Friday, May 29, 2009

Business in the front, Party at the back

Last night, with mist misting away in the tri-state area (Manhattan, northeastern New Jersey, and the Rest of New York), three of us decided to take a little trip to the first of Rockleigh's weekly crit series. Rockleigh is a Thursday evening race some 15 miles outside of the city with two fields: men's pro/1/2/3 at 6 pm and the rest at 7.

I, being the adventuresome female that I am, decided that it would be a good idea to give it a try, even though I would be racing against some of the fastest B men on my team and their peers. I knew I could have some trouble when my HR went skyrocketing trying to stay in Joe's draft on the ride to the race. When I got there, however, I was surprised to find not one, but two other women there to race. Score. Isaac met us there, and after a few minutes of spinups to attempt to keep warm in the May drizzle, it was off to the races.

For most of the race, there were two words on my mind. One was wheel. And the other was suck. And wheel suck I did. Now, starting in the back of the pack was not the best idea. I knew it wasn't when I was lining up, but I didn't have quite the confidence to shimmy my way to the front like I do with the WoB's (pronounced "Whoa-Bees," not wobs. Wob is a terrible name). So, the long and the short of it is, I ended up in the back of the field, with the rest of the sketchy cat 5's who can't take a turn at speed, so every lap was...speed, speed, speed along the finishing straightaway, brake hard from about 27 to about 17 mph, take the turn and then hit the gas out of the turn to keep up with the 4's (namely, Isaac and Joe) up front that took the turn at speed. Well, it turns out that I don't have quite enough pop in my legs to do that on every turn, so about 5 laps in my butt got dropped off of the back with one of the other women, a nice British triathlete.

I know what you're thinking, but her wheel ended up being surprisingly steady, and I was content to ride it for another 6 or 7 laps. We were doing well, her doing her time trial thing, and me doing my watching her a** thing, until we got word that the field was right behind us. As Rockleigh is a training crit, they let the sufferers keep suffering as the field continues to lap them. At that point, we had a train of 4 or 5, and I was at the back. We probably should have moved over, but since I was bringing up the rear, I wasn't going to lose my draft if they didn't. As the break moved past us, it had to slow a little, which incidentally allowed Joe, who was bridging, to catch up to them. It's always nice to have a teammate reassure you as they lap you.

We then proceeded to create many more problems as the field came up behind us. I lost my tri girl's wheel and had to try to maneuver through the peleton with many very large guys yelling at me. I was only there for about a lap and a half before some annoying Cat 5 moved out about 3 lines through turn 1, cutting me off at the back of the field and effectively relegating me to riding by myself for the rest of the race.

The final 5 laps or so consisted of me following this *^*%$#@, who continued to nearly knock me out by standing up and pushing his bike backwards as I was on his wheel. On the last lap we got passed again, with Joe looking strong in the front group. We only had about 500 meters to go when the peleton swarmed us, of course on turn 5. It's never a good idea to get passed by 40 people going much faster than you into the second to last turn of a race. But somehow, I survived. Unfortunately, since I couldn't contest the peleton, I couldn't put the moves on the guy I'd been wheelsucking for the past 15 minutes. Even though I didn't get to sprint him, I still busted out with a little acceleration in the last 100 meters, which completely cooked him. That's what he gets for not holding his line.

After taking my warm down lap (tri girl still going, she must not have known that being lapped didn't mean that she had to make up that extra lap), I arrived at the group of guys including Isaac, Joe, and Raymond Junkins. They were just chilling, talking about the race.

"How'd you do Joe?" I asked after a minute or so, knowing that he had to be in the top 6.

"Oh, I won," he replied casually. Oh, right, no big deal. Wait, just kidding, that is a big deal. Apparently there was a party at the back and a party at the front.

And then we rode home in the dark.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What it means to be a Columbia rider... wouldn't be a midweek ride without dodging Japanese tourist
riding the wrong way, with no helmets, while taking pictures in the
park. Or better yet, the swedes who roller blade, the wrong way, with
no helmets, down the center of the road, while staring down on coming

Oh but nothing beats our home grown New Yorkers, walking out directly
in front of your bike, while on their cell phones and pushing the
"speedster deluxe jogging stroller"... apparently they didn't realize
that model doesn't come with airbags.

[Additionally, there are the overweight deliverymen swerving around on their bikes that most definitely don't fit them...

And the paparzzi that occasionally snap a bunch of pictures of you in hopes that you might be some odd bit of royalty and make them a few hundred bucks...

And the triathletes snaking along on their their foldable bikes with carbon wheels and tt bars (true story)...

And the SUV's that think they are badass by driving around the Harlem Hill barrier at aound 45 mph and nearly killing everyone minding their own business on the west side of the park...]

Oh how I love NY

Commentary by Aimee Layton, with bracketed interjection by Shane Ferro

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Race report: PSU

Yeah, that's good, but what about this??

