Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Demise of Cyclocross - Part IV: Conclusion

The idea for this topic started when a bunch of us were sitting around drinking beer after a ride one night this past fall. We started talking about the regional cyclocross scene and then about the problems and the sense that it seemed attitudes were changing. People were starting to complain and be more critical than in the past. There also seemed to be an increase in finger pointing. I suggested that maybe I would investigate a few of the topics that I personally felt were issues within not only cyclocross but amateur bicycle racing in New England.

That's how this series started out. What changed throughout the course was a movement towards an introspective. The cold realization was that in my case, the only thing wrong was me in how I was acting upon the negative aspects of cycling and competition for that matter. Though I strive not to, I take myself too seriously, I whine too much and make too many excuses. The image I have used in this series was of my mountainbike racing water bottle stand. It states "Shut up and ride". I put that phrase on it in order to help put things in perspective and to remind myself that when all is said and done, it is just another ride on the bike.

There have been a number of interesting developments throughout the course of this series. Some people along the way have missed the point. We have also seen that any given topic means different things to different people. My rants had specific meaning to me based on my perspective but the same argument could and does have other personal meaning to each reader based on their perspective. For instance, a statement about people taking advantage of the sport has multiple, vastly different meanings based on who is evaluating that statement. This does not necessarily dilute or taint the basis of the statements.

In reality, there is no one thing that is "ruining" cyclocross and for that matter bicycle racing, for me. The problem is simply that the combination of many little things contribute to an overall feeling of dis-satisfaction with the sport at a personal level. For me, the list of those things includes but is not necessarily limited too;

  • taking the sport and oneself too seriously
  • getting too wrapped up in the results
  • trying to be 'pro'
  • trying to do too much
  • people taking but never giving back
  • whining and making excuses
  • alienating and differentiating vs. developing and mentoring

All of these things contributed to my personal loss of motivation and interest. The main ingredients in this recipe for disaster as it is, are simply that I was ill prepared for the season and had unrealistic expectations. Once this started to show itself in the form of poor or inconsistent results, a sort of death spiral was put into motion that I have been unable to pull my way out of. There have been some highlights but for the most part, success has eluded me. Frankly, I don't know how to escape and at this point in the season, I fear that it is too late anyhow. I tell myself that the problem is primarily motivational in the hopes that the fitness I am intermittently able to channel can't really be gone.

The bottom line is that what is leading to the demise of cyclocross for me, is me. The sport as a whole will continue on and depending on what the masses decide, will either grow or will stabilize or in the worst case, will start to decline. The decline or at least the stabilization is inevitable and is bound to happen at some point. With luck there will still be many seasons of prosperity left. That said, it is to the point now where I honestly believe that the sport is saturated. This season we will have 17 weeks of cyclocross racing, with one weekend (Labor Day) reprieve. I know that at this point, I'm ready for a change in scenery. I think that for me, in the future, the schedule will be packed enough that I will need to be more selective about which weekends to race and which to not race. The days of racing both days of the weekend for the entire season simply do not scale any longer. However, having all of these races to pick and choose from is a really nice luxury to have.

The season is winding down quickly. The numbers at the races have started to pare down and people are starting to talk about post season activities and even training for next season. My words of wisdom, if I may be granted the latitude, are to keep it fun because it is just sport and sport is meant to be fun.

Thank you for reading.

Velocross Race Report

OK, this is delayed but better late than never, I guess.

I must admit that it was with some minor trepidation that I registered to race the 2010 Velocross cyclocross race at the Northeast Velodrome this season. Despite the fact that our club, NEBC, was one of the primary sponsors and I'd been assured by Kurt and the other organizers that the course was going to be vastly better than years past, I couldn't help but recall the old course. It wasn't awful, just very 'rustic'. We are also at that point in the season where I'm tired and the motivation is really low. Regardless, we needed to be behind this event for the club and for our sponsors.

Pre-registartion was modest though my field had a number of solid guys that were sure to make this a very challenging race. I suspect that the early season drama surrounding the track was still on the minds of some and accounted for the fairly low numbers. There was also some improvement that could have been made regarding condensing some of the actual fields that would probably have helped. All good to know for the next time.

What we found when we arrived at the venue and were able to get onto the course and ride put all fears to rest. The crew had indeed done an incredible job with the course layout, design and prep. Laps were above 5 minutes each, which was considered a minimum requirement and the course was super challenging while being wide and well marked. However, this was a legit course like no other as it included not only a portion of the track but also the BMX course. This was going to be a brutally hard but fun race.

Cathy had a great race and got the chance to go head to head with Sally from JRA all day long, ultimately coming down to a sprint finish for third place. They both held off another of Cathy's nemesis, Danielle from Sunapee. My race started with a mad sprint by Jeff M. and a counter by Ryan L. which I was able to meet along with most of the pack. We hammered the first lap and I squeezed into second on the BMX course and took over on the track. From there I just keep hitting as hard as I could and Jeff and I got a good gap. I stayed out front for a couple laps then on the track flicked the elbow for Jeff to come through, which he did. After the infield section I got nervous that we were not going fast enough to stay away so went to the front and charged hard. A lap or so later I noticed that the chase was closing so I hit really hard on the track and gained a bit of space. Unfortunately as we turned onto the crushed casting material trail that leads to the woods, a lapped rider lost control and swerved into my line and I plowed into him, with Jeff plowing into me. Curses and tangled bikes hurriedly untangled and we were off but the chase was now really close. Ryan was able to bridge back and we rode together for one to go. On the track Jeff attacked and then sat up and Ryan countered, to which I followed and countered. I led through the infield and through most of the woods but Jeff made a wise pass just before we came out of the woods. He attacked hard and all I could do was dangle just behind him. On the track he sprinted easily for the win and Ryan managed to come by me as well at the line, leaving me in 3rd. I was spent and physically had nothing left.

This was a great course and a great race. Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard to make it happen and a thank you to those who attended. It was had to find anyone that wasn't thoroughly beat yet had a smile on their face. For those who missed it, you really did miss one of the best venues I have ever raced. I'm still sore from pumping the BMX course so hard.

As a side note after the Shedd Park race on Sunday, which was possibly my worst excuse for racing in years, while I was cleaning my bike from the weekend's race activity I looked it over closely. Unfortunately I noticed that the crash Saturday resulted in a few battle scars in the carbon fiber of my frame and a bent spoke and slightly out of true Reynolds Dv46 carbon rear wheel which also had dime sized hole punched in it. D'oh!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Eyebrow Trail

One of our favorite hikes is called the Eyebrow Trail, in Grafton Notch. We have done this short, 3.8 mile hike a number of times, both in the summer and in the dead of winter. It's a short hike but it is pretty rugged, with some good extended sections of hand and foot scrambling up rock and root climbs and there is even a short ice flow that you have to traverse.

The last time we did this hike was a couple years ago for my birthday at the end of January. Our good friends PK and Wayne and Jean joined us for the adventure and what an adventure it was. Snowshoeing up into and through about 3' of fresh snow made for some slow and arduous going. Cathy detailed that adventure over here.

This adventure was much less extreme. Temps were just at freezing at the base though the wind was whipping and we have steady flurries. It did snow a little bit over night so there was a light coating of fresh snow on the ground. The one aspect that made for a challenge beyond the terrain itself was that there was some ice and just enough snow to cover it up, making foot holds questionable.

The trip up was tough but uneventful. I reflected on the way as to how incredibly difficult it must have been the last time, in a few feet of powder. I do recall a large amount of wallowing to make forward progress.

As always we did the loop counter-clockwise, which means that we started by climbing up the steep section opting to descend the longer and less steep route. The thought is that if the ascent is too tough, we turn around and go back down, which is better than making it up the easy way only to have to turn around as you start the tough descent. Today however, that easier trip down was actually tougher than expected with far more ice to deal with. No worries though, all was fine it simply made going a little slower.

I'm thinking that we need to another birthday adventure this winter. In hindsight, that weekend was about as much fun as one could have. I wonder if my friends look as fondly back at the trip as I do? I sure hope so and I hope that they are in for another adventure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Break

I can honestly say that I don't think that I can remember a time that I have looked more forward to the Thanksgiving break. This has been a long, busy and in some ways stressful year. The time off and away from it all has been slim. We've got a full week planned of almost nothing planned. Maybe some hiking later today. Some minor home projects, some appliance shopping yesterday. Downtime, which in all honesty is a fairly new concept. I like to always be doing something and am not one to set passively by and watch time fly. I can honestly say though that I am really enjoying this so far.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Looking Forward

It's that time of year. The end of the cyclocross season and the gawd-awful long racing season in general is finally drawing near. I've started to do more fun, mountain bike rides and it has been great. My Yeti leaf magnet has been great since I gave up on trying to make it XC friendly and reverted it back to having a short and upright stem and lower saddle height. The suspension on the thing works absolutely great. Many thanks to Brian for hooking me up with it. I'm finally giving it some use. In fact, I had a nice gentle ride with PK last night in the PR. I can honestly say that I am looking very forward to some new stuff.

Hopefully we are going to have a good winter and get some snow so we can break into a good routine on the skinny skis. Also thinking about dropping for a just-for-fun-bike depending on what they cost and whether or not I can justify it. Will see. I said the same thing last year and then opted to err on the side of reason as justification for yest another type of bike is tough.

I'm also hoping to actually use my sleds this season. We put almost no miles on last year. The snow was bad and I opted to do big miles on the bike all year instead. A little bit of both would be great. Some of my fondest memories are of the long day trips we do getting up early and trailering over the Notch to Errol, NH and then riding north through the Great North Woods up almost to the border and then down to Pittsburg for lunch at the Happy Corner Cafe and a refill at Young's store. Then we make the trip back around the lakes and south to Errol, finishing up just as it is getting dark. It's typically snowing at least lightly as we load the sleds back into the trailer and strike off back over the Notch in relatively miserable conditions to get back home in Bethel. Good times.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Demise of Cyclocross - Part III: Complaints

One of the biggest detractors within the virtual world of cyclocross these days are complaints. I say virtual because although complaining does still happen in person at the events, the bulk of the whining seems to appear leading up to and following any given cyclocross event. This discourse takes place in the annals of cyclocross Cyberspace and within the Internet Blogosphere. I think the fact that the communication mode is primarily written is a basic statement on modern society, where by with the advent of the Internet and a public means of publishing virtually anonymously, people feel free and empowered to say whatever they feel. Take me for example. With this anonymity I believe that people have also become more and more brazen. Most won't think twice about firing off a flaming message pointed directly at an individual, the content of which they would likely never say to the individual in person.

Back in the day if you wanted to do this you would have to physically write a letter on Mimeograph paper and then turn the crank and make copies on the Mimeograph machine and then either mail them out or stand on a corner handing them out. Not terribly effective, in terms of the potential reach and scope and also a whole lot of effort for the potential reward. The upside was that you did get a sweet buzz from the chemicals used in the process. The alternative was to take out a paid advertisement in a newspaper which although more effective was also quite costly. Life really has been made so much easier by technology.

These days the Internet based email list crackles with the sound of a million messages in the days and weeks leading up to a given race, abuzz with news about team parking or team tents, pre-riding the course and UCI rule enforcement. These discussions often start harmlessly enough but inevitably someone breaks the ice and the complaints start to flow. Many of these explorations are actually fruitful. For instance, discussing the ramifications of pre-riding a course while racers are still finishing their race was effective in making the point that everyone deserves the respect and consideration required for them to be able to complete their individual event uninterrupted. I think that this went a long way to quell the impression that most other racers were so self absorbed that they didn't really care about others. This may be common sense but occasionally it takes some reinforcement for people to realize that point.

Lately it seems that more often than not, someone is taking exception to one point or another, either on the list or on their personal cyclocross related blog . This fall especially, it seems to me that we have had a massive increase in complaints and rants as compared to years past. Maybe this is a sign that the honeymoon is over and that the community is starting to look at cyclocross with more of an eye toward scrutiny. Maybe it is simply that people have too much time on their hands and feel the need to complain about something. Regardless, it is interesting why there seems to be an increase now. Or is it simply that the noise was always there and we just weren't choosing to listen to it? Is it actually just that the perspective has changed?

I think we can classify these complaints into a small number of different types. Of those who complain, the first up are the ones with an actual, legitimate concern or issue. Believe it or not there are legitimate reasons for people to complain from time to time. You could argue that there are places to which it either is or is not appropriate to air these valid cyclocross related complaints but we can assume that in at least some cases, the public cyclocross forum is applicable. An example of legitimate case would be racer(s) being interfered with or impeded by people warming up on a closed course. That is a real issue and if it either is, or appears to be systemic, then the public forum is an appropriate audience. If a one time incident, it is probably best to see the officials or promoter who are in a position to do something about it directly, in a timely fashion after the incident. In many instances, time is a critical factor in dealing with these types of issues. Like results, you have a certain amount of time to protest, otherwise they are assumed accurate and final.

Next up are those who feel compelled to complain based on their own insecurities and shortcomings. I suspect that they tend to be the same people that speak negatively of others as a means of making themselves look better. To some degree or another, we all fall into this category. By proclaiming that a course didn't really suit our skills or that we were somehow handicapped by some one or something we are effectively making excuses and falling into this trap. It's easy to do this as we are a society that delights in a Cinderella Story where even with the odds stacked against our hero, they triumph through adversity. If they fail then they have a reason as the odds were simply insurmountable. One thing that crossresults.com has done a great job in showing us is that almost none of the excuses matter, barring some major catastrophe, you are going to finish just about where statistics say you are going to, regardless. Get some humility, drop the excuses and if your performance was below your expectation, focus the scrutiny inward rather than outward.

There are to a lesser degree, those whose complaints stem from fundamental differences in the overall objectives in racing in general between the disparate parties taking part in the races. For many, racing is very serious business. Countless hours and dollars are invested in practicing, training and preparation for the racing events of the weekend. For some this is an actual job. For others it is what defines them. There are, however, a large number of people who see bicycle racing as something else and possibly something more than just a race. It is a festival of sorts or even a celebration of their own individuality. Yes, it all centers around the race as the focal point, but it has a beginning a middle and and end that may downplay the pertinence of the actual race itself.

More and more people seem to be re-focusing away from their own individual goals and toward a common goal with their children and families. This seems to be making for more of a family event at many of the races. I'm seeing groups coordinating and having a much bigger team or club presence at the races. We are also seeing huge numbers of participants at the beginner level. We can't disregard these folks needs as they are the ones making it possible for the rest of us by effectively subsidizing the events with their numbers. Would we have nearly fifty local cyclocross races a season in New England if only the Elites were racing? All of this fanfare and color can add to the fun, festival like atmosphere at the cross races and is to a large degree, what helps to keep them fresh and vibrant. Diversity is what makes the sport great and in many cases a unique mixer. We have doctors, engineers, teachers, executives, carpenters and people from literally all walks of life mingling together on the start line. Where else do you get this type of interaction and coming together of wildly disparate backgrounds all with a common goal? The competition at the event is the meat and potatoes but it can be so much better with appetizers and desert as well. That may explain my current issues with and aversion to the skinsuit.

Lastly we have those who just like to complain because they are intolerant or because they like to hear themselves or because they are just plain evil. If they were old and like this, they would be deemed 'cranky' or 'cantankerous' and could be found on the front porch shaking their fist and yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off their lawn. In reality, they are often just incapable of seeing things in a positive light. Serious glass half empty people who delight in turning this inner hostility outward and sharing their misery with everyone who has the misfortune of listening. The only way to deal with these folks is to distance yourself from them and ignore them. Though they may occasionally have valid points, it unfortunately isn't worth the cost to pick these infrequent nuggets from the rest of the mess.

Bottom line is that if it isn't fun and all you can do is complain, why are you doing it? When you start to complain and moreover, focus on other complaints you enter into a downward spiral of negativity. As we are discovering through this series, there are a number of aspects that can and do lead to this. None of these "revelations" are earth shattering. Most all of this is common sense and the type of lesson that we learn in kindergarten. As adults we seem to lose track of them though.

Complaints, whining , excuses and overall negativity are just components in the bigger picture the same as taking oneself and ones results too seriously and having unrealistic expectations. For the vast majority of us, cycling is a pastime, a hobby that we do for fun or for fitness. It's easy to get overly wrapped up in it and in the outcomes but remember, unlike Lance it really is about the bike. That is why we all do it, the love of the bike. Take time to remember that and keep the focus realistic. Don't sell yourself short but keep it in perspective. At the end of the day, nobody lives or dies because you did or did not win the race. Be thankful for the fact that you had the opportunity to race your bike for fun, because you wanted to and not because you had to.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Plymouth Festival of Cyclocross Race Report

The Plymouth cyclocross races are, from what I understand, some of the longest standing events in New England. The Sykes family has been involved in cycling and cyclocross for years, promoting and organizing in that area. Bill, George and the whole family are staples in the cycling community. This is the 5th year that I’ve made the trip to historic Plymouth, every year since I started racing cyclocross in fact. Let me first say that this isn’t one of my favorite courses by any stretch but it is relatively close by and it's nice to support those who support the sport. It is also nice that the event is on the smaller side and as such there are not the logistical hassles of some of the larger events

Saturday was beautiful with sunny skies and unseasonably warm, early fall temperatures. There was a bit of wind as always near the coast and it certainly came into play as you were making your way around the exposed playing fields. Sunday was cooler but still with temperatures on the warmer side but it was cloudy and raw all day. The wind seemed to be even more of a factor throughout the course of racing and made it feel cooler than it actually was.

The course on Saturday was the same basic course that has been used at Plymouth South for the past couple of years. There was a good mix of dirt road, a couple of brief woods sections and a heaping helping of going around the perimeters of the open playing fields at the schools. There was also one sandy and loose climb that was challenging for most as well as a few other steep climbs that worked the legs over pretty well. The Sunday course was effectively the same course as the one used a few years back and saw reuse of certain parts of the Saturday course as well as minor re-routing that distinctly changed the flavor of the course. There were also two deep and loose, but short, sand sections that proved mainly a nuisance for me but were great for spectating. The result was a feeling that Sunday was a grueling battle with the wind with little reprieve where as Saturday had a few more technical aspects and short climbs, affording more shelter but with a punchier course.


