Rogues Racing just returned from our annual training camp down in Pickens, South Carolina over the past weekend with lots of great roads and quality team bonding experiences. We managed to ride 270+ miles over the course of 4 days on steep, grueling mountain roads. Despite of all the sore muscles and sunburned skin, we had a blast riding through almost traffic-less roads accompanied by warm, 60 degree weather. A big thanks to our teammates Eric who prepared all the meals for the hungry riders everyday, J. Webb for reserving the cabin, Dan for mapping out the beautiful routes, and Steve for helping the team with proper bike fit. We’d also like to thank our new sponsor Woods Family Heating & Air Conditioning for sponsoring our training camp with food and supplies!
John McKenna and David Lehn finished the NC Winter cup yesterday on a day of cold damp slippery racing with a few sand pits to boot. David raced cat 4 and Masters 35 + through out the whole series and McKenna raced Masters 35+ and pro/1/2 cats all but yesterday racing only the Masters 35+. It was a tough race. John never has a good start, cyclocross starts are perfect for sprinter types so missing the hole shot means you always have to do battle to get up front. The usual suspects went off the front right away and quickly that group separated. Four off the front, a chase group of 3 and stragglers behind. McKenna went into TT mode and slowly started picking off people climbing the ladder to the front. “I noticed that peple thought the mud was more slippery then it was, it was actually a bit sandy and had good grip, almost too much grip in some places. I wasn’t feeling particularly strong today but I could see I was makeing a lot of time up in the corners so I had to initiate attacks to make sure I was the one leading into the corner so I could exit ahead a few seconds.” Soon enough McKenna caught up to the chase group on a fast decent around a small pond with a thick muddy flat section. Attacking the chase group there and holding gave him a 15 second lead on the chase group with two laps to go. John kept looking back to make sure the chase group kept it’s distance and rolled in to a 5 place spot for the day.
Local racing in Blacksburg Virgina at it’s best. Last weekend November 7th and 8th on Virginia Tech Campus. Two days of cyclocross including night time racing under the lights. I entered the masters 35+ races on both days. It was a live and learn experience for me. It’s amazing how after racing cyclocross for 6 years now I still learn something from every race. Saturday night start time was 5PM. Still plenty of light throughout our race though the stadium lights kicked on toward the end. The field size was a decent 20 or more and then combined with the 45+ made for an interesting crowd. Having volunteered for this race I was busy all day setting up the course. I managed to sneak in a 30 minute power nap which was very refreshing and I did about a 30 minute warm up for the race. My start was not very good but then, my starts are never really good. I saw the break away go and knew I would have to make some passes before I could bridge up. I started making the passes and launched an attack. Trying to make this attack stick meant I really needed to nail all the corners hard. Coming around one corner that transfers from off camber to a level ground around a pine tree I over cooked it and went down. All the folks I passed went right by me so I had a lot more work to do. I managed to get with the chase group again and start to bridge up. The lead group of three was now splintered. Once again I went down in a tight corner around a sapling on another off camber section. I had to laugh because I couldn’t figure out what happened. I simply got launched over the bars. I think I may have hit a root or some object but it was wildly unexpected. I was alone at that point so no one passed me but I lost anther 15 seconds or so. Once again I began charging forward. With two laps to go I could see the 3rd place rider inching up on the 2nd place rider as I was catching them both. My only hope was to keep the pressure on and see if one of them goes down or cracks. I finally bridged up with about 50M to go but when we bumped up onto the final paved stretch to the finish line and after all the exertion to bridge up I couldn’t sprint around anyone and ended up in 4th place.
Sunday’s race when off at 10AM but was delayed till 11AM which helped a lot since I was scrambling to rearrange the course. The course design was slightly changed and run in reverse which makes it like a totally new course really. I got in a descent warm up and got up front on the start line. I am not a very good starter in cyclocross so being up front helps a lot. After the gun I was probably 6th through the whole shot which is a long straight along some pine trees. The leader got too close to the trees and a branch grabbed his bars and he went down taking some one else out. I squeezed through and quickly a group of 5 formed with one guy off the front. I sat in with this group for one lap trying to determine if this was the speed the group was capable of or wondering if they are all just sort of sitting in and waiting. I decided to test it and attacked on the second lap. I pu in a hard effort to get away and bridge up to the solo leader. I rode with him for almost another lap and decided to attack again and see if I could get away. It worked. Those two attacks hurt bad so I settled into a time trial mode watching the group behind me and trying to keep them away. After recovering and getting the rhythm for the course I was able to make more gains especially in the fast sweeping corners and the long single track to the log piles. There were two log piles that were ridable and you could carry a lot of speed right up to them then jam the brakes on and bunny hop the piles. With two laps to go I was certain I had the race. The chase group had broken up with Ignacio Moore off the front. I kept watching him and was holding him at bay but I know he was putting in a tremendous effort to bridge up. Thinking that I might race the Pro/1/2 race later that day and being certain I would win this race I eased off the pace. Ignacio was gaining but was never closer then 50 meters which is a huge difference on the last lap of a cyclocross race. I wasn’t planning on letting him get any closer and even if he did manage to bridge up he would have been so cooked as I was recovered he wouldn’t stand a chance on the finish sprint.
