Monday, December 31, 2007

Chris E. interview

Very nice interview over on with endurance mtb legend, Ellicott City local, and all around nice guy Chris Eatough.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Thanks to Gwadzilla for the head's up.


"I just dropped in to see what conditions my condition was in."
The Morning Ride New Year's Eve Edition

At 5:30 the roads were damp and the temps were mid-30's. With no wind
it was actually quite pleasant out. I warmed up on BB and arrived at
DD in time to enjoy the corporeal delights of a cup of hot coffee and
a chocolate glazed.

As I finished my pre-ride snack SK rolled up to the front door. The
soundtrack for the ride was provided by Grover Washington Jr. with
"Just The Two of Us" and Bob Marley's "Mellow Mood".

We were surprised that nobody else showed, but we were not deterred.
We had a very nice ride to close out 2007. The pace was
conversational and traffic was even lighter than usual. We took the
trolley path for the climb out of the valley. I really dig that climb
in that the grade is constant and not too steep. You can just keep a
nice tempo and even effort all the way up.

By the time we entered the Park the temperature dropped enough for us
to notice. Fingers got colder and frost appeared on the sides of the
road. Out on Montgomery we had a few tire slips. The roads were
icing up in spots. We quickly learned to stay seated and keep a
smooth pedal stroke. No sudden movements or accelerations. No funny
stuff, Lebowski.

Making the right on Montgomery after Giant to head over to Rockburn
the ice was very evident so we rode even more gingerly through there.
It was fine as long as you didn't get silly.

It was kind of cool to see the conditions change like that. Driving
into work I heard stories of black ice and typically arrogant
motorists arrogantly ignoring the conditions. Not surprisingly the
I-83 skating rink was closed (or would that be open?). A number of my
colleagues have still not made it in.

Anyway, it was a very nice ride to close out the year. I'm glad I got
this one in. Thanks for the company Steve.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


abc's at two-and-a-half

Saturday, December 29, 2007

winter chill

Originally uploaded by cbnystro

That time of year.
The winter chill.
Warm temps this morning allowed us to play in the yard getting muddy and working up an appetite for lunch.

Chipotle. mmmm.

Mel's riding and the kids are napping so I'm sitting in bed with my feet up watching the '06 Koppenburg 'Cross. Lotta cats crashing in this race. I'm not sure we really know what a technical cx course is.

Can't get enough. I'm enjoying the break, but I'm already thinking about next year...and what I've learned this year. I need to sit down and put some of those thoughts in words so that they stick. One big one that comes to mind is about gaps. Knowing when it's ok to leave some space and when it's critical to tighten up the gap. It's crazy how quickly a 10 foot gap can become unbridgable when it occurs at the wrong time.

Been enjoying riding the fixie the last week and that's what I'll be doing later. I'm not even sure I'll ride a bike with gears this Winter. It's fun and it makes me stronger. Win-win.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

b-day ride photos

more photos from yesterday courtesy of John H.

birthday girl

Perkins taking his usual line...through the air.

the crew - Perkins, Auer, Mel, Me, Morgan, Harshman (minus John who was manning the camera)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rolling party


Birthday ride

Melanie was a Christmas eve baby. Despite the best intentions her birthday has often been overshadowed by the holidays.

This year will hopefully be the start of an annual tradition, the birthday ride. Though a lot of people were already out of town for Christmas we got a great crew out to ride and celebrate.

John (old bashturd), Perkins, Harshman, Auer, and Morgan joined Melanie and I while our babysitter took over kid duty.

With temps close to 50 and good trail conditions we were bound to have a good ride...and we did. I end up doing a lot of my rides solo. That's fine, especially when I'm training but I really love a good social group ride. Sharing a nice trail ride with friends is satisfying. I think it helps me to better appreciate the quality of riding we have here.

We sampled tasty trails (and plenty of logs) on both sides of the Park over two and a half hours before returning home. Once there, we dug into yummy bowls of chili, complemented by corn bread, cupcakes, and recovery beverages.

Fun times. In fact, I think we'll be doing more of these chili & beer rides this winter.

Happy Birthday Honey!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

da boyz

This photo of the boys was taken back in September. I just came across it again while doing some organizing on flickr and I dig it.

So...I've been enjoying the beer and the cookies of the season and not riding. It's only been 10 days and I'm ready to get back on the bike. I know that it's good to take a break, but I get stiff and sore when I don't ride...and cranky too. I'm going to have to saddle back up soon (like maybe tomorrow morning) just for sanity's sake and to lessen the guilt of drinking a beer every night.

