Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Marbleberg

Oh hey there, Internet readers. It's Ryan. From NorEast!

You know...from before?

We know we were slacking on the blogging. We apologize. We hope for better blogging in the future. Moving on...

Today was the start of bike racing action in New England, with the typical season kick-off race in Marblhead, Mass. The temperature could be described as...unfavorable to the reproductive organs of men. However, that's how things roll.

In the 1/2/3 race, NorEast had returning riders Josh Austin, myself and Mr. Drew "I just bought a house so my life is insanely complicated" Szeliga. We were also joined by Clint "I'm from South Africa so I think I might freeze to death" Borrill. Clint is a very large man, and at an Exeter ride his nose was bleeding. It was awesome. Plus his accent is great, and I get to talk to him about how wonderful America is.

After the morning Hey-everyone/God-it's-cold/what's-gonna-happen-today conversations, all 125 racers lined up. Josh Austin manage to not throw a piece of clothing over the face of one of the most respected cyclists in America and our inappropriate comment-making was at a low. It's early in the season, and we really haven't hit our stride yet. We apologize.

Prior to the race start, Josh Austin loudly mentioned to Jon Bernard (of CCB fame) that he should attack from the gun.

Then the race started, and Jon Bernard attacked. GO FIGURE. Josh Austin must have some low-level hypnotic ability in his lovely grating voice.

Marblehead is an interesting race for a variety of reasons. The most obvious one is that it's the first race of the season, so NO ONE has any idea how their legs feel. Some people might have an idea - because they went south to race/train - but that isn't really an exact indicator of how you'll do back home. This year was especially interesting, as there was no Master's field. So the 1/2/3 race was chock-full of experienced dudes with mad watts who we usually don't race against (read: One billion McCormack Brothers).

So, the race played out somewhat calmly, with the occasional group moving up the road, and then being brought back. So on and so forth. I tried to put my nose in the wind a little bit more than usual, because I wanted to see where I was standing, fitness wise. I had some fun pulling at the front (for no real reason), and then spent some needed time hanging out in the field. Josh also got in the wind quite a bit as well, and it was good to see a NorEast kit at the front of the group lifting the pace.

We both tried to get in moves, but a combination of wind, us not yet having installed our turbo system yet and the activity of the field made those attempts pointless.

At some point, Justin Lindine (BikeReg/Cannondale) got up the road with Cameron Cogburn (CCB), and they started riding REALLY HARD and opened up quite a gap.

After some activity, I found myself in a chase group with five or six guys, and we rode together for four laps or so - without really cutting down the time gap to Lindine and Cogburn, and without opening a serious gap over the field. Had our luck continued (aka had the field continued to be complacent), we probably would have stayed where we were. I would have probably finished last in the group sprint (note aforementioned lack of turbo booster), but I would have been happy with that.

Alas, it was not to be. Around two laps to go, we saw the field billowing behind us, and our time off the front was up. I tried to stay towards the front of the accelerating group in hopes of not totally exploding and rocketing out the back.

Coming up the Marbleberg with two to go, Robbie King ROCKETED past the field, and immediately opened a significant gap. No one was able to chase him down, but the pace certainly lifted. There was some shuffling through the field, some sharp elbows, and Robbie eventually joined us again.

In the final corner, my legs were not terribly happy with the pace that was expected of them. I saw Austin fly by me, move up the group and stay in the mix.

Coming through the finish, he ended up placing in the top 20.

Not a bad first race - no spectacular finishes, but we all have some idea of where our legs are.

This week, the Exeter rides start - and I am looking forward to THAT quite a bit.

Further results as they are posted on the interweb.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Here is one rider's rather belated Fitchburg race report, sorry to have such a long gap in between posts but here's a nice long one to satisfy your hunger for news of the NorEast Elite Team.

Going in to Fitchburg we weren’t really sure what to expect, the change of the road race to a finish on the feed zone climb rather than up Wachusett would take out some opportunities for big time gaps but might make the road race a lot harder with people saving less for the final climb. The time trial was new as well, a 9 mile out-and back that was flat with a few gentle rollers.
Although we’ve been having pretty terrible weather all summer, the fog and mist that greeted us at the start of the TT was particularly nasty, especially with the accompanying cold temperatures. We had an almost full team of 6 guys in the 2’s, with Rudy squaring off against the nasty-looking p/1 field. Warming up we were pulling out leg warmers and jackets and cranking up the techno.
I went off right in front of Dylan McNicholas, the odd-on favorite for the 2 race which meant I was resigning myself to being passed by at least one person. Rolling out of the gate I felt decent, and rode the course OK, just didn’t have great legs. Slight excitement occurred when Dylan caught me and I caught my 30 second man right at the turnaround, but everything went smoothly and I ended up about 40th, around a minute and a half down.
With one race in the books we prepped for the circuit race. With no GC contender, Rkelly suffering from sickness and a busted hip from the Giro di Jersey and Rossman a bit under the weather as well, we didn’t have a real plan and that lack of preparation ended up causing some problems, although our only stated plan (“don’t let Dylan (McNicholas) win” –Josh) ended up failing as well. A bit break went in the first third of the race, and to everyone’s surprise ended up staying away after the top 2 on GC bridged up to it with a few laps to go. With nobody on breakaway duty and all of us sort of assuming the break would come back, we missed the 14-man moved and ended up sprinting for 15th. I think we ended up with 19th, 20th, 21st, and 24th. Without a break that potentially would have been 5th,6th, 7th, and 10th. Of course, it probably wouldn’t have worked out like that but we can pretend it would have, right?
For the road race we got a bit more organized, with Carbonetti and Josh trying to get in an early move, Ben and I on late-break patrol, and Rossman and Ryan seeing how they felt. After a bunch of attacking right out of the gate, nobody was up the road and Ryan’s hip gave out the first time up the climb- down to 5. We were all active and would make little breaks that would come back together, and although a move finally went with maybe 5 to go without us we were pretty confident it would come back. I was keen to get in a move as last year I was off for the last 3 laps and was caught halfway up Wachusett, so hopefully this year things would stick. I finally made the break this year with just over 3 to goand things were looking good- the 3rd placed rider in the TT was there, and a few other guys were taking good pulls as well as we started picking off riders from the early break. For whatever reason, we weren’t getting timechecks to the field, just the solo leader who was holding about 1:30 over us.
Unfortunately, we were caught at the base of the decent on the last lap and I was officially 0 for 2 in promising-looking breaks at Fitchburg. Cramping, we all tried to finish as best we could in the sprint- myself, Ben, and Josh, in the sprint for 2nd. Mostly we were just smoked and happy to finally cross the line and get a cold coke. Thanks to everyone cheering us up the feed zone climb (Tom Luther) as the shouts of encouragement were much appreciated.
With nothing to show for our efforts so far, we toed the line at the crit, thankfully the 3rd sunny day in a row and a minor record for this summer. Our plan was to be as aggressive as possible and try to pull something off. A few laps in I tried to bridge to a break, made it halfway then sort of stagnated and was eventually pulled back. For most of the rest of the race I was at the back. I just asked Rossman who is sitting next to me how we were riding the crit as I wasn’t seeing much of the front to which he replied “ALWAYS AGGRESSIVE.” Use your imagination.
With 9 or 10 to go, there was a big surge and I found myself slung around to the very front- someone in front of me put in a dig and I went with him. We realized we were off the front and started rotating well. Then we realized we weren’t coming back right away and settled in a bit- I was hoping to set up Ben who had talked about a last-lap flyer. The lap cards started to stick down and while I was feeling the effects of the break the day before, I was stoked to be off the front at Fitchburg. With 2 to go, we realized we were probably made it and knew for sure when our 15 second gap was still in place on the final lap. My breakaway companion looked a lot bigger than me, so after pulling through the final two corners into the long, headwind/uphill drag finishing straight, I slowed down and hopped on his wheel when he accelerated. Coming into the finish I was sitting right on his wheel, and I jumped as hard as I could with about 75 meters to go. Unfortunately, he’d been watching me and as soon as I went, he accelerated and held his advantage to the line, beating me by maybe a wheel length.
While the win for the team would have been great, I was happy with 2nd- we shared the work evenly, he led out the sprint and simply beat me so I can’t be frustrated with how I rode. I also found out later that he was a very strong track rider so I felt less bad about my loss in the sprint.
I’m writing this from a hotel in Quebec, where a contingent of the team (myself, Rossman, and Rudy plus guest riders Patrick Goguen and Chris Hillier) are holed up waiting for the second day of racing tomorrow.
We have marveled at milk sold in a plastic bag, enormous speeding penalties, maple frosted mini wheats, ridiculous haircuts, the French language, and the difficulty involved in getting from our hotel to the start of the race 10k away. Rudy had a good dig to bridge to the break that went on the last lap but didn’t quite make it while the rest of us suffered in the heat (what, heat? In Canada? After a cold wet summer a few hundred miles farther south?) and Pat experienced a 70 mph tow on the neutral support truck back to the field after they fixed a broken chain. More reports to come as the race progresses.

