Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Few Random Thoughts

That could really be the title of the whole blog. But I think this is really more random than usual.

Right now I am suffering. Emily and I went to my parent's house for dinner. It was lovely as I am sure you can all imagine. Then Emily and I watched Grey's Anatomy. Yeah I know, this is the least manly thing you could possibly do. I will most likely get dropped in the first corner of every race this weekend. In defense of the show it is some Really, Really Dramatic stuff. I think the blond one is going to die.... Anyhow right after this show there is something called private practice. This is way worse. The show is set in the worst place I could possibly imagine..... California. Apparently it is always sunny and it never snows. I would be real sunburned and there would be no opportunities to 'harden the fuck up' with no cold miserable weather. I refuse to watch it, so here I am

In my vicious competition with my snugglemuffin. Things are all tied up, we are both in fifth in the be fields. however, I have 113 points as to her 112. Clearly I am a better bike racer (even though it took me 8 races and her 5 to get those totals) Maggie is getting left in the dust. I will make a called shot that Maggie will win the Dartmouth Crit. I have a feeling, we will see.

At least a few more of UVM Cycling's women are coming this weekend. Last weekend was a bust. Netana bravely defended the honor of UVM Cycling all by herself in the A field and managed to get a string of 4rth place finishes.

Size matters and a lot of other teams don't get it. It is so sad to see Honda civics rolling up to the parking lots. Dream Big and everything gets easier and cheaper. Some people think that we have a ton of money and buy are way to success. Whatever. UVM picks up a lot of the tab, but we make things cheap. How, cause we are a force of nature. People are thilled their kids take up bike racing at uvm, instead of the other thing UVM is reknowned for

Yes that is right, Bong ripping seminary classes. Anyhow this joy brings the team places to stay and food at races. How many crappy subway sandwhiches to you have to eat. Start recruiting. Start recruiting. Get people into bike races, teach them how to race. Roadies are tremendously self absorbed, but stew on this. Racing is fun cause yer racin'.

What do you need for racin'? People.

If we aren't adding new people and pulling them up through the ranks, all we are left with is the rejects from national team and ex juniors. A pretty lame cast of characters. The more kids who are racing the more exciting races are and the greater glory that is attached to winning. As we all know, the real reason to race is the dream of the glory hole.

Another reason it is great to be big. Holding races. Wait, before you start booing think about this. The average expense to UVM Cycling for a race weekend, about $2,000. Sounds like a lot. I guess it is. Anyhow, when we host races, since we don't pay for entry fees, hotels or transport we can actually sustain a loss on the race and come out ahead. yeah that is a mindfuck and a half isn't it. There is some major potential there.

I was talking to steve this past weekend, it was stimulating. I said two things,

"great aspirations don't except excuses"


"There are three ways to get faster: Train, Race smarter, or harden the fuck up"

Both of these stem from things that Rose has said while around me. In the first instance a junior was talking about why he didn't like racing mount snow. He told rose he was first to the top but that the downhill was overly technical. He boasted that he was the strongest racer in the field. To which Rose Reply, " Pussy, Pussy, Pussy. That's crap. That is like saying I would have won, but it got hard. I could have done great, but my legs got tired." No excuses ever. If you suck, or plain old can't win: Be honest with yourself. At the same time don't make excuses to be a predator. Once your time has come, heed the call to greater glory.

The show is over. More random thoughts later.

I am going to dream about all the glory that is waiting for the ECCC on the Streets of Philly, and the chease steaks

Monday, March 16, 2009

A little friendly Competition

For those of you who don't know my sister and GF also race bikes. With all of us being crazy A type personalities there is usually some competition.

From the Fall:
-Maggie killed us all in total points and won the Overall and Gravity Jerseys, In addition a few DH wins
-Emily had the Highest Placing at Nationals with a 14th in the Short Track (top ECCC'r in the race)
-I got two STXC Wins (Emily didn't win any)

The way spring is shaping up:
- Me not so hot, nothing higher than 4rth
- Maggie, Epic from the gun breakaway at Stevens that held for most of the race
- Emily got the W at Stevens and a 4rth in the Rutgers TT.

Up until the Stevens crit I had more points, but I think Emily may have surged by me. Dang

Wowza Women

Preface: I was chided for my terrible spelling for a previous post. I accept and am unashamed of my butchery of the english language. As a concession I will quote Andrew Jackson, "It is a dull mind that can think of only one way to spell a word." So, try not to get to hung up on it.

After two weeks of E Triple C Racing I think something is becoming really clear. This year women's racing is blowing up all over the place.* I mean the numbers are crazy. Lots and lots of women have thrown on a Chamois and taken to the tarmac. This is really really exciting. This segment of the population has been traditionally super underrepresented in bike racing. This is one of those rare times in life when something awesome happens without any real reason.

How does this conference now transfer the momentum of this wave of population surge into a solid set of racers who are committed to rocking the E Trip C all year long. The first thing we should look at is what we are doing well.

Intro Racing
this is one of the greatest parts of the conference. Bike racing can be intimidating to everyone, this seems to be especially true in the case of women's racing. The intro racing category lessens the impact of the terrifying experience that can be bike racing. This year there have been a lot of people who have been helping out with these clinics. We need to keep this up. More energetic people, who have a good grasp of how to execute the skills for successfull and safe bike racing are what we need to keep this rolling. Intro

There are a few things that could go a little better. Especially now that there are more women racing these problems seem to be exacerbated.

Distribution of Racers: and Category traits
Intro racing: A great friendly way to get into racing. Heavy on coaching lite on racing and the duration of the race. Most of the races only have a duration of 10-15 minutes. I don't see this as a problem if the race is close to the new racer. When the distances are far to farther it is a pretty big turn off. Who wants to spend 9 hours round trip to do two 15 minute races. It is not bad once or twice, but you would not want to do that all year long.

Women's B This category is very very very diverse. The distances are usually the same as the Men's C races. I think this is a fairly reasonable jump from the Introductory category. As far as I see it there is no problem with the distance at most of these races (at some races it is though) The problem lays with the traits of the women who are racing. There are some very very strong racers chilling out in the women's B's. Almost a Women's B+ field if you will. Some races you will very easily see these women seperate themselves from the chaffe. Why is this a promblem. This is a problem when these B+ women choose to make the race so hard and so fast that the women who just moved up from intro get spit out the back in the first 10 minutes of racing. When that happens, the girl that just moved up from Intro feels lost in the world. Nothing left to gain from Intro, but not good enough for B's. How will this get better? Sadly there is no magic answer. Each of the girls that has chosen to keep hanging out in the B's and pulling down top 5s every weekend will have to jump up a category

Women's A's A lot of what goes on in these races is what influences the B+ riders not to make the leap. There are not that many women's A racers in our conference. Some of them even get dropped pretty consistantly. This distances are farther and the racing can be a lot faster (sometimes, other times they ride around real slow and just sprint for primes). With so few girls in the race a lot of races will end up being group rides of 1-3 people. Not exactly the height of competitive racing. (This does not in any way imply that the girls are not competive, just that the races see a lot of seperation. This results in more predictable finishes). Simply put, the Women's A field has intimidated a lot of girls in the B's From stepping up.

Why This is real important right now:
Well, the last two weeks there have been hordes of racers in the Women's Intro fields. Some of them will want to join the B fields. If they are met with races like Princeton and Stevens (the racing not the course) they might be highly discouraged. A result we want to avoid like the plague. I encourage all of the girls who can to upgrade to A. Make some room for new girls to grow in the B's, you had your time. Move on. If enough of you do it the A's will not be to bad. Who knows, maybe everyone will win?

What we can all do:
Take it seriously. The women are an equal part of the scoring equation. Every place matters a lot to how the team overalls come out. So be supportive and encouraging of the women who come out to race. They make or break seasons and placings.

