O.K., lots to talk about this weekend! Before a chorus of shouts and recommendations, some humor. If there are any 'crossers out there racing the B races in this year's New England VERGE series who are...disgruntled about seeing the same four or five faces crossing the finish line first at every race, check out this ebay link. I don't know how long it'll be up before ebay figures out it's a joke, but I got a good laugh out of it. John x2, Josh, and Brendan, if you read this I hope you can take a joke.
Next I want to direct your attention to a great cyclocross site: crossresults.com. It's run by a funny and knowledgeable guy who crunches a lot of numbers so we, the ranking obsessed, can agonize about our status in the Cyclocross World. The site tracks how you do from race to race, your history, and how you compare to the others out there. He seems to run it with good science, and like any good 'crosser, has retained his sense of humor about the whole sport.
Today brought the first real storm to New England, and as I write this, hard clattering snow is falling outside. It was in the teens for temperature, and when I got back from Sunday brunch at the Royal Diner (it's heaven) in West Brattleboro, I looked at my trainer and felt dismay. But then I brightened. Are the roads not dry? Has the storm not yet arrived? I bundled up: bib shorts, bib tights, wool socks, overbooties, long sleeve undershirt, bike jersey, winter cycling jacket from Brunswick Multisports (see sidebar), balaclava, lobster mittens. The next two hours were cold, but they were lovely. As always, when you change your workout habits, the world shows you something or gives you a gift. Today as I rode I remembered the rhythm of a road bike, and how it responds when you ask it to do something (on a cyclocross bike, you have to remember to let the bike have its way, instead of you having your way with it). I returned home hungry and cold, but so much happier than if I had spent two hours slogging away on my evil trainer. The ride gave me an idea, too. I headed over to slowtwitch and posted a December Biking Challenge to the endurance obsessed. Here's the idea: pick a goal number of miles for the month of December. Send me a note with your email that states how many outdoor miles you're going to put in this month. I'll send you a link to an online spreadsheet where you can enter your miles (when I get your note, I'll put your name on the sheet). It's my way of taking back the roads this winter.
And now, the weekly race report. Unlike last week, when I was feeling (ahem) under the weather, I felt pretty good as I headed down to the EasthamptonCyclocross Race. There turned out to be more guys signed up for the 1/2/3 race than I had anticipated, and I was glad to see the likes of Kevin Keough and Hunter Provonost. It was brutally cold on Saturday: in the high 'teens and low 20s, but with a hard wind blowing. The scorer's table had a propane heater set up in front of it. I got a good place on the front line and managed a spot 8-9 back going into the first corner, good for me. As the fast guys took off and things started to string out, I hung around with Ethan Gilmour (I think it was him) and picked up some ground on Hunter. We caught him and soon I found myself with some space on both of them. Scott Wade was there, in all his cranky glory, and he kept giving me updates and encouragement as we went around. Alas, a great finish wasn't in the cards for me again, as I took a corner too fast and went down on top of a massive root. This race wasn't quite old-school JungleCross, but approximated that nasty in-law to today's brand of cyclocross (Somewhere, Captain Dondo is grumbling "The older I get, the better I was!"). My teammates, Tyson and Miro, both dropped out due to mechanicals. Someone else might have done the same up front, because I thought I was going to end up 11th, but finished 10th. I took home $20 for my hour of pain and cold. Hey, it's actually not bad.
I would recommend checking out Captain Dondo's blog. He's the grandaddy (oh, O.K., Captain, youthful uncle) of racing hard but keeping it in perspective. As a final note, some have asked for a link to an old article I wrote about racing and addictive behavior. You'll find that here, on my old blog.