Monday, October 22, 2007

granogue II

A couple photos from MLKImages...this guy's shots are really nice:

Some others photos from elsewhere:

Sometimes I rode this and sometimes I ran it. It was certainly ridable, but I found getting off and sprinting it out was not only faster, but refreshing in a way...using the muscles in a little different way, I think.

A race within the race... The guy behind me here--the guy from Rutgers with the neon green bike--and I went back and forth quite a bit as we gobbled up stragglers. Despite a last lap surge on his part, however, I had a comfortable lead on him at the finish.

A couple of Johann in the retro kit:

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Drove to Delaware Saturday for the big UCI C1 Granogue Cross. You can read a CyclingNews write-up on the elite races here and a VeloNews write-up here. I entered the B field, and I didn't win. In fact, I didn't even come close, finishing 28th of about 85. I was disappointed, but doubly so because by the time I finished I had convinced myself I was in the top 20, maybe around 15th. Fortunately, I think I only told two people (sorry Johann and Mark) I did that well, but still embarrassing.

The race unfolded as is now to be expected. I staged on the last row (staging was done by order registered), started out not as fast as I would have liked, and then spent the rest of the race picking off riders by ones and twos.

The course was amazing. A lot of elevation and terrain change. We went from paved road to a wooded dirt trail which gave way to farm-mowed grass, back to pavement, more dirt/mud... It was a really cool course.

I stayed around for a bit afterwards to watch the elite women. There are better pics here, but I took some too--a warning: lens auto-focus broken.

This part of the course was so sketchy and crowded the first time around that some riders decided to dismount and just run the course. On the downhills I probably brake-checked every time down. I've got to work on that.


Kerry Barnholt (eventual winner--she was in the front, by herself, all day) tackling the run-up.

Another runner.

Others chose to push.

Another pusher.

Kerry Barnholt, your winner.

a response to a comment

In response to this post, Sean asked:

Out of curiosity, since most of these cyclocross races appear to be taking place in public parks and our organization has occasionally been asked to be the named sponsor on application to Metro parks for cyclocross races and our board has been concerned about environmental damage in terms of ripped up grass, etc..., how much wear occurs on the course between the beginning of the event and the end?

And I responded:

Of the three race I've done so far, one was at a fairgrounds (where there was grass, but the kind of grass you might lead your overflow parking to), one was at a YMCA camp up in the woods (where the grass was that kind of woodsy grass-clump stuff), and the other was on a private estate (where the grass was weed control, not aesthetic).

But no, it's not so easy on the grass. I mean, I'm sure the grass will recover, but it's not something you'd want to do to a really nice park or that you'd want to do to it every weekend.

In Nashville, I think Shelby/Shelby Bottoms would be a great place for a cross race. My experience is limited, but I think the best courses have mixed terrain--some dirt road, some asphalt, some grass, some sand, some single/double track...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

what makes sense is riding

Yesterday afternoon I spent three hours riding this route. Forty-three miles, 22 of which was on dirt road. I'd say 3,000-4,000 feet of climbing. A really, really delightful ride. I love my new bike.

And speaking of loving my new bike... I have never felt so comfortable descending, on the road, as I do on my Specialized. I feel so much safer and more secure. My Fetish isn't bad, but for some reason I'm almost always nervous descending with any speed. It just seems less stable in the front end, whereas my cross bike feels like riding on rails.

I suppose those who know what I'm talking about will know what I'm talking about and those who don't just won't, but I mention this all just to say that my Specialized is winning me over. Perhaps there will be one of these in my future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

life is too complicated

I just spent the morning getting my car inspected, arguing a traffic citation with a judge, paying bills, retrieving a user name and password for a rarely used credit card, disputing charges on same credit card (unsuccessfully) with a customer service person, disputing charges (successfully) on my Comcast bill with another customer service person, arguing with Comcast tech support over whose fault it is that my new Comcast Digital Voice doesn't work as promised and who's going to pay to fix it, and paying numerous bills the charges on which I can't contest, but feel no better about them for it.


Too. Complicated.

The sham of it all has put me in the foulest of moods.

Monday, October 15, 2007

iron cross lite

I wish I could have ran Iron Cross V on Sunday, but Iron Cross Lite was a satisfactory substitute.

I entered only one field this time--Men's B--and had a truly awful start. Halfway through the first lap I was in dead last place. Things improved from there, fortunately. I found a comfortable rhythm and began picking off riders by ones and twos. With two laps to go I was in third place and bearing down on second...then I went down hard through a gravel corner. I bloodied up my elbow and knee some, but the wreck also left my handlebars bent way out of whack. The time it took to get up, straighten my handlebars, and get rolling again was enough to allow two riders to catch up, and I guess the shock of the pounding was enough to knock the rest of my get-up-and-go out too. I finished a disappointing fifth place.

My cyclocross races to date have reminded me too much of high school cross country--start out way slower than everyone else, but keep a steady pace and pick off runners as I go. The trouble with this strategy (I call it a strategy, when in actuality it's nothing intentional, it just happens) in cyclocross is twofold. First, tight, twisty and sometimes singletrack terrain keeps you from passing at will and, second, one would prefer to sit on the wheel of the faster riders and not have to expend energy catching them alone. In this race Saturday, for instance, I'm sure I could have comfortably sat on the wheel of the first or second place finisher, ridden their pace, etc., had I started out on their wheel in the beginning instead of at the back of the pack. The moral of the story? I've got to improve my starting position and the speed and strength of my starting move.

