Wednesday, October 31, 2007

186: Halloween

I find that if you stand close to the counter while the fine folks at Panera make your meal, it freaks them out a bit. Good for a little laugh.

Someone was asking for more Zombie information. Well, not too much to say other than I think I had a small dose of "evil dead" hand at Wiss. I mean check this out:

nice freaking running style. The grim mace on my face is obviously from me fighting off the evil dead from my left hand. Or me bleeding out my eyes or something...

Although I always look forward to our post practice meal on Wednesdays, this week I'm really looking forward to it. Being in a college town, and Halloween, I'm hoping we move our weekly post practice burrito meeting down town. This way we are guaranteed to see some of the Halloween wild life. All the college kids get dressed up you know:

the slutty Hermine:

the slutty pirate:

the slutty miner: (big in West Virgina)

the slutty superhero: slutty rainbow bright?
Not sure when Halloween became about letting your inner slut out. I was at a Halloween store tonight, and kids of all ages where slutting it up. Mom was helping out. I was just looking for some Buddy Holly glasses. Of course there will be lots of dorky guys making an excuse to were there favorite costume too.

you'll have your trons:
and other superheros:

just a bunch of dorks standing around in lycra:

erra, well that's all I have to say about that. E-town can I have my cape back?

thank's to Kevin Dillard for any of the above pictures that weren't slutty.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

185:getting stoned with the woodland fairies

Friday night was the second annual DCCofD pumpkin carving gathering at our place. A little smaller affair than last year, but still many great creations came out of the event:

Jan brought his projector and we watched a Sunday in Delaware, and blades of glory, drank a few beers, and the skies poured on us. I admit, I was really giddy with excitement thinking about the next days race. Mud, rain: cyclocross weather. FINALLY:

Perhaps you have heard of my little friend Jeff. He's pretty much having a great year right now. He's someone I hope looks to me as a mentor, because I have really enjoyed watching him learn to race bikes, and how well he is doing now, and how much fun he is having. Anyway, Saturday we were pre-riding together, I was showing him lines, and talking about whose wheels to watch, and there was this one off camber section I kept balling up. Jeff speaks up and says to me, "I think I see another line" and showed me a killer line. I told Jeff after the race, that this was were I was able to make a huge move at the end of the first lap, going from about 10th to 4th and getting clear by the time I cleaned the camber. I rode it every lap, and basically Jeff's line was pretty key to my race. This is it, the last part of the line he showed me:

Despite taking his line, Jeff still managed to pretty thoroughly beat me. He may be able to kick my ass on the bike, now, but clearly, I can still beat him in wrestling.

Kralik, you were just lucky I couldn't find you, or I would have pinned you in the puddle too. Seriously, by the time I was done, Kevin was showered, and dressed and eating some of the fine perogies they were serving at the race.

Sunday I had hoped for another muddy race. Being the dean of my class, (read oldest dude) I often find that what I don't have in raw talent, or skill, I can make up for in experience and guile. Despite this, Sunday had no mud.

The event held, at Penn State Lehigh Valley, was really nice. After registering, I was talking to a couple of nice fellows. As I am walking away I hear this:

The first guys says: (sorry guys I forgot your names), says, "who is that?"

The second guy answers, "he's the C3 guy from Charm City..."

the first guy says" which one?"

Then I chirp up "hi, I'm Bernie McDonald!"

everyone laughed.

I had some material issues at the race today caused by a young man stopping rapidly in front of me in the sandpit, and the inertia of my faticus carcass plowing into him and destroying my front wheel. Sadly, this was very early in the firt lap and after a jog to the pit, I found myself in DFL.

I will admit, I turned the crank with great anger, on a mission to catch the fellow who had wrecked my wheel. If only to give him the stink eye.

Diane would cheer, "you are doing great babe!"

I'd answer, "I'm gonna get that motherfucker, do you know how much a new wheel will cost?" Next lap she'd say, "you're picking guys off!" I'd say, "Fucking idiot, if you don't know how ride the sandpit, why did you line up on the front row!?"

She cheer,"keep it up!"

I'd answer," rat bastard, broken bike, material issues..."

I'd like to say that I am always the model of sportsmanship and decor, but being my father is Italian, and my mother is Irish, I pretty much have the passion nob turned up to 11, sometimes I lose sight of this basic goal.

So as I passed each member of the WC team during the race, I'd roll by and give them the stink eye, and the one fellow I let know I was coming by giving the polite, "please look out, I'm going to pass you, please don't crash me again."

yeah, really classy. I admit it, I can be a douche bag. It was probably my fault anyway, I mean I should have expected the pack to stop in the sandpit.

By the time the race was over, I was really pleased with my effort, I rode well, was aggressive, and aside from the first 45 seconds, had a pretty much flawless race. I wish I had bumped into the WC guys, I would have apologized for being an ass. It did fuel a pretty aggro ride for me, and I'm not usually an angry racer guy. Thanks to Brian and everyone else who cheered me as I rode along.

I also apologize to Rolf W, from Guys, because I know I jammed up his race as well. At the end of the day the sensations in the legs were good, I had a fun race, and rode as hard as I could. I'm out a front wheel, but what the hell, some days rubbing is racing. Props to Kevin on another win, and to my teammate Jeff CorDISCO, for bringing home the silver.

The weekend ended up strongly as Diane and I got back to town early, and got some food. I have been craving pizza all week, but I can't eat it before a race, because it makes me ride slow. So we had pizza in the house Friday, which I couldn't partake of, and thus have been craving it all weekend.

Feta and Spinach. So tasty. Washed down with a couple of these too.

Fairhill is next week. Don't miss it, it's another Tom McDaniel course and promises to be a classic Belgian Northern Delaware style race. I don't think rain is in the forecast but can hope can't we?

thanks for reading.

any pictures from here that were good were from

Thursday, October 25, 2007

184: buy the ticket, take the ride.

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

The first inclement weather we had to deal with thus far this cross season, and the DCCoD secret practice rolled on. The group was a little smaller then usual but still very robust. We were lucky to have special guest stars, Adam and Kevin. Everyone who took the night off, just know we were out in the rain working our asses off. I'm not telling you that to intimidate you, just to make you aware, so you'll understand when we miss a race because we are sick.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

It was getting dark earlier; I was tired, the light mist made the corners extra slippery. Liz put the evening in perspective when she announced she was rolling a little early as she was meeting her family, as it was a year ago that she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Let me mention that she will be racing at Fairhill. Toughest person I know. Proud to have her in the Coalition.

The wet grass made the course much slower. It was tough to power out of corners, keeping momentum in the wet corners was even more important as the energy needed to accelerate back to speed coming out of the corners was much greater as the wet grass felt like a million little hands trying to slow my bike.

For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled.”

Around one corner I went in a little hot came out on my ass. Looked up and saw Jebbagger doing a superman over me. Luckily that kid is pretty nimble and did a nice little summersault out of it and we both got up laughing about it….

Lesson of the day, keep the momentum, but not too much. Push the envelope, just don’t ball it up and throw it away.

“The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

About midway thru practice I see this guy:

At first I thought it was the dude from “I know what you did last summer…” then I realized it was more like freakin’ Ben Kenobi peaking over a sand dune looking down on young Skywalker getting his ass kicked by a bunch of sand people.

Once the creepy guy took his hood off, I could tell it was Jedi Master SLIK RIK checking in on practice on the nastiest day of the season so far. My guess is he wanted to make sure the disciples were keeping the faith. No worries. We have been taught by the best.

Evening finished up over a couple of beers and a couple of tacos. El Jefe still has the special DCCoD wing, and the waitress are always happy to see us. Not sure if that is because we tip well, or if they dig Rotten’s facial hair. Newt took the place of Summerhill this week, although I think Summerhill took far worse beatings. We just busted newt for having custom bikes.

This evening I met up with Tom and America’s Most Wanted: E-town, race promoter of the upcoming Wayne Scott Memorial Cyclocross Race. This is a FSVS and DCCoD event, and Tom and I are on course lay out and grooming. That’s how we started working together at Monkey Hill, life’s one big circle. But I digress, things are coming together nicely. Don’t miss this event. Register now.

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.”


Sunday, October 21, 2007

183: diggin' your ditch

5:45am Sunday Morning.

