Friday, December 22, 2006

Noble and Vardaros for Worlds

The normally stagnant USA Cycling Cyclocross News page is abuzz with news of Picks for Worlds (all but the Elite Men) as well as Nationals Reports.

So far, the only CA residents named to the Worlds Team are Europe-based Christine Vardaros and our dear friend Chance Noble.

The Elite Men will be announced on Jan. 9, and it is probable the Barry Wicks will join the crew. Not sure about BJM (or even if he's considering going) but he's got to be close to making the list...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Natz race reports

If you were there, tell us about it. Here's two from Linda and John Elgart.

2006 CX Nationals Report

From John Elgart

Providence, Rhode Island revealed its kinder, gentler side at this year’s CX Nationals, held on the same venue as the “snow-i-cane nats” of 05. The difference was remarkable. The course this time was super fast, with a spongy, tacky surface that had terrific traction. With its rolling, amusement park topography, I think this was the most fun I’ve had on a cx course.

In the 60-64 championship race, we were only 10 strong at the line — there were more the previous year when the 65’s were included. Now they had their own race, starting 30 seconds behind us. In my field the biggest threat was last year’s 2nd place, local Providence favorite Bruce McGowan. Judging from his results this year, Bruce would definitely be with me at the start, especially since I had torn a quad muscle a little over 2 weeks ago. I had been rehabbing well, but could I really go hard without injury? I figured I had a good chance to win this thing — or to dnf.

We started behind the much larger 50-54 and the 55-59 fields, each with a 30 second stagger. The younger group featured Official Legend Ned Overend, last year’s champ Paul Curley, and Norcal’s favorite Henry Kramer. The 55’s had perennial winner Dan Norton. We wouldn’t be catching any of these guys, but we would be threading our way through the many stragglers from both fields. It was going to be a day with a lot of passing.

My strategy was to start slowly to test the leg, then try to pick it up toward the end. From the start, it was clear that slow wouldn’t work, that I would have to ride fast just to stay with Bruce. The moment I would lower the pace, Bruce would attack, especially through the groups of riders we were constantly passing. More worrisome, several times, Bruce managed to put a few riders between us when he attacked.

So I was sort of waiting for something to happen, and 2 and a half laps into the 5 lap race, it did. Several riders fell in front of us and Bruce was impeded. This was at the beginning of the long road section. I hesitated for a second, then decided to put my head down and go. By the time I got to the dirt again, I had 15 seconds, and from there on, the gap opened wider and wider. By the end, it was nearly 2 minutes. Although most people, myself included, slow down in cross, I definitely negative split in this race. It was a good feeling to be running fast and clean at the end.

Anyway, this was my 5th nationals win in the past year (road, crit and tt and twice in cross). I attribute this to my new age group. I’m not suddenly better, and were I in the 55’s, I probably wouldn’t be winning. But, that’s the beauty of age graded racing. There’s always another age group out there if you can get to it.

Cheers, John Elgart

PS: I’ll post a separate note on some of the trends in cross I noticed at Providence.

From Linda:

You all may know about the blizzard last year, and ensuing crash and dnf-ing race I had. This year, I wanted to enjoy myself. I wasn’t sure if I would, having been so sick leading up to the race, but about the day before, the congestion finally eased, and although I wasn’t sharp, at least I was able to race adequately. And, what a difference a year makes! This year, the weather was mild, and the course was slightly damp, tacky, fast, and fun.

My main competition in the women 50-54, Kathy Savary, raced up to her usual standard, and beat me by about 2 minutes. I think if I had been at full strength, the gap would have been a lot closer, but I don’t know if I would have been able to win. So, 2nd place was ok with me. Sure, it’s great to win, but going in knowing that I was somewhat compromised, I really can’t complain.

The scene was great! Bill and Ed from Voler were there with a booth, and we helped out some. We got to watch most of the racing, and there were a lot of dramatic duels on an excellent course. I think there were thousands of spectators screaming, ringing bells, blowing horns and beating drums, running back and forth.

The bike cult scene in Providence is thriving. We went to a party at The Hub, a really cool shop, and got to stand squished together, drinking beer and yelling over the great music. We don’t get out much, and it was fun to go to that kind of party. We stayed at a small B and B, (the only ones there), and it was relaxing, and got to go out to eat and hang around the Brown University shopping area a bit. Last year with the weather, one was house bound and stir crazy, but this year was great.


Nationals Vids

I'm sure someone can point to some great vids in the comments below, but here are a couple that give a good idea of how fast and fun the Natz course was:

Elite start: (the end shows some of the best sections)

Matt White hopping the barriers (they were much higher than they appear, and I can't believe he did that in a crowd with rider just to his left):

Someone filmed a lap of the course on helmet cam, god it was sooo wide especially for the first 1/2 lap - extremely good planning...

Do a search on YouTube for "Providence Cyclocross Nationals" to get many more...


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tour de France in my Underpants

I know this is utterly shameless self-promotion and very loosely related to cycling, but I figured I could abuse the Babble blog just once to promote my wife Frances England's award-winning children's CD, Fascinating Creatures and announce the release of her first music video "Tricycle" (title of this post is from the song).

This little home-spun independent effort has gotten some incredible press in spite of its humble origins. If you are interested please check out my latest update on my personal blog or the Frances England website.

Fascinating Creatures makes a great gift to any parents of small children. Think: music for kids that grown-ups can appreciate as well.

Happy Holidays from the England-Funke household.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Natz Confirmed Rider List Up

A teammate of mine just sent this along, and also pointed out that you can sort by date entered so you can start stressing about your start position already.

Josie Beggs Update

The latest word from Andy:

JoJo's doing fine. There are no scars to speak of, and she's really made an awesome recovery. She had surgery to repair her broken cheekbone, and what should have taken 3 hours took 45 minutes! It's amazing what the human body is capable of recovering from! If you saw her today, you would never know that she had smashed her face in but good...

Josie is planning on racing the National Championship races in RI, with the hope of representing the JM clan to the fullest. She's not a JMiac yet, but her first initials are JM (Josie Mary), so she definitely counts!

Thanks to everyone who've expressed support and love for JoJo during her recovery! It's really made a difference to know that her presence is felt!

Go Wonder Woman!