Monday, October 25, 2010

DCCX - Sunday, October 24, 2010

Well, despite Steve still being out of commission with the sprained arm, DCCX is practically in our backyard, and is always tons of fun, so we did it up and made a proper showing anyway. Got there around 8:30 and set up our tent/table/bagels in the team area by the pave sector of the course. Other teammates and friends quickly found us and we set up a nice little home base. It ended up being kind of funny being all the way down at the end of the row, we didn’t really get to see much of the raucous spectator area by the heart of the course, but it was a good time nonetheless.

Sunday also reaffirmed to me that as much as I may hate Pittsburgh as a sports town, the people we have met from there in the last year are among the best people I have ever met. Just genuinely nice, awesome, and fun people, and always great houseguests to boot. It’s definitely a bummer at a race when none of them are there.

I have to confess that I was lazy and comfortable in the tent and didn’t walk around the course much at all this year. I went over to the main area to get food a couple times (frites and Belgian pancakes were perfection as always) and watched some parts of some races, but mostly just watched from the one spot.

The races were all pretty well attended, particularly the women’s race which was awesome to see. And despite the fact that mechanicals plagued some of the favorites throughout the day, there was still good competition and fun racing to be had. I was also really glad to see so many people really sticking around and making a day of it. A lot of times it feels like Steve and I are the only ones left other than the people still racing and their friends and family by the end of the day, but unless we have something else to do, we really do try to stick around for as much of the day as we can.

But as I mentioned in my post last night, the real highlight of the day for me were the races at the end of the afternoon: rookies and single speeds, followed by tandems. In addition to getting to see people trying out cross for the first time, it was just awesome to see people letting go and letting loose. And the tandems were priceless, with props especially to the Bartlett twins and their bunny hopping, or as I catcalled them, “twinsies on a tandem”!

But in all seriousness, and amazing day and a great race. Great job all around the Family Bike Shop, DCMTB, and all the dozens of people who worked on the race. And a big thanks to the Armed Forces Retirement Home for letting us use (and hopefully not abuse) their beautiful property on such a gorgeous fall day.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reason #1,001 Why Cyclocross is Awesome

Joe Dombrowski and Jared Nieters are two of the premier elite crossers in the DC area, and here they are today with huge, shit-eating grins on their faces riding in the tandem race at the end of the day at DCCX. Guys like this could easily come to a race, warm up, race, and then take off, but here they are participating in the fun, non-competitive part of the day and (by all appearances, at least) loving every minute of it. See also their participation in the parade lap with the Special Olympics kids at the end of the Hyattsville race. Full participation like this makes cross awesome. Kudos to Family Bike Shop,  DCMTB, and all the other folks who put on an awesome race today.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Granogue CX Days 1 and 2 2010

So Granogue was epic and amazing and I am trying to get out a write-up that will do it justice, but I've come down with a fun-filled early fall cold and it's hard to concentrate on anything other than blowing my nose, sneezing, and feeling like I'm going to die. In addition, there was a major fly in this week's racing ointment: Steve sprained/strained/something-ed his arm playing soccer on Thursday night, and was unable to race this weekend. And maybe not for the rest of the season!

But it's hard to pass up a course and setting as beautiful as Granogue, plus most of our out-of-town friends were scheduled to be in attendance, so we sucked it up and still went both days. And while I know it was depressing for Steve, it was still a blast, and definitely beats sitting at home and pouting all weekend.

This year's setting could not have been more polar opposite than last year, in place of 40 degree temperatures and pouring down rain (and the accompanying mud, natch), it was in the upper 60s, sunny, and even a little bit DRY. Saturday featured the more traditional Granogue course, although there were enough adjustments to make it even more interesting, while Sunday took a few of the features, but really changed up the bulk of the course and the approaches. From those that know, Saturday was more about power, while Sunday was more technical.

Saturday featured the seep uphill climb that more elite riders ride with ease, but the new wrinkle this year was a slightly different approach, and the installation of low barriers. This was where I watched most of the races from, and it also featured the ever-popular crumpled dollar bills thrown on the course for the riders to pick up.

A bummer to me this year was the lack of the big-time national guys, Wicks, Trebon, et. al., but there were some other elite regional folks, and the top two juniors in the country which was an exciting battle to watch. It is incredibly exciting that two of the best young riders, probably in the entire country, both race in this area with regularity. It's pretty awesome watching Bahnson and Dombrowski continue to improve.

Sunday we had to leave after the elite Juniors race, but I spent a good chunk of that day observing the steep run-up on the backside near the expo area. While not as steep as the Belgian Wall a few weeks ago in Winchester, it was an exciting feature to watch. It's always impressive to see the skills the different riders employ to tackle the same obstacles.

Topping off the weekend in Delaware were stops at some of our favorite local dining establishments for ice cream, hoagies, cupcakes, and, of course, snacks from Wawa! While it's definitely different, and obviously a little weird, being there with Steve not racing, it's still so great to hang out with good friends and awesome people in the fall sunshine. We'll definitely be out at a few more races this year, and hopefully Steve will even be able to race in some of them!

And finally, a massive thanks to the Dupont family for allowing us use of their beautiful property, and to all the folks who help make Granogue happen every year. Congrats on 10 years, and here's to at least 10 more!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hyattsville CX - 10/10/10

Well I'm off to a great start – never blogged about last weekend's races, and they were two that I had never been to before! I need to remember that if I want to make this blog successful I need to make the time to write, instead of putting it off every day and ending up never getting to it at all. I still may end up writing about last weekend, especially Winchester, because that Belgian Wall? Was completely epic.

Today was the Hyattsville race, which I love if for no other reason than that it's one of only two races that are less than half an hour from my house. But there's much more than that to this race. The city really gets behind it which is always awesome, the mayor of Hyattsville even made a little speech! But my favorite element is that the proceeds go to the Special Olympics, and that they have Special Olympics athletes on hand to share in the experience. A lot of people pay lip service to “giving back,” but it's impressive to actually see it in action. Kudos to Arrow/Route One Velo!

Another distinguishing feature about today's race was that it was HOT. After the painfully scorching summer we suffered through, we've been blessed with a very pleasant and temperate cx season so far. And although today was only in the low 80s, the sun was merciless, and ended up sending me to less than ideal vantage points in search of shade. Most of my quality watching time was spent near the volleyball sand pit, which is pretty exciting since it can be a bit of a bottleneck when bigs groups come through at once, but by the third race of the day the sand was well packed enough that everyone was riding straight through with little difficulty.

I then watched some of the later races from the beer garden area, which is ideally located next to the barriers, plus with purchase of pint glass, free beer! I can't remember exactly what I drank, and while it was a little bitter for me, it was still pretty tasty. CX races definitely help me expand my beer horizons!

Really this weekend just served to whet my appetite for Granogue though. I'd be hard pressed to rank the exact order of my top five favorite races, but it's definitely up there, and probably even the top one or two. Looking forward to a fun road trip, good friends, and a great race!