Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winter Wonderland and Other Adventures

Hi all,


Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards man, and Happy Holidays!!!


In this post:


  • Fun 'training'?!? with (maybe) future teammates
  • Christmas season as a salesperson 
  • Christmas day danger (turns out okay)
Fun 'training'?!? with (maybe) future teammates:
   Well a while back somebody suggested that the different bloggers of the ECCC put up photoblogs of where they ride and blah blah blah.  I thought that was a pretty good idea, but am really bad with up loading photos and taking them.  So I am a little late with that. Well here goes:


That one is the back yard of the Sullivan house.  This is proof of how long it has been since I have taken a few of these.


Maggie, my little sister, and Katie (NU and GLV Member) decided to take a little bit of a Nordic cruise to kick off their break.  It was a blast.  We went up to the Trapp Family Lodge (Yes the Von Trapp Family).  The very same family made famous by the The Sound of Music resides in Vermont now. They run the oldest Nordic Ski Center in the US.  It is a bit hillier than some places so it was was an adventure.  Maggie and I have skied since we could walk, but Katie was giving it a short for the second time.



This shot is also from the begining of the ski.  Katie is still getting her feet under her.  This is harder than it looks.  Nordy skis are really narrow, have a non attached heel and the boots are like running shoes.  Needless to say the balance is tough.  

I like this shot because she is snowplowing in the tracks.  This is normally a mortal sin among the nordical world, the huge smile forgives all.






Fortunately Katie was a super quick study.  After a few tumbles.  We were able to really cruise.  Here are Maggie and Katie striding it out on a slight incline. 

The reason that I said that I was training with teammates is that I am looking into different Law Schools.  Yikes, right.  I know it is terrifying.  I bet I will survive, maybe.  Anyhow NU is one that I am looking at, so who knows.  You might just see me in a race again.  (Equally terrifying at this point)







More Nordic













Katie and Maggie Again














This is way more like what you would expect from my little sister, I mean, she is a Sullivan.












I finally make an appearance in one of the shots.  I think that I might have mentioned how terrible I am at cameras.  More proof of that, it took me zillions upon millions of shots just to figure out how to miss the timer shot.









I did get it right at last, and even made it in the shot.  The day was a huge success.



Nor-dorks are not usually known for their apres ski parties.  We figured we would try to liven it up by going to a local watering hole.  If you ever make it into the green mountain state and get a chance to stop in Waterbury, do it.  Don't do the Ben and Jerry's thing.  That is sooo played out.  You should go to the Alchemist.  This place is off the hook.  You know it is good because it opens at 3:30 during the week and it is full by 3:45.  People leave the mountains early so they can get a spot at the bar.  It is that good.  For the 21+ crowd they brew their own beer (10+ varieties, all good).  For those who aren't at that age their are still lots of things that you can enjoy.  





Yes you are right Katie, the sweet potato fries are excellent.











Christmas season as a salesperson:

Almost my whole college carreer I have worked at a local bike/Nordicski/snowboard/alpineski/bootfit/run/lifestyle Store  This has been awesome.  I recommend that everyone stop by some time, and try to find a shop like this to work at in college.  It is a giant toy  store.  I love going to work just to look at all of the toys. 

Even though it is a super sweet place the zaniness of the holidays do kick in.  The place has been so busy the last three weeks that my head has been spinning and I think I have said 'well you can really tell the quality difference between the RCS and the RCR just from the incredible detail in each hand just speed tip'  I kid you not fischer skis have speed tips, I wonder which marketing genius thought of that name?

What names did they reject?

Speed ends,
Danger Daggers,
Tips,
Tails,
Not your Mamma's tip
You get the idea


Just when you thought they were getting crazy with speed tips, they come out with:



That is right.  The only thing lighter than a speed tip is a tip with a hole in it.

Don't worry they use carbon fibres, so you know it is strong,  safe and there is no way that it will break.  There is only one problem with this ski, I mean other than it's staggering $650 price tag.



When used in conjunction with Swix's top of the line, aerofoil ski pole disaster can strike.  Yup you guessed it.  The hole in the ski and the profile of the basket are perfectly shaped to destroy eachother.  

I have heard of planned obsolescence, but intentional cross product sabotage.  Wow.  I mean think of the potential.  Just think, in the future you coffee pot and mug might attack each other.  Or, your Ilife, Idork, Iphone, Idanced, Iflush and Ilight might all short circuit once you start the Ifriend app on the newest version of Icollege.  Amazing.  









Christmas Day Danger (turns out okay):

Well the Sullivan family started off Christmas just like many Christmases before.  The dog barked, we got out of bed.  Coffee was made, breakfast went in the oven.  Presents were opened, laughes were had.

Yup, that is our mom.  Wearing her new:  Goggle, swim cap, and neck warmer.  Heh heh.  You might have a better idea of how Maggie and I ended up the way we did.

A little later:

Mom, Dad and I were getting ready to go for a ski.  Maggie was going to opt out.  She had been in a hot tub that was a little questionable and presented with a rash swollen lymph node and very sore feet.  So she had been resting, but hadn't seen a doctor.

Right before we left, my aunt called to talk to my mom.  I was standing in the kitchen talking to Magz, when she nodded her hed.  As though she were going to take a nap on the counter (that sounds strange, but she does it frequently), instead she was sprawled out on the floor.  Crazy lucky she didn't split her head open on any number of the sharp and dangerous corners right near her.

Maggie always has said that one of her greatest skills is tumbling (falling, crashing,skrewing up) gracefully.

Anyhow, when I rolled her over she was totally out, non-responsive and her eyes were focused out into the distance.  Before any of you freak out, she is okay.  Anyhow, we called 911 and she regained conciousness.  She got some antibiotics and stuff like that.  Totally fine now, and she is on her way to being her ornery old self again in no time.

Moral of the story, let people know how much you love them.




Peace on Earth,


Sully

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dreaming in Technicolor

I don't think that I have ever explained the title of my blog.  In some ways it is very self explanatory,  I and everything around be are super great, everyday is just another day in paradise.  Beside my own super arrogance, there are other reasons for the title.

For almost a decade I have worked for the same people. They are really awesome, my 'job' there has revolved around mountain biking, running and Nordic skiing.  Basically this his been a dream job for me from the age of 12 to the present.  Besides working with some really rad stuff, I have gotten to work with a group of awesome people.  To say that they all have been huge parts to my own development as a person and an athlete.  I could probably write volumes about the things that each of the other people have taught me, but that would be ridiculousness and sappy, nobody would want to read that so I won't bore you.

All of the kids that showed up for Mountain Bike Easterns this past year got to see the place that I work.  It is a recreational center that was a farm, a long time ago (1950's).  Anyhow, my boss is a mix between a throw back to the 19th century and a progressive thinker.  Basically an awesome guy, and an inspiration for the way I act in the world now.

One of the many nuggets off wisdom that Jim imparted me with is that, 'Dreamers are something the world doesn't have time for.  Sure it is nice to dream about all the great things that could be, but people who are pure dreamers never get to what they are dreaming about.  It is the people who strive for their dreams that make something lasting, something to be inspired by.  Once you get a visions worth holding onto, don't let go of it, start dreaming in the details, the road map.  Find the path between what you want and where you are.'  Anybody who has talked to me for more than five minutes knows that I am a crazy dreamer.  I like to think that it is more of a visionary type of dreaming.

The piece of property that Catamount is located on has been in Jim's family since the civil war.  As the generations have progressed, farming went from real hard honest work to real hard work that starves you, leave you broke and forecloses your land.  At least that is the story in Vermont.  Jim finished high school and was committed to the idea of holding onto the farm (it was still a farm then).  He did a whole lot of different jobs that revolved around the farm, and started a family in the intervening years.  He even started a construction company that operated out of the farm to try to subsidize the ever growing property tax in the area.

