Monday, August 31, 2009

Notes from Veldrijden camp

Skinny Phil rocked the hott Ommegang kit!!
There was some blood shed and mud baths!

Cycle-smart cross camp version 2.0 long version


Its funny as we get older we feel like its ok to stop learning. When you are young you are an empty cup just drinking up everything around you. When I was in school I went to lots of camps. Dexter hockey camp, Lacrosse camp, a little northern long fist, camps are great ways to get some intense training and learn skills in controlled environment…or not in the case of Dexter hockey camp! What does every suburban JV hockey player need? Yeah trying to stop slap shots from former Boston Bruins may seem sadistic…but does it make you a better player? Actually yes it does. The old that which does not kill you makes you stronger business…but I digress.

Last Saturday I drove up through a hurricane to finally get some proper cross training from a true master at Cycle-smart's cross camp. Every other sport puts lofty titles upon their teachers…kung fu has their sifus, yoga has gurus….cycling? not so much but make no mistake about it Adam Myerson is a modern day cross guru.

Ed from Joe’s garage up in Soho let us use his farm and I have to say he laid out a course that puts most of the courses we race on to shame! Thanks Ed and all the locals who were so awesome to us up there! Even Meg and JD came by to give us some moral support and share some stories. Those guys are always a ray of sunshine even when you are soaked to the bone and trying to forget you have to get back out there and do it all over again for the afternoon session in the almost perfect Belgian Veldrijden conditions.

We learnt so much it would be impossible to put it all down and I wouldn’t do it justice. But it was an awesome day spent learning the real fundamentals of cross and getting to know some new faces. People traveled from long and far to get to the camp. It was also the first day I’ve put on Mad Alchemy in over three months. While most people opted for arm warmers and jackets and tights Hup went with standard issue Belgian Knee Warmers…the smell of the earth and the burn that thankfully won’t go away!

The day was broken up into mounting/remounting/barriers and then corners and starts. We all had some spectacular crashes but I do think my endo at the final session of the day takes the cake. We were practicing our starts 6 deep so it had a competitive aspect and we were working on a “new” technique for me: really almost jumping up onto the pedal as you start and driving down into the pedal for a super forceful start. Well I had so much grass, etc packed up in my drivetrain from a whole day riding in fields that it felt like my chain broke on my downstroke. Next thing I know my head is hitting the ground and I am doing a total somersault with the bike still clipped in. How embarrassing! Felt like I was decleated by a free safety. My body was mauled by my bike and I had cuts and scrapes in places I’d rather forget about. From the looks on my wife’s face she is clearly beginning to suspect I am seeing a Dominatrix on the side. Frankly a Dominatrix would be a much gentler mistress at this point than how my cross bike is treating me…Here is the clif note version of what we worked on:

1. Dismount: He's not a fan of the step through. I knew that going in and actually after hearing his declaration a year ago of never ever step through I stopped doing it myself. And frankly the step through has not been kind to Hup over the years. I vote for its utter banishment! Myerson’s dismount technique was sick and so fast and smooth...He clips out his left foot right before scissor kicking the right leg for the dismount. The left foot clip out is super-subtle. I never have done this and it threw me off at first but I like it now. Basically it’s just turn the ankle out to unclip put mid-foot on pedal all while still pedaling. The next tip is using the saddle as a balancing point on your right hip. Don't push the bike over to the right more stabilize yourself with the saddle and then put the hand on the tt right in front of the saddle and push down to stabilize yourself further. So now really you are in great shape to come in hop off and just fly over the barrier. Saddle goes on the outside of the elbow when suitcasing! Don't let the bike get in between you, you want it out away from you and up! Its suitcasing but its kind of like a power clean...over the barriers and then 2-4 steps and on to the remount!

