Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Slightly Less Delayed Philly Phlyer Phrace Phreport

Okay, I'm on this shit this week. No more of these Thursday reports for me, I've got it covered. My bankruptcy law class can just deal with that fact.

Philly. Wow, this one sure was interesting. I think we were all a bit focused on the weather in the days leading up to the weekend, and everyone was hoping the Weather.com guys had botched it (as usual) and the sun would be shining all weekend long. The forecast called for showers on Saturday and thunderstorms Sunday, and while having to deal with inclement weather is one of the factors that make bike racing such a bad ass sport in the first place, I think it's pretty much settled that racing in the sunshine is at least slightly more enjoyable than racing while drinking a steady stream of water and road grit off of the wheel in front of you.

Regardless, after meeting at 808 Comm., loading up our crap, hitting the road, and hitting up Amici's in Union, NJ:

we arrived six hours later at Kyle Bruley's family home (a/k/a Chez Brulee, a/k/a/ Casa de Kaybles) which was to be our place of lodging for the weekend. We settled right in, fell asleep, and woke up mercifully late on Saturday morning to a smorgasbord of bagels, fruit, granola bars, and so on courtesy of Kaybles' mom. We got out of the house on time (after a little prodding), survived the trip to Fairmount Park, and set up our tent for the day.

The D guys were the first to go off, and the roads were still a bit wet from that night. BU's seven D men started out strong. Real strong. And they had a game plan which had been hatched over semi-edible pasta at Amici's the night before.

However, that game plan was derailed forever when, by all accounts, someone decided to pull their brakes hard while traveling rapidly in a straight line along the river, resulting in a large pile-up of some 30 riders. Needless to say we were surprised when, out of our seven starters, only two managed to avoid disaster and come through the first lap with the main group.

We were even more surprised when those remaining two managed to find the tarmac with their faces on the second lap. Our D men straggled in with a multitude of other victims just behind what remained of the tattered main field, bruised and scraped and in some cases, via broom wagon due to busted bikes.

Too bad, 'cuz BU was ready to bring the hurt. Notwithstanding the carnage, Parker pulled out a 22nd place finish, Preston was in 24th, and most of our other guys toughed it out and crossed the line to be placed in the middle of the field. The best laid plans of mice and men...

Women's B was next, and Kim was the lone BU representative in that group.

Unfortunately the curse of the mighty Schuylkill claimed yet another BU rider, as Kim was hammering solo to catch back up to the field and overcooked a turn, coming away with a tacoed rear wheel. Bummer.

Crashes are ordinarily pretty damned rare for our peeps, so by this point BU was started to feel as though the Philly Phlyer had something against us. We said our goodbyes to Robert as he rolled off to join the Intro field, and kept our fingers crossed.

Despite the curse, Robert hammered through the hilly terrain and worked closely with some of his competitors to finish 8th out of 18, bringing BU its first crash-free ride of the day. Sweet!

Kaybles then partook in the C race. The XL combined C field took the course a lot faster than the previous fields, but had drier roads to deal with and were obviously a bit more comfortable on two wheels, as they didn't seem to have any major mishaps.

Kyle stuck with the huge pack on these narrow roads, and finished up in 36th out of 71(!) starters.

Finally it was time for the A field to head out, and I think we all suspected a break would stay away on this course. In fact, we were pretty much determined to make it so. On lap 2, a promising break formed off the front which contained UVM, Penn State, Columbia and Army riders, along with hammers Nick Benette and Josh Lipka. I decided to jump in and try my luck, but alas it was not to be and the field pulled us back a lap later. On the next lap a similar break reappeared, and this time Natan snuck his way in. This one stuck and stayed away, and Natan finished up in 10th place.

I, meanwhile, hung out in the field and did very little work, and ended my race in 24th.

Oh well, the day was over and we went back to Chez Brulee for an impromptu bike repair session necessitated by the day's copious amount of crashing, followed by an awesome dinner of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread and chicken.

