(All apologies to Milli Vanilli for corrupting their lyric masterpiece.)
I'd heard that it snowed in Albany, that there were such things as snow emergencies, and that there were times that you needed to budget an hour to shovel your car out of its parking spot, but until this last Friday these stories all sounded like attempt to pull one over on the silly little southerner. In fact, it seems that all of these things are painfully true.
Friday brought us somewhere around ten inches of snow in the matter of a few hours. Once we'd gotten six or so inches I figured it had to be about to stop (I mean, god doesn't have that much dandruff, does he?), so I ignored my better judgement and took to the streets, General Lee-style.
And lo there was ripping. And the ripping was good.
As it turns out, my marginal skillz are unaffected by what skiers refer to as a powder day. When you're already pretty challenged in terms of your shredability, the addition of snow makes everything a little more difficult, but also increases your margin of error. My four inches of bunnyhopability was constant and I still couldn't do a bar spin, but then again I didn't break myself, either.
I had backup along, so I was able to grab a few pics. Here I'm basically showing the very peak of my skills, the rarely seen snow-bound trackstand. Behold it's brilliance.
Since it normally is only light up here for like seven hours a day, during the snowstorm we were reduced to like four. It was already getting dark at this point in the afternoon, though it was only a little after four.
The very pinnacle of my trickery.
This was all pretty rad on Friday, and my amusement extended into Saturday. However, as it's continued to snow, and I've had to dig my car out twice, gotten stranded in the Albany airport for all of Sunday, and seen all of the world disappear under a blanket of white for the next three month, my love for the white stuff has diminished. I'm planning a New Year's Eve shredathon regardless of temperatures (and sobriety level); pics may not follow.
I hope you're all getting to ride some down south. Happy holidays from the Northcountry!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
(All apologies to Milli Vanilli for corrupting their lyric masterpiece.)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
We've had a lot of inquiries since this image from last weekend's US Cyclocross Nationals in Kansas City appeared on the internet. Lots of folks wrote in to ask if Hollywood was previewing the now budget-challenged Rock Racing's 2009 team kit. If so, it was a marketing coup.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Well, the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross Series has finally drawn to an end. After the dust settled (or rather, the mud flacked off) our very own Andrew A. Oishi finished at a respectable 14th in the Pro/1/2 category. Not too shabby, especially out of a field nearly 60 strong. I myself limped into 19th in the CX4 category with our newest member Jay not too far behind. Not too bad for our first seasons racing. My only real disappointment is that I never got to employ my tactic of raising my bike over my head and screaming while clearing the barriers. Instead, it came out looking like this:
Where's the gusto? Where's the hoot-spah? Surly, my enemies would have cowered in fear at the sight of me casting off my exhaustion and fatigue and howling manically with my bike hoisted ready to strike them down battle-axe style. Oh well, there's always the Winter Cup.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
LOS ANGELES- The cycling world greeted news of next year's bifurcated Rock Racing program with a surprise earlier this week. After contracting a bevy of new talent, including former UCI Protour rider Baden Cooke, and swelling its roster to 27 riders, a number in excess of the maximum permited for UCI Continental teams, the squad announced it would be splitting into two teams. Riders downgraded to the Rock Racing amateur club team include reigning US national criterium champion Rahsaan Bahati. Bahati, however, indicated he is not worried in an interview with Cyclingnews. Local observers were also surprised by the announcement. Many had expected the name of BCC-alumnus Hollywood to appear on the Rock Racing riders manifest. Reached for comment at his Rocky Mountain hide-away, the denim clad Hollywood reacted to the news: "I am sure there has been a glitch somewhere and I am not the only rider to be effected. Like Rahsaan, I expect to be riding the big races next year in Rock Racing colors. Michael Ball and I have spoken and we agree that I'm here to stay. Starting on the club team is not a problem. I expect to move up to the A-squad to ride alongside Tyler and do the Giro di Lombardia and perhaps the World Championships. Those are good races for me."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So rare is it that you see yourself reflected in a work of art that I was compelled to post it up. Besides serving as a metaphor for my spritual and political views, I feel this piece also functions as an allegory for Tuesday's MTB excursion (I'm the old lady to the left, obviously).
If you haven't already, go strait to www.brandonbird.com for some of the funniest and strangely engaging art I've seen in a good long while.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The plan was hatched Monday night at the shop. A road ride was proposed but the Professor upped the ante to mountain bikes. The next day he and I found ourselves behind the Bimbo truck with Original Gangster. After noting what was humorously gained and lost when considering the deliciousness of baked goods in translation and crawling through traffic that had been blocked on I-40 by arbitrary road closures, we made to Crabtree. There, fun times ensued. We ran into Chris H. at the new dirt jumps. He demurred to execute a 360 tabletop despite our calls to do so. Leaving him to his fun, we pushed the pace on the trails. I came home and spent the rest of the day avoiding any serious thoughts. A great Tuesday.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Greetings East Coasters. I've finally landed in Denver. It is cold but there are still bikes everywhere! Cold, snow and ice don't deter Denverites evidently. Did my first ride in Denver on Wednesday on the new "Hybrid" Karate Monkey (photos to follow).
Lesson #1 learned.......while it is cool to ride your bike to an alternative transportation job interview......one should make sure they locate the proper winter gloves, hats, etc before departing one's house. Basically, I thought "Oh it is not that far and who needs to dig through boxes for such accessories...." Well let's just say everything is now unpacked and in use......after near frost bitten digits, frozen ears, and a sore throat.
Below is my first horizon shot of the Rockies as I approached Denver on I-70 from Bull City Cycling Rocky Mountain Division Vehicle #1 (See Photo #2).
Let's just say buying a truck with 4 wheel drive 9 years ago is finally paying off.