2. Remount. Don't studder step but also don't do the super fly! Sometimes you see people flying so high both heels high in the air...he says its more merging back with your bike or running back on your bike. Hip rolls over and stomps through and down into the right pedal with force...that way the left pedal will be in the perfect space to reclip and you are sprinting out of the transition...with dismounts and corners etc the mantra was have your exit speed be greater than your entrance speed

3. Corners: This was/is my weakest point. I suck at corners and was heckled by him about it mostly just that I corner like a mtn biker. All in fun and in a good way, he really is funny and patient. He made it very low pressure although I was very nervous and had stage fright when we broke it down to doing individual drills with everybody watching. But anyway the practice here is "Tape to Tape" come into the turn outside at the tape carve in to the other tape..I always would come flying in on the inside have to over break and then power out which is a waste of effort...the other big technique revelation is weighting the front end and steering. I turn like a mtn biker way back and carvey,,,,,not so good for cross. With Adams technique it is weight way on the front, shoulders to the outside (don't lean your head through the turn) and being a bit more upright than leaning over the bike or body. The rear slides around a bit but it is controllable

4. Payback: The last really good tidbit was Pay Back every time you cruise. He told the story of his first world cup in belgium last year where he sucked and got lapped with 4 to go. What he noticed was that the guys back with him in 40th etc were fighting tooth and nail sprinting out of every when you cost down a hill you have to sprint out of it like its your last. When you do a corner you have to attack out of it etc, fight for every placing etc..A couple of nuggets worth noting:

-The pinky wrap: If you don’t already do this make sure you wrap your pinky around the bar when on the hoods. This gives you much more control and allows you to do two finger braking. Don’t grab the levers with your whole hand just two fingers.

-Use wider bars for leverage.

-I never thought of compact being a good choice but Adam likes a 46/36 w/a 12-25 and frankly it makes sense to me.

-Leave 5mm of spacer at the top of your stem for the fork steerer. Stiffens things up and is safer

-He likes a level TT on the bikes- makes sense for so many reasons…shouldering, putting the hand down to grab the tt etc

-Adams levers are wicked high…like sky high. I moved mine up and they feel great

What a great day of camp I obviously highly recommend trying this next year if you get a chance. It is the perfect way to get ready for cross season and hopefully we’ll have the same weather next year so we can train in “real” cross conditions


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cycle-Smart Camp Crossapalooza

Adam Myerson what can I even say....I knew he was something special but wow..fantastic teacher, funny, patient one cool cat and really we are sooo lucky he lives here in NE and takes the time out of his insanely busy schedule to teach cross to all us mere mortals...

Yeah those Mavic shoes are kind of growing on me but they do not match Hup kit...not at all actually...
Jeff had a great time! This was right after a complete yardsale crash in front of me while we were practicing our turns. It was hilarious. But of course I had my chance to entertain as I some how endo'd during start practice. Oh and it was spectacular in its absurdity. I look like I was mauled by a giant mountain lion. I don't know if I am going to explain this one to my wife...if I didn't have photographic evidence of my attending cross camp I think she'd begin to suspect I am seeing a dominatrix on the side...

I must lick my wounds...literally...get some sleep, digest all Al and Adam taught us and do a proper camp post in the am.....I leave you with this great tidbit from Adam..."if Ryan Trebon and Tim Johnson had a love child it would be Sven Nys..." That's just the tip of the iceberg my friends...more in the am...Hup Hup...oh and a big shout out to my friend Eli who rocked out his 29er Frankenbike at Palmer. Dude was spot on correct and brought the right weapon to do the 10 baby!!! Great job Eli! 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Homage to Brave Soldier

This is why we shave ALL the way up..grrrr tape and hair on your butt=more pain

Hup and Fohu have lost some flesh over the last couple of weeks. Maybe its the end of summer we are all tired and we are writing checks our bodies can't cash. Who knows perhaps our Mercury has gone retrograde...for me it is second nature dealing with wounds and injuries. It is pretty much in my DNA. Part of it is I am accident prone (thankfully I have outgrown most of it now its only bike related!) The other part is my family DNA. When you have a grandfather who you are named after who was an Army surgeon and was trapped in Bastogne during the Battle of the Buldge and a mother who was an er nurse you have a pretty could gene pool for dealing with injuries. Suffice it to say the sight of blood doesn't bother me. My earliest recollection of crashing a bike was when I was about 10 years old. We used to do races around my block. One racer took the high road and the other took the low road. It was a circle and you could spy through the houses to see where your rival was and plan out your sprint to the cul de sac...I was eyeballing my nemesis too much and forgot to keep my eyes on the road. I hit a parked station wagon full on flew over the car landed on the hood and rolled onto the pavement. I was fine other than my jean leg was really wet. Weird. I hit the hood ornament on the way over the car and had a massive gash on my knee. I rode home and showed it to my mom who proceeded to wash it off, push the fat back in, and slap a butterfly bandaid back on gave me an oreo and said ok "you're all set get back out there and play with robbie sullivan" You'd get a call from the DSS if you tried that shit with a kid these days. But I was fine and riding my bike like nothing happened.

