Wednesday, October 28, 2009

in Raleigh, fingers clenched in a fist, punch me in the gut

As a kid, I was never really into professional baseball, but I do remember one player from a pack of baseball cards I got at a birthday party.

I've always remembered the winning combination of an awesome name and awesome mustache. However, I didn't remember how to spell his name and always thought it was "Raleigh", like the city. So it's not surprising that when I think of the state capital, I don't think of Sir Walter Raleigh, but I think of Rollie Fingers. (Incidentally, I also have a suspicion that "Raleigh Fingers" is the name of something dirty, but I haven't tried looking it up on yet.)

And so Sunday took the North Carolina Cyclocross Series to Raleigh. Mustaches optional. As a Durham resident and proud Bull City Cyclist, I feel a certain rivalry with the city of Raleigh, despite the fact that several BCC guys live there. All towns need a friendly rival. San Francisco vs Los Angles. Portland vs Seattle. NYC vs the rest of the world. So even though Raleigh race was the closest to a hometown race, I still felt like I needed to represent Durham.

And it did feel like a homefield advantage. Jay and his family was out there. Corey came back for a second day of cheering and brought along Geoff. I also got totally pumped up when I rounded a corner during my race and saw Daniel cheering me on. Also, I saw some kid walking around with a high-top-fade, which was quite fresh and made me think of the early 90s (probably about when he was born). Only in Raleigh.

Jay proved to be Mr. Consistency, finishing 12th on both Saturday and Sunday. His fan club was there cheering him on at the Raleigh race, but his son had a little trouble identifying Jay and cheered for most guys wearing helmets and riding bikes. It is unclear if this cheering boosted Jay's rivals.

Linus scored an excellent 14th place on Saturday, but went AWOL on Saturday. Don't worry, he'll be back.

Ben cruised to a 21st place out of a huge field of 65, improving from his 24th place on Saturday. This is Ben's first cx season, but he looks very cool and composed. Measuring in at well-over 6-feet tall, he also looks like the missing third member of the towering Kona professional team on his Jake the Snake. Maybe he's Barry Wicks' half-brother.

I took a page from the Book of Linus in the singlespeed race. Specifically, Chapter 3, verse 2:
"And it will be on the first lap, and he shall round a corner and shed himself of his chains. And all others who follow him shall become his leaders." Oh well. Sandbaggers like me get what they deserve. I was still able to get a few quality laps in and figure out how not to crash.

I somehow felt better in the A race on Sunday, but did worse, dropping from 18th to 22nd place. This was probably explained by some other fast dudes who showed up at Raleigh. 22nd out of 36 actually feels better than 12th out of 14 (which was more typical of last year).

The course was a lot of fun. Some tricky, technical sections. Twisty/flowy sections. Sketchy mud-to-wooden plank-to-pavement transition. Loose gravel. Firm grass. Dry, loose pine needles. A royal sampler.

The weather was much better on Sunday (i.e. no downpour) so I got to spend a bit of time chatting with people after the race. Cyclocross people are the best kind of people.


Perhaps yesterday's post was premature. BCC HQ received this photo today. Seems Hollywood is making a cameo appearance with his cyclocross bike before this weekend's competition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hollywood Files

Sure, The Professor, OG, and Jay actually have to ride their CX bikes. But just as Alberto Contador has outsourced his signature "fingerbang" Hollywood informs me that his cyclocross bike is turning laps under someone named David Hasselhoff, I mean "Kitt" this season. Hollywood's bike has already placed 2nd at a local Colorado race and he's predicting that he'll move to the top step of the podium at this weekend's Boulder Cup race. Brian says, bring it on. His bike is ready.

Monday, October 26, 2009

go. Go! GO!!!

NCCX opening weekend. Day 1: Cary.