Sunday was supposed to be heavy rain and thunderstorms, and when we woke up it was spitting a steady drizzle outside. We ate more bagels and headed out for the TTT, which turned out to be pretty wet and cold. The D guys went out first and came back with 21st place, then we went out and pulled off a 10th place finish to pick up a couple of points. The C guys finished up in 11th. Here is a picture:

The weather stayed crappy for most of the crits so I don't have a ton of photos. Kim finished in 14th place and grabbed a few points. In the D field, Cass finished 6th in a bunch sprint, Preston was 18th, and the rest of our guys were scattered throughout the pack.

Kyle also had a solid pack finish in the C field, and made some pretty amazing faces in the process.

Meanwhile, Robert had his best finish yet in the Intro field, sticking with the bunch the whole time and hammering into 5th place, and in the A crit Chris took off in an ill-fated break while Natan and I did some blocking. The break was inevitably pulled back on this pancake-flat course, and all three of us finished just outside of points.

Lots of fun and carnage this weekend, and next week is Army!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Especially Late Delaware Race Report

My professor has his face buried in a book, and he is moving his mouth and sounds are coming out and bouncing off of the pages and around the lecture hall. Some of them are entering my ears, but that's where they stop because my brain is refusing to do its job and change the sounds into words. I guess Uniform Commercial Code is never exactly a blast, but once March rolls around and racing starts, sitting in class just seems that much duller by comparison. So, I have decided that I should probably use my class time to try and get my race report over and done today. I'll undoubtedly regret this during finals, but for now it seems like the best course of action.

After getting a late start leaving Boston (thanks to Natan's and my tardiness in gathering the vans, trainers, racks, and miscellany required for a full weekend of BU shreddage) we took our overencumbered jank tank and its new friend the clown van onto the Mass Pike. All was well for a few hours, during which time we engaged in our usual team practices of yodeling and booty dancing while chugging cheap champagne. Unfortunately our shenanigans attracted the attention of a New Jersey State police officer who decided to pull the jank tank over.

After a stern lecture this public servant decided to let us go with a warning, and we rambled on down to our lodging in Maryland, just next to the Delaware border. Our hotel, the Knights Inn, left something to be desired in terms of accommodations, but we were able to cram fourteen people into two rooms somewhat comfortably (BU Cycling travels in style) and get a couple hours sleep before heading out for breakfast on Saturday morning.

Due to a miscalculation in our estimated travel time - instead of 40 mins from the start/finish, our hotel was approximately 7 mins away - we were left with a half hour to piss away. So, we headed over to the Waffle House next to our motel and scarfed a few pounds of waffley goodness.

Having topped up our fat, carb, and salt reserves we again loaded up the caravan for the trek out to the road race staging area.

Things went quick as field after field left for the course. Here are some photos of the pre-race madness:

Natan unloading bikes

Excited about free GU packets...

Lining up for the Men's Intro race

Men's A field heading out

This was a great first road race of the season. In our Intro group, Dave came away with his first career win, and Kehvon finished close behind in fourth. Rob is starting to look pretty damn strong and held it down in 14th. In the D field a bunch of our guys got their feet wet in their first ever bike race. Ian pulled in in 11th place, Matt was in 8th, and Preston finished 6th. After looking strong all race long, Josh had a little run-in with a buddy's wheel near the finish and hit the deck pretty hard. He took a quick trip to the ER, but came back promptly looking only a little the worse for wear.

Chinkle was our only C rider this week, and had a solid pack finish. After going off the front, one by one, of a lazing A field, Natan, Chair and I all held it together for decent finishes, with Natan in 11th, myself in 13th, and Chair in 15th place. All in all, a fairly successful day for BU.