Diane and I finish up loading up the Element, and head out of the drive way, off to another race around another soccer field.

Diane plugs in her ipod. Dave is singing. I hate Dave. But this morning his words hit me, he sings:

"Unplug your TV, turn off your phone, get heavy on with digging your ditch..."

Cyclocross is our ditch. Racing, practicing, riding, eating with friends, hanging with our teammates and brothers and sisters in the DCCoD, this is our ditch.
Sunday morning, both Diane and I weren't particularly happy with our ditch. Saturday's race at Granogue was a tough for both of us. Our results were not as strong as we had hoped, and worse off we both raced flat. We felt awful.

No excuses, but easily a product I'm sure of hiking around with Disco, Wes, Lauri, Kerry, CZ and Leo taping, and grooming the course. A labour of love, but a labor that none the less, had me feeling like hell Saturday morning during my race. So bad, that with 3 to go I considered walking off the course.

The funny thing about cyclocross is that despite it being a great community, we constantly kill ourselves. To earn a good result, a good starting position is really helpful. To get a good starting position you have to earn series points, which you have to earn by strong results. Kind of the Chicken and the Egg huh? So if you can be consistent, pull a couple top 25's , you can earn a shot at a good start, which can give you a shot to win.

Now be careful, because as soon as you win, some motherfucker will call you a sandbagger, and besmirch your good name on some email listserve. They will go Googling your results for the past 3 years, all in effort to blacken your eye. This is all the prize you get for earning what everyone who pays their money to race dreams of doing, to win. You work your ass off, you struggle to get better, you focus your season on cross, you finally win, and then because you are a winner, you must be killed.

Sorry. Those are the rules. Every time I think we as a community have grown past it, sure enough it happens all over again... Like a bad dejavu...

Cyclocross is a sick beast. But I digress, Saturday, the only reason I stayed in was the thought that by crossing that tape, walking off the course, I would screw not only today's race but potentially much of the rest of the season. As embarrassed as I was, I hate quiting. I hate admitting that I'm done. And as much I hate chasing points, some days, that's a product of what we do. Sick game.

So in our quiet, kind of angry determined drive, we showed up for Wiss Cross at the Ludwig's corner. It was great to see so many happy faces again, as we kitted up and got ready for our races.

I'll let Diane tell the story of her day, but mine went much better, solid start, blocked for my teammate, dangled off the lead group for 3 laps before finally the elastic broke, and I was stuck out on my own, I suffered, I still felt a little flat, but I did feel like I rode my style of race. I rode gritty, I rode tough. I didn't quit. And for my efforts, I got my 3rd ever top 10 finish in a MAC race. That felt pretty good.

A little bit of redemption. I won't see the front row again for a long time, but still, a solid ride.

Feels a little weird to have a hobby that has me talking about redemption. This is after all glorified beer league softball right? redemption... Like I said, this is a sick ass sport.

Next week, Monkey and I will be back to digging our ditch, loading up the car well before dawn and headed off to some park, or farm, or school and spend our day racing around another soccer field. We'll clean up, Cheer for our friends, drink a beer, and get ready for the next week. I love my ditch....

So the song ends:

"I'm diggin' a ditch where madness gives... Digging a ditch where silence lives... a ditch for when I'm old... Digging a ditch for stories told.... Where all these troubles that weigh down on me will rise... Unto your dreaming..."



ps: thanks to everyone who came out to Granogue this weekend. Thanks to everyone in the DccoD, FZK, Spot Brand whores, Audrea, Tom, Lauri , Suzy, the Delaware Cycling community, and all the C-3 Sollayers that helped out too. Despite not my best race effort, I was really proud of what a great event we pulled off... So proud to be apart of it...

best thing said to me all weekend:

"where's the pink helmet!!??"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

182: Shut your eyes...

Registration for Granogue closes today (thursday) at 3:45. Will you be there? Will you pay a $10 late fee for not using Save some loot man, register today!
All the cool kids will be there. The Queen of the MAC, the crown jewel of the Mid Atlantic. A party with a cross race wrapped around it.
Granogue- if you are a crosser, and you live in the mid atlantic, you owe it to yourself to be here now. If you have never raced here, you need to do it, it's like prom, your first beer party and losing your viginity all balled up into one. Sure you'll be nervous, it'll hurt like hell but and you'll have a entirely different outlook on cross afterwards.