[Plymouth Day 1 – Masters 35+]

Saturday’s race started like so many of the small local races, with few pre-registering but nearly everyone showing up. By this I mean many of the core guy’s in the masters were on hand. Corner Cycles fielded a strong squad with only one of the primary team absent. The start was tough, a flat pavement section into a hard right hairpin off the road onto grass. No crashes but lots of hard braking. I didn’t have great position and found myself maybe 10th. I knew that I needed to move up before the leaders motored away so I worked hard and made some passes, getting by Mark G. who had won the 45+ race earlier in the morning, and setting in behind Pete S. on the way toward the sandy ride-up. I contemplated burying myself before the hill to try and pass as Pete sometimes has bad luck with technical features. This turned out to be an omen as Pete didn't make it over the top and I rode right into his rear wheel, got tangled and fell into the scrub brush, getting trampled as people funneled by me. Once righted I started to work the lost spots back. Unfortunately the gap was there and although I was able to chase back to the position I was in prior to the incident, I could not re-attach to Pete. I’d used too much to get to where I was. The next couple laps the gap remained constant but as Pete reeled Bill S. back in he attacked hard and went right through, and away from me. I tried to get to Bill but never could.

[Plymouth Day 2 – Masters 35+]

Day two was somewhat lighter in terms of the racers that showed up. That said, we still had a core group of really strong competition with Kurt P., Curtis B., Jamie T., and Bill S. all taking the line. In addition to these guys who always beat me, Alec P. was also racing again and was full of rage after being taken out by a spectator while leading the 45+ race earlier that morning. Alec and I have done battle numerous times this season and had an excellent knock-down drag-out on the MTB this summer at the state championships where the pace was high enough to take the overall category by almost 10 minutes on the next guy in the field. The Sunday start was a longer road section to a 90 degree right over the curb into a playing field. Once again I was unable to get to where I really needed to be in terms of the pecking order though I was in the lead group. The problem was that I was behind a couple of guys who can start really strong but then tend to fade off. Unfortunately when they fade, gaps open that need closing. I managed to get by and into the lead group and dangled for a lap but the pace proved too high and I eventually lost contact with what had been the second group. The lead group of Kurt and Jamie were absolutely killing it and just rode away. Curtis and Bill were just out of reach for a couple laps until Jamie came back to them and then the attacks started and they pulled away from me. Left alone, in the quiet and lonely wind once again.

Friday, November 12, 2010


It occurs to me that I don't spend much time talking about my family. I grew up in Northeaster Vermont and moved away right after I finished college. Over the years I've returned back less and less to the point where now I only see my family at holidays. In part this is because of stubbornness. My folks don't get out much, at least not down to the big-city of Bedford, MA. In response, I don't tend to get up there all that often either. My folks were always 'quirky' which I think is a 'real Vermonter' thing and is in part, probably why I am the way that I am as well. ears and years of inbreeding. that is a joke of course, though we did have some cases with 'brousins' and 'bruncles' not far from where I grew up. This is very different than the perceptions of the 'I-Heart-Vermont' tourism campaign of years past. In truth, Real Vermonters not only don't milk goats, (I had Frank Bryan as a professor at UVM) they would also prefer you keep your flatlander ideas and attitudes back in the flatlands of MA, NY and CT.

One of the 'quirky' phrases that my parents always used, beyond the response to the question "what are you doing?" perpetually being "making fools ask questions, and it's working", they also delighted in stating "the road goes both ways" and "if they wanted to see us they would come visit". I guess that the apple didn't fall far from the tree.

Anyhow, my mom sent me a picture recently of my dad with both of my brothers and my niece on the porch of their camp. My parents built the camp a few years back. My dad has been retired ever since he stove himself up (crushed hip/pelvis) wiping out on the ice in his snow racers trying to unload a bunch of 'free pallets' he had gotten from work, with which he intended to add another wing onto the barn. These days he is building another truck, from scratch, based on a modified Ford Ranger frame and rear end, a GM V8 and a late 30's truck cab. My younger brother builds absolutely beautiful furniture, which we have the good fortune of owning some of. My other brother is the town barber. If you are ever in the area, possibly riding Kingdom Trails, the best XC MTB trail system in the country, you should stop by and get a cut. He was locally trained right here in lovely Malden. He also has the distinction of being the most foul mouthed person I have ever met. He has been known to weave "a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space". and he also has an affinity for "A Christmas Story".

Anyhow, the holidays are coming and I look very forward to seeing everyone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pro's versus Prose

prose - noun \ˈprōz\ Definition of PROSE 1 a : the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing b : a literary medium distinguished from poetry especially by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech 2 : a dull or ordinary style, quality, or condition (Taken from Merriam Webster)

I think that there may have been some people that confused my point in the previous post and thought that for some reason I was laying blame or pointing fingers at Professional cyclists. I would like to make it clear that I was not referring to Professional Cyclists with the multiple references to 'Pros' in my post on entitlement. In fact, I think that our domestic professionals are some of the most underrated, under-appreciated and hard working folks out there. We are lucky here in New England in that we have regular contact with numerous current and former Professional Cyclists. Guy's Like Ted King who gets back from the Giro and shows at at the Auburn Road Race or at Orchard Cross. Jesse who comes out for a local MTB race. J-Pow who puts on an awesome fundraiser ride. Adam who is not only racing and or promoting the races, but is at the local bike socials , doing the UCI thing, coaching tons of people or generally getting busy. We've got Frankie Mac who takes the time in the winter to break out on the skinny skis and beat up on us old Masters or Mark who runs 'fun and social' spring centuries from his house.

These folks show up at many of the same races that we do. We line up against them as equals regardless of whether we have the true 'credentials' to do so. They also happen to travel around the country, living out of a suitcase, staying on friends couches, eating three squares of Steel Cut Oats to be able to get to the races. It's not glamorous and they don't get paid all that well. I suspect the term starving artist is a good and appropriate analogy in many cases.

Nope, I don't have anything against these guys who are just trying to make a living doing something they love, I don't think that they are the root of all evil in the US cycling scene, nor do I idolize or wish to be them. I do, however, respect their ability and desire and respect, I'll argue, is one of the most difficult yet precious things one can hope to earn in this world. Cycling is my passion but I recognize that it is not my profession. I like it that way. I'm good with where I am as it gives me the right life balance.

