Archive for the cyclocross Category

10/19/08…”Wissahickon”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on October 20, 2008 by jimvreeland

Wissahickon CX (photo by Jeff Johnson)

Wissahickon and I have somewhat of an unpleasant history together. Last year was my first year racing ‘cross. My first race ever was Westwood Velo CX, which I won very easily the week earlier in the C-Men class. So for my second race ever, Wissahickon, I’d bump into the B-Men for a bit more of a challenge. It really wasn’t challenge at all, more like a slaughter or a harsh rude-awakening! I never worked so hard in my entire life, just to keep from getting lapped! I was now in with the big boys, the “Killah-Bees”. So in 2007 I was the last guy to finish on the lead lap. Barely. The sprint for the finish opened up just as I went into my bell lap. I should’ve just sat up!

This year I knew I could do better. This year I at least wanted to finish in the top half of the lead lap. Seemed like a valid goal. I nearly missed the start chatting it up with Chuck-E-Cheese and he says “Hey, isn’t that your race getting ready to start?” I ran down and tried squeezing my way further up in the grid, but that only gets you so far. I went hard on the outside off the gun and picked up a ton of spots, maybe into like 70th or so. I tried working through whenever I could, but anyone who’s raced ‘cross knows how hard it is to move anywhere on the first lap. The next few laps I passed guys primarily in the sand pit and by riding the off-camber gate thing on the downhill. After a bit I was on my own with a gap on both sides of me, neither seemed to be coming down, so I just stayed where I was. Ended up 38th. Nowhere near the front of the race, but better than yesterday and a huge improvement from last year, I was happy! Maybe next year I’ll shoot for top 20 and see what happens!

A fine end to a great weekend of ‘cross!!

-Jim.

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10/18/08…”Granogue”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on October 20, 2008 by jimvreeland

Granogue. (photo by Anthony Skorochod)

Saturday morning Roger Foco and I packed up the cross bikes and headed down to Delaware for stop #1 on our MAC Super-Weekend getaway!! As soon as we arrived and stepped out into the brisk fall air, I knew we were in for a special treat. The vibe was super-chill, as only exists at cross races. Even national champion Tim Johnson and super-stars like Ryan Trebon, Jeremy Powers, Jeremiah Bishop, and Barry Wicks were parked and hanging out amongst us mere mortals. We even got to kid around with Tim a little before our race and gawk at his super-pimpin’ signature model Cannondale.

I learned many things at Granogue. Things that are very different in a UCI race than some local NJ race. A) The field is MUCH larger. Like 100 people larger. It makes passing people very hard. Especially if you’re a nice guy like me. B) Roadies can’t turn on dirt and it’s annoying. They all bunch up and block every line possible so you can’t get by, and squeeze their brakes in the straights. Pussies. Then, in the wide-open sections where passing IS possible, they decide to go fast so you can’t get by. Lesson? Get a good start and ride more aggressive. Now I know.

So I started somewhere in the middle of the pack, raced for 45 minutes battling for my life, and finished in the middle of the pack. Interesting no? But that’s a lot of the allure to cross. The pain. The torture. The cool socks!!

After our race, we ate Moe’s vegan burritos, listened to the live funk band and watched the Elite guys and gals. I think I have a crush on Maureen Bruno-Roy, sorry Matt. I walked around most of the course to see how blisteringly fast you COULD go through the different sections. I felt like a girl. Not like a racer girl, more like a girl riding a hybrid on the towpath with her kids. Ryan Trebon went up the hill to the watchtower so fast the ground shook and rocks spit from his tires. It was ridiculous and awe-inspiring at the same time.

After the Elite race we split for our hotel and stopped at a restaurant called Issac’s where we comsumed much post-race goodness. They had a good salad, a pimpin’ vegetarian Black-Bean burger on pretzel bread, and for desert? 3 words. Cheesecake. Brownies. Caramel. Heaven!! OK that’s 4, but it was GOOD!! A dunk in the hot-tub to loosen up the legs and lights out. Tomorrow is day #2 down the street at Wissahickon!!

-Jim.