All of the Delaware Cyclocross Coalition of Delaware has been busy at work putting down step stakes, working and re-working corners, getting vendors in, housing out of town guests, rallying our registration folks, and trying to get this race together to be the best it possibly can.

One of my primary responsibilities is to handle all e-mail inquires. The new USCF system has created quite a bit of confusion, as this year I have had about 20x the requests asking to change category, or someone stating that "I'm not sure what class I should be in..." I'm sure we'll all get used to it, sooner or later, and it will all work out. I had entire blog about my favorite questions, but Tom kiboshed it. That's okay...
I kinda still liked the A,B,C format to tell the truth. A little more grass rootsy.

At practice tonight we rode some laps of the course to see how it was coming in. It's really freaking dry and fast. We have added some new twists and turns, maybe 30-40 yards in total, but I think they'll help the laps to be long and the course to be fun, and hard as ever. The sections are injected throughout the loop, and flow super nice.

What I am most proud of is how many people have dedicated so much time to make sure this event goes of without a hitch. Not just the DccoDers, but many of the ! team have volunteered too. I knew there could be great synergy between our two organizations, and all the more reason that I stoked to be on that team. After putting on a great charm city race, to have so many from the team jump up and offer to help with Granogue really shows the team's dedication to forwarding the sport. I won't even go into the Philosophy of the DccofD. Tom McDaniel is "forward the sport" personified. His presense makes the DccofD what it is. I am proud to have him as a friend.

Dinner was La tolteca on 202. I went with three tacos and a cheese quesidilla. It was good, not great. Dinner conversation was typical for our group: ripping on each other and fart jokes. "we are an eating and drinking group with a cross problem." Rotten Rob should not be allowed near Summerhill. The implications of that alliance could alter the course of human history.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

181: real life applications of cross

So Diane and I went to Portland last weekend to see some friends.

Totally my favorite city. Diane tells the story here.

Diane and I don't fly all that much and all the lines in the airport, we'd kinda get balled up getting ready for them. In typical fashion, Diane would be scrumming her way to the front of our group. "come on Marc, get over here" and we'd get ourselves positioned.

The boarding person would announce, "zone 5 ready to board". I'd attack like I was a speed walker or something. Not once in the 4 airplanes we boarded this past weekend did anyone come close to beating me on the plane, you know from my group.

Diane and I slumped down in our crammed little airplane seats and looked at each other. "scrum and hole shot...cyclocross is everywhere..." "good thing Mayhew had us working on our starts!"

On the bike last night the legs felt like wood. Let's see if we can't do something about that before the weekend.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

180: deep thinking...

Rode around Granogue tonight. Always forget how hard that place is, damn... MAC starts in a little over a week. All the guys from the local series (manbra, PA, and NJ) not to mention folks from NE all converge upon six races. It as good as cross racing gets in this region. It's the bigs for a local cross racer like myself.

I'm a little scared, but I'm looking forward to it. I will admit the sensations in my legs tonight were not pleasant.

Granogue is so dry right now that traction was really an issue tonight. Saw lots of folks with all kinds of different tires and pressures, all over the place. Except for The stuff that guy can do with a bike is just superhuman. There's a couple of nice new little twists on the loop, that I'm really digging, and of course I still have to set my section. I have some ideas for that too. Got to spend some time swapping beta with Cruella tonight, that was good.

I heart my team. I heart my director.

Check out some of my cross history:

my recent mac overall series results:

2003 50's (one race where I scored points)
2004 SHUT OUT OF MAC POINTS- no ranking
2005 21st - no top ten results
2006 10th - 2 top ten results

I look at my recent run, and have to believe I'm riding my best cross ever, but damn, the MAC is no joke.


pizza by elizabeth is very good, but way overpriced. The crowd is also a little less rowdy than the DCCoD. Really less Rowdy than the DCCoD after cross practice. Lesson learned, Moe's is a much better post practice grub site.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

179: no title needed

The police often question him just because they find him interesting.
His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man's entire body.
If charisma was an organ, his would be as large as a normal man's intestine.
His blood smells like cologne.
On every continent on the planet there is a sandwich named after him.
He once punched a magician. That's ride you read that correctly. He punched a magician.
When he gets a salad, he doesn't get the dressing on the side, but right there on top,
where it belongs, no turning back.

he is Rotten Rob.

"stay hungry my friends, stay hungry...."

Ethan ever the stoic in victory. He's really put it together thus far this year, I am very proud of him. He's gonna do very well next weekend.

My friend Jan has the best victory salute ever. For those that don't know, Jan never smiles on the bike, in fact he's usually down right surly on the bike. But right here with that win, a big ole smile and the Fonzie thumbs up, it just makes my day. Right On Jan!

I think I hurt myself this weekend...

Thanks to Kevin Dillard for these shots.



Sunday, October 7, 2007

178: it's my birthday, and Uncle Jan gave me a spanking.

Saturday night, Tom (papa smurf), Rotten Rob, E-town, Megs, Monkey, Jan, and I hit the ole Home Grown for an outstanding display of gluttony. We revisit our days races, talk about our bright spots, laugh at our mistakes. Our waiter has a tough time keeping up with our drink orders, as the food keeps flowing too. It's a pretty good night. E-town rode a tough race today that would have made Biddle (the ty domi of cross) proud. Jebbager came to the game to play too. Rotten got tackled by Soupie who was trying to grope him. And monkey was a little miffed that she had a 3 lap race (!?) Jan was totally the man today, taking the victory! I was just happy to have a ginormous plate of tasty ravioli in front of me. For a moment I am quiet as I zone out a bit:

Breast Cancer Awareness Cross in Hagerstown. With Granogue looming in two weeks, and with me not racing next weekend, my goal for today was to be as aggressive as possible, I figured the results would work themselves out. At the gun, I attacked taking my first hole shot of the year. The course was 100% better than last year, and a good one for me with lots of tight twisty corners. Out on my own, I was able to pick my own lines, and attack out of each corner. I had found my place in the pain cave, and I admit I was digging it.

Finishing the third lap, I had opened a 20 second gap on the field and continued my aggressive strategy. "don't let up" I kept saying to myself. I was sprinting out of each corner. On the top side of the course, I felt my rear tire wobble, then I felt the rear wheel kind jump, at first I thought I had broke a spoke, then I realized I had rolled my tire for the second week in a row.

You mean to tell me a 175lb man needs more than 30lbs of pressure in a clincher ? Apparently.

Looking down at my wheel I could see my tube was banging against the frame. Then starting the 3rd lap, my tire exploded. With almost half a lap to the pit, I rode my best on the flat rear. I tried to keep my composure.

It didn't take too long for Jan, running a strong second to catch me, he looked at my tire and said, "No !! Marc!" and I told him to get going. Struggle as I might, probably 8-9 more guys got around me before I got back the pit and was able to get my pit bike.

Surprisingly, I stayed pretty cool. Nothing had changed. Goal one: ride aggressively. So as soon I as I got on the pit bike, I started attacking again. I got by a couple of guys, wasn't really sure where I was in the field, just kept saying to myself, "don't give up". 3 to go I looked up and saw a group of 4, with Ron for PVC at the front. Wow, I think that's my group, I say to myself. Fellow DCCoDer Mike CZ was rolling, and I sat on his wheel as he carved his way through the twisty tight section. The course opened up with a small rise culminating in the barriers. I stood and attacked getting through the group. Ron would jump on my wheel and hang around until the end. I tired to not focus on him but on staying aggressive and making Jan sweat.

Meanwhile, Jan continued to ride strongly at the front of the race, racing smart, conserving energy. As he told me, he looked back, and "this guy in black was charging towards him." Joe the announcer and folks all around the course seemed to be cheering for me to claw my way back to Jan. I stayed aggressive, I got close. Being that this was my birthday race, (Sunday was actually my birthday) in a fairytale world, I would have caught Jan and won the race. However, Jan is German, and they don't believe in fairy tales. I fought hard but never got closer than 12 seconds.