I had a nice cheering section for this one--Val and the girls, plus Paul, Justin, Megan, the twins, Lane, and Elise. Thanks all for coming.

Anyway, a few pictures from the race, all coming through the death spiral.

Speaking of which, I was a little surprised how slowly some were riding the Spiral. For the most part, the turns were swoopy enough to go through with a full head of steam, but few really attacked them.

I say "for the most part," because on several occasions I had to brake strongly to keep from soaring through the barrier tape. I'm sure I will do this before long--at this point, my strength far exceeds my skill. As I begin to take more risks, I'm sure I'll suffer more dire consequences--like going down hard in a gravel turn, for instance.

I thought it a nice touch that at Iron Cross the tape poles were plastic, rather than the metal fencepost style they used at Hagerstown. Those metal poles seem like a very bad idea.

By the way, my new bike rules. My only complaint was the saddle, but that complaint was quickly resolved by throwing on the SLR from my road bike.

Yes, my tongue is flapping about like a dog's in that last picture.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

cancellara's panache

PADRIAG has been reading my blog.

powertap: fixed

I finally fixed my PowerTap.

I couldn't get the hub cover off with a traditional wrench or a strap wrench, finally called Saris to figure out what's up and ended up ordering their special tool. When the tool arrived I immediately recognized it as the funny little black thing that I remember coming with my wheel but, since I had no idea what it was, had either thrown away or discarded into some dark corner of my basement laundry/cycling gear repository room. Anyway, with the proper tool, getting the cover off was a snap.

Batteries now changed, the PowerTap is working perfectly. And so I rode for 160 minutes over two Michaux passes and rolling Franklin County hills to reacquaint myself the quantitative value of work.

Monday, October 8, 2007

my sad self

Sometimes when my eyes are red
I go up on top of the RCA Building
and gaze at my world, Manhattan--
my buildings, streets I've done feats in,
lofts, beds, coldwater flats
--on Fifth Ave below which I also bear in mind,
its ant cars, little yellow taxis, men
walking the size of specks of wool--
Panorama of the bridges, sunrise over Brooklyn machine,
sun go down over new Jersey where I was born
& Paterson where I played with ants--
my later loves on 15th Street,
my greater loves of Lower East Side,
my once fabulous amours in the Bronx
paths crossing in these hidden streets,
my history summed up, my absences
and ecstasies in Harlem--
-- sun shining down on all I own
in one eyeblink to the horizon
in my last eternity--
matter is water.

I take the elevator and go
down, pondering,
and walk on the pavements staring into all man's
plateglass, faces,
questioning after who loves,
and stop, bemused
in front of an automobile shopwindow
standing lost in calm thought,
traffic moving up & down 5th Avenue blocks behind me
waiting for a moment when . . .

Time to go home & cook supper & listen to
the romantic war news on the radio
. . . all movement stops
& I walk in the timeless sadness of existence,
tenderness flowing thru the buildings,
my fingertips touching reality's face,
my own face streaked with tears in the mirror
of some window--at dusk--
where I have no desire--
for bonbons--or to own the dresses or Japanese
lampshades of intellection--
Confused by the spectacle around me,
Man struggling up the street
with packages, newspapers,
ties, beautiful suits
toward his desire
Man, woman, streaming over the pavements
red lights clocking hurried watches &
movements at the curb--

And all these streets leading
so crosswise, honking, lengthily,
by avenues
stalked by high buildings or crusted into slums
thru such halting traffic
screaming cars and engines
so painfully to this
countryside, this graveyard
this stillness
on deathbed or mountain
once seen
never regained or desired
in the mind to come
where all Manhattan that I've seen must disappear.

-- Allen Ginsberg, New York, October 1958

hagerstown cross

First (two) cross race(s). Results here.

I started out near the back in a field of ~55, but quickly began passing. I heard the announcer say there was one rider way off the front, so I knew I needed to get busy quick.

There wasn't much pack riding in this field. Ability levels too disparate, I suppose.

This little rise on the back stretch was fun. I did most my passing on the flat stretches and gradual uphill sections.

But right after the little rise came this big rise--the ride-able run-up. I was slow up this beast. I lost ground to whomever I was riding with every time up this thing, but I seemed to recover much faster, and was usually able to put in a monster effort on the flat section just following the wall. I passed a lot of people just after this section.

The course was very dry, which led me to wonder what it would have been like had it been wet, or really wet.

Though it was a foggy morning, there was no precipitation.

Valerie and the girls were there. That was cool on its own, but Val also aided the effort by calling out my placing each time around. Eighth after one lap. Fifth after two laps. At the beginning of the final lap there were only three of us and we were riding together.

This is the last run up the wall on the final lap. I had made my move against my two riding companions some time before this. Looking back, this may have been a mistake. This guy caught me just below the wall and passed me on the way up. The other guy caught me soon after and put a gap on me with far superior cornering skills. I closed the gap on the final straightaway, but he held me off. By less than an inch.

I won a six-pack of beer and a case of one of those super-caffeinated sports drinks. Who drinks that stuff?


Ninety minutes later I lined up in the Men's B field. The field wasn't as big, maybe 30 riders, but clearly more experienced and savvy. Through the first lap I felt awful and could just barely manage to hang on near the rear. Gradually, I started feeling better and began moving up. I found a group of five to ride with, and did so steadily for about two laps, but when I sensed they were beginning to fade, I moved to the front and dropped them all. I picked off one more rider and then chased 11th place the whole last lap. He beat me by a bike length.

Good fun.

the new rig