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Gran Prix of Gloucester 01/02 October 2011

The GranPrixofGloucester, aka the New England Championships, took place over the weekend at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester MA.  All the pros, US and Euro, would be toeing the line at 3:30PM.  But who cares about them when you’ve an uber-competitive 125 field class of Cat 4 35+ ready to race hard… the rain…and mud….at 9AM.  Saturday started with the 04:45 wake-up to meet Keith Limberg at the park and ride.  A quick left north of Boston got us to the venue in Gloucester, in a beautiful park on the seacoast, that is infamous for it adverse weather conditions and windy Tom Stevens’ designed courses.  Of course it raining when we arrive, but luckily Tim ‘No Shoes’ Metzger rolls in with the Raleigh tent, and we’re in business.  Got in a couple of warmup laps and, as expected, the course was tough.  Uphill pavement start to some open corners into an uphill set of 8 stairs.  Remount to some off camber snaking corners on the hillside, into some barriers.  So many corners that I can’t even remember now.  Eventually leading to a dismount/carry up the 30 foot long muddy bank, an dismount/carry up about 16 stairs on the flyover, and a sandpit with a 180 degree corner.  Tough race….a minimum of 4 dismounts.  And did I mention that it was raining?  

Keith, as has been the norm this season, pulls out the holeshot.  And the Cat 4 35+ contingent of the Raleigh/Gus team kept the wheels rolling.  Sometimes while they were up in the air, but they were rolling.  Good results on Day 1, though I personally went backwards on Lap 2.  Diane had a great race, came in 16th out of 100, but 6th in her class.  Here’s a vid of lap 1 plus a little bit from the handlebars of my Raleigh RX1.0

Day 2 started much the same way.  Up at the buttcrack of dawn…well, before dawn actually….and a cruise to Glosta.  A couple laps of warmup showed a much different course….more turns in the field….no flyover…but the addition of about 50 meters of beach with a 33-granite-step climb out of the beach.  Just nuts.  So much sand permeated the drivetrains that cleaning our bikes after warmup was a must…we could already hear the sand grinding away with each pedal stroke. 

Keith ascending the granite steps from the beach

Gun goes off and Keith had another great start.    I honestly can’t remember much after that….lot’s of pain…..lots of redlined heartrate…..corners…hills…barriers….steps….and beach….lots and lots of beach.  Either the majority of the 125 person field was tired from Saturday, or I was feeling like I needed some redemption from my 21st place finish on Saturday, and I came in 10th on Sunday.  Keefer and Tim both had great races, finishing 8th and 32nd, respectively.  Diane had another 6th place finish in an incredibly strong womens field.  Wunderkid Chad Young came in 8th out of ALL the CAT 3’s…..amazing.  And even Chris Latimer joined the Gloucester frey, finishing strong in only his second real cx race. 

Beach run from Day 2


Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend 9/17-18

Evan, Keith, Cam and Tim post race


Prep for the Burlington Vermont Verge series races started in earnest at my house around lunchtime on Friday , when I broke the news to my wife, Jessica, that I needed to get the bike ready for the races instead of going for a planned 10th wedding anniversary mountain bike ride.  Happy Anniversary! Plans for Keith, Tim and I to pile into Tim’s family truckster at 5:15AM on Saturday for the three hour ride up to Vermont for our 10:00AM race were dashed when Tim ran into a fatal problem with the bike rack install.  So into Evan’s Subaru we piled, 3 Raleigh CX1.0’s, 5 spare wheels, the Raleigh tent, and plenty of embrocation to fend off the 37 degree temperatures.

A relatively uneventful trip, with a pit stop at one of the nicest rest areas I’ve ever been in off of Interstate 89, got us to the venue by 8:20.  No sooner did we have the Raleigh tent up, did Cam Latimer roll up, having ridden to the race from his college dorm in downtown Burlington. 

We got in a lap and a half warmup…nice course.  Super wet grass, not yet packed down.  Fast start to a long, turn-filled uphill, a series of 180-210 degree taped turns, a dismount and run up over 5 or 6 stairs that were made specifically so you’d be unable to ride, then some downhill, more uphill, more uphill, some turns, more uphill, into some uphill over the backside of about 3 or 4 bmx jumps, a little downhill to a dismount over some of the highest barriers I’d ever seen(to only be usurped by sunday’s even-higher barriers). 

Cam went off in the cat 4 race, followed a minute later by us old men in the cat 4 35-plus.  Holeshot Keith lived up to his name, and I slid right in behind him… we were climbing the hill, Timmy says ‘we need a pic of this!’  Keith, Tim and I were 1-2-3 out of the start, flying the Raleigh/Gus colors.  Nice.  My race basically ended when something funky happened with my front wheel…rubbed up against the side of the primary groove….and immediately lost air pressure…which I now believe was a breech right out of the valve stem extender.  The tire probably went down to 20 psi immediately, but I thought that I’d still be ok….so as I went by the pit, made a decision not to swap out wheels.  The air pressure kept going down, lap after lap, and with that, I was getting passed by people that I should not have been getting passed by.  I couldn’t pedal into or out of corners as the tire was folding down on itself, and had to pull my foot out of the pedals to try to keep the bike upright.  Oh well.  The pit wheel would have helped, but the time to change it might have negated the stop.  Results of Day 1:  Keefer – PODIUM!  2nd Place!!!!  I came in 11th, extremely dejected over the wheel situation, and Tim pulled in at 15th place.  In the Cat 4’s Cam came in 11th!  Once again though, Keefer got robbed of a good podium pic, and it’s just him on step 2.  Looks staged!  A nice race, the first chilly one of the season.

