Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bicycle Therapy Therapy #1: How Willem Met Jack

Though this incarnation of our team is a fresh-faced four years old, various Bicycle Therapists have a long history of sharing drafts — of the two-wheel and tripel ale kinds both. Being a relative newcomer, I'm unearthing new history all the time. In this series, we learn about the roots of Team Bicycle Therapy / Melitta.

John-Jack Drummond on the left, Willem Heydendael on the right.

BT: Jack and Willem, you're the current dons of three team mainstays: Tuesday morning sprints, burrito Thursdays, and Friday morning coffee rides. It was meant to be. How did these forces collide?

Willem: We met a few years ago... at La Colombe.

BT: How charming!

Willem: Shane, Jack, and I had gone on a long ride to Goshen that day, and Jack had this Trek 613. He said it was was his winter bike. I'd never known anyone with a winter bike before, and I thought that was so cool.

Jack: Because I'm a man-child, I didn't realize that people my age could be married.

BT: Even though you age-doped into the master's field this year?

Jack: Anyway, Willem was really nice, and he was married. Put those two things together, and I was convinced he was born-again.

Willem: Then we bonded over the treasures one finds in the woods while mountain biking, and that sealed it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Time Slips Away: Limestone Cross 2012

   If there's any factor that brings my motivation down to a yawning idle, it's cold, rainy early mornings spent trying to prepare for a cross race. I packed my biggest race bag full of gear in hopes to allay the unpredictable. Jackets, towels, clean socks, and a handful of kit changes filled the bag to the brim. Arriving at the venue, which I thoroughly enjoyed racing last year, was just soaking in the rain. The intensity of which was much more so than in Philly, not to mention the decent drop in temperature as well.
   I got a couple of laps on before the first women's race of the day and set off for a place to wash my bike. I came up short on that search, so I watched Nathalie and Shaina take off for their race and cheered them on for the easier to get to parts of the course. Nathalie was in a good position and her ability to handle the bike through the crazy conditions were obviously giving her an advantage over others.
  Ben, my team mate, smartly brought a pressure washer, so I was finally able to clean my bike before the start of our race, the Young Masters 35+. Bike cleaned, I went to puton some clean kit. Even dressed up in new gear and somewhat warm, my ambition was really laying down. The course was a mess, and I predicted the race would go best for those who made the least mistakes. That's not my favorite way to race mainly because making mistakes is something I'm pretty good at.
   With myself, Jack, and Ben in the Young Masters, I felt confident we could come away with a good result. I pretty much blew my front row start by spinning my tire off the line and coming face to face with a hay bale. Once around all that, I spent the first entire lap playing my best game of "that's not the line" and hitting the deck often. All the tricks I usually get away with as far as getting around people were failing me. On the tiered, off camber section after the climb past the reg building, I slid out so spectacularly, I went under the tape. I managed to be ok on the two successive run-ups-ride downs, though in a bit of traffic, the loose dirt and roots on the first one was really hard to navigate and I ended up in the cold mud again.
  I finished my first lap just shaking my head. My team mates were a distant vision in front of me. Something took hold of me though and I actually put in a couple good laps back to back and made up a lot of places.
  Then I couldn't shift. Or I should say, my chain wouldn't stay seated on any gear but my 26 tooth. I had heard of cassettes packing in, but I really hadn't had it happen to me before. I have no pit bike, so I had to make do with only shifting between my small and big ring, which left me pretty under geared  for the majority of the course.
   This was a big dissapointment because I was starting to ride ok and I now had watts to spare. The only places to put down any effort was on the one rideable climb. I had to spin furiously to make up any time on the riders ahead of me. I did manage to bring back Matt Morrison and Dan Rapp by the end of our last lap and finished right between them for 11th.
  I was pretty disheartened with the race and my poor equipment choices. It sucks when both your bike and your riding collude against you, especially at the last race of the year here.
   On better note, I learned that after a damaging crash, Nathalie was ok and Mike from SRAM neutral support replaced her broken lever right there! Thanks! Another reason SRAM is the best!
  Gerald, Mikey and Willem had a great final elite race with Gerry riding into the top ten and has the distinguished accolade of having ridden Heckler's Hill cleanly!
   Dennis Smith was on hand and took some great team shots of us, with a number of folks on the team coming up just for the photo. Awesome!
Dennis Smith
Dennis Smith

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kutztown and Continuing Our Podium Ways

