Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Ice Weasel Video

Here's the second installment in the epic adventure known as the Ice Weasel Cometh.

More to follow....

My Pedal is Coming Home!

You may have read below about the tragic loss of one of my beloved EggBeater pedals... Yes in a moment of pain and despair, I looked down to see an naked pedal spindle. While I swapped bikes in the pit, I thought I'd never see my pedal body again--how would such a small thing be found in snow covered race course?

Well, the Gods at Crank Brothers were shining down upon me because not only was my pedal found: http://alexjospe.blogspot.com/2009/12/ice-weasels-cometh.html, but someone has contacted me regarding its eventual return home!

It's truly a Christmas Miracle!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ice Weasels--Video is Up!

So, I'll start with one video and see how long it takes to cut & edit more... (I'll also see how long it takes to upload!)

Now, some details of my race day...

It was an uneventful drive to Wrentham... Somewhere along the way, I hooked in to a paceline of other racers from my neck of the woods (Chris, Dan, Stu, et al). Yeah, I know, I should have car-pooled, but I had a tight timeline and essentially boogied right after the race. Anyway, we hit the iced over parking lot, walked over to the freezing shed to pick up race numbers, and all went back to our respective cars to be warm for just a little bit longer.

After figuring out what would be an appropriate amount of layers, it was time for a pre-ride. The course was twisty and turny with either snow--just deep enough to put you off track, ice, or rough frozen ground. Yeah!

I put my Motobecane in the pit and made my way around to the start.

The start was interesting, and by "interesting," I mean "narrow," allowing only about 5 riders per row, and we were staged by starting number. I was in something like the 10th row back. Far enough back so that when the starting whistle was whistled, I was standing still for about 10 seconds. D'oh!

Anyway, we took off at a gentlemanly pace, rounding turns with breath held in anticipation of washing out with both wheels. Fortunately, that didn't happen to me, but I saw MANY riders hit the deck.

The first lap was spent trying to pick my way further towards the front, and also trying to figure out what that terrible creaking sound was coming from my cranks or pedals. Anytime I put in a hard effort, it sounded like my bike was going to break.

Eventually, it did break, or at least the pedal did. And while that, in and of itself doesn't sound fortunate, the timing was. When my wouldn't foot connect, I looked down and saw nothing but pedal spindle. Then, I looked up and saw the entrance to the pit area. Sweet! I swept in, spent a few seconds trying to check the bottom of my shoe to see if the pedal body was stuck to the cleat (it wasn't), and hopped on my pit bike. I was back in the race!

After that, it was just a matter of trying to pass riders when I could, trying to stay upright, and looking for ice weasels.

Before I knew it, the bell lap was at hand, and it was time for one last push to the finish. All in all, it was a good time. I wish I could have stuck around to check out the other races, but I had time to grab a few quick pics and then I was on my way back home.

According to the friendly folks at Crossresults.com, my effort earned me a 36th or so out of 87...

And so ends the 2009 cyclocross season, but NOT the biking season. I'll be on the trails by Tuesday!

The Ice Weasel Cameth--and Wenteth...

Yep, yesterday was the last race of CX season for me (and most of the region, although there is one more race today in CT). It was perfect 'cross race--frigid, snowy, slippery, and fun. A full report--AND video is forthcomimg--but that's going to take a little computer time which I don't have just now. Until then, here are some pertinent numbers regarding the race:

  • 6: the time, AM, I was up to get ready to leave.
  • 9: the "real feel" temp, in Fahrenheit, according to Weather.com.
  • 2: the number of bikes I brought with me.
  • 2: the number of bikes I needed in the race.
  • 3: the total number of pedals I came home with.
  • 12: the "real feel" temp, in Fahrenheit, of the plastic toilet seat in the port-0-let, according to my butt cheeks.
  • 95: the number of confirmed riders registered for my race category.
  • 55: my starting position.
  • 1: the number of laps I had done before I realized that I hadn't hit the start button on my HRM (I HATE losing that VERY important data!).
  • 178: my average heart rate.
  • 186: my maximum heart rate.
  • 2: the number of dogs NOT so patiently waiting for me to take them out NOW... gotta go.
More later!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sterling Cyclocross Photos...

More cyclocross! This is what happens what you have gigs and gigs of memory in your camera...

I just bought some pure speed!