We left the staging area, got lost, ate at Seasons Pizza (big mistake), and got back to the hotel to find a curious hotel manager checking out our lodging methods. Apparently his son had seen us drive by in our overloaded vans and ratted us out, and the manager came to bitch, citing extra charges for extra lodgers, and a statutory maximum of five people per room. (Fire Code? Really?) Fortunately Natan was thinking quick and muttered something about dropping the extra people off at another hotel, etc. etc. The manager seemed to buy that, and to convince the guy we had to pack half the people back into the jank tank, drive out of the lot and around town for ten minutes, and then drive back into the lot with everybody hiding under the seats while Natan waived and smiled at the manager. Being cheap sure is fun.

The next day we made sure to wake up a half hour early again so we could hit up Waffle House. I now love this place and wish there was one in Boston. The TT went quick after that, and I have no photos of it with which to entertain you. All our guys did a great job again. In Intros, Dave slotted in at 5th place, 30 secs behind the leader, Kehvon was 7th, and Rob was 8th. Top tens all around, and Dave is now officially sandbagging and has to race D next weekend or face severe humiliation. In Ds, our guys mixed into the middle of the pack, with Ian and Cass pulling out top-20 finishes, and Chinkle was 29th in Cs. The A field was basically a bunch of people straggling in behing Lipka's dominating TT effort, but we managed to pull out 23rd (Chair), 16th (myself) and 13th (Natan). Natan continues to whip both Chris in me in ITTs and I may have to get all Tonya Harding on his ass soon so I can regain some pride (by dressing up in extravagant, sparkly outfits and weeping profusely while sliding around on the ice, not by breaking his knee caps, of course.)

After the TT we tried to ride to the crit course, got lost again, other teams got lost because of us, then we got lost because them, and then we found the damned place. As you probably know if you're reading this, the sketch factor on at least one of the turns was medium to medium-high (teal on the DOD's color-coded sketchiness alert system), with a fun cross walk in the apex that created a lip which really, really wanted bike tires to part with the asphalt.

Despite the sketch warning, the fields started going off after getting a late start, beginning with the D field where Josh, racing injured after a bad crash on Saturday, still finished 22nd (badass), Preston took 19th in his first crit ever, Ian finished a solid 17th, and Cass ended up in 12th in his first crit. Not too shabby.

In the Intro field, Kehvon was 7th, Dave was 8th, and Rob finished up in 11th. These guys just keep getting stronger.

Since the women's A field consisted of only four riders this weekend (boo), the powers that be decided to merge the A field with the Bs. This exciting race went on for a total of about five minutes before the motoref crashed in the aforementioned turn of death (sketchiness alert level teal):

The race was halted as they loaded the ref into the ambulance, then resumed using a new tip-proof pace car. In this real race, Katrina finished up in 13th place, a great job especially considering last week she was racing Intros, and this week she was up against four women from the A field.

In Cs, Chinkle had another solid pack finish, and in As Chair finished up in 24th, Natan was 14th (after crashing in the turn-o-doom and still hucking himself back into the field one lap later):

and I ended up in 10th after hanging on to a group composed almost entirely of very strong and very organized UVM riders and then botching the field sprint:

It was a sketchy weekend but a damn fun one, and it's now almost time to head out for Philly, which is definitely one of my favorite weekends. I am PUMPED for the circuit race.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Somewhat Tardy Columbia/Stevens Race Report

I'm sitting in class, so obviously it's time to bang out another entry in my chronically neglected series of race reports. My only other alternative is to pay attention to the lecture, and I just can't allow that to happen. So, without further ado:

Last weekend BU's red and white army traveled to the New York Metro area for some hot racing fun, courtesy of Columbia University and Stevens Institute of Technology. We had a big crew, rolling 18-deep, which in itself is a testament to the awesomeness of this year's squad. Saturday was the Columbia Grant's Tomb Criterium, and Sunday was Stevens' insane-o hill repeat crit.