*Update: due to internet issues, I wasn't able to publish this when it was written so we've actually finished the ToQ... race report coming soon.

Friday, May 1, 2009

On A Horse With No Name

I have never been to an actual desert. However, this past weekend the Turtle Pond Circuit race certainly felt the way I imagine a desert would feel: HOT. After pedaling around in 50 and 60 degree temperatures, the sudden arrival of 90 degree heat was a shock, both physically and mentally.

My incesant checking of the weather sites before the race revealed the day would be hot. However, I failed to remember how terrible I feel the first real warm day of the year. Racing on a 90 degree day seems to be the equivalent of gasping deep breaths or stale air from a working kiln. Small efforts on the bike translate to large jumps in heart rate. Water bottles run dry before the race even leaves the feedzone. Salt collects in the corners of your eyes and tips of your lips. Basically, you suffer like any other race but the overall uncomfortable feeling of being way too hot adds another level to the suffering index.

So, there we were. We being Rkelly, Rossman and me. There being the back roads of Loudon, NH. Like last year, the first lap was very active. The three of us were on our toes waiting to jump into the right break. Attack. Chase. Counter. Recover. Chase. Chase. Chase. MISS THE BREAK. Yes, the three of us missed the break, but not without trying. Robbie King (damn him and his desire to remain in New England and torture us all summer)countered a move and I jumped on his wheel. After riding this race for a few years, I remember the course well. We were in a section of false flats and small rollers. It was ideal to get a small group formed and storm up the road. Unfortunately, the pace car suddenly turned right and nearly came to a stop at the base of a short but steep climb. SHIT. DOWN SHIFT DOWN SHIFT. As I was scrambling to find the appropriate gear, Robbie was doing the same but his chain dropped (yes?). Our small gap to the field was now gone and dudes were streaking up the hill. I saw Robbie sprint past me and make contact with the leaders, but my meager power barely got me back up to speed before the tail gunners of the pack appeared next to me. The rest of the race was spent drinking water, thinking about jumping in the pond and contemplating ending the race early to find ice cream.

Neither Rossman, Rkelly nor I pulled the plug early. Instead, we remained in the disintigrating "field" until the last lap. As we were simply riding for a finish without ideas of winning, the NorEast contingent felt it was best to have the field work together and just cross the line. But, the other guys felt differently. On the short, steep climb, a Spooky rider attacked...fortunately, Karma decided this was a dick move and pulled the Spooky rider's chain from his bike. We passed him as he was frantically attempting to remount the chain. There may have been some minor heckling involving the line "Karma's a bitch" derived from the NorEasters...can't be sure though. This should have taught the rest of the field a lesson. They should have just ridden across the line content to finish. Instead, guys decided to attack. Without discusssing our actions, RKelly and I went to the front and began pulling each attack back. It was time to play by the others' rules. With the 200m to go, Rossman rocketed past us battling two other guys. There was a slight rise in the road, but RKelly and I could see our teammate win (the field sprint). We were finally able to get some ice cream.

Interestingly, half the field probably dropped out of the race. The heat was affecting everyone and racers were dropping like flies. In the end, we ended with 14th, 18th and 19th. Yay.

Jiminy Peak this weekend. 90 miles and hills. Should be fun or something like that.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Last week I was in California for 28 hours. I am disappointed to say there were no sightings of Dylan, Kelly, Donna, Nat or the Peach Pit. But, let's be realistic; if I had run into Dylan there would be no way of recognizing him as his face looked like a worn-in catcher's mitt in the early 90's. By now he probably resembles a Sour Patch Kid more than an actual human. Anyway, my trip to Levi's state concluded with a red eye flight to Logan and no sights of movie stars.

After being crammed into a seat by the plane lavatories for six hours, I arrived to Logan at 5am feeling less than stellar. Knowing I would be racing the following day, I decided to do the best thing after flying all night...a four hour ride. Surprisingly, my legs didn't seem to be all that bad. I mean, they didn't feel superb, but they didn't feel like over-sized paper weights either. My ride brought me over Parker and Catamount along with some quick detours through Lee and Durham. The wheels were turnin' and my legs weren't falling off. Ready for Sunday!

I awoke Sunday morning psyched to get to the start line. My sixth sense told me Mark McCormack would be at the race, and I had to make amends after my last start line fiasco. I was again perplexed by my legs' apparent lack of soreness after the week's travels. This would be a good day. I could feel it.

