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If Cyclocross Nationals Happens in the Desert, is it Cyclocross at all?

I’ll admit it, I was super spoiled by Hartford Nationals last year. We got to sleep in our own beds before the race and effectively zero logistical planning went into getting our bodies and our belongings to the venue. It was simple. Of course, that was an ideal scenario quite possibly never to be seen again (who knows). This year Nationals was on the left coast, all the way in Reno, Nevada. Logistical planning commence.

Praise be to Gary for raising his hand to drive a van and trailer packed to the gills with our stuff (along with some others’) all the way across the country. We had two riders set to race this year with Erin heading into the Elite race with a solid block of December training and Leslie hungry for a victory in her final Collegiate cyclocross race, along with the elite and single speed races on her docket.

In addition to driving across the country, Gary dialed up our bikes with some extra sweet touches for the big race. Check out that “GARY” cable crimp stamp and the pink zip ties. I’m not convinced he loves the Garytar stickers, but we want the world to know who keeps things in order.

We were fortunate to set up as part of a giant tent city which also included Cycle Smart and the JAM Fund, so we benefited from lots of experience and eyes on the course in our proximity. We were also proud of the opportunity to fly the Averica tent for the last time in such a cool location.

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We did our best to look intimidating, but were too excited about our matching outfits to really look tough. Joe, the owner of Trouble North, has been both a tremendous supporter and big fan this season and we were really stoked he hooked us up with matching getups for the big event.

Suffice it to say, our spirits were high heading into the racing.

The first race of the week was Collegiate Club for Leslie. In case you didn’t know, Leslie is finishing up a PhD in cancer research (experimental and molecular medicine, technically) between race weekends. She had a front row start in a deep field and put out the race’s fastest lap (on the last lap) to come within five seconds of a podium spot. Turns out that altitude legs are a thing! She finished strong and ready to fight again for the single speed title on Saturday.

The team got some downtime on Thursday and Friday which gave us the opportunity to cheer on some of our favorite Masters ladies in their championship races, shouting our faces off for fellow Jersey girl and now national champ Stacey Barbossa, as well as our roommate for the week Tara Seplavy, and all-around bad ass lady and rad Feedback Sports marketing guru Katie Macarelli.

Saturday brought the singlespeed race where Leslie had the second call up and equally high ambitions. Coming the day before the elite race, the single speed event functions both as a full-on individual race, as well as a great opener for Sunday’s pro field. Looking at the front row lineup, lots of firepower showed up to contest this one.

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Yes, that’s Meredith Miller next to Leslie. You know, Meredith Miller of former USA National Road champion and many time CX worlds team member fame.

Leslie claimed the holeshot in the race, before ultimately settling into the chase group. The field was competitive and Leslie clicked out her fastest lap times of the week, finishing 8th.

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Last up for the week (but definitely not least) was the Pro race. There were a few new sections for the pro races, with a longer run-up and sketchier off-camber descent sections. I (Erin) was excited about the opportunity to use the difficult technical sections to differentiate myself from competitors. I had the lines dialed in warm-up and was feeling good about the block of training that went into Nationals. In short, I was ready for a big race. My pre-race cold brew even came with a special message under the cap:

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Sometimes our best laid plans don’t work out, though. I let the intensity of the event get to me and crashed on the descent. Every lap. Like groundhog day. No amount of hard pedaling can make up for an every-lap dirt nap, and there’s no one to blame for it but myself. It’s a tough lesson to swallow, and there’s a lot of disappointment in preparing for a month to fly across the country for a 40 minute race. Especially when it turns into a 30 minute race. But that’s sport. Now that the race is a few weeks in the rear-view, the disappointment has subsided enough to find the important lessons.

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The course itself was great – technical and fast too. The other thing about a remote venue is that the depth of field is unlike any other domestic race. There’s no “scrub zone” in a National Championship. Every spot was worth fighting for. The dry course with slick rock descents made it a file tread day and we glued up some freshies for the occasion. It was also my first chance to run a sweet dual-GoPro setup for full front/rear footage. The mud quickly ruined rear-facing clarity, but several hours of internet research taught me how to make a split-screen so please enjoy this dual-view holeshot and complete video of the first lap.

 

All said, we left Reno with lessons learned, with high quality time with our bike racing family, and with a new appreciation for altitude, slick descents, and the quality of our competition. Onto next season!

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On Gary

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As I write, Gary is driving a van and trailer packed to the brim with all our gear all the way across the country for Nationals. To say we’re lucky to have him would be an understatement of the greatest proportions. Gary doesn’t just take care of us like it’s his job, which for part of the year I suppose it is, he takes care of us like we’re family.

Gary’s quiet. You wouldn’t know that he sometimes works a month straight with no days off, between weekdays at the shop and weekends with us. You wouldn’t know that he moved homes in the week before leaving for Reno, operating out of boxes while outfitting a new trailer to carry a team’s worth of equipment across the country.

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He takes pride in our weekly tent compound; our collective traveling weekend home. Always adding new touches – a three-headed propane heater, multiple sizes of water tanks for his fancy power washer, and of course the fancy green walls that let us do things like this:

If you know Gary, you know he’s methodical. He keeps a little notebook in his back pocket all weekend, taking notes on how each of us like our bikes. What tire pressure did I run? Honestly, I don’t know – ask Gary. He uses the notes to start us at a logical pressure for the conditions based on our prior preferences, and we ask him to adjust based on feel. For someone like me, it protects against concern about the absolute number and frees up energy to focus on feel. Our trainers are set up with bikes before we get back from the first pre-ride, and our bikes always match perfectly.

He’s also fun and innovative. Ask him about the water tank at HPCX this year. Okay fine, I’ll tell you. The hose hookup was at least 300 yards and a parking lot away from the tent area. Gary’s tank holds like a million gallons and weighs something like 400 pounds when it’s full. Even with a dolly – too heavy to roll that far. Gary waited for Leslie and Julie to head off to the restroom before saying “I need help with something and you’re the only one crazy enough to do it”. We drove the tank to the hose hookup, then he sat in the trunk, we leaned the tank on him and strapped it to the car, then I drove his car with the trunk open and him hanging out the back rolling a water tank. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

If you pay close attention, you’ll see Gary buzzing around the pro team setups like a bee; pollinating the best ideas. He’s the one who pointed out the fancy Feedback stand setup that also appeared in CX magazine yesterday. He’s always looking for ways to improve, and improves things we didn’t know were suboptimal. He brings a level of “pro” to our low-budget team that far exceeds anything we could’ve imagined, let alone hoped for ourselves.

Last season when we wanted to go to Belgium, Gary rushed to book his own flight. He took a class to get better at driving a standard so he could shuttle us around the country. And he got particular joy out of driving into each race venue asking which way for “Renners”. Gary makes the best of what we have at all times, and we love him extra for that. We hope to build this team into a truly professional effort someday, and once we get there we’ll appreciate Gary’s help in building it. He invests in himself, us, and this team every day, and we can only hope to build him the kind of operation he deserves to run.

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Below is an edit of Gary fussing with my shifter until it’s perfect after I foolishly crashed in the sandpit at Silver Goose CX this year. You’ll notice he can’t stop until it’s *just right*. And here’s a finish line photo from that same race – I got my first UCI points that weekend and nobody there was more excited than Gary. Not even me, perhaps.

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"Up Since 430 A.M. With Stage 3 Clothing Anxiety" - A GMSR 2017 Story

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"Up Since 430 A.M. With Stage 3 Clothing Anxiety" - A GMSR 2017 Story

The Green Mountain Stage Race (GMSR), traditionally held on Labor Day Weekend, is always a bittersweet time of the year. On the one hand, GMSR is one of the very best events in the region country, on the other hand, it signals the end of yet another road season. For some people, that means brushing off the knobby tires and diving head first into cyclocross season, while for others it means taking some time to rest before ramping up training in preparation for next season. Regardless, GMSR never fails to be a fun and challenging capstone to the road season.

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Lil' Mikey Takes On the Midwest

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Lil' Mikey Takes On the Midwest

Last year, at the encouragement of teammates Lydia Hausle and Preston Buehrer I made the trek out to Chicago for the 10-day, eight race Intelligentsia Cup series. Despite the fact that I spent most the week getting beat up in the category 2/3 fields, I had a blast shredding the technical and challenging courses and spending 10 days focused on nothing but bike racing. When I found out that the series was adding two additional days of racing, making it a block of 10 straight race days, and introducing stand alone category 3 fields, I knew I wanted to return. I “stretched” the “budget,” hitched a ride in Kenny McNeil’s “mobile command center” and once again found myself overly caffeinated on the starting line of the Beverly Hills Cycling Classic on a steamy Friday afternoon. What followed was more than a week of getting “pitted” on the bike and hanging out with people who have become some of my closest friends over the past few years. Below is a selection of highlights from the week.

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Mount Sainte Anne World Cup

I went into this season with the goal of getting a World Cup start, and rad news, it happened! I was selected for one of the USAC spots for the Mount Sainte Anne U23 XCO World Cup  on August 7th.

 

Last week on Thursday I started my journey up to Mount Sainte Anne for the WC. My plan was to drive two hours, spin, drive two more hours, sleep, then finish the drive off in the morning to make sure we (by “we” I mean my friend Ian G and I)  got there before reg closed for the day at 10. Everything went super smooth, the spin was very scenic, and we even went up and touched the border.

Fridays drive and reg went off without a hitch and by midmorning I was on the course. The course was EPIC. The climbs were steeper than anything I had ever seen, the descents were gnarlier than any I had seen. It was sweet. I rode for about 2 hours before calling it quits. I managed to get all the descents down, but I didn't have a chance to come into them tired or with pace.

The next day I rode for another 1.5 hours, I really wanted to come into a few of the descents redlined so I got my heart rate up there and sent them. This was good for my confidence in my riding but looking back I think I slightly overdid it with the riding these two days.       

 

RACE DAY. It was here. I was in USA kit, stoke was high. After getting my chip and warming up, it was into the start grid. I was staged, you guessed, dead last. They called my name as I rolled up to the back of the pack and before I knew it the countdow had begun. The start was fast, and I didn’t really make up any spots. The first laps stunk in that I, along with the back 1/3 of the field was forced to run a lot of the steeper/more technical up hills. The front of the race was motoring away while this was happening but thats how it goes when you are starting near the back. I raced the next few laps, pedaling hard. I was gaining more on descents, or I guess it could be said I was simply loosing more on climbs. I went by every lap hoping I could make it to the final lap, but alas, I was pulled. I did manage to beat a few people, and I was supposed to get last, so I guess there is an upside, but on the whole I had obviously wished for a little more. The experience of racing at this level was amazing. It is eye opening to how good the top guys really are and inspiration for how much training must be done to get to there level. I hope to go back again next year and improve on my result. 

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Shmedium quality video edit is coming, stay tuned.

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KSR 2016 - Jersey Hunting

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KSR 2016 - Jersey Hunting

While some of our riders spent the Memorial Day weekend prepping for and driving down to the #B2C2TSE, another group make the annual trek up to Vermont for the always-awesome Killington Stage Race.  While there was distinctly less "brap" and "gnar" and "schralping," there was plenty of "OMG we're going 50mph" and "wut? you want me to go up that?!?! There was also a modest amount of "success" in the results department. Details on all that below:

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TSEpic, 2016

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TSEpic, 2016

Ah, Transylvania. That time of year when Mike is particularly poetic - even for him. Click away and absorb all the race-brained content he hath provided:

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Fat Tire Classic

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Fat Tire Classic

This past weekend was the Fat Tire Classic, the first race of the 2016 Kenda Cup Series and race #2 for the Root 66 race series. B2C2 had a dozen-or-so racers competing. These are (most of) their stories:

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(USAC) Weekend Recap: April 16-17, 2016

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(USAC) Weekend Recap: April 16-17, 2016

We hope you enjoyed yesterday's coverage of the Rasputitsa gravel-grinding adventures. But don't think we've all jumped ship and bought 700c x 40, hydro-disc, 1x11s, thru-axel, gravel-grinding machines! Sure, some of us have. But we also still like to race those other, maybe more familiar types of bikes: road and mountain. Here's a short recap of the weekends exploits: 

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Rasputitsa

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Rasputitsa

Rasputitsa: a 'road race' unlike the majority of road races we will encounter in a season. 45 miles, unsanctioned, Vermont. Anything unsanctioned in Vermont is bound to be the Jungle. We had four B2C2ers crazy enough to make the trip up to the Jungle for the ride. These are their stories.

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#readytoBrumble (et. al.)

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#readytoBrumble (et. al.)

After a slightly delayed start, the racing season in New England is finally in full swing (yes, I know. There was a MTB race last weekend and Ninigrit (No. 1) was last month. But for the sake of tradition, just pretend those don't exist for the next 5 minutes)

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2016 Bike Swap!

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2016 Bike Swap!

Hey folks! It's winter again, which means a couple things:

  • It's snowing. And cold. Maybe (hopefully) not like last year, but the clouds are indeed falling from the skies again.
  •  Weekends are a thing! You haven't raced your bike in a while (fat bikes and indoor trainers don't count) and having 2 free days every weekend is simply amazing.

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