Couldn't find parking so I found an awesome, semi-illegal spot near the course. Very handy for dragging two bikes and a spare set of wheels to the race. Got there just in time to see Jam Master Jay lining up for the start of the large B race. 100 meters on grass before a slight uphill to right-hand bottleneck. Jay made it through without too much trouble and steadily worked his way into the top ten. I haven't seen results yet, but Jay looked to be riding confidently and smoothly. His face during cx races does not show an expression one would call cheerful, but there is a sort of calmness in his determined grimace. He gave a great performance in his first race in the B field, which required a 50% increase in race length, and oh the difference 15 minutes can make.

Linus and I lined up next with four other singlespeeders, the women's B field, and a bunch of juniors. I'm used to lining up next to semi-pro roadies who scare the crap out of me so it's weird racing against a 13 year old kid (to be fair, we were racing at the same time, not against one another). And then we were off. Linus, the mechanic, dropped his chain around the first turn. I think it was because he was wearing his Bitter Dose jersey instead of the Bull City kit. I was chasing the elder Hawkins boy (on a mountain bike older than most of the juniors) and some other dude on a mountain bike and trying not to get caught by a re-chained Linus and they younger Hawkins. I was using the singlespeed race to get warmed up for my later race and work out some of the kinks of the course, so yes, you could say I was sandbagging. I did try to stay out of the way of the people who were doing their primary race. If I messed up your game, let me know and I'll give you a big lead-out next time.

It was hot. It's always hot at the Cary race. Dusty, grass and mulch. I opened up my sunglasses case but found no sunglasses. My contact lenses frowned. My legs, on the other hand, felt alright. Lined up toward the back of the Men's A field, where I belong. About 35 people, much larger than ever before, which in some ways is bad because I'm not really racing for top ten (out of twelve) anymore, but in other ways is good because I'm actually racing against a bunch of other people. The fast guys are still fast, but there are now more slower guys like me.

So we're off. Someone's chain immediately explodes. See you and your $25 later. Things string out and I'm working my way forward. People are surging, then fading. Bikes are falling apart, or something, I can't be bothered to figure out why dudes suddenly stop. I'm feeling good--cyclocross good, which means feeling terrible, but in an optimistic way. A couple of laps down and I see the start/finish line: 9 laps to go. Fuck. This is not some stupid crit with 2 minute laps. That's a lot of riding still to be done. With 4 to go, I'm starting to feel bad--cyclocross bad, which means feeling terrible, but in a pessimistic way. My energy level is low. Dudes I was chasing are nowhere to be seen. Dudes I had passed are now seen again, gaining on me. Don't panic. That next guy is going to catch you, just keep riding tempo and don't blow up. Two laps to go: I blow up. I keep pedaling, realizing that I'll be lapped soon. I can see the leaders, but unless I stop before the finish line and wait, they are too far away to lap me, and finishing like that is far too undignified. Not to mention there is still one other rider behind me who isn't going to get lapped. So I go onward, bonking in full effect. I find some smashed Jelly Belly Sportsbeans in my pocket and eat them without water. They are somehow both delicious and repulsive. I have no water and I'm not sure if throwing up would make me feel better or worse, or if it's even possible. Keep riding. Don't crash. That last dude is definitely going to catch you--just finish the race. I finish the race and sulk back to the car.

I sulked back to the car just as the rain started. Ben had arrived and was warming up for his first cx race. Linus was also getting ready. It had been humid and dry all day, but as soon as they started the C race, it started pouring. I had totally destroyed myself and went searching for things made of food and clothes without chamois. Unfortunately, I missed most of the race, but I made it back in time to see guys crashing most awesomely on a descent that for every other race was dry and bumpy. Very ridable, but the type of thing you'd likely roll a tire on. In the fresh mud, people were rolling themselves, or sliding. All sorts of carnage.

I've sort of hogged the spotlight, but these races are always best explained in the first person. Hopefully the other guys will share their experiences. Corey was also out there, cheering us on and taking pictures, and hopefully he'll get some of those posted up too.