This was my mistake and my lesson learned from the weekend. On the final lap with maybe ¼ lap to go I flatted. I have no idea what I hit but the sidewall blew out. Racing on tubulars I can still at least ride the bike but with no where the efficiency obviously. Ignacio gained on me. I was riding right by the pit but I knew if I went in for a wheel change I would be passed so I went on riding the flat. Ignacio passed me just before the paved finish and it was all I could do to stay on his wheel for second place. Moral of the story and lesson learned is never ever think you have the race in the bag. Always push yourself to the very end. If I had, then I would have been able to ride the flat in or would have had the time to make the wheel change.
Who woulda thunk?
Rogues racing is primarily a road racing team (with a little cyclocross thrown in), but apparently they can race off-road just as well. Six of us showed up at the Rowdy Dawg mountain bike race held right in our back yard along Poverty Creek, Gap and Brush mountains. Dan, Matt, John, and Cole showed up with a glistening stable of new 29rs, 69rs and 96rs. Brian and I were racing in the vintage category. The conditions turned out to be great. The rain left early enough on Sat to leave the mud dry and tacky. Really perfect conditions. After we got our instructions (follow the little tiny green arrows scattered about the forest), we started going in circles immediately, down the road the wrong way and back through the parking lot. While I was trying to remember how to shift my mountain bike (has it been a year since I have even touched my mountain bike?!), the rest of the team barreled down the road at the head of the pack. Eventually I got going and settled in at a steady pace trying not to bounce off the never ending boulders in to the woods somewhere. Don’t let anyone convince you to buy into this retro, vintage crap. Rigid bikes with cantilever brakes are complete garbage and a leading cause of rigor mortis before death. I still don’t think the feeling has come back to my hands. Eventually the course led across the road to the Brush Mountain side, home of fast smooth trails. I finally started passing some people on the long ascent to the top of brush mountain. This was actually starting to be fun. Unfortunately, the trail turns down again and all those people passed me while I was holding on for dear life. Finally back to the road at the bottom and I am thinking, “this wasn’t too bad”. Then the marshalls point back to the Gap side indicating another lap through rock garden hell (Queen Anne). At this point, my bike is starting to think this is all a bit too much. First my saddle starts to fall off, and then one of my tubes fails. I wasn’t even riding my bike at the time. I was pushing up some hill and then pssshhht, no air. After rattling along for a while I did actually reach the finish to the cheers of most of the Rogues who had already finished and changed and eaten lunch. Strangely, Cole wasn’t there. It appears he went into the woods and was never seen again. If anyone is riding along and sees a hulking man beast running through the trees, no it is not Saskwatch. As it turns out, Rogues scored 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the sport class. (Matt P, McKenna, and Dan) Not bad for a couple of roadies.
The event was organized really well (courtesy of Ben Brown and Montgomery County Parks and Rec. ) and the barbecue from Professional Catering was fantastic.
After a good showing at the Rowdy Dog Mountain Bike race where the Rogues placed 2,3, & 4 in the Mens Sport class, the “regular” race season has come to a close. Cyclocross has begun & a select few members will be racing in North Carolina & Tennessee. For those sans CX bike, & dreading the feel of a hard road bike saddle, fear not, a Rogues Epic Mtn Bike Ride is in the planning stage. The route will be along the ridgeline of North Mountain, aka Dragon’s Back. The trail follows an old section of the Appalachian Trail that has since be rerouted. Total mileage I’m guessing to be around 30 miles. Keep you eyes open for this ride, it will have to be on a Sunday since hunting season is open & the trail goes in the heart of the National Forest.
Living on the east coast, you get used to the variable weather that the summers bring. Each of us Rogues are very familiar with the spontaneous thundershowers that ruin bar-b-ques, postpone lawn-mowing, and cause race cancellations. Five of us were faced with that very same predicament for the last Dixie Classic Crit of the month. We wanted to race, but a 50/50 chance of thunderstorms had us on edge. Still, we made the drive down south to Winston-Salem, gambling our race-eagerness with some Mother Nature whims.
We made the right choice because Mother Nature had a soft spot in her heart this Tuesday. Only the third vehicle in the parking lot, we arrived just in time for the officials to debate the race – some light rain having begun falling at that point. Minutes later, the rain ceased, the sun came out, and the wind was just as terrible as it was before. So, let’s race.
Actually, let’s race after an hour of warming up. The first crit, Cat 5 & citizens, began almost an hour late due to the tardy people registering. The course was an old go-kart or small auto track â€“ dead flat with dozens of surface imperfections and regular bumps throughout. Warming up on the track at speed, it was an uncomfortable track, to be sure. A warm up under our belts, we watched as the Cat 5 crit rolled off the line.
Matt Cage was representing Rogues in the Cat 5 race. Sticking to the pack for most of the race, he made several attacks resulting in some exhausted pursuers. At least from my perspective, it looked like a great race. He finished in the main field.
Some minutes later, the Cat 3/4 crit began. I was in this field along with Tim Ciarkowski, John Webb, and Eric Carlson. The field was a huge mix-match of ability and steadiness and, fortunately, the half-dozen of uneasy moments never resulted in a crash. Without any change of grade with which to shine on, I was fine with the knowledge that I wasn’t going to win in a group sprint so I prepared to work for the other Rogues. In order to keep my other teammates safely back in the pack while exhausting some eager riders, I attacked off the front on two occasions. Just like all of the other breaks that made an attempt throughout the 45-minute event, no one ever seemed to want to rotate with me in these breaks – a complete lack of cooperation that was the order of the evening. So, after running near threshold for a minute, I would reduce my pedaling and allow us to get pulled back in. Eventually, I succumbed to the field and just rode in the slipstream of other riders to the finish. Oh, and Tim won a mid-race $10 preem. We all finished at various points in the pack.
The flat course was nice to no one but the sprinters. A field of 47 riders and some narrow turns meant that moving up the field over a half-mile track was practically impossible. As the pace of the 3/4 crit picked up, it was clearly impossible to make it to the front unless you had already found your spot there. And, without inter-team cooperation in the breaks, the 3/4 field was a mess.
Anyways, the Pro 1/2/3 crit rolled out shortly after the 3/4s had changed back into street clothes. Tim and John Webb were feeling lucky and decided to go out for round two, there Cat 3 classification providing that opportunity. The lights above the track were turned on as the sun set, fulfilling the promise that these Dixie Classic crits would occur “under the lights”.
The Pro 1/2/3 race was a beast. The pace was fast. The cornering smooth. The breakaway of three Time Pro Cycling riders was the highlight of the race. Watching the pace of the main field made be weak in the knees, but then seeing the Time riders lap the main field twice could have made me vomit my Clif bar were I not careful. Tim finished in the field while John Webb knew better and pulled back.
Afterwards, IHOP. It’s where a cyclist properly refuels. I’m really glad we took the chance against impending weather and I hope we venture out for some of the remaining Dixie Classic crits this year.
Rogues have been making a strong showing so far at the Mud, Sweat, and Gears CX series in TN. Here are some highlights:
Dave Lehn powering around despite the squishy, heavy mountain bike. MSG #2, Men’s CX 4.
Tim Ciarkowski on his way to a sixth place finish. MSG #2, Men’s CX 4.
John McKenna on his way to second in the master’s 35+ field at the MSG #2.
Thanks to Bart Nave for the pics.
One score and 12 days less ago 5 Rogues, a girlfriend, and a trusty canine ventured south to the cancer producing haven that is Winston-Salem, NC. Featuring an open, undulating circuit and temperatures reaching into the mid 90’s, the Hanes Park Classic guaranteed an epic battle.
Dan Rapella and I rolled off the start line with a pack of 60 tense Cat 4’s around 9 am. The race was a rather timid affair with a few short-lived break aways. I was unconcerned with these futile attempts because I knew Dan and the other teams would bring them back in short order to setup the inevitable field sprint. The open, flowing nature of the course made moving up (and back) in the peleton relatively easy. I was feeling just this side of terrific as the laps started ticking down. I held third wheel coming out of the last turn when the pace fell off and I found myself at the front. I was faced with a decision; go long from 350m out and risk dying within view of the line or wait to get on another wheel and risk being boxed in near the line. I decided to hit the jets early and held it to the line for my first win on a road bike. Dan and I celebrated with a magnum of champagne and numerous kisses from the podium girls. We even got some digits! Phil Ligget was so impressed with my sprint that he tracked me down after the race and proceeded to tell me I would be the next Robbie Mac!
Kevin Crosby and Matt Phillips took to the streets late in the afternoon for what was to be a combative 2/3 race. Numerous strong attacks forced the groupetto to work very hard to haul back breaks the majority of the race. With only a handful of laps remaining, Matt P looked to be in a good spot to unleash his massive sprint. However, it was not to be. A crash with 2 laps to go left our Rogues gapped from the winning group, but thankfully no worse for wear.
The soothing tunes of Wilco took us home…
Disclaimer: The accounts used in this description may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect.