.

Hmmmm, my chain is not where it should be.

But luckily it slid back on the ring.

Dennis Smith is THE man. These are his photos.

Monday, November 13, 2006

holy shit!

Virginia beat #10 Arizona in hoops last night to open the swank new John Paul Jones arena.

Hope springs eternal in hooville.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rainy day

No racing for me yesterday. I'm always up for a nasty mud-fest, but that's ok. I don't think I could handle back-to-back double race weekends right now. I enjoyed a nice rainy day at home with the family. What a nice way to recharge after a hard day of racing.

Lower Allen 'Cross was fun, as usual. The course is always great and I think this year was the best. Hebe worked his magic to design a fantastic track. There were plenty of tricky turns and off-cambers, but many of the turns were opened up allowing you to take them with more speed.
This added a nice risk-reward element to the racing.
More speed through the turns reaped big rewards, as long as you didn't crash. And the more speed you carried the more likely you were to crash. The racing was fast and there were many racers pushing the limits of traction and hitting the deck.

I had one nice crash on a fast off-camber left hander. I'd been taking this one fast in warm-up and the first few laps of the race. I think I got over-confident.

good start, right up there with the big dogs

I had gotten a good start right around top-10 and was in a really nice group with Harshman & Morgan. We had a little gap behind and it was that point in the race where you're trying to grab a little recovery from the start before pushing through to the finish.

rolling in a fast group with friends

I took the same line I'd been taking all morning, but maybe a little faster and I went down without warning, sliding on my left side. I got back up pretty quickly and when I remounted I saw my chain was halfway off of the chainring. Luckily it hopped back on when I pedaled.

This was a fast part of the course and my group was now riding away from me. I don't know why, but this crushed me mentally. I made the cardinal sin of 'cross racing...I started to think!

suffering, drifting backwards, & pondering why???

In 'cross racing, raw aggression and instinct are your friends. Thinking is the enemy. I was thinking about how much I was hurting. I was thinking about how much I wanted to just do a long, mellow ride in the woods on my new singlespeed. I thought about how it would have been nice if I'd just stayed home and made pancakes with my family. I thought about how many guys were going to pass me that lap. Auer, Fort James, and Wes all yelled encouragement and I felt bad that I was sucking so bad.

Eventually I got pissed off and started racing again. I just put my head down and tried to block out the pain. My only focus was on turning the pedals. Pissed off is a good state of mind for 'cross racing! 8-)

head down and racing again

I ended up re-passing a number of guys and managed to ride cleanly the rest of the way. I had a pretty good duel with Zack Blaser the last couple of laps. We traded spots a few times and he led it out coming up the gravel finishing straight. I was on his wheel, but once again didn't have a sprint. I think it's mostly mental...I just need to get hungry and be more aggressive at the finish. I was too willing to concede a place.

I finished up in 18th, which I'm happy about. There was a point in the race where I was going backwards and questioning whether I would even do any more races this year. I easily could have faded way back or even DNF'd, but I pushed through the negative thoughts and kept on racing. If I had given up I'd be really bummed right now.

The MAC B's are tough, as always. From top to bottom the racing is intense. I had a shot at flirting with the top 10 again, but a crash and mental weakness cost me. I really want to put together at least one race this year where I ride strongly and cleanly from start to finish.

This weekend I'm doing the double in New Hope, PA. I have no idea what to expect from the courses, but I know the racing will be hard...and fun. The weather forecast calls for rain all week so I'll probably get to enjoy a couple of nasty mud-fests after all.

*photos courtesy of Gina Harshman

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Extracting happiness out of suffering

Race Pace 'Cross: Some blinding glimpses of the obvious and other thoughts.

-Fighting a cold makes you suffer & probably slows you down.

-A poor warm-up means before the race means you'll spend the first part of the race warming up (and going backwards).

-A front-row position means you'll get a decent start, but a lot of good that does you when you can't go fast.

-Tufo's are slippery, especially when they are pumped up like road tires. I rode the off-camber turns like I was drunk. I got yelled at a lot on the first lap. The way I was riding I wanted to yell at myself too.

-Fast course with some nice tweaks from last year. Good training for me, but not suited to my limited strengths. It's a fun race and less than 20 minutes from my house so that's a win-win.