Next time, NCCX: Raleigh.

Friday, October 23, 2009

race across the why?

the cycling documentary "Race Across the Sky" screened in Raleigh yesterday. i skipped in because i opted to attend cyclocross practice (featuring smAli on his brand-spankin'-new cx bike) and then watch "30 Rock". BCC sibling and occasional commenter "miniweesh" did manage to see it in New Jersey and filed this report:

"I didn't know what the point of "Race Across The Sky" was before I dropped $12.50 to see it in a theatre. I still don't. The soundtrack is the unholy spawn of an anti-shoplifting PSA circa 1990 and a high-stakes elimination reality show about competition cat grooming (that is to say it is simultaneously totally awesome and taint numbingly awful). Just as with shoplifting, however, there is no such thing as a "victimless crime" and unfortunately the real victims here are the dignities of anybody associated with the production of this audio-visual debacle. The requisite elements of any second-rate documentary are there in formulaic splendor: the lovable but eccentric event organizer, the battle at front the between two equals from opposite ends of the spectrum, inspiring back-stories of personal triumph and heroism, etc... Except that the organizer comes off as a creepy kook, Dolf Lundgen beats Rocky, and the public interest stores end up flatter than Lance’s rear tire at the end of the race. Incidentally, one of the only truly enjoyable moments in the film was when Lance flats near the finish and we see the look of terror on his face when he realizes there’s no team car he has absolutely no idea how change it. Remember kids, cinematic storytelling works best when there’s actually a story to be told. And, $12.50 buys a lot of PBRs."

Not a glowing review. However, as I reminded him, he did learn how to be a movie critic from these guys:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bull City Cycling denies doping allegations

received the following email message today:

Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 03:25:29 +0700 [10/20/2009 04:25:29 PM EDT]
From: Bernardo Trujillo
To: ----
Subject: Bull power in lovemaking!

Herbal solution for awesome humping! These herbs boosts you good!

as someone who is opposed to performance enhancing drugs, i am supportive of natural products, but generally dubious of so-called "herbal" supplements. i do not appreciate the so-called Bruno Trujillo evoking the power of the bull to sell his product and if you receive this message, please be aware that Bull City Cycling does not endorse whatever this guy is selling.

Bull City Cycling does, of course, approve of awesome humping.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

it's the economy, stupid

in these oh-so tough economic times, racing is tough. and although i've advocated FakeRacing as opposed to real road racing and fun mountain biking as opposed to competitive mountain biking under certain circumstances, cyclocross is different. to ride cyclocross is to race cyclocross. or vice-versa. it is true, riding forest trails on a cx bike is fun. however, have you ever tried practicing cyclocross by yourself? you look stupid. riding around in a grass field. jumping off your bike. picking it up. running over invisible barriers. jumping back on your bike. riding around some more. riding an imaginary spiral-of-death. and i don't even want to talk about falling down. an old Zen master once asked, "when a guy practicing cyclocross in an empty field falls on an off-camber turn and no one is there to see it, does he still look like a dufus?" the answer is, of course, yes. however, if you are racing, and hit an invisible root and fall on your face, the crowd roars.

true, they laugh, but then they throw beer at you and holler until you get up and race onward.

and so the North Carolina Cyclocross Series kicks off this weekend. and yes, to race you need a license ($60), a one-time race number/bib fee ($5), entry fee ($20 for most races, $25 for the Cat-1/2), and a possible late fee if you don't register in advance ($10). plus gas, food, laundry detergent, radical tires, a fresh kit, chamois creme, and a bouquet of flowers to give to your special someone to make up for the fact that you've been gone the entire weekend and upon returning just want to sleep and cough and complain about how sore you are and shop online for radical new tires.

however, let it also be noted, "ADDITIONAL RACES ARE $5". which means, once you drag yourself out there, there is only one Abraham Lincoln (in bill form, not in coin form (or reanimated zombie form)) standing between you and another race. i've already taken the rack and derailleurs off the Surly Crosscheck so i can jump into the newly-established singlespeed division this year.

