Wednesday, August 29, 2007


We all have great friends who, for whatever reasons, we can't see on a regular basis. My friend P and I went to college (university) together, studied in the same program, and have been friends ever since. Because she still lives in Canada, I don't get to see her very often. I have been home to see her several times, but this past weekend was her first trip here since I moved (12 years ago!).

While most of the focus of our time together was to reconnect (lots of life changes since our last visit), I also tok the opportunity to show her some of the local sites - by bike! It is important for you to know that P is NOT a cyclist - she's a runner. She was a trooper, though, and agreed to ride with me out to Concord on my full suspension mountain bike.

Our first challenge was in trying to put flat pedals on the bike - for whatever reason, I couldn't get the SPDs off. After several attempts, we gave up, she tried on my bike shoes, and we decided to go with clipless pedals which she had NEVER used before! We also had to lower the seat as far as we could (I'm about 6 inches taller), and I had to explain how to shift gears. Five minutes of instruction in the driveway, and we were off!

We headed out the rail trail extension to Concord and stopped at the Old North Bridge, downtown for some shopping and lunch, and came back via the Minuteman National Historic Park. Total ride was 20 miles and we had NO clipless pedal falls or other bike incidents! I was so proud of her.

On Saturday, P got up with us really early to head up to the Saco Crit, sitting in the heat and cheering both Mike and I on through our races. After we were done, we headed up to Portland for some lunch, shopping and sightseeing (including Fort Williams) - something Mike and I wouldn't have done without having company.

We had a great weekend together, and are looking forward to more visits in the near future, hopefully not 12 years from now!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saco Crit

Saco W 1/2/3/4 25 minutes + 5 laps
Cat 1/2/3 starters - 9
Cat 4 starters - 2
Finished - 5th

We arrived in Saco early and I walked around the course to see what I was in for. The course was relatively flat, but had three VERY tricky corners, that were going to cause issues for me - one through a parking lot around an island, and two 90 degree narrow left-hand turns. I have been having trouble with the technical corners in every crit this season...

I will also point out that Saturday was the HOTTEST, most HUMID day of the summer here in New England. Mike raced twice in the morning, and the heat took a toll on him. By the time my race started at 11:00 am, it felt like we were in an oven.

With only 4 women pre-reg'd for the race, I was glad to see a total of 11 take the start (including the 2 Cat 4s). The bad news - 4 were from IBC! Jen was there racing in the 4s and went off the gun; I jumped on her wheel to take the best lines through the corners on the first lap since we weren't able to pre-ride the course. We both dropped back after that, and I got nervous traveling through the tight corners at speed, fell into my bad habit of dropping off the back, and then chasing really hard getting back out. On one lap, I could hear Mike yelling at me to get into the middle of the pack.

After I attempted an attack on the first prime lap (and failed), I finally decided to try and learn something, and stuck to Jen R's wheel like glue, matching pedal stroke for pedal stroke - by the end of the race, I no longer had to chase out of the corners! Jen is a very steady wheel, and I thanked her after the race.

The pack stayed pretty much together for the whole race (although we did lose Jen). Getting ready for the final lap, the attacks started fast and furious. I told myself that I just needed to hang on at all costs, and dug as deep as I could to stay attached, and get past a couple of women.

Approaching the second to last corner, I heard scraping metal and knew there was a crash ahead - I slowed, preparing for evasive tactics, and ended up having to take the turn on the sidewalk, and then someone's front lawn to avoid a woman who was dragging herself off of the road. I kept on to the finish, but the crash had completely disjointed the field, separating finishers by quite a bit.

I was surprised to have finished 5th in my field, but happy with such a good result in a 1/2/3 race. I've had a terrific season this year, and am now looking despeartely forward to getting out on my 'cross bike for some more thrashings!

Mike also had a couple of great races (4/5 and Masters 35+), and after a really good season, upgraded to a Cat 3!

For more great race day photos, check out EJS Photography - these folks took some great pictures, and were really nice to talk to as well!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's Here, and I Have the Proof!

We had our first team 'cross ride of the season tonight, and you can tell by the smiles that everyone was giddy! Running has started, skills are being practiced, new bikes purchased - we're getting ready...

Oh, and I'm not the only one who is so excited about the pending season - check out Rebecca and Anna's blogs as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Witches Cup from My Perspective

After gushing about Mike's great performance at last night's race, it's time to provide my perspective on the Women's Open race.

To say I was nervous about the race is actually misleading - I was more intimidated than anything else. The pre-reg list was stacked with talent, including none other than Lyne Bessette, our NEBC Elite Women's team, Anna Milkowski and a slew of other REALLY good Cat 1/2/3 racers. Added to the intimidation was the fact that I don't really like crits and corners.

At the pre-race meeting, Brooke outlined the plan for the team. Cris was going to go from the gun; we needed to be prepared to counter; Rebecca was going to mark Lyne; and my job was to stay in the MIDDLE of the pack (and if anyone saw me on the back, they were supposed to yell at me).

At GO, the pack took off like there were turbo chargers attached to their bikes. We literally went from standing still to 25 mph instantly. I was hearing Brooke in my head, and did my best to stay attached in the middle of the pack, but after about 5 laps, the pace was just too high, and I lost touch (it was those blasted corners - I STILL had to sprint out of them to try to stay attached!). On this course, you could literally see the pack from anywhere on the road, so I went into TT mode for several more laps, working as hard as I could to try and catch (to no avail).

