Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Smiles and Frowns of Princeton/Stevens Weekend

For starters, Princeton and Stevens... hell of a job. Great races and toilet paper, so thank you.

A bunch of things happened this weekend that made me really really happy. But to keep me even, some things rubbed me the wrong way... few though.

About mid way through last week I was avoiding homework and stalking facebook when I got a notification from Miss Rose Long stating "are you going to Princeton Stevens?" This is where the great weekend began. Because this meant Rose was coming. Rose and I are a pretty good example of how biking allows you to 'make friends out of enemies.' Me being on Northeastern and Rose on UVM both racing mountain pinned us against each other, but at heart we're both Vermonters and have a common respect for 'getting rowdy.' This weekend was my first Road race with Rose and we started it with a win, leading out the crit for the first 100yards both yelling "we're winning!!!" and causing some hostile emotions with the more serious racers. As the race continued Rose and I held together in the same packs. My favorite part of the course naturally was the downhill, as I started sitting up and easing off on the hill to the start/finish Rose began to carry my ass, literally. I felt a bump on my hip, turned to tell some girl to watch it and realized Rose was yes, pushing me up the hill. So, thanks for the lift Rose. It was great to race with you on skinny tires.

Within that same hour, another great thing happened. Jess Kutz. Thank You. For the last few weekends it has been the same names holding down the Women's A races and I began to fear that a pedestal would form that eventually, no one would challenge. But Jess came to my rescue and pulled the mat right out from under that whole production. Pinnin it to Win it, my mountain biking home slice, Jess Kutz won the crit, with the rest of the field huffing in behind her. Way to be.

There was also Intro Clinic. Sully wasn't at the races this weekend so I helped out with the Men's intro too. Getting a flat tire (bummmerrr!) Anyway, Bruley recommended running a "Bump" Clinic. Which was the best idea, and ended up being a blast. I mean ramming into people on bikes with grass as the landing area, what could be more fun? The intro men and women keep on surprising me with their insightful questions and their continuous attendance, it is awesome. Having a real pack of riders to practice and race with makes intro much more beneficial. So thanks for coming out.

I want to give a little shout out to Allison from UMass, this girl has guts. She did the whole mountain season, after never having ridden a XC course and now she's a rock star in Road season too. Unfortunately she and Tia got pushed out in the left turn of the crit. They were Bumping and holding it up like pros and just ran out of road, luckily they're both okay, but I was glad to hear how much Allison had benefited from the clinics and her Mountain biking to be able to 'crash safe'. So, here we are: Allison rocking the clinic:

Plus the NU Women were rocking out, no so much myself but Katy is quickly moving through the points to apply for her A upgrade and hopefully we'll be sporting a sick group at Nationals this year, the first NU Road Team to ever go!! Also Ashley a new racer to the group upgraded from intro and although nervous managed two top 10 finishes in Women's C this weekend. YEAH HUSKIES!!!

So, I still haven't addressed the bugging issues. Here they are, I will try to keep as anonymous as I can while still being quite clear who was in error.
1. YELLOW LINE RULE BREAKERS! Really? It's bring Yellow, not that hard to miss, if you can't steer straight next to it, check your headset, it may need an adjustment, or maybe your brain. The yellow line rule is not just to limit space for passing and moving within the pack, that is the least of the issues. When racing on an open road and crossing the yellow line you are putting everyone else in the pack and in the Biking community at risk. Especially the girl, from an Institute of Technology located in Cambridge/Boston area, when on a hill drivers in the oncoming lane have limited sight, they fly over the hill and almost hit you, you swerve into a pack of riders, this is what you are risking. So like I said in our race, "Buddy, I'm not joking don't cross the yellow line"

2. People who cut the starting line.
It's one thing to slowly weasel your wheel up a row, but to walk out in front of the whole field and try to back-in or reverse into the pack, oh... you've got to be kidding me. This was another reason I was glad to line up next to Rose, the girl who has done this every race so far tried to back in next to Rose and what was the response, "NOPE!" so, either show up on time, or get to the back, we were all standing in the cold while you were relaxing in a car or warming up, so beat it.

Other than that, SWEEEEEEET Weekend.

OH right, y'all should pack up the cruisers and head to Bucknell because it is going to be the best Easter racing you've ever seen!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Necessities of Success on an ECCC Weekend...

