Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still More Cross!, Camelback Climb, and Visiting Bike Shops

Suitably chastened by Fatmarc’s post of the other day, I am going to do my best to keep this blog thing going for at least the next few weeks. And there’s actually still a lot going on!

This weekend I’ll have pictures/stories from a “top secret” pre-Nats/Masters Worlds training race, next week I’ll be live from Nats in Madison, and there’s still an off chance that we’ll be in Koksjide late next month for the big shebang.

Otherwise though, not much cx or bike-related going on right now. I haven’t been on MY bike in over a week with our vacation to sunny Phoenix for the holidays, but I’m hoping to get a few rides in before we hit the road again next week. Instead, I spent my holiday climbing Camelback Mountain for the second time:

This was a difficult hike/climb for me five years ago when I had two legs, and was a whole heck of a lot harder this time with the prosthesis. But I persevered, and was rewarded with a beautiful view from the top. There are higher mountains with ostensibly better views in the area, but this one is particularly sweet because the only way you can see it is by powering yourself to the top.

We also had the opportunity to stop by the Bicycle Haus in Scottsdale, a nice shop with more Rapha and Assos gear than you’ll probably ever see in one place, as well as an amazingly nice staff. During our travels this fall we’ve made it a point to stop in local bike shops, and I’ve found it to be pretty rewarding. Not only do shop socks make a great (and useful!) trip souvenir, but it’s fun to see the different gear at different shops, and talk to the people there.

If you’re ever in these areas, please support these great shops that have provided me and Steve with friendly service over the last six months: NYC Velo (NYC), Roaring Mouse Cycles (SF), MASH (SF), Mock Orange Bikes (Winston-Salem, NC), and Bicycle Haus (Scottsdale, AZ).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Southern Hospitality at NCCX’s Merry Crossmas

While the local season may be over, ours is still trucking! Nearly a dozen of us made the trip down to Winston-Salem, NC this past weekend to race in/spectate a pair of NCCX races. These were the “Merry Crossmas” races sponsored by team Smart Stop/Mock Orange Bikes, a team based locally in W-S, but with a major national presence (you know Adam Myerson, right?).

Both races used an almost identical course situated in a lovely city park with a surprising amount of elevation change, tons of off-camber, etc. But the real gem was a flyover that the promoters had built earlier in the week. Emerging from the top of a hillside it was more ramp than actual flyover, but it was a very cool piece.

Unfortunately, Steve crashed out on the flyer during warm-ups on day one, and was only able to race for one lap of the actual race with his jammed thumb. The rest of the team had great results; Allyson took the elite women’s race, and the unholy triumvirate of Birner/Harshman/Morali took 2-3-4 in the elite master’s men race.

Day two was the North Carolina state championships, which meant a lot more people and deeper fields. The team still did great, and we all had a lot of fun. I know a lot of people are worn out by this time of year, but there’s still great, and quality, racing to be had not that far away. We are already planning to come back next year.

I also have to give a major shout-out to the Mock Orange Bikes shop in W-S. Not only did they have the most Ridleys I’ve ever seen at one time in a shop, but they were super nice folks who went out of their way to do me a favor. Please check them out if you are ever in the area!

Next week is off for family time, but I may have something fun to share on New Year’s weekend. And then after that, Nats! I am loving this never-ending season. Happy holidays to all, and thanks for reading!

(PS: I took a ton of pictures, but have not had the time to upload them yet. Check back later this week and they should be here then!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Geler Votre Cul – It’s Not Over Yet!

While the Sportif and Super8 series may be in the books for 2011, there’s still a ton of racing left! This weekend we headed back to Fair Hill for the second to last MAC race of the year, next weekend we’re off to North Carolina for a doubleheader, and then there’s still Madison in January!

This weekend’s MAC race Geler Votre Cul saw the return of the “classic” Fair Hill course that hadn’t been seen since 2009. Although it had enough updates and changes to make it different enough, the classic features (barns, sand pit) were still there in full force. Unfortunately, Steve wasn’t feeling well and only managed one lap, despite it being one of his favorite courses. Three other teammates made the trip up and had decent results. The fields in the races were small, but tough.

Two highlights of the day for me: One: the beer garden in the middle of the sand pit/horse ring. This was a great addition; really got you in the center of the action, and the beer and barrel fires were great for keeping warm on a brisk day. Two: the muddy “run-up”/hill before the barns. I say run-up in quotes because, while it was a run-up for the early races, the elite men quickly figured out how to ride it during their warm up laps, and many were able to ride it during their race as well.

As a spectator, I always love obstacles that force the rider to make a decision: run or ride? Especially because sometimes the choice that requires more skill/ability ends up costing more in terms of time!

Overall though, great course and race. Sad to see another local series wrap for the year, but I know I’ll still see a lot of these folks next month. And if you’re interested, you can check out my pictures from the race here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Capital Cross Classic – Murder Was (Not) the Case

Another race day with beautiful weather on Sunday! The last two years have really had almost perfect weather throughout the season – makes me think that next year will have to be more like 2009 with the cold, rain, and snow. I know this weekend was the last race for a lot of people, but not for us! We’ll be heading up to Fair Hill this weekend for Geler Votre Cul, North Carolina the weekend before Christmas, and Nats in January.

Sunday marked the return of the always awesome Capital Cross Classic race in Reston. Formerly part of the MABRA series it had been part of MAC in recent years, took a year off in 2010, and returned this year as part of the Super8. This is one of the best venues with the most interesting scenery in my opinion. Nothing beats the classic image of riders racing across the dam silhouetted against a crystalline December sky. And the steep run-ups and descents back in the woods are tough and awesome. Unfortunately I missed the violin player at the top of the run-up, but I did get to participate in a sing-along of Dr. Dre’s “Murder was the Case” next to the steep descent – thanks, rider number 187, for triggering this!

I think exciting things are in store for the local racing scene next year. This year featured the traditional races and about a half dozen new ones, some of which are well on their way to becoming classics in their own right. Combined with the nearby MAC races there were races every single weekend this fall, and most weekends had the option of racing on Saturday AND Sunday. The sport has grown rapidly over the last five-plus years and growth needs to encouraged so that there’s something for everyone. New races are a good thing, not competition to an existing product, but an enhancement. Just my two cents.

Small photoset from CCxC can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taneytown is Pronounced TAWNYtown*

I must still be in a Thanksgiving-induced food coma because I could not muster the energy to write anything yesterday! It also didn’t help that just as he was finally getting his racing groove back; Steve was hit with a nasty head cold on Thanksgiving and got sicker and sicker as the weekend progressed. He rode a lap around the course to warm up but found he had no energy and bagged the race before it even started. Which is really too bad because this would have been his fifth consecutive year doing this race.

Taneytown is always an interesting course because even if there hasn’t been any rain for several days before the race, there is pretty much no drainage and it’s a mudfest. Even remembering that this was usually the case I wore sneakers with a cloth top that were quickly mud covered and left me with wet feet.

The race had a dual purpose this year: it served as the series finale for the Sportif Cross Cup as well as the annual MABRA district championships. Turnout was pretty good for the Sunday after Thanksgiving and people still seemed to be excited, albeit exhausted as the season enters its last full month. I can’t report too much on the actual races since we didn’t stick around for long (had to get Steve back home to the couch and some chicken noodle soup), but the team really continued to shine. The big surprise of the day was Jay Morali taking third in the elite masters race; Jay has been steadily pushing upwards every week and is really peaking at the right time. And apparently Allyson won her race, although unfortunately we weren’t there to see it.

The season may feel like it’s winding down, but there’s still a lot left! Reston, Luray, Fair Hill, North Carolina, and Nats are still lurking!

* My mother was born and raised in Carroll County and quickly schooled me on the correct pronunciation – thanks, Mom!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rockburn Redemption

So this week started off kind of crappy. Had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and got some mixed news. Long story short is that while my disease is smaller now than it was a year ago, what’s left of it has started to grow again, and I’ll most likely require another intensive in-patient treatment in late January. But the good news is that I’m really good at scheduling major healthcare events around cyclocross season! That’s right; we’re still planning on heading out to Madison that first weekend in January.