Why the Pilgrims picked Plymouth to set-up shop beats the hell out of me. Durham was sunny and warm. Plymouth was cold and windy. Durham has nice grass and pastures. Plymouth has sand and pine needles over sand. Basically, I would not be the least bit surprised if the Native Americans had perfect abs after laughing hysterically for months as the Pilgrims picked the "prime" location for a village.

Oh yeah, back to bike racing. I kitted up and began to ride around for a couple minutes. Still, my legs were not hurting, but the power being generated from them was likely not even enough to power the light in my hear rate monitor. I rolled around the rolling one mile course and found the start line. As I had sensed earlier, Mark and his two brothers and three other teammates were standing around ready to ride. The only thing worse than one McCormack is more than one McCormack. This was gonna be good.

I started the race with the goal of minimizing my aggressiveness. Things were going as planned and I was doing little work. Fuji guys, including the McCormacks, were attacking. NEBC guys were chasing. Things would come back together and we would repeat. Eventually, a small break formed with NEBC guys and Fuji guys represented. I missed the move and instantly realized I was screwed. Time to chase. With a group of Fuji and NEBC guys sitting in my group, my chase was basically futile. I would pull a bit hoping to have another rider give me a hand. Unfortunately, the small field was comprised mostly of three teams and those teams were in the break. So, for nine laps I rode around the course suffering into the strong cross/head wind. It was not fun and my legs were not happy.

This week I finally get to start my first road race of the season at Turtle Pond. As of now, I'm hoping my legs will come around and decide to cooperate with me rather than secretly working for Team Fuji. If not, they will find themselves pedaling home the forty miles after the 70 mile race. Stay tuned for more reports of my suffering.

The other guys were in NY this weekend racing Battenkill. RKelly will hopefullyl give a run down of the joy and excitement of riding 30 of 80 miles on dirt.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Uh, Sorry Mr. McCormack

The first race of the season is under the belt. I will be the first to admit, my initial foray into the 2009 season is under the belt but far, far, farrrr from pretty.

Before I entertain you with the three bonehead moves of the day, all commited by the author of this post, I must give a quick recap of the race. It was 38 miles on a 2+ mile course in Marblehead. The start was windy and cold. The finish was warm. Teddy King won. Teddy King is going to Europe to race in Pro Tour races. Tim Johnson placed second. Tim Johnson just raced the Tour of California. I felt like crap. RKelly rode a good race and finished 16th.

Bonehead Move #1

Sitting on the start line, I decided to forgo my vest and avoid having to shed clothing during the race. I grabbed my vest and, like many other race starts, chucked it over the field to the roadside. However, instead of plopping onto the dirt, the wind caught the vest mid-air, opened it as if there was an invisible person trying to put it on. Then, this invisible person, realizing the vest smelled of b.o. and dry sweat, threw the vest to the ground. Unfortunately, the ground was inhabited by Mark McCormack, and the vest became wrapped around his head. He resembled a bowling ball under the Christmas tree. There were some chuckles from the field and a sharp glance from the Shark. Oops.

Bonhead Move #2

As the official said you're off (she actually said this a number of times before the CCB guys realized she meant start the damn race), a CCB rider attacked. Obviously, with the field lined up at the start, no one would be staying away for 38 miles unless the break included Teddy and/or Tim Johnson. This did not matter. My brain turned off and I chased. Two pedal strokes into the race and I was off the front. This effort lasted about 1.5 laps during which my legs felt like they were staked to the ground and the stuff coming from my lungs looked very much like guacamole. Pretty no. So, as the peloton rolled up on me. Action started to unfold. Attacks were going off. RKelly chased a few. I chased a few. The field split. I was spent. The front splint rode faster. I gambled my split would ride over the gap. I will never bet on those odds again.

Bonehead Move #3

The wind and cold seemed to lessen with every passing lap. Eventually, it became almost warm, and a MetLife guy removed his vest. In the morning, I pinned my number to my jersey and wore my vest over the jersey for a warm-up. So, as I watched said Metlife guy devest, I thought to myself "shit Josh, you better get your vest off so the cameras can see your number!". Now, if you have read this whole post, you will remember under Bonehead Move #1, I had already removed my never went back on. So, I'm sitting up and removing what I think is my vest (yes, I know I am an idiot) and realize it's damn cold. Furthermore, I realize I unzipped both my vest and my jersey. SHIT. No, that is not my vest and jersey. My vest, also known as Mark McCormack's face mask, is on the side of the road. The clothing in my hand is just my jersey. It was 50 degrees out and I was riding around the race in arm warmers and a base layer (a blue, collared base layer mind you). I pass Julianne, probably the reason why I'm so jittery all day, and become terribly embarassed. Once again, I'm sitting up in the field acting like I meant to take the jersey off. Adjust my base layer, move my bib straps, put the jersey back on.