So, why do they do it? Why do they kill themselves to train harder than the rest of us, sacrificing more than most, for far less pay than many of us? I assume that it is simple. Passion. A passion that we all, as cyclists, share. It is what drives us as racers to strive to improve and it is what unites us, if we let it. But there is a dark side as well ...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Demise of Cyclocross - Part II: Entitlement

It's no secret that we all want everything that we can get, be that out of life, from our jobs or from supporters and sponsors of our avocation, racing bicycles. However wanting something versus feeling entitled to it are two very different things. The latter is the topic of this installment on my ongoing exploration of the sport of amateur cycling in general and cyclocross racing in specific. In this issue we will look at the trend in bicycle racing by which many racers seem, at least to me, to have a skewed perception of not only their ability but of the value and demand their special racing skills garner in the open market. They feel that as racers they are entitled to sponsorship. I think that this is simply a societal carryover but for the sake of argument and scope of this story, we will focus on cycling.

Let me first say that I'm no different than anyone else who is really into cycling and is not extravagantly wealthy. I tend to spend a lot of money but try to get the most possible for that money. As a New England Yankee, I also scoff at the idea of paying full retail. This means that I shop around for bargains and hammer Jeff/Anthony, Chris, Brian, BigAl and Dave at the shops I deal with for the best deals that I can possibly get. Each shop has treated me well, giving me some excellent cost+ or even at wholesale deals in the past, for which I am grateful and try to represent them appropriately within the cycling scene. I'm fortunate that I have an eye for bargains, I do all of my own bike work and I work with folks that treat me very well. That said, between Cathy and I we still spend more money on cycling yearly than some folks right here in the US make in a year. Cycling is an expensive sport, especially if you have expensive tastes.

When it comes to racing bicycles, many people seem to feel that their weekend efforts on the race course are worthy and deserving of sponsorship. It wasn't long ago that people just wanted to be part of a club and hit the races as a team. It wasn't realistic to think that lucrative deals were available to down-right mediocre racers or racers participating in lower level categories or races. Lets be honest, what kind of real marketing value does a mid-pack B racer really command? Take into account that the sport of cycling is on the radar of roughly 2% of the American population, about a quarter the draw of bass-fishing or pumpkin-chunkin, and that the pockets can't and rightly shouldn't be very deep to start with. I think that if we were to look at the top professional cyclocross, domestic road and mountain-bike racers in the US, it would become evident that the big money is not there. I'm willing to bet that as a professional software engineer, I probably make more than about 99% of the domestic professional bike racers in this country. So, in getting back to out mid-pack Cat3 racer, why would they expect celebrity status?

The answer is simple, their self perception and self worth is skewed. In short, they think too highly of themselves, a modern concept that has become entirely commonplace. However, in reality, unless you can provide some tangible benefit to someone you can not expect anything 'in return'. Do 'the fans' go out and buy some product or support some business or cause because you're using, promoting or are affiliated with it? The key idea there is 'in return', meaning you are providing value. As a member of a cycling club, I have seen first hand the skewed self perceptions of club racers that are part of teams funded by the hard work of volunteers within the club. The expectation of the team members is that the hundreds of dollars in goods and reimbursements that they receive from the club is in return for their representation of the club by showing up to some small number of races in the team kit. In essence, their racing cult of personality is all they had to offer, given that these teams were not results based. Effectively, they are self-labeled 'Pros' which I assume increases status among other 'Pro' racers.

I'm not immune to this misconception that I think that I am better than I am. In reality we all walk this line, the premise of self-confidence. I too have tried to obtain 'stuff' based on my marketable bicycle racing ability in the past. I was even a member of a mountain bike team a couple of years ago and received a team kit and discounts in return for race 'appearances' and service back to the club in the form of clinics and club development. Do I feel that this was appropriate and fair? Yes, I honestly feel that what I gave back in terms of volunteering was appropriate for what I was given. That said, I have not been a part of any sponsorship since that point, though I do still perform the same volunteer capacities within the club which do entitle me to a pretty excellent race-reimbursement program which does translate to real money back in my pocket at the end of the season.

Who, other than 'Pros' really are 'Pro', in that their personality or actions may influence others? Yes, there really is a whole category of cycling related professionals that don't race bikes. These are the folks that own or work at bicycle shops or within the industry. They are the advocacy folks like NEMBA, IMBA, MassBike or BCOM. They are the people who promote and organize, perform countless volunteer efforts, lead rides and are generally respected within the cycling community. These are all people who are visible to other cyclists and have the ability in many cases to advise and in part, influence the purchasing decisions of others. Wouldn't it then be in the best interest of those with goods to sell to have those people with influence using their equipment with the intent that they would then be in part, a promoter of said equipment? Of course it is and that is why there are 'pro-deals'. Pro in this case refers to 'promotional' rather than 'professional', as in it's not what professional bicycle racers get. It's usually chalked up to marketing expense and equates to sub-wholesale costs to the 'promoter'. Speaking of 'pro-deals', if anyone is looking for an old fat and generally slow guy whose wife doesn't even listen to, to 'promote' their spiffy 29'er MTB for the upcoming race season, have your people talk to mine :)

Most of us have a profession, which pays legitimate money for our skills and services and for which we are thus considered a professional. Most of us are not professional bicycle racers. Why then do we insist on acting like and in cases expect to be treated like one?

What can one realistically expect as a non-professional, non-influential, middle-of-the-pack bicycle racer who doesn't expect to give anything remotely tangible back in return? Ask yourself what you would be willing to give to someone in your place to represent you at the races. If you come up with much of anything I think that you are either lying or that you should just go ahead and sponsor yourself. Bam, you're 'Pro'!

Shut up and Ride!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Racing for Fun

The plan for last weekend was to head to Maine, take it easy and do some low stress racing, just for the fun of. What better way to boost the suffering morale and motivation than by racing? The Porky Gulch Classic was the target, a three stage race consisting of a Saturday morning two mile Prologue time-trial up the first part of the Mount Washington auto-route. The second stage, Saturday afternoon, was a criterium within StoryLand in Jackson, NH. The final stage was a cyclocross race at Great Glen on Sunday.

All in all it was a good weekend with dry but cool in the low 40's on Saturday and down right cold with temps in the high 20's early on Sunday. No snow but some flurried and temps barely breaking freezing on Sunday. We were joined at our place in Maine for the weekend by our friends and teammates Scott and ML. Saturday after racing we hit the Wildcat Inn and Tavern for some food and drinks along with another teammate David and then we all hung out Saturday night came. That was clearly the highlight of the weekend.

As for the racing, the time-trial is brutal. It was also cold and windy so warm-up was almost non-existent. My plan was to start easy and warm into it. I started easy but the grade proved to be too much to ever feel comfortable seated after the first half mile or so, even with "nice and low" cyclocross gearing. Cathy started 30 seconds ahead of me and I gave what encouragement I could mumble as I passed her. ML was taking pictures at mile 1 so I nodded to her. I finished with a time in the 16's judging from my glimpse at the HRM lap after I crossed the finish. I'd caught three people and a fourth had sprinted me back for the finish, good for him. The winner, who started last, had passed me before the half way point. Wow, I suck. We had packed bags with spare clothing as you ride back down the mountain for this event, and the organizers had shuttled them to the finish. After we all finished we bundled up and proceeded down. Scott and I decided it would be a good cool-down to ride to Storyland in Jackson from Great Glen as it is "all downhill". Short story, it isn't. Still a good ride.

After grabbing some food and drink back in Jackson, we went back to Storyland to catch some of David's race. He was doing awesome and really racing well but rolled a tire on a sharp corner and the bead let go on his clincher, spilling the tube out into the open with a loud explosion. Fortunately this was on the final lap so he walked it in for the finish. Tough luck. I also took a look at the results from the time-trial and noted that they listed me finishing with a time that was quite a bit off what I had been thinking I saw as I crossed the finish, just about a minute in fact, which had me back in 5th spot. That's depressing but I had no way to double-check until I downloaded the data from my HRM.

Scott, Cathy and I all raced together a little over an hour later. The race started with Scott sprinting for the hole-shot only to drop his chain from his recently discovered wholly worn-out big-ring, almost wrecking. He recovered and charged to the front in an adrenaline fueled attack. We basically took turns attacking for the first 4 laps or so and even though the core group was still intact, we were making progress. I'd gone to the front and hit as hard as I could and was coming around the really tight hairpin when I started pedaling a little too soon and caught the pedal. This hopped the back-end around a good 90 degrees and had me looking at oncoming traffic. I righted the bike and started to pedal, after apologizing for my stupidity, only to have the tube bulge out from the displaced tire bead and explode violently. It then tangled itself in the cassette, derailleur and brake, in order to emphasize the point. I got to the side, waved goodbye to everyone and started untangling the mess, pulling the tube out and re-seating the tire so I could run and push the bike out. There is nothing fun about running 2/3 of a lap on an ultra tight, twisty basically paved cross course, but I did. In the meantime I was lapped by everyone. Because this was low-key, I didn't have spare wheels which meant I changed the flat, back at the van, which was in the far end of the lot, of course. During this time I was lapped again but got out shortly after they passed. I made up a couple spots so was only lapped once by Cathy and one other guy. Not the result I was looking for but I did finish and fared better than the poor fellow that stacked and broke a hip. Scott did awesome and narrowly missed the win, finishing in second place. We changed and packed and headed for Moat's for some food and beers. We got to Moat's only to find them closed for a private function. WTF! Back to Jackson and the Wildcat Inn, which was fine.

Saturday night I downloaded my data and sure enough, they had me listed as 1 minute slower than I should have been. Scott verified that his time was roughly correct based on his data though. No big deal as I'd thought the guys ahead of me were way ahead and the minute would not have changed my overall placing, especially after the crappy result in the crit. However, Sunday morning when after we signed in I looked at the results again and noticed that the minute would have put me in 3rd for the time-trial, not 5th. Crap, maybe I should say something as I'm sure it will be an obvious math mistake, based on the typical issues found with our weekly time-trial series reporting.

In honesty, my motivation was low. The cyclocross course was a little on the bland side but from the pre-ride on the SS bike I felt that I could spin/coast enough for the downhill road sections and the uphill grunts were tough but I could manage them. ML was out on course early on her way to domination of the women's beginner field. I never heard anything on the results timeing check so had nothing to loose and opted for the novelty of my Cannondale CAAD9 Single Speed (SS) bike vs. the geared Ridley X-Fire race bike. The Cannondale runs a BB30 bottom-bracket and I found a small group of guys out West that are making a really nice eccentric bottom-bracket (EBB) for the BB30's. This allows you to tension the chain at the BB using normal dropouts, and wheels. The Cannondale is a really nice rig and this also fixed a minor issue I had with the geometry, namely the BB height was lower than my Ridley X-Fire.

As the race started we quickly formed groups with three of us in a pack at the front. I felt comfortable and could struggle to hang on the fast road sections. On the second lap I was sitting 2nd and the leader scrubbed speed into an ultra steep up, which hosed me for riding and forced me to dismount and run, awkwardly. A gap formed which I killed myself to close on the fast down sloped road section. This proved my demise and 3rd place passed me and powered away as I spun 140rpm to try and catch. The gap to 2nd eventually went out too far when I pulled out of my pedal on that same uphill grunt and had to dismount, awkwardly, catching my bars in the course rope. From there I rode the final laps solo, for 3rd. Scott won the sprint for 4th and Cathy did excellent as well, turning in the best female time of the day and the weekend.

So, all in all a full weekend but not exactly the motivational outcome I was hoping for. Initial thought is that maybe in times like these where one is looking to recharge, a weekend of fun rides rather than races may be the hot setup. I awoke Monday morning to a runny nose and the onset of a short lived, mild cold; it's cold and flu season after-all. Between the rain showers during the day, and in the dark and rain this evening, I worked on the leaves in the yard. I'm on the verge of claiming victory on that front, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

SIDE NOTE: Apparently there is no hiding from Colin and his crossresults.com results crawler, even at an unsanctioned fun event. This race showed up and of course and counted negatively against my average. Wonder when Wednesday night cross practice is going to start showing up? Do we need to start racing under assumed names? If so I think I shall be called Buck Naked :)

Friday, November 05, 2010


We bought our house in Maine almost 9 years ago now. We've gone through cycles with it, from going there virtually every weekend of the year to recently, in the past couple of years, barely going there at all. We've contemplated selling it as it's a fairly hefty drive to get there, in fact as I was sitting in standstill RT128 traffic on the way up today the thought was fresh on my mind.

For the past few years we have done exactly zero alpine skiing, though we have done more and more nordic skate skiing. Our DH MTB have long since vacated the basement as have out dirtbikes. We do still have a pair of snowmachines, which have gotten very little use the past couple of years. There are of course the big rides that we do from here, usually once or twice a year, that tend to be a real highlight of the season. This spring in fact we did a great weekend with a number of folks and got a stellar Friday notch century in that unfortunately ended with a near season ending crash for one person. Another key ingredient to the lack of use has been racing. In all honesty, the bicycle racing has become all consuming for the past few years. There simply hasn't been much of any room for anything else. To top all of this off I absolutely hate driving and voila, a recipe for an unused residence.