be there. you can't afford not to.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Warrior Professor-Princess

I ran into the Professor yesterday while he was on his way to an evening symposium of libations and dialectics. He mentioned that he plans to race the new singlespeed CX class this weekend in Cary and Raleigh because all competitors can add on a second race for only 5 dollars. Then me chastised me for making excuses for not racing, telling me that if he plans on racing four times next weekend surely I could manage to get out there at least once. It goes without saying that my shame is monumental, but then I see the bike honoring his Japanese heritage the Professor will be racing in said singlespeed class this weekend and my shame is doubled over. Slay on Warrior Professor-Princess!

Friday, October 16, 2009


crap. i lost my wallet. if you see someone trying to steal my USA Cycling identity and register in a Cat-4 road race without achieving the necessary upgrade points from Cat-5 status, break their nose and/or Scatante. i worked hard for that upgrade and don't want some poser using it. also, if you see anyone with a $20 bill, it's probably mine, so kick their ass for me. even if it's you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Liege-Bastogne-Liege 1999

Frank Vandenbrouke 1974-2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

cx is on

just back from cyclocross in richmond. with the wealth of cyclocross in the old north state, i haven't done an out-of-state race in years, so it was interesting to see a different scene. richmond is larger, more urban, and probably grittier than most towns around here and it made durham look downright pastoral. the race drew folks down from dc and elsewhere, which meant more tattoos and fewer kids.

the course was a good one. in addition to a familiar twisty maze setup on flat grass and some off camber bumpy stuff, they had a couple of treacherous descents which consisted of steep turns on what was once grass, but had turned to loose dust, sprinkled with roots. rain threatened, but never really materialized. i think a little rain would have helped traction but a lot would have resulted in certain death. the race was set at some historical park and was about 1/3 cobblestone, which was pretty rad, especially on 32mm tubulars at about 30 psi (as opposed to 23mm clinchers at 110 psi). those would have sucked if they were wet. each lap was capped off with a steep staircase, short enough that i felt that i had to run it, but long enough that my legs were burning at the end.

the first race of the season is always a wildcard. i have no idea how i'll respond to the anaerobic first 5 minutes. i have no idea if my bike will fall apart or my tires will fall off. i have no idea if i can actually ride technical stuff. i have no idea if i can endure 60 minutes of suffering. in the end, i think things went alright. i didn't stick around long enough to see the results, but i ended up somewhere in the middle i think. i actually raced this one as a collegiate rider, partially because i thought registration would be cheaper, but also to support collegiate cycling and possibly to shoot for a decent overall season ranking. they started collegiate A's with the Cat 1-2 men, so it didn't really matter. i will, however, be back to represent the BCC in a couple of weeks for the raleigh & cary races, hopefully with some company.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Newsflash from Moab:

Baby Dave is in Moab......hope he doesn't end up like this dude.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Très Amusant

As Ali raised the specter of the evil one the other day, I thought you might like to know that Hitler is also interested in your commuting habits:

Ferreals. So before you hop in the car tomorrow morning, remember: when you drive your car, you're ridin' with the Reich!

Are You Listening, Podium Girls?

Rock Racing finds a unique way to plug the numbness-defying properties of their sponsor's saddle.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


the first nice day after several days of rain. and it was a beauty. sunny, right around 80. but here's the thing: i couldn't get myself motivated to get on my road bike. i know i need to ride, as not to get destroyed at the cyclocross races in richmond this weekend. also, as spring turns to fall turns to winter, these nice days could be growing scarce. but i just couldn't ride. and here's the other thing: i went for a run.

a run? ack. running is what i save for the crappy weather days. what's happening to me?

it actually would have been a nice day for a duke forest cyclocross ride. but unfortunately, they've got it closed for the deer population reduction.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Take a kid mountain biking

