12/7/08…”P’Burg Riverfront Cross”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on December 7, 2008 by jimvreeland
(Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

(Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

P’Burg!! Firts let me say that this is one of my favorite courses of the season and I was very much looking forward to this event. Previous to this, I was sitting in 2nd overall for the NJBA CX Cup behind Gary LaSala. The gap to him was a scant 26 points, a win here would get me the cup with 4 points to spare. Needless to say, I felt some pressure. Fast forward to the race. The course was perfect and very fast. Some of the corners and roots were a little slick, which gave me the edge. I started on the front row and sat a few wheels back for the first couple corners. Coming onto the pavement section I made my move to go to the front. I then overcooked the turn coming off the pavement and went into the tape and bottomed out my tires on some roots. I jump back on course and only lost a few spots so I drop the hammer to get back on, my rear end felt a little loose, and then I realized I was riding on my rim. CRAP!! We were maybe 1/4 of a lap into it. I ran a pretty long way to get into the pit and went straight off the back of the pack by the time I got there. I stole my WWCX teammates wheel off his pit bike and got my bike rolling again. At this point I was about 1/2 lap off the back of the field. I seriously wanted to throw my bike but I knew I needed to get any points I could get for the overall cup. I rode on. I pushed as hard as I possibly could, standing and sprinting for a good portion of each lap. It took me the better part of 2 laps to make contact with the last place guy in the field. Once I got there I just kept looking ahead to the next guy and keeping full gas until I caught them. I felt like I was going to throw up the entire time, I’ve never pushed that hard in all my life. So even though I was making up time and picking up places, it’s the first time I wished the race was longer!! I only made it up to 14th place by the end. I was pretty sure I gave up a podium spot in the overall. Some quick math after the results and it seems like I’ll still manage to keep 2nd overall, we’ll see when the official results come out. So even though I didn’t place well and had a mechanical, I still really enjoyed this course. I was teetering on the edge both fitness and traction-wise the entire time, and there was a great support crew that were keeping me motivated to pick off anyone and everyone I could!!

Steep run-up!! (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

Steep run-up!! (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

Now it’s time for the off-season, and just in time!! See you out there on the trails…

-Jim.

11/30/08…”Staten CX”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on November 30, 2008 by jimvreeland

Digging deep to take the holeshot. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

So, today is my 34th birthday. Dang, I’m getting old! What better way to celebrate than taking a trip onto the island for some good wholesome fun? The weather was textbook ‘cross. Some would even say it was Belgiumesque. Rain, freezing temps, wind, and mud, perfect! And dude, they had waffles!! Being this race is not part of the NJCX Cup and in celebration of my becoming old, I decided to have some fun in the Masters field, see what the old guys are up to these days, see what I have to look forward to!

Still digging. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

Still digging. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

After a few pre-laps of the course I realized how much fun I was going to be in for. It seemed to have a bit of everything from typical east coast grass, some cool off-camber roots, a quasi-rideable run-up, a strange cloverleaf-type-thing, and a beach run on the Long Island Sound. Add to that the pouring rain and slick conditions and you get a handful of a hootin’ good time!

The beach run. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

The beach run. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

My race was pretty fun. I started in the back of the pack and took the outside line to take the holeshot. Needless to say, the Masters start isn’t nearly as hard as a CAT 2/3 start so taking the holeshot wasn’t as hard as I thought. I spent the first 2 laps or so building up a pretty good lead with 2 other guys. There was quite a distance back to the field and it quickly became a 3-legged race. I bobbled after the beach run and went slightly off course, it was enough to lose my lead to Ed Burgess and allow Ted Haack to get right onto my wheel. We sat pretty much like that for the entire race, I would gap Ted on the road only to lose it shortly after on the beach run, damn short legs! Once I realized Ed wasn’t in my class, thanks to Christina screaming it every time I went by her, I stopped chasing and concentrated on not losing ground to Ted. Luckily for me, and unluckily for Ted, he had some drivetrain issues and I was able to build a small gap on him to take the 35+ win. It was a super fun race!!

The finish, no energy left to celebrate!! (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

The finish, no energy left to celebrate!! (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

So, Happy Birthday to me!! At least I can seem fast against the old guys, but I miss the furiousness of the Killah-Bee field!! Next week I’ll be back to my normal class and getting my ass handed to me, now it’s time to go eat some cake!!

Super-cool handmade trophies. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

Super-cool handmade trophies. (Photo by Anthony Skorochod)

Next week is the NJCX Cup finals at Phillipsburg, I have a shot at getting on the podium for the Cup if I place well. Bring on the apocolypse!!

-Jim.

11/29/08…”NJ State CX Championships”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on November 29, 2008 by jimvreeland

The NJ State CX Championships were held in the same spot and on the same course as last week’s race. Good deal. I know the ninja lines. It was also the first time I’ve gotten a call-up, woohoo. I didn’t warm-up that well so I had no pop off the line. I went into the course mid-pack, looks like I had work to do. A group of 5 guys or so got a gap on us, while myself and High Gear customer, Mark Pondorf switched places what seemed like a dozen times. There were spots where I was a few bike lengths behind WWCX teammate Chris Worden but I couldn’t get across to him. Then Mark would overtake me and I’d burn a match to get back in front of him. Afterwards we realized we should’ve worked together and bridged to the main group. Hindsight. I ended up 8th overall and 6th in the state. Wordo claimed a spot on the podium. Also Chris Esnes won the 3/4 race, WWCX reprezent!! Only 1 more race in the cup, it’s time for a smack-down!

-Jim.

11/23/08…”Sussex #1″

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on November 23, 2008 by jimvreeland

Sussex #1 was a gorgeus traditional cyclocross course. The sun was shining, the ground was fast, finally a race! I took pretty much the whole week off again to rest my calf so I was pretty fresh. My legs felt good during warmup so I figured I could do well today. I went hard right from the gun and was rewarded with the holeshot! A few dudes took a slightly better line on the 1st off-camber climb so I dropped back some spots. Ok. Whatevah. I put in a few big efforts on the road leading into the barns to get into 2nd wheel behind Cam. He was going strong and then crashed on a greasy turn and gave up the lead to me. I tried to open up as much of a gap as I could and led for 2 and-a-bit laps. Cam reeled me back in. A bobble in the sand pit let 3rd place go by. He used it and opened up a gap on me. I tried as hard as I could to close but there wasn’t enough course left and I sat in for 3rd place. At least it’s on the podium! Woohoo! Besides my bronze medal, I came home with a new 30 minute power record. I know it’s geeky, but it’s nice to have the data validate your effort. Or at least I tell myself!

Next week, NJ State Championships!! Rematch!!

-Jim.

11/14/08…”USGP Mercer Cup, Day#2″

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on November 14, 2008 by jimvreeland

The mud was over my feet in most sections.

The mud was over my feet in most sections.

Holy MUD!! I’m not sure if the USGP counted as a bike race. I mean, I rode my bike from the start, up the road, and then into the course. I ran the rest I think, actually looked forward to the sandpit because it was rideable, and the I ran again. I had my bike WITH me, so maybe it was a bike race? I considered it to be my first duathalon! This race was down-right comical. You had to just smile and run around for 45 minutes, which was a whopping 3 laps, even for the Pros! I can write nothing else about this event, just look at the pictures. It took almost a week to rebuild my bike afterwards!

Look, I was on my bike!!

Look, I was on my bike!!

Uh, mud?

Uh, mud?

So I came in 31st of 67 finishers, over 1/3 of the field dropped out. As bad as it was, I never even considered quitting. Maybe next week we’ll race ON our bikes?

-Jim.

11/9/08…”HPCX”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on November 9, 2008 by jimvreeland

HPCX ’06 was my first ever exposure to the world of cyclocross. I didn’t race then, I worked the pit as neutral support. Watching these weirdos in their skinsuits racing road bikes through the mud seemed a bit strange, but somehow exciting at the same time. I knew the next year I would have to try this sport out, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I’ve yet to actually come prepared for this race, last year I was still trying to get the hang of ‘cross and this year I can barely walk. I’m getting a little too much time in the middle of the pack for my taste, but ‘cross is fun enough for results not to matter too much.

Blake and I.

Blake and I.

So even though I wasn’t nearly healed to race, this was one of the funnest races I’ve ever done! Blake and I seemed to battle for the entire race, it was like we were the only ones there. I held him off for most of the race and then he finally passed me through the barriers. I thought he had me for good until his bike exploded, ha ha! I really enjoy this course a lot. I want to win here at some point. Not this year though. Again, mid-pack, 35th place. Sheesh. Time to stay off the bike to let my calf heal a bit. USGP next week!

-Jim.

11/8/08…”Beacon Cross”

Posted in cyclocross, race reports on November 8, 2008 by jimvreeland

The Beach of Despair (photo by MLK Images)

The "Beach of Despair" (photo by MLK Images)

Beacon Cross. Hell yes son! This course was the bomb-diggity. With infamous onbstacles such as the “Ampitheatre of Pain” and “Beach of Despair” I knew I was going to be in for a real treat. That treat was elevated to yet another level once the rain started to come down, this is what ‘cross is all about!

Let’s take a breif intermission to talk about an incedent that nearly ended my season. During our cyclocross workout the week after Wissahickon, I popped my Soleus in my left leg. Have you ever done that? It doesn’t feel very good, in fact, it stopped me dead! My WWCX team-mate Chris Esnes said it sounded like I missed my cleat while clipping in my pedal. Nope. That’s just how loud the “pop” in my leg was. Ouch! For days there was an indent in my leg from where the muscle was supposed to sit. I wasn’t planning on racing anymore this season. But ‘cross is about suffering. And who am I to take that pleasure away from the ‘cross gods?

Downhill onto the beach. (photo by MLK Images)

Downhill onto the beach. (photo by MLK Images)

I had no plans for this race other than to just ride around and test my calf. The course was fast and very slippery from the rain. Perfect! I pushed pretty hard anytime I was on my bike, but really had to shut it off while running. The “Ampitheatre of Pain” was just that, each one of those steps felt like they were 4 feet high and the “Beach of Despair” felt like it was a mile long, my calf was SHOT! Each step off the bike sent intense pain through my leg, it was the first time I ever even considered dropping out of a race. But my homies were cheering for me and kept me motivated enough to push through it, I couldn’t quit, no matter what! Somehow I managed to not get lapped and finish midway through the pack, 30th place. I’ll take it. I can’t wait until next year to actually see what I can do here, the course is amazing!!

Ampitheatre of Pain (photo by MLK Images)

"Ampitheatre of Pain" (photo by MLK Images)

Let’s see how the leg does tomorrow at HPCX. Time to get some ice!!

-Jim.