If I could hit the reset button I probably would have made a better emt or nurse or pt than an artist...frankly art school was a big waste on me. It was cool and all that but 160k cool....maybe not so much. But I digress. The point is even experienced bikers don't always know how to deal with road rash. In my fascination with patching myself up I stumbled upon a company that embraces road rash called Brave Soldier. They make some fantastic products and offer up a great article on dealing with road rash but here in a nutshell is how I deal with it. Now obviously I am NOT a dr, I don't even play one on tv, this is what has worked for me. If you have any doubts etc go to your dr. If it is red and streaky go to your dr. If it swells up and gets hot go to your dr...ok you get the point. But here goes. Ok so get home the best you can. Get your crash pack. Crash pack you say? Brave Soldier sells a good one or just go to CVS and get:

toothbrush--oh you'll need a toothbrush trust me
Bacitracin or other antiseptic 
Second Skin!!!
Big bandages
Sterile gauze pads
surgical Gloves-the gloves are for anytime you are putting neo on the wound or cleaning it
Tegraderm-although after my last road rash I am off tegraderm and on second skin with a big bandaid over it.

Step 1. Now hit the shower with some anti-bacterial soap and the toothbrush...You will probably need to scream at a few points. It will sting but you have to scrub and get ALL the dirt/debris out of the wound. Now when I say wound I mean road rash. If you have a wound ie a deep cut and you can see into it go to the er and get stitches and professional help. One product that is nice is Brave Soldier First Defense. Basically its a spray antiseptic. They say it doesn't sting but it does.

Step 2. Get out of the shower and dry off. Use something sterile like the gauze pads pad dry the wound. Clean it with the bacitracin. Put on Neosporin or Brave Soldier ( I like brave soldier) Put on the second skin pad, put a big bandage over that. You might have to tape it on if its a big rr.

Step 3. Ibuprofen and relax however you can. If you hit hard put some ice on it asap. Frozen pees are good. Take a supplement like fish oil to help with inflamation. Whole foods has nice organic type fish oil.

Step 4. Change the dressing 2x a day. Keep it covered and wet with medicine. If your tetnus isn't up to date get a booster. 

That's it in a nutshell. Good luck and hopefully Hup has burnt all its crash Karma in readiness for Cross season!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top Tube Here

My Rock Lobster Top Tube is going to be setting up permanent residence on that bullseye in about two weeks. Still prepping like a madman. Pulling in favors from mechanics and friends left and right. Keep forgetting something. The thing with cross season is we wait all year for it and then bam its gone in a blink of an eye. This seasons schedule is insane. So many UCI races. So many doubles. I have no idea how I am going to survive it without blood bags or an altitude tent...maybe just eating raw meat and Rocky 1 raw egg milk is really going to have to take a backseat to recovering especially in the month of October. The races I know I must attend and that are AAA races in my mind are: Putney, Waterville/Sucker Brook, Mansfield Hollow, Providence Cross, and Shedd Park. Noho also holds a really special place in my heart. Maybe its the table top jump over the tracks...who knows I just always have a great time up there. So here it is read it and weep...I know come Nov 1st I most likely will be a cross zombie...hope not.

29th- Cycle-smart cross camp

13th- Bedford/Quad cross

19th & 20th-Waterville Valley/Sucker Brook

3rd & 4th-G-Star

10th & 11th-Providence Cross 

17th-Mansfield Hollow



7th & 8th-Noho

21st-Shedd Park
22nd-Spooky Bikes CX


5th & 6th-NBX RI

11/12/13th Bend Oregon Natz....big question mark on that one...but rumors of hottubs, Super Relax, the entire Hup NW squadra and DMRoth....might be too insane to miss...we'll see how flights look..

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Epic Tubular Fail

Ahhh Houston we have a problem
Ok I will be the first to admit it. I am pretty much a hamfist of a mechanic. I love working on my bike but really am only barely above beginner level...well maybe advanced beginner. Gluing Tubulars is like advanced advanced beginner work trust me. It was going along swimmingly until I had to actually put the tire on....that is where the shit hit the fan...half way up the rim and uh oh...well lets chalk that up to a rite of passage every crosser must go through. Getting totally stoned on mastik 1, gluing yourself and your expensive tubies to garbage cans, not pretty.