Ben, Daniel, Dave, Jay, Linus, and I joined forces on Saturday with Andrea and Tristan from Trips For Kids for National Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day. A few Duke people also volunteered--much thanks to Jamie and Max, as well as the ever-present Dr. Mark, M.D. The TORC-sponsored event was a lot of fun and allowed us to share what we love to do, namely ride bikes, with kids who also love to ride bikes. TFK brought the kids and a fleet of bikes (since most of these kids don't have proper mountain bikes) and the kids brought the radness. I often tout my own supposed radness on this blog, however, even with a 20 year head start, some of these kids were holding our pace and even leading the group. (Thanks to the original Bull City Cyclist, Gaynor, for the free Clif Bloks.) They rode with the skill of veterans but the fearlessness of youth. I was particularly impressed with one kid, Eddy from Durham, who joined us for an extra loop. He rode everything we rode (I saw Jay breathing heavily when Eddy was setting the pace) and actually preferred the fully-rigid Redline singlespeed to a geared Soma with a suspension fork. Eddy explained at one point that before he started riding, he was about 50 pounds heavier, which amazed me. He was still a pretty stocky kid, but carried it well. I couldn't imagine him with an extra 50 pounds. Well, actually, I could because I see lots of kids about that age carrying that much weight. It's scary that without exercise and eating properly, kids can get that heavy. This experience made me realize yet another reason why TFK is such an important organization. So please remember to forego a training day now and again to give something back to the sport's next generation.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cruiser Culture

Reports from Interbike 2009 were doused with fixie-this, fixie that, fixie culture, fixie bar spins, fixie color match combo charts and on and on. Ugh! Well another cycling "scene" dominates the city streets here in Denver......cruisers. While fixie hipster kids (fix-sters) are more than plentiful here as is the kids on the cruisers that have the most I found out last Wednesday night.

During the summer months, cruisers rule the streets of Denver on Wednesday nights. Denver Cruisers is a "brotherhood" of cruising culture. Think 50s era fun.......but instead of cars think bikes.....instead of driving.....think pedaling......instead of a malt at Arnold's drive in......think beer and numerous stops at local watering holes.

A stop for refreshments at LoDo Tavern and line of bikes a mile long.

With a different theme every week, hundreds and hundreds of cruisers take the streets and have a jolly good old time. Breezing through the Denver Cruiser's quickly realizes that this is no way near a critical mass ride. This is about having fun and riding bikes. No political agenda....just fun. No clogging up intersection and pissing off motorists. The night culminates with the "circle of death" at the final meeting point were hundreds of bikers ride clockwise and counterclockwise around a concrete circle at Civic Center Park in Denver. Everyone is laughing, smiling, high fiving and just taking it all in. Of course there is carnage. Wrecks abound......wobbly riders....head on collisions....rear end collisions....toppling tall bikes.....sidecar sideswipes. Truely a blast and a better ending to the night than a 1950s chicken race in suped up Ford Model As.

The circle of death and a lost soul looking out.

The relationship is all that matters....

Alas, the day of days has arrived. The best day of all days.....NEW BIKE DAY! As Ali-G(ravel) reported earlier, there was a new addition to the Hollywood Big Red "S" Stable of Bikes. While many of you might remember many recent reports or misreports of gossip linking myself to a plethora of misunderstood potential bicycle relationships.....this one is actually for real.

This has been a long and somewhat expensive "match making" process. About a year ago I departed from my dear beloved aluminum black Stumpjumper Hardtail and upgraded to a Carbon S-Works Stumpjumper Hardtail. Ride quality and raciness improved significantly.....but a mid-winter move to Colorado proved to spell an end to the long run of Hollywood Hardtails.