Last night we hit Pub Dog with some friends for Pizza and Beer. Dang it was good. Gotta love a place that brings out 2 beers every time your order 1. Best part was Thor dancing, playing shuffleboard, and generally entertaining the entire bar after dinner.
He didn't want to leave.

Tonight the plan is to put some white bar tape on the fixie. Nothing says pimp hand like riding a fixed gear bike with white bar tape at 5:30 in the morning in December. Or something like that.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

Friday, December 14, 2007

KC Dispatch # 3: E-Town!

Congrats E-Town! 5th place in the under 30 B race at Natz. Looks like he grabbed the hole-shot too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

At the dinner table

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

KC Dispatch #2

This story about CX Natz from the local KC press includes a photo of the Mid-Atlantic/Tom McDaniel compound. Note the Sprinter van and jersey! Conditions look like typical Natz conditions...epic.

KC Dispatch #1

KC CX Natz dispatch from our man on the scene Kris Auer:

Well, out here at Kansas City. You all are sure to miss
"something" pre-ride showed a lot of ice, some mud and some more
ice, also some cold air and some air with wet stuff floating in it.
Rain and Snow I believe. Just trace amounts of that though.
the course was not really set up but it looks OK. We'll know tomorrow
how it races as Ethan, Young Jeff and Tom McDaniel race tomorrow.
I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Looking back...

I just completed my 5th season of cyclocross.


Started doing the Kris Auer 'cross clinics (He's hooked a lot of people on CX!) and did 4 races, all in the C's with good results in each of them.

Moved up to the B's and did 10 races. Fought it out in the 30's in MAC races and finally scored my first MAC Series point at Highland Park with a satisfying 24th place. In the local races I rolled my first tubie at Ed Sander to finish 12th and scored some cash in 5th at Hagerstown. I closed out the season with a 16th at Reston, the final MAC race.

The first year of Charm City Cross and another season in the B's, doing 7 races. With an infant at home (Thor!) I limited my schedule focusing on the MAC. Once again it was a battle to get into the top 20 in the MAC, with a bit more top 10 success in some local events. This was also my first trip to Natz. The highlight of my season was surviving the 35-39 Natz race in epic blizzard conditions to finish 35th.

This was a breakthrough year for me. I did 12 races in the B's and learned how to race. I was usually in the top 20 in the MAC and scored my first top 10 in the mud at Evo. In the MABRA events I was pretty consistently top 10. I scored a few upgrade points, but not enough to move up. At Natz I had a mediocre ride in the 35-39 race where I had decent legs, but was not aggressive enough. In the 35+ B race on Sunday I decided that I would go for it, race aggressively, and fight for position. In fact, pre-race I said my plan was to get the hole-shot, go all out, and blow up first lap. Instead I got the hole shot and rode in the lead group for much of the race. I faded a bit, but finished strong on the last lap to end up 20th, only a minute down on the winner. In a 200 rider field if you let up for an instant you lose places. 8-) That race really boosted my confidence for 2007.

My expectations for this year were modest. We had a baby (Gavin!) on August 29th so sleep, training, and racing were not priorities. Our race continued to take off with a hugely successful event for the 3rd straight year. After Charm City, I planned on doing a few races later in the year but things fell into place for me to race 7 times. With no pressure, renewed confidence, and a new B-Masters category I had an unexpectedly good season. A year spent riding a singlespeed mountain bike helped too, adding leg strength.

I had never won a bike race before this year, but managed to stand on the top step twice in 2007. That was cool. I also ended the year with enough upgrade points to move to cat. 2.

That means I'll be back to racing my ass off and fighting for position mid-pack...but that's all good. It was nice to race at the front for a season, but there is something noble and satisfying about duking it out mid-pack with kindred souls. We do it for the love of the sport and the experience.

So that's 5 years of racing and 40 races total. I guess that's not a lot, but looking back I'm real happy with the journey and all the rich experiences and wonderful people I've met along the way.

I'm enjoying the off-season (and a craving for chocolate chip cookies), but I already have an eye on the calendar for 2008. Less than 300 days to Charm City!

p.s. I can't thank Auer and Mega enough for getting me into 'cross! You guys rock!


Monday, December 10, 2007

synchronized mudding

I'm too lazy to conjure up the prose so the Rockburn 'Cross Masters 3/4 race report will go down like a family photo album...which is fitting since the team feels like family.

Marc and I got a good start as we wanted to lead through the first few turns of the prologue. After the initial acceleration we kept it steady and rode conservatively to stay upright and settle into a good tempo. A quick glance back revealed that we had a 5 second gap almost immediately. We planned on waiting for the race to develop before making a move, but we couldn't pass up this opportunity. Here I am leading for the last time all race. This was roughly 1 minute into the 45 minute event.