The Columbia crit is an ECCC institution, and an awesome one at that. Just like last year's crit (and like I'm sure 07's crit would have been had it not been snowed out), the racing was fast and fun, including three sides of a New York City block and a fast, sweeping left turn around Grant's Tomb that makes one feel like a Moto GP racer (of course substituting skin-tight, bright red leather for skin-tight, bright red Lycra). After waking up FAR too early so that we could watch the early USCF races (thanks Natan...) it was time to chamois up and destroy. For the Columbia/Stevens weekend, BU's D squad consisted of Parker, James, Josh, and Craig. Everybody raced well, Josh killed it and came in 9th, and Craig proved that he is indeed silly strong by stomping his way to second place in a bunch sprint:

Next, it was time for the Intro guys and gals to dominate the rest of the conference in the very competitive Third Annual Water Bottle Drill Showdown:

After brushing up on their handling skills, the Intro peeps headed out onto the course for some very fast racing. Katrina had a great ride and finished 13th, and Robert and James took 24th and 25th in their field, respectively. These guys are looking stronger and stronger each weekend, and we're stoked to see how things unfold in Delaware this weekend.

In the B field, BU's strongwomen put in a very solid performance, with Anna cranking out an 8th place finish and Kim coming in in 23rd position. Both of these gals look very, very comfortable with the Bs, and again, we're expecting big things for the UDel weekend.

Our C guys are looking good too. Ben: 20th. Matt: 31st. Kyle and Tom: Looking awesome. Now, more photos.


In As, Natan, Chris, and I had an awesome race. After watching a break go off pretty much from the gun, we settled into a nice rhythm and enjoyed the course. In a skittish field that started the long, windswept, uphill sprint waaay too early, Natan finished 24th and I came in 16th for my first points of the season (whew), and Chris chose a bad line and wound up behind a car parked on the roadside.

And that's it. The rest of the team went off to Natan's parents' place for some Guitar Hero, and I went out to dinner with my family visiting from CA. I defy you not to smile at my niece, who is objectively the cutest child ever:

The next day we got up early and, nursing styrofoam cups of coffee which had inexplicably been packed into paper bags, drove to Hoboken. Urban Dictionary defines the term "sketchy" as "creepy, iffy, fairly unsafe, [having] an air of uncertainty, not kosher, and just generally some[thing] that you don't want to be associated with (or really do want to be associated with, depending on who you are...)." This definition - which is actually more like a string of synonyms than a definitition but let's not quibble - is adequate and does a great job describing the Stevens criterium. (Interestingly, Urban Dictionary also defines "sketchy" as someone that has "taken too much speed and has become untrustworthy and unpredictable," a definition that is equally applicable to the Stevens crit.)

This crazy course consisted of one steep-ass, bepotholed climb, followed by a number of speed bumbs which, when taken at race pace, tended to fling one's rear wheel skyward, followed by a steep-ass descent into a hard right turn, followed by a hard right turn back into the jagged and undulating concrete of the steep-ass climb once again. It was sketchy, painful, and honestly pretty damned fun. Every field absolutely shattered within three laps, and the short course meant that tons and tons of racers were lapped and pulled. BU had a bunch of flats, a crash, and some success.

In the D field, Craig was definitely on pace to finish well when he flatted with a few laps to go. Without the benefit of a free lap he ended up in 15th, but had an awesome ride nonetheless. Our intro guys brought out the big guns for Stevens, with Dave finishing 13th and Rob in 19th, and flying solo in the women's intro field, Katrina finished an awesome 5th.

In the C race, Kyle flatted and then promptly crashed out due to a kicker ramp that was apparently built into the turn at the bottom of the big descent, Tom finished 17th, and Ben was 9th. In As, Chris was promptly laid out by someone's bike on lap 2, I spent most of the day in a chase group (Lipka is very fast) and finished 6th, and Natan was out of sight until 2 to go, when he miraculously reappeared and glided into 8th place.

Overall, it was an awesome weekend. Awesome, that is, until the drive home when Kyle decided to use a lubricated condom to hold his deteriorating bandages to his road rash:


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Super-Late Rutgers Racing Roundup...Yee-Haw?

