Thursday, September 30, 2010

Step by Step

Hello, from the Jersey Shore. It's been a long while since I checked in--actually this is the first time I have checked in--despite promised reports on my 650bs (short version: inconclusive, but will probably notice the difference when I reinstall the 26"s). The transition to Jersey (or back to Jersey--in my case, the first time since college) is about as radical as you'd expect and its taken me a while to get (mal)adjusted.

The extended version of my 650b report will have to wait. Instead, I had a chance to attend my first 'cross practice of the season at Otto's Farm, very close to the Van Dessel HQ (along with Jamis, Jersey's other bike manufacturer-take that Portland bike artisans). It was a huge turn out, a fun course, with a long downhill that could be ridden at speed if you had enough skill, consisting an of a long s-turn, ending in an abrupt chicane and 90 degree angle that funneled riders into a dry creek bed that required a dismount. The bunch was competitive and I arrived moments before the start, rolled over to the back of the pack just as the "gun" went off. After seeing and figuring out the course on the first few laps, I started to move up a bit, especially as I got more comfortable dismounting and on the downhill.

We kept riding in circles until it got dark, which made me nostalgic. Unlike my childhood, however, when I could grab dinner, hit the pillow, and fall asleep without the worry of the weird dreams I now have after exercising later in the evenings, last night I was not so lucky. Sort of like this:

Where's Mike's tiger?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

three peaks/one gear

Three Peaks: Jay wins!

With a time of nearly half the nearest competitor, he crushed the field. Or, possibly, BikeReg powered by RMS is not unlike a cyclocross bike powered by SRAM, such that both may be prone to catastrophic failure. Full report to follow, but in the meantime, if anyone has a spare SRAM Rival right-hand shift/brake lever, contact Jam Master Jay.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lion's Roar

September roars into the Northeast with the ferocity of a newborn kitten: warm, soft and playful with an unmistakable fragrance and yet the thing can still bite and scratch. One minute, September caresses you with tease of its tail and the next minute it lacerates your face with a deft swipe of its retractable claws. Yet somehow you don’t mind being assaulted because after all it’s just a kitten. But there is also a foreboding premonition that someday soon the kitten will cease to exist leaving in its place a cold-hearted temperamental old cat whose wintery gaze sends shivers down your spine and whose assaults must now be answered with tetanus shots and sutures.

As unpredictable as September’s weather can be, one thing that is certain is that September marks the start of cyclocross season in the Northeast. Last weekend Nittany Lion Cross, “purred” into Trexlertown, PA so your Bull City Cycling North correspondents took a break from our busy gym, tan, laundy schedule to attend the first UCI Cyclocross race of the 2010 season in the world wide world. Given the multitude of factors including the weather (75 degrees and dry), location (T-town velodrome), significance (1st MAC Series race, 1st UCI race) and big name UCI pros the fields were predictably huge.

I lined up with 119 of my closest friends in the first race of the day and managed to keep from being taken out three different times by some guy who is apparently known to many as “sketchy cyclocross guy”. Somehow I finished amongst the top 10 sandbaggers, mostly attributable to a good starting position which was my first lesson for the day: Like that old dog-sled themed cliché goes…if you aren’t the lead dog all you see is assholes. 120 dudes who each think they can win on narrow course means there is bound to be a Holland-tunnel scale traffic jam in the first corner. Thus making it through the “tollbooth” in the lead group is critical to a good finish. The other lesson I learned was to avoid first race mechanicals by pre-testing gear advance. I saw an amazing number of rolled tubular and pinch-flats, no doubt caused by the bone-dry conditions and exposed tree roots on the fast course. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with how well the event was run considering there were almost 500 racers. I will definitely try to do more MAC Series events this year.

This was also the professor’s sister-in-law’s first cx race ever and she battled her way into the top third…a great first showing. Here she is demonstrating catlike reflexes to avoid a pileup:

(by the way Zoom girl, it’s a race, not a “no-drop” group ride. no need to stop and see if she’s ok, especially mid-course)

It was great to see the UCI pros rip up the course in a dust cloud that Pig-pen would be proud of. Jeremy Powers was supposed to race but had to pull out due to a broken finger sustained during his win at Green Mountain stage race. Rumor has it that he is so powerful this year that the simple act of double-tapping his SRAM levers caused his bones to snap under the force. My suspicion is that he was attacked by his cat while trying to feed it Sport Beans. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the truth to surface in J-Pow’s Velonews Journal.