Good Night and God Bless,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Hidden Curriculum

Wow, a lot of people read my blog. It is great to know that I am not just banging my keyboard for the trolls of the world to find at the bottom of a pile of cyber junk.

Any how I would love to further refine the thoughts I shared in my previous post.

When I was in high school I took a class called senior stats. It was miserable, a lot of information that I have yet to use and never really learned. There was a lot of busy work. Graphing, chia squared, means, median, standard deviations. Being the honest person I was I told the teacher I did not think his class meant much to me. His answer was wise and prudent. He said that the class was not really about stats it was about the hidden curriculum. This curriculum was to work hard and shut up. As he pointed out, the world needs ditch diggers too. (if he could only see me now)

So what does this mean for E Triple C cycling?

Divisions. There is a hidden curriculum to them. It is not as one person replied to develop two parallels competitions within the same conference. What does that do to get more people racing? Nothing.

The model as I understand it, is that the goal of Collegiate Cycling is to develop talent and to bring more people into the world of bike racing. How does the ECCC achieve this?

For the first goal we have classes of riders A,B,C,D and Intro. This affords riders of disparate riding talent to go the same race and to compete in an environment that offers an achievable challenge. With stratification like this, most riders can at least understand what it would take to win a race in there category. With this knowledge they could be inspired to train more or learn how to handle their bike better. Progression happens.

The second goal is slightly more challenging. How do you get a lot of people to want to race their bikes. Obviously there are a few people at every school that would want to race no matter what. I think that is a given. However, some schools are able to get more people out. What do they use to accomplish this and what is the incentive to do this? For us the motivation is to win. Everyone loves winning. It might be the greatest feeling you can have on earth. The beautiful thing about the way the conference is set up, is that you need riders of every class and gender to do well. Teams lacking in either of these are doomed to failure. We have perennially suffered from a lack of women. (Though the ones we have had are kick ass). To ensure victory we have recruited pretty heavily. Any team that perceives itself as in contention for the win will be motivated to do this.

The ultimate question is how to encourage as many teams to do this. I think that the divisions (d1 and d2) are a great way to do this. If all of the large and established teams are in D1 that will leave d2 to the teams that are smaller. Teams of lower numbers will be able to realize more exciting changes in their overall team standing if some of the stand out schools graduated to d1.

From the first weekend of the schools in the top5:
3 of them are d2
4 of them are qualified to be d2.

This does not provide a lot of incentive for the ten rider schools to recruit, from a purely competitive standpoint.

So I think that in order to achieve the goals of collegiate cycling's hidden curriculum we as a conference should encourage a weeding out of D2. MIT might be the most flagrant in their misalignment, but Army and Dartmouth are well developed teams that would not be all sorts of sad if they were d1.

Just some thoughts. With any luck this won't make any ones' chamois ball up in a big nasty knot. I hope this generates some furtive discussion.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Make the Leap

What an exciting first weekend of racing. I had a great time and hope all of you did too. The great and glorious UVM cycling saw some success and some failure, not really important or fun to read about. As a general rule race reports are real lame and are solely used to bolster egos and build excuses.

I do want to throw out a gauntlet though.......

The standards for Division 1 are 15,000 students. That is a whole lot of kids, does not mean any of them will be fast or like racing bikes. However, it is the pinnacle of competition (D1). UVM acknowledged this years ago and decided to Race D1. As a result we do not beat up on the 'small teams'. This was very noble and generous of us.

You are welcome

The time has come for another school to sack up and leave the kiddy pool (no offense to other D2 teams, solely used here for talkin' smack). We all know who I am talking about, I will give you a hint.

They have a wind tunnel.

Still not sure

When they go on rides they have protractors and abusus (The plural might be abuci, not sure)

I am of course talking about MIT. They should, as we have, embrace the spirit as opposed the the letter of the D1/D2 guidelines. If they can beat all of the D1 schools but us, it is time to move up. I doubt they will though and I will tell you why. I have a sneaking suspicion that they like sandbagging and would not want to loose to us outright.