-Evan Fader and I had a good battle the last 3 laps. He'd get in front before the technical section (the part that should have been my strength, but which I sucked on) and then he'd sit up as we got to the paved path. I had worked hard to pass and get away from the guy's chasing and I didn't want them catching up so I'd pass him and drill it. He'd sit on my wheel for the rest of the lap and then get in front for the tricky stuff. On the final climb I put in a massively feeble attack to try and shake him to no avail. He jumped me as we crested the hill and held it to the line to take 10th. It was a good battle. I didn't play it right tactically, but I was forced to ride hard late in the race and that's good training. Sometimes the gaps open up and you can get lazy and back off late in the race.

-This was the final race in the growing MABRA series. I did 4 out of the 6 races and ended up 10th in the B's. Next year I want to get on the podium.

-The top B guys are really strong and nice too. I feel no shame in getting kicked in the head by them week after week.

-I need some rest and recovery. Hopefully the training and racing will lead to some better results in the second half of the season. It's funny how some days the power is there and some days it's not.

-Regardless, you just have to stay tough and giv'r whatever you've got. If you do that you can extract the happiness out of the suffering.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.

The bridge

The grand opening for the foot bridge linking Ilchester to Patapsco Valley State Park was Saturday monring. As bridges go it's a beautiful structure. It runs from the base of Ilchester Rd. and spans 164 feet over the Patapsco River to the Grist Mill trail inside the Park.

This bridge gives us one more point of access into the Park. We'll be able to use it to get to the Rolling Rd. trailhead quickly if we're meeting friends. It will also open up some more ride options for road rides or mixed road/trail rides on the 'cross bike.

We bought our house for the location (primarily schools & access to the Park --> miles and miles of stellar mountain biking) and we couldn't be happier. With this new foot bridge the location just got even better.

The Friends of Patapsco Valley and Heritage Greenway were the driving force in working with Maryland DNR to get this project done. They were also out in the Park planting trees on Saturday. They are a nice group doing good work. I'm going to volunteer to help them out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mad Lib Race Report Template

Today was the ________ (adjective) _________ (race name) 'Cross at ____________ (location).

It’s just about the ___________ (adjective) race in the ___________ (series name) Series.

Last night I ate a crapload of _____________ (type of spicy ethnic food) for dinner. I was up half the night ____________ (verb) so I wasn’t feeling my best when I woke up. For breakfast I inhaled a bunch of __________ (food) and guzzled ___ (number) ounces of ______ (beverage).

I managed to get on the road and only forgot to bring my __________ (piece of gear). On the drive to the race I chugged a bunch of _________ (beverage) and was worried that if I didn’t get to a restroom soon I might ________ (bodily function) myself.

I made it to the venue and beelined it to the _________ (type of toilet).
It was ____________ (adjective), but probably better than squatting behind a ______ (noun). Note to self, pack handi-wipes next time.

I picked up my number and _______ (number between 2 and 20) safety pins from registration and managed to not complain about ________ (typical whiny bike racer gripe).

After putting on my gear I headed out to preview the track. It was really ________ (adjective). There were 3 nasty __________ (plural technical features) and 1 evil (technical feature). The mud was ________ (adjective). It was the consistency of ________ (mud-type).

I was running my _________ (plural brand of tire) at _____ (number between 20 & 50) psi so I was really ________ (adjective) in the mud. The fast sections were _________ (adjective) _________ (adjective) which was really ________ (adjective) for me.

Over at the starting grid I got a _______ (number) row call-up thanks to my _______ (adjective) performances thus far in the season. Awaiting the gun I was ________ (adverb) nervous. I nearly ________ (bodily function) my skinsuit.

My start was _________(adjective). My legs were spinning with the ferocity of a _________ (animal). Onto the dirt I was in about _______ (number between 1st and 80th) position. I was incredibly __________ (emotion).

As the race wore on I _______ (verb) the _________ (section of the course) very ______(adverb) which put me in a position to _________ (verb) through the field.

On the last lap I was in a small group. I tried to drop them on the ________(technical feature) but it came down to a sprint. In the sprint it was like a _______(type of car) vs. a ______(type of car), and I was the ________(type of car).

In the end, I had a truly __________(adjective) ride today to finish ______th (number).

__________ (fellow competitor) was killing it today! I just wish he didn't slam his bike into my _______(noun). Anyway, he's a sandbagger.

My new ________ (sponsor’s product) is mind-blowingly amazing. Without it I would be a lot slower.

After the race I drank a ________ (beverage) and talked shit with my fellow racers.

You just don't get this type of scene in a _________(type of cycling) race.


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom.