Turns out the Rapha-Condor guy I was riding with on Sunday is Tom Southam. Nice guy, and pretty funny, judging from his rider profile. KV rocks!
I don't like not writing here on the blog, as I'm pretty well convinced that every time a take a break from the blog half of my readers (one of the two, that is) decide that they really shouldn't be wasting their time with me anyhow.
And yet, sometimes I have to take a break, which I will do, beginning with the end of this post.
Why am I taking this abrupt blogcation? Here's a list of things I have to do this week:
-Promote a bike race. (We still need volunteers! Email me if you want to help out -- you can race for free, and get some delicious food)
-Build up my new bike.
-Pack all my stuff, move everything across town to my new pad, and unpack everything.
-A super-secret writing project, the details of which can only be revealed under penalty of death.
To some, that to-do list, particularly the first and third items, might seem like trifling things easily handled in an evening, but it's going to take me a little longer, and a little more effort. And I really don't want to accidentally overlook about some minor detail, like forgetting to change the address on my Velo News subscription, or bringing my bed over to the new place.
So I'm going to take some time to make sure that I do it all right. And when I return, on Monday, May 3, I should have lots of fun stories about all of the four things I did over my blogcation (OK, not the fourth item, but the first three). So, you have that to look forward too.
Until then, be well, ride fast, and keep the rubber side down. And register for Spa:Crit.
For vacation (my vacation, that is) reading, I recommend the spa:crit blog, authored by none other than Skidmore College Hall of Fame rower, turned course-record setting runner, turned two-wheeled speedster, John Onderdonk.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Turns out the Rapha-Condor guy I was riding with on Sunday is Tom Southam. Nice guy, and pretty funny, judging from his rider profile. KV rocks!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I'm not going to say much about Quabbin today, as it totally sucked, at least as far as my performance was concerned. This was due to three factors: 1) a not-fit-for-publication digestive ailment that came over me this morning on the way to the race and continued all day, 2) a mis-adjusted front derailleur, which kept form using my big ring at a critical moment, resulting in me getting dropped, and riding 70-odd miles off the back to finish (at least I had company), and 3) not fueling properly last night, which left my legs uncharacteristically dead.
In addition to racing poorly, I also lost my sunglasses -- the second pair that I've lost this season. So that sucked, too.
Two positive notes from the day: It didn't rain all day, and I spent the first hour of the race riding in a breakaway with a member of the Rapha-Condor-Sharp team, which is visiting this side of the pond from Britain.
Here's the scenario: we're riding along in a group of four, out of site of the peloton, just cruisin'. This rider (whose name I didn't get, but I gather he won the Turtle Pond race in New Hampshire on Saturday), started talking to me. Of course, I assumed it was just general race chit-chat, but since I missed what he'd said, I asked him to repeat himself the next time I rotated through.
Get this: "You don't, by any chance, write a blog called Good Bye Blue Mondays, do you?"
Sweet -- I've got at least one reader in Britain!
Turns out this Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, this blog's namesake, is his favorite book of all time. So there you go.
So, at least I got something out of the race. Of course, I'm sure there will also be some benefit to the 120 miles I put in today, even if, judging from the number of cars left in the parking lot when I finished, I wasn't even in the same time zone as the winner -- whoever that was.
On another note, the new Champion System frame is really sweet. Thanks to Louis and Kozak for getting it up to me.
It's full carbon, but does away with some of the more-frivolous details of my Addict (carbon mount for the front derailleur, for one). This is more of a business-oriented race bike, which is exactly what I need. I'm going to try my best to get it built up for the biggest race of the year on Sunday, but barring that, I'm hoping to have it ready to go for Bear Mountain in a couple weeks. Of course, I'll be posting details on the build, and ride characteristics over the next few weeks.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Today's post is pretty heavy, if you need a laugh after reading it, check out my latest essay on the Embrocation Cycling Journal here.
When I got to work on Sunday evening, after spending the day covering the Tour of the Battenkill Pro Men's Invitational, I received a voice mail on my work phone from an unidentified person who, among other things, called me "Jewstein," and said "You're dead, dead."
So, that was a little unsettling.
Although I've been Jewish my whole life, I've never before been the target of antisemitism. Incidentally, although there have been physical threats made against me in the past, this has been my first death threat.
My editor did me the favor of calling the police, who are working with the Saratoga County District Attorney's office to investigate the call, and to try to identify the perpetrator. To that end, I made a statement to the police earlier today. In addition, my editor sent an office-wide email around letting folks know about the threat and laying out what the voice mail had said, she used the opportunity to point out the need to take security in the building seriously -- for my sake and in general.
Then, last evening, I was talking about this all with a person close to me, who asked if I was bothered by the fact that my boss had taken it upon myself to lay out -- in gory detail -- the contents of the call.
I had to think about that for a minute. Ultimately, I decided that I'm glad she did for the same reason that I decided to write about this all on my blog tonight.
A little more than a year ago I wrote here about how I don't feel that President Obama's election means that this country has entered a post-racial phase of history. Instead, I feel very strongly that discussion about matters of race, religion and ethnicity need to continue so that we can better understand our differences and learn to live together.
How many of my readers really understand Islam? Not too many, I'd guess, and do you have any idea how many problems that lack of understanding causes as our cultures try to mesh in this new globalism? The need to understand those different from us-- black, Asian, gay, Muslim, etc... -- is very real, and something that should be taken seriously, lest we write off whole segments of our population.
Clearly too there is still antisemitism, just as there is still racism. Antisemitism -- taken to a certain extreme -- was responsible for my ancestors' flight from Europe to New York City in the early 20th century, and it's very sad to think that some people -- some people who, for some reason, don't like me -- have not progressed in their mindset in the past 100 years. I'm talking, of course, about pogroms in the Ukraine which burned whole villages, left millions dead, and sent most of the surviving Jewry into diaspora.
History is history, and can't be changed -- but I'd like to think that we can learn from history, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a rational person who would say that the 20th century's pogroms, or the Holocaust for that matter, were good things -- and yet, calling me Jewstein is somehow acceptable.
Clearly we need to keep talking about antisemitism, if only so that this society understands that it still exists and needs to be addressed.
Post script: I'll keep readers updated on the criminal investigation into this threat as it is appropriate to do so.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Yes, we are now less than two weeks (frighteningly so, in fact) from the Marshall and Sterling Spa:Crit. This is the second-annual iteration of the Saratoga Springs' fastest bicycle race.
The race returns again to the technical, six-turn course on Saratoga's West Side, with the start/finish located barside, at The Local. There's BBQ fare available for post-race nibblings, courtesy of the bar, and a party atmosphere will prevail!
Registration is open, and I encourage you to go register immediately, before the race fills. This year's event is being sponsored, again, by the generosity of Marshall and Sterling insurance, and will be held to benefit Team Billy.
As readers may recall, the first edition of the race, in 2009, was marked by the tragic death, by natural causes, of one of our racers, Natalia Hogan. Natalia was a high school teacher, well-loved by students, as well as a fixture on the local multisport scene, and ice hockey coach. This year, the race will be held in her memory, and proceeds will be split between Team Billy and a scholarship fund in her name.
In addition to seeking racers, we are looking for course marshals, and anyone who brings a marshall can race for free. Alternately, marshall half the day and race for free. Email me for details, email@example.com
Monday, April 19, 2010
Bill was kind enough to drive me around all day Sunday
This is the turn into Cambridge
I've been on the rivet since 7:30 a.m. Sunday, when I tore out of bed -- having overslept -- and raced to Cambridge to spend the bulk of the day managing the press corps covering the race, twittering, facebooking, and blogging from the race caravan. Then I interviewed most of the podium finishers (not Floyd Landis) and raced back to Saratoga to write the race story, and then put out Monday's sports section.
I got home around 11:30 p.m., as per norm, and then sat down to write an essay on the race for PEZ Cycling news. I always wanted to see my name in PEZ, but I have to admit that I had previously been shooting for the Daily Distractions section. I got to write a Road Side report instead. I guess sometimes you have to settle.
Anyway, I slept a little last night after finishing the essay, woke up early Monday, proof-read the essay for PEZ, worked at the bike shop, somehow got to the grocery store, and then went to work. I've just wrapped up a new essay for Embrocation (to be published Tuesday), and now I have no words left for the blog. Sorry.
In the midst of it all, I pounded a quick email to my fans (both of them), to let people know to look for my essay on PEZ.
Here's the email, for your information, and let me know if you'd like to be added to my fan mailing list. I heard that google will give me a kick back if I get the list up to 10 recipients:
Well, spring is here, such as it is, in upstate New York, and with it comes the annual Tour of the Battenkill. This bike race, in just seven years, has gone from an oddity held on dirt roads to one of the largest amateur races in the world, and a high-level professional event as well.
This year, I was able to cash in over the course of two weekends, racing on the 10th, and watching the pros on Sunday, and then writing a story about the race for PEZ Cycling News yesterday. PEZ is a bit different from other cycling publications, in that they don't look for straight race reports, but instead publish stories about what's going on at major races. This type of article was something new for me, but I think it turned out pretty well. Give it a read here.
Look for a new essay from me on my own experience racing the race on Embrocation Cycling Journal later tomorrow. Incidentally, my last essay on Embrocation was on the intersection of bike racing and matzah, it's worth reading.
Visit my blog, Good Bye Blue Mondays, for daily dispatches, and you can now follow me on twitter, @bernietweets.
I hope everyone is well, and I'd love to hear from you if you have the chance, AB
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Here's the full report, hopefully I'll have some video later on tonight. Thanks to everyone who follow the race here and on twitter!
By ANDREW J. BERNSTEIN
CAMBRIDGE - After surviving five hours of cold, rain, and mud Caleb Fairly, 23, took the crown in Sunday’s Tour of the Battenkill Pro Men’s Invitational.
A survivor by his own description, Fairly spent nearly half of the 124-mile race in a small group ahead of most of his fellow competitors. In the exciting finale, the Colorado resident rode away from former Tour de France champion Floyd Landis to win the event by nearly two and half minutes.
Fairly, originally from Amarillo, Texas, rides for the Holowesko Partners U23 Cycling Team, a feeder program for the top-tier Garmin-Slipstream professional team.
Before joining Landis in the winning breakaway with about fifteen miles left to race, Fairly had been in an 11-man breakaway that started shortly after the start of the second of two laps on the 62-mile course.
"I thought that was the winning move," said Fairly, added that he was disappointed when the peloton, as the main group of riders is known, worked to pull him and the other leaders back into the fold. "But I talked to Floyd (Landis), and he told me to be patient." The two trained together over the winter in California, noted Fairly.
"I’m a younger guy, and Floyd’s one of the veterans," said Fairly on why Landis, who rides for the Bahati Foundation team, would offer advice to a rider on another team. "I think Floyd likes to help out the younger guys."
Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone, declined to speak with the media about the race following the finish.
No matter who advised it, patience paid off, as a short time later, on the dirt Mountain Road, Landis launched an attack, with Fairly latching onto the Pennsylvania native’s wheel.
The two quickly built a substantial lead, electrifying a large crowd assembled at the crest of Meeting House Road. A racers, in several small groups, tried to chase to the leaders, but none would be able to close the gap.
Fairly eventually rode away from Landis on Stage Road, the course’s last climb.