First, all sarcasm, wit, and funny stuff aside, big thanks to the Rutgers and Princeton crews for putting on an awesome opening weekend! Some seriously great racing went down and I think I speak for the whole of BU Cycling (if not the entire ECCC) when I say thanks for a ridiculously fun bicycling extravaganza.

This weekend was basically awesome. On Friday the team met at our usual spot to load up the vans. In attendance were about 12 of BU's finest, 14 bikes (don't ask), 1 bunny, and 1 snowboard. Here we are trying desperately to attach an excruciatingly simple bike rack to the trunk of our clown-themed cyclovan:

Believe it or not, we eventually figured it out and were then able to enter these clown vans and drive them straight to Princeton, except for Kyle's clown van, which at his behest drove most of the way to Albany before making a bee-line straight for Princeton. Here is Kyle after his van tour, consuming mass quantities at our new favorite Jersey hole-in-the-wall Italian place:

After our joyous reunion - well, joyous for everyone but Kyle, who was obviously busy crying into his spaghetti and red sauce - we headed straight over to Kehvon's house, which was to serve as our base of operations for the weekend. No more eight-people-to-a-hotel-room style lodging for BU! No sir, at Kehvon's parents' place we had room to walk, lie down, and even shower individually. This was quite an improvement from previous years, and things were certainly looking up.

The next day we woke up pre-ass crack of dawn, and drove out to the Thrilla' on the Riva' for some hot ITT action. (Incidentally, I think the ECCC calendar could benefit from some more ITTs.) We arrived, warmed up, and kicked ass. Our intro squads did an awesome job with special props going to the women, who took the win:

The intro men also TT'ed their hearts out and did a great job. Our resident sandbagger Matt Griswold absolutely destroyed the D field, easily winning the event, and the C men finished up in the middle of their field. In the A field, Chair and I also finished in the middle of our bunch, but Natan had apparently been drinking rocket fuel the night before and powered his way to a 15th place finish:

It was a very productive prologue for BU, but the real goodness was still to come at the Princeton crit. Whether it was born out of a love for power climbs, a hatred of flat crits, or just plain old sadism, the Nicks (and other names) of Princeton created an awesome course for us to suffer through. The course instantly reminded me of one of these things:

The beginning of the course was dominated by a wall of a climb, followed by a mellow descent that featured three right hand turns, and a flat section at the bottom with another right turn leading back up into the stratosphere.

Once again, our Intro women did a great job, and all enjoyed solid pack finishes. Anna finished sixth, and along with her result from the ITT, that put her in line to pick up the weekend omnium (and the gloriously ugly jersey that went along with it). Matt finished second in the D field, giving him a very good shot at the omnium, Craig took 12th, and Ian had a strong pack finish. Kyle and Ben finished in the top 20 in the C field behind a very strong UPenn breakaway, and in the A field, Chris and I again finished in the middle of the very quick main group. Natan, unfortunately, was sidelined halfway through with some gnarly muscle cramps.

In the circuit, Anna again dominated the Intro field (and will be upgrading to B next weekend or face severe verbal abuse), and Kim took third. Anna's results were enough to bring her the omnium and aforementioned hideous jersey of glory. Matt also went on to take second in the D field, taking the weekend omnium as well, and Craig unleashed his monster sprint and came up with 7th place.

In the C field, Kyle blasted his way to 5th place, and Ben finished a very respectable 11th. Again, in the A field, Chris and I had mid-pack finishes, while Natan came up with some points in 17th place. (I'm starting to notice a pattern here...)

All in all, it was one hell of a lot of fun and we're all looking forward to Columbia this weekend. Rutgers/Princeton was a confidence booster in a lot of ways, and - speaking only for myself here - pointed out that there is clearly room for improvement in the future. Pack finishes are well and good, but I want me some of them tasty points! Bring it on, ECCC.