Farmers in the town of Williston were folding left and right.  There were almost 30 farms when Jim was born. Now, in 2009 there is only one functioning farm, a horse farm and Catamount.  The rest of this once productive farming community has been paved over and turned into sub developments that service the local IBM.


In the 1970s nordic skiing started to catch on in the united states.  A local group of skiers in Willisson started to cut a trail and they wanted to use some of Jim's land.  Being agreeable to people getting out in the great outdoors, he was all for it.  As the 70's progressed the popularity of skiing started to sky rocket.  Outside of Boston a 3km loop was groomed and had lights installed.  Their busiest night saw 3,000 people use it.  The trail that was originally cut started a a neighbors house.  Quickly the popularity of the sport meant that people wanted more parking, indoor facilities, maps.  All sorts of amenities.


In 1968 the Von Trapp family opened the countries very first nordic center in Stowe.  Yes the Von Trapps are the same ones from the movie.  They settled in Vermont and run a Nordic center.  Ten years later Jim and his wife Lucy decided to start a Nordic skiing center out of the farm that was now down to just sheep.  The first few years saw rapid growth and enormous popularity.  It seemed as though Jim might have finally found a way to protect his family's historic home from becoming another development project.  This way of using the land also had the bonus of getting Vermonters (and our friends from afar) into outdoor sports that would keep them active and give them a stake in preserving the natural landscapes.

As with skiing, biking at Catamount grew out of a grass roots movement.  First people were interested in just riding the xc trails in the summer, then they were interested in having single tracks built.  Before you knew it we were running a summer long (14 week) mtb race series.  Which is currently the best attended and longest running training series in the US.

In 1994 at the request of a neighbor Catamount started holding mtb camps for kids.  This became immensely popular drawing hundreds of kids every summer.  This was how Maggie and I both got into real mountain biking and learned a lot of the skills that we have today.

While the future is never truly secure, nothing ever is.  You can always put your money on somebody who is striving to make their visions come true.  I have watched Jim and his family do this year after year, turn speculation, dreams and hopes into realities on the ground.  Being a part of this has been immensely valuable for me.  It has given me the ability to see a goal, imagine the way there and then try to make it happen.  I don't always get there, and not all of the original dreams that I cook up make it to the road map stage.

However, the world I live in is always on the pathway to reaching dreams.  That is why my life is another beautiful day in paradise.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hubris


n.
Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance: "There is no safety in unlimited technological hubris" (McGeorge Bundy).

I strongly feel that in bike racing and in life confidence and a strident approach to the challenges that arise are the best way to overcome them with panache. There are times that you can brim with confidence hop on your trusty steed and ride right into embarrassment, disappointment and failure, I managed to hit all three of those this past weekend. I placed a bet on a bike race (only cool in Belguim) and lost, badly. Probably some of the worst loosing I have done in a long time.

Thing is, I totally deserved to loose the bet I made. I was feeling physically, mentally and technically ready to race, however was not prepared. There are a million things that need to go right for a bike race to be successful for an individual. The operations of your whip should not be something you need to worry about. All of the effort that goes into this part of preperation occurs before the race. I feel very strongly about this and under normal circumstances would never dream of showing up without my equitment dialed in. I will admit readily that I was unpreparred for the weekend of racing and didn't adequetly test out my gear to make sure it was running rigth. Hubris.

My loosing was not solely do to my own misserable preformance Steve also appears to have raced well both days, and I congratulate him.

Enough about my hubris. Humility doesn't really suit me anyways. I know people love to heckle UVM. It is logical, they are way better at racing bikes than just about anybody else. (The eternal cold does wonders). Their is also the reputation that UVM riders are wild and crazy (they don't play by the rules of the bright and tight). It is cool, people heckle (I heckle everyone). As I mentioned UVM is a little crazy, we have this thing called a list serv. What appears below is public reccord, the names have been changed to protect the innocent (I guess)

It all started with a simple poster.

Well that poster ended up in this shot (above) on Podium Insight. What fallowed was a list serv torrent. Enjoy your look into the world of UVM cycling


Begin Quoted text


""Boys and Girls.

I'm being very serious. Look at this.

http://www.lynelamoureux.com/Super-Cross-Cup/Men-Super-Cross-Cup-1/DSC5244/720255453_wMeMQ-X1.jpg

I THINK I know who that is. Can anyone confirm. We need to find him. I want his social security number, tax reports, school, address, facebook profile, email, Twitter, myspace, xanga page, blog, flikr account, history of past gfs, race license, drivers license, dental records, driving history, carfax report, credit history, employer, babysitter, everything on this turd nugget. I want to smite him into the earth with the power and force of a jackhammer. I want you to go buy the fireworks. This kid will, and must be destroyed. I vaguely remember him trying to hang out with us in collegiate last year. I want his food to be ex-laxed, his dog to be pet. I want his beer roofied with horse tranquilizers. I want to knock him unconcious, call him the monopoly guy, and do a waltz around a ballroom enjoying the finer comforts of life with him on my shoulders. I want all the ECCC to sleep with his ex. To quote mike tyson, I "wish I could meet his children and kick them in their heads, stomp on their testicles". I want this kid pantsed at the ECCC end of the year dinner, and I want his hand put in warm water while he is sleeping. This kid has officially replaced THE *&$%#(CENSORED) as the kid who sucks the most in the ENTIRE WORLD. This kid must NEVER EVER win a race.

Figure out who he is. This can not happen. I want the uvm cycling creativity that has created social demons like Pete Emerson, the Binis, and Colin to drive this kid headfirst into a pile of cow dung. Look at his face. He sucks. If he had any common sense he would have tattooed it on him. Its not worth dying over a sign.

Pat. Colin. Issac. Dugan. Ill Will. Pete. Cody. Driscoll. Vinny. The entire mtn bike team. Put differences aside and crush this gnome.

C''

END QUOTED TEXT


More Senanagins ensued on List Serve


Yikes, Some harsh stuff. The churning, wrything sinister monster that is UVM Cycling still had a little more work to do. More photo shopping was in store of the immage.












A sad and twisted tail. A few of the emails that made it onto the list serve didn't make it into the blog. I decided they were too harsh for public consumption. I also want to point out none of these emails are private, they are on a public list serv with archived reccords that any one may access. As such no ones privacy was violated.


If there is anything to be learned from this it is, uvm cycling kids have a lot of 'creative' energy.






Friday, November 20, 2009

Rumble in the Jungle


History, and Cinema are full of epic show downs. It makes for a great story, who doesn't like a great story. I think that is why I like bike racing, the stories mostly.

Anyhow. Since collegiate road season ended last spring I have been doing my best to get fat and slower (it seems hard to imagine the possibility). It has been going really well. Sickness and a lack of health care coverage has done a lot for this as well. But enough whining.

There I was minding my own business when I start receiving cyber taunts. I know what you are thinking. "Sully, you are big scary, smelly and kid from Vermont, you know how to use a computer?" I do, not very well, but it happens.

The taunts went something like,

'I am gonna kick yo #$s so bad you are going to throw out your saddle'

'I am going to lap you so hard you won't get out of the first lap'

'remember that time you got my corn?, I am gonna lap yo sorry #!s and get yours back' (Check your urban dictionary)


now I know what you are thinking. Shouldn't you have been a bigger person and walked away. Probably. Instead I signed up for a race a million miles away from home and am gonna try* to throw down.

I am sure you are wonder who my cyber assailant is? I don't want to give things away, as cyber bullying is against the law. (Just kidding, to be clear, I wasn't really cyber bullied. There was a lot of trash talk, which I love) It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that the highest stakes race of the day won't be in the elite race (who cares, some kid from Jericho will probably kill it anyways), rather the B race will be where all the hot racing is.

Despite my efforts to get fat and slow, I have history on my side. I have only gotten beat by this guy once. In a road race after I was finishing a lead out. On the dirt I have been way more successful. Even though Cross isn't really my thing, I think I might still be able to roll it. One last issue, currently 10am friday, my cross bike isn't totally functional.

Of course the winner will take home 6 of Belguim's currency (cyclocross is apparently the only sport in belguim, who knew) (It makes since that we bet in their currency, since it is their sport) (They call fries frites, isn't that weird?!)


Anyhow, so feel free to comment on who you think will '*win*' our competition.


*=neither of us will be anywhere close to actually winning. It only matters who places higher.


I would make a poll, but I am way no where close to smart enough to figure it out. And I need to put my bike together.



Peace out Girl Scout

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For those of you who don't know my real passion is foreign policy. More than even spreadsheets, I love foreign policy. This is a speech that I discovered my Freshman year of college. I was struck at the time, as a reaction more to the current situation of foreign policy in this era (fall 2005).

For those of you who don't know or didn't think about it. 2005 was one of the lowest points in American prestige abroad. In the Muslim world a Marine task force had conducted an operation that had extreme collateral damage in the najaf Mosque and Cemetery. This is the home of the Imam Ali Mosque. The First Imam of the Shia' line. Kilometers of burial grounds were fought over with high explosive rounds. I think that the only thing that would be equivalent to this would be a battle in Arlington.

Perhaps even more damaging to our reputation abroad was the Re-election of George W. Bush to the presidency of the United States. In 2000 a popular conception was that the election had been stolen. In 2004 the election seemed a lot more fair, to the rest of the world it did not seem like we were remorseful for the actions of the previous four years.

That set the stage for how I initially read this speech. I read it from time to time, and take new shades of meaning every time I read it. Enjoy


John Quincy Adams 1821



And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind?

Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.

She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.

She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.

She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart.

She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right.

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.

The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force....

She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....

[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.

When John Quincy Adams served as U. S. Secretary of State, he delivered this speech to the U.S. House of Representatives on July 4, 1821, in celebration of American Independence Day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To Infinity and Beyond

Mountain Season 2009 and the Future

My goal in creating this document is to look at where we are and a partial look at were we can go and what it will take to get there. Greatness doesn't happen without exertion, examination and refinement. To continue to be the best thing going the ECCC has to keep looking forward, looking just past the horizon. This is a part of that effort.


THIS YEAR

The Good


The year we saw excellent production values out of each of our events. While not every event had all of the behind the scenes paper pushing totally dialed, almost all of the events had their flyers up with a decent amount of time before the actual event. I tend to think that this is a huge and important step. The attendance of small schools that cherry pick events is greatly affected by the quality of the event. A late or practically non-existent flyer is a black mark against these events.

While some of the events were still missing basic amenities, that would be expected during the road season (notably some sort of rest room at an xc venue), the venues were solid. There were of course variations, but the standard for a set up raised a lot this year. Notably UVM, and UNH put a lot of effort into making their start finish areas (on the first day for each) look really professional. This is the sort of thing that I consider to be icing or a special sauce. It doesn't make the dish, but it is what separates a 3 star effort from a 4 or 5. The courses have to be dialed, but this does increase the production value of the event. It makes an individual rider feel like the race (or race series) they are a part of is a much bigger deal. I think that this is important to continue to fuel the ECCC to higher participation.

I think that on the whole all of the races were of a higher caliber this year. I don't think that any of the races were events that I would have significant reservations about in the future. There is room for each of the promoters to improve, but a step towards excellence did occur.



The Bad

Probably the biggest problem I saw this year was a noticeable and quantifiable backslide in attendance. This is particularly troubling given that the price of gas was about %40 of what it was in the 2008 season. Travel was cheaper, why weren't people at the races?
Possible factors:
Graduation. This isn't an end all excuse, but it does cover some of the drop off especially in the less full fields.
Bad experiences the year before?! (we certainly hope not)
A huge drop off in UVM attendance %30~%70 less racers than previous year (roughly 15-25 fewer per weekend)
While this is a really serious concern. I am not overly worried by it. The attendance did seem to pick up as the season went on. (I think this indicates two things) I think so long as the races continue to be top notch, and there is a high production value at the races, our numbers will rebound to what they were last year. I explain the pick up at the end of the season to two factors. The first factor is that there was interscholastic competition. UVM and NU as well as Clarkson and RIT for their respective omniums. Nothing encourages recruitment like the thought of a championship. The second factor is a little more complex. The season started earlier in the year. I believe the UMASS race occurred on the first weekend of school for many people. This meant that teams who tried to attend the race were putting a good deal of energy into logistical planning. There is a chance that this meant that their fullest effort were not going towards the recruitment of new members. Teams that did not get it together to go to the first race were effectively cut out of the conference omniums to a large degree. This disincentivized recruitment for them. Despite this, the quality of the racing and races had a word of mouth effect. People came because the racing was good.

There was a critical loss in womens participation. For those of you who don't pay attention to womens racing the WB dh events only held on by a thread and numerous WB stxc races were attended soley by the girls of UNH. Both Womens' A and B xc races were at a much lower attendence than last year.

(These charts didn't publish well in this format. Look at them in this link)

http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AZL2H8KDJq5IZGdxbW5oY3JfMTI2OTU4NmZnZm0&hl=en

2008 Race Womens' A XC Womens' A DH1 Womens' A STXC Womens' A DH 2 Womens' B xc Womens' B DH1 Womens' B STXC Womens' B DH2
Lehigh 9/13 11 1 8 5 11 2 10 2
UNH 9/20-21 13 1 11 3 14 1 8 1
UNION 9/27-28 10 5 6 3 11 2 6 0
PSU 10/3-4 4 5 4 4 8 0 9 0
NU 10/11-12 12 7 8 7 10 3 9 3
AVERAGE 10 3.8 7.4 2.4 10.125 1.6 8.4 1.2
Averag Sans PSU 11.5 3.5 8.25 4.5 11.5 2 8.25 1.25


In 2008 we can practically consider PSU an anomoly. Th rest of the data seems to run counter to what it suggests. The xc racing poulation for both fields seems to resm around 11 girls. Gravity attendance is much much more sporadic. Although with the womens' A it does appear that as the season progressed so to did the attendance.


Here is how 2009 Shaped up

2009 Womens' A xc Womens' A DH1 Womens' A STXC Womens' A DH2 Womens' B xc Womens' B DH1 Womens' B STXC Womens' B DH2
UMASS 9/12-13 7 4 5 4 7 2 6 2
UNH 9/19-20 11 7 6 7 8 0 3 4
Lehigh 9/26-27 7 No Event 6 6 7 No Event 3 3
NU 10/3-4 6 3 5 5 8 3 7 1
UVM 10/10-11 8 6 8 6 10 4 7 1
AVERAGE 2009 7.8 5 6 5.6 8 2.25 5.2 2.2
AVERAGE 2008 11.5 3.5 8.25 4.5 11.5 2 8.25 1.25
Change from 08-09 -3.7 +1.5 -2.25 +1.1 -3.5 +0.25 -3.05 +0.85


So there it is quantified and visual. The good news is that the Downhill events are much better attended in the women's A fields. It is so hard to really take a positive from the increases from the Womens' B DH events since the fields are so small this is really just one extra racer in one or two events. It isn't an extra rider for the whole season.

Last year we could count on 9.875 women for any (A or B, Stxc or XC) event. This year it was 6.75. It appears that we lost about 32%
of our womens' endurance fields. This is terrifying. The danger here is that the events get so small that women would rather stay at home and go for a ride, than go to a 'race' where they are the only one in it. Teams really need to get on this next year, and the way to do that is starting this year. The womens' council/reps should be able to help with this, but the interest in growing these fields has to resonate with team leadership.


THE Ugly

An Issue for Timing:

I know that a lot of kids don't race outside of the ECCC. That is cool, no worries. We are pretty laid back on a lot of the USAC rules. Maybe too laid back. This year we let a lot of people make their own number if they lost it, rather than pay the $5 replacement fee. Tons of people wrote either the wrong number or didn't race with a number at all. This is hugely irritating. Fortunately Joe, Amy and I were able to figure it out and we didn't have any major errors in results. However, this not only means we have to yell after you to get your name, it also distracts us from doing results as accurately and as timely as possible. Don't assume that because you know us, we know your race plate. The USAC empower officials to fine racers who don't use the correct number, I doubt we will start doing that. But, in the future we will start applying the, 'no valid number, no result' rule.


The Future

Goals:

Bigger Season 6/7 races
First race is the two weekends from laborday
Easterns has a weekend between it and nationals
Strive to have only A level races
Heightened participation in general
Heightened participation for Women




Getting There
Bigger Season:
This is a pretty tough one. It isn't in our control alone. A lot of this has to do with descisions that are made by USAC. As with any issue that has to do with USAC you should each take the time to let the person in charge know. Don't forget that this is your association to, don't let it be run by the warlocks in distant towers. They are people and they might listen. The guy who runs Collegiate and High school is Jeffery Hansen. Drop him a line and let him know what you want. jhansen@usacycling.org

Strive to have only A Level Races:
This is part of the race season but I put it separately. This is something that is on the shoulders of a lot of different people. The knitty gritty of the races is on the promoters (i.e was there tape at an intersection, where is the ambulance). The results, whether somebody was dq penalized, that is on the official/results service. The broad strokes, the conference as a whole is on the shoulders of Joe Kopena (as well as lots of little details too). All of these things have to be working in concert to make things go off well.

Putting on a race is impossible* for one person, it is a team effort. This can be done by several teams (mutual host) but it is something that takes a lot of work. I tend to think that race promotion is a really really good gauge of the quality of a teams organization. I don't think that it is a surprise that the most active teams are the ones that host the races. We have teams that I think could shoulder the of promoting a race, they should definitely be thinking about this.

I think that it is essential to have teams that are active hosting the races. This means that they are at the races and know what the conference as a whole expects out of races. Commitment to quality is essential here.

Heightened Participation in General:
Attendance has been driven ~50% by three teams (NU, UNH and UVM) this is not a good position for the conference or promoters to be in. It means that these teams essentially control whether the races are profitable or break even. Ideally no one team could do that. In all teams there is a tendency to say, these are the folks we got (the ones who sought us out) and that is all we need. Don't settle for this as a team leader. There is no reason you can't have more. You should be looking for the people who will be the future. Active recruitment and efforts at retention can yield tremendous results. Last year I was able to nearly double the participation of the largest team in the conference. I am not that smart, you can do the exact same thing for your team.
As long as the race promoters, Conference leaders, and officials aren't making the races there is no reason we can't have bigger races. That means that team leadership has to step up there efforts.

More participation in the Skillz Clinics, Instruction: I think that we were really fortunate this year to get this going. It was my brain child (if you can call it that), so of course I think that it is good. However, they can only be as helpful as the people who are instructing them are well versed in the subject and in teaching it. I am of course limited in that I would never dream of hoping on a DH bike. Never in a million years. As a result, a lot of what I talked about had a much more xc bent to it.

Maggie was also able to help out. Which is awesome. If we can get more people involved in the teaching process that would be awesome. If you are interested try to seek me or maggie out. We can talk about it.

I would also love to get feedback from anybody who took part in a skillz clinic. Tell your teammates and pass along my email. ian.sullivan.1986@gmail.com



Heightened Womens Participation:
This is a challenge for a lot of teams, and competitive cycling in general. There are lots of women out there riding bikes. It is not a mans' sport, but men disproportionately do it competitively. This makes a lot of the teams boys clubs. Nothing but men on the teams and only boys go to the races. That means that even to go on a race weekend takes a lot courage/determination for a woman racer. There are barriers implicit with this situation that no male member of the team would even be aware of when considering going to a race. As a result of this the leadership of a team should try to make effort to lessen the cultural shock of the experience. Encouraging repeat participation should be part of every team leaders efforts to a new rider.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Be Your own Hero



We all grow up wanting to scale tall buildings, save damsels from distant towers and slay dragons. At the very least we think about being a fire fighter or a police man. Somewhere along the road of our lives those things fall by the wayside (except for the Women and Men of West Point). We all decide that our best utility lies in studying engineering of the works of Democrates. All of these things are great and contribute to society in a multitude of ways. Part of us hasn't yet given up the ghost. We are still looking to be heroic, looking for our chance to do something extraordinary. You might not even know that about yourself. You might not think that you want to be a hero. I know different. If you are a racer, I mean really a racer; one that is all about sniffing out the path to glory, then you want to be a hero.


What is heroic. There are two deff
initions I like to think of (whoa whoa, don't give up on me yet, it sounds boring but gets better). The first is a classic deffinition, a hero from a Greek tragedy. yeah like that guy (See Left, Oedipus). These are your heroes that suffer from flaws (Killing your father and boinkin' y'er ma', breaking the laws of your country along the way) but overcome them and make the right choice (the hard one) despite the tragic condition aligned against them.
The other take of heroism is the holywood type. Yeah you know what I am talking about. You have seen it time and time again. This is Rocky Balboa stuff these are the heroes who take on incredible odd because it is the right thing to do. Yeah this might even be like the biggest DudeFest ever. In all of these flicks the 'hero' is wicked noble and gets the piss knocked out of 'em until they dig into some deeper reserve of heroic power and take a death stab at their vile enemy.


Thats nice Sully, wtf does that have to do with racing bikes? Racing bike is like either of these things. Why do you think that people like cyclocross? I will tell you why, they get a chance to be epic, in horrific conditions against horrific odds they do________
______..........

My Sophomore year of high school I was running xc. We showed up at our district meet. I had been running between 6 and 9 on the team. (7 guys start at varsity races). I had gotten a fever coach decided to run me in the JV race. I obviously wanted to run the Varsity race at states wicked bad. I mean, who wouldn't?

Anyhow, we roll up to the race and it is pouring. Rainning so hard that little cars were up to their mufflers in the parking lot. At the deepest part of the course the water was up past my knee. Which is a bit, I am 6'2". To top it off the overnight low had been 31 degrees and the high for the day was 36 and windy. Talk about harsh weather cond
itions. I am not proud to admit it, but I sat on the bus and thought that it hadn't been that bad of a season. I wouldn't warm up, wouldn't preview the course. I would just sit there until 10 to go, then hop of the bus and to the start line. I could take the race at a trot and call it a year, better luck next time. I wasn't the only one...

Coach hopped back on the bus after picking up the race numbers, with a huge smile. He told us something I don't think I will forget as long as I hav
e anything to do with racing of any sort. he looked around at all of us and said,

'It isn't any worse out there for the kids from Essex, or CVU or any other school. It is raining just as hard and is just as cold for them. Just because it is harder than usual, doesn't make it any less of a race, if anything it makes it more of one. You are going to have a lifetime to sit inside by the fire and watch the storm beat down on the windows. Then you won't remember the sunny and mediocre races, you will remember the races you struggled and triumphed. I guarantee that whether you race to win or race to finish, you will always remember this race. This is the only shot you have at this moment in time.'

I will tell that the races that I cherish the most were the ones that were the most uncomfortable in. These are the races that make you feel like a h
ero. Embrace those moments

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Near Misses and Not Enough Time

I had a really really good coach once. He wasn't even just my coach. I was on his team, very very mediocre at what we did. Actually I was bad, straight up ota bad. That wasn't the case for him, he was good. In the way that few coaches are, he could motivate and train athletes, a rare combo. While I ran for him I went from dfl a lot to qualifying for New Englands and pursuing the sport at a collegiate div I level. He was awesome

Once he told me, " Sully it is all about time. You never have enough, you waste what you have, and when you make the most of it; 90% of it you are at the wrong spot at the wrong time. By the happenstance of time you compete against the truly greats and your star is comparatively weaker. Being great is getting all of that right."

Essentially what he was trying to tell me was that sport is hard, it is unforgiving. What sport gives us, that many other things in life do not, is a chance to be great. To be the hero or heroine of your own adventure. When else in life to you go under ardous undertakings for the sole hope of glory.

Never.


Glory is something we have forgotten about as a society. The greeks had it right. In fact they had a word, one that I have always liked, Arastia (I butchered the spelling but it is late) . It is when a warrior is recalled from the dead by the gods, because their patron god wished them to have an everlasting burst of glory before they crossed the river styx.

You don't get that as an accountant or a bureaucrat. You keep your head down work hard and work through the proper channels. A pox on that. You get that in bike racing, the need to push your legs a little harder to hold momentum, the thrill of sprinting when your whole body is a brick. All of these things are not for the meek. They are for the strong of will, the real victors. All racing is Glory.

I hate it when people talk about how hard racing is. Of course it is. It is a war on bicycles, you try to tear each others legs of, ride through sections so fast no one else can follow without crashing. These are the joys of racing. You never would here a great general talk about the trials o supply chains or the dead weight of alliances. No you would hear about the imortal glory that is gained in victory, the cheering crowds in parades. These are the things that make struggle and strife great.


The long and the short of it is there is no suffering, no sacrifice that would not pale in comparison to the greatness and the glory of victory.



Don't miss your shot, get up and race your bike.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lehigh Lovin'

That is right, Lehigh was last weekend a lot of you missed it, but a bunch of kids we don't always see did make it. It was sweet.

This race has been the opener for a couple of years and these guys manage to absolutely kill it every year. I think this race is a really really strong point on the calendar. If you missed it this year you should reconsider your life choices.

A few Big things happened.


1. Team Relay
This was a huge sucess. Numerous people remarked that this was one of the most fun events out there. It also showed which teams were really interested in the team overalls.

Most notably DII powerhouse (this year) Clarkson opted out of racing, giving there closest competition RIT a chance to put a solid chunck of point up on the board, totally uncontested.

Little Suprise that UVM, NU and UNH all posted teams for the race. UNH managed to field two teams, making them win the event overall.

The exchanges and number of riders were pretty diferent between the teams. NU chose to have DH/DS/STXC superstar Sam Mellon Rock the first three of six laps then have Maggie S. Close the final three. This strategy was preetty different than others. UNH had three riders, and would each only do one lap befor handing off. UVM also had three riders but would each do all of there laps at once.

NU prevailed and Angus of UNH had the ride of his life to hold of Chris Hamlin of UVM to give UNH the seccond place.

2. Lack of UVM Riders
The rest of the ECCC saw what it is like for UVM to be mortal. With only seven riders in attendence the Green and Gold kids, while not without success, were slaugthered. One of there lowest placings at an ECCC race in probably close to a decade. Current President Lee Peters Call all of the Kids who remained in Burlington, " a bunch of inbred Sally Wagons"

3. Flats and Mechanicals

These were the real stars of the Lehigh xc. While all of the MC and WB racers were able to finish. The second wave of starts MB, MA and WA were plagued by both of these. I think this was actually because of the super dry riding on saturday. The course was rolling a lot faster, so people were carrying a lot more speed into the rock gardens. The mens' a field was expecially depressing, as just as many people dnfd as finished.

4. NU Riders givin' it for the team.
This might have been more evident to me because of the selfishness and sloth of my old teammates (not the ones who went to the race of course). I am not sure if it has been for team or for self, but the last two weeks we have seen Sam Mellon racing out of his discipline in the stxc races and managing nothing lower than 4rth place. Definately not something that I could envision many A dh'rs doing. This weekend it was a huge boon to his NU team, pulling in a third place finish. Had he raced in the xc, Nu might have taken over the season overall lead, who is to say though.

Not only this, but the teams' president Maggie S raced five times for NU, probably a third of the points that NU scored are dirrectly linked to her. If you ask her what she thinks about beating UVM last weekend, you will get to see just how excited she is about her team. Together these two tackeled the team rellay, something that was originally designed for three people, none the less they managed to win it.

As I was officiating and scoring the end of the DH later that day it was pretty clear that both of them were tired during their dh runs. Sam only won by two secconds, much less than the thirty he won by the first race. In response to his teammates jab that he was getting closer, Sam replied, 'you didn't get third in the shortrack this morning did you, or win the TR an hour ago."

This is a really cool thing about collegiate. you will see people race out of their element and out of their skin for the teams, that they love. Something UVM used to know a thing or two about. We will see if the backlash from this weekend results in higher turnout this weekend.

Womens' Overall

This weekend we saw Maggie Sullivan of NU struggle with mechanical issues in her Xc and stxc races, preform excellently in the Cluster Huck (catching a C racer who will remain unnamed), taking a jubuliant win with Sam Mellon in the Team Relay and taking an exhausted run in the DH course. None the less with the abssene of Rose Long she was able to extend her lead to a huge margin in the overall and sneak into the lead in gravity and xc as well. Her teammate Andrea Kelchin was able to leapfrog Rose as well. If Rose wants any of the jerseys back she will have to be very very dominant and hope for bad luck for the other ladies these next two weekends.


Mens' Overall
A race that is incredibly interesting. Billy of UNH in his basketball shorts and silly t=shirts.  He is one of the few folks who are really racing the overall this year.  Consistant placing in both sets of racing have pushed him into third.  Sam Mellon held the gap to chris Hamlin.  This weekends shortrack confirmed that he is pretty boss in the discipline.  If he can continue to place well in three races a week as opposed to chris Hamlin's two wins a weekend it wouldn't suprise me to see sam catch and pass chris in the next week or two.  Hamlin has continued to be undefeated in the Xc/stxc categories.  Not many chances left for people to knock him down.




Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on STXC and the state of endurance mtb racing



I know that a lot of the eccc racers see the stxc event as kind of a back up event. A chance for glory after a sub par xc race or they will use it as a buttress to the accolades they had gained in XC. Either way it is a second tier priority for a lot of the racers. A shame really. In many ways Short Track can be the salvation of our sport.


Okay now that you have stopped laughing think about it. It provides a few things for both the introductory and elite level that are sorely missing for the sport at this point. The young racers of our sport must either race short distance with true beginners or race full distance xc races that will routinely take them into the two hour plus range. This is hugely problematic as I have a strong belief that racing for that long precludes the development of some young racers while simultaneously burning a lot of matches in the young riders that are able to handle the distance. For kids this age that want to succeed they are forced to focus on development at distance (viz a viz their current fitness). This is a huge mistake for young riders and racers new to the sport. Why you might ask, a lot of people are stoked on riding for long times over long distances?

This is true of course, and is the reason for the enduring popularity of the xc format and the emergence of the marathon format of racing. However, from a developmental point of few. You can always learn how to ride longer. In fact the longer that you are in the sport the greater this capacity will develop through a natural process. If riders and racers do not do the shorter more intense races they will miss a crucial part in their development and golden window for growth. Racing at intensity will help develop skill of high speed cornering, obstacle clearance and line choice that don't really get a chance to emerge in the lackadaisical pace of xc races. For this reason I assert that short tracks are immensely valuable to the young and the new racers.

In the elite aspect of the sport stxc is also extremely valuable. Elite athletes race for their daily bread. In the hopes of transforming their daily bread into daily lasagna with a glass of red wine, they should be looking for ways (along with promoters) to make their sport more marketable. I refute that this is simply a problem with American cycling. Just yesterday thousands paid to watch the cyclocross race at interbike. Given that this crowd was more disposed to watch a race than most urban demographics, I think that it shows the potential for the spectator value of cycling as a sport. Really what we should be looking to do is transform cycling into a juggernaut like nascar. Don't be so skeptical. People have that same roll of the eyes when they see some dude hopped up mullet hairspray with a deep scoop v-8 (see photo at top) roll up next to them as some dingus on a 10G parlee. ( I know it isn't a parlee and it isn't a bike racer, it is one of those triathlete things, but I am sure you get the idea). If they can roll their eyes at the people who are enthusiasts, but still sit down on the couch to catch a few laps, they can do it for bike racing to.

That is why STXC is perfect, the whole course could reasonably be covered by a few sets of camera (so you could see the leaders and one or two chase packs) The trick would be to figure out the filming of technical sections to inspire awe, and to throw in some jumps (for showboating). This format is also ideal because, just like cyclocross it can happen in parks in large urban settings. This is awesome, because it is where the people are. In the norba format (an utter failure) where all of the races happen at big ski areas you guarantee that the only spectators at the venue are the people that were in other races. Again a total and inconceivable blunder for anyone who was thinking about the marketing potential of the sport. By having races in central park and any other environment that could draw spectators, that are not necessarily committed to the sport in a participatory way, you open the door to a greater dearth of marketing potential. Right now nobody (outside of the cycling industry) wants to sponsor top mtb pros, because no consumers know anything about the sport. Despite being a prolific winner, you ask anybody on the street who katie compton is, and only one in a thousand (if you are very very lucky ) will have a snowball's chance in hell of telling you. That is the central reason why so many pros struggle to actually be professionals.

Open up the format of racing to make it more visible, bring it to urban centers to expand the marketing value of the riders, and in time the sport will be able to become more mainstream or at least a little bit more like a professional sport. The country could use a pro stxc circuit, in fact I bet it would be more feasible to run that, even if it was in urban centers, than to run the crackpot format they have now.


So much for my original plan to report on the unh stxc race, I guess that will have to happen tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

UNH Day One racing

I have to say that this is one of the most exciting days of racing for me, that I have experienced while holding a clipboard. We saw a lot of really really good racing. While some of the top names didn't change, the order of some of the racers did and it had an interesting effect on some of the overalls.

MENS A XC:

This is maybe one of the bigger dissapointments of the weekend. I was really hoping to see a few of the racers challenge last weeks double winner a little more than they did. Last year Mike Barlett was able to power away from Hamlin in the last lap of the race. I kind of suspected that the smell of past glory in the air would awaken a killer instinct in Mike. One of our stalwarts in the Catamount Wednesday Night Worlds Series ended up appearing at the race. Noah Tautfest is a partner in the the Bicycle Express and a pretty quick racer when he is put to it. I think, if memory serves me well that he took a win or two at catamount this summer, even when Chris was in the race. I was stoked for some hot racing action, fast paced, lots of changes in who the leader is.

Some dreams have to be left unfufilled. Chris showed from the gun that he was simply in another class than the folks he was racing against. By the first time through the 4 mile circuit he had alreaddy put a sizeable gap on the rest of the field. It would be a lie to say there was a chance that he was going back towards the rest of the boys at any point, as his lead expanded each lap through.

Noah and Mike fought it out in the waning laps of the race. The Polimer Science grad student from UMASS to the runner up spot. Noah of VTC had to settle for third in his first ECCC appearance.


WOMENS' A XC:

A pretty good show here. Last week (UMASS Opener) Rose long sent a huge message to the rest of the ECCC A Women, with three commanding victories, she was back and ready to win races. Also entering the fray this weekend was the elusive, secretive and unflappable Kate Harris of MIT.

Las year Kate had started to race in the ECCC and racked up an impressive resume in Rose's absence. All but one of the Collegiate mtb races she entered in 2008 she one. That includes a set of stars and bars in the DII short track.

Also in the hunt for top placing and points for the ECCC overall was last year's winner Maggie of NU. As well as Ashley Nichols of UVM who had notched a second place in her first A xc ever. The excitement was palbable.

After the first lap it was clear that Rose intended to power away to a dominant victory, unwilling to even let the other girls get a look at her once Joe had said go. Behind her a small and determined chase group had formed. Kate H and Maggie S hhad formed a formidable tandem for a time. In the ensuing laps they started to shut down the significant gap that Rose had built. With a lap to go a high pace was taking a toll on race leader Rose Long of UVM. She was visibly pedaling with a great deal more labor than the other times she had lapped through.

A short two minutes later Kate Harris came through the finish line. Charging, might be a better verb to describe what she was doing. The vigorous chase had proved to strenuous for Maggie and she was forced to slow. Where as Kate was just warming up. Joe and I had commented that Kate seemed to get the pacing of the races right. She seemed to build speed and strength as the race progressed. Without loosing a race in the eccc last year the odds seemed to be in her favor.

Except for the biggest factor in any race Rose enters, she is wicked f'n BA (if you aren't sure what this means, ask me). She gritted it out to maintain a margin at the finish line. Kate cruised in for seccond place, with maggie holding on for third, but loosing a fair amount of time to kate.

Most interesting for the Overall race that was hotly contested the previous weekend was a displacement factor. Kate H provided a little extra cushion in points between Rose and Maggie. Ashley N of UVM suffered from a little bit of a sub par race. While her closest competition in the overall, Andrea K of NU had a pretty solid race. There were enough girls in between them that the points spread was sizable.



STXC later

Monday, September 21, 2009

ECCC Mountain Week 2 (brief)

As we are waiting for the results from the timing service for the dh the results haven't been posted to the website yet. Never fear, they are coming. I will right a longer report once the full results are up, but until then here is a brief round of what you might have missed this weekend.


gnartastic ds:

pretty sure that this is the longest and steepest ds that the eccccc has ever seen, dreamed, watched, much less raced on. The reception seemed to be pretty positive, despite the long run times and the killer hikes back up during practice.

In the Mens' A we nearly saw a huge upset. Dark horse Ben Estrich of NU pos
ted the second fastest qualifying time. Causing a little bit of surprise and doubt that the brackets were done correctly. Round after round Estrich kept surprising his fellow competitors with wicked fast runs down the hill. I might be wrong about this, but I am pretty sure Estrich had never had a top five in an eccc race before this weekend. This race might just have been his arrival party, without a doubt the best race he has done in the ECCC.

In the Final Ben squared off against his teammate and 2008 ECCC Gravity champion Sam Mellon. In the first run Mellon crashed, putting into place the 2 second differential rule. On the second run Ben Estrich had to keep Mellon within two seconds to get the W. In the event that both racers get the two second differential, the faster qualifier wins. A quarter of a seccond, really just a blink of an eye, was how much Estrich missed staying inside the differential by. As a result the win went to Sam Mellon of NU, and Estrich was regulated to second place.

Two teammates also ended up racing for third place. UVM racers Caldwell Clark and Antothy Santos ended up in the 3-4 race down. Despite the situation and both mens' protestations that they were going to easy style it then stuns big off the last jump. There was a whole lot of crashing in their race runs. In the first run both of the guys crashed on the big jump after the finish line. Yes after the finish they both crashed.


In the Women's race, First weekend A racer Anne Miner of Clarkson had a great run through the brackets after taking the top qualifying time. She made to the final after getting a bye in the first round. Last years Gravity Overall champion Maggie Sullivan of NU, took a somewhat conservative and sluggish qualifying run putting her almost dead center in the bracket. Despite some tough pairings as the race went one her runs improved and she too advanced to the final. Anne Minor looked to be setting up for a perfect introduction to A racing by winning the first of two races against Maggie by about half a bike length. Once the courses were switched, a clear advantaged opened up for Maggie, her win on that course was by enough of a margin to net her second win of the day following her win in the DH that morning.


That is all for now

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ECCC Mountain: Week 1

Hi all,

As you know last weekend started the ECCC Mountain season. I have changed my perspective at races a good deal. Now I am trying to help the ECCC run as well as it can (a very high standard). I am trying to help Joe and Caitlin as much as I can. While I normally think that it is pretty boring to read other people's race reports I think I will try* to make an effor to do race highlights for the season as it proggresses. Obviously the more spectator friendly races I will be able to comment more on, but I hope to do a much scaled down version of a daily report from Cyclingnews (again high goal, shoot for low expectations)


Skills Clinic: This was the first event of the weekend and it was definately a success. Maggie Sullivan and I had about 15~16 people show up for this. A really good start to this, I think that the people who showed up took a good deal away from the clinic. The real measure of success will be the number of people who show up in the following weeks. Maggie and I designed the clinics to be a progression of skills, so that people can come each week and hopefully pick up something new each time.

This coming weekend (UNH) we are going to work on Obstacle Oblitorating. This is a skill that most folks who are progressing through the skill set of mtb find to be problematic. This is because if you get it wrong you are off the bike or jarred like you got a steel toed boot to the kiester. Hopefully folks will show up so we can really dig into teaching this.

Women's A XC: 7 women took the start line. Though a lot of the faces from last year were missing, this marked the return to ECCC mtb racing for Rose Long. If you didn't know Rose took an unscheduled hiatus from school, racing and riding due to a horrific hit and run accident. It was clear from watching the first lap of the race that Rose was back to her old self though. She, Maggie Sullivan and Ashley Nichols had created a substantial seperation from the rest of the field on the first lap. Each of the subsequent laps she shed on of her original companions until she took her first win of the year with a healthy lead over 2nd Place Ashley (Note. this was Ashley's first A race)

Men's A XC: This year started a lot like last year. Even on a significantly different and shorter course. Chris Hamlin managed to win by arround 10 minutes. A huge margin of victory. It appears that Chris has finally done what he has been threatening to do for years, train.

After the monument victory that Hamlin took the question on everyone's mind is will anyone show up to challenge him for the rest of the year, or will he keep winning like it was breathing?


Men's A Super D: This race experienced slightly lower turnout than originally hoped, or a race as sweet as it was deserved. This was probably due to infamiliarity with the race format and the aversion of some racers to pay lift fees twice in one weekend.

None the less the racing was certainly hot enough to merit a great deal of excitement. Daryl D (UVM), Noonan (UNH) and Melone (UNH) all came into the last section of woods together. Word on the street was that a whole bunch of risky racing was going on. This is of course the whole thrill of Super D and other great american pastimes (see pastime on Right-------------------------------->>>>)


Women's A Super D: Even though the field was only 4 ladies deep, it was composed of the top 4 women from that morning's xc event. It looks like from those registrations that the ECCC Women's Overall is going to be hotly contested this year. Once again Rose Long of UVM posted a win. One of the other competitors attributed her victory to her meticulous preperation viz a viz the other racers (not only did she take a practice run, she took two) Maggie Sullivan and Ashley Nichols reversed their order from that morning. Maggie in second and Ashley N. in second.

Omnium update--> At this point Rose Long was undefeated, totalling 160pts. Maggie and Ashley were trailing with 133 pts each.

Mens' A STXC: If there was any question that Hamlin had asserted himself as the xc rider to beat the day before, they were quickly squashed in the critically acclaimed stxc race. Despite missing a pedal at the start, by lap two Hamlin had gaped the field. Though Mike Barlett of UMass made a valiant effort to keep him in sight, each lap Hamlin was able t use his powerful riding style to crush through o roots faster and summit speedier than his puruers.

The battle for third place was really the one that was hotly contested. Alex Cox, Lee Peters and Nathan Pepin were all within about 20 seconds for the whole race. It appeared that each of these racers were powerless to distance themselves from the others. The separation that had occurred in the early laps was not to be undone.

Women's A STXC: This might have been the most exciting race of the weekend. It saw last year's DH and Overall Champion Maggie Sullivan and the 2008 road overall champion Rose Long battle it out. It was very clear at the end of the first lap that these two were in a class of their own in this race. The separation had been immediate and substantial. The rhythm of the race was fairly balanced between the two riders. Maggie would open a small gap on the downhill single track, over coursing roots and off camber turns. Only to have the gap shut down on the fast rolling carriage gradual climb back to the top of the singletrack.

This pattern seemed to break down arround lap three or four, when Maggie began to get to the single track slightly before Rose. With three laps to go, Maggie had a maximum advantage of 10~13 second. As soon as Rose saw the lap cards, it was as though she was a bloodhound that had just picked up the scent. She could smell the win and wasn't about to let it go that quickly.

Within a lap she had cut the gap to maggie in half. The next time around (1 to go) Rose made her pass, taking the lead downt the singletrack for the first time in the race. This proved to be a very astute tactical move. Already being the stronger climber, she took the reigns and dictated the pace on the way down as well. Once they got to the fire road it was a clear and convincing win for Rose, once again.


Omnium update Rose 240, Maggie 203, Ashley 190

Mens' A DH:

Sam Mellon, enough said.



He might not have opted to race the Super D, cause he didn't want to pay the lift ticket. Once he got a ticket to the top of the mountain he sure road down like he stole it. A huge display of dominance, winning by almost 30 seconds would have been unheard of last year. That sort of difference means no matter where you were on the coulse you could tell that he was riding faster than any one else.

Last year Sam Mellon was almost the first gravity racer to win the overall, due to his consistant excellence. Only to have it robbed by chris Scannel's win at the NU dh course. We will see if he can make the next step up on the podium.


Womens' A DH: Andrea Kling showed why she was the top ECCC female at nationals last year (10th place, in her 4rth A dh). With a pretty sustantial margin she relegated the other overall hopefulls to the bleachers while her skills took center stage.


General thoughts with no Category: Clarkson came out in a big way. Last year they ended up 7th in D2. This year they took a powerful lead in the hunt for the crown. I will give them a hint to help them make it happen. There is a kid who goes to school there called colby jesset. He was a JR. Ex superstar. In fact I still say (knowing him at 14) he is the most talented person I have ever ridden with or arround. If they get him in a set of that smashing yellow uniforms, they will be able to light the world up.