Thankfully, the spectators were great. Mike and a contingent of the NEBC 4/5 team were on the opening corner cheering each time through. I also had an angel on the backside of the course - Darcy M. from IBC was cheering, yelling and coaching me through the entire race. She would tell me when to go hard and push it, as well as when to wait and get ready to jump back into the field as they were lapping me. A HUGE thank you to Darcy!

Once I jumped back into the field, I was again able to hang on for a significant number of laps. Unfortunately, they kept ringing that freakin' prime bell, ratcheting the pace. After the hard solo effort, I had a hard time matching the pace, and fell off the back again. I managed to catch Michele S at one point, and just as we started to go together, a child on a bike was crossing the road in the most technical corner - I really thought that both he and I were done, and I knew Michele was right on my wheel. I managed to avoid a collision and keep on, but at that point I lost touch with Michele.

In the end, I managed to cross the line 22nd out of 28 starters. Not bad from my perspective, and likely the ONLY time in my career that I will finish ahead of Brooke, since she just had a baby six weeks ago ;-).

Most importantly, my head is back in the game! After a week off the bike, the legs felt great, and I had a FUN time at this race! I hope that it continues - I will definitely be back for it again.

Thanks to all of my teammates for the encouragement and support, and a BIG congrats on capturing 2nd, 8th, 9th and 10th in a VERY fast race!

The Streak Gets Better

I've always wanted to post one of these fancy finishing shots from Velocity Results. I'm not sure who was more excited about Mike's win last night - him, or me! In a starting Cat 4/5 field of 69 racers, Mike stayed near the front for the entire race, winning two cash primes, as well as the entire race in the end, launching his final sprint 1/2 way into the final lap. I was so excited watching him, and nervous that someone would come around at the last minute; I think all of Salem might have heard me screaming ;-).

Here's Mike's account of the race:

It was a great event; a downtown crit in Salem around the common. Lots of spectators and the event was run really well (same guy who does the Gloucester cross events ran this one). Pace was quick off the start but not bad and then the bell started ringing for primes ($10). I decided to test the waters and started the attack at about the half way point in the lap. I jacked the speed way up and got a gap and surprisingly nobody closed it.

A little while later the bell rang for a $20 prime and at that point I'd spent a bunch of time out front solo trying to work my gap from the 1st prime and also in a break with some other guys. I came through that one in 2nd just in time to hear the bell ring for the half way $125 prime. Yee ha, the chase was on. The guy out front (MMRC's Jim E.) was pretty beat from taking the $20 prime so I was able to nab him in the final corner and grab the big loot.

A few laps later the bell rang again and another NEBC rider, Joe J., was near the front and I asked him if he was ready. He assumed I was looking for a lead and I told him no, you're going to get this one, just get on my wheel. Same MO, I launched with 1/2 lap left and kept it at about 30mph and Joe came by just before the line to take it. I've got to say that was the biggest accomplishment all night, being able to really control things and do what we wanted to.

The plan for the finish was more of the same. Keep the pace high for the last few laps and avoid a pack sprint. There was another big guy (Gerry H.) racing who was an animal. This guy would go to the front and just motor. He did a super job all the way through. With a couple to go a kid broke a little and dangled off the front. On the final lap I knew I needed to close him down and launch it up. I attacked in the same spot again and pegged it. The finish was an all out sprint for the line and hope nobody passed me. I got lucky and it worked.

Here are a few other photos from the race, as well as the awards ceremony. Congrats to Mike and the rest of the NEBC 4/5 racers!

The witch museum (of course); Mike with Richard Fries

The mayor of Salem was on hand to recognize the podium winners

Medals and merchandise for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place

Monday, August 13, 2007

On the Sidelines

Well, I did it. A whole weekend with no racing or riding. Boy, was it tough! But, it was likely also just what I needed. It's probably a good thing that I went to Taunton and Fall River without packing a bike or any gear - if I had, I would have been talked into racing for sure ;-).

Mike had a TERRIFIC weekend - racing two crits in Taunton at the Silver City Flyer on Saturday, and then another at the Blount Seafood Crit in Fall River on Sunday. Two of his races this weekend were in the 35+ category - against Mark McCormack and Johnny Bold (again). At the Silver City Flyer, Mike actually ATTACKED both Mark and John on one lap (although he should have jumped on their wheels - both were in the chase group). He raced aggressively there, and looked great all through the race - I do remember yelling at him a couple of times to get off the front though ;-).

At the Blount Seafood race, Mike again looked great through the race. Although he missed the break and the chase group (NOTE: everyone missed the break, as Coleman was sprinting off the line while everyone was still getting clipped in), he managed to finish 3rd in the field sprint, and 14th overall in a tough field!

I also got to Fall River in time to see much of the Cat 3/4 Women's race, where Loraine, Erica, Jen and Aiyana all looked great! It was fun to see Aiyana back in the racing scene only 8 weeks after giving birth! Loraine looked strong all through the race, and had her best finish ever - 4th overall, and the first Cat 4 woman! I am so proud of her, and the rest of the team!

Loraine: Sprinting for the finish

The front of the race; Jen in the chase group

Alexa hanging in; Aiyana - happy to be finished!

I also want to congratulate Alexa on a great race! I met Alexa at Working Man's this year. She is only 18, and just starting to get into racing. She hung in to finish this race and is showing great enthusiasm, tenacity and potential. Good job, Alexa!

I cheered wildly from the sidelines all weekend, and managed to catch a bunch of photos of the NEBC racers.

Now that I am rested, it's back to riding this week to see where I am at. Hopefully, with 'cross season just around the corner (and the new bike coming soon), I will be physically and mentally ready to get out and do this all again!