Saturday, November 29, 2008


What is Crossomeness you ask? Well I'll start out by telling you what crossomeness is not: It is not the crash that happened at the start of the 55+ race which sent David Rath and another guy on an ambulance ride. It looked bad there for a minute, but later reports were that they were "better". Of course better is relative to being out cold in the mud. Heal up quick guys.

While we're at it, crossomeness is also not the general vibe I was getting from the 2 guys I battled with late in the race. I'll leave names out of it, but I had the one guy yelling and complaining every time he didn't like my line and the other guy getting me up close and personal with the course stakes the few times I tried to come around. Ah well, it's all good especially since it was a feat to even have the privelage to battle those guys.

So now what crossomeness is:

1. It's the Sterling course. I love that place. I had one of my better finishes there last year. Funny to look back and think that 11th in the 4's was an accomplishment. Oh how far one can get with a few 4:30 a.m. workouts. And BTW, I'm petitioning the UCI to make it mandatory that there's a big nasty runup in every course. Can you fellas hook me up with that? Thanks.

2. It's 2 MRC guys on the podium in the B Masters (not that anyone cares) :). It's also the mike time that MRC was getting from Richard thanks to some real solid riding all around.

3. It's getting hardware and cash:
4. It's Big-Ass cupcakes. Man was I bummed that I had like a nickel and some lint in my pocket so I couldn't get one or three.

5. It's finishing a race, coated in mud, and having your kids ask "What happened to you?". More importantly it's them being there in the first place to yell "GO DADDY!"

6. It's coming oh so very close to beating one of the NE cross legends. More than once during the race I caught myself thinking "Holy crap, I don't think I've ever been this close to that silly wheel during a cross race". Next time...

7. It's getting my hack-mechanic's license back. After a near full drive-train replacement this week and some other tinkering, it held up great. Apparently those 2 extra teeth did matter too.

Couldn't hang around real long to enjoy the rest of the crossomeness, but I can only hope it continued for the kids, ladies, and uber fast guys and gals (speaking of that there's some crossomeness going on with MBR's new bike... that thing is SICK!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Love your drivetrain, it will love you back

It's been a week huh? Maybe that means my life has turned uninteresting... maybe I'm just being lazy. I successfully ate myself into a food coma yesterday, but at least I got out for 2 hours in the morning so I could pre-burn some of those calories.

So back to the subject... my cross bike has been a little unhappy lately as several parts of it are in need of a total teardown, cleaning, and possible replacement. I've been keeping it going as best I can, but it needs some major love. After Lowell I was scrubbing all the mud off and noticed that the rear derailleur pulleys didn't look quite right. As it turns out, running mud, ice, and other CX debris through them for 2 seasons is bad. You guess which are the old ones and which are new:

I also took the occasion to swap out the chainring for the 44T which I picked up after the Gloucester debacle. It doesn't seem like the extra 2 teeth will kill me, but you may not want to be behind me the first time I try to muscle up a steep pitch. You may however want to get on my wheel on the flats as I will now be able to put out like 2 more watts which will make all the difference between 19th and 20th place...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday is the new Hump Day

The strangest thing has been happening the past few weeks. Actually maybe it's not strange at all and kinda makes sense, but it's a trend nonetheless. Thursday is my least busy day of the week in terms of commitments. With class on Wednesday I almost never have to be thinking about the next week's work yet, I have nowhere to be after work, wife's soccer games are usually after the kids are in bed, and I typically have no late meetings at work. Sounds like it's screaming "great day to ride" huh? Well as it turns out, Thursday has turned into my most mentally challenging day to ride. I think I'm putting so much physical and mental energy into surviving the Sunday through Wednesday stretch that I hit Thursday and I'm just like "You know, I just don't feel like it". On Friday I'm better again because it's time to start thinking race prep, but Thursday it's just a struggle. Good news is that a tired and cranky 7 p.m. interval session on Thursday should be easily (and probably better) replaced by a rested 5 a.m. interval session on Friday. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

No racing this weekend. Mentally checked out of this weekend so I could be sure to get permissions slips for Sterling, maybe Palmer, and the double at RI. Unfortunately the church/school had other plans for my Saturday of RI weekend, so maybe it becomes Sterling, Palmer, Sunday at RI, and then Ice Weasels. In either case, it sits better after being home this weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

There's a Lot to Like About Lowell

Please tell me everyone remembers that annoying little radio jingle...

Anywho... just a quick race report preceded by today's PSA: If anyone in the freak crew had some money burning a hole in their pocket, check it. It's been revived and rebuilt from our little incident.

Let's go with the good/bad method of race reporting:

Good: Second row lineup
Bad: With the A-Masters

Good: Getting off the line well
Bad: Those guys are fast

Good: Riding both of the steep uphills (all 6 laps for the long one, 4 of 6 on the shorter one)
Bad: Riding both of the steep uphills

Good: Cleaning the mud bog twice
Bad: Can't find a bad with the mod bog... I'm a big fan of deep sloppy mud.