I am not sure if it was because of low attendance or just the acceleration of some riders proggressions, but this past weekend saw what right now appears to be the final word in both the Gravity and Endurance omniums. I am not sure I would call it just yet, but it will take a combination of bad luck and fast proggression for other riders to touch Sam or Chris.


I think that the Womens' overall might be the most exciting for years. I think that as of right now there are four very tallented and motivated ladies who are vieing for it. What will make this so exciting is the diversity of their talents. While we only saw two winners this weekend. I would be suprised if we don't see a least one new winner next weekend.



and that is all



Wednesday, September 9, 2009

MTB SKILLZ CLinics

MTB Skillz Clinics

All right now. From my limited experience rolling around the courses of the ECCC, I have noticed some really superb riding and some immensely terrible riding. There are folks in every category who are missing some of the components of riding mechanics that are fundamental and relatively easy to pick up. Do people lack these skills because they are stupid or lazy? In some cases yes, however most folks simply have never been told or fully thought about what they need to do to make their bike go fast, or even get through a section of trail.

Mountain Biking is a sport that mixes the strength of your muscles with the finesse that separates the bumbling from the brilliant. A good friend of mine once told me that being strong will only get you close to the podium, great skills will get you the rest of the way. Someone with really good skills rides through a technical section of trail as though they were liquid velvet. They don’t bounce; they absorb and dance on their bike. This isn’t easy and it can be only so intuitive; that is why we are starting to do the skillz clinics.

Skills on a bike will come if you ride enough, but you are going to have to make mistakes. Smoke corners, plow into rocks and logs, skid sideways into trees and a variety of other unpleasant outcomes. What we are trying to do is offer an alternative, to cut out part of the trail and error. While better skills won’t make you pedal harder, they will let you go faster with less effort

I have spent nearly a decade teaching folks, from eight to eighty how to ride mtb. It is a total blast. Over that time and from the experience of others I have together a set of lessons that will cover all* of the basic that you need for both riding and racing. Unlike road season the clinics will cover a progression of skills. The clinics are NOT attached to any race, so all categories of riders are encouraged to attend the clinics.

This is a basic overview of what we are going to cover:

-Umass (shifting, breaking-Umass (shifting, breaking and hovering(body stance for obstacles, rough terrain loose cornering))

-UNH (Obstacles) {usually I teach this as the evolution of obstacle clearance, from hovering->weight shifts->Front wheel lift-> Front then rear lift-> bunny hop->j-hop)

-Lehigh (anticipation) this is an on trail clinic, it is almost entirely focused on maximizing your vision to set up to carry speed of clear sections of trail. This is also a 'choosing your line lesson'

-NU (Climbing and descending) skills, body positioning-> incorporating other skills to make this most successful.

-UVM (cornering) High speed low speed-> discuss body positioning for optimal traction and speed

Please pass this along to teammates who are newer to riding or who want to ride better. It is a good way to make there season more successful

Sunday, August 30, 2009

PEI and Other Adventures


Hi All,

What a summer it has been; rain, riding, dancing and swashbuckling.

Summer is mostly over, but there is still some fun out their before the season of everlasting glory begins. (Notice that the first week's flyer is up). As my dearest marshmallow lips(see picture on the right) is attending the Prince Edward Island School for Animal Loving Medicine Practicing Persons of a Canadian Persuasion (or PEISFALMPPOCP for short, you should see the booty shorts they have in the book store) I decided to take a road trip.

I was joined by some lovely ladies as well as Tobias for the trip. Let me tell you, I don't think I have ever laughed so hard, or heard love story soo many times in one day. I think that Taylor Swift might be one of the few people who approach my level of American-awesomeness-osity. Pretty much an all american hero, apple pie has nothing on her.

Once we got here we looked for the islands most famous resident, only to be informed that she kicked it one hundred years ago. This was a huge and overwhelming dissapointment, because I always wanted to meet her after reading all of her books. The upside is that she now markets a full line of rasberry cordials (the weird shit canadians drink). We didn't see her house, because I thought I might cry. however, there was a lovely minigolf place next to it, that we rocked for 8 hours. After this we realized that none of us would ever become professional golfers.

Dissaster stuck during one of our rides. Emily broke a spoke. This is a huge and overwhelming pain in the ass, as she has a set of FSA wheels. For those of you who aren't familiar with the idiocy of FSA wheel building, i will give you a little insight. They use internal niplles (so it is harder to work on) and run incredibly high spoke tension (so the wheel gets really untrue when one breaks). In addition to the complexities of the FSA wheel we are a thousand miles away from my tools or a bike shop I trust. Unfortunate only just begins to knock at my feelings of the situation. When we walked into the lbs (local bike shop) we were greated by a person of a particular appearance. I like to think that I am pretty open minded. That I am willing to judge people by there merit, rather than their lifestyle choice. However, this particular look is one that usually implies an aversion to all things bright and tight.

I was right, my friend in the flat brimmed hat was useless, and declaired that the wheel was totalled, for lack of a spoke.

well that is all for now, tata

Friday, July 31, 2009

Run Off and Join the Circus

Hi All,


Despite the soggy summer, the fall promises dry trails and oodles of glory to the fat tire crowd. Though the schedule is pretty short for the MTB Season, each of the races seems to be shaping up to be truly excellent. Each and everyone of you out there in the eccc should make it to at least one race and do your best to bring a friend. The mtb season is something that is so awesome and enjoyable that it cannot be summed up, but if you are not there you are missing out in a really really big way.

Whenever I talked to new people as the president of UVM cycling I would tell them that going to a mtb weekend was like running away and joining the circus. It is like the far side of the moon from anything the bright and tight (roadies) crowd would expect at a race. That definately is a good thing, all sort of the collegiate spirit that makes the ECCC a thing of brilliance is concentrated in a few short weeks.



Check it out, you won't be sad.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Boston is My Lover


Hi All,

More on the Kingdom later.....


Going to Boston this weekend. My Little Sister(President of the Second Best MTB team in the ECCC) turned 21. A huge day in the Sullivan Family to be sure. Since she is living in Boston and taking care of sick people, she can't be in vermont. So We are going to bring some Hoo ahhh to her. Should be Fun.



Assuming that we can Wake up(50% %05 chance) we are going to hit up the Wells ave Worlds. It should be legit. I encourage any of you who are in the area who I like to show up. I would love to pretend like it is collegiate season and race for some glory.



Till Next time,


Keep the Rubber Side Down

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kingdom Ho'

Tomorrow Emily and I are making our first trip to the kingdom trails in E. Burke VT. This is a preetty sweet spot. They have ~1,000,000 km of trails(Since no one has any idea how far a km is you will have to guess) . Needless to say that no place with that many trails can be all bad.

The best part of going to the kingdom trails is the gastronomic delights. The drive is about two hours each way, but passes some awesome places.



1. Miss Lyndonville diner . Pre ride breakfast stop. This place is beyond belief. I love it for two reasons. first off cause they truly Americans there. You can also buy coffee by the cup or by the hour.


Let that sink in for a second......



You can buy an unlimited cup of coffee that last for an hour. Every person who calls themself a bike racer should have to clean up their chamois after thinking about that.


2.Lunch/Post ride hit up Trout River Brewery. Right by the trail and super dank.


3. Drive home pit stop. Rainbow Sweets. This place is god's gift to your taste buds. This world class chef decided that the kitchens of NYC and Philly sucked too much. So he and his wife packed up some Volvo and Drove up to the groovy mountain state of vermont. Since then he has been rocking the culinary minds of everone who ventures into Marshfield VT. you are missing out if you haven't been there.

In fact if you do nothing else in your life go to rainbow sweets, get very fat, and you will die extremely happy.


Pictures of our trip may follow.......