I went into the shop today and threw myself at their mercy. Man they take good care of me. This too will pass. But it wasn't the worst experience. I have a whole new respect for my mechanic ( not that I didn't before) and I now see why certain people in the industry reply to my emails with "I can't glue your tubulars" Hey better to be honest about it right? Aaron's track record is zero rolled tubulars in season. This fango doesn't count as Zanc so astutely points out a glue job is only good for one season. And he is right...

But lest you think I am off tubulars oh no. Never. They are the holy grail of cross. And the fangos? Love them. They can turn some tight turns on grass! Wet, thick its all like velcro. Kind of geeking on the whole new FMB challenge relationship. I will always love Dugast Rhynos but they are a course specific tyre. A course that I love by the way and now that I've used Rhynos in thick nasty mud I will never ride anything else. But for all-around conditions I am feeling what the FMB/Challenges are cooking...

My brain cells appear to have regenerated. Do they regenerate? Probably not at my age. Well then at least I have come down off my mastik high which wasn't an unpleasant sensation. But lesson learnt when it comes to glue jobs no DIY jobs for me....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sebago Cross mini-camp

The God of Thunder gave us quite a welcome to lake Sebago

My family has been going to Lake Sebago for 6 yrs. My brother was married there. My sister was married there. We stay at a boys camp called O-At-Ka it is an amazing place to chill, let the kids be kids and not have to worry about anything. In the six yrs we've gone there I've never brought a bike. The roads are sketchy as hell with long haul truckers loaded down with logs etc not ideal road riding in my mind. But Rosey got me thinking "cross camp!" I called my brother and asked him if there was a soccer field or something on the other side of camp and Voila. In my wife's words "what is the cross bike doing on the roof rack?" Oh how did that get up there I innocently responded.
At some point all crossers end up down range
We got up to Sebago to witness one of the craziest storms I've ever been party to. The girls will remember it forever. Thunder the likes of which Thor himself was above us crushing giants skulls with each report. Then as we all were on the porch of the lodge watching rain come down in buckets the biggest thunder blast ever and an explosion in the trees 30 feet from the lodge on the edge of the water. You could feel the heat blast. A tree got hit. The aftermath was what was most impressive. I've never given lightning a second thought. After seeing tree shards the size of spears scattered across a 50 foot blast zone I may have to rethink my casual stance to woods riding during thunder and lightning storms.

I got two days of solid cross practice in. I set up a great course that included a bit of everything. I even brought my pvc barriers. Had such a great time working my dismounts, trying to rail the corners, finding places to do flying dismounts and runnups. Felt gassed and frankly wanted to puke after a few 3 minute all out efforts...hmmm how is this going to feel for 45 minutes plus a lap? 

Came out of it convinced I should do the Cycle-smart camp with my teammates. After so long practicing cross by the seat of my pants I need to work on technique with someone who knows what they are doing and knows how to teach the finer points. Me channeling my inner viking (ala Bart Wellens) and hurling myself at the barriers can only get me so far.
Thought I had the bike dialed in but now am not so sure. Rolled a rear fango. Might have been the combo wet grass and old glue job. Really its a karmic Beetch slap upside my head for doubting Zancs tweet that last years glue jobs must be redone before the season. I am glad I rolled it now. Get to try my hand at glueing it up. We'll see how that goes. But came away with a lot of respect for the fangos they really turn super tight turns on wet grass and are pretty fast for a "grippy" tire. They are going to be my go to for a while.