Well that about wraps up week one from the Rocky Mountain Division of Bull City Cycling...........winter cross training starts tomorrow with snowshoeing!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Sure, Lance and Alberto are training together on an island in the Mediterranean Sea and Team Columbia is turning pedals in southern Spain, but they don't know what they're missing. After a pair of winter road rides this week, one chilly early morning ride with Original Gangster, and another warmer, afternoon ride yesterday, I'm reminded how much I enjoy the sunlight and long shadows of these late autumn and early winter rides. Seeing your breath in the cold clear air, bundled in funny-sounding and funny-looking shoe booties, wiggling our toes and fingers to keep the blood flowing to them: these are the gifts of winter cycling. There is something exhilerating in that last hour before sunset. With the temperature dropping as quickly as the light fades, getting home is an imperative. I spent the last few miles fighting off the chill and thinking of the food I would devour in the exact order I would consume. Great stuff. Certainly way better than learning to surf with Lance and pretending to like it.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I got the call midweek. Josh (Inland Racing) was looking to fill-out a team for the 6-hour mtb race at Carolina North. With the NC cyclocross series four hours away in Hendersonville and Linus: Original Gangster out of town, I figured I couldn't pass up this opportunity.
Okay, here's the situation: 6 hours of 8-mile loops at Carolina North. Our 3-man team consisted of Josh, me, and C-Hill icon, Derek N., a one-time bike shop employee, part time trailbuilder, and sometime golfer. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Three Philosophers. Our team was named after the beer (which Derek brought, but which the trail landowners, UNC prevented us from drinking (go to hell Carolina!)). The beer was probably named after three philosophers, but I don't know who they are and am too lazy to google right now.
Josh blazed off to a fast start, taking the hole-shot down the fire roads. We couldn't see much until he returned to the start/finish zone. Our strategy was to each do two laps, then switch to single laps, if there was time left. This strategy, was designed to give us time to warm up, settle into our laps, and relax after riding. Given the cold temperatures, I think it was a sound strategy. After the first lap, Josh was in about 4th place overall and he calmly rolled into his second lap. Derek was up next. He claimed not to have ridden much in the past year or so, but he turned in two fast lap times. He definitely used the home-court advantage, but I also think his version of "haven't been riding much" still means that he's fast.
My first lap: 4:00 rolled around so I finally got to racing. I quickly burned past a few people who seemed puzzled. Of course they were, they had been riding for 3 hours while I had just been bumming around anxiously waiting to ride for 3 hours. So I passed you and you in a demotivational way, I apologize. If my caviler freshness just made you scoff and motivated you to go faster, I applaud you.
My second lap: the sun finally went down. Riding in the twilight has a motivational element. Psychologically, I always feel like I need to try and ride faster to get home before it's too dark to see. Also, according to the previews, twilight is when the sexy teen vampires come out. Watch out. I turned on our borrowed Light and Motion Seca. Let me first say that these lights are bright. Let me next say that for such an expensive light (retail price ~$600), their mounting system sucks. It's a plastic strap with a few holes in it like watch you'd get out of those plastic egg dispensers in the entryway of supermarkets. Mounting one of these on a fully-rigid bike didn't help and whenever I hit a pretty big bump (which was frequently on these trails), the light would rotate up or down, throwing $600 worth of light straight at my front wheel or off into the cosmos. And between blinding centipedes and misdirecting planes landing at the nearby airport, I rolled on through the darkness. The weird thing about nightriding in the winter is that feeling that your head is totally disconected from your body and you exist in this world that is about two meters wide and 4 meters long. It feels exactly like bonking. I realized this about 2/3 of the way through my second lap and since I wasn't sure if I actually was bonking, I pretended I was and just tried to keep turning the pedals over and hoping to get back quickly.
So what have I learned about endurance racing:
* Teams are cool. Solo riders looked miserable.
* Solo riders are cool. Plus they get to brag about being hardcore later.
* Hang out with people who do a lot of endurance racing: they have chairs and tents and bring all the best food and stuff.
* If you can't hang out with people who do a lot of endurance racing, at least hang out with people who do outdoor presentations, like Josh, who does promotional stuff for his chiropractic clinic.
* Do endurance racing in the summer. It's cold in the winter.
* Get your lighting set up right.
* Endurance racing brings out a wide range of people. I recognized a bunch of people, ranging from local mtb xc racers, to cx regulars, to shop guys to trianglemtb.com personalities, to Duke-affiliated folks, to dudes I just see around on the trails.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Ben and I had both been jonesing for some Pisgah lately. You just can't go too long without mountain biking on some of the trails out there. I found a day I could get away from the budding family and we headed down Saturday night. Sunday morning we were ready to go after scoring breakfast at Allison's Diner in Black Mountain. Ben had never ridden Heartbreak Ridge and since it's a must do ride and a little bit closer to the Triangle than Pisgah Ranger District this was where we would make our stand.
We parked at Andrew's Geyser and headed towards the Heartbreak trailhead. Not 10minutes into the ride I attempt to roll through a deep creek crossing and have to dab at the end. Foot slips, splash. Felt real brisk since the temperature was barely cracking 30F if that. Thankfully there was some brutal switchback climbing on Lower Heartbreak to get me warmed up. Ben was rolling through most of the switchbacks despite plenty of leaves stealing traction and hiding goodies like roots and rocks. At star gap we started the descent down to Jarrett Creek Rd. The downwhill switchbacks were more my style.
Next up Curtis Creek Rd, the brutal 6mile fireroad climb that is in really good shape now that it's been repaired and opened back up to cars. Curtis Creek dumps you onto the Blue Ridge Parkway where you get more climbing, a little descending, and a final one mile climb before hitting the trailhead for Upper Heartbreak. We noticed a little snow on the BRP road surface then as we climbed the snow kind of grew and got thicker especially over in the trees beside the road. The hike a bike off of BRP that gets you to the start of Upper Heartbreak had 2-3 inches of snow which made it hard to keep on trail and got my feet wet again. My piggies stayed wet and cold most of the day.