Now, on to the week’s main event…

We skipped Vint Hill this year because we just needed an easy day at home. I rode the trainer for 50 minutes, watched the GvA, slept some more, and raked leaves in the afternoon. Rachel and Eric got in from Pittsburgh around 9:00 and we hung out and shot the shit for a couple hours before bed. They’re only coming down for one more weekend this season which is a bummer, I’ve really gotten used to having them around on the weekend.

Steve was thinking about maybe doubling up at Rockburn, but with all the crap we were dealing with during the week, he had only ridden once, and decided to stick with the “old man” race again. He started in the very back just like last week, and almost immediately passed a ton of people. But without the training and fitness, people began passing him late in the race. I think he was pleased with his result, and perked up even further when he saw that Ben had brought him his brand new Ridley frame. Hurray for more bikes!

The “old man” race was pretty exciting overall though, at one point three people from the team were in the top five! Cory and Jon are always strong, but G has been improving steadily throughout the season; having netted his first top ten last week I thought for sure that fifth place spot was his this week. Unfortunately his string of bad bike luck continued and he rolled a tubular, falling way back and never catching back up.

I have to say that it’s been really fun and impressive watching the team over this season; a brand new team consistently filling the top spots in the Masters podiums. And you really couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people, seriously. Every week just reinforces what I love about the sport.

Didn’t take many pictures this weekend, but I really like this one of Eric over the barriers in the Elite race:

Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Doubling the “L” Up with Fair Hill and Schooley Mill

Now we’re cooking, I’m really getting excited about the rest of the season, even as it’s winding down for a lot of people! Steve did his first cross race of the year this weekend, and is planning on moving full speed ahead and most likely doubling up for the rest of the race weekends of the year. There is also the potential for some big, fun late season plans, but a lot of that is contingent upon my bimonthly check-up at the doctor tomorrow.

So this weekend we headed up to the area near Steve’s old turf, Elkton, MD for the FSVS XCross at Fair Hill MAC race. This race is kind of the sleeper of the MAC, usually with smaller crowds and a more low-key atmosphere, but it’s always a super fun day. Last year the course was moved from the old location of the bleachers/barns/etc. to a new course with a lot of tape, but some serious uphill power stretches and climbs up and down through the woods.

I had fun taking pictures of the Elite Masters race and the Elite Women’s race from a couple different vantage points. For the masters I started with a failed experiment using the wide angle and basically lying on the ground in front of the covered bridge and shooting up. These turned out boring and poorly proportioned, too much sky and not enough racing action. Then I moved over to an area near the climb in the woods and got some good shots as I lurked behind a tree, followed by some shots of the fellas riding through the little creek area. For the women I mostly shot over by the up and down off camber area near the start/finish line. I honestly don’t know how people are able to ride stuff like that, it looks so crazy!

Allyson was our only teammate there and she posted a solid finish in the women’s race. Steve had planned to race, but had a serious mechanical during warm-ups – his chain ring was ripped off his bike and all bent up! Luckily Steve was able to cannibalize some parts off of other bikes at home to race on Sunday. Which brings me to…

Steve raced at Schooley Mill on Sunday!!! He also did the “old man” race for the first time, since he’s now old enough. I’d say he had a pretty good race overall for no training and not much riding in the last 6+ months. And now he’s got the bug and wants to try to race both Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the season.

The team continued with their great results; Cory took the top spot on the Masters 3/4 podium, with Jon on the fourth step and G taking 10, his best finish yet. His results have been improving every week and he’s really peaking at the right time. Birner took fourth in the Elite Masters and Allyson took fourth of the Elite Women.

I had a really great day hanging out with people at Schooley Mill, playing with the dog, and eating some tasty food so I didn’t get many shots. But here’s my photoset from Fair Hill if you’re interested.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Just What I Needed at Ed Sander

We took last week off from races to relax and do stuff around the house; funny it came when it did, because that’s usually the weekend Steve takes off anyway when he’s racing. The cross season is so short that you want to suck every minute out of it, but on the other hand by the time it’s halfway done you are tired and borderline burnt out and need a break.

So Sunday was the annual Ed Sander race at the Lilypons Gardens near Frederick, MD. Moved from its traditional end of September weekend, this year we got to enjoy the gardens in full autumn splendor. In addition, this year featured an almost all-new course, which was a complete surprise to me since I hadn’t checked out any of the preview maps. But I think the changes were all really positive, and as much as I missed the fun of heckling riders on the back 9, this new set up was much more spectator friendly and the new uphill finish on the pavement was a lot of fun to watch (and looked really hard to ride!).

While our teammate Jon Hicks was tearing it up and winning his race out in Cincinnati, our other cat 3/4 masters racers were running an impressive race right here. Four members of Sportif Cpaching Group/BPB placed in the top 25, with Cory Smith on the podium in fourth place. And actually as I’m looking at the results, I see that it was a day full of fourth place finishes for the team – Allyson Tufano finished fourth in the Elite Women’s race as did Jay Morali in the Elite Master’s Men race! Overall, the team continues to improve and post impressive results. It’s really exciting to see it growing!

Overall I was really impressed with the changes to the course and the improved spectator friendliness. I know I said no pictures, I but the team tents were so well positioned to watch folks coming up that hill towards the finish line that I couldn’t help myself! Here’s a small photoset from the day.

I also got to meet some interesting people at the race. I had seen one guy around at a few races wearing a kit promoting the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. As a young adult cancer survivor, I was curious what was up, and asked him about it. Apparently he is a coach who helps young adult cancer survivors getting into athletic pursuits. They are going to have a tent with more information at Rockburn in two weeks, so please stop by and check them out, I know I’m going to. I never took advantage of their services personally when I was in treatment, but I know that they do a lot of great things.

And upon overhearing my conversation, the wife of one of our team members, who also races herself, told me about the Challenged Athletes Foundation. I have heard of them in passing, but haven’t checked them out before. Apparently they help disabled athletes (such as me) get the equipment they need to compete. Since I just purchased my first cyclocross bike this weekend (!!!), this couldn’t have been better timing. I’ll definitely be checking them out and would suggest you do the same.

Really great day overall, thanks to NCVC for such a great experience, and for those AMAZING waffles!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Regaining Perspective at DCCX

This week’s “race report” is going in a slightly more personal direction. I realized at DCCX yesterday that I’ve been burning myself out and starting not to have as much fun at races. I’ve been so busy trying to take the best pictures, write the best blog, etc. etc. that I’ve lost some of the pure enjoyment of races, and I want that back. Because let’s face it, I’m never going to be the best photographer or the best blogger. And that’s okay! That doesn’t mean I can’t try my best, but I need to put it in perspective and get back to FUN.

Needless to say, through no fault of the race, I was in a severely cranky mood most of the day at DCCX, and then dealt with that issue by getting severely shitfaced. Oops! It wasn’t all bad though, I promise! I got to spend the weekend with my two favorite cross ladies, Christine and Rachel, who are awesome and fun and kick some serious ass. Christine got second in the 3/4 race and will now be moving up to a 2 – congrats, lady! Especially well-earned since she’s a New Englander and races in the large and tough women’s fields up there.

Team-wise, Sportif had another great race; despite a poorly timed flat that lost him the win, Jon Hicks moved into first place in the series for the master’s men 3/4 35+. Allyson Tufano took third in the elite women’s race and three of the elite master’s men finished in the top 15, with Jay Morali taking 7th.

So lessons learned? Next race I’m going to return to the “old school” – walk around with the dog, cheer for my friends, ring the cowbell. Hang out in the team tent, help pin numbers, and just have fun. That’s who I am, and what races have been about for me in the past. I’m ready to get back.

But for the meantime, here’s my photoset from yesterday.