So much to do between now and the Waterville/Sucker Brook weekend. Stoked to get on it.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Hup took a bit of a beating yesterday. Rosey laid it down pretty good on some train tracks on his commute in to work. I set out on my Red Raider loop without any concerns for my own well being and paid the price. Rosey should have been a canary in a coal mine..but I am a Gemini and get distracted easily by shiny objects and frolicking in the woods. So many should haves, especially for a 44 yr old in charge of 2 kids and 3 octagenarians...I should have realized it would be wet, should have seen the warning signs that my 3 yr old worn out michelin muds needed replacing (hmmm maybe the total lack of tread down the center section should have been a tip off they need to go) should have remembered back to about 7yrs ago when I was living in Norcal riding mt diablo every day on my mtn bike and the horrific crashes I had transitioning from mtn bike riding to cross riding on the same trails...shoulda, coulda woulda what evah? 
I hit the Red Raider loop hard with visions of doing 20 runnups because Myerson says that's how a crosser does running training not by doing 5ks...Felt great. Only got in 10 runnups but was feeling it. That is always a bad sign. In any self-respecting War movie or slasher flick you always know who is going to get it next wether it be the jock or the hotty by who is happy and feeling good about life. Then kablaammmo. 
Does my ass look fat? Oh god don't answer that. But this is why you shave ALL the way up
So I was heading home feeling good about myself counting my podiums and thinking of how many days until Waterville CX. I decided to drop down this rooty loaming singletrack that I've done a million times on my cross bike. It exits on a wood bridge. As I dropped in I got a tad knocked off line by the roots. Funny how a 32 mm knobby pumped to 45 psi doesn't handle like a mtn bike tire at 30 psi...weird. I must have come into the wood bridge too hot and at an angle because when my front tire touched the wet mossy wood it was like Hades reached up from the depths of Hell and ripped my bike out from under me. Bam on the deck. Hit my hip and slid about 10 feet. The only thing keeping me from flying off the bridge was a metal post I hit with my anke...nice. I laid there in pain for way too long for a "normal" crash. First thought was shit did I just break my hip? (that's the first sign you know you are an old bastard right?) my second thought was oh my god I just destroyed my brand new iphone which made a really weird sound upon impact...after a second I got up did a quick body check. Wasn't feeling good but had to ride home so f-it. Straddled the bike gingerly and tried to turn the pedals over. Got home in massive pain. My two girls were awesome drs! The 4 year old wanted to see the blood, the 8 year old hid her eyes. They were so great getting me ice bags, bandages, etc. These two have a future in er medicine!

Hmm what's that white stuff ewww
The upside is nothing is broken and I have a fresh tetnus shot to carry me through cross season! Woohoo. Kudos to Dr Richardson! I love facebook friends! I sent her a wall message and she got back to me straight away. Its awesome knowing there are Dr's who are down with stupid bikers and there crashes. She seriously rocks. So I am sore all over but functional. Sat am the Squadra is hitting D2R2. I will be going on a chill pastry ride in search of the perfect Iced Americano...hup, hup, hup

So much dirt so much scrubbing and screaming in the shower

Oh yeah you sit there all nice like like you didn't cause my horrific crash just so I'd ride you more...oh you sick sick bastard

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some Pig

Why is that man holding "my" trophy? Because the promoter for SpectaCross at the NJ State Fair is totally cool that's why. I so wanted to go to that race. Any race where you can run over a burnt out car speaks to me. But I am sick like that. But I am also contracturally obligated to remain in the greater Boston area entrusted with the 2 minors under my care if there is no under-70 backup. But enough about me. When I realized the trip to NJ wasn't happening I emailed the promoter to let him know I wasn't going to be making it. He asked me if I wanted a refund. Refund really? Why does NJ get a bad rep? seriously. There are no refunds for no shows at bike races damnit! Doesn't he know this?....I emailed him back saying hey no worries use the race fee for some beer for the racers. Well he came up with a much better idea The Chip Baker Rainbow Pig Trophy! I will now be sending him some cash money to pay out the hearty souls that make it to this race as an annual occurrence. And next year we may work out some deal were you win a pig! And not some yearling a big pig try and fit that in your Bailey works bag! Now if I can just get some podium girls to hand the trophy to our dirt encrusted heros I can die a happy man...Better crossers than me have said this but there is no reason why people closer than Boston shouldn't be flocking to this race next year. For all the bad mouthing promoters get here is a promoter who actually cares about racers.... 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Beer. Cupcake. Mustache

Natasha McKittrick is the publisher/photographer/artist behind Beer. Cupcake. Mustache. A chronicle of the New England cross scene. She is able to capture in both photography and words the passion and mud and grit that makes cross so addicting. In her book you find both the individuals and the passion that make up the unique culture that roams cross courses from NJ to Maine each Fall in pursuit of the perfect remount or the glory of the holeshot. After a few read throughs it becomes much more than an anthropological chronicle and almost a zen-like manifesto of why you MUST love cross. Natasha is herself a very talented bike racer and is able to catch perspectives that you rarely see in digital celluloid. Natasha was kind enough to answer my awkward attempts to understand her art and how she set about to capture the cross scene that we know and love in New England. Her website is Pedal Power Photography 

 1. Last season I saw you taking pictures all over the place. You'd pop up in trees, under course tape with a pbr in one hand and camera in another, you were everywhere what inspired you to start trying to capture the cross scene and how long have you been doing photography?

 For as long as I can remember myself my Dad has always been photographing. He is an engineer, so he had a regular day job, but frankly I don’t recall a single weekend without him snapping pictures – of the family, of friends, anything, really. He had a Zenith (a landmark Russian TTL) and developed and printed all of the photos he took. On certain nights bathroom would turn in to a truly magical alchemist place – darkroom.  I was allowed in to watch, learn and even – oh, no!really??? – assist.

Photography was so inherent to my life that I didn’t even consider it as my specialization in college.  There is no photography degree diploma framed above my bed, but you may be damn sure that my shelves are stocked with all kinds of film and digital equipment, and that there is a special bag that’s ready in 2 seconds, that has all the essentials.

Now, to the ‘cross scene.   My at that time boyfriend (and now husband) convinced me to try racing, and, having closed my eyes and taken a deep breath I jumped into mountain bike racing, which is a short hike to CX.  Shortly after I started racing mtb, I joined the illustrious Cambridge Bicycle Team and that was the stream that brought me, half-conscious, to cyclocross.

I don’t think that I would get into photo-documenting ‘cross if I did not race. It’s just not the same.  When you race CX, you know the pain points, the joy, the frustration, the shortness of breath, the mud, the sand, the “it’s-the-best-beer” post-race relaxation.  So when I photograph fellow cyclocrossers I want to show what I feel when I race and to maybe attempt at showing what the ‘cross is about.


2. What inspires you? Because if I was to say the book is one thing it is both inspirational while also being makes me want to get on my cross bike and get bloody and dirty.

What inspires me in general? Or in relation to ‘cross photography? Maybe, just like I said above, knowing what they are going through because I went through the same shit earlier in the day and trying to establish my relationship to those I photograph, through blood, mud, suffering, pain, joy and relief. It’s like that special nod you give to the cyclists-in-training (going uphill during hill repeats, or on trails, or on those long “way-the-f-out” rides).  

A good remount inspires me like a good ballet flip would inspire a ballet photographer. Honestly, a perfect remount mesmerizes me to the point I sometimes forget to photograph.

3. What is the performance advantage of the mustache? And does full on playoff beard ala Wilcox and Bramhall trump handlebar mustache?

 Ha! That’s what I was trying to find out in the book.  I don’t think it will be fair to reveal it to those who haven’t read it yet, but I will say that there are certain trends concerning facial hair fashion among male cyclocross racers.


4. I know its loaded you have friends feelings to consider but who has the "best" mustache?

 David Wilcox hands down owns New England Cyclocross in that sense. But! He does have a competitor (I don’t know if that guy races CX or anything at all, but he had a bike and a mustache so I took a picture) who I ran into at Wells Ave one Sunday… I had asked his permission to take the photo, so I hope he won’t mind too much if I attach it to this interview. 


5. The cupcake has infiltrated our cross culture over the last two years or so who do you think started this cupcake revolution? And who are the cooks behind these tastey confections

 I will second Hannah Kirshner (who I interviewed in the book). She thinks that the sport implicitly called for a sweet treat, and cupcakes, being quite popular among the non-CX crowds, were a natural response.  Speaking of herself, the cupcake tradition began for her when she brought a few for the friends at a race.  The rest, as known, is history.  

Besides Hannah’s famous cupcakes (and they are delicious; I am a huge hater of frosting, but that airy whipped stuff she puts on her cupcakes…I don’t dare call it frosting, therefore I adore it), I know that Mo (Maureen Bruno-Roy) makes exclusively the best veggie cupcakes (gluten-free, too), and she can artfully stencil practically anything on the frosting.  If you attend cyclocross off-race events in or around Boston, you have tried them and you know what I am talking about (here, I am giving you the cyclist-in-training nod).

 I want to say that Rebecca Wellons makes cupcakes, too, but I am not 100% positive. 

 6. Is there a preferred cucpake for cross? Obviously cupcakes come in many sizes and forms for a handup one probably would go mini cupcake...but post race team love fest maybe a giant cupcake with sprinkles and frosting is best.

