Monday, August 3, 2009

Mud, mud and mud.

Ryan or D.C Regional Manager, his girlfriend Jen our badass designer and her little brother, Mitch, our newest addition to the KindHuman Family all made a trip the New Jersey State Fair for what has to be, the FIRST cyclocross race of the year. Ryan wrote such a detailed report, I’m just going to post his here…

“Friday: Rain Rain Rain. What a way to start off your cyclocross season. (Not to mention 9 weeks before cross really even starts).

We showed up to the fair at around 1pm, by 2pm the skies opened up. The fair had lost power on the mid way and the arena due to a few traffic accidents, so I helped the organizers set up the course while Mitch took a clinic from Ben Popper. Afterward we rode a few laps, we went in to get some fair food and avoid the rain the best we could. As the sun was setting, I was trying to keep my legs warm while I cheered for Mitch, Jen, Julie Popper and a slew of Proteus riders that made their way to the fair. One more pre lap before staging and I'm in line for the "B Main Event". That means Elite Juniors, Men's B, and Elite Women all on the line together. Ay-yie-yie, last time Deedee Winfield raced with the boys in the mud, she lapped the WHOLE FIELD. Not this time Deedee, sorry. Somewhere in the middle of the race, I could feel all of the bumps coming through my rear wheel. Uhoh, this feels kinda flat, and it was, with one to go, damnit! Chicagoan and friend Chris Jensen slipped away from me when I washed out around a slick corner and took 6th in our category. I ended up 8th in our category, and something like 16th overall - totally mid pack. Mid pack in the Bs around here seemed relatively familiar to me, so I wasn't UPSET, but I wanted to do better.

7:30am on Saturday, Jen is kicking me. BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL MOM. Oh, it’s time to race? Cool. A stop at the Home Depot to fix Mitch's bartape and Dunkin Donuts to fuel me during the race, and we were at the fair by 8. Register, pre-ride with Mitch, talk about the changes in the course, and 10am is there before we know it. I'm running around giving Mitch his first ever water hand ups and cheering for a bunch of Proteus riders and photographer Kevin Dillard (and feeding them water as well) as the C men kicked off the day on a still slippery course. Mitch finished strong in 12th, beating out 13th in a sprint finish through the demolition derby mud. He is learning to pace himself a lot better (single tear). So proud.

We went and washed Mitch's bike and went in to the fair for some lunch. Mmmmm cabbage. I love holushki, and I was super excited to find it at a state fair. So excited, I got 3 servings in the 2 days we were there. We made a camp between our 3 cars (Popper's, ours, and Jim V's) by tying tarps and blankets between them. A lot of Tom Foolery and 2:00 is approaching. I'm feeling sick. Let me eat a bit of blooming onion. Get me a Mountain Dew. Oh God its hot out. I'm not ready for this.Oh crap, I'm on the line. When did I get here? Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. I hate staging. Call ups suck. Starting in the back sucks. I have a whole arsenal of excuses. Today's races are presented by Beth Mason. She's fast, so I'm shooting the shit with her on the line. All staged. Everybody is so serious, guys, this is cyclocross. 30 seconds. 15. Whistle.Slick yet tacky. I can't even describe what is happening underneath me. Everybody is cheering, I can see the leaders, and we are back out into grass. I'm passing people through every turn. People are saying my name. I am doing my best to keep the leaders in my sight, but 1 2 and 3 gapped really far in the second or third lap. I would see them when we were riding through the muddy spiral of demolition death, but once we got out into the grass, they were gone. Mitch is handing me bottles as I pass the pit, and a lot of people are yelling for me, so I must be doing pretty good. On the fourth lap, Jen tells me I'm in sixth. Chris (Jensen) and two others are working together to try and catch me, I'm doing the cyclocross time trial trying to catch fifth. I bridge. I gap. Oh my, this is what top five in a B race looks like? whole race is struggling to keep my 5th place seat. With 2 to go, a HUP United rider launches an attack and bridges. He gets a small gap on me, but I bridge back. We are 5 and 6 coming in to the bell lap. Through the grass, I make a pass. I know I have to gap before the straight going back into the derby area, because the singlespeed isn't going to outsprint him. I get into the dirt first, but I can feel him on my wheel as we are coming back down the second straight. He takes the inside through the ruts, and we are wheel to wheel. I have to let him ahead before the next turn so I can try to make my move, he is clearly faster on the straights. Coming though the big puddle and into the last turn, he is one length ahead and I can see him slipping. I stand up and sprint into the last straight. I'm at his saddle. The back of his wheel. I push my bike forward over the line and he gets it by half of a wheel. Such a good race, such a great finish, and he takes the sprint for fifth. I ride out to the water cooler and drink practically a whole bottle right away. The HUP rider was Matt Allyn, and we congratulate each other on a great race.

I clean up a little at the car, take my shoes off and throw on a t-shirt. My bibs are wet, but I am feeding Ben water during his race, so I don't have time to deal with that. We watch the pros and have a good time. Before heading out, we go make one more trip through the fair with the Popper's, Chris Jensen, and a couple of new-found friends. I love this sport. Deedee is finishing her warm up so we wish her luck and I thank her for not lapping the WHOLE field again. Her husband asks me if I am "the guy" from TOMS. (meaning Blake) We talk about the team and the company and give our goodbyes for the next 7 weeks.Its 6:30 and I curse my phone for buzzing to wake me up. It’s raining, again. We were hoping to do an epic mountain, oh well, we cook up a nice breakfast and chat about Scout's Honor coming up in two weeks. Their dad is going to fill in for Bryan, who is still sore from a recent crash. I'm bummed Bryan won't be with us, but its going to be pretty awesome to have their dad burning up the trails with us. Overall, this was an amazing race weekend and my legs felt great. Seven weeks until MAC starts, 8 until MABRA. I'm really excited about the season, and I am helping Mitch pick out races up in PA. I love bikes, and I am so happy to have such an amazing group of people supporting me right now.”

We can’t forget Jen’s little win this weekend! At the ‘Cross race, the organizers offered a Best Wreck Prize. Of course, Jen won! I’ll be posting s photo soon…it’s like a Bike-Slip-And-Slide…glorious!

Ryan is such an asset to this team. I’m very proud and thankful to have him and Jen and, now, Mitch on board! Great people.

Our Tennessee Regional Manager, Matt Googe, competed at the Haw Ridge Mountain Bike Race this past weekend. Matt says that when he pre-rode the course it was in perfect shape and was planning on racing on a geared bike. Following with our theme for the weekend, overnight, the skies opened up and down came the rain…

…much to his delight, Matt had brought his SingleSpeed and apparently so did a lot of other riders because Matt had quite the time handling a stacked field of A,B,C riders in the SingleSpeed category. Judging by the photo above, Matt either likes racing in the mud, or he’s just really stoked that he ended up winning the race! Matt is such a strong rider who has been preoccupied with Law School…it’s a testament to his talent when he can show up after time off the bike and win races like he’s won this year. Congrats Matt!

Down in Miami, Sean O’Neill raced the Miami Masters Rosewood Series Crit in the 1,2,3 category. It was a super fast 1.2 mile loop. There were several attacks before the winning break went up the road, Sean unfortunately wasn’t there when it went. With the breakaway’s teams blocking on the front, Sean matched up with an old teammate and chased down the break, which proved to be too difficult with the other chasers sitting, and staring at each other’s freshly glued carbon tubular wheels!

Sean, being the super nice guy that he is, is always looking out for his buddies in the peleton. With one lap to go, Sean made his best Mark Renshaw impression for his old teammate, pulling him around the course. One by one, Sean nabbed the chasers on his way to delivering his buddy to the line for first place!

Considering, this was one of Sean’s first races since his upgrade…I am very proud of Sean’s slow, but steady performance. Maybe steady isn’t the right word, considering he’s flying around with Cat 1’s and 2’s at 40mph! Great work Sean!

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