And finally, big, massive props are due to all the promoters of DCCX; the race is a true gem, right in the heart of DC. A wonderful race day environment, unique setting, tasty food, and a race course that gets better and better every year. Congrats on five years, can’t wait to see what it’s like in another five!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fall Masterpiece – Granogue CX 2011

Another year of Steve not being able to race Granogue, boo! But always a worthwhile race to journey north for, in terms of the racers there, the quality of the course, and the sheer scope.

We got there right after the Women’s 3/4 race kicked off and I got to cheer for my favorite ladies, Rachel and Christine. Unfortunately Rachel had a mechanical early in the race and had to drop out, but Christine raced a smart and strong race and finished in the top ten. I only get to see Christine race once or twice a year since she lives in New England, but the girl always brings it.

After catching up with some friends Steve and I wandered back towards registration and the area further back near the cornfield to watch the Elite Masters Men’s race. After we watched them come by, we walked over to the run-up in the woods to watch them there. After waiting for far longer than it should have taken them to come around, we wandered back up to the main area and learned that there had been a serious crash on the starting line. When I saw the police helicopter land, my heart just sank. I was at Schooley Mill last year when a racer had a heart attack, but I have never seen a cross race completely stopped and someone medevac-ed out before. It really cast a pall over the race, but later in the day we heard that the two fellows involved in the crash should be okay.

The next race was the UCI Elite 17-18 Juniors, and I went back to the run-up in the woods for the duration of the race. I read somewhere last week that this is one of only five UCI 17-18 races in the US, so it’s pretty special to get to see these kids race. Apparently local favorite Sam O’Keefe of C3 has been having a great start to his season, but unfortunately on Saturday he was bested by the young men from the Clif and Bob’s Red Mill developmental squads.

The UCI Elite Women’s race was dominated by Laura Van Gilder, who I’m pretty sure has won this race every year I’ve been there. And Allyson from our team posted a solid mid-pack result. The UCI Elite Men’s race was a display of masterful technical ability and speed, as always. A lot of the elite New England racers made the trek down and they have a slick and speedy racing style that is fun to watch. I observed primarily from the two run-ups, the one in the woods and the main one below the iconic water tower. Many of the men in this race were able to ride one or both of them, some more easily than others. As in the women’s race, the eventual winner Justin Lindine ran away with the lead for most of the race.

And finally after the sun was starting to sink in the western sky, off went the Men’s 2/3/4 race. The whole JBV crew (Eric, Brett, Chris) raced well and posted good results, but the real star was Matt Bartlett. Starting in the 13th row, he methodically worked his way back up to the front, and even the lead. An unfortunately timed crash at the top of the hill near the end of the final lap ensured a third place finish, but it was a remarkable come from behind.

As our reward for a hard day of (watching) racing, we stopped for delicious homemade ice cream with Rachel and Eric at the Woodside Creamery on our way home. Although we weren’t able to make it up for Day 2 this year, it was still another fabulous fall day spent at Granogue.

I’ll be posting the 500+ pictures I took on SmugMug over the next few days, for now, you can check out my pictures from Saturday’s UCI Elite Men’s race. Thanks!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Psycho Cross: We made a race!

At a lot of events things looks great to the attendees, but behind the scenes there is often chaos. I’m not sure how often that happens with bike races, but it definitely works like that at other work-related events I’ve been involved in. This past Saturday was Psycho Cross in Sykesville, MD, the first race put on by the Western Howard County Cycling club (WHCC) and the new Sportif Coaching Group/BPB team. Since Steve is on the team, I’m claiming the royal “we” here and saying it’s my team too. I’ve worked at the Murad road race twice in the past, but this was my first time working a cross race, and from my point of view, it was practically perfect.

The morning dawned cool and foggy, but the sun quickly rose and the warm up began. I was working registration with Emily, G’s fiancĂ©e, and we had a steady, but manageable flow of people all day. Everyone seemed excited about the course, and the races all went off very well. No major problems with results either that I could discern.