From there we just rolled it. For a while Bernie was in 3rd and making his way up to us, but mechanical issues set him back and ended his race.

Picking clean lines through the slippery mud, maintaining a steady effort on the flats, and drilling it up the punchy climbs. We had the course dialed in (with the exception of the last turn in the sand). A Dugast Rhino 34 up front and Challenge Grifo 34 in the rear hooked up all race long. The bike would slip around in the mud but the treads always found some bite for traction. Good tires at the right pressure (low as you dare to go) are confidence inspiring and make a big difference in the slippery, wet conditions we had yesterday.

Yup. Marc's still out front and I'm just trying to hang onto his wheel. Same story all race. I clipped my helmet on this tree a few times even though my thoughtful teammate was warning me about it each lap.

Out of the saddle on all the little climbs was how we rode all race. We had a decent gap, but Karl Konnelly from LSV was chasing hard so we couldn't afford to let up. My Mom is in this shot offering encouraging words. I was very happy that a good chunk of my family came into town (with cowbells) to watch me race.

We were talking to each other most of the race pointing out good lines, bad lines, and offering encouragement as back pains and cramps started to surface. Racing with a teammate is a great motivator. No way I would have gone as fast if I wasn't riding with Marc.

The entire race was like synchronized swimming as we stuck together throughout. Marc was even kind enough to slow down for me as I got gapped on a couple of the climbs. Many hours of practice went into rehearsing this finish line maneuver, the 'end game' to our race. I was worried that I would crash and take us down, but it worked out. I made sure that my wheel didn't cross the line first. Marc ended a fine season just like it began, with a win.

One more podium to close out the season. An upgrade is already in process so next year it'll be back to those mid-pack battles that I love. It was nice to have one season of glory after putting in a lot of hard work learning how to race my bike. I truly feel lucky to race with such a great, supportive team.

Congrats to LSV for putting on an excellent race at an awesome venue (almost literally in my backyard). I hope that Rockburn 'Cross continues for years to come.

photos courtesy of John Scott from LSV.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


did some laps on tomorrow's course
gonna be fun and SLICK
time to go wash the bike

Originally uploaded by cbnystrom

Thursday, December 06, 2007

snow ride!

One of my unwavering cycling principles is to take advantage of good snow riding conditions on the rare times that they are available.

There's something sublime about a snow ride. A fresh layer of snow produces unique aural qualities. Sound is muffled lending a calming quiet to an already quiet endeavor...that being a night/early morning mountain bike ride. It's a beautiful thing.


Similarly, rough edges on the trail are smoothed out by the snow giving the woods a softer feeling and sometimes hiding slick roots beneath. Local knowledge, softer tires, and a light touch are important. The bike will go where it wants to go. It's best not to fight it.

Four intrepid riders (Me, KR, Merrill, & W) gathered at Kasa de Krash for hot coffee prior to setting out into the frigid sub-20 degree air at the ass-crack-of-dawn (5:45am). Spirits were high as we had received confirmation of primo snow riding conditions on the trails.

We plowed through powder laying fresh tracks in Rockburn. There was a solid 5 inches covering Sunday's 'cross course. I imagine we'll be racing on a soft, slippery surface (if not any remnants of snow) this weekend. Should be fun!

Snow riding also requires more power and effort. It's not unlike riding in sand or mud. Push a big gear and maintain a steady power output. So, by the time we crossed Landing Rd. we were sweating and breathing hard.

Some buddies of mine had done a ride last night so once in Patapsco we had a nice track to follow. Since those guys had done the trail-breaking we were able to roll along smoothly so long as we stayed in the narrow lane of our predecessors.

Traction was pretty good, though it got slippery at times. I think we all laid it down in the snow at least once. Another benefit of fresh snow is that it softens the landings. 8-)

Creek crossing were taken with care and I think we all stayed dry and thankful for disc brakes. The good old days of v-brakes trying to slow an ice-covered rim were exciting, if not very safe.

The downhills were a blast as the bike would slip here and there. Brakes were working just well enough to scrub a little speed but body english was a better way to control the bike. It almost felt like powder skiing. You felt mostly in control as long as you let the bike do its thing.

Early in the ride we had a clear sky with stars and a stunning crescent moon casting a magical glow that reflected off of the smooth coating of snow. As the sun rose we were treated to some amazing views, especially as we rode out of the trees through clearings. The just-hatched light beaming from a blue sky onto fields of white was

Though tired from the effort of pedaling through fresh snow I felt refreshed, even renewed, as the ride ended. In fact, I'm still smiling now.

The rest of the crew stayed in Rockburn for some loops on the 'cross course while I rode home to make it to work. I was late, but it was so worth it. Rides like that are what it's all about.