Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 DCCX Cyclocross - Washington, DC

Brief Report:

Team Bike Rack KILLED IT today at the second-annual DCCX, the only cyclocross race in the District of Columbia. TBR fielded five riders in Men's Cat. 4 race, with Matthew Bartlett taking the win, and the four other riders putting in strong rides. Bartlett not only won, but then skipped the podium presentations to jump into his car and head down to Atlanta for a race the next day. The man is an animal, a committed racer, but like all Bike Rack riders, an incredibly nice guy.

As for me, I had my best race ever. I rode what I considered a smart race, taking it easy on the early laps and them ramping it up as the laps progress, waiting for riders in front of me to die as I made pass after pass, especially in the tricky corners, and sprinted home to 19th place. Last year I placed 44th out of 55 riders, and this year faired much, much better in a much larger field. My goal this season was to place in the top 30, or at least as close to it as possible, but now with a top 20 finish, I'll be looking to go even higher.

Mad props to my good friend Mike Giancolli or Hup United for putting in an awesome race to 16th place. That's what cyclocross is about - when your "arch nemesis" on the bike is a good friend off the bike.

Mad props also to my wife Shana and my 10 -month old son for getting up yet again in the pre-dawn hours to accompany me to a race, to Shana for being a combined team manager, water-bottle fetcher, babysitter, and cheering section. I might be the one on the bike doing some brutal racing, but she puts in just a big and effort as the wife of a hopelessly committed hardcore cyclist and as the mother of our future racer.

Mad Props (OK, last one) to The Bike Rack for supporting the team and looking to expand DC cycling. We got some good video footage of the race, so I'll link everybody into that when it's up.

And finally, I highly recommend competing in this race to all riders and attending it to all spectators. The course, set a the Armed Forces Retirement Home, is both beautiful and fun to race. This year, the Belgian Embassy and the DC Dutch club kicked in beer, steak frites, and poffertes to add the the European feel of this race and a party atmosphere to the DC 'cross scene.

Pictures will come soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Savlinut, Bevakasha...

...that's Hebrew for "patience, please".

As you can figure out by now, I am a passionate cyclist, and passionate about sharing the sport and lifestyle, which is one of the reasons I do this blog. And just like on other cycling blogs and websites, I eagerly await new content and new pictures on a daily basis. However, this being a blog by an observant Jew, and this being the holiday-laden Hebrew month of Tishrei (think a very busy Jewish December), new content is on hold until after the chagi'im/holidays.

To give you a better idea, this has been my October so far: ride, work, holdiay, ride, Shabbat, race, work, ride, holiday, work, Shabbat, race, work, ride, holiday...

Mondays feel like Fridays, Holidays feel like Shabbat, Shabbat feels like Sunday, Thursdays feel like Mondays, Shabbat feels like holidays, and my whole riding/racing schedule feels like Swiss cheese.

So bear with me through to the end of the month, then I'll post more on a regular basis. In the meantime, Shana Tova u'Metukah, Chag Sameach (we're up the Hoshana Raba/Sh'meni Atzeret/Simchat Torah at this point), and keep riding.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross

Two weekends ago I competed at the Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross, held at the Lilypons water gardens in Buckystown, Maryland. NCVC holds this race as a tribute to one of their fallen riders. Not only do they put on an awesome cyclocross event, but also use the race as a fundraiser for Ed Sander's son so that he may have a college fund. I never met Ed Sander, who not only raced but also worked for Lilypons, but judging from the turnout, I can image he must have been a great person who touched many people, and I wish his family all the best.

As for the race, it was my best result ever - 29th! (no, it;s not top ten or anything like that, but it is better than last year, and my second top-30 of the season). What really rocked is that not only is this course my favorite of the year, but it was also my first ever truly muddy Belgian-style 'cross. The skies opened up for a few days before the race, so the course was a complete quagmire of thick mud and sucking grasses. As usual, I went out a little too strong, faded over the first three laps, held back afterwards and saved energy for the last lap, where I finally made my moves passing riders to get back into the better half of the race. It was the last pass which got me again into the top 30, though I had to sprint to the line for that one and defend it.

No, you don't win every race, and if you're me, you simply fight for top 30 placings, but there are moments in the race - mini battles, fun technical sections, moments of true grit, and fan support - which makes it all worth it. There's not much better than having a week of great cyclingmemories from races such as this, and then getting to do it again the following week. This race was right out of those scenes of classic European cyclocross racing - trench warfare on bikes - complete with ominous skies, thick mud, minefield puddles, sucking grass, and brown splattered everywhere. And of course, cowbells - everywhere!

This race pushed me as a 'crosser, especially since my first 'crosses were dry and dusty. Last year I placed 32nd on this course in dry, fast conditions. This year I placed better in tougher conditions, a result of hard training and lots of support from family, friends, and the Bike Rack team.

Last year, this section was the "Endo Pit". This year it was just mud and puddles, which actually made this section faster.

Racing through the start/finish area. Honestly, I've never seen a line painted on the ground, so I don't really know where it is, so I had to sprint out my finish to a point where I was sure I'd passed the line and still defend my position.

This was the "just one more" rider I caught and passed on the last lap, not knowing that we were closing out the top 30. He jumped on my wheel after the passed, and came off for the sprint, though I was able to hold him off at the line (to his credit, he's a very good rider and a nice guy).

Ryan Dudek and I clowning around after the race. Ryan wasn't clowning around during the race - he rode a good race to something like 11th place.

Now this is what you and your bike should look like after a real cyclocross race...

...and no matter how much it hurt, you should still have a smile on your face because cyclocross is the most painful fun you can have on a bicycle. Yeah, CX sucks, but we love it for some strange reason and can never get enough of it, even if at times that bell lap can never come soon enough. Sometimes you just want "this race" to be the last CX race you do, but after every race all you want is more.

Pix from the Charm City Cyclocross

Better late than never, and late right now is late at night - post Yom Kippur fasting and subsequent stuffing my face and belly. Still, despite the fact that the Chagi'im are putting a serious dent in my riding/training time, I still need to keep the Jewish cycling/cyclocross ferver up and going. With that, here are three non-action photos from the Charm City Cyclocross in Baltimore.

When I'm not pushing the big ring, I'm pushing a stroller. Life is beautiful when you can have the both of them together, and if my son develops the same inseam as me, he gets the Cannondale as well.

Since you'll be hearing a lot from me on this blog, I figured I'd show myself with the Team Bike Rack kit, which is available from the Bike Rack ( The kit is made by Sugoi, and is top-quality.

Shown left to right: Ryan Dudek (awesome cool guy, races now for Racing Union, and will kick your ass at both 'cross and bike polo), John Bavier (super-nice guy, one of the founders of Bike Rack's CX team, responsible for getting a lot of DCers into CX, and brews a mean wheat ale), and me (hopeless cycling addict).