   You may say this write up is a bit late, but I just see it as taking some time to reflect.
  Last year a few of us on the team went up to the race in Kutztown and went 3 for 3 in winning our respective races. Jack took the B race handily, I rode a clean, hard race for a win in the Master's, and Gerald had an exciting go of it with Gunnar and won the Elite race.
  This year we went up with a few more teammates, and for Saturday, still held podium placings for every race the team entered. Our most recent team member, Michael Miller took the win in the B race after a brave solo move on the last lap. Jack Drummond took a tough race to task to finish third in the Master's. Finally our Gerald rode with a stellar, strong group and finished 3rd in the elite race, just getting pipped at the line by Mike DiBie in the race for 2nd.

Michael Miller and Anthony So take off in the Men's B race

Gerald Adasavage sprints for 2nd in the Elite Men's race against Belgian phenom Mike De Bie (Philadelphia Cyclocross School)

   Now I heard a little bit of kvetching about the course through the day. I can't say I love the course, but it is a pretty fun maze to race through. It was the kind of course that when you pre-ride, it doesn't feel great, but then while racing, you can develop a good rhythm, with exception of the spiral. I dislike a spiral. But a race is a race, you gotta play it as it lies, right?
  We fielded myself, Brendan, and Gerald for the Elite race. To continue a theme, I again missed my pedal off the line, I made up some room after a horseshoe turn around a pavilion, but lost it all over cooking the next 180 turn to go past the start/finish. I didn't have clear sight of the turn in the scrum and went way, way too wide ending with me in the tape at a complete stop. Now I'm no jerk racer, so I waited for the guys to pass before trying to salvage my race which means I was pretty much at the end of the line.
   The course had no singular feature, but its theme was definitely turns. I love some good bike driving, but turns make passing very hard. I caught up to a big group of some familiar racers. Festa, Freyberger, Dag, Troy Kimball, Joe Pigga, and a few more. It pretty much felt like a crit. We were single file and for a while, railing the turns. I had more ambition than to settle into a group that big but making my way through it took a couple of laps. By the time I got off the front of that group, the race in front of me was pretty broken up. With 5 laps to go I got a good flow on and was really letting it out on the turns. It was fun! The rider in front of me was getting closer but I could also see he was riding really smooth. I really had to dig deep to even pull back a couple of seconds. With 2 to go the big group behind me was all but shattered, and a couple of riders decided to have a go of trying to reel in some people. I was so wrapped up in finding places to pull back time on the NJMTB guy in front of me that I made some dumb mistakes. I struck my pedal in a couple turns, pitching the bike sideways and drifted off the good lines.
   I lost some time to the guy ahead of me and on the last lap my game changed to just holding my place and staying ahead of the charging duo behind me. I did a bit of time calculations and rode a smooth lap. I did allow them to take back a little time on me, but I wasn't going to get pressured into making a mistake. With a hard effort in the final section of the race I rolled across the line 10th. It felt good to have salvaged something after such a horrible start and it's always awesome to feel like you're full on racing for an hour.

Railing some turns at Kutztown Cross

Pj Freeman Photos Here!

How Rad Is That: Stoudt's and CR/Cx

     Heading into the cross season that we're currently entrenched in, many of us mid-Atlantic racers spent a bit of time lamenting the loss of Granogue and a substantially shortened MAC points series. But if any one thing comes out as a theme of this year it is that the racing scene here is in a definite building period.
  Take, for instance, the introduction of two new venues in the past few weeks: Cooper River CX, and Stoudt's Brewery cyclocross. We are always excited and grateful when promoters and land owners invite us to come ride maze-like lines on their property. It seems we are not alone in this excitement as both races had fantastic registration numbers, not to mention a super fun and positive atmosphere, and tough, memorable courses.
   CR/Cx was held in Cherry Hill, NJ, in a park running alongside the river. The course ran long and narrow, meandering around trees and walking paths, rolling up and down the park's natural landscape. With a couple of sandy, rooted corners and a few wide open sections, the race became that of attrition. With the venue being so close to Philly, almost all the team went to race. We also got the chance to serve our favorite Melitta Coffee to officials, volunteers, and racers for free.
  Linda and Nathalie topped off their races at 6th and 14th respectively in the 1,2,3 field. I the men's elite race, Gerald pulled out a 6th place spot while Mike Green rolled in just out of the top ten after a hard fought race. I, myself, had a worse race in a while after Being on the losing end of someone making a pretty bad pass. My front wheel was chopped and I went to put a foot down, but at the speed we were rolling at my foot hit the ground and gave my back a bit of compression. A lap later, seeing four or five to go, my back simply seized. Oh well, that's racing. I left for home a bit dejected, but it didn't spoil my overall great feelings for an awesome new race and course.
  In contrast to CRCx's temperate, calm day, Stoudt's Cyclocross threatened to be a bit more ominous. The rains from the recents storm threw in a few more variables for me. Given that no one has raced this course before, it was anyone's guess what the terrain would be like.
  On the approach to the brewery, I saw many a mud covered bike. Upon arriving, there was much talk of the mud and weather. I was anxious to get on the course and try to dial in the lines and equipment. The course did not disappoint as far as being tough, with the feature of the race being a long uphill run with a serious mud bog at it's base.
   Watching the team excel in one race after another was giving me some confidence. Though all the assuring in the world would have been wasted on me anyway because I missed my pedal off the start and really couldn't get into it for anything. Starting on the 3rd row and on a narrow starting road, this all but sealed my race as I exited the road just about last wheel. It took a lap to even move up a few places, but soon I was riding with my teammates, so I decided to just be happy and try to stay focused. Ryan DeWald at some point flew past our group after having a worse start than I did and put the spurs into me. Mike Green and I rallied and spent the remainder of our race just trying to pick off the riders in front of us.
  It's rare in cross to be able to work together with your team, but here we were, taking our turns on the front and trying to keep the motivation on like a true chase!  Ultimately, we ended up in 10th & 11th with Mikey making a couple of good moves in the final to finish in front of me. Gerald was up battling at the front the whole race, as I gleaned by hearing the announcers while I was suffering, to finish 4th!
  With a couple truly outstanding beers at the end and some quality Team Time, I went home a very grateful racer for such a great event. Thanks!

   With the addition of new races and venues, I can't help but feel we, here in the Mid-Atlantic are really building toward a wonderfully full calendar of classic and inventive courses to rival any other region. And that's that.

Awesome shots from Dennis Smith

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How we roll: Velocity Rims and Wheels

    The inevitable march of time has brought us through another summer. For the Bicycle Therapy team, with the twilight coming earlier each day, our anticipation grows greater for the cyclocross season. August is always a frenzy of equipment choices and evaluations. We study tire treads, rim widths, and handlebar shapes with a curiosity to match that of the best tinkerers. While the team is rich in spirit and good looks, when it comes to our equipment budget, it occasionally seems we have more cobwebs than cash.

    Having equipment sponsors then becomes a super important part of keeping the team running like the well-tuned machine it can often be. Velocity, the manufacturer of rims and complete wheelsets, has come on board as the team's newest sponsor, and the pairing could not have been more timely nor a better match for us. The folks at the Grand Rapids-based operation have always made impressive products, but in their latest offerings, they have really hit the nail on the head.

   Velocity has versatile and customizable options tailoring to just about every desire and price level. Need some 20 or 24 hole rims to build on some Chris King R45's? Looking for a pre-built wheelset that may outlast most others? Through the varied builds our team has requested, each order was completed expertly and quickly.

     For the 2012 cross season, the Bicycle Therapy team is taking advantage of both of the wider rims Velocity offers: the Major Tom and the A23. The Major Tom is their tubular rim offering that measures to a portly 22mm wide. This above average width provides more purchase between the rim and tire allowing for more surface area for better adhesion. While the Major Tom is not the lightest in the strata of tubular rims, at ~420g each it is not unduly heavy. It builds up into an exceptionally stiff and responsive wheel which tends to be able to take more than its fair share of abuse. The machined brake surface offers consistent and predictable braking with minimal wear to the rim over time.

     The A23 rim is the Major Tom's clincher counterpart. As the name suggests, it is 23mm wide and weighs in at ~430g. The wide rim craze is sweeping the industry, and with good reason. The wider rim allows for a more rounded tire shape which decreases the rolling resistance as well as cuts down the possibility of getting pinch flats. Also, with Velocity's recent move to U.S. manufacturing, the A23 is now a tubeless ready rim.

While carbon wheels are fantastic and enviable, they're not always the most practical choice for a privateer team like ours.  We try to get the most racing as possible out of the season and can't afford the time lost due to scrambling to replace hopelessly damaged equipment.

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