This fall we have both been feeling a little burnt out on the scene, so we have been retreating to Maine more than in the recent past. This is good. Maine is therapeutic.

On tap for this weekend is some really low key racing, assuming the weather holds for tomorrow and we don't get any rain. The race tomorrow is a two part, with a TT up the first couple miles of the Mt. Washington auto route and then an afternoon crit in StoryLand. The final stage is Sunday and is a full cyclocross race at Great Glen. The race is called the Porky Gulch Classic and we have done in two times in the past. Needless to say it is a lot of fun. This is going to be a great weekend.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Scarred for Life

Why is it that a short bout on the rollers is all that it takes to have a virtual overload of ideas for posts. Maybe it is because I have been lacking this particular out for 'creativity' or maybe it is simply because it is new and we are still in the courting stage. Regardless of the reason, while spinning away just now watching a Science Channel show on galaxies I had a virtual flood of topics. Look for random postings on some of these in the near future. I must warn though that there will be little or no cycling related content in these, which actually was my intent in starting this space. Race reports get really stale really quickly. Even though cycling and racing bicycles is a major component of our collective beings, in reality most of us are about so much more than that.

As such, lets start with one of those things right here and now, my own personal fascination with all things Bigfoot (Sasquatch). Now I don't profess to be a legitimate Cryptozoologist or other professional that studies things that don't exist, but I know a thing or two on the topic thanks to Leonard Nimoy and his riveting documentary, 'In Search of: Bigfoot'. To this day I am still intrigued by the cult that is Sasquatch. One of my favorite guilty pleasure sites (no, not that kind of internet based guilty pleasure) is the BFRO. They have detailed accounts of siting reports. One report in particular is a great tale that has particular meaning as it is in an area not far from our place in Maine, very near where we often snowmobile. Maybe it's because I grew up in the 70's and early 80's, a time that was full of references to the mythical man-beast that some speculate could indeed be a descendant of the long though extinct, Gigantopithicus or 'Giant Ape'.

This time period saw a virtual Bigfoot mania and I was bombarded by the creature as a child through direct media references on all three television stations that we got at the time, while I was growing up in rural Northeastern Vermont. By the way, the image on that Wiki page is taken only a few miles from my folks. Sure, having grown up in the backwoods, away from any real civilization or other people for that matter and basically having no friends to play with certainly may have aided in my somewhat wild imagination.

There is, however, no disputing that prime-time television saw a guest appearance by Bigfoot (yes, I realize it wasn't the real Bigfoot but simply an actor dressed as Bigfoot) in one of the best television series ever produced, the Six Million Dollar Man. Astronaut Steve Austin battled with the misunderstood alien-monster-bionic Bigfoot who happened to be portrayed none other than Andre the Giant, in one of the most remarkable and realistic fight scenes even captured on live action film in 'The Secret of Bigfoot'. Of note was a cameo by the franchises other bionic hero, the lovely Jamie Sommers , the Bionic Woman, who by the way is a 35. Later there was a rematch in the aptly titled, 'Return of Bigfoot'.

Bigfoot was also on the big screen, which meant he would soon show up on the little screen as well. I'm not talking that modern Harry and the Hendersons crap, I'm talking real, scare the living sh!t out of kids just from the commercials for the week's ABC Saturday Night Movie level stuff. Movies like the Legend of Boggy Creek and other timeless classics made for many a sleepless night for kids that saw a little too much for their own good.

The mainstream references didn't stop there. Prime time is one thing as parents could realistically sensor the viewing of young children in those cases. However, during Saturday morning cartoon time when all eyes were tuned to Looney Tunes or creapy 70's Psychedelic shows from Sid and Marty Kroft like Sigmund and the Sea Monster and Land of the Lost ... wait a minute. No F-ing wonder I had nightmares until I was 20 years old. That crap is still traumatic to watch even as an adult. Between the Sleestacks and the Sea Monsters it's amazing I got any sleep as a child.What the hell were they thinking putting that stuff on TV for little kids to watch. Geeze!

So, back to my point. Saturday mornings were basically designed to terrify and traumatize the children of a pre-ADHD and pre-Ritalin society into submission. As such and in holding with that theme, we also had a Saturday morning series that put a new twist on Bigfoot and made him the leading man and a benevolent soul. This series (technically I think there may have been only one episode) was the all too short lived Bigfoot and Wildboy. Basically in that period you couldn't have a successful series without a guest appearance by the big furry guy.

Today we have the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and the Science Channel and of course, the Internets, all of which delight in presenting and subsequently scientifically debunking new evidence as to the existence of some creature that is as of yet still unknown. The shows are all the same as are the eyewitnesses and and their new found proof. It never seems to stand up, but that isn't really the point. Let's face it, it's sheer entertainment and Bigfoot, and of course sex sells.

The Demise of Cyclocross - Part I: Rankings

I've been thinking and talking a lot recently about the state of cyclocross racing in New England. The sport has been in an intense pattern of growth for the past half a dozen years, not only in the Northeast but across the country if not across the world. Recently though, there have been developments that I feel are starting to change the face of the sport. For years it has been a rabid love affair where you couldn't do anything wrong. This has started to change. There are now rumblings and complaints of events, of racer demographics, of scheduling, of officiating and of rankings. My plan is to do a series of posts on the topic, each exploring one subject or facet of the phenomenon, at least as I view it, and we all know just how objective I am.

New England has long been a hot-bed for cyclocross as well as for cycling and bicycle racing in general. We have seen the advent of numerous cyclocross related web sites, the explosion of available cyclocross equipment, we have ever seen the addition of a cyclocross specific magazine. Racer numbers have continued to swell in the Northeast with "small local races" seeing racer participation numbers approaching 500 for a single day event. The bikes have gone from being a mix of custom steel framesets made by small artisan craftsmen and rigs cobbled together from parts to ultralight carbon-fiber framesets with carbon-fiber tubular wheelsets and ultra-spiffy parts picks that would represent a down-payment on a home. This is just in the Cat4 (beginner) races.