PS-The new Seven rides like a DREAM!! But that’s another post…

10/5/08…”Hillbilly Hustle V.3″

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on October 6, 2008 by jimvreeland

Sunday, sunday, sunday!! Cyclocross exxxxtravaganza!! Round #2 of NJCX Cup, the Hillbilly Hustle V.3 down in Elmer, NJ. That’s like “south” jersey. I try not to go down there too often because it’s a little “different” if you know what I mean. A little like being in West Virginia if you know what I mean. Either way, you get the point!! The guys at Breakaway Bikes and the Quaker City Wheelmen threw a hootin’ good event together. The course went through a defunct nursery and had tons of little woody, rooty, pine-needley singletrack sections mixed with wide-open super-fast grass doubletrack. Overall it was a good mix for a fun day on the ‘cross bike. Adding to the fun were the amount of people I knew there including my wife and 2 boys; Fred and Chuck from MTBNJ; Jay and Chris from Halters; Larry and his family; Don, Blake, and Patrick from the Hermutgers squad; Ralf from Westwood Velo; and so many more that I’d love to remember right now.

Horns baby!! (Photo by CyclingCaptured)

My race was fun. Not ideal, but fun. I started by getting pinched on the start and went into the tape way in the back. I knew I had to be super-aggressive to have any chance of seeing the front of the race, so I took a lot of big risks to get into position. I passed a few guys in the first twisty pine section by bunny-hopping a log laying across an inside line, in the next wide-open grass section I gained some more ground going down the inside line and late-braking a corner, through the raised rooty singletrack section I went on the side of everyone again where there was no trail and just hung on for dear life. It all worked out, I went into the 2nd lap in about 8th or so, and I could see the lead pack a section ahead. I put my head down and pushed, I look up, they’re still the same distance, I wasn’t gaining ground. Lap after lap I tried to close the gap down. I was in no man’s land, when just like yesterday, with 2-to-go, something happened. Not tape this time. Nope. This time I rolled my tire. It went down to like 15psi or something like that, turning was nearly impossible. But the pit was far away from where I was, so I just tried to not let anyone pass me. I rolled into the pit to grab my spare wheel and futzed around with my skewer, seems I forgot to preset them, dangit. I went down to like 12th or so. With the new wheel finally in I pushed hard on the bell lap, once again taking big risks to pass people. But the field was so spread out I only gained 2 spots back to finish just in the top 10. Not what I had in mind, but it’s still early in the season so I can’t complain.

After my pit (Photo by CyclingCaptured)

Overall it was a super fun day. Probably one of the funnest this year. I love it when my family can come out and watch me race and you just can’t beat the vibe at a ‘cross race!! Next week, Gloucester!!

-Jim.

10/4/08…”Westwood Velo Cross”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on October 6, 2008 by jimvreeland

CROSS IS HERE!! WOOHOO!!

Saturday was the start of my cyclocross season, I’m so glad it’s finally here!! I’ve struggled most of my mountain bike season with mechanicals and albeit I had a few good results, had lots of fun, and met loads of cool people, I’m not upset it’s over.

The Westwood race was up in Mahwah, NJ and was stop #1 in the NJCX Cup. The boys of Westwood Velo threw together an awesome course that suited my style very well. It was chock full of tight turns, short power-climbs, lots of bumps, a fairly long wooden stair run-up, and ended with a gradual paved climb. My race itself was pretty straightforward until the end. I got a pretty good start, and moved into 3rd wheel by the end of the first lap. That’s where I sat until 2-to-go. 2nd place had a flat. Me and Cam, who was in 4th, picked it up to get in front of him. Who was him? Him was some nutty NYC Messenger dude riding a fixie CX bike. Crazy. Either way, I was now in 2nd. Not too far after, I rode though some left over course tape carnage from somebody’s mishap. Carnage that ended up wrapped around my foot and crank. I went over the fast barrier section trying not to trip. Spent a few pedal strokes after picking it off. Cam passed me, now I was in 3rd again, bell lap time. I looked for a spot to get around Cam but we’re both pretty equally matched power-wise so he wasn’t having it. I late-brake him into the stair run-up and take back 2nd on the stairs. He was just alongside me when we got onto the paved road at the end and he opened up the sprint. I went as hard as I possibly could to the line but he got me by 1/2 a wheel. I ended up 3rd afterall. Damn I LOVE cross!!

Tomorrow, Hillbilly Hustle, see you out there!!

-Jim.