Oct 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

Tonight is Halloween. Only today, did I realize, that I forgot to get a pumpkin to stab a face into this year. Where the hell have I been? I think I may have been a little preoccupied with the two-wheeled pleasure machine... funny how that happens.

So tonight I took a stroll around my block, got a cup of coffee with my girl and walked back home. I took a few shots just for the heck of it. I always wanted to swing in the laundromat on Preston @ Charles St and see what there was to shoot; so I did.

The bicycle pictures are of a bike that's been locked up outside my place for over two weeks now. I don't think it's been ridden. Somebody is seriously neglecting this bike. It looks to be in prime shape.

Happy Halloween. I need a Kit-Kat.

Dutchess County NY.

So this past weekend held no cyclocross racing. No mud in my eyes. No freezing my butt off, no finishing sprints. What it did hold was lots of snoozing, eating, dog walking, relaxing, eating, and looking at all sorts of different styles of art. (sculpture, paintings, photography, mixed media, book art, prints etc) Also, there was a lot of eating.

My girlfriend and I took a road trip up to her Grandfather’s house in Dutchess County, NY and enjoyed ourselves for the weekend. Early Friday morning the three of us (Doris the dog came of course) set off to NY with two pit stops on our flight plan. One; Roy Rogers for breakfast (I like that stuff) the other stop was in her childhood neighborhood in the Bronx (S&S Bakery to pick up a delicious cheesecake)

There’s a great old junkyard behind her Grandfather’s house where we found a whole bunch of old glass bottles, chromed car parts and porcelain goodies. We spent a good while there, finding old treasures.

The area around her Grandfather’s house was beautiful. The leaves were mostly varying shades of yellows with brilliant orange and red explosions here and there. Deep leaves on the forest ground made it almost hard to hear ourselves talk as we walked and Dorris pranced through the woods. For as many leaves as there were, there was an almost equal quantity of interesting rocks. Add to the Autumn leaves and rocks a beautiful lake, palliated wood peckers, colorful ducks and brisk breezes, and it made for memorable weekend.

Happy Halloween by the way.


Oct 26, 2005

Personal Photographer...

I have it made.

Not everyone has the luxury of a girlfriend who will, not only, drive their dirt clod of a boyfriend, to and from races, but will also cook great pasta meals the night before. Not every girlfriend will rub down weary legs before and after races, constantly provide encouragement, support, loud positive cheering at races, and also put up with a busy training schedule, testy pre-race anxiety and grumpy early morning moodiness. That’s some true greatness. Add to that: her tolerance of my choice of post race food stuffs (and the consequences that go along with those stuffs) She's a winner.

What’s also really great is that while I’m out on the course, racing, she’s taking some amazing photographs. Not one for jumping on the digital bandwagon, she proudly totes her Nikon N80 around at the races. At the last race she shot up 5 or 6 rolls of 800 speed film and the pictures were so impressive I wanted to post them here for you to see.

So here’s The Galleria de mi girlfriend. She captured these images this past Sunday at the Wissahickon Cyclocross race. (MAC #4). Enjoy them; I did.


Oct 24, 2005

Yet another two race weekend - 7th & 7th!

Another two race weekend. This makes 3 in a row now. I'm not complaining though; I'm having a blast! This weekend I raced in the Killer B's at...

These two races were #'s 3 and 4 for the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series. There are 4 more left in the series I believe.

Saturday's race in Delaware was a mud fest. It was quite chilly and very wet which is typical during cross season. Luckily, this time around, I was running a narrower tire set up which allowed for more clearance between my mud caked tires and frame - always a good thing.
I enjoyed the course, and managed to wipe out only once on a very slick off-camber turn. Riding this course involved a lot of one footed pedaling and a lot of pushing the bike. The course was really scenic, however, and it routed you around the backside of a really mid-evil looking water tower before dumping you onto an insanely washed out off camber series of switchbacks. Then you had to make your way back up the muddy incline, over a set of barriers and then back down the hill. When you reached the bottom it leveled out and there was a nice road section to help you make up lost time.
I fought hard to gain a finishing position of 6th place but lost it as I was pipped at the line by a blur which was a rider behind me on the finishing stretch. I made the classic mistake of easing up as I rolled to the line thinking "there's no way that guy's going to catch me"... foolish! I'm happy with 7th place.
!Download the video I made of the Pro Men racing this course!
Sunday, was much drier than Saturday, thank God! Although, it was much cooler with morning temps in the high 50's. I was just happy to feel the warm sunshine and actually be able to get some traction on the race course. This course was very fast.
There were more turns in this course than any other race, so far, in the series. The promoters definitely had a good time routing the racers through a maze of TIGHT turns and dizzying spirals. There were a couple short gravel road sections which you could really motor on and the also some fun short and steep hills which you could dive into and roll out of without even touching the brakes! The barriers were placed in the middle of a short steep climb but didn't seem to be too difficult. I shouldered the bike and charged through them as fast as possible.
I stayed in the front of the group, which seams to be my usual routine, and managed to pull away from my group of 4 or 5 riders and get a good lead on them in the 4th lap or so. I held this break away for the last couple of laps and managed to earn 7th place.
!Watch some phresh phattire video coverage of the Pro Men's race on this course!
I want to thank Kevin Dillard (DC based freelance photographer and cross rock star) for taking all of the photos which are linked to in this post and also my girlfriend, for her unending support and encouragement!
Next week: NO RACES!! Road trip to NY!!