Fast forward a couple of years and a local cross/MTB racer and computer nerd puts together a web site that tracked cyclocross racer results and statistics. At first this site was a novelty. People joked about their ranking and the victims and nemesis' but it was mainly all in fun. Starting last season though, additional emphasis started to be placed on the rankings when some of the local races began using racers crossresults ranking in order to seed the starting order for the race categories. Obviously in a large field of racers, people need to line up in rows. Being closer to the front is clearly advantageous. In the past, small races used random ways of determining where one lined up, like order of registration, from which the term "race to the race" was coined. There was also the staple method of simply not using a staging order and having it left to the racers to sort it out. This had a similar effect to Black Friday at Walmart. Don't get me wrong here, I am not trying to slam crossresults at all. I'm simply presenting what I perceive to be the current course of the sport based on my observations.

So, now people are starting to pay attention to their ranking, they are doing things to preserve their ranking and are making decisions based on their ranking. Race this race but not that race, not necessarily based on the quality of the race but by who is going to show up or how well one perceives they can do. Heck, with the crossresults Race Predictor, all of the guesswork is taken out and you basically know where you will finish, statistically speaking.

Another side effect is that people are less likely to do a second race or a fun race (such as an open single-speed race) that will likely have a lower points ranking as they risk a poor performance counting negatively against their ranking. Sure, we can argue that many of these issues and practices are long standing but the fact of the matter is that it is now in your face. What is my point in all of this? I'm not sure :)

Below is a message that I sent to the necyclocross email list in response to responses to my original posting regarding scoring of DNF's (acronym for 'Did Not Finish' the race) on crossresults.com. Basically the responses to my post dealt with irregularities in what is reported to USA Cycling Officials in terms of competitor start lists as well as others feeling regarding being penalized for participation.

I agree on the start list format and the DNF reporting inconsistency, which was the point of the message; to try and promote standardization. It only works if everyone does the same thing, in terms of reporting. I would think that USAC 'should' require that the start list be accurate so that they can account for everyone on the course, which I would assume is of primary concern ie. you don't want to leave dead racers off the side of the trail in the woods. Pre-reg clearly doesn't mean much but racer sign in would be a better approximation in terms of who is actually on site. Am I missing something? Isn't a DNF binary? You either finish the race, or you don't, right? Crossing or not crossing the finish line is the test. Sure, there are many extenuating circumstances but unfortunately the end result is the same, you didn't finish the race.

As we start to affix more meaning, such as seeding/start order, to the points average that a racer has accumulated, it becomes more and more important to get an accurate count of the true picture. Accounting for DNF's need to be part of that picture, otherwise you start to risk the integrity of the numbers. For instance, you could argue that in order to preserve your ranking and if a DNF didn't count, strategically you should always DNF any race where you are going to finish with points lower than your current average. Or how about two racers, each starting 10 races, racer 1 beats racer 2 in the first race then DNF's the subsequent 9 races because he is behind racer 2 while racer 2 scores at or below their starting average so as not to improve their average ranking. Is it then fair or accurate to start racer 1 ahead of racer 2? Is it just me or does that seem wrong? Maybe I'm a bad judge though as for better or worse, I haven't DNF'd a cross race.

In terms of not being penalized for participation, I don't think that is realistic. Whenever you are scored or graded in competition or in life and you perform below your current average, you are effectively penalized for your participation. If you were that worried about negatively impacting your average, shouldn't you just stay home or do better?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Canton Cup Cross Race Report

I've never been a big fan of Canton. It always seems to draw a smaller crowd of 35+ racers yet always has many of the fastest guys in the region in attendance. What that makes for is a race that is top heavy but not overly deep in terms of numbers, making a top ten performance difficult yet to a degree, lackluster given the field totals. Couple that with what in the past has been a pure, wide open power course and I'd find it hard to get excited. This year, however, there were some changes in the course. There were many new corners and switchbacks and some new sections of miserably bumpy field were brought into play. The high speed, 12" high single log was in as were the two sets of 40cm high barriers and the set of shorty barriers. Add to that the wind that always seems present and the lap times that were nearly 10 minutes and the picture seemed quite different, making for a much more interesting course. The NEBC team turnout for the race was once again huge as well and I've cross posted my report as part of the team report on the web site.

Once again I managed to do nothing with a front row start and found myself helplessly lost in the bunch of people who can start sprint better than I. I could see that my teammate Scotty was killing it and went off the pavement in the top 5 easily. For me though, trying to relax but frantically chopping away to move while the leaders were steadily charging away from me made for an interesting first couple of laps that threw me well into the red. By the second lap I came unglued and my buddy Matt, who had been with me for a while, took over. As always, I struggled to follow the wheel, falling off and coming back. The perceived exertion seemed too high but I fought through it for a change and stayed on. A half lap later I'd recovered enough to move back to the front and work forward toward the group of 4 that were up ahead. Unfortunately Matt had an issue and fell off as I pushed up to the group ahead.

Mad Alchemist Pete, who had easily been doing 95% of the work in the group before hand, was the last on the train. I moved ahead and joined Mark coming into the barriers and up the hill. This was the point where we should have been coming through for the bell lap; one to go. The officials had a different idea and gave us two to go instead. That changes things a bit.

Through the field, Ryan was riding off the front after taking over from John. Into the log I noticed that John and Mark were dismounting so I drilled it hard for the hop. Throughout the race I was high-speed hopping the log and it proved to be a huge time saver, gaining many bike lengths, as long as you cleared it. Unknown to me until after the race, another nemesis of mine, Peter, who was sitting just a bit behind our group, didn't make it. Fortunately he is OK. Seeing a gap I went as hard as I could off the front of the group, trying desperately to reach Ryan. John turned himself inside out to claw back up but Mark and Pete were gapped. The rest of the lap was a steady chase for Ryan but his gap stayed constant. The final lap I tried to attack out of every corner to gap John but he had none of that, nor was I able to cut back into Ryan's lead. Pete was making a desperate attempt to bridge back so I knew the pressure had to remain on or he would catch be right back with us. I lead through the final barriers and on the pavement but John as expected went ahead up the hill. I tried to sprint but the cards were dealt and I was tapped.

All in all, a good race and a result that I am satisfied with given that I feel I raced and executed fairly well. I was able to fight through the race-time motivational issues that have plagued me much of the season. Hopefully the funk is over.

2010 bikereg.com Canton Cup Cyclocross Race Results