Saturday night had Tim/Keith and I out in Burlington for dinner at a restaurant specializing in unique beer and locally-sourced food, the Farmhouse.  Restraint had us drinking very minimal beer, but a requisite in homage to the Belgian cyclocross heritage.   

Sundays race ticked of at 8:30 AM, which meant we got to sleep in to the luxurious hour of 06:00.  ugh.  Different course….super wet due to the early start….still a lot of hills….both up and down…but a really painful, bumpy, long uphill to an uphill barrier dismount….one of the MOST PAINFUL set of barriers EVER!!!!!  Also had a multi-step horse-jump runup of about 15 meters, which wasn’t too terrible.  Once again, Keefer gets holeshot with me on his wheel.  We seem to have perfected the 1-2 race starts.  Timmy is in our group, as are a few others.  We got passed somewhere….none of us seem to remember, by two guys…at least one of whom got third on saturday.  So Keith, Joes Garage guy and I were riding together for a bit…..back and forth…passing the jr riders who were sufficiently tying up the lines…..Keith would lead, I would lead… one point we were seemingly on track to bridge to the leaders, about 20 meters back, Keith says ‘we can get ’em’….then we got to the barriers on lap three and I just couldn’t jump…I had to basically walk the barriers.  Keefer and Joes Garage gapped me, and it stayed that way.  Keefer ended up 4th, me 5th, and Timmy somehow dropped back a bit for 18th. 

Diane was also racing the 3/4 women’s field on both days.  Scoreboard has her in 10th place finish both days…..consistency is key!  Again, the amount of women in the field is much larger this year.  Cyclocross Magazine had a nice post-VT article on the amateur women’s field….Diane has a cameo in both pictures!

Bears mentioning that even with the wet conditions and the grass that was getting around the brakes and shifters, none of us had braking nor shifting problems marring any of our rides.  The SRAM has performed well in various conditions thus far.

All in all, an excellent weekend to be racing bikes in Vermont!

Keith Limberg, 2nd Place Podium...AGAIN!!!

QuadCross Race Report – 11 September 2011

Keith, Chad and I before Quadcross

The Raleigh Bicycles/Gus’ Bike Shop team’s first heavily represented race of 2011 started with truly fall-like temperature of 51 degrees. Keith Limberg and I carpooled down, got the tent set up, just in time for Chad Young to arrive for warm-up for his 9AM Cat 4 race.
Chad showed up late for the staging of his race, positioned last row. I knew he was way too nice to move up to his rightful spot on the front row, so I yelled to him to move up, which he did. Start position is at least 80% of the race. Chad’s going to have to fill in the details, but he moved up from probably 15th to finish 3rd! Nice race Chad.
Keith and I raced the Cat 4 35+ race at 10AM. We do lots of training together throughout the year, and have a fun personal rivalry, so we know each others strengths and weaknesses pretty well. When the gun goes off, Limberg gets the HOLE SHOT! We’re still undecided whether the hole shot is good or not, but seemed to work today. This course had it all….hills, two barrier sections with run-ups, woods/trails, lots of grass, and a sandpit. So once we got into the woods, I was able to lock on to Keith’s wheel. For the next 2.5 laps, we were 1 and 2 on the front. Keith was head-down hammering, so I was letting him know how far ahead we were on the competitors. Tempo ended up getting the best of me, especially with all the running, so a couple of guys got by. As the race went on, we got into lap traffic from our Masters group, as well as two other races that went off in 1 minute intervals after our race. So we both kept the tempo up and ended up with some great finishes….Keith came in 2nd and I came in 4th, out of about 55ish racers! I was uber-happy at my result, but was really proud of Keith and his second place. Due to some disorganization, Keith got robbed of an official full podium shot. We made sure that he did get on the second step of the podium for a picture, but the 1st and 3rd place finishers weren’t there.
Diane was the other cx team Quadcross racer, in a heavily populated Cat 3/4 field. I can’t ever recall such a deep women’s field. Diane was looking strong as she ate up the course, only to hear at the end that she wasn’t feeling it today. Again, Diane can offer more details, but she said she got the cobwebs out and is looking forward to more races.
All in all, a killer day for the Raleigh Bicycles/Gus’ Bike Shop CX team. Tent was positioned right amongst the spectators, and lots of people were inquisitive about the team and the bikes!
Looking forward to the next one!

Keith Limberg on 2nd Podium step
Chad Young, 1st place podium in the Jr race

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