So you may have noticed that I have been lamenting about my poor performance in some recent cyclocross races. Well, I have identified the problem and I'm happy to report that I have taken drastic steps to make things right.

Anyone who knows anything about cycling knows that you NEED carbon fiber components to win. Well, after a quick review of my cyclocross bike I realized that I was missing one of the most basic of carbon componentry, the nearly ubiquitous carbon fork!

Yes, I was being held back, and weighed down, with A STEEL FORK!

No wonder I was sucking wind at the back of the pack!

Well, even though someone erroneously tried to tell me that a pound of carbon is no lighter than a pound of steel (some retrogrouch curmudgeon, I'm sure), I went on a quest to find a decent, and affordable carbon fork. My search ultimately me led to eBay, and after some strategic bidding, I became the proud new owner of a 4ZA Zornyc carbon bladed/aluminum steerer fork.

Unfortunately, the fork did not arrive in time for me to use it to slay the competition in Sterling.

Be warned, it's on the bike now though, and I will be using it to slay my adversaries in Wrentham.

The fork I took off my bike weighed an ungodly 1180 grams! My new fork is more than 350 grams lighter! My front wheel may never even touch the ground... It's a whole new world for me now.

Cyclocross in Sterling!

Well, it was another weekend of cyclocross... that means another weekend of fun and of sucking.
I think that racing is super fun, but it would probably be a whole lot more fun if I could just get a little more "oomph," a little more Eye of the Tiger..

I've got a plan to do just that, but that's for NEXT season...

Focusing on this season, this past weekend's BayState 'cross race (full name: BayState Cyclocross, Round 12 of the Verge New England Cyclocross Championship Series, UCI Cat 2, Presented by Spin Arts/Stevens Cycles, Gear Works Cyclery, and The Mid State Cycling Club) was another opportunity for me to push the limits of human athleticism. Instead, I found myself pushing my bike up a sloppy, muddy hill. But, I'm getting ahead of myself (something many of the people I raced against also did... get ahead of me... that's almost a pun).

I was originally signed up to race both Saturday and Sunday-an ambitious agenda, my wife thought. She's right, Anyway, due to a confluence of factors, not the least of which was the torrential downpour I heard as my alarm went off dark and early on Saturday morning, I skipped out on Day 1. Ironically, by the time I did roll out of bed, the skies had cleared and I heard that the start of my race was bone dry. D'oh. That's okay. I had a little more time to get my stuff together for Sunday's race (Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!), so I was able to get to bed at a decent time and hopefully be well rested.

Sunday morning came early (as almost all of my mornings do), and G-Roll (AKA G-Money, AKA G-Rad, AKA Glen) arrived at my front door so we could carpool to the race. We had our directions spot-on this time and didn't waste any time on any wild goose chases. In fact, thanks to Glen's driving tip, by taking a few extra turns-we shaved about 10 minutes off the drive time. Bizarre!

Glen's race was much later in the day, so he had plenty of time to chill. I, on the other hand, had to sign-in, get my number, and take a quick warm-up spin. I don't typically warm up before a race, and I think that's going to change...Anyway, this time around, I did a half-lap of the course and found my way to the BACK of the staging area.

My primary goal with any race start is to avoid any crashes or mishaps, and I was able to do that once again. The course started on a fast crushed stone track... we went around about 1/2 of the track then made a tight hairpin turn onto the grass. From there, it was a typical 'cross course, with plenty of tight turns, grassy straight-aways, a couple of run-ups. One of the "run ups" was sort of a "slog-up" as it was a slick, slippery, muddy hill. SOME riders were able to ride up, but most did not.

Overall, the course was fast and fun. Unfortunately, I was neither. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I was fun! It's the "fast" I've got to work on. Although, depending on how you look at the results, I didn't do that poorly. I did CRUSH five other racers. And, in my class, I was the top finisher from Massachusetts' "North Shore" region. It also appears that of all the men's classes, I was the highest placed racer with a hyphenated last name. I can only imagine that the sponsorship offers will be rolling in any minute now...

Thanks to Glen for documenting my efforts photographically. I look fast, don't I?

After my race, it was time to hang out and watch Glen get ready for his race. I ran up and down the course shooting my trusty Canon G10 and I'll be posting a little slide show once I sort through the pics and eliminate the crap...

With this race done, it appears that there is only one more race on the calendar for this season that I can get to-the Ice Weasel! See ya in Wrentham!

That's Glen: