Tag Archives: Cyclocross

2017 Cyclocross Nationals Recap

By Paul Weiss

We had a good crew from Maine at CX Nationals this year since it was so close to home, and folks are just really getting excited about cyclocross. The sport seems to keep growing by leaps and bounds, and it is funny to see both the Junior and Master fields overflowing with participants.

The Hartford Course was in a small park on the shores of the CT river. The area features some fields, a large earthen levee that was about 40 feet high and some small woods trails in the river bottom mud. Part of the course went through a gazebo and playground.

I went all out this year. I mean I love CX, but this year I went a little overboard with racing. I essentially raced more days than most pro racers. In retrospect, I over did it. Racing every weekend since the end of August has cost a lot in terms of free time, training and money. I set out to do the whole schedule for New England. Pretty much all weekends except Labor Day, even a midweek race. It was important to me to try to get on the Hartford course earlier in the year, which I did. The national course, while not following exactly, was in a lot of the same terrain.

With 2 weeks after the last Connecticut snowy races in Bethlehem and New Haven, I felt pretty good about having raced 2 full days in snow and then got some training days in on the road with snow. I knew Hartford could dish out some snow and ice. But the conditions early in the week at nationals looked like frozen mud to slippery mud. Changing fast each day. If you have not seen the video of the large slip and slide hill (that they eliminated later in the week) check it out here.

I got on course on Thursday, and things were in really descent condition in that all the mud was solid as a rock. There were a few good lines on the course, but really hard ruts that they had made some attempt to smooth with a ATV. Then it started to snow late in the evening, and I knew my race was going to be hard. The next morning it was those same frozen ruts but you could not see them because they were covered in a few inches of snow. This made the early races really difficult to say the least.

Brian Cole raced in the AM and ripped a derailleur off his bike. These frozen ruts could flat a tire in an instant. By the time I was set to race, the conditions had changed to surface mud. I got on the course for several lap,. and it was treacherous. Now the frozen ruts were not visible, and the snow was melting enough to make all sections of the course slippery beyond belief.

I lined up just after noon and was ready for a good technical race. However, this was a bit more. I love racing in snow, but ice and half melted frozen ruts are another thing. This course was a bit scary in that a fall on this stuff could break your wrist, arm or leg. No joke. We raced off the line and across the first turn, and it was going well. Into a straight away by the pits, I immediately hit a hidden lengthwise rut that took me out like I was not on a bike! Flat down, hard ouch. Got up and tried to see both the bike and me, both were ok, but a bent shifter had to be fixed.

Getting back on the bike, I was off the back of the pack, who were now going into a long diagonal off camber run-up that you could ride on the bottom for a way or along the top. It was really a hard run with mud, ice off camber. The big downhill caused everyone to pause a bit since it required leaning away from the hill, and an off camber turn then braking enough to not get caught in the exit ruts. Pretty scary for some folks since you could really injure yourself on the flat at high speeds. I negotiated that hill well, but it was the woods section after the pits that were probably the second most difficult.

The frozen ruts in the woods were unbelievable. It looked as if they raced hundreds in the mud and then left all ruts to freeze solid. Just the width sometimes of a 34 c tires. It was really hard to negotiate the small uphill’s and tight turns in the woods. Many spilled or ran their bikes here, but even running was dangerous. An ankle twist was very easy. I was glad to be wearing my Lake high ankle winter boots for both support and warmth.

A few laps in and I was still off the back. This course had no place to go really hard, and it was truly a course of attrition. The person who made the least spills and recovered fasted would win. There are so many places to have slip ups. Even the pro field experienced the same thing. I ended up having one other dump in the woods that caused another loss of time that really put me back. I ended up finishing way in the back ¾ of the pack. On the last lap, the leaders came through and started lapping the back of the field.

In retrospect, it was a fun experience but not what I had planned for. The conditions made the course more challenging than I had expected, plus the goal of not getting injured again. I had several injuries this season and did not want to repeat. Luckily I didn’t. I also saw the great advantage disk brakes could have offered me on parts of this course; my carbon rim brakes did not work well on the frozen downhills and mud.

The really good things was that I got the best hotel room, within a short 10 minute ride of the course. This made the post-race cleanup easier. It was so easy that Hank Pfeiffel and Troy Barry hung out there and kept warm before Troy’s race.

PVC had some good racing that day including: Nathaniel Smith, Brian Cole, Adam Lampton, and Chris Darling. It was great to see most racing! It was a fun season but I am glad to be on skis now! I look forward to the PVC racing team next season!

Here are some images:


chris-runningChris Darling goes faster running a turn

 

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Allen Starrett in a tight turn. He did a great race!

 

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Troy Barry (center, upright) on the line with Adam Myerson the eventual winner.