Oct 20, 2005

Cop Car Crash...

So, I didn't get too much sleep last night. At 1:40am this morning, I heard the sound of police syrens... then a large BOOM... and then silence. This is not the first time I've heard this familiar series of sounds. I rolled out of bed, threw on some pants, grabbed the Nikon and stepped out into the early morning darkness, which was, with all the flashing lights, quickly becoming very discotheque. The corner of my block was rapidly flooding with cop cars, fire trucks, police tactical trucks, rescue units and ambulances.

Being mistaken for The Press (which happens often and is a lot of fun) I got the low down on what had happened from some looky-lous. Apparently, the cop car was headed west on Preston St. and collided with two northbound cars on Calvert St. I don't know the extent of the injuries, but I can confirm that everyone involved had to be pulled/cut from their cars and all left in ambulances.

Here's a Public Service Announcement to all who drive cars in this city: Yield to the cars with the flashing lights and loud sirens.

- Mike

Oct 17, 2005

Another 2 race weekend - 3rd & 5th Place!

I look happy in this black and white picture because it was taken just after I finished 5th place at the 2nd MAC Series race in Bridgeton, NJ. That was the most fun I've had on my cross bike yet! (photo by Kevin Dillard - DC based freelance photographer)
This weekend was another double banger. I raced on Saturday at Micheau State Park, PA and earned 3rd place at the IRON CROSS LITE. (MABRA Series) The course was dry, for a change, and my tires hooked up nicely, again, for a change. I was suffering in this race and had planned on saving my energy for Sunday's race but those plans went right out the window when the pedaling started.
Regretfully I lost 2nd place to an NCVC rider who had a better position in the last 10 yards to the finish line than I had. In the last 10 yards as I made my move to sprint around him, I was road blocked by some lapped riders who were mosying there way along - "DOH!" I hurt pretty badly after the race but I was happy with my results nonetheless. And hey, I walked away from the podium with an Iron Cross pint glass and a jar of Bob's Salsa.... excellent!
"Release the hounds... release the bees... release the hounds that shoot bees from their mouths!"
Sunday morning brought strong winds, a dry FAST course and plenty of competition. This was the 2nd race of the MAC Series and was also a UCI event so it had a huge turnout, which included two Pro riders from Kona. I felt great and was happy to be on the line that morning.
I was prepared for this race and was feeling good on the start line. I drank plenty of water, had a good meal of pasta and had gotten plenty of rest the night before. My mental state was very positive and I kept thinking positive about my training and previous race results as I waited for the start.
This course was predominantly composed of fast hard-packed sand trails which you could really open it up on. There was one short road section, which also served as an uphill finishing stretch. There was a big sand pit, that I rode through a few times and shouldered the bike through as well.
There was a really steep and rough downhill blast into a painfully long, 80 meter beach run through deep sand which was thrown into the course to further demoralize you. Once you came out of the beach areas you traversed a flat stretch of grass which put you back into the woods. The most noteworthy (and painful) part of the course was the stair case run up, of the "Ampitheatre of Pain". There were some barriers which were strategically placed in the exit of a hairpin right hand turn but they proved not to be too big of a problem. At the end of this race I was exhausted but extremely happy with my results! 5th Place for the killer B's at a UCI race is just what I need to keep me motivated to attain my goal this season :] 

My girlfriend did a great job of shooting the race while I suffered through it all and she really got some great photos! Good job girlfriend :] Also, Kevin Dillard's lens was sharp for this race and you can be sure to see his excellent work over at Truesport.com
Next weekend holds to MAC series races... Here we go again!

Oct 10, 2005

EVO MAC Series CycloCross #1 - 34th place

Yesterday's race was a real toughie. It was the first of the MAC Series and was held in Buckingham, PA just north of Philly. It was muddy that's for sure, but it was thick, goopy, peanut buttery mud. Not the slimy thin stuff.

