Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rasputitsa - dry edition

Maple syrup shot in Cyberia

Shane and I were up in Vermont yesterday for the Rasputitsa gravel road race. Short version of the race report - it was awesome. Kind of a cross between Battenkill and D2R2.

Long version:

Rasputitsa is Russian for mud season. The time in April when Vermont dirt roads turn to muck. With such a mild winter and the recent warm temps we encountered mostly dry roads. Quite a contrast from last year when the Cyberia section (more on that later) turned into a 2 mile hike a bike in the snow.

This was the third year for this race. Year one had 200 participants, year two around 300. This year there were 500 in the open men's field, 100 women, and separate sub-fields for single speed and yes fat bikes. Well over 600 racers. The course is 40 miles nearly all on dirt roads around Burke mountain. Over 4000 feet of elevation with two major climbing sections of around 20-30 minutes. The first of these was set up as the race's Strava KOM and the second has a final sector on the class IV Kirby Mountain road known as Cyberia.

With an open field containing multiple domestic and Canadian pros and many cat 1 and 2 types you know you are just looking for a solid finish. Shane and I decided we would ride hard together and keep an eye on one another. Turned out to be a great plan that maximized the fun in what was still a hard course. We lined up in the kind of middle or back of the first third of the field. Neutral start on pavement for a few short miles which was hilly enough to make me wish we had warmed up a bit. Turned on to the dirt and things started to sort out. At the same time people started having early mechanicals and bottles were being ejected everywhere on the potholed roads. Shane and I each lost one and agreed that we would share if either of us lost another. We got to the KOM climb around mile 13 and rode tempo to the top. These dirt climbs were hard and stiff enough that I was in my 34x32 much of the time. Took a bottle in the feed zone at the top and then blasted down a long descent to a flatter transition section between the two climbs. We pace-lined a bit with some passengers but also rode side by side at times to avoid spraying mud on each other in the damp sections of road. By this time we were around 25 miles in and I realized we were on a pretty good pace. Last year some solid guys we know took 4 hours to finish in the tougher conditions. With mostly dry roads we were looking at sub 3 hours. When we got to the final climb I told Shane not to wait on me at the top since we would be just 8 miles or so to the finish. I could see him passing riders up ahead for the full 27 minutes (!) of climbing. We climbed River Rd to Masten Rd to Kirby Mountain Road or "Cyberia". Last year it was covered in snow forcing riders to walk to the top and making some walk the descent as well as it is steep and rutted. This year the whole way up was dry and rideable. And they gave out shots of maple syrup in a frozen glass at the top. The descent was the wettest part of the course with deep tire tracks in slippery mud. It was the only descent where I couldn't let it all hang out. Had to unclip once when I started going sideways in the mud but kept it upright. Eventually it opened up on to another dry dirt road and I picked up speed. I could see Shane up ahead and thought I might catch back up but the road tilted up again. Rode hard to the finish while picking up spots and keeping the cramps at bay. Sprinted into the finish psyched on a fun, hard race with no mechanicals (bike or body) for either one of us. Really lucked out with the weather this year. I'd do it again in adverse conditions but definitely psyched it was dry and warm. 

All smiles at the finish

Submitted by Ken

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross

Last big race of the season and I have to admit it wasn't really one to remember, mostly due to a huge crash holding up the field early on in the first lap.  But Shane kept me motivated and we had fun after things shook out.  And luckily we got at least one good pic with both of us in the frame.  Goddard Park in Warwick, RI is one of the most scenic venues on the calendar, right up there with Stage Fort Park in Gloucester.

Submitted by Ken, photo credit Team Health Warrior

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New kits, new bikes, and some racing

Just a quick post to say we are still here and the MTB season is in full swing!  We have been out at the races in our new kits and last weekend Shane debuted his new bike at the Weeping Willow race on the North Shore.

Ken at the Fat Tire Classic

Shane's new weapon of choice

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ice Weasels

Ice Weasels is the season-ending party on bikes that I've never done before.  Turns out after last weekend's rain the usual venue in Rowley, MA was underwater so Reuter and Co. scrambled and found a gem in Cumberland, RI and set up an awesome course in less than 48 hours. Shane, Ken, Cory, Mover, and I headed down for some spectating and racing.

What I love about a Reuter production is the course features.  No contrived BS to slow you down but rather A-B line options so one can get rad or make up for lack of fitness with some shortcuts.  Course included a singletrack uphill rooty corner section, log hop onto uphill, fast giant slalom dh turns, small barriers, pump track, downhill off-camber rooty section with sun reflecting off water and blinding you, big kicker jump, another log hop, and uphill large barriers.  Every turn was pretty rail-able so you could keep momentum and really fly.  

Started in a sea of SS and Fat bikers shoulder to shoulder with Shane, behind Cory and in front of Ken.  Smooth fast start.  After a few corners most people were like “oh yeah this is my second race of the day and/or I just drank 3 beers.”  Caught and passed Cory at the first log hop, hopped the small barriers each lap but skipped the pump track because it was slow and cx seat height is too high to do it right.  Took it really cautiously through the DH off-camber roots since in warm-ups Mover witnessed me going over the bars.  Hit the kicker jump each lap even though it was a way slower line.  But I needed to make up for lack of a costume.  Heard "where's your costume?" multiple times.  Little did they know I was ironically wearing a skin suit, nor do they know what I usually race in, so . . . I hit that jump.    

After lap one things pretty much settled in.  I was already in 4th place at this point.  Then I passed Rowell by taking a log hop A line.  Then passed Myette somehow but I forget the particulars.  For the last three of the five laps I finally got the speed right on the kicker jump and was able to land with both wheels on the down slope.  With three to go Myette caught me after I hit the jump and he drafted me through the flat start/finish and passed me.  I stayed with him but then bobbled while negotiating lapped traffic on the uphill rooty section. So I cruised in for 3rd. Cory in 7th, Ken, 16th.  Unfortunately Shane and Mover suffered flats/crashes. 

Also Ryan Kelly did a really good job of announcing – can’t wait for next year!

photo courtesy of Katie Busick

Submitted by Matt D.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Keene PumpkinCross

I got up at 5AM to do this race and man it was chillyyyyyyyy this morning. I drove up and rode through Keene center at about 7:00AM, just in time to see some college kids say they were sorry for rioting last night by cleaning up the trash in the town center. Other than that it was a lovely traffic free drive.

Pickup my number, see it says 134 and get immediately bummed because it appeared as if they weren't staging by points. But, this bummer turned into joy when they tell us at the start that numbers begin at 130, yay! So I get a nice front row start and even though you could fit 20 across, they lined all 41 of us up in rows of 8 . . . so weird.
The whistle blows and I had a chance to take the holeshot, but I decided that there were maybe 5 or 6 guys in this race that I probably had to worry about so I let a few guys take the lead for the first lap. Course features were 1 set of barriers, some standing water in the field, a completely unrideable runup, a rideable sand section with a 180, some gravel at the bottom of a hill and about 50 yards of single track with a giant log in the woods. So there were 3 dismounts per lap, though I am pretty sure everyone else ran the sand.

After letting a couple guys lead for the first lap I attacked coming through the finish stretch into lap 2. This brought 'the group' down to only 4 guys and halfway through the lap I decided to keep on the gas. Me and a dude from Elm City Velo were briefly able to hold a 10 second or so to #3 and #4 for the next couple laps, but with 2 to go we were all back together. I was still on the front of our group for the last lap and was feeling good if it was going to come down to a sprint. Unfortunately, Elm City Velo guy had been storing some in the tank and on a power uphill section about 45 seconds from the finish, he attacked. Another rider came around me on the downhill immediately after that and they were able to stay away all the way to the finish. I sprinted it out with a guy who raced in camouflage colored cross shoes and olive colored oakley wayfarers (only thing I remember about him) and we didn't know who took 3rd until the results were posted. It was me!

So here's some proof that I finally won something at a bike race. The didn't have actual podium steps but pumpkin pie never tasted so sweet.

Submitted by Joe

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mansfield Hollow CX

Today was the MOST FUN RACE of this season.

Shane and I went down to Mansfield Hollow State Park (CT) today. Ken and I did this race last year and loved it (it's part of the Zanconato SSCX series). As soon as my bike was loaded on the car, the rain started, and it didn't stop until after our race. Shane was originally signed up in the 3/4 race, but given the 47 degree weather, steady rain, earlier start time of the SS race and closeted desire to be the SS World Champion, he switched his entry into the SS race at reg. and began contemplating where to get the tattoo.

Dudes in the preceding race were not looking happy: people were pulling out (throwing tantrums), going hypothermic and in general not looking handsome. None of them would ever star in a Rapha ad. That made me sad. But, the course was awesome. It was run in reverse compared to last year. It's sort of a combination of Canton, Downeast and the original Quad CX race.

Big, wide open field start, great transition to the back section via a super off-camber mud slick, series of fast (slick) turns into a sandy section, then out into the back grass section. Back section is very Canton-like, wide power sections, interspersed with rideable sand sections, sneaky loose turns and a series of barriers. The best part is getting up to the top section: a stiff "run-up" with a table-top in the middle. Serious SSCXer's can ride it, others cannot (Shane). Luckily, that is where the hecklers are :-). That leads into a wooded trail section with super-slick, goopy turns into a stiff rise back to the front grassy area. This year there was another long, off-camber section along the aqueduct that I couldn't ride, had to run it every time. Over another set of barriers and into the finish.

No staging, but I noticed Shawn Mottram was NOT on the line and me liked that because at this point we were tied for third overall. Shane was 3 rows back. I went with the 42x18, though my instincts said I wanted to use the 42x19. I think Shane went one gear easier, but he still could not ride the run up. This also made me sad.

Pagano takes the hole-shot, Rowell laughs, I go with Pagano. Rowell passes me in turn 3 and goes on to win after playing with his teammate (Pagano) for 4 laps. Meanwhile, in the "normals" zone, Shane appears out of nowhere, makes eye contact with me in a head to head, and does the point-at-eyes-then-point-at-me move. Significant street cred gained. I knew I was in trouble because he is literally made of carbon fiber this year, bike and shoulder included. Start lap 3 (of 4), I eat shit without warning in an innocuous rolling turn, my crashless streak ends and Shane does not notice and he gives me no empathy. End of lap 3, Shane mumbles something like, "gap behind is closing" and promptly attacks me, gets 'rad' on the next two turns, and the gap behind us is unchanged and massive. Noted. Lots of back and forth ensued, two-wheeled slides in the woods, outriggers and I get a small gap in the last little bit and cross the line in 3rd, 2:00 behind Rowell, 1:45 behind Pagano and 10s ahead of Shane. (Photo attached). I win BEER! But, they take forever to do podiums, so I go cool down, clean up and change and get replaced by a chicken. So fun.

Submitted by Cory

Thursday, September 4, 2014

End of Summer - CX is here!

After all the #cxiscoming hashtags, the season is finally here.  First up, Quad Cross on Sunday.  It has been a great summer for the team across the riding spectrum - racing down in Walpole at the Barn Burner and Adams Farm short track training series, training at the Dover TT and Charlie Baker, group rides, woods rides, Vermont Overland GP, and D2R2.  Not a ton of racing but certainly a ton of fun.