 

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Chris, Fergy, and Paul after racing.

 

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Adam with frozen bike

 

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Paul and Adam post race

 

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What a bike looks like with freeze-dried mud.

 

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Hartford skyline over course on CT River.

 

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My friends from West Virginia including master racer Gunnar Shogren

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PVC Cyclocross 2016-2017 Update

The season started at Blunt Park in Springfield MA in August and is now at the heart of the season in November. Working towards the US National Championships this January in Harford CT. PVC has had some great races, some good races and a few really bad ones, but it has been really fun and great to get to see so many courses across New England.

PVC has been floating some racers over the season and most show up at our local races at Pinelands, Casco Bay, and Orchard Cross. It has been fun to run our weekly cyclocross camps and also race with those folks on the weekend. We had 2 Juniors train and race with us, women, as well as some old masters.  We even have some new folks trying cyclocross for the first time. PVC Racers include: Brian Cole, Chris Darling, George Bennington, Paul Neihoff, , Eric Larsson, Adam Lampton, David Beneman, Jeff Doughty, Greg Bartick, and Paul Weiss.

To see the results from all our team members click on this link for PVC Results.

It has been a long season, 22 races thus far. One fun weekend was at the Verge series races in Northampton MA. Two days of full on racing with the best racers from throughout the northeast. This race has grown so much over the 23 plus years of existence. It was the largest race in North America this past weekend.

The field Paul Weiss normally races in, the Masters 45+ was full with over 100 racers. Crazy start each day with a sprint from the gun and a giant field funneling into the serpentine course. First laps culminating in an arduous run-up with a bike over your shoulder and other riders stepping on your feet.

He had a really good race and moved up from somewhere in the last row to the top 1/3 of the field. Sunday He felt a bit slower but still a good race despite losing a lot of time to 2 crashes off the start line, one after another. Good to not go down in either. Also great to have a technically flawless race, this despite some really tricky technical sections of difficult descents and steep run-ups.

PVC is looking forward to the colder races and to race the season out to the end. The season is long and fun and we want to congratulate those that have given it their best. It has been impressive to see some of the best racers in New England right here from Maine.

What is left on the menu for this season?

PVC Double loop
Shed Park CX Lowell MA
New England CX Championships, Fitchberg, MA
NBX Verge, Cranston, RI
Ice Weasels CX, RI
March Farm CX, Bethleham, CT
Elm City CX, New Haven CT
US National CX Championships, Harford, CT

Brian Cole Ready to race at Northampton Cycle-Smart International, CX Verge Race 11/13/16.

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Chris Darling is in the same peloton as Brian, and ready to race!

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Paul Weiss Racing Hard

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Jeff Doughty at Quad Cross

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Paul Neihoff at White Park

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Brian Cole, Chris Darling, George Bennington and Paul Weiss at Craft Gran Prix of Gloucester

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Adam Lampton at Casco Bay Cyclocross

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Here are some photos from Casco Bay of Chris Darling, Paul Weiss, and George P Theall taken by Jennifer Battis

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Here are a few of Eric Larsson, Paul Neihoff, and Greg Bartick from Orchard Cross at Applefest Farm taken by Katie Busick

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Cyclocross Worlds Race Recap – Louisville, KY – February 1, 2013

Submitted by Paul Weiss:

Ok, well it was pretty epic conditions today.   Temperatures dropped 40 degrees in one night and winds kicked up to a nice teen temperature.   Half inch of fresh snow.   Rutted course was freezing in place with some water still on the course.   These are the conditions I like because no one south of New England ever gets them.   These are the type of conditions I relish because they require a lot of riding skills and you cannot go at your max most of the time.   Normally great for me since I am not the fittest in today’s race, but felt very confident in riding this nasty stuff.

Got a good 45 minute warm up in a tent on a trainer, after riding the fields “off” course for about 15 min.   Took a single lap around the course at noon and realized it was going to be really difficult.   Not only were the ruts and frozen sections really treacherous but there was enough mud to pick up on your bike and instantly freeze when hitting the frame or wheels or gears, or brakes etc.

This was going to be a day for a good pit bike and support crew.   Luckily I had both (Ridley pit bike) with Derek Briggs pitting with the help of John Mcgrath.   I started in way last rows (since I barely qualified with Wed. performance), seeded somewhere in the 70’s.   The start was fun going off the gravel into a giant puddle that was half frozen and rutted.  Riders were going down all over the place and I managed to gain at least 15 spots before getting to the pits.   This was going well!   Guys were falling all over and I knew how to ride this stuff.  After a pretty good 1st lap my bike was really filling with about 10 lbs of ice/mud.   No joke.   I went into the pits and had a good exchange.    Never stopping, dismount, run, remount.   The new bike felt so light, it was awesome!   Around the corner before the frozen barriers I heard something pop and all of a sudden I was in my hardest gear.   Got off the bike and realized my derailer and cable had frozen and then the cable snapped.    No gear worked except my hardest, and that was basically impossible at the slow speeds we were racing in.
Shouldering the bike for what seemed like an eternity got me to the run-up which was really hairy coming down.   It was dangerous to carry the bike do hard to run with it next to me.   Meanwhile it was filling with more ice and adding the 10lbs back.    I ran the rest of the course and was in no place, to do well.   Got to the pit and did another exchange in what seemed like a 10 mile run.   Got back on the (Stevens) bike and Derek had cleaned as best he could.   The bike worked, but was building up ice fast.   It got to the point of not shifting and then not really working.   At this time the leaders were to be upon me and as with many others, the UCI officials pulled all riders from the course.   Not what was planned for this event for me, but it was a life experience that is for sure.   What was really weird was; I was not last.
Not my best luck today but it was fun while it lasted.   Today you really battled the conditions and had to have luck on your side and a major pit crew.   Winning riders had 4 bikes and 3 people working in the pit cleaning.   I saw all kinds of antifreeze, non stick sprays, even windshield washer fluid used there.   All the pressure washers had froze solid and were not in service so we were forced in what it seemed back to the stone ages with scrapers, brushes and hands to break ice.
Sitting back after cleaning bikes at the hotel room and cleaning my body clothes and belongings for 3 hours, I am humbled again at this sport.   Epic conditions are part of it and we all are tested by them.   Lucia and Ziggy get top honors for trudging around a muddy frozen field and driving for hours to get to it and putting up with a tired bleary bike racer.
Tomorrow they will be doing 4 elite races in 1 day instead of 2 days because the venue is predicted to be flooded by the Ohio River on Sunday.   It should be interesting to watch the races and the break down of the whole venue before the river washes it away.
Wow Feb 1, this really late in the year, end of the Cyclocross season for me…….now it is really ski time.

We even made NPR today:

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/31/170754787/cyclo-cross-championship-takes-u-s-by-storm-mud-and-sand

Cyclocross Worlds Race Recap – Louisville, KY – January 31, 2013

Submitted by Paul Weiss:

Team Maine today:

Epic conditions today with my race/heat supposed to start at 8:30AM this morning.  But due to some serious overnight weather (strong winds but warm 60 degree temps no predicted tornadoes) they had to delay and  fix up the course first.   Ended up racing 2 hours later.   Several inches of water on most of the course made for some extremely slow conditions.  Ended up in the back of the start line and finished on lap 2 with a wheel losing air.   Jumped into the pits and lost some time when my chain got a bit off the front ring.   Derek Griggs did a great bike change for me though!   The one elevation feature on the course was really brutal with a mud slog uphill, a deep almost boggy top plateau and a hair raising off camber downhill through a small creek (no joke).     It was amazing to think that the sand pits was second only to the short paved sections for ease.   Sand drains water well, and packed in fine, so it was really funny to look forward to those parts of the course.

It turned out that I ended in 25th on the group, while not my best day, Looks like I will get to race on Friday’s finals.   Yeah!

Tomorrow I will take some pictures and pit for Derek.   Friday is race day again and should be below freezing with some snow on the menu.

Lucia and Ziggy loved the mud.  They were great at cheering me on in while ankle deep in mud.   Well Ziggy was in body deep mud…….

will update this weekend.   I got press passes for the Elite Races this weekend, so that should be great.

Paul and Lucia and Ziggy from Louisville.

Baystate Cyclocross Race Recap – Nov 24 & 25, 2012

Wow another 2 days on the Verge Series CX race.   Great way to keep going after the holiday.   I drove the long drive in the AM from CT (Family Thanksgiving).  Made ti to Sterling (Chuckset Middle School) in time for the 2 hour prep to race Masters 45+.   Race was large field with 80 or so registered.  Did not get the greatest start on this blustery cold windy day.   But worked my way up the field in the first lap.  Ended up behind Bruce Shwab and near John Grenier (Eric Larson was also in the pack and I think had a good race).   It was fun to be on Bruce’s wheel for a while.   Bruce was doing a good race and we were taking advantage of a small group that formed.   Today was a day to be out of the wind and groups were key.   After a few laps this group really coalesced and stayed together.  There was a hard hill and screamer downhill that ended up in a vault type barrier.   It took a lot of concentration since you were gassed from the uphill.   I kept moving up and made it to the front of our group and was trying to break across to John Mcgrath and Eiric Marrow.   It was next to last lap and I was thinking things were going well and all I needed to do was not make any mistakes and keep up this pace.   Then hitting the pavement I must have had the rear tire rolled a bit and hit a curb hard, well all of a sudden I was flat in the rear tire.   This really was a bummer.   Lost at least 10-15 spots and made it to the pit to get a new bike.   Got on my pit bike and made it back in the race with less than a lap to go.   I worked hard but only made up a few spots.   A good effort but not perfect.  Oh well.

Day 2 I felt better, having rested and woke up later than the 4:30AM start on Sat.  It was a colder day (low 30’s degrees) with high winds once again.   Had a good start and once again saw Bruce Shwab and then John Grenier, who had an excellent start.   I drilled it through this group and got on the wheel of Peter Vollers, and bridged up to the next group.   This was going really well, in top 20 and going forward.  No major mistakes all the way through until 2 to go.  In a really nasty rooty section of the woods I hit a small tree stump that was not marked (they usually spray paint the roots that are wheel breakers).  I thought after hearing the rim noise, (that was bad I hope I do not flat).   Well into the next turn out of the woods and my front wheel was flat.   Barely made not crashing in a short radius turn.   Then eased my way on half the course running a flat to the pits and got the pit bike (again) argh.  Lost a whole mess of spots as riders passed my left and right.  Finished the course with my second bike having a second flat front tire (must have been a slow leak).   Unreal.   So I will be putting the “Stans no Tube liquid sealant” in all my tires for now on.  This is ridiculous.   Though I did not show any good results, I know Sunday would have been one of my better days in cross for the season.   It will have to wait for next weekend in Rhode Island at the Verge finally.

Ps: Nate Smith did awesome races with the cat 4 I think he made the top 5th sport.  Missed Teammate Jeff Fisher who decided to do running races over Thanksgiving and pull a hamstring.   JEFF YOU NEED TO ONLY RACE BIKES.  RUNNING IS WAY TO DANGEROUS!  3 Maine Women made the top 3 spots in the womens 3-4 race! PVC’s Niocle Pisani kicked some arse, making second place!  Jessica and her had an amazing sprint for 2nd and third.  It was right on the line photo finish, spill your beer sight to see.   I think it was all due to both graduating cyclocross camp this fall :^)

Boston Road Club Cyclocross Race at Shedd Park – Race Recap – Nov 18, 2012

It was an awesome Double loop that is for sure.   Lots of fun.   Sunday was also a great time at the Shedd Park Lowell MA cyclocross!   George Bennington and I ripped open the Masters Field (which was pretty large this year).   George had an excellent race with some great technical riding over some really nasty roots on the side of a hill.  We rode together for several laps, which was really fun to ride with a Teammate!   We ended up with a group of 5 including my other buddies John Plump. Chris Burke and Derek Griggs.   We handed out blows to one another lap after lap until Chris got a little gap on the downhill and stayed clear and I ended up sprinting it out the John.   George was chasing with Derek and was quick on our wheels.   It was a fun race, though I did really feel the efforts of the SMR 2X in the start of the first lap (which was killer).    It was excellent to pace with a few other riders and this was a really nice course with a little bit for everyone including a barrier/run-up and several other difficult rooty sections and a hard steep ride up.   The other fun part of this course is the cinder track, which always leaves your face looking like a coal miner!    George and I missed Bruce Shwab who was getting over being sick and Jeff Fisher who had some family obligations.     We need our Masters Team ready for Sterling, MA Double Verge race next weekend!

PVC/OA/Cyclemania cross team mid season report – November 2012

Submitted by Paul Weiss

Day 19 on the cross circuit.   Almost mid season.   Had a great day down in Northampton at CSI cross (a really big UCI level 2 national race).   Saturday was fun and finished with a lot of the guys I am racing with each week, but Sunday I had a really good start and felt well enough to jump 10 places by the end of the day.   Finally got some coveted start points.    This beets a few weeks ago at Pinelands, when I ended up running half the course with a rolled tire.

I have to congratulate a great bunch of PVC folks that have been racing on the cross circuit this year.   I have seen Jeff Fisher go from middle of the pack, to a really respectable fast racer that is really doing well.   Also kudos to Bruce Shwab for also upping his game.   Both these guys jumped into cross just a few years ago and had fun racing in Louisville last year, that is how crazed they got into it!    It is great to get to race with Teammates and I have had a few fun races with George Bennington, Bruce and Jeff in the same race!

Also out on the race circuit this year has been Karl Geib, Nathaniel Smith,  Chris Darling, Eric  Larsson, Ron Bourgoin, Dan Landry and Andrew Freye,  Stephen Corral.   On the Women’s circuit, we have had some excellent racers in the likes of Cindy Mcnett, Nicole Pisani, Hattie Freye, Carrie Carney.

Did I miss anyone?

Looking forward to Plymouth this weekend then the Dopio Ciclo