Pink Rhino Billy just got his custom frame back from the paint shop and it looks GORGEOUS. His frame is a collaboration between himself, Coarse Fabrication and Frank The Welder. Both frame builders happen to be on the Pink Rhino Team. Lucky us to have them both!
Can’t wait to see this baby on the track later this month.
I had a great result at the Tour of the Battenkill this year, which feels good because, you know, it is a road race with dirt and mud and bridges and hills and skinny guys and all that wonderful stuff, and I am a track racer. Somehow, I took 3rd in my qualified Category 4 field (40+, so don’t get too excited), and I guess this race report is a bit of a reflection on how it happened.
The Rhinos hit the dirt and mud this weekend at the 10th annual Tour of the Battenkill where muddy doesn’t even begin to describe the conditions. It was heard on site from many that it was worse than CX races!
Bumping into Simon Gerrans at the Airport...No Big Deal
I was at Melbourne Airport getting ready to fly to Brisbane for a business trip. It was way too early in the morning and we’re all just trying to navigate security, gates and the hunt for coffee. While waiting in line for food I run into Simon Gerrans! The dude was glowing with fitness and vibrant energy. I felt healthier just standing next to him. He was with his wife, mother and kids. Simon was probably as frazzled and stressed as anyone traveling with kids, but he took the time to have a chat and shoot a photo with me. I wanted to give him some Pink Rhino Racing schwag except all I had were the pink and blue socks I was wearing. Everybody in Australia calls him Gerro because everyone down under has a nickname even your grandmother. Here’s to Gerro - a real pro and super nice guy.
While we’re winding down our track season in the northern hemisphere, the southern part of the world is in full on race-mode. Our “Rhink Down Under” Gil has been racing at DISC and getting great results. Here’s how he did Tuesday night…
I pulled off the front with 4 laps to go. Buddy Kirk attacked and broke the group in two which allowed me to slot right in 3 back from leader. I thought I would be able to come around my friend Niall the same way I did in the 40-lap motorpace event 5 weeks ago, but he held on and beat me by a couple inches at the line.
You’d think after doing the same race twice in one season and having pretty awful results, the idea of doing it a third time would be completely out of the question. Part of me wanted to never go to Hunter Mountain again after doing the Spring Classic and then the disastrous Summer Classic. Not only did I get dropped (again), but also ended up 20 miles off course with no cell service, no food, no water, no money and with a slow leak in my rear tire. Fun!
In late May, Squid asked me (Brean) to go down to Mexico City to officiate and help produce Velo City Mexico. I jumped at the chance, and Iliana bought a ticket to go and race.
Velo City is an event that Squid has been producing at least since 2007. It is designed as a track event for city bikers and messengers - people who have been riding fixed gears on the street but who may not have actual track experience. It is a fun event and a great way to introduce riders to track racing. Past winners have gone on to have impressive careers on the oval.
Velo City Mexico was a part of TIG Weekend, which was a fundraiser for next year’s CMWC in Mexico City. Safa and Joaquin put us up in their nice apartment in Roma, and Christian from DC and the Bay Area was already in town. Soon, Mario from Los Angeles would join us, as well.
TIG Headquarters - Mexico City, DF
The velodrome was built for the 1968 Olympics and was where Eddy Merckx famously broke the Hour Record (riding, surprisingly, “Eddy Merckx style”). It is an outdoor 333m drome with steeply banked turns —39°! The surface was concrete, and was unexpectedly fast. Very, very nice track.
Velodromo Agustín Melgar
We ran a scratch race, a point a lap, a tempo, a miss n out, a points race and a chariot (1.2 laps). None of the riders had ever raced on the track before, so it was a little scary. Turns out, they were all fine, although we had a number of slides down turn one on the neutrals due to folks riding too slowly for their equipment and the banking. Many of the riders were using 170mm+ cranks and had platform pedals with straps.
In the end, we held a final long scratch race to determine the winner. It was Pancho, who was a great, fast guy who had loaned Iliana an Affinity Kissena to ride.
Pancho and his prizes!
Iliana and Pancho’s Affinity Kissena
Hey, Iliana, this would be a good time for you to talk about your experience!
I was super, super excited about getting the opportunity to ride and race on the Olympic Velodrome in Mexico City, probably too excited. This is an old track built in the 1960s and could have been in bad shape. Luckily this wasn’t the case. The concrete track turned out to be in great condition and very smooth. This is something I always appreciate since my local track is good ol’ bumpy Kissena in Queens, NY.