The snow was kind of patchy in places on Heartbreak but was about all I could handle along with the slick leaves. Those leaves were hiding a nice rock that decided I needed a good endo. This is a sweet long descent that ends with the switchbacks we climbed up to start the day. I tried
After dropping Ben off at home, I had a scary but in the end very lucky mishap. When you see the car behind you flash the high beams pull over. At first I wondered what they were doing and then noticed my bike wasn't on the rack. Pulled over and the bike was being dragged, held only by the rear wheel still in the rack. Since my fork has no lawyer tabs I guess it just popped right out of the fork mount. Miraculously there is no damage to the frame or fork. Sadly my beautiful gold Hope stem and headset are destroyed along with my front disc caliper, bars, and saddle. A few more miles and the headset would have ground down enough to expose the head tube. Thanks dude with the high beams.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Well, the time has come...Hollywood is officially switching status from Team President and Le Chapeau of the Durham Peleton to Chapter President of the Denver BCC squad.
With heavy hearts, Daniel, JD, Hollywood and I headed out for one last ride on the dirt. With all the excitement of actually having a sunny day, we forgot a camera to document this historic ride but alas we have the memories...
After a few pleasantries, we saddled up our steads and headed towards the trails. As many of you know, I am a firm believer in the physical benefits of a nice easy warm up. That was not on JD's mind at at all!!! Kid came flying out of the gates and immediately put Daniel and myself in difficulty, Hollywood, of course, cool as the other side of the pillow peddled effortlessly on his sweet new rig.
By the time we hit the trail head, my lungs felt like they were bleeding. Cold air always seems to have that effect on me.
JD and Daniel proceeded to swap turns at front inflicting pain on everyone in their wake. It was truly a good hard ride and I am thankful that I was able to get out there. I, like many others, get tremendous satisfaction from suffering through tough patches and recovering to endure another onslaught of pain.
We were able to sneak in just under 3 hours when it was all said and done. Hollywood in true form busted out the Rock and Republic jeans for his post ride digs...I opted with track pants by stark comparision.
To Hollywood, fond farewell and best of luck to you in the west. I am truly jealous of the riding and the experiences that await you. I wish you all the best.
Just as James Bond has a license to kill, Coreys Haim and Feldman have a license to drive, and Billy Ocean has a license to chill (revoked in 1989), BCC agents Linus O-.G. and Chris O. have a license to race bicycles.
To honor these licenses, we headed down to Southern Pines on a super secret cyclocross mission. A number of other racers in the NC series apparently chose not to accept this mission (in favor of the Blacksburg, VA race, the New Jersey UCI race, or sitting on their butts back at BCC World Headquarters). Nevertheless, there the race went on with plenty of fast dudes and plenty of challenges on the course. Southern Pines is in NC's sandhills region which, while not very hilly, is very sandy. The promoters always put together a nice race on the campus of Sandhills Community College (who are kind enough to let us use the restrooms in the student center, rather than accursed porta-johns), winding across a flat grass field and parking lot. This is all well and good, but the real trouble comes when we enter the woods; a descent with quick switchbacks through deep sand, followed by a long, sandy run-up.
Call me crazy, but there isn't enough running in bike racing. Watch the Euros, or races in the US where it rains a lot. The conditions get nasty and riders are forced to run. Here in NC, we are blessed/cursed with ild wintertime weather, meaning that while we don't freeze our fingers and toes off, we don't get ridicuolus mud. I think that this should encourage race course designers to find some wacky feature that forces riders to run with their bikes for a while, but this typically only happens up the dam in Cary and up the sandhill in So-Pines.
But this is all just theory and philosophical musing of what makes a great cyclocross course. In reality, these run-ups suck. They hurt like hell. The are motivational killers because you not only feel like you're moving so slowly, but when you finally get back on the bike, you try to pedal and you have zero power. Ooof.
Linus always gets great starts, quickly settling into fourth position. This appeared to be a big help, because there were few places to pass on the serpentine infield and there were huge bottlenecks once the pack hit the sand. Avoiding these pitfalls, Linus settled nicely into his rhythm, rode cleanly and smoothly, and held off a late charge from some dude to finish 11th. He seemed a little bummed he was just out of the top 10, but a fine result. He rewarded himself on the drive home by buying a beef stick at a gas station. I thought it looked nasty, but he seemed satisfied.
My race was a strange one. Only 7 riders, all of whom had beaten me in previous races. However, I had beaten at least one of them when they were sick or had mechanicals. And while I would not wish ill upon one of my competitors, racing is an opportunistic endavor--when someone is having a bad day, someone else gets to step up. If I could finish, I was assured one of the highest-placed finishes of my CX-1-2 career, not to mention some cashmoney. However, could I avoid a last place finish? I got off to what's becoming my trademark slow start (initiated in racing singlespeed against the mostly geared collegiate men), as to avoid getting in the way of dudes that were clearly faster than me. My body seems to respond better when I start conservatively, holding wheels and not trying to jump past people in the first few minutes. This worked out pretty well as one, then two dudes kinda popped. I followed the wheel of Scott, an Inland rider, for a couple of laps until he gapped me and was on his merry way. I was feeling pretty okay and had a fairly sizable lead ahead of the 6th place guy, trying to ride quickly without taking any silly risks. The final lap presented a late surge from Aaron (the aforementioned 6th place guy), so I had to dig a bit deeper to fend him off. So while there is a big asterisk after this fifth place (my highest finish in a CX-1-2 race ever), it is still one of my most proud third-to-last place finishes.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Regulation cyclocross barriers are short and easy to jump over. A wall of foam on the other hand...
(photo swiped from HTATBL)
There's World Cup cyclocross and crazy-ass SSCXWC. Some things can be both darker and more sinister and brighter and sweeter at the same time. It's what I picture when my friend talks about more enemy rainbows. Beware. I wasn't at either of these, but probably should have been invited to both. I need to re-negotiate my contract.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
the end of daylight savings
indoor trainer time
however, given that in Standardized Boredom Units (SBU),
we can conclude that
Let's call this one Spear's Theorem (Nathan, not Britney--see the link). Yes, in fact this guy has uploaded a bunch of broadcasts from Belgian tv. Once you register, you can watch them for free. Has he done this with expressed written consent of major league cyclocross? Who knows. Does it help to alleviate seasonal training disorder? heck yeah.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The plan for last Saturday's ride was simple enough on paper: jump in the car early; meet up with Jeff and Chris, a couple new folks from the interwebs, and Brian (my tour guide for the SMBA trails and the Grafton-Pittstown extravaganza); zip over to Rutland, VT; get in a couple of hours on the Pine Hill Park trails; then head back to the Empire State and be done with things by two in the afternoon. Easy, schmeezy. I hadn't been out on the mountain bike -- or any bike -- much in the last month, but with snow in the forecast I figured I should take my non-frostbitten rides where I could.
There were a couple harbingers of doom -- Chris reported cougar sightings in the area and Brian had his car rearranged by his toddler on the way to meet us -- but as we pulled into the parking lot in Rutland and geared up, the rain from earlier in the morning was slackening and things were looking good. Brian decided to start things out with a bang and while poking around the park's activities building tripped a loud alarm. Not to be daunted by the closed door, the chain across said door, and the lights off, his attempt to sneak into the facilities was met with a sphincter-constricting FAIL. Rather than wait around to chat it up with Rutland's finest, we decided to hit the trail.
And it was a good thing that we did: any time missed on these trails is time wasted (and especially so if it's spent explaining to the authorities how ya just hadta go, ya know?). We started out on some flowy, techy trails on the lower section, complete with decent little freeride drop. Being the stunt expert that I am, I volunteered to film Brian as he launched the smooth transition.
Here's a still shot of Chris sizing up the rocks and then Brian making it look old hat. (Clicking on the pics will make them bigger. 'Playing' the videos will, well, play them.)
This was just the beginning of a trail system that represents untold labor hours in its creation and maintenance. It was really rather amazing, as the many of the trails had the ample rocks pushed from the middle of the trail to the sides, not only making things faster, but making for an easy path to follow through the leaf-strewn woods. In other places there were rather elaborate rocks playgrounds, and everything was clearly cut and well-marked. There were a number of criss-crossing trails, and we were happy to leave the navigation up to Jeff, who whipped his map out regularly to plot the best path.
After a short (for the region) carriage road climb (read: rock-strewn double-track bent on shaking your fillings loose) to the upper side of the park the fun really began, with some of the slow speed maneuvers from below replaced with fast, berm-filled, "grip it and rip it" fun. I didn't stop to take pictures of this because I was simply having too much fun, but if I can ever convince you NCers to trek north on two wheels I'll want us to go here: the trails were fast, techy, scenic, with a wide variety of terrain and a great use of space. No complaints, except maybe wishing that they were a little closer.
But as great as the trails were, they were not without their quirks. Exhibit one: an enormous suspension bridge in the middle of the trail that crossed what was little more than a wet seep. This thing was an impressive feat of engineering, with four huge anchor posts, treated lumber decking, and a totally-legit suspension setup. Much as we couldn't quite figure why bother, we did have fun playing around on it. Here's a couple of videos of us playing around on the swaying wonder:
There are also some rather interesting trail names, and I have to admit that I chuckled every time we took a turn down the Droopy Muffin. (I'm not sure if Brian thought so too, of if he was just humoring me in this photo.)
However, it was while drooping the muffin that we had our first problem, when Jeff realized that the creaking that he thought was coming from his seatpost was actually a cracked frame. In an attempt to keep the crack at the toptube-seattube from getting any larger he shoved his seatpost all the way down in the frame and rode BMXican style for the rest of the day. He may have sat down a couple of times, but I didn't see it, and instead was happy to pedal huckster style around on his bouncing bike.
A little later we ran across what is certainly one of the weirdest things I've seen while on the trail: a collection of hanging rocks, rock pyres, and weird things made out of branches that would have been more at home on the set of the Blair Witch Project than interrupting my ride. I would have stopped to take a few pictures, but it was really a little creepy.
Not incoincidentally, a few seconds down the trail I got a flat. The curse of the witch you think? No, you say? Well, then what do you say when I mention that the valve core pulled out of my spare tube after I got it pumped up? What if it happened again? Still not convinced? What if I told you that the witch (possibly in the form of Jeff) also stole Chris's brains around this time? (Sweartagawd.) Clearly, the place is cursed and should be avoided when you ride the trail. Alas, I couldn't tell you where it was.
The tire issues and the lack of cognitive abilities led us down the trail and back to the truck after one more rip down a trail aptly named Halfpipe. At the parking lot the clock on the wall said 2 o'clock. (Last call. For alcohol.*) For those of you keeping track at home that's when we'd planned on being home, but we were in the wrong state, in need of food, and still lacking Chris's grey matter. So we stopped in to a local pizza joint to top off our cholesterol reserves and prepare for a quick trip home.
The road home was, well, interesting. Not only did I learn about the vicious cougar attacks of ought-eight, but I also came home with a much broader picture of the Upstate riding scene, including -- but not limited to -- the following**:
- Their fondness for reminiscing about kicking Spiderman's ass.
- A hatred for the mullet.
- Nothing is ever "at altitude," because everything is "at altitude." (Dammit!)
- It is in fact possible to be too messed up to go to a junkyard.
- "I'd take that [stuff] and I'd eat it."
- "Well, I am a dirty boy."
- "I like to meet new people. And watch them eat. I mean, see them eat. I mean, see what they eat. Nevermind."
- "I think there were four generations in that house. And an airmattress. I dunno, it was weird."
- "You know, vodka out of a plastic bottle and hawaiian punch gatoraid really isn't bad when it's mixed for you by and old lady and given to you after a long ride. And has roofies in it."
Needless to say it was a great day. Maybe without the pain of the Grafton-Pittstown epic that left Brian with a broken shoulder, and possibly more expensive when you figure in the broken Yeti, but still good times. Sure our quick morning jaunt turned into an all-day affair, and maybe when we got back to town Chris and I had had our cars towed, but it was totally worth it, if only for ten minutes spent on the Droopy Muffin, and maybe a few more on Halfpipe.
I'm not sure when we will get out again, as there's snow in the forecast (they said that you can bike comfortably down into the 20s, but I'm not believing it), but at the very least we got in one last good ride before we turn to dogsledding or curling or whateverthahell else they do here for fun in the winter. Keep on keepin' on down in the NC.
