Sunday, September 21, 2008

Charm City Cyclocross 2008 - Quick Report

Awesome Race.

Provisional results have me rounding out the top 30 in a 100-rider field, so until the official results go up on, it looks like 30th place. Good start to the season, better result than last year, and momentum going into next week's Ed Sander Memorial 'Cross.

No mud this year, but wet grass this morning made things get a little dirty, but also made the tight corners and off-cambers very slick (I found myself saving the rear-end of the bike quite a few times). Had lots of fun and ran strong through the barriers, especially in the sand pits.

Best part was having my wife and son cheering for me. Mud and cowbells it was not today, but rather dust and baby rattles. Good day out for the Bike Rack riders as well, both to the guys in the team kit and the growing family/crew that is Bike Rack DC.

Pix to come...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Charm City Cyclocross this Sunday

Finally! CX season is here.

This Sunday.

In Baltimore.

The Charm City Cyclocross.

I did this race last year, which was my first CX race ever, and my first race in almost 15 years (and I also did it the day after Yom Kippur; 40 hours of hard, fast riding after 25 hours of hard fasting). And since then, much has changed. Last year, I decided to race 'cross only a few weeks before the season started; this year I've been training all season in preperation for 'cross. Last year, I was unsure if I really wanted to race, and decided to do Charm City as pure experiement - complete trial run; this year, I'm fully focused on 'cross and commited to six races so far. Last year I felt like a goofy recreational rider on the start line - a misplaced yapping poodle in a rabid pack of greyhounds; this year I've worked to become a greyhound ready to race as hard and focused as the next guy.

But despite it all, I had a good race last year. Even though the organizers screwed up the results, I apparently placed in the middle of the field, somewhere between 30th and 40th place out of almost 90 riders. And I had fun. Ridiculous amounts of fun. In between post-race hyperventilating, I had a huge smile on my face. Now I'm ready to do it again, but this time more serious, more foucused, more commited - ready to experience 'cross at a higher level and experience a higher level of 'cross enjoyement.

And before I even begin, I need to give thanks to my wife, my family, my friends, and my sponsor - The Bike Rack - for all of thier support leading up to the 'cross season.

And most of all to The Holy One, Blessed Be He, for seeing me safely through the year and allowing me to have the most precious fan of all - a beautiful, healthy, happy nine-month old.

So now let the skies open up (it is near Sukkot anyway!), let the cowbells ring, let the mud ooze, let the body power, let the bikes fight, and let the Belgian Ale flow - it's cyclocross season.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dude, Seriously, Update Your Blog!

Sorry Everybody. The Complete Jewish Cyclist has been lying stagnant for a little longer than I would like it too. Busy right now with riding, parenting, riding, work, riding, sleeping, get the picture.

Cyclocross season is just around the corner, though. I will be racing at the Charm City Cyclocross and the Ed Sander Memorial 'Cross for my first two races, so I'll update the blog with those as well as something I'm cooking up, which is a training program for the upcoming Chagim, or better known as "How to deal with the High Holy Days as if they were bike races".

You need pictures, though. Don't have any new ones, so here's an old one. It's the 'Dale after a particularly muddy ride last February. Hopefully this 'cross season will be a muddier, messier one that last year, which turned out to be one big grass and dust fest. For all of the Jews out there who will be praying for a good rainy season this Sukkot, please keep this in mind (after thinking about the agricultural cycle in Israel first, of course).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Rabbinic/Halachic Approach to Riding on Shabbat & Chagim

Every now and then, I like to type a combination of cycling and Jewish terms together into Google and see what comes up. Recently, I did this and found this interesting website, which is a rabbinic discourse onto the halachic (pertaining to Jewish law) views of riding a bike on Shabbat and Chagim.

Here it is:

Now while the guys who wrote this may not concern themselves with such matters as shaving precious ounces off of carbon superbikes, V02 max training and power wattage output, or if Carlos Sastre could've won the Tour de France against Alberto Contador, they do lay down some interesting points here. Not that I'm laying in agreements or disagreements (though I did chuckle when they mentioned 15 mph as a preferable riding speed), but overall it's a fair study for those who are fair and study, though hardcore cycling fanatics may have their own interpretations.

Long story short; don't ride centuries on Shabbat, don't plan on doing bottom bracket overhauls on the first day of Sukkot, but if you want to spin around the ol' shtetl on your fixie during Pesach, then go for it (though don't forget to have your cyclometers and PowerTap hubs disconnected beforehand, including the magnets from the spokes).

Monday, September 1, 2008

Signs That You Are an Orthodox Jewish Cyclocrosser

Practically nobody is gonna get the humor in this post. Not only do many Orthodox Jews not know anything about cyclocross, but neither do most non-Jewish cyclists in general. And add to that the fact that many of the elements in this list pertain to the practices of an Orthodox Jew, it makes it all the more funny to me, yet confusing to practically everybody else.

Orthodox Judaism. Cyclocross. One plus one equals three.

Yet, I've had this list playing around in my head for some time, growing occasionally, and clawing at the inside of my skull just trying to get out. So as quite possibly the world's only Orthodox Jewish cyclocrosser, here is a list of the telltale signs of an Orthodox Jewish cyclocrosser (yes, that strange sound is me giggling to myself, alone...), so here goes...


- When called up to do Hagba, you shoulder the sefer Torah and start running and jumping over things.

- Your tallit bag is the bright yellow Louis Garneau mussette bag handed out as Swag at the 'cross races.

- Pigs are bad because they wallow in the mud, but mud itself is very good.

- "Gin and Trombones"? Feh, give me Schnapps and Accordians.

- Your fans are waving Purim Groggers instead of cowbells.

- You ask your Rabbi if it is permissible for a Jew to race "cross".

- You follow teams like Fidea, Lambouwkrediet, and Rabobank instead of the Yankees or the Mets.

- Your convinced you can hammer for 40 to 60 minutes without eating or drinking because you just did 25 hours of fasting for Yom Kippur.

- At your wedding, as your bride is doing the traditional seven laps around the groom, you put out lap cards after the third lap and ring a bell at the end of the sixth lap.

- You always add "plus one lap" to the Hakafoth, the circular procession of the sefrei Torah around the synagogue on Simchat Torah.

- Your secretly wonder if Sven Nys' real name is Shmuely Nystein.

Ha Ha funny. I'm gonna go drink a Belgian beer by myself now.