Thursday, November 18, 2010

Movember! Post yer 'staches!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spring "Mountain" Cross

Well, the race is called Spring Mountain, but it's a half mile down the road from the Spring Mountain ski area, which is just one hill with a T bar. The race venue has maybe 50' of elevation change per lap. The course is on a large amount of land, but is laid out in a fashion which I call "nothing special". There are absolutely no interesting features, just a bunch of flat squares and circles. The closest thing to a fun obstacle was a volleyball court. You ride through it twice.

This year, we started on gravel and after a 30m sprint, we made a hard right. A square around a couple of soccer fields put is into a set of barriers and a hard right back on to the gravel start finish area, at the end of which we would make a hard left and on to the rest of the course. This prologue caused for a lot of dumb riding and high stress. After almost getting taped on multiple occasions, I was sitting somewhere between 15 and 20, but the lead group hadn't broken off yet. Pass, slow, turn, pass, slow, turn, rinse, repeat. Going into lap two I can see the lead five riders as I sit in seventh. Sixth is sitting in no mans land about 30m off the group, and I'm about 20m off his wheel.

After what felt like an eternity of chasing sixth, I had almost bridged and a guy comes FLYING past me and bridges the gap to the front with ease. OHHH thats what it looks like when you ride a bike? This inspired me to burn a match and I got on his wheel. The six of us worked together very well to complete drop the field. It was strange, you don't see six guys working together on the front of a cross race very often. Nothing interesting happened other than making bigger and bigger gaps on seventh until the last lap. I made a move through the bell and got caught in the sand. Another guy made a move, then another. We are half way through the lap and just trying to measure how the others are feeling. Coming through the sand the second time, there were a couple of bobbles, but everybody got back on within 10 seconds.

After the second time through the sand, you make a couple of uninteresting turns and head back into that prologue loop I talked so lovingly about. The first leg is into a headwind, and this is where the attack came. We popped one guy off of the back. Up the second leg, which was a hard packed crushed gravel path and the five of us are trying to attack each other. I was moving between second and fifth. Coming up on the barriers, I was in fifth. There were lapped riders at the barriers and they definitely caused some stress in the group. Two guys got around clean, the rest of us got caught behind. I got caught the worst, because I wasn't around them as they were remounting. Around the last turn and into the loose gravel start/finish and I had to take fifth. I couldn't bridge the gap in the short sprint that was caused by the traffic, but I was happy. Thats a part of racing, I can't complain about it. They didn't try to get in our way, it just happens.

If you have talked to me off the course, I've probably joked with you about me starting a blog called 'How Not to Podium'. I always finish in sight of the podium, but not on a step. I finished fourth at Parma after a mechanical - the podium was three deep. Basically, I am the king of making a really dumb mistake and costing myself a podium. I guess I was just relieved to finally step on and get that podium I've been trying to get, but we forgot the camera at home. Maybe thats the key?

I felt really good today. The Movember stache is wicked gross, and I'm loving it. I'm pretty sure that the crust on my lip and the silly band my nephew gave me are making me faster. Jen seemed really excited about the concept that having the facial hair of a pre-teen is making me faster. But I mean, seriously, check this thing out!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hi, there. I'm Patrick and this is how my weekend went.

I raced the C race at All Hollows Cross on Saturday morning and the B race at Kinder Kross on Sunday.

After struggling with deciding on a costume for All Hallows Cross, I finally settled on going at "Patrick Bartlett, the third Bartlett brother after Matt and Chad gave their approval.

I arrived in Hughesville, MD for All Hollows Cross with an hour to spare before my race. It was in the upper 30s and my hands were already numb by the time I exited my car. I surveyed the course before registration opened. The single track made me grin. The horse rings made me frown. I opted to only ride the course once and focus on how I'd approach the horse rings.

I started the race in the second row back. At the whistle, I gunned it, gaining a few spots as we approached the first turn. As we entered the sand pit, most riders tried riding the whole ring, while I dismounted and ran the second half. This gained me two or three spots. As I passed the finish line for the first time, Matt yelled that I was within reach of the top 5. I couldn't help but think that a podium spot was within reach. As I hit the barriers for the first time, I fudged an immediate left turn, costing me a position. I rebounded and took my spot back. Once I hit the single track portion, I was at home, cruising over roots, not even touching the brakes as I swung around corners.

For the second, third, and fourth laps, I maintained my position. After a few laps in the horse rings, I managed to find a path in the sand that allowed me to stay on the inside of turns, allowing me a spot or two or to close gaps. By the fifth lap, I had secured a top ten position, as I couldn't see a single person behind me. I caught up to a Coppi rider and racer sporting a Bike Rack jersey. We dropped the Coppi guy and stayed neck and neck for the remainder of the lap. We struck up a conversation on the last lap, discussing our strengths, who was up front, taking guesses at who would win the sprint. We lapped some riders as we made our final approach to the horse rings. I pulled ahead, coming out of the first horse rink. Mid-way through the second one, I fell as I foolishly attempted to ride all the way through. As I unclipped out of my pedal and lifted myself, the Bike Rack rider passed me. I hurried to exit the ring and remounted just in time to catch back up to him. By the last turn, I was gassed and I indicated I didn't have the energy to sprint. He pulled ahead by about ten yards before I decided I couldn't go down without a fight. So I dug deep and pulled out the last bit of energy I could find to pass him and move a place ahead.

I collapsed, feeling good about how I raced. Several people told me top ten. I ended up 8th out of 51. Not bad, considering just a month ago, I couldn't even muster a top 50.

Kinder Kross was not so kind to me. I decided to race it at the last minute, as I knew Nate would be there and there were still plenty of spots open in the B race. This was my first foray in the 3/4s, and despite still feeling destroyed from the day before, I decided to just have fun and don't worry about placing. An initial run of the course confirmed my anticipations of a poor performance. It was the complete opposite of the previous day's course. Lots of turns, off cambers, and very windy.