One for the way out:
*I know that this clip takes you to a song where the quote is "The clock on the wall said quarter to midnight" and not "two o'clock," but I can't in good conscience link to the George Thoroughgood version where he changes it to the latter. So instead you get an inconsistency, but at least one with soul.
**All of the below are taken from my extremely suspect memory of the events and then painted liberally with a brush of Guinness-forgetfulness masquerading as poetic license.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Greetings two wheel friends. Today I turned in my two wheels for two feet and JD turned in two wheels for three and two extra feet. For those of you out there trying to do the math and figure out what is going on.....JD and I ran a 5K Road Running Race Sponsored by Bull City Cycling's Title Sponsor -- Second Empire Restaurant. JD opted to draft his 2-year-old son into service today and loaded him in the running stroller for a 3.1 mile (5km) jaunt from Second Empire around the North Carolina State Capital, down Hillsborough Street and back to Second Empire.
JD and Company blasting through the finish line.
Me approching the finish line.
Chef Daniel, Ali-Wiz, and Ben "I'm as tall as the building next to me"
Chef Danial was on hand to help run the show. Ben and Ali also joined us for the event today, single handedly blocking and/or directing all motorized traffic away from the race course (ok so they had the help of another dozen or so volunteers and the Raleigh Police too). Nonetheless they directed traffic like champs, cheered everyone on and looked really cute in their blaze orange vests.
Skyscraper and Mr. Wizard displaying the newest fashion trends in traffic directing wear for 2009.
JD and Luke at the finish. Who is happier? JD because the running is over or Luke because of the cookies?
In the end it was an excellent day (75 and sunny), a wonderful painful experience, and a fun way to pay our respects to our title sponsor -- Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern.........and a chance to eat Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at the finish.
I love Krispy Kreme!!!!
Last but not least, proceeds from the race benefited Camp Woodbine and is part of the Second Empire Gran Prix.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
there's not enough love out in the world today. however, after racing cyclocross this weekend and voting today, i am feeling some of the love and wanted to identify some of this to our loyal readers.
1) to Peter at bobkestrut, who celebrates greatness with great writing and giant beer (at least to the extent that he recognizes people deserving of a giant beer, if not personally buying them said beer). Peter was out at the Cary races, cheering people on, and he mentioned that he's taken an editorial job over at cyclingnews. Congratulations.
2) to cyclingnews. in addition to keeping us up-to-date about the results of obsucre south american road races and technological breakthroughs in $700 cranksets, they post sweet pictures like NCCX badass Nathan Wyatt biting the dust (or sand, to be more precise). one of these photos even made the random race photo in the upper left hand corner of the cyclingnews homepage. sweet. also, mad props to Nathan--someone buy that man a giant beer.
3) to people who race cyclocross on mountain bikes. there are few things i love more than a cyclocross bike. actually, no, there are LOTS of things that i love more than bikes, even cyclocross ones. however, as far as bikes go, they're really the bee's knees (bees live there). that being said, many people who already own a road bike and a mountain bike have opted against acquiring another bike, in favor of paying their mortgage or for their kids' braces or buying deserving people giant beers. and that being said, i'm always kind of shocked to see how many people show up for cyclocross races with cyclocross bikes. sometimes very nice, new cyclocross bikes. bikes that are raced between 1 and 5 times per year, and ridden a dozen or so times the rest of the year--it's kinda crazy. i'm all in favor of the right tool for the right job, but sometimes, there's something satisfying in using an old fashioned screwdriver (one you already have), rather than going out and getting a new electric drill, just to hang a picture. that, and that, and that being said. i'm really not someone to tell someone that they have too many bikes. my main point is, cheers to the people who drag their old mountain bikes out and rip it in cx races. two giant beers for people, like our other friend Adam (not shop Adam or Olde English Adam, but Adam of Denise and Adam fame) who was kickin' it on a hybrid (with tights and baggy shorts). To hell with the pro style guide--bring back anything-goes style.
4) to kids racing cylcocross. at first, watching juniors (10-14 year-olds) try and haul a bike nearly half their weight over a barrier nearly the height of their inseam seemed like a cruel joke. like those pictures where they dress up babies to look like vegetables. but after talking to some of these kids after their race i learned that they were totally stoked to be racing. they were having a blast. and so i realized that, for kids who like to bike, it's a great environment. much better than my early days, standing around a baseball field in itchy polyester, getting yelled at by some jerk-ass coach. i would have much rather pushed my bike up a grassy hill (something i would do most days) but with dozens of adults going nuts, ringing cowbells, encourageing me, and getting ready to do the same darn thing themselves. however, while these kids get mad props, they receive no giant beer. maybe root beer. but only after they finish their homework.
5) to fans who watch cyclocross. hootin' and hollerin'. ringin' cow bells. nodding politely. you deserve a big beer. preferably while watching the races.
6) to big beer. not the big business side of big beer (like "big tobacco" or "big oil"), but beer in large containers. because a 750 mL beer is like the 29er of beers.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Big props to our pal Jay, who was also out kickin' in in the 4s on his vintage Bontrager mountain bike. He finished 22nd out of 60 racers, beating lots of dudes on shiny new cyclocross rigs and proving it's all about the engine.
Unfortunately, we didn't have a photographer out with us so there is no visual evidence. Jonah received many compliments for his documentation of the Saturday race, but just to remind him not to quit his day job, he did take a couple of lousy photos, including the back flank of Linus (which may or may not have been intentional) and this one:
Monday, October 20, 2008
Linus finished an outstanding 13th, but most impressive is his post-race composure:
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Radsportclub Kleinmachnow e.V.
Karl-Marx-Strasse 44 a, 14532 Kleinmachnow
Boris Eichler – Vereinsvorsitzender
Pressemitteilung KOCMO CROSS CUP 2008
Sehr geehrte Sportsfreunde, 14.10.2008
seit heute steht fest, dass zwei hochkarätige Radsportstars im November beim schon traditionellen Kleinmachnower Cross-Rennen am Start sind:
Hanka Kupfernagel und Philipp Walsleben starten
beim KOCMO Cross Cup
am 15.11.2008 in Kleinmachnow.