Hey All-
You may think that this is going to be a instructional blog about how to achieve the top spot on the podium, or some hidden secret to creating huge muscles... but no, I am about to share with you something greater than the glory of winning a bike race (is there such a thing you may ask..yes, there is). I am going to enlighten you with the key to happiness:

The Holy ECCC Packing List:

  • Towel (multipurpose: changing, showering, blanket, pillow whipping that annoying kid, distracting a bull)
  • Socks: Bring twice as many as you think you need, they are small and they get wet, and if your feet are happy you are happy. **I highly recommend purchasing battery powered heated socks, ask me at any race**
  • Plastic bags: for dirty/wet clothes, waterproofing your shoes, cleaning up trash, flying kites
  • Raincoat: two if you have them
  • Rainpants: dorky? VERY, but look at the people who wear them, Joe, Caitlin, Sully, Alan, Me....we are usually seen standing outside the longest too, get it?
  • Sweatshirts/Fleece/Warmth: again bring multiples, so that when you are done standing around and racing, you have a DRY one
  • Mittens/Gloves (Not biking specific): Just like your toes, happy fingers=happy you
  • Hat: you lose most of your body heat through your noggin, you've heard this since you are a little kid...it's true
  • Pants: sweatpants, jeans, manpris, leggings, jorts, shorts (get those tan lines ready).. pick your two favorites and go for it. You don't need a wardrobe, but a dry change/something to sleep in is all you need.
  • Shoes: your biking shoes, something waterproof (puddle boots, hiking boots...) and a DRY backup pair, because like at Columbia...GoreTex will quit, puddle boots will flood, and you need to call in the troops.
  • T-shirt(s): Some kids think it's cool to walk around in their jersey all weekend...here's a secret...Spandex jerseys with jeans...it's like wearing pleather (plastic-leather), it's not hot). So pick a sweet T-Shirt, it will define you, people will judge you, people will talk about it, you will be famous.
  • Your bike stuff: Kit, arm/leg stuff, shoes, HELMET (wear it whenever you're on your bike), Glasses, socks, gloves, bike, USAC License, Student ID, etc...
  • Toilet paper: when the Port-a-Potty runs out, you can make a LOT of friends and/or $$$$ if you have a secret stash. And always good to have for retaliation if you are pranked.
  • Homework: crucial part, we're all students, we all have work to do, but be realistic, you won't get 1/10 of what you want to or think you can get done, done. So MAYBE bring a book, or a notebook, or a stack of flashcards, but NEVER all or multiples, it is a waste of space and you will end up wanting to use it to start a fire to stay warm. Plan ahead, try to do it before or pull an all-nighter when you get back, you'll be happier if you pack a pillow, or a towel instead of that textbook.
  • Underwear: up to you, but a pair of Granny Panties to throw at someone could be funny.
  • Sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries: toothbrush, soap, chamois butter... Depends on where you are sleeping, or if you partake in dental hygiene.
  • Food: You will save money and you won't get nauseous from starving and having nothing to shove in your face, plus again... you can make friends and $$$$.
  • Done.
Sully and I were never good at dressing for the weather, our Dad used to make us wear our snowsuits to school, and then I would walk around in flip-flops when it was below zero just to show him up....(and you wonder why I need heated socks now). Anyway, we learned the ways of the wise and it all comes down to packing, if you are selective this can all fit in a small bag, I'll get some pictures for you.

Race vans/cars/weekends are a pigstye, try to prove me wrong. Every team has someone who is late for their start throws stuff all over the place, doesn't zip their bag stuff is all over the floor, you put clothes on the dash board to dry... you get the picture. So, another key to packing, is keeping it all packed/together. This saves you money cuz you stop losing one glove, or your shorts. It saves you time, because it is all in the same bag, if someone throws it out of the way, it all stays in the bag (because you keep it zipped). Try it, see what happens.

IF I have missed anything, please let me know... but this is a list that has worked for me, in all weather situations.

Grant's Tomb/Steven's Duck Weekend

Well it was wet enough Saturday to scare away all the ducks from coming out on Sunday. They must have been water logged in the Hudson. Anyway, hats off to both Columbia and Stevens for running some great races against some horrible weather. My toes are still thawing out from Saturday.

Women's racing blew me away this weekend. The category changes seem to be working out well. Women's intro on Saturday was insane. That was the worst weather I've ever raced in, I would have gladly taken a blizzard over that and yet we still had intro Women toughing it out to practice cornering and getting races under their belts. It was cool.

Joining the ranks of the Women's A terrified me, you girls are FAST. Even faster than you looked from the sidelines last year. I would have to ride my bike for 72 hours a day to come close to keeping up. But then... there is Anna McLoon... you are the wonder woman of the weekend. She raced in Men's B at the circuit, finished with the pack, turned around and took up camp in Women's A/B staging...I was jaw-dropped at that point. But that's not all. No, far from it.
She went on to WIN the race. I only have one word: "Daaaammmmnnnn."

So women's racing has become very interesting there will be a close race for the Series Leader Jersey over the next few weekends, but for now I believe Anna McLoon will be keeping it in her closet.

Over and Out

Oh P.S.: ECCC Women's Racing is so hot right now that even the New York Times took notice, yeah intro women, we got interviewed about what you are up to. Props, keep racing, see y'all at Philly!