Spring sprung and the desire for a new bicycle blossomed. What would I do?? Luckily I work at one of the best bike shops in the United States and was blessed with countless opportunities to go on a seemingly endless streak of "blind dates".....ummm.....I mean demo bike rides. One of these "rides" involved a multi-day trip to Fruita,Colorado to ride any and all Specialized mountain bikes. Instantly, I was in love with a certain bike......the 2009 S-Works Stumpjumper. Ahhh. So fast, so efficient, so light, so burley, so trail worthy and soooo expensive. It had 2 brains, 120 mm of travel, was 24ish pounds, was carbon, and Bad ass.

Well as all fairy tale love stories go, this tale had a cruel twist.
It was not our time just yet.
We had to date (ride) around.....we both needed to grow and find out what we needed in a relationship (bike) and grow up.
We could still be friends.......right?

In the meantime, I moved on from my Carbon Hardtail and landed a 2009 Specialized Epic. I thought we would last forever, but I had tasted perfection and could not shake my lust for more. The Epic and I had a good run this summer.......but I do have to admit that I was less than faithful. I constantly snuck out to the trails with assorted other Specializeds, Yetis, and even a few Treks. Once I even rode a Giant. Yikes!!!

What was I thinking???

Well, obviously this story has to have a happy ending......right?......a Hollywood ending for sure???

Of course it does...Last week a window of opportunity opened up and my 2010 Specialized Stumpjumper Pro Carbon arrived. While this was not my original lust (the 2009 S-Works Model).....this new bike and I were a perfect match from the beginning. We had both grown, both evolved and both become more mature since our chance encounter in Fruita back in May. Me....a summer season of endless riding all over Colorado.......the Stumpjumper......a new redesigned suspension set up, 20mm of travel, stouter torsional stiffness, sexy blood-red accents, and 6 months same as cash financing!!!

Chapter one of this love story is in the books.........stay tuned.

On a related note............I heard from a friend that my Epic was recently seen on I mean ebay.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Arrival

BCC congratulates Hollywood on becoming a papa for the 25th time this weekend. Junior weighs in at 23lbs!

Friday, October 2, 2009

can't stop/won't stop

writing is like riding. i've got to do it regularly to stay in shape. the more i do it, the more feel like i improve. if i take a week or two off from either, and i lose a bit of my punchiness. and, of course, i participate in both of these endeavors knowing full well i don't have the skills to get paid to do either.

i've only recently upgraded from a cat-5 to a cat-4 writer. i'm no longer totally sketchy and am less likely to crash-out the entire field. nevertheless, i still make a lot of amateur mistakes, like attacking at the wrong time, failing to hold my line, and embarking on a long, ill-fated extended metaphor.

so why do either? i suppose it's purely for the self-gratification. and it's fun. i do hope to entertain the dozen or so people who show up to watch a cycling event and/or read this blog, and actually relish the times when people cheer (or at least post comments).

so thanks for continuing to read and support our blog and hopefully you haven't figured out that i don't have anything of any substance to write this week and am just churning out some training words.

in the meantime, i've been working my way through some of the interviews at (thanks for finding this site, Ali G(ravel)). here's my current favorite, featuring Ryan Trebon. he's a former NC resident who lapped me in the cyclocross state championships several years ago, so i must give him his due respect.

i guess what i like about this clip is that he comes off as kinda a doofus, but a funny doofus, and i feel like i can relate to that. he also drops a memorable quote that i realized that i've found myself pondering on more than one occasion:

"i don't know how i'm going to beat these guys at the end...uhh, what can i do that these guys can't do as equally as well or faster?"

and finally, right at the end, Georgia Gould shows up out of nowhere and starts making fun of his jersey:
Ryan: "you think you can beat my ass?"
Georgia: "oh i know i can...i dropped your ass at BC on that downhill."
Ryan: "yeah, that's true"

Georgia is my new hero.

Dark Humor

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gravel Shortage

The closure of Duke Forest during the weekdays this fall has many of us suffering from a vitamin G deficit. Apparently we're not alone.