Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Granogue Cross, Belgium Style....with a little mud.

I'll keep this post pretty simple. I was sick all week with the flu - still not feeling 100% today. So even though I registered to race at Granogue, I didn't feel well enough to do so. Soent the entire day photographing what I'll call the EPIC race of the year. This is cross at it's best.

All Granogue race photos can be found here!

I also wanted to try something a bit different on the slide show I usually run of my favorite race images of the day. Muddy cross looks just so great in B&W, so I did all my favorites in B&W fading into the color verson. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

...and the crossing continues.....Hillbilly Hustle V.4

Looking at my schedule for the past weekend I hadn't planned on racing any cross - had a soccer game to coach Sunday afternoon and just didn't see any races closeby that worked for me. Then early last week I came across the Hillbilly Hustle about an hour away in NJ. Must of missed this posting earlier in the season. Looking at BikeReg and saw the prereg was pretty low so I passed on prereg.

Woke up on Sunday to a beautiful sunny day - great day for a cross race. Get to the venue and see Teammate Dennis Smith as well as the FSVS Trio. Get out to ride one lap of the course. Pancake flat, some nice technical sections and a few too many (for me) longer flat sections. Get to the line up with 31 racers in the Masters 44-54 group. The nice thing about smaller races is there are really no bad spots lining up. I started out in the 2nd row which has been my best starting position yet this year!..yea, there were only 3 rows :)

Get a decent start so I thought...looking at some race photos, over the 1st set of barriers which were about 1/4 way thru the lap I was in around 17-19th place - not as good as I thought. Over the course of the race as usual I was good thru the technical sections and only lost positions in a few of the longer flat section where the ground/grass was a bit loomy - just couldn't keep my speed up thru these sections - mental note to work harder in these section at my next race. Around Lap #3 I make my pass by Dennis Smith - I can't tell if this is where Dennis cracks a bit or I get my 2nd wind. All three races this year I swear I make my pass by Dennis on about the 3rd lap. Almost immediately after passing over the 2nd set of barriers I remount, head into a small wooded section at the end of the lap and take a large stick into my front wheel - Damn! Had to stop and after a few frantic pulls was able to get it out, but in doing so I lost all the postions I just gained. Back on and thru the Start/Finish - made a mental note not to panic and shortly get myself back up to the back of the group I was riding with. We actually had a nice race going on with our group. Myself, Dennis Smith, Dave Troop & Mike Czupryna from FSVS as well as a few other riders riding off of the main front group. By now I have all my lines dialed in and am feeling pretty comfortable - back is a bit sore, but ok. Finishing off th 2nd to last lap I'm riding on FSVS Dave's wheel over the sand pile of doom and thru the turns into the set of barriers. I call an inside line around a 180 left on FSVS Dave and decided to bail on it as I was afraid I was going to force him outside and to probably stall a bit. Then there was an immediate 180 right Dave went out way wide left almost into the tape so I did take the inside line - Not sure the race ediquite on these situations (maybe I should ask), but if it was any other team I would have forced myself on that first inside line and taken the corner - no second guessing ..... is it all fair in love an war or play nice with your DCCoD friends?

Over the barriers and I'm sitting right on Daves wheel - throw him a comment to get going. I think at that point he may have waive me on, not sure, but I went. Did something I usually don't do and made an actual attack off the front of our group. Yea, those are two things that usually don't go together all that often, me racing and the word attack - I'm more of a one speed type racer and get to the finish thru attrition and steady work. So thru the start/finish on my last lap and I'm laying down a quasi attack. I actually get a decent gap on the group looking back and not seeing anyone closing. Tough thing was I was riding in the middle of no mans land - off the front of a grop behind me and not seeing anyone to chase in front. I made it about 1/2 way thru the lap before I see FSVS Dave and a guy from Liberty Cycle slowly cosing in. Not sure if I was fading faster or they were riding just stronger - probably a combination of both. Both catch me and pass with about a 1/4 of the lp remaining and leave me for dead. Just didn't have it to try and catch back up. I finished off the lap just keeping FVSV Mike off my wheel.

Ended up finising 11th/31. Looking at the resuls after the race I could have kicked myself. I guess when I was in my quasi attack and not seeing anyone to chase, they were there...just must have been hiding out of site as 7th place was just 19 seconds ahead.