"When I came over the top I got 30 seconds pretty quick, and I knew I’d probably win," he said, calling the Battenkill, a race sanctioned by cycling’s international governing body, the biggest of his career.
Sunday wasn’t the first time Fairly and Landis have gone 1-2 in a race this year. Early this season, Fairly rode away from Landis at the Boulevard, in Southern California.
Fly V Australia, a team that splits its time between the United States and Australia, entered the race as a heavy favorite but missed out when Landis attacked and had to settle for third place with South Africa-native Jay Robert Thomson, who set off on a pursuit to catch the two leaders.
Riding first with two others and then alone, Thomson crossed the line 2 minutes and 43 seconds behind Fairly, narrowly outsprinting Luca Damiani, an Italian riding for the Kenda-Gear Grinder team.
Previously, the team had sent three riders into the 11-man move with Fairly, seemingly giving the team an advantage. But another strong team, Jamis-Sutter Home, had not placed any riders in the breakaway took charge of the race to reel the move back in with about 25 miles left in the race, setting up an exciting end game.
"We did well tactically, but couldn’t finish it off," said Thomson, who said the team would turn disappointment into vengeance. "This isn’t the last you’ll see of Fly V."
While long races over challenging terrain, known as "classics," are commonplace in Europe, they are somewhat unusual in the United States, a gap that the Tour of the Battenkill aims to fill.
"There should be more races like this in the United States," said Thomson.
In addition to the challenging terrain, Thomson noted that the weather - rain that turned torrential at times and temperatures that dipped into the upper-40s before the sun broke through for the finish - played a role, as did a lack of information on time gaps from the referees officiating the event.
"When Fairly attacked Landis, that was the race," he said, noting that he didn’t know how far ahead the leaders were when he attacked the other two riders with him, information that riders used to receive from their team managers via radios, but such radios were banned from professional cycling this year.
In a crowd-pleasing finale, Kenneth Hanson, of Santa Barbara and racing for Team Type One, won the field sprint for fifth-place, leading the 35 riders remaining in the peloton across the line.
Of about 200 athletes who started, only 59 finished, a testament to the course’s challenging nature.
Still, Hanson said the race’s 30 miles of dirt roads, wetted by the day’s rain, had been easier to negotiate than in the race’s 2009 edition.
"Coming from California, these aren’t conditions I’m used to racing in," he said, "but I love it."
Despite the poor weather, crowds lined the course to cheer the athletes on many of the course’s iconic climbs.
When asked what was the craziest thing he’d seen during the race, winner Fairly had two answers: looking down and seeing himself caked in mud, and a bunny suit-wearing fan on the course’s steepest climb, Juniper Swamp Road.
"I don’t know what to say about that," he said.
Reach Andrew J. Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-583-8729 ext. 334.
Now on the road back to Cambridge to watch the finish. My phone died, so tweets will have to take a break. Here's the current situation on the road:
t meeting house road, Landis off the front with Caleb Fairly, not Squire. Sorry for the mistake. First group at 1'15"
The three chasers in the first group are Andres Pereya (Jamis), Jay Robert Thomas (Fly V), and Luca Damiani (Kenda), Andrew Randell Spidertech, chasing at 2'25", then the peloton, which seems to be pretty much out of contention at this point.
Will be back with an update on who wins ASAP.
Lots of fans today, even with the crappy weather. Here are some shots as we drove through Cambridge to start lap 2.
A group of 11 went off at the start of the lap, no Aaron Kemps, Fly V is solo with 55" to te nchasers, 2'55" to the field.
Going onto Becker Road
Floyd Landis led the charge onto the first trip down Becker Road.
There were about 60 racers in the field at the end of the first lap.
Going into the covered bridge, we have 11 off the front, including: Mountain Khaki's Neil Bazdek, Fly V's Jay Robert Thomson, Bahati's Jason Donald, Jamis's Jackie Simes, Kenda's Jony Sundt and Nick Waite, Rapha's Jonathan Tiernan-Lock and Zakkari Dempster.
At last check, they had 55 seconds. I'm now at the top of Juniper Swamp and should have more numbers momentarily.
The climb out of Shushan
Inferno leads the bunch
Coming up valley
Juniper Swamp road
Battenkill is one hell of a hard course, and we saw the first demonstration of that on Joe Bean Road. A peloton of about 100-120 went through intact, with groups of 10-15 chasing. Trek Livestrong's Ben King was at the front trying to get away, but it all came back together by the time the racers hit Route 22 at the bottom of the decent.
Speeds were around 40 mph on Route 22, with some attacks starting.
First Trek Livestrong's Timothy Roe and Fly V's Jay Robert Thomas went off the front, later joined by Rapha's Matthew Cronshaw, Fly V's Ben Day, Kenda's Phil Gaimon, and Holowesko's Nick Walker.
The peloton was together when we entered Greenwich.
The first dirt roads were rough, lots of flats.
6, 12, 23, 29, 82, 109
The race is off!
I'm riding this year in "Press 1" with Bill Pjontek. The view isn't as good as it was from the ops vehicle last year, but I'm happy to be able to see what 's going on.
Chilly to start in Cambridge but there was a good crowd to watch the start anyway, a couple hundred on Main Street.
Race update: The peloton was all together going through the Eagleville Bridge, and three riders attacked on the first dirt section, Roberson Road.
Check back soon for more photos, and follow me on twitter for race updates: www.twitter.com.bernietweets
Thursday, April 15, 2010
By the way, you may have noticed that I've got a new header on the blog. Thanks to Ed Burke, Saratogian staff photographer, for the awesome image from Saturday's race, and thanks to Jamie for creating the awesome design. Trust me, the final product, which I think is pretty awesome, blows my best attempt out of the water. So, thanks guys.