One thing I did not realize is how steep the banking was going to be. Kissena’s banking is roughly in the 19-degree range. The most banked track I’ve been to at that point was T-Town (roughly 27 degree banking). This track has 39 degree banking and is rather large (333 meters). To be honest, I was terrified to get on the track. I just imagined myself sliding down turn one and making a fool of myself. In my head I was thinking there’s no way I can race on this.
So I hop on the Affinity Kissena bike (funny, right?) that Pancho of the Terremoto Crew let me borrow me for the race. Turns out the bike fit perfectly and I was ready to go. My biggest fear was going too slow. So I wind up on the apron and move up onto the track and ride into turn three. I’m amazed that I’m still upright and also at how steep the banking is as I look down. I quickly got comfortable on the track and started moving up and down it with no problem at higher and higher speeds. This is awesome.
Brean & Iliana doing some pace lining
I’m warming up and all is good until I start feeling really out of breath. What the hell? There’s no way I can be in this bad of shape. Then I remember that the altitude is high in Mexico City (almost 8,000ft). I also had to confirm that it wasn’t me being a weakling. Brean, who is much stronger than I am, was having the same problem.
Iliana feeling the effects of cycling in high altitudes
At this point, I was worried about racing. My body isn’t getting enough oxygen to sustain long efforts. An eight-lap tempo race seemed like eternity. Plus, I’ve never raced with men before. Even though they’ve never been on the track before, some of these guys were fast.
I had a really hard time the first race but was eventually able to hang on to the front group for longer and longer each race. The high altitude was killing me though. My breathing was so fast that I was almost dry heaving. For the first time, I literally couldn’t go on during a race.
Iliana at the rail waiting for the roll out
Racing wrapped up at about 1am – way past my NYC bike racer bedtime. Tacos and cerveza were next on the agenda to celebrate a successful night for the organizers and the racers.
Thank you Mexico City and Squid for hosting such an awesome event and letting us be apart of it!
For everyone heading down south of the boarder for CMWC 2014, we highly suggest arriving at least a week prior to adjust to the altitude.
Today’s Strasbourg, Pennsylvania road race described itself as a “circuit in the style of a European kermesse.” Between the rain/snow/sleet, the farms, the narrow roads, and the overwhelming essence of cow dung, I really could have mistaken it for a morning in rural Belgium, save the Amish buggies along the road.
Here’s the thing: I love to race in terrible weather. The crappier, the better, really. I realized long ago that about one in three bike races occur when the weather sucks. It’s going to happen. Embracing it gives you an ever-so-slight advantage over those who decide to let their guard down just because it’s 34 degrees and ice is raining down from the sky. (Jason Gay was not just being cute when he wrote in the WSJ last week that “bike racing is a sport that fetishizes suffering.”)
Which brings me to today: It was a women’s 3/4 race consisting of 35 km over a rolling 5.5 mile circuit. The weather went from a sprinkling of icy rain to thick wet snow as the race progressed. As we came around at the end of the first lap the pace was comfortable. As there was no money on the line and my sole purpose in finishing the race was to train for another, much harder race coming up, I spent most of the rest of the race pulling the pack around with me, not really worrying about conserving energy until the last half lap or so.
Over 35k, some things happened. Someone broke away alone. People chased her. Some caught her. By the last lap, there were five women at the front (sort of) working together. I tried to teach those in my group that pulling off the front of a pace line and then continuing at the same speed next to the new person on the front is actually not helpful at all for anyone in the group. However, they appeared unconcerned with basic aerodynamics. Whatever — it’s not like that’s the whole key to bike racing or anything.
With 2k to go, I figured it would be a match sprint between me and one other category three in the field, which I was dreading (but also excited about) because she’s THAT GIRL — the one I’m always near in race results, but never in front of. She’s kicked my ass on the road and on the track for the last three years. So, 500m to go and I’m following her wheel, ready to come around, when all of the sudden the woman who was off the front for two whole laps, who I wrote off as totally exhausted and also not a sprinter, gives a killer kick and leaves everyone in the dust. I missed her wheel, but in chasing her totally gapped everyone else in the group for a respectable second place finish.
After the race, I found out that because of the large number of women signed up to race, there was unexpected cash on the line! My winnings went entirely to gas/tolls for the drive. But hey, it’s still cash $$$.
(There are no actual pictures of me racing this race because, have I mentioned? Ice was coming out of the sky. I strava’ed it here though.)
Now that the cyclocross season is coming to an end I figured I ought to find time to post an update. While most of the team has been hitting the gym and racking up base miles for next season a few of us have been traveling the northeast every weekend to race our bikes in the sand and mud.