The only bad thing about working a race is that you don’t get to WATCH the races. By the time the last race went off and registration was done, I was too exhausted to even take a walk around the course. Working registration was a lot of fun though, in addition to getting to catch up with the people I already know, I got to put a lot of names and faces together; I think I may have freaked some people out by knowing who they were before they even gave me their license!

But back to my beginning point about behind the scenes chaos – there was none. The race was remarkably well run, everything was smooth and one time, and apparently the course was a gem as well. If you didn’t go this year, you should really come check it out next year. I think this has potential to be like the Winchester race: a sleeper hit the first year, and now in its third year one of the premier events in the region.

Thanks to everyone who came out, and many congratulations to the entire team, especially Mike Birner, Chris Harshman, Mike Neary, and Jon Hicks for creating and running a fabulous race. It was a pleasure to be in your employ for the day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

When did it get so darn cold? Or, 2011 Winchester Apple Cross

This was a good weekend, after being away on vacation on the west coast last weekend. I finally started to feel like I was getting my photo mojo back this weekend at Winchester. I skipped BCA because Steve was still out of town and I had other plans, but we still managed to drag ourselves out of bed and into the unseasonably cool weather of the Winchester Apple Cross.

This is definitely a great course, and always seems to be a favorite of the riders. There was one big change this year though: three “steps” were added to the Belgian Wall in the back to force a run-up. Purely from the point of view of a spectator, it made that part of the race less interesting. There are never as many people over there watching as there should be because it’s just about the complete opposite end of the course from parking, registration, and the pavilion. I’d love to see it turn into something like the back nine at Ed Sander, but as Steve astutely pointed out, unlike that race there’s just not much to see from this vantage point other than the wall. Last year we got a decent crowd going during the elite races and it was really exciting to see who would be able to ride the wall, who would try and fail and lose time, and who would just start running from the bottom. It was still a great vantage point this year, but some of that excitement was gone.

So end result was that I was only over there for the elite masters men’s race, and then spent most of the rest of the time in the main area by the pavilion. Hung out in the team tent and the new team, Sportif Coaching Group/BPB, continues to post solid results in the masters races and the elite women’s race. Plus they’re a pretty good group of people to hang out with.

Here are my pictures from the race, if you’re interested in checking them out:

Next weekend I’ll be working registration at Sykesville Psycho Cross so come for a great day of racing and say hi!

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's a Family Affair - Charm City Cross 2011

First weekend of cross season 2011 (for me) is in the books!

Feeling very reflective on my wonderful cycling family today. Someone told me once that after college it's pretty much impossible to make new friends. As someone who doesn't really have any college friends that they keep in touch with, I call bull on that. The people I've met through cycling, primarily cyclocross, are some of the funniest, kindest, smartest, most generous people I've ever met. These are not people that I would likely cross paths with in any other facet of my life, but there's a bond of friendship that's formed during those fall weekends that is pretty significant.

The races were interesting this year; the European pros in town to get some early UCI points really ran away with things, and it was pretty awesome to watch. Helen Wyman, the British national champion, just destroyed the women's elite field with style and skills. The European men dominated the men's elite field and had some pretty fabulously bright kits too.

Since Steve isn't racing, I didn't get there until about halfway through the day either day, which was a different experience from being there for the whole day. I think that there was also more socializing than watching on my part, with it being the first race and all. Saturday was the first time in five years of attending that I've ever seen Charm City WET. The chill in the air was refreshing, and I suppose the clouds and drizzle were appropriate for a cross race. Sunday remained cool, but the sun dried out the course enough to make it a little more "normal," except - it was run backwards! Very cool, but so different to watch.

I feel like my thoughts are a little lacking this week, maybe I'm not fully into race mode yet for the year or something, not sure. I'm still struggling a bit with the "fancy camera" and probably focusing a little more on it than on watching the races at this point. I'm ending up with a lot fewer pictures this year, and even though the ones I have are nicer quality, I feel somewhat frustrated. You can check out my C3CX galleries for Day 1 and Day 2 if you like.

No race for us next weekend, but should be back in full force for Winchester and that epic "Belgian wall"!