Good: Going up 2 to 1 in the newly developed battle with CTodd
Bad: Giving him a display of my severely inferior bike handling skills laps 1 and 2

Good: Holding off the 45+ winner at the line (those guys are typically more than 2 minutes faster than me)
Bad: Having to hold them off with my chain skipping every 4th pedal stroke (should have gone for the bike change)

Good: Getting closer to catching Coley
Bad: Having Coley be in the self-described "worst shape in a long time" and still not being able to catch him

OK, gotta get back to work. Hoping to get the final chapter of the psuedo Epic up this week.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

All is well in the world

Today's Plymouth South race proved that all is normal in the world... GCD is still fast, gravity still works, loose dirt is still slippery, and cross is still fun. About 40 lined up for the start of the 3/4's in the rare 20 wide format. It was actually a little concerning, but fortunately everyone handled it well... hell, even the 4's made the first corner without killing each other. I got off the line moderately well as did Gary and JimmE was out like a rocket. By a short way into lap one it was the lead 20 or so and then everyone else... trust me, I was the tail of that train and I looked back and there was a gap. The course was all kinds of good fun with a combo of fast packed dirt, wide open spongey athletic fields, and really tricky technical stuff. The best/worst part of the technical stuff was the 5 or 6 short punchey uphills that really made you hurt as the race went on. 2 were long-ish and the rest were just enough to kick you in the nuts. The kicker on some of the short ones were that if you didn't set them up right you were (annoyingly) running. Lap one was hot and I was working hard to stay on. Going into lap 2 things were sorting themselves out and I was trying to stay with/near Gary. First Gary went by Jim into the first ballfield and then I went around in a deperate attempt to 1) pull him, and 2) catch Gary. There would be none of it as I just watched him ride away (the dude can put out some WAAAAAAATTTTSSSSS). I eventually fell into a pack of anywhere from 3 to 5 and we proceeded to take turns mangling technical sections of the course and fouling up the whole group. My lowlight was nearly pulling a Reuter on the downhill with the stairs, but skidding to a stop just shy of the tree. Long story short after a number of bad words and lots of pain and drooling, I rolled home 11th. An acceptable day I guess, although I was AGAIN odd man out of 3 as 2 ahead of me sprinted it out for 9 & 10 and I just spectated. Super fun race regardless and next weekend we get to follow up with another uber-fun one. See you there...

Friday, November 07, 2008

I accept your challenge Results Boy

If you've actually read the side-bar, I'm an engineer and rarely just accept anything. So when Colin implied that my recent assertions needed data to back them up, well... I just heard "I dare ya". So here you go:

The task: Analyze the results 3/4 Masters 35+/45+ and 55+ races at Gloucester and Northampton Day 2. These are the two races I had direct experience with and had been referenced in my comments.

The assumptions (some of these may seem invalid, but maybe they'll make sense later or from my descriptions):
1) The start gap between the two fields was exactly 1 min
2) All riders in all fields rode even splits for the entire race.
- While this is clearly not true, it was the only way I could perform any actual analysis
without direct knowledge of what actually happened which I didn't have
3) All lapped riders were lapped because they were very slow and not because they started great and then had a mechanical, bio or otherwise
4) Once a pass had been made, there was no pass back
5) I defined a "lead pack" for both races that was a set size for the entire event.
- This is also clearly not true and there are many in the "go and blow" camp who fade later.
Again, in order to be able to show any results based on what I knew, I needed a cutoff point.
- For the 3/4 35+/45+ field I defined the lead pack as 15. Why? Because it seemed like a
good number and I think I had said something like "the top 10-15 were catching almost
- For the 55+ field I defined the lead pack as 4. Why? Because there was a distinct dropoff
in both races from 4th to 5th place.
6) If the start order of the fields were reversed, each race would have played out the same as it actually did
7) I defined two "congested periods" in the race:
- The first two laps because riders tend to be closer together and people are being possibly
a bit more aggressive
- The final lap when small groups could be battling for finish place.

The method:
Pretty simple... I just merged the two sets of results, normalized by the start gap, and sorted to see when people crossed the finish line. Then used the assumptions above to come up with some "statistics"

The data:
The two events actually turned out to be quite different, partially due to size of the fields.

Gloucester, the way it happened:
- There were 10 55+ riders passed by the 3/4 lead pack in the first two laps
- 8 of those 10 riders were passed by the lead pack in the first lap
- Another 2 riders were passed by the lead pack in the final lap
- Note the top 55+ rider crossed the line 4th

Gloucester, if they had reversed the fields:
- The lead pack of 55's would have passed 33 riders in the 3/4 field in the first two laps
- 7 of those riders would have been passed by the lead pack in the first lap
- 5 more riders would have been passed by the lead pack on the final lap
- Note the top 55+ rider would have crossed the line 21st

NoHo, the way it happened:
- 16 55+ riders were passed by the 3/4 lead pack in the first two laps
- 9 of those riders were passed by the lead pack in the first lap
- 1 more appears to have been passed by the back of the lead pack at the finish
- Note, the top 2 55+ riders were never caught

NoHo, if they had reversed the fields:
- The lead pack of 55's would have passed 15 riders in the 3/4 field in the first two laps
- All 15 would have been passed on the first lap
- 2 more riders would have been passed on the final lap
- Note the top 55+ rider would have come across the line 16th

None... draw your own. The last time I made conclusions I ignited a holy war ;)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mechanic I am not

Good news: I will now never forget that the drive-side of an italian-threaded bottom bracket is threaded like every other normal threaded thing in the world and is removed by turning it left (lefty loosey kids)

Bad news: This learning experience cost me a bottom bracket (which I probably never would have used again anyways, but probably could have sold at the flea market for 5 bucks)

Ignorance annoys me more than most other qualities in people... I really hate demonstrating my own...

Add on: This would have been the perfect post for a link to the bottom bracket removal TodCast. If anyone's feeling ambitious enough to dig it out of the archives, we can all get a good chuckle

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


What to do when you ignite one of the biggest debates ever on your blog... well fuel the fire of course. Actually, maybe this will put what I'm really getting at to bed...

Imagine they decided to start the U19's in front of the A Masters... I mean hell, the kids are battling for world team spots and the masters can't even get an upgrade out of it so they're more important right? Sure, given a minute head start MAYBE Luke, Gavin, and some Belgian kid who happens to be in town stay away, but at some point in the race, Manny, the Henry's Bikes kid, and little Keough are going to get swarmed by the pain train of Johnny, Mark, Roger, Kevin, etc. Manny and co are trying to battle back for the last bit of cash and a podium spot so they're not exactly going to pull over into the tape, but Johnny just attacked and the others got blocked. In the meantime, little Goguens and Keoughs are chopping G and Solo in the corners as they try to come around (the nerve of these kids)...

That's all I'm saying... it's a situation that doesn't make sense for all involved and must have a better option.

Monday, November 03, 2008

NoHo Report

Family commitments meant I could only make it to day 2 of the fun that is NoHo. To skip the same old pre-race story, lets cut to the chase... the day 2 course was wicked damn fun, but I found it to be surprisingly technical in race situations. I even said to CTodd one of the dozen times I passed him (more on that later) that the course was surprisingly hard to pass on. One thing that certainly didn't help is this wonderful start concept the Verge folks seem to have in their heads as a good idea... start the 55+ race ahead of the 35+ 3/4 race. With all due respect to the elder statesmen of the sport and the tremendous effort the Verge crew puts out, THAT START FORMAT DOES NOT WORK! They tried it at Gloucester and we damn near killed a couple back of the packers when we got to the runup the first time. I think it was a half a lap yesterday before I started catching guys. Even right through the end of the race, the top 10-15 B Masters are passing the lead elders. It just creates undue traffic and I'm still failing to see the benefit. Oh wait... this was a race report...

I lined up third row out of 10 or 11 and noticed that T-Needham had the primo front row spot. The Professor was row two and CTodd was lurking around somewhere as was Cookie. Now the good and bad thing about NoHo is that you can't really go balls deep at the start or you risk giving you or your neighbor a rude intro to a giant steel gate. So off we go and about 5 seconds in someone mid to back of the lineup decides to make everyone's day a little more interesting by causing a pileup before they even hit the start line. In the meantime I'm off somewhere in the top 30 or so. Right from the get go, the battles are on. Cookie and CTodd were all in the neighborhood and so were some fast starters who were trying to hang on. The worst part about the tight racing was that the very rideable sand pit and ride-down-turned-ride-up became enormous cluster phucks. Fast forward to lap 3... the 55's have been passed or are just one at a time. Cookie is gone from my group, but close. JimmE has moved up from his DFL lineup and is within site on the double-back sections. And me and CTodd have found ourselves in a battle. Looking back it was really the most comical thing... we spent the better part of 30 minutes taking turns pulling each other, trying to drop each other, exchanging words of encouragement, and heckling each other. I think being able to try and drop a guy, but offering that he jump on your wheel all at the same time is some of the beauty of cross. Final lap now... I know we're in the top 20ish and we've had various guys with us off and on and now we can see the next big group right in front of us including Mr. Needham. Into the litter box and we both ride it while Needham and another guy run. I was sure TN was gone, but he jumped on quickly and then he and CTodd were in front of me. Unfortunately we were now headed to the upper deck where opportunities to pass almost don't exist so it was just setting it up for the sprint. We turned for home and the (now) 3 in front had gapped me and right at the entrance to the stretch an NEBC guy came around. I wound it up a bit late and found myself essentially odd man out in my group. I've definitely decided I'm not a sprinter so I'm going to have to both work on that and work on getting to situations where I don't need it.

So the tally was 14th overall, just over a minute down to the winner and around 45 sec down to GCD. Gary was an easy 2 minutes up on me last year so it's progress. At first I was a bit down because I know I have beaten or can beat at least 6 of the guys in front of me. In a race that close though on that course and with the fun I had, I'm not going to worry about it. The upgrade has come through so the battles are only going to get more fierce... better get used to it.