[You] Wish You Were Here

There was a lot of build up to my trip to Oregon this week. Everyone I had talked to had only incredible things to say about Bend. From their outdoor athletics to their beer, everything was highly regarded from those who visited. One individual even went as far as to say Bend was nothing short of "Heaven." With all of this build up, Bend had quite a reputation to uphold, and so far it has lived up to every word.

The town of Bend is home to about 81,000 people (according to a sign, but this number may vary), and everyone I talk to seems to be physically involved in something. Their high school jocks are not football players, but rather alpine skiers. Overweight individuals are a rarity, and in my adventures so far I have only come across a single McDonalds. The lifestyle in the area is that of full-year ski-town, but with so much more going on. The only downside in this area seems to be a lack of jobs. It is almost impossible to find a viable career in your field of study, no matter what it be, and its extremely common to find common workers with expansive educations. My host family tells numerous stories to this fact, including one about a window fitter who received his PhD from Oxford (he rightfully claims to be the most educated window fitter in America).

As for the 'Cross racing, the course originally seemed pretty tame as far as technical aspects go, but did prove a respectable distance (3.2 km). Not much elevation gain, but one stair run-up and one set of barriers. However, the weather in Bend produced a very difficult, and dynamic course. The temperature when I arrived in Bend was -16, or -25 with wind chill factored in (and yes, both of those numbers have negatives on them). I have never been that cold in my life! But the cold resulted in frozen ground (and rivers), making the course have the potential for lots of speed. The snow mixed in on top assured the riders that it wouldn't just be a straight powerfest, as you really had to have good handling to navigate the corners. As the first day of racing progressed, temperatures rose throughout the day and began melting a little bit of the ice. But as soon as the sun tucked itself behind the mountains, the portions of the course that had originally thawed out began to freeze over again. So instead of hard ground, riders were blasting through sheets of ice. More snow is expected to fall over the next few days, so it is tough to predict just what the course will be like by the time the Elites race.

I'm off to explore more of the town this evening, and partake in cycling related activities, but I'll be sure to update more after tomorrow, and especially after I race on Sunday. I'll even post some pictures when I have the chance. Tomorrow I also head over to Mt. Bachelor for some Nordic skiing! Hopefully I won't bust myself up too bad...


SHARE the road.

I'd like to bring the following article to everyone's attention, because it simply astounds me how ignorant members of the human race can be. Sometimes I think someone forgot to add the chlorine to the gene pool when I read things like this. This guy disgraces my name.

Click HERE to read the article.

While this is not the first time, and it certainly will not be the last time I see something like this, I think it serves as a good reminder for all of us to promote effective bicycle advocacy every chance we get.


Photos: Army Spring Classic 2009

Entire album can be viewed HERE.

Lightly used wheel for sale!

Since the D-riders have lost their fearless leader Steve to C's, I thought I would step up and comment on this past weekend's race. My fellow D-riders and I had a solid showing at Army this past weekend. We placed in the middle of the pack for the TTT (having never practiced). The Circuit and HCTT were more challenging than expected, but congrats to Zack for kicking the rest of our PSU D-rider butts up the hill. As for the Crit... we were spread throughout the pack, and all performed well. Zack sprinted to the front to bring back a break away towards the final laps and finished 17th; Brian and Drew both had solid races to finish in the pack, and I was able to pull out 9th to get my first point of the season.
The success of this weekend has left me feeling the need to upgrade my wheelset for something a little faster, lighter, and more fragile... So I am selling my old front... stiff, lightly used, raced twice, only less than a year old!!! Pictured below (courtesy of Zack Repp)... Let me know if you're interested!


Photos: Philly Phlyer 2009

As the resident camera-totin', downtube-shiftin' MTB'er turned crazy-quasi-roadie, I present to everyone the photos from the 2009 Philly Phlyer, race #4 of the 2009 ECCC road season.

Click HERE to see the entire album.



Category C!!

So, this has been a long time coming. As the captain of the C's, I need to create a race report. First, I will briefly highlight the first two weekends.

Rutgers: We had some good racing here and a huge field. Over 90 guys showed up, so they split the fields for the races. Nate Depenbusch graced us with his presence and low sleep. We love racing with Nate. Also in attendance were Andy Mina, Andrew Lloyd, and Keith Groshans. We rode hard in the ITT and Crit on the first day.

On the second day during the circuit race I attempted a very daring strategy. I would ride away from the pack by attacking the corners. I believe that at corner 2 or 3 this strategy failed me as my wheels slid out from underneath me. I did not use my brakes at any point during this turn and I was the first man into the turn, following my original strategy of attacking the corners. I heard from another rider that everyone said things like "eeewww" or "ouch" when the saw me crash. I got up and realized that: a. front wheel wouldn't spin and b. I could not finish the race with blood coming out of various wounds all over my body. In the end, I got to ride to the hospital in an ambulance with the lights flashing. I got six stitches in my chin and had road rash on BOTH hips. So, there it is! o, and it was the first time I wore this stinking kit!!

O yeah, and our results weren't awesome at Rutgers...I think it was the beginning of a trend.

Philly: I was not in attendance for this race, but I can report on the results and a few stories that I heard. Our numbers were down this week, with Andy Mina and Keith Groshan. Andy and Keith rode hard in the circuit and had ample fun doing it! Keith had his best race so far in the Crit. He rode to an 11th place finish. Those 16 miles per day are really paying big dividends!

Army: In attendance were me, Steve Derkits (reinforcement from D's), and Keith Groshans. Our TTT finished 10th out of 15. The effort was at least at a 9th place level, as evidenced when Steve got dropped and puked! The circuit was an exciting race. I can attest, as the first few laps in the field were really fun. I attempted a rear breakaway as I like to call it and finished behind the field. Steve claims my being dropped hindered him... Keith performed a foward breakaway just before the uphill finish, but could not maintain his position and eventually lost a few places.... On Sunday, we started out with a hill climb TT. Steve represented us well, with a hard ride to the top of West Point's campus. Keith and I saved our legs for the Crit... The bad ass guy from Army who Keith mentions below demolished everyone, taking the win in the ITT. The C team is quite impressed by this man. We finished the weekend with a crit. I proudly say that we rode hard and (unlike many other riders on this day) came away physically unscathed. The emotional wounds are pretty deep and I'm going to skip talking about the results. After the crit the C team did some real bonding as we shared a bagel loaded with peanut butter AND nutella. Let's just call it carb loading for Dartmouth in 2 weeks, where we plan to have a good finish. All I have to say to the rest of the C field is: wait until we peak at Easterns.

If you are still reading at this point, kudos to you ,and hopefully this breaks up the monotony that is class.


The Most Chill Rider in the ECCC

In the three race weekends we have been able to attend, one thing has become clearly apparent: Blake Hawthorne from Army is the most chill rider in the ECCC. This fact is clearly apparent in the accompanying picture. Note how cool and calm he looks just chillin' there in the peloton, waiting to dominate everyone at the finish. This picture was taken before he unleashed a super chill sprint to win the Men's C circuit in Philly. This weekend on his home turf at West Point he showed just how chill he really is. Before the TTT, when it was like 30 degrees and 50mph winds, Hawthorne could be seen chillin in shorts and a t-shirt with his shaved head uncovered. Then he slaughtered the entire C field in the hill climb on Sunday. This was a foregone conclusion due to the fact that for the past month he had done 100 repeats of the hill every night at midnight. As Steve Derkits put it, "That guy is my hero, I want to Facebook friend him." Feel free to nominate another rider as the most chill rider in the ECCC. Regardless, Blake Hawthorne will win, hands down.


Trials and Tribulations of a Collegiate Cyclist

It all starts way back in January. There's just a point when you say...I want to be in shape come the spring ECCC season....and then it begins. Riding in just about every type of weather...snow, rain, clouds, fog...everything but sun and warmth. I often wonder how many people realize how dedicated of athletes we collegiate cyclist are? Training upwards of 18 hours/week, funding our own race weekends, leaving school on Friday and returning early Monday morning...heck we even create/run/promote our own events! But it all pays off...

This weekend PSU had a great showing at the Philly Phyler, even with the lack of toliet paper that was available. PSU scored points in almost every event, and perhaps even more important...worked as a team to score those points in every event. It was not very often that you could find a lone PSU cyclist in the peleton this weekend...we were almost always accompanied by a fellow rider. Crashes were present in most races, and the D's suffered a few losses due to this. Is it just me or does both Columbia and Crash start with a C? Arnaud BORNER crashed his Madone 6.9...but did not break his colar bone and Mike M wrote on Lance Armstrong's wall. The PSU ladies brought home many points and our Men, from D to A, were high in the standings. We may not be at many races this season...but the ones we are at...watch out cause we are ready!

The Uncarved Block

Lao Tzu said of the sage, "If he would lead them, he must stay behind." I don't think he was talking about bicycle racing.

After my very sagacious performance this weekend, I realize that I'm going to need to do some serious work to get back to racing strength. However, I am so psyched about Penn State's results this weekend - especially those of our newest riders. I am always surprised to the sorting out of those who have never raced - it's impossible to tell how they will perform in their first race. I was also enthused to see the improvement of our returning riders. We placed 2nd overall for the weekend, beating out even UVM, who were racing in great form. Congrats to everyone!

Lao Tzu also wrote, "Ruling a nation is like cooking a small fish." He really was a most mysterious man.

Mountain Bikers, Triatheletes, and Marathon Runners, Oh My!

This weekend's Philly Phlyer may eventually be remembered by some seasoned vets as just another rainy ECCC road race.  But for a group of mountain bikers, triatheletes, and even a marathon runner, the 2009 Philly Phlyer will be remembered as their first ever weekend of road racing.  Unfortunately, for many of the Penn State riders entered in the D Circuit Race, this would also be their first experience with a crash in a road race.  Despite the troubles, Andy Haughton, president of our Tri Club, was able to cruise to an easy victory after riding off the front without any attempt from the peloton to chase him down.

Sunday morning's TTT had very wet and miserable riding conditions.  Even with two of the riders dropping off early on due to being beaten up from the previous day's crashes, Andy Haughton was able to lead our team to a second place finish with the help of fellow triathelete Troy Stam.

Although the roads did not entirely dry out for the crit, the racing conditions were much improved over the time trial.  To avoid the possibility of another mass crash, we entered the race with a new strategy:  keep the pace fast to drop the weaker riders early and spread out the field.  By having a large number of PSU riders near the front, we were able to keep pushing the pace while having riders in ample position to gain points in the primes.  When the bell sounded with one to go, I sprinted off the front causing most of the riders in the field who chased to burn out just halfway into the final lap.  Andy Haughton, who was able to remain protected in the draft for much of the race, was then able to move through the field of tired riders and sprint to the finish for his second victory of the weekend.

Although the weekend left many riders and bikes beaten up and abused, overall, it was a successful, fun weekend for a large group of first time road racers.



How do you spell "band wagon" with only four letters?

Yes. Penn State Cycling is following the lead of collegiate teams in the ECCC making a blog. Like many teams, we want to create a face to our club which is more personal and more active than our webpage. Look for race reports, new racers experiences, thoughts on cycling in State College, alumni posts... and who knows what else. The club is a diverse group, so I think this could have an interesting outcome.

But there are some "Thou shalt not"! No proselytizing. Let's not try to imitate the bike snob too much. No training logs (zzzZZZ), either, and, duh, let's keep it at least a little PSU Cycling related.

If you're interested in contributing, let me know.