So, the 2009 season is underway. With any luck, my idiocy is over for the rest of the year. I don't know if my cat. 2 ego can take any more of my shenanigans.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Double Amputee

Modern medicince has made incredible advances in many areas of treatment including the amputation of people's limbs. Prior to the early 1900's those facing amputation surgery were forced to endure the procedure with nothing but a bottle of whiskey and a strap of leather between their teeth. I can't imagine the pain. Or can I...

Last night was the second and last Pre-Season Wed. Night Worlds Exeter ride. During the summer, a large group of cyclists depart from Exeter Cycles. These weekly rides do not technically begin until next week; however, Damien Colfer, a glutton for pain, took charge of oranizing two non-Exeter Cycle sponsored rides to blow the rust out of the knees. I missed the first one last week but was unfortunately able to make last night's ride. Unlike the normal Wed. Night Worlds, there were only six guys ready to roll: Dylan McNich, RKelly, Damien, Teddy King, myself and a guy whose name I can't remember. So, we got started. Heading out of town single file, I was still unsure how my legs would feel. I just finished a rest week of basically no riding. My high end fitness lacked a little...or a lot. And to top things off, I have a large chicken and pesto sandwich for lunch. THAT always looks better upon its resurrection. Anyway, we were rolling and the 2009 season was underway.

I have no computer on my bike. But, judging from my breathing and the pain in my legs, we were moving along nicely. Pull through, pull off, jump back in line. Repeat. With every turn on the front, I began to realize the pain in my legs was immense. I don't mean I felt like someone was punching me in the leg. I mean I felt like my femur was broken and the jagged edge was tearing apart my quad muscles with every pedal stroke. My legs were literally, okay maybe not literally but felt like literallly, being violently torn from my body. I became completely aware I might be left on the road in three pieces: my body, my right leg and my left leg. But, this was the Exeter ride. There is no stopping in the Exeter ride for pain. It's survival of the fittest. Those left behind are forced to fend for themselves and live off the roadkill as fuel for the ride home (one interesting though during this torture, with all the salt used on roads, do you think the roadkill is salt cured and able to stay edible for long periods of time?). So, despite my desire to stop pedaling and ride the solo ride to Exeter, there was NO WAY IN HELL I would let myself get dropped. And I didn't. And in the end I got a burrito to make everything feel better. The end.

So, if you're driving or riding in Lee/Newfields/Exeter today, please look for my legs. They are out there. Some where. Maybe laying next to a dead squirrel or possum. If they are found, hopefully modern medicine will help me reattach them. But, it is only April and I'm sure they will be ripped from my body many more times before this season is done and gone. Better go find a bottle of whiskey and a piece of leather...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Game On

After my rest week last week, I had to force myself on the bike yesterday in the glorious rain pelting the New England region. Fortunately, the morning temperatures are no longer at the sub-freezing levels so the preciptation was not the terrible flaky stuff we've been dealing with all winter. Despite the rain not being snow, I was still far from thrilled to get covered in road grime. The typical road spray is enough to leave your chamois, gloves, shoes and hair full of sand. But, I compounded those problems with a small mistake.

As I entered Newmarket, an 18-wheeler brushed by my shoulder and was traveling at a managable riding speed. Knowing the draft would be better than any other situation, including sitting behind RKelly's calves, I jumped onto the rig's bumper (I guess trucks like this don't have bumpers but you get the point). Now, imagine standing against a wall and asking one person to swamp you with a pressure washer while another person uses a wrist rocket to pelt you with small, dirt encrusted pebbles. This, my friends, was my experience as I sat behind the truck. The draft was great. Almost orgasmic. But the wheel spray and debris kicked up from the truck nearly turned the situation into a snuff film.

I am sure you have figured out by now I did not die. I escaped with just a "bit" of sand in my eyes, teeth, hair, chamois, nose, ears and anywhere else you wouldn't want to find sand. Not only did I survive, but today's ride into work with the sunshine and warmish temps was payback.

In other news, the New England race season kicks of this weekend with Marblehead. Unfortunately, if you haven't signed up van's full. We also have the annual NorEast kick-off party on Friday night complete with free Smuttynose beer and food from La Festa. I don't know if there is any better way to start off the season.