As Jan made the switchback towards the finish I pointed up at him, giving my friend a salute, I was happy for Jan, he rode a great race, and I was stoked he got the W. Me, I rolled up the finishing straight zipped up the skin suit, pretty pleased with my ride too. As I zipped up, the official told me, "that was so pro..."

On the way home, monkey told me that was probably the best cross race she ever saw me ride. I have to agree. It was a pretty good day.

Suddenly I snap back into conversation as I hear Rotten's bellowing laugh, and the clink of glasses as I realized they were in the midst of a toast. "CHEERS!!!" "TO CROSS, TO THE DCCoD, to 30lbs of tire pressure!!!"

Dessert arrives, and I dig into my apple tart with fine woodside ice cream. We are stoked to get the reports from Wes and Auer up in Long Island. Sounds like that was a good time. I turn to the left, and kiss my wife. Today, has been a pretty great day, I have a pretty awesome life.
God Speed.


in case you didn't know. Kevin Dillard is a pretty great guy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

177: in my head too much.

typical Weds morning, toaster loaded for cross practice.

Diane and I have decided to stay local this season, as such we’ll be hitting the mabra race Saturday. I had a pretty awful race here last year, and I hope to erase that memory. Result didn't look bad on paper, but the race was a total struggle. Truth is last season I was breaking one of my golden racing rules, which is never chase points. After a nice ride at Lilypons last year I had moved into 3rd place, and I felt like I was ready to make a full on assault at the 3-4 jersey. Well, after getting pimped in the first corner by Fife, a good move I add, and laying it down in the second corner, I watched as Todd roll away from the field, and set himself up for a great title run.

this picture of Mark and son is just too cute.

As Slick Rik as said to me 100x, “if you have fun, the points will come”. Chasing points becomes a huge stress for me. Over the years I have done it a couple of times, and frankly it just takes the joy out of racing for me. Which is just plain silly, and defeats the purpose of something I do for fun.

On the line last year they told us that we would be doing 11 laps, so after 3 down, when I went through the start finish and saw 11 to go on the lap card, I died a little inside. Actually I died a lot. It was really a tough day for me. Tactically I was retarded. And I left that race feeling pretty heavy hearted. I spent the entire AVC race dragging my boy Jared around just long enough for him to jump he at the end of the race. It was a good move, I was just stupid.

A week later, after I crashed into a tree at Iron Cross and pulled out of the race, I effectively ended me from any points chase, and I was pretty much done with the points.

Worst of all, on the way home from Hagerstown we stopped at Taco Bell. FortJames, Monkey, and I had fartapalooza the entire ride home. My stomach felt so sick. I think that was the last time I have eaten Taco Bell. YUCK !

Last year Hagerstown wasn’t a great course for me last year, I hope it will be better this year. Regardless, it’ll be a fun race and I’m looking forward to getting back to it. Chris has been working me hard in preparation for the Mac Season. Luckily, Ray Ray didn’t show to Reston last year, so I got a 10th place finish which should put me on the front row for Granogue in a few weeks. That will be by far my best starting position there ever.

Fish tacos tonight were awesome tonight. Had a couple of final thoughts about last weekend:
dcc of d Fish Taco Fan Club.

Saturday during the 1-2-3 race, Wade took a beer feed, carried it for a full lap, made it over the dirt mound, through the barriers, and around the lap. That was the real story of the day, and the lasting impression from the weekend. Freaking Amazing, that guy is my hero.

Sunday, as Wes and Jeramiah went at it, early in the race, the crowd around the pits was pretty much 50/50 for Wes and JB. Now don't get me wrong JB is a super cool guy, very nice, drank a beer with the kid once. I cheer for him, look for his results in national races. East Coast Unite.
But I dropped this jewel on the crowd, "come on folks, I like JB but how can you cheer for him over Wes? I mean you know what JB is gonna do tomorrow? he's gonna sleep in, get up at 10:00, sit on his couch, drink a cup of joe, and when he's good and ready go out for a nice recovery ride. Do you know what Wes is gonna do? He's gonna get up early and go to work, and then climb up and down a ladder all day. He's a working Joe like us." The next lap the crowd was decidedly pro-Wes. Sorry JB.
that's all for tonight.

here's a picture of me fighting for 3rd. Nice Shot Jon, thanks.

Viva la cyclocross.