Anyhow, back to business: Headlining Sunday's Tour of the Battenkill is the Trek Livestrong U23 team, but to my eye, Fly V Australia is bringing the strongest lineup. If I were a betting man, I'd put money on Charles Dione to place. I likely wouldn't bet on a certain former Tour de France champion, who was a quiet addition to the lineup for this race. I guess we'll see how he does.
You'll have to scroll all the way down this page to find the real dark horse contenders, just look for the Champion System Racing roster. A slick-looking PDF version of the starts list is available here.
Don't forget that you can get live race updates on Sunday from my twitter feed, and here on GBBM.
In non-ToB news, I had today off from the newspaper, as I'm working both days this weekend, and after working in the shop this morning, fixing my bottom bracket, which had a blown bearing (and yes, I know I should have dealt with that before last Saturday, but thanks for pointing out my error), I headed out for my favorite long-ass training ride, the Sunday Social Century.
It was fairly warm, my legs felt great, and I rode the 100-odd miles faster than the last time I completely this route, even though I was solo this time, but had a group the previous time. Frankly, I can't think of a better way to spend a nice spring afternoon.
Afterward, Scott and I imbibed at The Local. What a pleasant evening.
On the conditions of the roads in northern Saratoga County: parts of Hadley Hill Road have been re-paved, as has Snow Road and parts of Military Road. More of the lower slopes of Fox Hill Road appear to have been repaved, but the sections that have not been touched up are rougher than ever. The dirt section on the top of Fox Hill is in really rough shape. It's rideable, but not what I would call fun. It may almost be worth changing the Sunday Social route to hit West Mountain instead of Fox Hill, but not when you're pushing daylight, as I was tonight.
Without further ado, and for your perusal, here are the start lists for Sunday:
TREK LIVESTRONG U23 USA
2 CAMPBELL, Cody CAN
3 DOWSETT, Alex GBR
4 KING, Benjamin AUS
5 KYER, Julian USA
6 ROE, Thimothy AUS
7 SERGENT, Jesse NZL
8 WILLIAMS, Justin USA
DS FIELD, Kevin
RAPHA CONDOR - SHARP GBR
11 HOUSE, Kristian GBR
12 CRONSHAW, Mathew GBR
13 DOWNING, Dean GBR
14 TIERNAN-LOCK, Jonathan GBR
15 LAPTHORNE, Darren AUS
16 DEMPSTER, Zakkari AUS
17 WINDSOR, Dean AUS
18 SOUTHAM, Tom GBR
DS HERETY, John
FLY V AUSTRALIA AUS
21 BROOKS, Hayden AUS
22 CANTWELL, Jonathan AUS
23 DAY, Benjamin AUS
24 DIONNE, Charles CAN
25 KEMP, David AUS
26 KEMPS, Aaron AUS
27 SULZBERGER, Bernard AUS
28 TANNER, David AUS
29 THOMSON, Jay Robert RSA
DS BEAMON, Edward
BAHATI FOUNDATION USA
31 LANDIS, Floyd USA
32 LEA, Bobby USA
33 DONALD, Jason USA
34 RICE, Matthew AUS
35 HAGMAN, Alex USA
36 ROCKMORE, Lanell USA
DS OWENS, Steve
TEAM TYPE 1 USA
41 CALABRIA, Fabio AUS
42 ELDRIDGE, Joe (Charles) USA
43 DUGAN, William USA
44 RABOU, Thomas NED
45 VERSCHOOR, Martijn NED
46 HANSON, Kenneth USA
DS CARTER, Michael
MOUNTAIN KHAKIS FUELED BY JITTERY JOES USA
51 ROSSKOPF, Joey USA
52 MYERSON, Adam USA
53 TIETZEL, Scott USA
54 COOKE, Matt USA
55 SCHILDGE, Eric USA
56 CLARK, Oscar USA
57 BEZDEK, Neil USA
58 HEKMAN, Mark USA
DS SNOW, Jason
JAMIS - SUTTER HOME USA
61 BORRAJO, Alejandro Alberto ARG
62 FREY, Nick USA
63 DRISCOLL, James USA
64 GUPTILL, Andy USA
65 ALEMAN, Demis ARG
66 PALMA, Guido Emanuel ARG
67 SIMES, Jackie USA
68 PEREYRA, Andres ARG
69 WREN, Tyler USA
DS ALEXANDRE, Sebastian
SPIDERTECH POWERED BY PLANET ENERGY CAN
71 RANDELL, Andrew CAN
72 BOILY, Eric CAN
73 BATTY, Mark CAN
74 VIVES, Charly CAN
75 LAMBERT-LEMAY, Simon CAN
76 ROTH, Ryan CAN
DS LAROCQUE, Josee
KENDA PRESENTED BY GEAR GRINDER USA
81 BARBERI, Stefano BRA
82 GAIMON, Phil USA
83 BUSH, Robert USA
84 KEOUGH, Nicholas USA
85 RYTLEWSKI, Jacob USA
86 SUNDT, Jonathan USA
87 WAITE, Nick USA
88 WEISS, Scottie USA
89 DAMIANI, Luca ITA
DS ANDREU, Frankie
JETFUEL COFFEE CAN
91 HAZZARD, Kevin CAN
92 MORSE, Peter CAN
93 MITCHNICK, Michael CAN
94 AITCHESON, Ryan CAN
95 BYER, David CAN
96 GIULIANO, Giuseppe CAN
97 FREELAND, Chris CAN
DS SANNA, Alex
HOLOWESKO PARTNERS U23 USA
101 FAIRLY, Caleb USA
102 HOWES, Alex USA
103 MORTON, Lachlan AUS
104 SALON, Peter USA
105 SAVIDGE, Walker USA
106 SHELDEN, Taylor USA
107 SQUIRE, Rob USA
108 SUMMERHILL, Daniel USA
109 WALKER, Nick AUS
DS MCRAE, Chann
111 DILLON, Joshua USA
112 LINDINE, Justin USA
113 WELLER, Stephen USA
114 COUPE, Thom USA
115 TIMMERMAN, Dan USA
116 KEOUGH, Luke USA
117 TOWNSEND, Jerome USA
118 GOODFELLOW, William CAN
DS NORDBLOM, Todd
CRCA-AXA EQUITABLE CYCLING TEAM USA
121 MATHIS, Michael USA
122 MARGARITE, Michael USA
123 BARROWS, Clayton USA
124 HURST, Peter USA
125 JASKIEWICZ, Colin USA
126 ZMOLIK, Daniel CZE
127 LOEHNER, John USA
128 MINTURN, John USA
129 HOLLENBACH, Jake USA
DS SHERRY, Michael
METLIFE POWERED BY GOSOLAR USA
131 SHEEHAN, Brad USA
132 LLOYD, Gabriel USA
133 ROACH, Austin USA
134 BENNETTE, Nicholas USA
135 BREMER, Alexander USA
136 ELLISTON, William USA
137 FLEMING, Ryan USA
138 BELL, Peter USA
DS MASSON, Corey A
141 WALTERS, Mark CAN
142 IVEY, Derrek CAN
143 STEEDS, Justin CAN
144 DEWALD, Ryan USA
145 BRYER, Charly CAN
146 FARABAUGH, Adam USA
147 MARTEL, Benjamin CAN
148 CHEYNE, Jordan CAN
149 DESHAIES, Christian CAN
DS MAZUR, Mirek
WHEELHOUSE RACING USA
151 DONAHUE, Alec USA
152 FELDMAN, Mukunda USA
153 MAINER, Matthew USA
154 SULLIVAN, Adam USA
155 TREMBLE, Eric USA
156 WARD, Nathaniel USA
DS WARD, Nathaniel
HAYMARKET BICYCLES-HOMEVISIT USA
161 NIETERS, Jared USA
162 HOOVER, Chip USA
163 SCHMIDT, Christopher USA
164 CUMMINGS, Stephen USA
165 HUTCHESON, Charles USA
166 GITHENS, Michael USA
167 TILFORD, Stephen USA
168 OLSON, Andrew USA
DS PROSSER, Curtis
171 WOLFSON, Kevin USA
172 KING, Robbie USA
173 ORONTE, Emerson USA
174 SCALIA, Stephen (Vinny) USA
175 YEZEFSKI, Todd USA
176 HANSON, John USA
177 BRUNO, Jonathan USA
DS BRUNO, Jonathan
RIDE WITH RENDALL CAN
181 FILLION, Aaron CAN
182 REAIN, Greg CAN
183 UNDERWOOD, Nathan CAN
184 ROTH, Casey CAN
185 REID, Chris CAN
186 TSILEMOS, Jim CAN
DS CHENEY, Jason
GARNEAU-CLUB CHAUSSURES CAN
191 ST-JOHN, Derrick CAN
192 SCHILLER, Jeff CAN
193 MUNDY, Evan CAN
194 DION POITRAS, Joel CAN
195 PERRON, Jean Sebastien CAN
196 LATTIMORE, Andrew CAN
197 RACINE, Jean-Francois CAN
DS LEDU, Christian
CCB WHEELWORKS USA
201 BRUMBLE, Amos USA
202 MCNICHOLAS, Dylan USA
203 COGBURN, Cameron USA
204 MITCHELL, Timothy USA
205 BIALIAUSKI, Aliksandr (Sasha) BLR
206 BUBEN, Yahor BLR
DS PUCCI, Steve
CHAMPION SYSTEMS RACING USA
211 SANTIAGO, Rodney PUR
212 VOLSHTEYN, Igor USA
213 MELCHER, Sean USA
214 BURNS, Cory USA
215 BRADSHAW, Peter USA
216 KEEPING, Stephen CAN
217 BAKER, Keck USA
DS KOZAK, Andrew
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Thanks to Andy for this awesome official's-eye perspective of the Pro/1 race from Saturday's Tour of the Battenkill.
I'll have a similar view of Sunday's UCI race, as I'll be following the race in a caravan vehicle. Thanks to my handy MacBook, an aircard, and a flip video camera, you can be there too, just make sure to sign on to GBBM, beginning at about 11 a.m. Sunday.
In other ToB news, I've just received a preliminary start list for Sunday's race. The biggest name has got to be Bahati Foundation's Floyd Landis. More details to be posted this evening.
You can also follow the race on my twitter feed. Yes, you did read that right, as last night I am on twitter. As you can see, my tweets are appearing on the right rail of this blog, and you can follow me directly at @BernieTweets. I hope to see you on the twitsphere!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
As of May 1 (or thereabouts), I will be a proud occupant of the building pictured above, located on the West Side of Saratoga Springs. I've lived here at 106 Caroline Street since November, 2008, making this apartment the longest-term residence, other than my parent's house in Brooklyn.
Although there have been lots of fun times here at The 106 -- and lots of personal growth -- I will admit that I'm pretty excited about moving on, especially now that my roommate is gone -- Marissa took off for Bend, Oregon on Monday, leaving the apartment oddly empty.
The new apartment is a one bedroom, where I will live alone -- meaning that for the first time since I occupied a college dorm room in my junior year, I won't have to worry about assigning blame for (or owning up to) finishing the toilet paper, leaving dirty dishes in the sink, not taking out the trash, or any of the other myriad roommate issues that have become so much a part of my life over the past four years.
Finding a place big enough for me and the bikes wasn't easy
But I was successful!
Best of all, if I feel like cooking lunch in my towel, there won't be anyone around to complain (not that Marissa complained about that, I just felt bad about getting chest hairs all over the shared spaces.) Sorry if that's too graphic for some readers.
Anyhow, a fully-executed copy of my lease arrived in the mail today, and my soon-to-be-former landlord has been dully informed that I've cut her my last rent check, so the wheels are all in motion.
Did I mention that I'm excited about moving?
The new apartment, which is on the second story, has discrete rooms, meaning that when I'm chillin' in the living room, I don't have to look at my pile of dirty dishes, and that when I'm cooking dinner, I don't have to look at bicycles. As the BikeSnob pointed out Tuesday, sleeping with (or eating with) your favorite stuff is what toddlers do -- I'm looking forward to enjoying a little bit of a buffer zone in the new pad. Equally as exciting as discrete rooms is the laundry in the building's basement. Imagine that: my days of trying to write this blog at Cudney's are over -- even if my days of turning quarters into clean underwear are not. Better still, the building is within spitting distance of The Local. I won't have far to go for this year's spa:crit, either.
I don't want to get all down on the 106, but it's also worth mentioning that a visitor (Matt "not as fast as my brother, or his wife" Mooradian) once said that if forced to carry his bike up and down my stairs he would quit riding. Yes, the stairs in this building do suck, and they will not be missed. Nor will the odd gas odor that never seemed to go away, the midget-sized refrigerator, nor the drafty cracks and crevices. I will miss the porch.
So, all in all, I think this relocation is going to be a great thing. Let me know if you want to help move my furniture...
Monday, April 12, 2010
Downhill is not my strong suit, but I prefer to be safe on the front
Speeds were high at this moment
Nothing can make a less-than-stellar race a little better like a sweet photo such as this one, which turned up on the Internet today. The Internet is amazing for many, many things. It's greatest single benefit might be the ease with which awesome photos of you can find their way to you.
Anyhow, the photo above was taken on Washington County Route 64, which snakes its way downhill toward Shushan. Ever the timid descender, I'd found my to the front of the bunch so as to not have to worry about anyone around me. Clearly, Wayne is similarly wary, as he's eyeing whoever that is to his right, while Evan looks very focused on his direction of travel. James, who looks like one of those creepy hairless dogs without his beard, seems fairly nonplussed with it all as his calf-high socks stick up over the top of his shoe covers.
On a completely parenthetical note, athletes often make entertaining faces in the heat of battle, and cyclists are no exception. It's tough to capture those moments, but greatly entertaining when they do pop up, as was the case in the above photo.
Initially, I liked my beard, in part, because I felt it made me look slightly less gaunt than I am, but after seeing how it looks in on-the-bike photos I'm reconsidering. However, there is some evidence to the contrary. Here's a photo snapped by team manger Andrew Kozak just before the start on Saturday:
Despite it being the middle of tax season, Mom and Dad were able to make the trip
It was great to have them on hand
Mom and Dad graciously drove up from the city to watch the race, as they did last year. It was great to have them in town on Friday, and to see them at the race Saturday. Next year I'll put on a better show for them, promise.
So, I didn't come away from the race with the result I was hoping for, but after spending the majority of this morning at the bike shop explaining why it didn't go better, I've come to the realization that I still had a great time. Tour of the Battenkill is a great event, and really fun from a participants standpoint, even if you don't win.
Why? There's nothing quite like ripping down a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere, in a pack of 100 racers, and suddenly coming on a home with lawn party going on, where everyone drops everything they're to ring cowbells and cheer. It's not your typical bike race, and I can't wait for next year.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Finishing the 2010 Tour of the Battenkill
This year's edition was a bit windy
Another year, another Battenkill. I wouldn't say that this was my worst-ever Battenkill participation, but it certainly wasn't the breakthrough performance that I was hoping for. I'm still processing the race, and am sure that I'll have more thoughts as the week goes on, but the prevailing feeling that I've been having thus far is one of frustration.
I had pretty good legs on Saturday, conditions were *almost* perfect (it was just a tad windy), and it should have been a good day for me. Instead, two riders (Pavel Gonda and Maurice Gamanho) took off at about mile 18, and stayed away for the rest of the day. I watched them go thinking that it was a suicidal early attack. Of course, as we know, Battenkill does lend itself to such early attacks.
Now, I'm not going to take anything away from those guys, and Gonda earned a hard-fought win -- riding 65-odd miles in the wind is no small feat -- but, if the peloton hadn't been so damn lazy, there is no way those two would have stayed away. Consistently throughout the race, the peloton cruised along touring pace, four and five abreast. Someone would attack, and the pace would go up just long enough to bring the move back, then the pace would go down again. It's the worst kind of racing, in my book -- purely negative.
So, what did I do? My best to insight a chase, or course, or at least to lift the pace. It was no use though, and, of course, I should have just been sitting in and waiting it out like everyone else, because when the attacks started in earnest on Becker Road I was pretty burnt. I started to lose contact on the last dirt climb on Becker, and came unhinged for good on the first slope on Meeting House Road.
I wasn't the only one, of course, and I had plenty of company to ride home with, including teammate Sergio, who was a victim of a crash at the bottom of Becker Road. He was riding well, and would have been well placed for the finish, I'm sure. At least I had enough kick left to out-sprint the group I came home with, solidifying my top-40th result.
Tom saved the day for Champion System Racing, finishing 10th. Igor led the charge for us in the pro/1, finishing 26th.
As expected, Hot Tube's Anders Newbury was the strongest rider in the race, easily attacking out of the field on Stage Road to sweep up whatever glory was left, finishing 3rd.
So, that's how my day went on Saturday.
I do have to say though, it was still an awesome day of racing on dirt in Washington County. Thanks Dieter for giving us such an awesome event to attend. Training for 2011 started today.
Thanks also to Mom and Dad for again making the trip up from the city to watch the race, Kozak for the team support, and Steve for the two hand offs -- the race would have sucked more if I'd been dehydrated!
Friday, April 09, 2010
I'm racing through the cross wind with Dieter and a BikeReg guy, possibly Timmerman
My wonderful girlfriend graciously spent the day enjoying the sun and taking photos
I should be sleeping right now, but I'm an insomniac, and this is how it goes, even before the first big race of the year. It's going to be cool and potentially damp tomorrow, which sounds like perfect embrocation weather to me, so I'm sitting in bed with my laptop thinking about how my skin will feel with the sticky, warm gel gleaming on them.
Feels like a good day for a bike race.
Mom and Dad made the trip up from Brooklyn to reprise their cheer leading role from 2009, and Steve is reprising his role as chief bottle-handler, assuming we can figure out time my race is going to be arriving at the two feedzones. Several of my teammates are currently ensconced in a hotel across town (hotel Bernie was closed for the weekend due an extreme case of laze), so the players all seem to be in place.
I've been training for this race since December, and I'm certainly hoping to put on a good show. It's hard to go into a race with as many variables as Battenkill with your heart set too tightly on it. Lots of people have asked me if I want to win. Of course I want to win, and I think I have a reasonable chance.
Unfortunately, there are 100 other people in my race who also want to win and think that they have a reasonable chance -- and many of them likely do. And yet, there's only room for one person at the top of the podium.
My start is at 1:35 p.m. in Cambridge -- check back here tomorrow evening for good news. If the news isn't great I'll probably wait until Sunday to post.
Good luck to everyone racing -- it is an honor to have such a major event so close to home, and I hope everyone enjoys a great day of racing tomorrow.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
I meant to post this last night, but I didn't wind up having time.
Check out my latest essay on the Embrocation Cycling Journal here.
Here's an excerpt:
"If you’re unfamiliar, matzah is basically a giant saltine, with none of the salt and all of the mouth-binding pastiness. Imagine a linoleum flooring tile about a foot square, and enjoy."
Thanks for reading, I'll be back later on with more on the Battenkill.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Given the forecast for Saturday, I think this year's Tour of the Battenkill will likely live up to its billing as America's Queen of the Classics.
On the face of it, the conditions appear to be similar to those we encountered last year -- when a light drizzle fell during parts of the race and permanently spotted my white arm warmers. That's fine with me. Although I'd have no objections to a nice, sunny day with temps in the upper 60s, this is a spring classic and a little mud never hurt anyone -- especially now that the race is back to its traditional date, coinciding with the other Queen of the Classics.
Besides which, if I have one advantage going into the Tour of the Battenkill it's my local knowledge. I feel safe saying that no one in the cat 2 race has ridden the course more than I have. I wouldn't be making that claim if we were racing in Prospect Park, but at Battenkill the dirt roads can change from day to day, and you can lose your race by taking the wrong line on any one of the transitions from pavement to dirt--and back again.
To that end, Travis and I made one last reconnaissance to the course on Saturday. I was worried that with all the rain we had last week some of the roads would have turned into rutted nightmares.
Fear not. As when we'd ridden the course two week earlier, most of the dirt roads were smoooooooth -- even smoother than many of the paved roads.
There are a few bumpy spots, to be sure. You'll want to keep a tight grip on the handlebar while descending Ferguson Road, and Mountain Road has some loose spots as well. The high-speed, snaking descent on Becker Road is always tricky, and Stage road has a few spots where it is covered in loose stones, making traction a little tricky but not impossible.
In other spots there are potholes that could (and likely will) cause some pinch flats.
Several people have contacted me looking for advice on tire selection, seemingly thinking that choosing the right tire will keep them safe from flats. My answer to all of them has been this: there is no way to guarantee that you won't flat. Running tubulars greatly reduces your chances of a pinch flat (and greatly increases your maneuverability on the dirt roads), but beyond that, any tire will do. Remember, most of the race is on paved roads and you don't want to sacrifice speed on the pavement for perceived improved flat protection or traction on the dirt roads. Really, any tire will do.
There is one piece of advice that served me very well last year in both my quest to finish well and to avoid a flat, but there's no way I'm posting that advice here -- see me after class, and it'll cost you extra.
As the race approaches, I find myself getting more excited for it. I spent part of the past two work days interviewing a few racers for a preview story, and as one of them pointed out today, this is a chance for all of us (from the elite men and women to the cat 5 beginners) to test our legs on a national level. It comes but once a year, and it's nearly here.
With most teams splitting their rosters between the pro/1 race and the cat2 event, only two team, Embrocation Cycling Journal and Jonathan Adler Racing (who, by the way, win my award for worst header photo), will line up with full contingents, but the start list is a veritable who's-who of fast guys from the region. My team, Champion System Racing will have four riders on the line, and we will be competitive. In fact, despite our short roster, I'd rate our chances higher than some of the larger teams, if only because we've got the local knowledge in me, and because we'll be able to key off the bigger teams.
Of course, as is so often pointed out, it's early in the season for anyone who didn't spend the winter training in the desert and there are lots of variables at Battenkill. Winning here takes a ton of preparation, and just as much good luck. So good luck to everyone.
Monday, April 05, 2010
This is the ill-fated early race breakaway from Saturday's race
A strong breeze is coming from viewer's left
Thanks to a certain basketball game (which actually turned out to be pretty exciting), I got home really late from work tonight.
As such, I'm not going to post much here. More photos from Johnny Cake to come later in the week.