Monday, September 12, 2011

While y'all were at Nittany this weekend...

...we were at the GP of Montreal, and I was hanging with my homeboy Johnny Hoogerland!

Yes, that is really him and not a cardboard cutout as some have suggested! And yes, I am wearing my awesome "Welcome to Hoogerland" shirt from Stomach of Anger in the picture.

Montreal was really an amazing experience, a beautiful city with very nice people, for the most part. Seeing the pro tour teams in person was pretty awesome, the kits are ridiculously bright and colorful and the riders and insanely fit. Their riding is also, of course, unparalleled and to watch them ride is really quite beautiful.

I took more than 600 pictures and will try to cull them down and get the highlights up on Picasa later this week. We stood in a couple different places around the course so I have some climbing pictures, some sprinting pictures, group pictures, and individual pictures. I didn't make it up to the steepest part of the climb, but even the part where I was standing was pretty tough. And since the race was a circuit, they had to climb each of the hills 17 times!

But as much as I enjoyed my roadie adventures this weekend, I'm definitely looking for ward to Charm City this weekend. And it sounds like Nittany Cross started off the season with a successful bang; wish I could have been there to see J Pow racing, plus the elite British ladies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pump it up

Although I wasn't popular enough to get called out here, I still felt suitably chastened for not kicking this blog back into gear as I had planned to a month ago. No excuses anymore, I'm just going to get this thing rolling.

Unfortunately it looks like my season will be a little less active this year; Steve is still recovering from an injury and likely won't be racing at all. But don't worry, I'm still going to try to get to as many races as possible! I have that new camera, plus now I have a spiffy new Chrome camera bag that was my pre-season present to myself, and I'm eager to get out there and use it.

For September, it looks like the only race we will be attending is Charm City. I'm bummed to have to miss Tacchino for the first time in something like five years (I was even there when it was in Leesburg, man!), but we'll be spending a week in the city by the bay instead. And, there's always a race out there that I may very well check out and report back on. Nittany, which I have yet to go to, is also out, as we will be checking this out instead, and cheering on Gilbert, the unofficial fan favorite of 2011.

As for me, I've finally started riding! Every other day on the trainer, 20-30 minutes. Got a computer and some cycling shorts, and have my eye on a sweet little 47 Bianchi. Goal for the end of the year is to be able to ride outside, get a road bike, and obtain and learn how to use cleats and clipless pedals. Tall order, but I'm nothing if not determined.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coming Attractions, and, “Real Life”

I'd like to start by saying hi to the two whole readers I probably have left after not updating this blog for the last six months. I had every intention of posting semi-regularly during the off season, but life intervened (more on that below...). But now it's less than two months until race season, schedules are coming out every day, and it looks to be a jam-packed fall. Not sure yet of what our plans will be, there's been some talk about maybe traveling to more races outside MABRA/MAC-land this year, maybe Nats again, and maybe even Worlds, since we have unused airfare on Brussels Air that needs to be used by the end of January.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be racing after all this year. Which is not all bad, since I do love just going and hanging out and watching my friends race. As much fun as you racers have,I probably have even more because I don't have the stress and exhaustion of actually racing! But the reasons for me not being able to race, well, suck. This blog isn't about my personal life so I won't harp on too much, but in late 2009 I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Right after cross season ended I had major surgery to remove the tumor, and then underwent several months of intense chemo. I was all clear, went back to work, started this blog, went to Nats, had a blast. Then in February we found out that my cancer had returned, on the eve of our long-planned (and subsequently cancelled) trip to Europe to see Paris-Roubaix and Flanders. More chemo, didn't work, so I did a clinical trial at NIH instead. The early results are very promising, and I'm feeling really good, but needless to say, there has been no bike riding by me.

But enough about me! I'm going to try to start ramping the ol' blog up over the next couple weeks to get back in the habit. And I'm hoping to get off my lazy butt and at least start riding my bike inside on the trainer. Thanks to everyone who is still reading after the long layoff, and more to come...soon!