Fun day racing cross in New Jersey

Monday, September 28, 2009

WhirlyBird Cross......

So into my 2nd cross race of the season I headed out to Bryn Athyn College for Guy's Bicycle Racing WhirlyBird Cross race. I also want to thank Guys for putting on this race to raise some money for The Manning Children's Education Trust – this is a college fund setup for the daughters of Joe Manning – a friend of mine – who lost his life during a mountain biking trip in Utah this summer.

Now at this point in my life I'm a "B" racer at best...and getting older that makes me a Masters B racer at best. WhirlyBird had one Masters Category so that means I was going to be racing with some of the A Masters. No big deal as I'm still just out there doing my own thing and pretty much just racing against myself trying to put my best effort forward, but mixed racing with A level riders is always a bit intimidating. Even with that in mind I had set my goal for this race to be in the top 25.

This was my first time racing at this venue so I had no idea what to expect. Didn't bring a trainer to warm up which wasn't the best for this venue as there were no really good places to get a decent warm-up....I ended up finding an obscure field hockey field away from the race that I spun some laps around. This course had a mixed bag of trix's up its sleeves. A lot of wide open field sections which would be a demise for me as well as a decent amount of switchback "S" turn type sections which since they were a bit more technical better suited my riding abilities. Translation: I'm slow out in the open and often get blown away while I ride better in the technical sections and can hold my own here. I ended up getting one lap in as a preride so I had somewhat of a clue what to expect.

Line-up: God I suck at getting lined up. Once again I was at the back of the field. I messed up listening to the rumor that they were going to start the 45+ group a minute off of the 35+ group. This being the case it was not a big deal to press getting lined up anywhere near the front of the "35+ group". Not so, the 35+/45+ all started together - DAMN! So, for 2 weeks in a row I'm fighting the opening 1/2 lap just trying to work my thru a stand still race crowd. I actually at one point on the very first bottom to a left "S-turn" on the first short climb end up doing a short track stand on the hill to avoid the stand still clutter. Quick pump left and right and I'm around the mess, but these slow cluster F#&% starts really are killing me. Not that I really should be complaining as one of the major things I like about cross racing is finding these weird places to make a difficult pass - working from the back up gives me the opportunity to do a lot of this :)

Over the next several laps (we ended up doing 6 laps) I found my groove and lines and slowly made my way thru the group. Making up ground in the technical section and loosing a bit in the open fields as expected. One thing I was working at getting better at is increasing my short efforts coming out of corners getting back up to speed. I "think" I did a better job at least I was consensually making the effort to stand and hammer out of the corners.

Last 2 laps I felt like I was Henry's bologna between some Guys Racing bread. I had Guys Racing in front of me, behind me and every corner I could see around, I saw more and more Guys Racers closing in.

A few section of the course that did something that stick in my mind:
1. Approaching the 1st set of barriers on the back side was a 180 degree switchback that had a small/steep off camber uphill to it. Every single time I hit that corner I felt (and it sounded) like I was going to roll my rear tubular. Never did, but that one turn made me nervous ever lap.

2. Right after that set of barriers was the only "Mountain Bike" like section that dropped thru some single track thru a short section of trees. This is the section for some reason that killed my back every single lap. This section had a lot of woops that required me to stay off the saddle and this really torques my back up.

3. I'm slow thru flat out open field sections. This was pretty much the only area I would get passed. I grabbed each passing wheel the best I could, but the efforts in these sections hurt.

4. WhirlyyBird section. This was a part of the course that had you riding a large to smaller circle pattern from the outside in a few time round.....once inside the center you would hit a quick 180 degree turn reversing you one circle round to exit back out. I killed this section catching all directly infront of me and on the 180 degree turn to exit I was able to stand and hammer the last circle out passing a lot of riders.

5. 2nd set of barriers was set up after a straight field section so you could go into these as fast as you wanted. I prefer barriers that you go forced into a bit slower. I feel a bit more in control. These barriers I always hit them right on the border of being too fast (for me) as my dismount run would be right on the edge of my running speed not being able to keep up with my rolling speed. Always felt like I was "just" about to run a face plant into thee 2nd barrier

6. Right after the barriers was a quick down and 180 degree switchback up hill. This was a toss-up between running or riding being faster and more efficient. During my pre-ride of the course I had decided that I would run as it would lead to no mistakes vs. riding could lead to mistakes. During the race I ran the section on the 1st lap only just due to the crowd. Laps 2-6 I decided that since it was rideable, I was just going to ride it. Nothing gained or lost here.

