Bandit Cross - Wrentham, MA

A handful of the New England cyclocross community, including Adam Meyerson, Jerome Townsend, Colin Reuter PLUS two Rutgers team riders who drove up from New Jersey took the snowy challenge at the Wrentham Development Center yesterday.

After carving a course into the snow and ice, a practice lap or two, Geoff Williams of cyclocrossracing.com, after a week of online exhortations, functioned as "race official" and started the assembled riders in two 20 minute heats. Surprisingly, I don't think there were any crashes during either heat, though there is one great endo recovery at 1:47 in the video.

The terrific song, "Winter" is by Dumptruck, lengendary Boston area band from the late 80's. Here's a link to  the album "Positively Dumptruck".


First, A Little Catching Up

This week between Christmas and New Years is a traditional time for taking time off and taking stock so I thought I'd play a little catch up on recent goings on. Shortly I'll take stock of the year just concluded and look ahead to what I might expect in 2011.

The Ice Weasels Cometh - December 11, 2010

I think I took this race way more seriously than nearly every other person there that day, which was my great loss.

My race report was typical for Cat 4 cannon-fodder: Racing a bit above myself in the 3/4 heat, I started great, passed a few people for the first two laps or so, got passed by a few. Then the next few laps saw me transform from strong and in control to sloppay as all get out and wishing the damn race was over already.

Meanwhile, I was blind to every generous beer/donut/cabbage/money hand-up offered to me.

© John Franzen / Atomic Star Designs photo

At some point, they must have realized I was a zombie. They stopped shouting at me to take what they were waving in front of me and instead proffered their gifts to those who actually had peripheral vision. The course was very dry and in some places a lot of dust got kicked up as you can see below. I spent the last two laps feeling like I was pushing a car, finishing (gulp!) 61st of 65.

© Itai Halevi

I did rally and got some good photos of the shenanigans that followed. Many more photos from Ice Weasels viewable here.

Ryan White prepares to quench his thirst. © Russ Campbell

A couple of days after the race I discovered that during a pre-race drivetrain teardown and buildup, I reinstalled my Rotor Q-ring rotated 90ยบ out of whack, effectively making it HARDER to pedal instead of easier. Not that it mattered much.


New England Regional Cyclocross Championships - December 18, 2010

With a couple of trainer sessions and one hour of outdoor training (ha!) after Ice Weasels I felt confident that I would do well in this race. I really did FEEL good that morning as we lined up.

After a slightly too-short warmup, I lined up 4th row and had a very good start, crunching my way past a few people who couldn't clip in and then, as we made our way to the "death spiral", I picked up a few more spots on the way into the center. Right at the middle, however, there was a major traffic jam, I was on the inside and was forced completely out of both pedals and had to "Fred Flinstone" for a few feet until I could clip in again.

As we exited the DS that first time, a rather large front group had formed and I was just off the back of it. I worked hard to reel in the guy in front of me but even as I did, that front group strung out very quickly as it wound it's way to the far side of the course past the mostly frozen sand pit (was that a volleyball court?). I was very nearly at max effort and fully warmed up, finally.

I bolted past a coupla more guys at the barriers which were between the two long straights along the roadway and one more at the fly over then passed more pedaling up the run up (which had a diabolically placed chunk of ice/snow right at the middle at the top).

The first 1 & 1/2 laps done, I spent the next part of the race in a no man's land that felt like somewhere just behind mid-pack. A coupla guys visible ahead of me and when I was on certain parts of the course, I could see a coupla guys behind me. I knew this would not be good - without someone to chase or be chased by, the mental task of keeping the pressure on would be tough.

I bore down and over the next two laps caught up to the two guys ahead of me. My best moments in the race: I made an artfully timed and executed inside pass on a turn on the far side of the course to get by one of them (SKILL!) and a short time later, passed the other guy on a straight (POWER!) and got maybe 10 seconds in front of them both.

Along the roadside straights, I could even see Stefan not too far ahead and made him my next goal but that lasted about as long as it took to process the thought: I crossed the start/finish with 2 laps to go, my dilithium crystals failed and I dropped out of warp.

  BRAIN: "Scotty, give me more power!"

  LEGS: "I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!"

There just didn't seem to be anywhere on the course to get a little rest and at this point, I needed one bad.

Two turns before the fly over, the guys I passed earlier came up behind me fast and I let them by rather than foul them up with my now rather non-existent bike handling skills. The rest of the race was just survival.

Finished five minutes behind infamous sandbagger M. Brier, placing 21st of 42 over all and 14th of 22 in the 45+ class. Drove home, unloaded all the bike stuff and loaded up all the photo stuff for a location shoot later in the day.


Random stuff

I finally replaced my 25+ year old Blackburn wind load trainer with a spiffy new Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer. Much. Quieter. Easier to plunk bike into as well. Hello, BSG season two.

I'm riding a MTB again after, oh 20 years by way of a used 2004 or '05 Specialized Stumpjumper on loan from a fellow MRC member. Needs some tuning up FD-wise (won't shift to largest chainring) but functions well otherwise. Have done 3 rides on it, all in various amounts of snow, notably a couple of days after Christmas at the Delaney Project in Stow when Gary D and I tried riding in the post-blizzard drifts:

Post Blizzard MTB ride @ Delaney Project from Russ Campbell on Vimeo.

Well, we DID get pretty tired, pushing our bikes through the snow, so it definitely counts as a workout and not just "play".

The following day, I did a solo MTB ride in the Stow Town Forest which went "much" better. That morning a phalanx of XC skiers laid down a nice 12" wide lane of densely packed snow around a few of the trails which made it possible to ride as long as I did not stray too far to teh side. This is not to say I was going very fast, it was hard work: 4 miles in an hour, with many abrupt stops when I got into the deeper stuff.

On New Year's Day, I got in a nice 90 minute "gentleman's ride" with some of my MRC brethren. Easy pace, mostly, with a 1/2 hour coffee break in Concord Center about 3/4 of the way through. It was fun shouting "Happy New Year" to other cyclists we passed.

Next up: year end assessment and planning/prognostication for 2011!