Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Downeast Cyclocross Weekend, race report.

Day one.

It happened. It was muddy. There are few pictures. None of me. I won't bore you with paragraphs of text with no pictures. I know you, Internet, you have a short attention span. You like pictures. Greg had a great ride. Wheels wrecked it something fierce. I felt horrible before, during, and after; but I finished. I was under-dressed, and under-motivated. My gearing was retarded. When it was over, I was a bitchy, miserable mess. Enough said.

Post Race.

my frozen hands were useless. The buckles on my shoes were packed with mud, and it took the efforts of many to get them off. I threw all my muddle clothing in a plastic bag, got in the car and cranked the heat. The heat would stay cranked. Two hours later, my rolling oven was about 140 degrees and everything was dry and brittle, including my face. It's cool though, I had chapstick.

I spent about about an hour cleaning, tuning and lubing my ride. Then I spent an hour hosing off and laundering my clothes and body. Went to bed early, and couldn't get to sleep even though I was completely exhausted. Don't you hate that?


Woke up, hopped on the trainer. Spun out the stiffness, did some stretching, then hit the kitchen.

i find when you're drinking a half dozen servings of espresso, it's best to make them two at a time.

Feasted on a pile of high protein gruel, packed up the car and hit the road. I knew the races on Sunday started earlier, and I took a guess at how much earlier. I was wrong, I showed up almost 4 hours before go time. I got sunburn. I'm cool with all these things.

Sunday was just as muddy as Saturday, but it was a beautiful, bluebird day. Problem was, the mud was drying, and turning from chocolate milk to peanut butter. You can ride through chocolate milk, peanut butter will destroy you. The promoter had mercy on the elite fields and moved the course tape a bit to expose some soggy grass, and provide a detour around the super-slow mostly unrideable mud pits.

muddy fried chicken legs. there's 11 secret herbs and spices mixed in there.

It was a pretty brutal race. As usual, my goal was to beat Colin. Colin was talking big game about taking a DNS before the race. Combine this with his DNF from Saturday and I figured it would be a race of attrition. I get out there, put in a few good laps, then coast into victory. Problem is, Colin is crafty, it was all psychological warfare. I found this out the hard way. I would pass people, people would pass me, but every time I looked back, he was there. With all the mechanical and DNFs he's been having lately, I forgot that he's really fast on a cyclocross bike. Having about 4 pit bikes, and 28 people helping him in the pits certainly didn't hurt either.

dear colin, GOOO! AWAAAAY! kisses, gorilla

After about 40 minutes, my bike was not shifting, braking, or rolling. Certain parts of the course had much tackier mud that others. These parts gummed up my fork and stays with so much mud, I could hardly push it. My plan was to aim for the center of all the puddles to try and loosen things up. Rinse the peanut butter off with chocolate milk.

In Summary

this is what a well-earned beer looks like, here's to me.

22nd BITCHES! 4 verge points! $19 dollars!

I can't tell you how excited I was about this. However, my excitement was somewhat dulled by waiting in line behind Brian Wilichoski as he picked up is significantly (!) larger check for 11 place in his elite debut. He's fast.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dear Cat3 Men,

Greetings, from the elite field.

It's been a few weeks since we last talked. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but things are better here. You're not supposed to know that, it's kind of a secret.

How much better is life in the elite field? Well, I have conducted a series of experiments and found that if you are Cat3, your tubulars will roll 100% of the time; verses 0% of the time if you upgrade.

My dog looks me square in the eye every time I walk in the door.

yes, i am always this cute.

Shortly after I upgraded and registered for my first weekend of races, my phone rang. It was the shop letting me know that they had some new wheels for me.


Those wheels propelled me to the top of the bottom third of the elite field. Once news of my stellar Saturday results hit the interwebs, my phone started ringing again. It was the shop again, letting me know that my new bike was in and ready to be raced on Sunday.

it's a limited edition, actually.

'fer reals yo. It's not all olives and cheese though. Turns out I was still using Cat3 cleats on my shoes. The problems these cleats caused have been thoroughly documented. Sunday night I tucked my shoes under my pillow and the UCI faggot fairy flew in my window as I slumbered. I awoke to find a shiny new pair of cleats, with matching shoe shield. Oh? You don't have shoe shields? Well, you should get yourself a set of real pedals then.

stole that fairy joke from Thom, hate him, not me

In Summary

Greg just upgraded. He hasn't even finished an elite race yet and people are already linking to badass pictures of him. See? Life is better here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Providence Day Two, race report.


Ice bath, protein smoothie full of berries, salad full of color, tons of sleep. I pulled out every recovery trick I have ever used. It was like a perfect storm of recovery. I laid on my back for so long, with my legs so elevated, that my toes went numb. Woke up Sunday morning and hopped on the trainer. Seriously, every single recovery method I had access to was employed. I was still really sore.

I took a picture of myself in the ice bath. My bathroom is flooded with lousy artificial light and is a small enclosed space. These factors combine to create a super creepy photo. I'll save you the nightmares and post this picture of ThomP in the ice bath instead.

wait, i posted a picture of a naked man because i didn't want to be creepy?


I got to Roger Williams Park with plenty of time to rip off about 4 or 5 warm up laps. I run a 1x9 drivetrain, and it became immediately apparent that my lowest gear (42x25) was going to make that super steep, deceptively long, ride up in the back corner more difficult than it needed to be. What could I do? I planned on hitting it with speed, dumping all my gears, and hoping for the best.


Remember a few weeks ago when I said that cyclocross races are too short for problems? OK, take that, combine it with "Danger" from above, then put it in your back pocket.

Lap one

I got a good start, mainly because I was ready for the two "developmentally disabled" corners right after the start. Dudes went down, dudes went into the tape, it was pretty much a mess; a mess for which I was ready. I got through clean, and clung to fast wheel on the way out. Sweet. I'm getting dragged around the course by a pretty fast group, I'm liking the way things are unfolding. Then we get to that ride-up.

My original plan of hitting it at speed was foiled by the loose gravel corner at the bottom of it, but I did dump every gear I had and was halfway up before I knew it. That's when the serious torque came out, I was grinding my way up when I suddenly found my right foot somewhere up around my elbow. Gravity being the bitch it is, I was rolling backwards before I could get my foot back down to the ground. I was off the line, off the bike, and even worse, pissing out spots left and right.

I got off my game briefly, but thanks to that corner right after the ride-up, that you could carve as fast as you wanted, I was back in race mode pretty quickly. For real, that corner ruled. It was like you were on a superbike and you could lean it over until your knee scrapped the ground, and since it was downhill, you would be picking up speed the entire time.

Lap two

I knew I had to figure out that ride-up or my race was over. I didn't figure it out on the second lap. I had a new plan, but it didn't work. I found myself rolling backwards, one-footed, while pissing out spots again. This time the mental edge didn't come back too quickly. I half assed that sweet-ass corner, and pissed out a few more spots. The though of dropping out passed through my head, but was quickly dismissed. I figured I would just run the ride-up and pass the time before Tim Johnson ended my race for me.

i heart, shaving my legs, and gasping for air.

Lap three

I'm a problem solver. Trial and error, that's my shit. Third lap I tried something new on the ride-up. I stayed seated, mashed squares, and it actually worked. Both feet stayed on the pedals. My lower back was screaming, and it felt like a volcano in the small of my back had just erupted, releasing untold quantities of lactic acid into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun. Whatever though, I only had to do it ..... wait, I have to do that 7 more times? This is a 10 lap race? That's possible? Those exist?

The rest

After I figured out the run-up, it was too late. I had given up way to many spots and was now in no mans land trying to chase down the group in front of me, which had Colin dangling towards the back of it. Redlining into the wind, alone, for a lap and half, while watching the gap stay the exact same size, had me searching for another strategy. I sat up through the start/finish, and waited for the group that was maybe 10 or 15 seconds behind me. Once we were together, I clung to the back and recovered for a lap, then started taking turns are the front with the intention of making up some ground.

Roadies don't like being hurried

Little did I know that roadies consider riding fast at the front of the group "attacking". This is what happens when you have problems early in the race, you end up in a slow group, or riding solo in no man's land. The group yelled at me numerous times to stop attacking. Coincidentally, spectators (hecklers) were constantly yelling at me to attack the group. "don't attack the groupATTACK THE GROUP!!!!" That is, word for word, exactly what I heard as I lead the group through the pit area. The group complaining, and Cary "Man Voice" Fridrich letting his option known. Fuck the group, Cary, you're my new coach.

this is a spectator's view, of me, losing a cyclocross race (

The inevitable

I was lapped, along with damn near half of the field. After the race Gabe Lloyd came up to me and asked me if I knew why the group was yelling at me. Apparently my cluelessness was pretty obvious. Gabe tried to explain to me team time trial tactics and how you should ride steady through the corners, then peal off and let the group go through while you recover. Nice guy that Gabe Lloyd, unfortunately I think every concept he explained to me sailed about six feet over my head. I'm going to continue to hammer through every corner. Sorry.

Soon after, Ryan Kelly came over with a big ass bottle of Ommegang. That, I understood.

In summary

Kevin 1 : Colin 1 (sigh)

43 of 51, craptacular.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Providence Day One, race report.

Location: Staging, Providence Day1, elite race.
Position: Last "row" (do 3 non-consecutive dudes qualify as a "row"?)
Goal: Do not get lapped.


dear ibc, skinsuits! kisses, kevin

Holy shit... I the only one here without carbon wheels? I can remember the smell of the first turn well. The pavement ended, and everyone jacked up their brakes for the turn onto the grass. The air was thick with the rancid smell of burning carbon. If that doesn't intimidate you, you've probably smelt smoking carbon rims before. I had not. I was intimidated, and a bit repulsed. That shit reeks.

Cat3's are your friends.

All those cat3s that hated me before? Well, now they're my fans. The fan club's numbers have swelled, I think we're up to 5 or 6 now. We're going to have to find a bigger conference room. Not sure if only Cat3's know who I am, or if they were living vicariously through me, but they were loud. When you're drooling all over yourself, your vision is blurry, and your throat tastes like blood, volume is the only thing that gets through. Thanks Cat3 men, we cool now?

"you're doing it"

Whoever it was that was saying "you're doing it" on the last two laps, rock on. Sure, it was bit creepy, but it was exactly what was going through my head at that point in time. "you're doing it". Not only was I in front of Colin, but I wasn't going to get lapped, all of my wildest dreams were fulfilled. "you're doing it". I thank you, anonymous spectator, we were on the exact same page.

if you squint, it kinda looks like i know what i'm doing.

Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch....

Back when I was weighing the pros and cons of upgrading my mountain bike license, one of the cons was race length. The pain and agony of the last lap would double. Well, when you go from Cat3 to Elite, you have to do about 4 last laps. Gloucester Day2, my time was 39 minutes and change. Providence Day1? 1:04 and change. That is well over a 50% increase. I had no idea lap cards could go so high.

In summary

Kevin 1 : Colin 0.

(all photos courtesy of, the bestest, doublehoppiest, photographiest, cyclocross photo blog in the world. they rule.)

(Late edit: I ended up 34th out of 55. Seriously, I beat 20 elite cyclocross racers.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dear Cat3 Men,

No one likes you.

No, really. You're insignificant. The Cat3 race is like the Special Olympics of cyclocross. I learned this the hard way. One of my goals for cross season was to earn the VERGE Cat3 Men leader's jersey. I figured a year of racing at the front of the Verge series would be a great way to make a name for myself in New England cycling circles. Would I know who Jamie Belchak is if he didn't clean up in 2006? Every time I hear the name John Peterson, it's followed by "you know, the guy that killed the Verge 2/3 series".