As the race started, I found myself in the back of the pack, unable to keep up with my more experienced peers. As I made my way through the first few turns, the gap between me and the main pack only grew. I conceded this race early, but I still held my own against a small pack in the rear, getting some distance on a group of five or so. By the second lap, I was zapped. Not aiding the situation was the fact that I was now running a 1x10 gearing that was not enough as I struggled to make it up even the smallest hills. As I came around on the section of fire road towards the rear of the course, I hit a bump, knocking my chain off. The one C3 rider directly behind me took advantage and whizzed past me while I tried to reset my chain. I tried to reset it a few times to no avail. It wouldn't stay on. As the rest of the 3/4s passed me, I accepted defeat and walked back to the finish line.

My first DNF was kind of hard to swallow. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, particularly in this race. At least it happened in a race in which I wasn't attempting to be competitive. I'll be looking for redemption come this weekend at Tacchino.

Some Belated Updates.

For those of you that haven't been paying attention, OUR TEAM IS KICKING MAJOR BUTT! Certainly our best cross season to date, leaders jerseys and all. First and foremost, our uber long distance mountain bike racer Jen Smelser-Wood (or Wood-Smelser or Badass Mom )is a happy, healthy mother to her happy, healthy and adorable baby girl, Campbell Maddox...

...on behalf of the rest of the team, our sponsor and supporters; I would like to wish a giant congratultions to both Jen and her hubby. Y'all make cute babies.

Furthermore, after a year long hiatus Mr. Rob Jaimes himself (one of the fore-founding members of the team dating back to our roots in NorCal) returned to the single-speed cyclocross scene and managed to sneak some front rubber into a solid third place finish! I haven't raced cross in a year either...and I'm way out of shape. Does that mean I have a shot of stepping a TOMS Shoe'd foot atop a podium anytime soon? No. Not a chance in hell. Because I am not a badass like Rob.

I had the chance to see Rob for the first time since he likely last threw his leg over a bike before this race, at Interbike in Las Vegas. We gave hugs, cried a little and when the passersby became all too creeped out by the whole affair, we played it off the like tough guys that we are. It was really great to see Rob and his wife Nikki who also races for the team and you might remember from a certain SRAM commercial that was aired during a certain race for a yellow t-shirt:

"I Chose SRAM": Jaimes & Rubiera from Jim Fryer/BrakeThrough Media on Vimeo.

Here's a little piece from The Billionaire himself, Matt Bartlett:

"KH staying on top of the podium!"

I felt awesome on Saturday at All Hallows Cross. Got to try out the new Kona for the first time, and it friggin delivered. That bike is SO much more responsive than my Gunnar. I did not expect that kind of difference in feel. Anyway... the race started with a pretty weird prologue. It was a 100-ish meter downhill grass sprint off the line to a 75-degree turn. I expected mayhem, but most of us got through OK. I started on the front line, so that helped a lot. Shortly after the prologue turn, we head into the 1st of 2 sand pits (horse rings). I head into the ring in 5th or 6th, with Sean right next to me. I knew that was a bad place to be, because if one of us went down, we were likely to take the other with us. It was too late to do anything about it though. 2 turns into the sand, we run right into each other and bottleneck the field. We got back into the groove quick enough, and I caught back up to 5th just as a lead group was starting to form. This course is pretty wide open, so there's plenty of room to pass if you have the power. I pushed through the group up to 2nd, and saw Andrey Doroshenko (the guy who beat me out for the win at DCCX) starting to pull away from the group. I knew if I could get his wheel, we could probably walk away from the field together. This was another spot where I appreciated the Kona. I put the power down to make the bridge (not a huge gap -- maybe 5 seconds), and the bike responded instantly. I was on his wheel within seconds and hardly felt like I burned a match.

Once I was on his wheel, it was on. We traded half laps pulling, and put a 20+ second gap to 3rd by the 5th lap. I was really looking forward to a rematch drag-race from the prior weekend, and I think he was too. I even ended up waiting for him when he got caught behind some lap traffic with a little less than 2 laps to go. Attacking in lap traffic was not how I wanted to win the race.

With 1.5 laps to go, we came up to Ryan's famed barrier. They moved it down the course a bit this year, so the approach was much faster. Andrey and I were riding side by side, because that was about where we were trading pulls, and I heard a huge bang as I stepped over the barrier. I look to the right, and see Andrey running with no bike. His bike is flipping behind him, because he apparently didn't pick his bike up high enough and clipped the front wheel. I hesitated for a sec to see if he was going to get back on, but from the look of how it landed, I knew he threw his chain at a minimum. I couldn't wait for him to fix that, so I rode on to the finish alone. With a 20+ second gap, I knew I just had to ride smooth through the technical sections and continue to push the pace on the power sections. The finish was pretty anti-climactic, since I knew it was in the bag once Andrey had the mechanical, but I was really happy that I had put myself in such a good position to take the win. I was bummed that we didn't get to race it out at the end, but Andrey's mechanical was self-inflicted, so it's all part of racing.

Definitely the best race of my CX career (both in results and how strong I felt).

Most importantly... I'm hitting ALL of my goals for the season:
earn upgrade points (check)
podium in a 3/4 race (check)
top 10 in the MABRA 3/4 series (it isn't over, but I'm currently top 5 with only 4 races left)

...If you notice the guy showing some belly button, doing his best Mark Cavendish impression in those Oakley's, that's Greg. He USED to ride for us last year. We still love him. But his man-belly hair Fauxkley's look way better in a KindHuman BLUE! Great job to Matt and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic crew. Keep it to the rest of y'all: RIDE SOME BIKES!

Chapeau team.