Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dedication: The Darkness

It's that time of year again when I'm putting in all my miles in the dark.

Belmont Harbor in the morning

Back home in the rain

I like the adventure aspect of a ride like tonight's. Strobes reflecting off the front wheel spray, feet soaked to the core, wicked head winds, and hands so cold you can't get the silicon band off your Night Rider. And the reward for putting thousands of miles on the Lake Front Path? Instinct to guide you around the tricky seems in the asphalt hidden by the glare of your halogen off the wet surface.

I hope Old Man Winter makes a mess of Montrose.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Two For the Price of One + An Important Lesson

Part 1: Elite Action

Hemme tagged his first CCC 1/2/3 podium - behold the power of the look. Mike has been talking about reaching his peak form by this time of year, and true to his word it's arrived.

Vulgar Display of Power

The ruthless tempo of his first lap looked freakish, and quickly a selection of four was made. About 300 calories later he shook Ben, who maybe got tangled in a chair entering a corner hot, or maybe he was putting on a bunny suit.

With a growing gap at three to go Mike was looking solid, unfortunately his saddle was not. Snap! He came by the tents shouting something about a broken saddle and 19cm... I turned to Alex with a look of despair, ever calm, Alex said, "27.2 right?" Yep. A quick aside - Mike is so loved out here that in 30 seconds the people in earshot of me offered up two complete bikes and half a dozen seat post assemblies.

Ben the Bunny likes nuts

Alex had the pit prepped, and I back tracked the course to let Mike know we had a solution. But by the time Mike came around to the pit with two more to go, the case group, lead by Ben (sans Bunny suit), was closing in. Mike made the call to risk the busted saddle until the end, sensing his 15 second gap was too valuable to give up. Mike kept it together, the saddle kept it together, and a hard earned third place was had.

Compare the factual variances of Mike and I here.

I've yet to hear how the Klugs did in Wisco this weekend, but be sure they didn't leave anything out on the race course. Those two are always racing for the win.

Part 2: Elite-ish Action

My race was remarkably different than my druken rampage in Indian Hills, however, my placing wasn't so different. Hummm. This time out I was on a mission. Last weekend Lew, from Rhythm Racing, enjoyed even more brewhahas than I did. And in our drunken ramblings he gave me the "We're racin' next weekend" ultimatum. So we raced. Lew, Alex, and I we're at the very end of another huge field.

Poker Face - 20 minutes before the race

Gun goes off, and, and, and, no one around me is moving for way too long. The rollout from that far back in the field is spooky slow. So the three of us start moving up in the field. About a half a lap in I'm feeling OK. Exiting the tightest toilet bowl to date, I can see I've got a few seconds and about a dozen people between me and my competition. Then a few moments later Lew comes flying by me. WTF?!

Three things. Lew is a smoker, Lew has been off the bike with a bust rib for a quite few weeks, and Lew raced earlier in the day. Granted I've been sick, but really I should have the advantage here.

I love this

Pic: Chris Strahm

I lock onto his wheel. As he tows me around for a lap I realize that we're busy passing a lot of people. Lew knows how to race - fight for position before the technical sections, drop gears and get on the gas when everyone else is catching their breath at the top of the hill, attack, attack, attack. But I'm learning too.

Entering The Buffet line

We enter The Buffet 1, 2 (or 33, 34). I watch him remount right after the barrier and I attack on foot and sprint up the hill for a pass. I've got 30 feet on him and try not to let up, but a minute later he makes another move around me. Duh! I lock on again and we play the exact same game. We move through some guys, and when we get to The Buffet on the bell lap he remounts and I sprint. I've got him again, and this time I burn the whole book of matches and put two more guys between me and Lew before the final decent. I was not going to leave it to a finish line sprint with someone that has a big ring and major leg speed. 29th isn't the same as 1st, but yesterday it was good enough for me. Lew kept me scared for 30 minutes straight - bravo.

Lew is a fighter

An Important Lesson

This weeks Classic Moments in Cyclocross brings us an important lesson. The Chicago Cross Cup is one of America's most valuable racing series, period. Making bike racing, not just cyclocross, fun, accessible, and competitive is imperative to the overall growth of cycling. Our race scene will promote the growth of the bicycle industry and help further the integration of bicycles into the civic population. When people outside the sport of cycling see us on bikes having fun, they are more likely to be a part of it. At a minimum it will no longer be a foreign concept to them.

Someone get this on the cover of a national mag!

This billboard is awesome, not "dude that's awesome," but awesome like the force of an erupting volcano. Walid Abu-Ghazaleh at Van Wagner is the man for making this happen, but Jason Knauff has done us a huge favor by building a community of fans, racers, and business that want to participate - that is the key. The Chicago Cross Cup has become ours. We're emotionally invested, we're dedicated, and holy shit Montrose going to be off the hook.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Chicago Cross Cup stop eight in Indian Lakes was a drunken feast, and after a stint in the UK I was beat, over worked and ready to relax. So yeah, I lined up to race, because we all know how relaxing that can be... Thanks to Chicago Cross Cup and South Chicago Wheelman for putting on a sizzler at the Indian Lakes Hilton.




Pic: dirt+beer

My race in brief: good start, crash, Twinkie, beer, beer, beer, whiskey, beer, crash.

Best part of my race: spouting drunkenly, and out of breadth, to someone he had a flat tire - then watching him look down as I made my pass.

Classic Moments in Cyclocross brings you drunkenness in a hot tub thanks to the pre race party. Props to Ben for making it into the hottest tubs each and ever time.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lo-Fi UK

My last minute call up to London proved to be a good time even thought I had to work my ass off. Laura was able to make it out for six very well earned days of holiday. It was nice to have a side kick on such a long trip away from home. What follows is my Lo-Fi/iPhone London report. I'll follow up with a glossy report too.

The trip started out on a high note when saw COURAGE get a call out in Bicycling Magazine. We made a pretty short list of talented builders and got a nice pic of Arron's latest stainless dropout.

I eat my way through long flights. Fresh, bag stable ingredients like bread, cheese, chocolate, olives, and cured meats make eight static hours in coach bearable. I also enjoyed the Tyson documentary to kill a little time. It doesn't address the question of his moral station - it simply tells his hardened story. Well worth a watch.

I took off at 5:30pm, landed at 6:30am and went straight to the office for a 11 hour day. Between the Tube and my office I saw the following sign and the coolest bike in London. Honestly, I never saw a single bicycle that made me drop jawed, but the shear number of cyclist in the city was inspiring. I'll cover that a bit more in the Hi-Fi write up.

The Condor store is a couple blocks from our office so I made a lunch time trip to check it out. Condor owns Rapha. From a retailing study the store was exquisite, if a bit cold. It didn't have the worn in history I would have expected (and wanted) from a such an established London institution. However, they had a fit rig that was out of this world, complete with a patina produced by putting 100's of cyclist through fit sessions - maybe this was all the history a pro shop needs.

Now it's official.

The flight home was made all the better by some stinky, unpasteurized French cheese and sardine filled olives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roscoe Village Bikes Gives Back

One word, awesome. Roscoe Village Bikes, a COURAGE sponsor, steps up again to show it's commitment to community building by joining A100. Audubon, Roscoe Village's award winning public K-8 school where Ruby is a student, benefits greatly through the A100 program. A100 business offer financial support to the school. This additional budget enables technology and arts programs that would otherwise be underfunded or non existent.

Thanks RVB!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yes Sir!

Ruby the Friendly Ghost

Thursday I was told to go home from work because I was working too much... That was nice. Friday morning I took my little ghost to school and walked in to the office about 9am - two hours later than usual. At 9:15 I got an email from the Strategy Director in London. He was wondering if I could be in London next week... Yes sir. Too much, not enough, who knows, but this time I'm bringing Laura with me to London and leaving the little ones with the grandparents. Oh yeah, my place is still a total construction zone from the flood. Oops. I won't be back in the country until the 11th, so I'll miss the Green Monster at Northbrook.

Work, shmurk. Sunday was awesome.

Cruella De Vil

Pic: Madcross

Everyone's form is coming on strong. Holly took the top step of the podium again! She's really showing her strength, coming out swinging from lap one in every race. Well done Holly.

Classic day in the mud

How about the boys digging deep Sunday afternoon. Kevin and Mike were making major watts for 60 minutes straight. They battled hard back and moving between 2nd and 5th, trading leads, falling back, moving up... Exciting. Racing as it should be. In the end Kevin saw through the pain and put another late move together to secure 2nd place. But everyone notice that Hemme's form is seriously improving and it won't be long before he's on the podium too. Some more great pics of the guys racing in the mud here.

I cracked back in to the top 20 with a strong finishing lap. I made three passes in the last muddy, barrier laden section of the course and felt good about putting some technical skills to use. So many times this season guys have blown by me on the straights, at least I know I have a card to play too. It helped that I got a call up for dressing as a cyclocross racer...

Let's give Bicycle Heaven and the CCC a big word-to-the wise for continuing with the momentum from the first half of the season. Spectacular course, well organized as always, and another great crowd to cheer everyone on. I managed two piece's of cake (thanks Julie), a little limp bacon, M&Ms and $101!

This week's Classic Moments in Cyclocross comes from the newly formed RVBR team.

If your not having fun, what are you having?