 Oh, for cyclocross purposes, I think the more frosting, the better. Among those interviewed who responded “cupcake” to “waffle or cupcake” question, I think most were strongly favoring the ones with “lots and lots” of frosting. 

As a photographer, I support this wholeheartedly.  You can’t even imagine the joy I will be experiencing looking through the viewfinder at a racer shoveling that sugary slop in their face while racing.  Can’t wait, really. 

 7. Beer handup or cupcake handup?

 Both, but strategically located at the opposite sections of the race course.

 8. Do you embrocate?

 I was rocking this “tough Russian chick” image during the first two CX seasons.  Then, one spring day, while my husband was out, I dug into the sacred jar. Can’t get enough of it now. Yes. I am a converted believer.

 Perhaps a few more serious cross questions:

 1. Who is your biggest rival? victim/nemesis?

 2. Clincher or tubular?

 Clincher for me so far.  I am already possessed in terms of photo equipment, so trying to keep up with the hi-tech CX fashion is going to make me even more of a wacko than I am already.  Clinchers have been working out for me just fine and as a racer I am not at the level yet when tubulars vs clinchers are going to cost me a podium spot. 

 3. Is there more glory beating a loved teammate in a race or using team tactics to get your teamate on the podium?

 Well, as a female racer I can tell that there are not as many women racing (left alone racing CX) to begin with.  Another point (which will perhaps sound amateurish which I guess is quite fitting to me as a ‘cross racer anyway) is that I don’t really believe there is much that team tactics can do in a cyclocross race.  There are just too many factors that you cannot really count on while planning the strategy, beginning with slipping on an icy run-up and losing 2-3 places and ending with a knock-out someone may unintentionally give you while they are running a sandpit with their bike on the shoulder. 

When it comes down to racing against teammates…”you go first”, “no, you go first”, “no, I insist, after you” –kind of tactics seems to be designed more in favor of racers wearing other team colors. 

I am not saying that there is particularly some glory in beating a teammate. There is satisfaction from racing well and if I beat someone who I normally cannot outrace, hell yeah, I’m gonna be beaming with pride.  If it happens to be a teammate I just hope they will be as happy for me as I am for them when they have a great race. 

However, if you are talking about road racing, I’ve seen it many times over how CB dudes drag the whole peloton on their back while their teammate is resting up in the middle of the peloton for the final sprint.  That’s art. And as such it is inherently captivating to me. 

 4. What is your favorite thing about cross?

 The challenge: of a course, of the weather, of competitors, of luck. To me there is no better feeling than the one you get right after you have done something you thought you’d never be capable of.  It’s like a first proper remount (have I mentioned already I am mesmerized by a perfectly executed remount?). 

Cyclocross provides for plenty of opportunities to get to that feeling of accomplishment and the satisfaction with which you put a mental “check!” against one more challenge.  It often comes in one package with blood and scrapes and bruises and cold wet clothes and frozen fingers and toes… but that’s what makes it feel like a real accomplishment, not just “oh, I raced hard and smart and placed well”.

 5. What are your top five race courses in New England

 1. Shedd Park (Lowell)

2. Northampton, both days

3. Amesbury (I likedthe mtb nature of the course)

4. Ice Weasels (the most fun one. Ever.)

5. Gloucester’08 day 2 (going in reverse of the usual course)

 6. What is the craziest thing you've ever seen or heard while racing cross?

 Elite racer Pete Smith (currently racing for Embrocation) jumping over the barriers backwards.  And also Robert Tyszko smashing his nose broken (?) and still racing till the finish with the face that looked like he just ate a baby. 

And David Wilcox racing dressed up as a shark, smashing his lip face on over a barrier while racing. 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Shift in the weather?

Can you Feel it? The mornings have gotten a little crisp. At night you are under the blankets instead of on top of them sweating yourself to sleep. So much talk of cross right now. Just makes me feel sooo much more alive. Talking to friends about tubulars. Which ones to get? What set up will be the best. .Lots of talk about what the "hot" tire is right now. Flexus? Typhoon? Grifo? We are so lucky to have all these choices. Even my mechanic is getting psyched I can tell a summer of fixing hybrids and kids bikes has pushed him to the edge...Cross is really hitting a peak. We'll see if its the crest of the wave or will it keep building to double overhead...for us it doesn't matter. We loved it when there were no inflatables and beer rocked when it was just a bunch of orange cones and a keg of beer in the back of someone's pickup truck. 