I spent my last few weeks as a Cat 4 bouncing around the top 5 and rounding out my final cat 4 race with a first place finish at BubbleCross in West Milford, NJ.
After that, I submitted for my upgrade and took a rest week around Thanksgiving.
Next up was Horseshoe Scramble. Fellow Pink Rhino Teammate (who races Cross for Continuum Cycles) took first place in the Women’s 3/4 Race!
Here’s her getting rad off some of the rollers:
I raced later in the afternoon in the Men’s Cat 3 Race. The front side of the course was really thick grass that only got wetter and thicker throughout the day. The entire backside of the course was long stretches of thick mud divided in half by a technical downhill off-camber into a steep run up that was also covered in thick mud. One section was so thick with mud that I don’t even think Sven Nys would ride it. While running with my bike, I took the opportunity to try and pull out as much mud from my brakes and rear triangle as I could. Races like these make me wish I had a pit bike. As I sprinted towards the finish I ripped my rear derailleur off the frame and it broke apart inside of my rear wheel. I had to run the final 200 meters with my bike covered in 10lbs of mud on my shoulder. Luckily the exact same thing happened to the guy behind me (seriously, at least 20-25 people must have broken their rear derailleurs that day). I finished up in 10th place.
This past weekend was Super Cross Cup, a 2 day race held out on Long Island, just 40 minutes from the city. This race was supposed to happen the 2nd week of November, but due to Hurricane Sandy the park was taken over by FEMA as a staging area and postponed a few weeks.
Jen Nordhem brought home 6th place on Saturday in the Women’s 3/4 Race and battled it out for 1st place on Sunday.
Is that the raddest podium shot, or what?!
I brought home another top 10 on Saturday with a 9th place finish. Sunday was going good for the first 4 laps. I was sitting 4th or 5th for a few laps, racing with people that I know are much faster than me. I wiped out on relatively easy turn and lost any ground I had put in on the group behind me. From there on out my race got progressively worse as fatigue and back cramps started to settle in. I finished in 12th place. Not awful, but I was hoping for another top 10 to round the season out.
As sad as I am to see it go, I think my cross season is over. There are still a few races here and there over the next few weeks but it’s time to start racking up some base miles and focusing on my goals for next year. Although I might head down to Philly this weekend to get rad at Bilenky’s Junkyard cross race. After that, I swear that’s it!
I’m in California for the next couple of months, taking advantage of the weather and racing as much cyclocross as possible. It’s a little different here on the west coast, as California gets about 5 days of rain a year, and it’s generally between January and April, so there’s not much mud around. Instead of mud, race organizers around here add technical BMX-style sections that tend to be pretty challenging, but also super fun. In general, I’ve been really impressed with the organization and consistency of the SoCalCross series, which stretches all the way from October to January.
I spent last weekend at Spooky Cross — a course assembled inside a horse racing track at the L.A. Fairplex. Because there were long, flat sections of packed dirt and the grass was relatively thin, the course was a little more favorable toward my road racing/endurance background than the previous week’s super sandy course that had some single-track-like sections. Of course, because I’m a bit of a hot mess, I arrived late, with roughly 20 minutes to warm up, so I wasn’t so sure how the race was going to go…
But when the whistle went off, I surprised myself. I got a good start (in the women’s 4 category) and was just behind the lead group of three on the first straightaway, ready to pass them when I heard a sickening crunch and my feet stopped dead. I looked down to find my chain had popped off the end of the cassette and was stuck between it and the frame thanks to my super-pro tiagra derailleur. I had to watch the leaders, then the rest of the pack pull away from me as I stopped to try to get my chain back on track. It took a good 30 seconds of pulling, but I finally got it and set off trying to catch the rest of the group. I was preparing to suffer for the next 35 minutes for a thoroughly mediocre bottom-half finish, if I caught up at all, when something of a miracle happened: my brain told my legs to push, and they responded, and my LUNGS WERE SORT OF OKAY WITH THAT. This was a major development in my CX racing experience. Things are starting to come together for me — I figure by the time my new Pink Rhino kits arrive in a few weeks I’ll actually be looking like I know what I’m doing(!).
On the third and fourth lap I caught up with what I would refer to as the “chase group” behind the two leaders, and passed them, only to be caught on the technical BMX sections by a girl who clearly had major skills that I lacked (*note to self: spend a few hours at a pump track*), only to pass her again every time we hit the flat. On the final lap I was gaining ground on the leaders, but simply ran out of time. I came in third, out of 11 women, just 0:29 down on the leader. And perhaps more importantly, I can’t wait to go out and do better next time.