Hanka Kupfernagel ist Deutschlands erfolgreichste Cross-Fahrerin und sie gehört mit vier Weltmeistertiteln zur absoluten Weltspitze dieser Disziplin. In Kleinmachnow übernimmt sie außerdem die Schirmherrschaft für ein Nachwuchsrennen.
Philipp Walsleben ist momentan Deutschlands größte Cross-Hoffnung. Der Kleinmachnower, der mittlerweile in Belgien wohnt und trainiert, wird in dieser Saison nicht mehr oft in Deutschland starten. Walsleben gilt mit seinen 20 Jahren bereits als bester deutscher Cross-Fahrer. Das haben seine beiden Siege in Hamburg und Berlin bewiesen. In seinem belgischen Team „Palmans Cras“ wird er intern bereits auf Platz zwei hinter Niels Albers geführt. Querfeldeinradsport ist in Belgien die populärste Sportart der zweiten Jahreshälfte. Philipp Walsleben brennt darauf auf seiner „Heimstrecke“ im Eliterennen zu brillieren. Das erste Rennen in den Kiebitzbergen wird er um 10.00 Uhr start. Der Start zum Eliterennen wird um 15.00 Uhr fallen.
Schon jetzt haben über 300 Starter für das traditionelle Kleinmachnower Rennen gemeldet. Der KOCMO Cross Cup ist Teil des Deutschland Cups. Das ist eine bundesweite Querfeldein-Rennserie, die als Gesamtwertung ähnlich dem Ski-Weltcup funktioniert. Die Veranstalter hoffen wieder auf mehrere Tausend Besucher in den Kleinmachnower Kiebitzbergen.
Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Hey there cyberland-face! I can't help but feel remorseful about my shameless lack of blogging; suffice to say it has taken me a while to warm up to the whole idea.
Apologies aside, mountain bikes are awesome. Today, Ali, the Professor and I went for an early morning ride all single speed stylie. After some deliberation en route it was decided to do a quick warm up in crabtree (a practice many of our fellow teammates have sworn off) and then head over to 286. Now, it's worth mentioning that this was also the second time I've been able to ride my kick-awesome new bike (a Surly 29er all rigidified). Also worth mentioning is that big wheels are fast. My old bike was a '92 Specialized HardRock cobbled together with new and old parts and setup single speed. While fun, not being able to straighten one's fingers or back after riding for two hours is not so great. Happily this is no longer the case.
286 seemed to go by fast in part, no doubt, to Ali crushing it for a good while. The big wheels didn't hurt either. I'm still getting used to the bike but I can already feel the handling becoming more intuitive and I'm becoming more confused as to why everyone says 29ers don't handle quick. Its a little higher off the ground but I can still toss it around like a BMX bike. Word! Fun and fast, who could ask for more?
Oh, and plenty of funny pics are to follow as soon as blogger stops confusing me.
"No one on the corner has swagger like us."-MIA
I heard the anthem late this afternoon played from the loudspeakers at Duke East Campus Field Hockey Stadium. While I was intially startled by the sound of the amplified gun shots, after a moment of recognition I thought that the song's bravado and, uh, enthusiasm captured my weary but elated state. I was happy to get in a pair of rides on my singlespeed at 2-6 this weekend. On Saturday, Ben and I rendezvous'd with JD, who became a father a second time over about a week ago. After greetings, congratulations, and some time admiring JD's beautiful new Waltworks 29er (21.5lbs!), we warmed up through Umstead and the looping trails. It was here that Ben uncharacteristically took a double helping of trouble. The first was quick, caused by too much speed on the downhill approaching a rock garden, but the second was far more dramatic fall into a drainage as Ben tried to act on his second thoughts approaching a "skinny" bridge. I saw Ben's tumble in agonizingly slow motion: feet over head, Ben landed on his back with his bike on top, leaning against a barbed wire fence. He came out with a few scratches and maybe some bruises, but the damage could have been far worse. I fell in this exact spot about a year ago. The resulting knee injury bothered me for at least a month. Falls out of the way, we enjoyed the rest of the trails without incident.
On Sunday morning, Linus, the Professor, and I made a singlespeed trio on the same network of trails. And we were moving. Linus, dailing in his new Karate Monkey, declared the bike to be "perfect". Unlike the day before, we came across many, many other riders, including one of Chef Daniel's pals who gave us a shout out when he saw the Second Empire kits. We capped the day's perfect weather and perfect rides with a perfect visit to Biscuitville.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Got back earlier this week for a 5 day trip to Flagstaff. It's been over a year since I have ventured to the beautiful Southwest and my body was not happy about the lack of oxygen and my inconsistent riding regimen.
I arrived on Thursday to blue skies and 70 degree temperatures, perfect for mountain biking. I woke up early on Friday and headed out with my boy, Chris Hull, not to be confused with the Chris Hull of Bike Chain fame. We hopped on our rigs and pointed the bikes north towards Shultz Pass, an amazing 4.5 mile climb that takes you deep into the vast network of trails that the western side of the mountain has to offer.
As we start the climb, we are chatting it up, or should I say he was chatting it up and I was responding with curt one word answers due to the lack of oxygen at 7000 feet. That being said, I have been on this trail literally hundreds of times and I knew that if I just kept it cool the breathing would settle down and everything would be fine. The real climbing was yet to come...
One thing you have to understand, I am going up the pass at a relatively chill rate, the legs felt great but I was huffing and puffing for sure. If I hadn't of know better, Chris was sitting on the couch in his living room. I was thinking "come on man, at least look like you are getting a work out". Just as I am thinking that, he mentions very non-challantly that he just received word for the USCF that he was upgraded from Semi-Pro to Pro. Great! Here comes the acceleration...
We finish out Shultz and link over to Sunset. I scrabble on to his wheel only to look down and see that he's in his big chain ring...I mean, Damn...really, do you have to throw it in the big ring?