Any reader who occasionally scrolls farther down this page may notice a new widget on the right-side rail. This is a headline feed from The Saratogian. Although this blog pre-dates my time at The Saratogian and has long-resisted any kind of connection to my work, the newspaper is striving to increase its online offerings, and, as such, this blog has been listed in the "blogs" section of the paper's website.
I am hoping that the new listing will increase traffic here at GBBM, and also that this blog will fill a niche in terms of what the paper offers readers. Most Saratogian blogs have a skin that makes them look like the paper's main page. Having built this blog's identity over nearly three years, I have no interest in now making it look like The Saratogian, so the headline widget is a bit of a compromise. In case you were wondering, which you probably weren't.
In other news consistent with the "writing life" half of this blog's tag line, a few weeks ago my roommate and I received a note from our landlord that she was going to be putting the building up for sale. This wasn't of much concern to us, since we're both planning to move out in the very near future (in fact, I signed a new lease today, but more on that later), but it was jarring nonetheless to come home tonight and see the big For Sale sign out front.
If you're interested, this is a three-story Victorian on the historic East Side, with a great porch and four residential units. I've never seen the other three, so I can't say much about them, but I'd be happy to show you mine -- as long as you swing by before I move out!
Sunday, April 04, 2010
This was the kind of weekend during which it's wonderful to be a bike racer.
The weather, true to the form of the past year or so, seems to have skipped over spring and gone right to summer, which is just fine with me. My tan lines, which had dulled slightly during leg-warmer season, are now back in their awkward glory and I couldn't be happier.
Travis was back in town for his second visit in three weeks. On Saturday morning we headed down to the third and final Johnny Cake Lane race for 2010. In keeping with tradition, and in homage to today's Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the promoters add a challenging little climb on each lap. In doing so, the race's length increases to 100k. Good stuff. The race is held in the Village of Coxsackie, and for the purposes of the race, the climb is dubbed the Koppenburg of Coxsackie, in true Flandrian style.
Thanks to a certain special person, I'll probably have photos of the race to share later on this week. For tonight though, my words will have to suffice.
I vowed last week to ride smarter in the final Johnny Cake race, and I got off to bad start pretty much immediately, when, coming out of the neutral start, at the base of said climb, Aidan Charles, of CCNS, took off. I'd been right next to him in the neutral, so I quickly stood to stay on his wheel. When we got to the top of the climb, I realize that the two of us and a BH-Garneau rider had taken a 30-second gap over the climb.
Oops. Knowing it was way to early to be on attack but not wanting to be a dick and sit on I started rotating with the other two. Two laps later, we were back in the fold. Of course, right as we came back, THE move containing all the usual suspects went off and I was unable to follow. It was a big split of 12 or 15 riders and the chase was lazy, to say the least. I took a few turns at the front with Mengoni's Kyle Peppo, but we weren't getting help, so I decided to sit in for a while.
But, I hate sitting in. A few laps later I launched a flier in the strong tailwind on the course's back stretch, quickly getting a sizable gap to the field. Kyle started coming across to me in the cross wind as we went through the start/finish, and linked up on the climb.
We put our heads down to increase our gap. Unfortunately, I'd miscalculated and thought we had only three laps left in the race, when, in fact, we had five laps to go. Oops. Kyle is on some good form and was definitely doing the bulk of the work, especially in the strong headwinds. Unsure if I had the legs to stick a break over five laps, I did the best I could to relieve him, and to keep the pace high when I pulled through.
Despite Kyle's calls for more speed, whatever we did worked and we stayed away, passing a few people who'd been dropped from the break and increasing our gap to the ever-shrinking peloton. Kyle attacked me with about 800 meters left. I was a little annoyed in the moment, since I'd been pretty clear that I had no intention of sprinting against him, but so it goes. We both put out plenty of KJs during our five-lap breakaway, but he certainly deserved the higher placing than me.
I didn't stick around to see the results, but I may have just cracked the top 10, or been just outside. We'll have to wait and see. I believe Justin Lindine won the race, although I have no results to back that up.
One thing is clear from Saturday's race: I'll need to race very smart next weekend to win the Tour of the Battenkill.
On Sunday Travis and I made one more recon ride to the ToB course. I plan to post some of the beta we collected later in the week. For tonight, suffice it to say that I'd feared the course would be rutted out after this week's rain. It is not. In fact, the dirt roads are in better shape than some of the paved roads. Come back for more details!
Thursday, April 01, 2010
It must be Thursday, because just as it's time for the traditional top and bottom list, this has been a day of highs and lows.
Things started out well, if early, when I went to career day at the Greenwich High School. I'm not sure if I convinced any of the junior high students I talked to that a career in journalism was the right path for them, but it was a fun way to spend the morning.
When I got back to Saratoga, it had turned into a beautiful day, and I had just enough time for what was the most-pleasant ride of the season thus far. Obviously, no complaints there.
Things went downhill a little while ago, when, after a fairly easy day at work, my computer crashed not once, not twice, but three times. Each crash caused lots of unneeded stress, and complicated the process of getting our pages down to troy. Wonderful. It's only 10:50 as of this writing, so perhaps there's still time for the day to improve.
Tops from the week:
1) The weather today, and looking forward, for the weekend.
2) Word on the street says that the rest of my Champion System Racing kit has made its way to NYC, to be arriving in Saratoga next weekish.
3) Eight days to the Tour of the Battenkill...
4) This will be the subject of a future post, but I have a new place to live, starting in May, and I couldn't be happier.
5) I have Friday off, and that's always worth putting on the list.
Bottoms from the week:
3) More rain -- that was one entry for each day of rain we had this week.
4) That box of shiny parts are just collecting dust in the living room -- the new frame can't get here quick enough!
5) Didn't make it home for Passover this year, maybe next.