This is the best prize I’ve ever gotten for third place in a W4 race, so thanks to SoCalCross for the swag!
I stuck around for the women’s elite UCI race after mine, and took some photos of the pros tackling the course:
Somehow the giant flyover doesn’t look as steep in the photo as it did riding up it on race day… Still, Teal Stetson-Lee makes it look easy.
French CX champion Caroline Mani, who I met at Starbucks on the way to the course Sunday and was nice enough to give me directions, tackles the BMX section — can you see the whoops on the left-hand side? I’m bad at those.
It’s that time of the year again! The days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder, leaves are changing and cross season is well underway!
This past weekend was Marty Cross in Chester, NJ. Keith took 5th on Saturday and 3rd place on Sunday!
Fellow Pink Rhino teammate Heather Muller (who rides for King Kog’s cyclocross team) got 3rd place in the women’s Cat 4 NY State Championship in Saratoga Springs, NY. Head on over to their blog to check out photos and videos from the past couple of weeks of racing.
Shane Ferro, the newest edition to the Pink Rhino Racing women’s team took home 3rd place in the Cat 4 Women’s field at Spooky Kross in Los Angeles. West Coast represent!
Hoping to get more Rhinos in the mud and on the podium in the upcoming weeks!
The final track night at T-town has come and gone for this season. Andy, Keith, Jen, Mark and Steve all were able to sneak out of their regular duties in order to represent the Rhino on the boards one more time.
In the Pro/Stagiares combined field, Mark and Keith got 2nd and 4th in the 10 lap scratch, while Andy and Steve got 6th and 7th in the 10km scratch. Jen held her own in the Women’s field with a 5th place in the 500m chariot.
Now, don’t you think for a minute this is the last you’ll hear from Pink Rhino for this year. While there was a chill in the air on Tuesday, with it came a slight hint of cowbell and embrocation. The Rhino never stops.
Photo by the Lehigh University Cycling Club. See more photos here.
This past Sunday, Steve and Mark braved an early morning commute to attend the inaugural edition of Lehigh University’s Lehigh Laps track meet. Despite a light turnout of non-collegiate racers, the two of them still had a great time competing against the collegiate A/B field, as well as a handful of other Open category racers.
We look forward to next year’s edition, hopefully with a larger turnout. See Mark’s report here.
Heather raced in Austin Horse’s 2nd annual East Coast Messenger stage race last week. The race took a group of 20+ riders from Washington DC to Boston over the course of 6 days. She rode it with two NYC locals, Krista Ciminera and Rachel Rubino (who both got to rock Pink Rhino kits for a day!) Head on over to Heather’s blog (http://heatherbikes.com/) to check out her daily recaps from their journey.
I made it out to DISC Velodrome again for some fun on the boards. Brunswick Cycling Club hosts on Tuesday nights and they always bring a good friendly crowd. In my first two visits to DISC, I raced in Class E (Cat 5 in America) with a 49-15 gear. This week I got the nod to move up to Class D (Cat 4). I also decided to try a bigger gear. I felt pretty good spinning a 47-14t during warmup.
While waiting for the first Class E race to finish up I got caught up in some conversation with Rich and Gareth. Then I looked up and realized my race had already started! I missed my first race of the night! Our director running the show, Dave, told me, “You can race in Class C (Cat 3) in the next race, but you’ll be going back to Class D after.” So what happens with a 12-lap scratch race on tap? I WON! I was sitting 3 back right before the last lap so I go for it and manage to find a hole to get in the front. Jay says I held the lead for 3/4 lap before crossing the line first with Rich right behind me.
Dave, the director, approaches me afterward completely flabbergasted and says, “Now how the hell am I suppose to stick you back down in ‘D’?!” And that’s how I got upgraded to Class C.
Next race on tap was an elimination/miss-n-out. My first race ever at Kissena Velodrome was also a miss-n-out. I remember I fell asleep and got pulled way early. Keith then tells me the best place to be is at the front. So I stayed in the front for the first 6-7 laps. Then I get boxed in thinking there’s at least 6 other riders behind me and my number gets called. I gotta look behind me more often I guess. Still stoked on 3rd place.
20-lap points race is the final race on tap for the night. While waiting for the race to start I thought out loud, “maybe we can lap the field…” Rich and I were all for giving it a go and Jay came over to offer some strategy. Basically I started at the front during roll-out. Rich sat all the way back in the pack. After the whistle blew I took pulled at the front for one lap before pulling up track. Rich pulled up track at the same time and we sprinted down the back straight together to surprise the field. We alternated a few half-lap pulls before getting over-taken by 4 others. I was pretty much tapped out of anything resembling a decent sprint so I decided to go into time-trial mode just to hang on. I haven’t hurt that good in a long time. It reminded me of when I first got bumped from Cat 5 to Cat 4. I felt the hurt trying to hang on to Steve, Andy, Aaron, David, Lucas, Keith and everyone else.
Jay and I wrapped up the night and left DISC around 10pm. I rode to Richmond with him and instead of taking the train home from there I rode home feeling pretty good and super pumped on having a fun night at the track. Then the cramping started and just made it a rough ride the last 8 miles home. Note to self: switch the 14t cog out for a 17t before leaving the track.
All photos by Gareth Kemp except the last one of me and flabbergasted Dave taken by Jay Dougrey.
This past monday was the 48th Annual Labor Day Track Meet at Kissena, put on by Delroy “Mr. Merckx” Walters. The Pink Rhinos had another excellent showing with nine riders in total. The cat 1/2/3 field saw Mark win the Omnium, with Aaron coming in third.
The star rider of the day, however, was Brean. After having just come back from an elbow injury, he was able to not only win the cat 4 Omnium, but he also put in a perfectly timed attack on the penultimate lap of the five mile Delroy Walters “Merckx” Cup race to solo to the line beating out all the sprinters.
Mark and Steve raced Tandemonium at The Valley Preferred Cycling Center this past Friday night at the World Series of Bicycling. They were up against a stacked field of riders including the Dutch team of Nils Hoenderdaal and Hylke Greakan. Unfortunately due to a planning mishap, they missed the tandem sprint events and could only race in the 12 lap scratch race.
As you might notice from the ol’ weekly synopsis post, I was in PA for a few days. This is because there’s a car show/flea market that my family goes to each year. This means that I was up by 7am (hey, it’s early for me) with a quick hotel breakfast and then it was off to walk around a few fields in the sweltering heat for five hours. I did have some cool finds though, so I’m certainly not complaining. I’m just saying it’s not the best thing to do if you’re planning on racing against world level competition later in the day.
Around 1pm, we saw all there was to see at the flea market, so we decided to head back to the hotel. I got a call from Steve that tandemonium might not actually be happening for us as he had miscalculated the time it would take to get to t-town from where he was upstate. A bit later he called again and we agreed that I would head to t-town to register the team and see if we could at least just do the final tandemonium event and skip the sprints.
In the meantime, I took a dip in the hotel pool in order to relax a bit and more importantly cool off. I then headed over to the track to see what our options were. They said just racing the final event would be fine, so I registered us and went to dinner. A burger later, and I was back at the track at a little after 7pm. I started to bring my gear to the infield when Steve drove up. Somehow he was able to cut off at least a half hour of drive time. We rushed our gear to the infield to see if we could still get in our flying lap TT for the sprint seeding, but it was not to be so. That’s fine, so we just sit around for a while. We spun around the infield trying to warm up as we both forgot our rollers and watched the rest of the racing.
Finally it was time for tandemonium. A 12 lap scratch with 12 tandems on the track. whooo boy. Our first neutral roll around was given the double gun as someone had spilled a beer between turns 3&4. Getting back on the rail and we heard that the tandem of Diefenbach and mini-Nothstein had a front flat. A quick change later and we were finally good to go. Steve and I decided that the one strategy that would not work was a full 12 lap TT off the front. Particularly since neither of us were warmed up. We decided to take a couple of little attacks to get the legs going, then see how it looked. Of course, just as we were going to sit up for our first attack we hear a prime announced for $40, so we decided to give it a go. Then a couple of laps later another $40 prime. Funny, this is exactly what we said not to do. Standing on the back stretch was Marloe Rodman of Jamaica cheering us on. Finally around turn 4 with 2 or 3 laps to go we got caught and passed by a good amount of teams. In turn 1 of the next lap, the bike got real squirrely for some reason and I was deathly afraid we were going down, but Steve was able to keep it up. We kept the gas on to roll across the line in not dead last place. By the end, my legs felt completely dead. It was a dull kind of dead. A not properly warmed up after spending all day in a hot field kind of dead, you could say.
Still, I’d call the event a success. It cost $65, we won $80, got our names announced a lot, had lots of people cheer for us and Pink Rhino. Yeah, not bad. We’ll be back next year.