Wednesday, December 22, 2010
they say that winners don't quit.
Monday, December 20, 2010
winston-salem: the land of famous cigarettes and donuts. self-destructive excess.
sunday: the day of cyclocross. self-destructive excess.
combine these two things in a race hosted by the Mock Orange Bike guys, who ride bikes bound to force self-loathing (either in the sense that they ride bikes that make you feel like your bike is unsatisfying, or they ride bikes in a manner that makes you feel like the manner in which you ride a bike is unsatisfying (or both)), and you've got a recipe for self-destructive excess.
the snowstorm that threatened to make the day epic never arrived. but the MOB constructed a course that combined open fields and dense forest, technical descents and uphill pavement, tight corners and sweeping bends, tacky grass and greasy mud. everything except places to relax. well, nowhere to relax on course. they had cheap beer a flowin', food a grillin', cowbells a ringin', Euro-techno a bumpin', and elves a caperin'. A fine time indeed.
I hadn't raced the past three weekends, so was feeling nicely tapered and eager to roll. in my mind, at least. My legs had other ideas. i had a semi-bad start, nearly crashing on the slippery first corner, then grinding along trying to settle into my rhythm. but at about the 1/2-lap point, i looked around and quickly realized i was about third to last. this wouldn't necessarily be bad--time to surge during the open stretches and start pulling back places--but i already felt terrible. eventually managed to gain contact with a decent little group, but got slowed by a dude's crash and never regained contact. chased on my own, caught in limbo between Josh (Tyler's/Garneau) and Nate-Dogg (Regulators) until Nate mysteriously disappeared. (The mystery was later solved--he crashed hard on a loose-gravel descent and ended up with big chunk of rock in his helmet.)
The good news for me was that this was the first race of the season that I felt that my bike handling was pretty good. The bad news was that this was the race I had to dig the deepest just to suck. I remember not remembering several sections. Some might say that it's cool to work hard enough to kinda get dizzy, but quite frankly, unless you're doing this to edge out a tough win, it's not cool. It just means that you aren't fit enough to do what you want to do.
Linus was left holding a different mixed bag. He said he rode one of the most complete races of his season; great fitness, flawless equipment, impeccable lines. His only problem was that he overslept and missed his start by about 3 minutes. He probably clawed back some of that time, but nowhere near enough to place well.
The race did have several highlights from stars of the Forest Hills Park Cyclocross Association, including TomDom's first cx race in NC, Byron's win in the 3s followed by Dennis in 2nd, J.Mock's 2nd place, and Mat-V's return to racing after his shoulder-separating crash in the first race of the year.
A couple of more weeks off the bike, then, more racing.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
what's up with the boring-ass new pro jersey designs?
first HTC launches something that looks like a rejected design for the Australian champ's jersey (see "Performance"). no more fake muscles; however, it also appears translucent when dry, so i'll be it'll look sweet during the spring classics.
after unbanning disc brakes for cyclocross, but banning a large proportion of tires currently in production, the UCI has made another important, but confusing ruling about UCI races in the US. if you haven't been following, lots of info is available, but here's one link. and, actually, why should most US racers be following? we aren't competing in UCI-sanctioned events, and even if we are, we aren't hoping to amass UCI points.
the ruling, as i understand it, is to prevent US racers from earning too many UCI points from easier races, improving their start position in major European races, where they frequently displace Euro guys and subsequently get trounced. this does make sense. the Hendersonville, NC races were UCI second category races (C2), suggesting that they are on a similar level to the European Superprestige races, which, if you compare the strength of the racers, are nowhere near one another. don't get me wrong, i'm psyched that Tim and company are pushing for big events in NC, but the Hendersonville races are still a tier below many of the other North American UCI races. okay, this is all well and good, they just ought to create a C3 race ranking. but i don't think starting a C3 rank is planned just now and in the meantime, this power play by the UCI may result in several big US series being "banned" from holding UCI races.
i can't really blame the UCI for wanting to protect their own interests. but i think the real question is, why do we need UCI-sanctioned races in the US anyway? true, it helps domestic racers get some points so they don't need to start in the back of the pack at the world championships. but should the fortunes of a handfull of riders determine the course of the ever-expanding group of cyclocross racers in the US? again, don't get me wrong, i follow the US pro cx scene. i like the fact that some of these men and women can make a living as full-time cyclocross racers and can be competitive in international competition. however, for every J-Pow, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of folks who race, promote races, cheer at races, and buy shit from the pros' sponsors, making this whole scheme possible. i'm not taking issue with the pros or the sponsors. but i do have to question certain aspects of the system.