Anyway, we hit up sunset and finally my breathing is chilling out and I can actually hold a conversation. Sunset has always been my nemesis, I have tried to clean it maybe 20 times and have always dabbed at least once. It's beautiful, epic, steep but not so technical. It just breaks me down mentally, once I think I have a rhythm it kicks up again. Well, I am very proud to say that I pushed through and successfully navigated it without touching down...4 miles of steeps without a dab. Needless to say I was pretty stoked.
We continue on and linked a string of other trails including Little Bear(insane DH), lower moto, Ft Valley and a couple other that I can't even remember. The big highlight of this section was Super Moto...DAMN, it was off the chain. Lets just say that they named the trail appropriately. It was sooooo technical! I had to dab 4 times and that included pulling off some DH sections that I honestly don't know how I did it. I would look back after I cleaned something and just shake my head. If you have ridden with me, you know what I am talking about, I am clearly not the best descender in the world but the stars were just aligned, I guess.
Anyway, thought you guys might like to hear a little about the trip. Hope everyone is doing well out there on the inter-web, hopefully I will see you on the trail soon.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
After two weeks in which the only riding I got in was on my short commute to school, I decided that the beautiful autumn weather and my ever-tightening pants meant that I needed to get in some quality saddle time in. Without enough time to hit the trails I pumped up the Cannondale to 135 psi and pointed my handlebars to the southeast to take on the Hiedelberg Escarpement.
The last time that I headed this way I met with rather dismal defeat, and today I was even less prepared: poor nutrition? yep; fattyboombalatty? check; lazy? uh-huh; lack of sleep? guilty. However, I might be a little wizer. Rather than map a route that took me rather straight to the top, I took a longer, more gradual approach to the top of the ridge. I'll probably wear out my 26 tooth cog if I do many more rides like this, but by getting in a groove and rolling I at least was able to avoid the walk of shame.
The fall colors were nice, and while it was never cold, by the time that got to the ridge the wind was chilling my ears pretty nicely. This route was much longer -- possibly my longest road ride of the year, embarrassing though that is -- and the rollers once I got to the top of the hill really took a lot out of me. By the time that I limped back in to Albany I was ready for a hot shower and some eats.
Here's a map of my ride for your cartographic enjoyment. The total ride time was just a little over two hours and twenty-two minutes; take a whack at those number Adrawk!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
How can't you love mountain biking Barry Wicks? The mountain bike and cyclocross terror who was one of the main highlights of the CX films "Transition" and "Pure Sweet Hell". He also writes a funny blog and now a column for velonews. He's not always the fastest (although often he is), but he seems to be enjoying the sport more than anyone else out there. I think it's partially because he's from Oregon.
I remember racing against Wicks back at collegiate cyclocross nationals in Portland in 2002. Which is to say, I do not have any memory of racing against him at nationals. Truth be told, after the starting gun, I never saw him on the same stretch of course that I was on--I could only see him on other portions, far far ahead of me. I got totally destroyed. By him and most of the rest of the field. I attribute this trouncing I received to several factors:
1) Barry Wicks et al. are fast. Just because people race in the collegiate division, doesn't mean they aren't just warming up for the elite division.
2) Overtapering. True, you are supposed to taper before big races, especially end-of-the-season races where your body is fatigued. However, stopping racing, and almost all riding a month before a big race will make you suck.
3) Mud. There was mud. Ridiculous mud (see "Pure Sweet Hell" for footage from these races). Not like the mud we get here in North Carolina. In fact, the past few seasons, we haven't seen much mud during cyclocross season. 80 degree weather in October? Yes. Mud? Not so much. To compare cyclocross in fabled places like the Pacific Northwest or New England with North Carolina is like comparing, well maybe like warm brie on toast points (classy smoothness) compared to Lance brand Nip-Chee crackers (crunchy dryness).
Both are essentially the same thing: cheese+crackers. But the dissimilarities are many. Don't get me wrong, I love Lance brand crackers (sponsorship anyone?) as well as fancy cheeses from France. The point is, there is really no reason to compare these things against each other. Both are great in the correct situation. Like, what's better: creme brulee on a fancy date at a fancy restaurant or an ice cream sandwich from a suspicious van that rolls through your neighborhood on the hottest day of the summer? Answer: both, especially if it happens on the same day. But I digress. What was I saying? Okay, yes. My skills are like pre-packaged snack crackers served on a silver tray by a butler.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sure, we at Bull City Cycling have been known to brag about our bikes, but can any of them do this?
Actually, I've never tried this, but maybe that the secret of all well-built trails: you don't need to steer, the bike will just naturally follow the trail. I suggest you try it. Next ride, just take your hands off the bars, close your eyes, and coast.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Yes it is true. There was a lull in the Brian house renovation/clean out process last night and with the help of Linus, my new Carbon S-Works hardtail is alive.
It is light and very sexy. Bling-tackular. Hopefully my back will survive with a few less aches and pains next season. The bike is light. Loaded with everything (pedals and 2 cages) it is right on 23 pounds. That is even with my heavy rear wheel on it. Not that I am going for super light......but I am personally in the superlight category, so this helps me. Plus with my move to Colorado coming up, I need every advantage I can get to hang with those boyz out there (like Dave Wiens, etc etc). Haha
Props again to Linus for the help! And thanks to Dr. Seven for the motivation. It will have to wait until next week to get dirty.
And as a bonus, my old Stumpjumper (previous race bike) is now a lightweight single speed and I have a Santa Cruz Chameleon frame for sale (size medium). Huck bike anyone??
Monday, September 22, 2008
Just checked the Blog, I have to say that I concur whole-heartedly with the Professor. I went out on a couple of extended MTB rides with Daniel this weekend, there were two results:
1. I am extremely sore all over my body...it feels like I was in a boxing match and had my teeth handed to me.
2. Daniel has a new nickname "Chef Caesar", the first part is obvious the second is a shout out to his brethren that hail from Germany, Big Jan...