My tires were way too wide for this race and as soon as I got rolling in the grass field sections, my frame built up with grass and served as an instant and constant brake for the entire race. I tried to knock large clumps of mud and grass free from my bike by hopping up and slamming my bike down on the pavement sections but to no avail. It was just a mud boggy mess.
I'm not sure where I placed in this race. I'm guessing around 35th or 40th or so. My legs were a little tired/sore from racing the day before in Hagerstown (3rd place) and I was no match for these guys at this race. There were some REALLY strong racers there.

The course was great though. There were some really steep run ups with hairpin turns at the top which routed you right back down the hill. Only one set of barriers that I hardly had enough energy to get myself and my bike over by the last lap. There were two nice road sections that allowed me to make up some lost time, and get some mud to fly off my tires before dipping back into the muddy field sections... which I was thankful for.

My girlfriend took some really great shots of me while I plowed and churned and most of the time pushed my bike through the goopy mess of mud that they called a race course. Nice job pal! I had to stick my tounge out to show her that yes, indeed, I was having a good time.

Luckily a hose was available for washing up before I loaded my bike into my girl's car for the ride home. ...there was still a hint of cow manure but nothing too unbearable.
Things to change for next weekend's race (Beacon, MAC Series Race #2): skinner tires. Also I'm going to start running. My legs are killing me from all the running I had to do yesterday.
I had a blast this weekend, looking forward to next weekend!

Oct 8, 2005

Hagerstown Cyclocross Race - 3rd place.

Today I raced my first B race at the Breast Cancer Awareness race held in Hagerstown, MD. This was an absolutely epic, mud bog, wheels-like-big-chocolate-donuts, cross race. Complete with thrills, spills and plenty of mud in your eye. Even mud in your teeth. ... my teeth even.

I got up at 6am and pedaled my cross bike with all my gear through a soaking wet, Baltimore, in a state of tremendous downpour and meet my teammate Sean at the Patapsco Park & Ride, where we set off on our merry way to Hagerstown.

As I said before, this was my first B race and I feel really good about how I did. Mike Rea took 1st. An NCVC guy earned 2nd (with much resistance from yours truly) and I ended up loosing a finishing sprint battle to place 3rd.

The course had a lot of challenging sections. There were pretty much NO clean lines left after the 4th lap around what was, in my opinion, a great cross course. There was one steep sloppy run up, and one hairpin "F-U" turn with a run up that gave me a lot of issues on my last two laps. Only one set of barriers in the middle of a flat field. Also, I give the promoters a big thumbs up on the water crossing! During my race the water was a good 12 inches deep. My cleats were so packed with mud, I just couldn't clip in right away and the guy behind me was constantly gaining on me because of this.

Mike Rea and I stayed away for the entire race and I was only caught by the NCVC guy on my last lap, so I feel good about the race. If I could change a few things, I'd have ran different tires (something more knobby) and I'd have worn my sidis. That's about it. This race ROCKED!
Now it's time to get my kit cleaned up for tomorrow's B race in Buckingham, PA. The first of the MAC Series!

Oct 7, 2005

Wet Friday

So, here it is Friday. I'm feeling good about racing this weekend. Thanks to a really speedy seller on Ebay I have a nice new set of cross tires to use on Sunday in Philly. Thanks katie!

I took one or two pictures of my fixed gear this morning before leaving for work. After crashing in the rain yesterday morning I decided against riding the scraped up road bike in the slick rain. The tires on my fixed gear are better in the rain, anyway, it seems. I was still a little sketched out from yesterday's crash. At right is one photo I took at the intersection of St.Paul and Center St. It's still quite dark at 6:40am.

Right now, it's 1:40 in the afternoon and I'm on break at work. It's raining like a S.O.B. - Perfect! I hope the course is slicker than snot on Sunday!

Oct 6, 2005

Ed Sandor Race - 4th place

This past Sunday, was my second cyclocross race of this season. I raced Category C once more. Again I walked away with a near win. Close; but no C-gar.

The race started off great, I was called up from earning 2nd place in the Charm City Cross race the week before so I had a good starting position.

Right off the bat I had a good start, cranked up to my typical race start surge and was out in front right away. I had a 42 second gap on the pack during the first lap, which only increased in lap 2. I was feeling great!

Then I flatted. Not having a spare tube/tire/wheel... I decided to just hammer it out on a flat rear wheel. "There goes the win" I thought... I just kept hammering thinking, at least I can hang on to 2nd or 3rd.... nope. I ended up getting 4th place which I'm happy with, but it's a little frustrating to loose slots due to mechanical issues.

Next Sunday takes me to Buckingham, PA just north of Philly for the EVO Verge MAC Cyclocross Series Race No.1 - I'll be racing B's this time!