Oct 6, 2011

Weekend In Gloucester

These days, I'm not as enthralled with bicycle racing as I once was.  Or I should say, I'm not as desperate to be one of the bicycle people as I once was.  Or something like that.

Still, a few days a year, I do enjoy going out to some big local races.  The GP Beverly- a road race.  And even more, the Gloucester Gran Prix, a cyclocross race with a long history, held at Fort Stage Park, surrounded on two sides by ocean.  What a race.

For those who don't know, cyclocross is a discipline of cycling wherein you take a bike something like a tough road racing bike, and prepare it to be treated to the worst, muddiest conditions possible.  That means stronger brakes, lots of room in the frame for mud to go through without piling up, and things like that.  And knobby tires, wider than most road bikes.  Not a mountain bike- a super-tough road bike.

And therein lies the glory of CX, as it's known.  The bikes are perfect for the courses.  Not mountain biking- not enough rocks and fallen logs and stuff.  No super-steep downhills.  Not road biking- too much mud and sand and dirt for that.  And part of the deal is that you have to get off and run with your bike sometimes.  Stairs, steep uphills, that sort of thing.

Okay, with that established, here's a quick rundown of interesting things I saw at GP Gloucester this weekend (where I was working on a story for Patch, BTW- the link is above).

  • My daughter and I said hello to Richard Sachs- perhaps the best framebuilder in America today- in the parking lot.
  • I got Media credentials for only the second time in my race-attending life, and got to take pictures of the podiums on the 2nd day from up inside the pagoda-thing.
  • Former Swiss National champ Christian Heule (whose daughter played with Lucy a bit at a party the night before).
  • Belgian Ben Berden (who got 3rd the second day) was parked next to us on the first day of racing.  We had to turn sharply and oddly  when we left because he was riding his trainer partly in front of our car.  Came back later in the day to find out he is a pretty big-time racer!
  • Mad Alchemy Embrocation (Pete Smith) from Amesbury, MA was giving out samples of their increasingly well-known and revered Embrocation.  I tried it on both days and never really felt any heat on my knees.  I did however, manage to get it rubbed in my eyes and nose by the end of the second day.  Warmed up just fine, there.  Stung, actually.
  • Both Shimano and Mazda were giving out cowbells (another CX tradition).  The Shimano bells were vastly superior.  Shimano was also giving out giant car-window stickers on the first day.  I got one, and attempted to put it on the car.  But they are in fact much more difficult to put on than bumper stickers.  The mess I ended up with shamed me.  Only one letter put on correctly.  And when my wife saw the size of that one, she nixed the idea of putting it on there anyway.  So it all worked out.
Reviewing the world's photos in the following days, I never found any with me in the shot- I did, however, see quite a few that looked like my photos, so I guess I should feel good knowing that I at least was seeing the same shots as the pro photographers, even if I didn't take them quite as well.

CX races are so muddy that they are allowed to switch between two bikes in the pits

Captures the transition from dirt to paved.  Also note that this racer is from the team whose pink/blue/red tent is just behind him.  Unplanned, but a cool detail.

I didn't know boats this big could or did come into Glouc. harbor- but guess they loved CX!

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