There's your shout out to the Men's C;s, although Rob has already posted that first one to the ECCC listserv, so if you are one of those that check your email every 5 seconds to procrastinate from the impending doom of finals, you have already seen it.

It's funny, because I feel like this weekend did the exact opposite of building us up (except in vertical feet). First, there was the TTT that was kinda flat, but not really at all. I was also pissed for that race and attempting to take it out on the false flats until I realized that that was hurting me a lot, and I might not make the 10 miles if I kept it up. I also made the smart move to get to the line early which 1) made my teammates late while they were looking for me and (2 in my rush I forgot my glasses, causing me to get dirty spray in my face for ten miles. And it wasn't really raining very hard, so there was none of the "kick it into your face, then wash it right off" kind of thing from Yale. Long story short, I ended up riding slightly outside Liz's draft the entire way as to ensure that I could actually see her and not slam into her.

I think the highlight of the TTT was our men's A team, which consisted of two A riders and a D rider getting his butt kicked so that we could finish.

Once the weather cleared up a bit, it was time to start the road race of doom. Hats off to all the climbers in the field. Not many people on our team were in that category this week (apologies to those of you that were that I may be skipping over--but I did offer you the chance to blog and tell your side of the story and had no takers). Something about living on a pancake of an island. The problem with road races is that they are really really really really long (one really for every lap the men's A's did). And you can't really see anything, so you just sit around eating cookies, doing space legs, making inappropriate comments, and making a fool of yourself on random tandem bicycles. And, in my case, dancing around to RIT's (?) music choices, most notably "Stacy's Mom." What a classic. Next year I propose that we buy our own team iHome. Dancing is something we really could use more of at bike races.

While I am not yet completely off the subject of the road race, I'd just like to say that I channeled Carrie a little bit in being pissed that our race was only 21 miles. It took me until about halfway up the climb to get warmed up (see: me getting dropped), but afterwards I was picking up speed and feeling good. I was ready for another lap. I could also have used another lap for training for Bear Mountain this weekend, but c'est la vie. I finished. Which is more than I can say of all the other road races this year (curses to flat tires and dehydration).

Now, on to Sunday, skipping over the mediocre small-town Italian joint and the smoke-filled first floor of the truck-stop Ramada, the crit. I had been looking forward to this all week. Now, when we rolled up in the misty haze, there were quite a few looking at the chicane sequence with timidity. I was either too confident or too stupid to notice how scary it was. Either way, it worked out in my favor. I pretty much figured that it couldn't get worse than this, and if it did, at least I knew that I'd have my favorite photographer/ER doctor to come to my rescue (if you were around for the Men's A bunnyhop-over-the-haybale scene you know what I'm talking about). Of course, I spent so much time worrying about what time I should get queued up for the start that I got to the line a little late and ended up in the 2nd row. Which put me in the 2nd group. I tried to play it smart. In some ways, that worked out well for me. When I was close to someone going into the chicane, I went to the outside of the corner on the 2nd turn, which saved me from getting caught behind Carrie's crash. At the same time, after about 5 laps when things started settling down, I wasn't quite smart enough to realize that two of the girls in my group of four had teammates up the road, hence, perhaps I should have done a little more work than I did to try to pull them back. But now that I think about it, if they were blocking, they weren't doing a terribly good job at it because we were going decently fast. There were a few obstacles over the course of the course--one being Army riding with a flat tire and try to pass on the inside coming into the chicane. I almost felt like pushing her into that corner that she wanted so badly, but was content to growl at her and promptly pass her again on the next straight away. The one time that I let her in front of me coming into turn 5, something pops off her tire and she goes skidding into my lane. Another match burned catching back up to the group. But at least I felt a little safer on the course. That is, until UVM (Emily, I think) kept clipping her pedal on turn 4. Props to her, though, for never going down. I was impressed, even though it scared the bejeezus (how the hell is that word spelled?) out of me every time it happened. Interestingly enough, I didn't even notice that it happened coming around the last turn on the final lap and nearly took all of us out. I was busy cursing myself for not being ballsy enough to make a move before the turn (which, now that I know that we all almost ate it, I guess that was a good move, last in a field sprint is better than eating pavement and getting a DNF; see DFL>DNF).

Anyway, that was that. There was lots more that happened, but I have a review session now. Plus, by not writing about anyone else, I can passive-agressively motivate other people to write about it. Right guys?

That being said, hats off to Dave Collier, with a wicked move for a 2nd place finish in Men's C's, and of course to Mags, who kicked ass without even wanting to. And a word for all of my WoB teammates, who raced like hell (in the good way)--did you hear that we got a shoutout from the announcer at our race for fielding such a large (and attractive) team??

I am going to go figure out how to write without parentheses now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Penn State: TTT T-minus 9 hours

And so the craziness begins. Since 3 PM, we've already had a wheel rack fall off the van, stopped on the side of the highway in the rain, been forced to eat Taco Bell for dinner, embarrassed each other thoroughly in the vans, gone to the wrong hotel, and indulged in Guinness cake. Should be a good weekend.