So much going on. Great ride out to Harvard and back with the crew. Team is strong right now. And we haven't even started getting serious ( I think...) So much to be stoked about for this season. Lots of ideas flying around. And Yash has a new blog!!! Finally. Although I shouldn't call it a blog as it is a proper website. Good to see him and his creativity back on the web. Last preparations are in order to be ready for Palmer on the 29th. Got to get the Lobster looking all pro for that first race. Might still have to roll up on my ratty old sidi dragons but what are you gonna do. Can't wait to hangout at the races. Get there early to cheer on the 4s, stay late to cheer the 3s...might need to get an air horn this year...Autumn is almost here I can feel it...

Monday, August 3, 2009

The home stretch

The last time I was in the shop I mentioned to my mechanic that its almost time to start gluing tubulars...he said his thumbs hurt just thinking about it. Might have something to do with the stiff challenge tires I had him glue up last year. Well good news for my wrench! FMB casings are soooo supple. I put the new FMB/Fangos I got from Zanc on the SLs for some stretching. They went on so easy I don't even think they really "need" to stretch. But it is a tradition to stretch the tubes and I am not going to fly in the face of Belgian cross protocol...I can't even wait to try these. I liked the fangos last year. Liked them a lot. But repeat after me "they are not mud tires." They are good in the muck but they are also pretty fast. The FMB casings will make these tires phenomenal. What Francois has done in my mind with the tubular market is vital. He's brought the supple ride of a Dugast without a Dugasts terrible track record of falling apart after a season...hell even mid-season...I love Dugast tires but damn they are fragile...Francois has a whole newly designed website with specific Challenge tread patterns on his casings. This year according to reputable sources he has gone factory direct! No more cutting off the tread and hacking apart the tire to glue the tread onto his casings. Challenge is providing him with the rubbber tread so he can glue it up fresh. Should make for a lighter marriage of the two. Check out the new site when you get a chance FMB.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

First Blood

"You'll need a gentle reminder of the things you can do on a mtn bike that you cannot do on a 'cross bike, but a couple of falls will soon refresh your memory!" -Simon Burney. Hell Yeah. A summer of shredding on the sola with disc brakes has made me cocky! You gots to respect the cantis and the 32mm contact patch! And who knew three year old worn out mich muds don't offer the same cornering my brand new 2.0 mtn bike tires offer up. Aug 2 was my first "hard" cross ride. And for me the start of cross season. Did the Red Raider loop with purpose and speed. But back to the First Blood. I was about 45 minutes into my loop mixing some elements together. Riding a circuit I've done 1,000 of times I was dreaming of some new Rock Lobster socks and going through a mental check list of things I need to get done to be ready for Palmer on the 28th. Kablam!!! Zen bitch slap upside my head....I went into a 180 turn at speed from grass to dirt and just hit the deck actually felt good. Is it sick to say that? In the annals of bike crashes it was nothing. A tiny trickle of blood flowed down my leg and I felt alive and that hell yeah cross season is here with its requisite mud, and dust and blood. I rode hard but got my head back in the game so I didn't make any more mental mistakes. Felt fantastic to be out on the cx bike playing with dismounts, runups, carrying the bike suitcase style versus on the shoulder...which is faster right? Depends. I found in some ways I was lighter on my feet and faster suitcasing the bike up some technical runnups...something to work on this pre-season. Because all its about from now on is getting fast! 
Bumped into the Pan Massers around Babson and cheered them on from the opposite side of the road. Got my long loop dialed in for cross practice. Had a great ride. Alarm clock ringing and psyche wide awake...

Post ride I installed a new BB7900! I am on the cusp of going shimano...6700 looks so hot, 7900 what can you say? And when I pulled my old shimano bb out of the bike what did I see? The usual rust and nastiness I've faced with campy the last 2 years? Clean. Pristine. Phil Woods grease still green and sexyissimo easton 7000 bb shell shining at me...

How many different brake pads do I need to try before I find a set that don't stutter and works right? Been through swiss stops, koolstops, shimano xtr with swissstops....back to the thinline koolstops that Paul's sends with his brakes...I am such a tweaker...left the swissstops on the back because for some reason they work in the rear and are hott...27 days till the pedals get turned for reals...