At the end of the day I could stay around so I left right away. Oh, and I want to thank the DUMB ASS that triple parked behind me in the parking lot next to the WhirlyBird section - How the Hell do you THINK I was going to get out. DUMB ASS!!
I didn't hand around to take any photos so no photos this race from

Results were posted today; I ended up 33rd out of 65. Not spectacular, but I'm fine with it. Just need to get my head in place lining up a bit better.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Charm City Cross - Racing and Photos

1. Last year I was going to sell my cross bike, but held onto it.....for that...."Just in Case".

2. Haven't raced a bike (let alone a cross race) in two years due to back pain.

3. Been seeing a Chiropracter for a few month, back feels like its getting better.

4. Decided to start swimmming and running as well as some cycling just to keep in shape...or better stated, not get fat and grossly out of shape.

5. Thought I'd try racing a few cross races this year....just to see how it goes.

6. Been to a few cross practices with the DCCOC. Seem to be riding fairly well although nothing special.

7. Did my 1st group ride of the year last week...meaning all my riding this year has been solo with no intensity.

8. Coaching my daughters travel soccer team so getting races to fit my schedule is limited. This past Sundays game was late

9. Charm City Cross in Baltimpre Maryland seemed like a good idea and fit my schedule. Go to register this week - Masters 35+ B race was full, but C3 pulled thru and added one spot just for me - which of course means I'm lining up LAST, Back of the field, in the rear!

10. With a last line start, "MY" realistic goal was to finish in the top 50%.
Fatmarc put the pressure on me stating I was top 25 material. Although in the back of my mind that is what I was shooting for, but I knew with no intensity in my riding and a last line start, this would be very difficult.

11. My race went like this:
As noted I started in the last row - around 100 racers in front of me. I road technically solid, no slips or crashes, made some nice passes in the tight corners. Never got boxed in or out, made my lines and forced myself where I needed to be. Technically a solid race.....although I did "almost" have one misshap. Running over the 2nd set of large barriers I clipped my front wheel on the top of the barrier spinning my bike around causing the crowd to take a big step back from getting hit in the head with my bike. Off balance and spinning I make a quick 360 spin to gain composure and I'm still up and off around the tree and over the 2nd barrier. Nice save! Fitness wise is always another story, but was expected. I road my own race. I needed to be steady with no potential for any super strong efforts. Made most of my gains in the technical sections and barriers, most of my losses on the straights.

Laps 2-4 were my hardest and my back was pretty sore during this time unfortunately causing me to back off a bit on my tempo. Fortunately the last 2 laps it seemed as if my back pain subsided for the most part and I was able to pick up my speed a bit more and make some moves forward. In the end I finished in 30th. I should be satisfied, but......just....not....quite.....satisfied. Someone puts top 25 in your head.....

Hoping to try the Guys Whirlybird race this weekend.

After my race I hung around and took some photos from the next two races which can be found here:

Charm City Cross Photos

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Carbon Clinchers - Token C58's

I currently own two sets of Token Wheels!

Token T50's which are 50mm carbon tubulars that I have on my cyclocross bike

Token C50's which are 50mm carbon clinchers I use as my everyday wheels on my road bike

I've owned and used these wheels for two years now. The T50's have seen limited use, but the C50's I've used as my everyday wheels on my road bike. The only problem I've ever had is I've broken 2 spokes on the clincher wheels - no biggie, it's gonna happen to every wheelset eventually. There was one thing that did annoy me a bit, it was that mounting and removing tires on the clincher set was a bit difficult at times - enough so that I contacted Token to discuss it with them and they were nice enough to send me out a brand new wheelset that they are still just testing and not yet released for sale - Token C58's.

The Token C58's are 58mm carbon clinchers with a redesigned rim. The old C50's had a lowered braking surface that required the use of a special brake pad holder - not a big deal at all, unless you are changing wheelsets quite often.

The new C58 rim design has the brake surface in the standard position so standard pad holders can be used and wheel swaps no longer are an issue.