The story behind the nickname began a couple of weeks ago but was confirmed on the Saturday ride. We had done an extended Umstead bridal loop, Hubcap, Sludge and were venturing out on 286 when Chef Caesar says to me, "Whoa, I am still in my big ring!" I mean come on, really? It wasn't enough that he was punishing me on the climbs, looking effortless, but in the big ring the whole time... I think he took a little satisfaction in that, personally. Mistake? not sure. Kicking a man while he's down? Probably. Good time shredding some dirt? For sure!
By the way, we ran into one of the trail builders on 286. He had just added an additional 2 miles of singletrack. According to his calculations, the trail tips the scales at 8 miles. As you can imagine, its pretty soft and fresh but feels pretty nice.
Anyway, I went home pretty sore from the effort but wanted redemption. ON Sunday, we loaded up the bikes and headed out to New Light for an evening ride. Feeling a bit better, I pushed it a little and finished with a great ride. Although I am feeling pretty tired as I type this message.
I am heading to Flagstaff for a 5 days in a couple of weeks so I am trying to prepare myself to get completely destroyed by my boys out there. Should be amazing as always...
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
some weeknight, everywhere around the world, local folks get together and host some sort of fake bike race. it's slightly more organized than a group of kids doing laps around the jungle gym, but it would never be mistaken for some UCI/ASO fiasco. no entry fees. no race officials. no neutral support vehicle. no photo finish. no prize money. it's just for the glory. oh, the glory.
and while i've given the tuesday night fight the ol' college try for most of the summer, victory has been elusive. partially because my tactics are often rash and impatient. mostly because i can't sprint my way out of a paper bag (try it, it's more difficult than it sounds). but, as i continue to tell myself, it's never about the win, it's all about the game. the action and drama of the way the fake race plays out. even into the fall, when weather is iffy, the days grow short and motivation grows even shorter.
but the fake isn't about the win, it's about the fight. it's a chance to throw down. make stupid attacks. make risky moves. suffer. at the end of the day, it's only practice. one part high-intensity training, one part testing out strategies. playing the pack weasel or just waiting for everything to come back together is lame (unless you're struggling just to hang on--then that's a workout and a strategy).
so like i was saying, i rolled out to the race this tuesday. it had rained pretty consistently for the previous day and a half, but close inspection of weatherunderground.com radar said that the rain was done and the ride should be on. long story short(er), the rain must have scared everyone else away so i rode the loops by myself TO VICTORY! and let this be a valuable strategic lesson to you all: training is good, but the best odds for winning a race is finding a race where no one else shows up. similar to G.I. Joe's mantra "knowing is half the battle", Cat. 4 Joe's mantra is "showing is half the battle". and i take this confidence with me to my first mountain bike races in months. enter the collegiate mtb season. wish me luck...luck that no one else shows up.
I know all of our loyal fans have been waiting for the debut of my new 2009 race bike (mainly based on the constant reports from my PR Agent Ali aka....Dr. 7)
And here goes.......the first spy shots of the 2009 Hollywood Race Bike:
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Just checked the blog and noticed that our token hammerhead, aka The Professor, is issuing a futile attempt to convince the riders of the Durham peloton collectively that he is losing fitness.
I say heed not the pontifications of this wolf in sheeps clothing. He is a menace on both the road and the mountain. His inactivity signals just one thing to me...he will merely rip my legs off on the next ride with not only the traditional smile and cordail demeanor but a sigh and maybe a head shake..."I must be feeling ok afterall".
I have made the mistake of thinking that I was on a good day and he was not, believe me don't take the bait. He will punish you and be as nice and polite about it. In fact, I am not even sure that he believe this living in Oregon thing, if I didn't know better I would say that he oozes Southern Charm and Hospitality. You know nice and sweet on the surface but a rattlesnake just below.
So do all you readers out there, don't believe the hype...Chris is fit, was fit and probable always will be fit.
The only hope that i have is that he takes up smoking...
Chris, you know I am just kidding...your my boy.
the weather's been crampin' my style. it's finally getting cooler, but the rain prevents us from mountain biking and makes road biking kinda lame. actually, road biking's still fine, the rain just makes me lame about riding. and that's pretty bad, since i grew up in oregon, where even hype-clothed hipsters ride ancient schwinns in the rain. oh, what have i become? i might as well sell all my bikes, buy a serotta that shall never be ridden, and pour myself a glass of chardonnay. please! send help!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Postponed, due to excessive moisture. Rain is good to relieve drought conditions, but bad for mountain bike trail conditions. I haven't ridden the ol' mountain bike in ages, so it is somewhat fortunate that the Triangle MTB series finale has been postponed. Train more/slack less.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This is something I can't understand: how a bike can near kill a man.
Pressed for time last Sunday I headed out to the southwest of Albany to get a couple hours of riding in on the skinny tires. I'd planned to head about halfway up the Hiedelberg Escarpement, a ridge outside of town that begins to loom over you as you get onto progressively smaller country roads. Unfortunately I can't read maps (or wasn't paying attention), and my route took me winding to the top. (And you know it's the top by the beautiful views, and the cell phone towers.)
Here's my route:
There's no way that the map can convey just how out of shape I am, so let me say this: at the top of the ride I actually had to get off and walk the last hundred yards or so. I've never, ever had to do this on a road bike before and I have to admit that it was pretty humbling. I imagine if I had a 27-tooth cassette in the rear -- or a compact crankset -- I would have been fine, but on Sunday the choice was stop and walk, turn around with my tail between my legs, or fall over and hope someone found me. So I walked. Of course as soon as I unclipped the only car I'd seen for minutes pulled up behind me to make sure my humiliation was witnessed.
So yes, I have been beaten and unmanned, but I'm ready to go back for more: at my slow pace, the ascent took somewhere around 25 minutes, all but a couple hundred yards or so were uphill (there were two quick dips). Some was just steady climbing, but there were a few switchbacks and steep pitches. Needless to say it was quite a change from doing repeats on Mt. Sinai (which I was never very good at, and I haven't done for almost a year now).
There were a few minutes where the only thing that got me through were my snazzy new bottle cages. But survive I did, and I'll live to ride -- and walk -- another day.