Next Race: EMS Nor’Easter, which might be the only cx race in the US with actual spectators (dare I say only because course winds its way through a popular music festival featuring real performers)

sips for kids?

well not for the kids directly, but Revolution restaurant is hosting folks from Wine Authorities to mix drinks to benefit our beloved Trips for Kids. October 5th, details here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

total coverage

Here's a video forward to me from my brother which illustrates how sweet cyclocross television coverage would be with helicopters (to the extent that cx on tv exists at all in the US).

After an extensive tutorial about the physics of helicopters from former mechanic Corey the other day, I'm now convinced that we should get one for the (hopefully) upcoming Durham cyclocross race. NCCX schedule is posted.

I'm also convinced that the notion that all video that involves helicopters requires a soundtrack by Wagner is trumped by the notion that all video in fast-motion requires a soundtrack by Hill.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

mad power (tools)

as if crossbow practice didn't fully satisfy my need to see implements of destruction in action, i stopped by a local place of business to find this:

apparently, cheapo crank bolts are easily rounded-out. I'm not sure if this operation worked, but it reminded me (as most things do) of the classic Simpson's quote "I'm going to need a bigger drill":

Either that, or a bigger beverage.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

that's a new one

on my ride home today, i saw 3 middle-aged men, dressed in business casual attire, shooting a crossbow at a target in an alleyway. i would have taken a picture but it's usually not a good idea to take a picture of people doing something which may be partially illegal, especially when that partially illegal thing is shooting something that may be less exciting than shooting at you.

the bull city is the city of danger.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


looks like collegiate athletic violations aren't just for Memphis and UNC anymore. not long after our beloved smAli shows up at Princeton, this news drops. Okay, so it's about tennis and not fixed-gear political science, but I suspect something's up.

Meanwhile in NC, it good to see that the anti-doping efforts in the barely-pro world of domestic cycling are paying off with bringing down an Asheville dude. Okay, so its for THC and not EPO, which I don't even counts as "recreational" in places like Asheville, but rules are rules. However, since they do offer therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) for certain banned substances, it seems reasonable that they could offer a LUE (lifestyle use exemption) allowing residents of certain areas to enjoy common chemicals that aren't likely to actually enhance performance. Boulder residents are exempted for drug tests for weed (every resident of California already has a TUE in the form of a "prescription" from a quacky doctor), Portland residents have no maximum limit on caffeine levels, New Jersey residents are allowed to test positive for nicotine and Drakkar Noir and are actually required to test positive for Valtrex before entering an event. Durhamites might would of course be exempted from off-the-charts cholesterol levels and alcohol, but there don't appear to be any restrictions in the UCI rulebook about these. The Swiss rulemasters don't seem to care about our intake of hogfat and Krispy Kremes and are only concerned about drinking in certain events:

Alcohol (ethanol) is prohibited In-Competition only, in the following sports. Detection will be conducted by analysis of breath and/or blood. The doping violation threshold (haematological values) is 0.10 g/L.
Aeronautic (FAI)
Archery (FITA)
Automobile (FIA)
Karate (WKF)
Modern Pentathlon (UIPM) for disciplines involving shooting
Motorcycling (FIM)
Ninepin and Tenpin Bowling (FIQ)
Powerboating (UIM)

Logically, you don't want drunk people doing competitive motorsports on land, air, or sea while wasted. Similar getting drunk and shooting things and/or kicking one another in the head is a swell activity to do in North Carolina, but we shouldn't have our athletes doing it. Most perplexingly on the list is bowling. I mean, they let cyclists drink champagne on the final stage of the Tour de France and all cyclorossers are drunk all the time. I guess for most endurance bicycle racing, if you were drunk you'd get ill before anything really bad happened, and for gravity cycling, well, something bad will probably happen anyway, but it'll probably only happen to you and a nearby tree or port-a-potty. And yet somehow bowling makes the list. There must be a good story behind this one but it will take some clever sleuthing to get to the bottom of it...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Breck Epic 2011.....

Registration is open. $750 early bird discount if you register before October 4th. Which is 4 days before my who is buying me an entry for my birthday?

Come on we can't let Team Dicky have all the fun!

Who else wants in? Also on a unrelated but related not......I'm hearing rumblings of a few of my Colorado Contention heading down to 24 hours of Old Pueblo in AZ. Pirate can fill in details about the race, since he did it a few years back. Mid winter/post cyclocross desert fest of mountain biking? Anyone?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Recruit?

Maybe we should sign him before he gets too famous?