Right now I have around 1000 miles on the new C58's and gotta tell you I'm really enjoying the C58's. I've tried flexing the wheels to see if I can get any brake rub when riding - none. I have no "scientific" proof (no power meters here, sorry), but I think the C58's are overall faster than the C50's, even on a hilly ride and even with the weight disadvantage over my 50mm wheels (+250 grams). I even used these wheels during the 2nd Annual Mike Clark Memorial Conquer the Hills Ride. Granted on a few hills toward the end I was really wishing I had a compact crankset, but I think that was more the motor than the extra weight in the wheels I was rolling with.

Pennsylvania pot holes, daily tar and chip roads, general road disintegration conditions - wheels are still perfect.

So if your looking for a set of carbon wheels (frame, components, etc) that won't break the bank - you may want to consider some Token - send me a note and I can put you in touch with my Token Contact.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tour of Lancaster Intercourse Time Trial

another slow update.....early August I stopped buy the Tour of Lancaster Intercourse Time Trial that turned out to be a day of turrential down pouring rain. I just love shooting time trials, seeing cyclist in all their beauty and pain! Add to that rain and a photographer couldn't ask for a more dramatic day of shooting. Bad thing was the rain ened up being so terrible that it was blowling sideways and bouncing hard enough off the ground to blow into my Nikon 300 f/2.8 lens. These are the days I'm glad I keep full rain gear in the car and a Think Tank Hydro cover for my camera equipment. The Nikon D700 performed excellent even in these trying conditions. I started out the day with a 1.4x converter on the lens, but due to the conditions being so dark, I needed to shoot pretty much wide open - most of these images are at or close to ISO 6400.

Intercourse Time Trial Photos can be viewed here!

The severe rain caused all of the roads and fields to flood making the course late in the game pretty difficult to navigate - in fact when I decided to call it a day, I drove by the last racer I saw for the day picking out corn stalks from his rear wheel - apparently no brakes and a ride thru the corn field.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June already!

It's been a while since I done a blog update - I really should try to keep on top of it a bit more. So what's new? I'll start with the most recent - Oxford Road Race. Photographed this race Saturday 6/13. It was nice since the race was held only 20 minutes from my house and I knew the course layout since I actually grew up in Oxford. Rich from always puts on a great race and I really enjoy shooting his events. Weather for the day started out pretty nice, sunny with some clouds and calling for a chance of storms. I've waited all year to shoot a bad weather race (bad weather makes photos looks just so dramatic). Around 1/2 way into the Pro 1/2/3 the skies opened up dropping a serious downpour of rain. I loved it!! Sadly it only lasted for around 20 minutes of serious rain and another 10-15 minutes of light rain.

Oxford Road Race Galleries can be viewed here!

Maeve who just turned 11 in April and Ella who turned 9 in April are both done Travel soccer for the spring. Maeve has decided that she is finished with soccer and will try and find something else to do. Ella is still involved and will be playing for the Hockessin Girls U10 A travel team this fall (I'm Asst Coaching again). William who turned 5 in April (yea, April is a busy month) just started T-Ball this far so good, but he is just so easy to please. Ask him if he would like to try something and his usual answer is "sure".

I am finally 95% finished painting pretty much ever single room in the house, new faucets, light fixtures, and all the other 1/2 finished jobs I had going on in the house as we have put our house up for sale.....19 showings in almost 4 weeks is a royal pain in the a$*. This means the house has to be spotless clean every time someone wants to take a look. Finding a new house in the same school district as been nothing but frustrating as well. There is nothing available in our price range. Lots of houses above and below our price range, but nothing in our range - Murphy’s Law I guess.

Taking some time to myself lately and started riding again. I have a few road rides in of 55 miles - nothing earth shattering, but I've haven't done a road ride in over 1 1/2 hours in almost a year so baby steps. I'm thinking of doing a metric century this Saturday leaving out of Chesapeake City. I've also done a few Mountain Bike Rides. It's been so long that I actually got a little lost in Middle Run last week as well as Fair Hill....was lost for around 1/2 hour.

I have my first scheduled appointment with a Chiro Thursday this week. This guy is to suppose to have trained under the Chiro from the Discovery Chanel cycling team so I am hoping to get some back relief from this.