Turns out, in the world of New England Cyclocross, the Cat3 leader's jersey is the last thing you ever want to have on your back. It is an insult magnet. You become a marked man. The internet has given Brian Wilichoski endless shit over the last two weeks. I have witnesses the Cat3 field, as well as random spectators, give BW shit to his face on numerous occasions. Why is this my goal?

At Gloucester, after riding at (towards?) the front of the Cat3 field for an hour and a half, you would think the race announcer would learn your name. Nope. Unless you're in an elite race, or your last name is Gougen, Keough, or Mannion. you're just a number to Richard Fries. The courtesy of being called to the podium by name is not extended to the Cat3 field. "...and in third place, racer number 492." Richard can't be bothered to learn your name. Why do you think the juniors race runs at the same time as the Cat3 race? It's so Richard Fries has something worthwhile to talk about.

Speaking of the podium, the race promoter is just going through the motions to make you feel good about yourself. They just pretend to take the pictures, but they don't actually press the button. Who want to waste valuable battery power on Cat3s? You're not handed a prize of any sort. If you want your prize money, you have to search for it. The only reason you're allowed to race is because the elite fields need to be paid, and your money is the greenest.

Your team won't care either. When I told the IBC Directeur Sportif I got 2nd and 3rd at Gloucester, his remark was "sounds like you're ready for the big kids race". That is one bitch slap of a backhanded compliment. As brutal as it is true.

Spectators don't give a shit about you, they are just there to watch their friend. They will be silent until said friend rides by. They will take pictures of their friend in 83 place, but they will not take a picture of anything, or cheer for anything going on at the front of the race. To them, the race might as well be a group ride passing by.

Your fellow Cat3 racers will be the worst. Your accumulated promotion points doubles as a scale, from one to 10, of just how much the Cat3 field hates you. There is no such thing as congratulations in Cat3 racing, and there shouldn't be. You will never hear "nice race," but every variation of the term "sandbag" will be thrown at you repeatedly. Not getting lapped in the elite race brings more congratulations than winning the Cat3 race. As it should.

While we're on the topic of sandbagging, Chip recently theorized that if you're having fun on a Cross course, you're probably sandbagging. I have had an enormous amount of fun racing my bike these last few weeks. I actually feel guilty for having such a good time.

Your shop won't order your bike for you. Your dog will not make eye contact with you. Your brakes will always squeak. Your girlfriend will dump you (seriously).

It's not all tears in your beers though. You can rise above the hatred and anonymity of the Cat3 field, and if you play your cards right, it won't cost you a thing...

Gloucester Second Place +$70
Gloucester Third Place +$40
Cancelled Cat3 registration +$35 x 2
UCI License -$90
Elite registration -$45 x 2

Net cost to you = $zero

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The most important weekend in the history of the galaxy, day two race report.


I stayed up late rebuilding my bike after Saturday's romp in the mud. Mountain bikers know the unseen damage riding in wet conditions will cause. Unseen damage always comes to the surface during a race, so it's better to preempt this damage before it becomes a problem. Cross races are too short for problems. I had a feeling a well running machine would give me an advantage since 99% of the field also beat the piss outta their bikes on Saturday, and most of them probably didn't do any maintenance outside of a rinse.

Oh, and I sensed your disappointment, internet, with my lack of pictures from day one, so I hired my own photographer for day two. Thanks Uri, the check is in the mail.

Front row bitches!

They all want to kill you... They all want to kill you... They all.....

I'm outta here bitches, eggbeaters, clip in first time, every time.

I think I'm shrinking, no seriously, this is the third post in a row where I have been presented evidence of my diminishing stature. No, wait. The world is growing around me. I am normal, average, if you will. You are all giants. You fucking freaks.

20 Years from now I'll be telling my kids about that time I was in front of Brian Wilichoski.

Let's do this.

What I lost in style points for pushing off the barrier, I gained in not bloodying up my shins.

Thankfully there are a lot of pictures of day two, because the only things I saw were Greg Whitney's seat stays. I followed him around, sucked his wheel if you will, for at least half of the race. I tried a few passes, a couple succeeded, but nothing stuck. It was taking pretty much everything I had in me just to stay on his wheel. He was killing it, and I'm pretty sure I told him that somewhere around two to go.

I don't play by the rules, here I am caught on camera trying to kick Greg off his bike.

I had my plan though. One of my successful passes was on the long uphill sweeping turn not long before the run up. I figured I would let him do all the work, then make my move through that part on the last lap, then through the barriers, turn-turn-sprint to the finish and soak in all the glory of finishing second to Brian Wilichoski for the second day in a row. I was the wily veteran and Greg was the naive young buck who I would make an example of. Or so I thought. As I said before it was taking everything in me to stay on his wheel, I starting wondering if my plan was actually a plan or just a fantasy. Right around then, we were flying around a loose turn that fell away into the remnants of Saturday's mud pit when both my wheels slid out and I laid her down.
SHIT! Less than half a lap to go, I should be setting up my move, but I'm taking a dirtnap instead. I jump back up, and hammer until I'm back on Greg's wheel, catching him just before the barriers, where my move was supposed to have put me in front of him. Problem was I had nothing left in my legs after chasing him down and Greg hit the barriers like a man being chased by a douchebag who didn't do any of the work and was going to try and steal his podium spot.

I pulled the plug and coasted into third. Ain't no shame in losing to one of my fellow Root66'ers. He certainly earned it. Not that I want to help you roadies get any faster on a cross bike, but I would like to point out that the entire podium was filled with established mountain bikers. Sitting in a Cat3 peloton doesn't make you any faster on a cross bike. Go buy a mountain bike. Race it. You'll thank me next cross season.

(insert podium picture here, once one of your readers emails it to you)

The most important weekend in the history of the galaxy, Day one race report

(lack of) Photos

One of the many problems with racing in the rain is that people keep their cameras in their dry cars or pockets. This means the awesome photos of you covered in mud, with the rain pouring off your elbows and chin never get taken. That kind of bums me out.

Combine this with the fact that no one likes blogs without pictures, and we have what brainiacks call a conundrum. I have scoured the web for photos, but haven't come up with much. The rain stopped in time for the elite races, so there are plenty of those photos floating around, but us lowly 3s get nothing. Well, except for this one, single picture. (Thanks lodri)

Magellan was wrong, the earth is flat, and that is the edge just behind me.


There isn't much time for processing thoughts in a cross race. If you find yourself formulating cohesive thoughts that don't involve race strategy, you're not pedaling hard enough. Besides my vivid thoughts of what happened before the race, there are only a few things that I really remember.

1) Wow, mud sucks power. As much as I bitch about power courses, I'm starting to think I might be a power rider. Line choice was not very important, the mud stretched from tape to tape. What was important was that you stayed seated and kept the pedals turning over. I remember surprising myself a few times with how I powered through the sketchiest parts of the course.

2) "YOU'RE 20 SECONDS DOWN TO BRIAN!!!" I think that was Colin yelling. I was worrying about barriers, which had to be above regulation height by the time the Cat3s got to them. It's also entirely possible that I'm getting shorter (photo evidence of shrinkage.) 20 seconds, wow, either he is having a bad day or I am having a good day. What I really wanted to know was how many people were between me and Wilichoski. Turns out there were none.

3) "GO KEVIN!" Wait. Someone knows my name? WTF? Turns out I have a fan. Thanks Alex, you rule. Not only are you the president of the fan club, you are a member. The only member.

So there you have it. I got second, and would love to prove it with a photo, but cannot. Sorry dudes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The most important weekend in the history of the galaxy, pre race report.

I actually already wrote up the Gloucester pre-race report. It's the Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend Day Two Race Report. The entire purpose of my trip to Vermont was to shake the rust off my cyclocross skills and earn a call-up at Gloucester. It was a successful trip. I went from bumbling rusty dropout, to contender; and improved my Gloucester start from about row 13 to row 2. For real. 13 to 2. Can't stress how important that is.


Fast forward through my week of top secret training, you'll have to pay $5 if you want to read that. It's Friday afternoon. A few friends of mine started a new company, and opened an office in a loft on the edge of Chinatown. They are hosting a happy hour to show off the new digs. I put together the perfect plan have a few cold ones early in the evening, go home, fuel up and hit the hay. Get some Friday evening socalizing in, but not so much that I end up de-tuning the race engine. Perfect.

I should adopt Schwarzenegger's policy of never standing next to tall people.

Problem is it's now 10pm, we've drank the place dry, and I still haven't had dinner. While everyone else throws their jackets on and heads to the bar around the corner, I do the right not-quite-as-wrong-as-everything-else-i-had-done-up-to-that-point thing and head home.

9am Saturday morning.

My mudder was a mudder.

By now it's no secret that I love racing in shitty weather. Even my competitors that don't read my blog (no really, there are a few) have figured out that I am a mountain biker, and therefore my advantage increases as traction decreases. Seemed like the weather was giving back what ever advantage my morning headache took away. Level playing field, lets do this.

Not so fast.

The great thing about my level of retardation is that I am fully aware of it, and therefore can do my best to compensate. I'm halfway to Gloucester, in the car, checking for about the fifth time to make sure I didn't forget anything. shoes? nope. U-turns are performed, speed limits and other traffic control devices are ignored.

The extra penalty for my stupidity? When I got back on the highway to re-drive the part I just drove, I had to wait in traffic because there was an accident in the 15 minutes since I had last driven through. A full hour after I planned to arrive, I roll into the mud puddle that is the Stage Fort Park parking lot.

Even tough guys shiver.

For some reason we are staged way early. Everyone is standing around squinting as the rain comes down at a 45 degree angle to match the whipping winds. Dudes are shivering, shoulders are hunched, arms are frantically rubbed. Time does not pass. I play it cool, I got in a good warm up and still have some sweat under my jacket. I stand up straight, and keep my eyes wide open like a tough guy and let the rain pound against my face as I stare down the shivering chumps that surround me. Five minutes later I am jacketless and huddled in a standing fetal position cursing the name of whoever had us wait in staging for 15 minutes. You shittin' me? I gotta race now?

Awesome photos unawesomely stolen from

Friday, October 2, 2009

Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend, day two race report

In my Vermont day one report, I bitched about my starting position. Day two I had the same shitty starting position, except 25 people were called up in front of me, instead of 10. That was OK though, it was my fault I wasn't one of those 25 people getting called up, I accepted the consequences of my DNF. Time for redemption.


On day one my coach told me I had to go super hard at the start. There really was no hole shot, so the key was to keep going hard after everyone else eases off their initial surge. Day two, there was even less of a hole shot, just a super wide, super long, straight away that lead into a super wide, super long (for a cross course) climb. Coach told me he wanted me in 20th place at the start, I had to go hard and make passes, but not as many passes as day one. I then fired my coach. I will pass everyone, don't try to stop me. Smart, conservative racing is for elites, not Cat3s.


Turns out I was around 20th at the start. Coincidence I assure you. I passed about 30 dudes on the straight away, then went backwards once the course turned uphill. This was a pattern that would repeat all race long. I would suck wheels until any sort of turn or downhill came up, then I would make passes. I would make up tons of ground all around the course, then let everyone back in front of me on that one climb.


Did I mention it was raining, and wet, and cold? Perfect environment for me to cultivate an excellent result. Add the fact that I love watching roadies go down was icing on the cake, cuz the roadies were going down left and right. Beautiful.


Besides that climb killing me, and roadies hitting the turf constantly, I don't remember much besides the fact that I was drooling on myself most of the time. When you start towards the back of the field, and constantly go back and forth all race long, it's hard to figure out where you are. I knew I was in the top 25, so it was mission successful as far as I was concerned. Turns out I finished in 6th place, waaay better than I expected. I've never earned a single Verge point, now I'm sitting on 30 of 'em. Ebay auction, here I come.

Gloucester. Second row call-up. It's on.