take for example the mission of USA Cycling: "to achieve sustained success in international cycling competition and to grow competitive cycling in America". i never liked the fact that success in international cycling is listed first. and it seems to me that these two goals, international success and domestic growth, could be at odds. there should be an organization to help riders become international stars, but does that need to be supported by our fees as license holders and weekend racers? true, USAC does provide guidance for race promoters and provides insurance, but based on license fees, race entry fees (which require certain payouts for some races), and a sometimes frustrating bureaucratic structure, they make racing a challenge. if their goal is really to promote competitive cycling in america, they should be helping to promote low-cost training series in communities across the country. our fees should help to fund local and regional representatives who can assist race promotors in organizing races--from assisting with coordinating police and city officials to securing business and industry sponsors to help offset the costs. (if nothing else, they could keep better track of race results and improve the category upgrade system, but that's another personal issue of mine.)
so that's my long and rambling rant for today. i guess my take-home message is that, based on recent events, the support and structure in the cycling community isn't going to come from a top-down organization, but will need to be promoted from a grassroots level. and this is happening. i should give credit to the Triangle MTB series, which runs a great local series without getting bogged down with having official NORBA-sanctioned races (at least, i think that's how it is), and to NC Cyclocross, who operate under the guidelines of USAC while providing tremendous support to individual race promoters. big props to everyone who hosts races. so it's my goal in the next year to find more ways to promote forms of competitive (or quasi-competitive) cycling throughout the durham community. sound good? let's get rad, bull city.
Monday, December 13, 2010
There was a little email chatter over Todd Well's surprise win in the Men's Elite US National Cyclocross Championships yesterday. Linus claims to have predicted Wells for the win (funny, I don't remember OG committing that to the record before) and The Professor was pleased with the strong performances of fellow Oregonians Trebon and Wicks. While these were dramatic contests and results (personally, I feel for Jeremy Powers and am impressed with how he rebounded from his mechanical and dealt with his disappointment), I think the following battle on the sidelines was equally compelling. Or at least entertaining.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Bull City Cycling's not dead. It just smells funny.
Okay, so we've been negligent in our blogging, but it doesn't mean we haven't been riding. But speaking of not riding, one of the things we've been working on (off the bike) is round 13 of the North Carolina Cyclocross Series: The Counter Culture Cup, Saturday, January 22nd, 2011, Orange County Speedway. Big props to Regulator Cycling (sweet blog, guys) who secured Counter Culture Coffee as the title sponsor. Here's the proposed course map.
Back to the bike, Linus has made it his goal to hit all the NCCX races he can. After some bad luck with a broken wheel at Hendersonville day one, he bounced back for a solid Sunday ride in the CX-2/3 and returned to his good form with a 6th place in Statesville. For me, the Hendersonville races were kinda hectic. After a 4 hour drive to compete in a large combined CX2 and 3 field, they gave CX3 guys call-ups and left the presumably faster CX2s with the crummiest start positions. It was kind of disappointing, having to battle up past slower guys while the race leaders rode away. Not that I would have won, and not to be that guy who blames a crummy result on everything except himself, but I would have liked to see how I would have done with a better starting position. My li'l brother, who has abandoned the BCC for a local New Jersey team has still been rockin' his BCC hat to podium finishes in the NJ series. He's threatening to come down for the Durham race, so we can see the battle of the NC vs NJ CX3s.
In addition to Linus' busted wheel, Daniel cracked his SECOND Stumpjumper frame (which Specialized promptly replaced). But our most troublesome mechanicals have been occurring off the bike. I rolled into the Charlotte race with a rapidly deflating tire on my car. I ended up dropping several seasons of Dugasts worth of dough on new car tires. But this was trivial compared to Linus and Margaret's timing belt explosion on their drive back from Statesville. Fortunately they were able to get off the freeway and secure a ride home with out any major trouble, but unfortunately, they are probably in need of a new car. Subsequently, if any automobile repair shops and/or dealerships are interested in sponsoring Bull City Cycling, either with free car repairs or loaner vehicles to drive to races, please contact me. (BMW, Mercedes, Range Rover? Any of these would be acceptable.)
Cold weather is making road riding somewhat unpleasant, so many of the gang have been trying to avoid the windchill by hitting the trails on their mountain bikes. In the meantime, it means more time hanging out indoors and hopefully more blogworthy updates.