Wednesday, May 28, 2014

USAC Points: Now with more category-ness

USAC has confirmed that Kermesse races will count for upgrades across the board.   Here is how they will apply:

·         Cat 4/5s will receive upgrade points based on the road race points schedule.  Full stop.

·         Cat 3 riders will receive upgrade points based on the road race points schedule for their placing relative to other Cat 3s.   This means if you get 5th in the 1/2/3 race but are the 1st placed Cat 3 you get points for a 1st Place finish.   Boosh (and/or Ka-Kow).

·         Cat 1 / 2 riders will receive upgrade points based on the Criterium points schedule for their overall placing.   This means if you get 5th in the 1/2/3 race but are the 1st placed Cat 2 you get points for a 5th Place finish.   So don’t let any Cat 3’s beat you.

Do I have to say it?  Go register! and get those sweet sweet points.

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Kermesse: What's in a name?

Wednesday history lesson: Why the name Kermesse? kermesse (pronounced Ker-mess) literally means "fair" (as in street fair) and refers to circuit races of approx 60-80 miles in length that run through the streets of Europe. Kermesse (pronounced Ker-mease) is the mispronounced version of the word used by the young racers on my first team that went to Belgium and returned with tales of short circuits of mixed quickly alternating pavement, dirt & cobbles. Kermesses are those mythical and exaggerated races come to life.

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I'm so confused: a Northwest Kermesse FAQ

We are now less than 4 weeks out from the NW Kermesse season opener the Sumner Buckley Kermesse on June 21st. Many have expressed both a desire and fear of trying this unique style of racing. To help push you off that fence here is a handy FAQ to reduce and/or increase your anxieties:

Question: I'm so confused. Is this a road race or a cross race?

Answer: A defining feature of NW Kermesse races is that they run on short, non-technical circuits so that transition between road and ribinou (dirt) happen quickly. The field usually splits into smaller groups early. The main challenge of a NW Kermesse race becomes finding the right group and managing your effort. As a result racing stays dynamic for everyone as each placing is hotly contested.  Drafting and pacing make a bigger difference than in cyclocross and riders are almost always better riding in a group. NW Kermesses are unique in that it is extremely common for riders to move *forward* by jumping one group to the next. So while it's neither a road or a cross race it has what we consider the best traits of both.

Question:   I'm only 78 points away from my Cat 1 upgrade and need points.   Is it technically a road or cross race?

Answer: #SBK is sanctioned as a road race so upgrade points count for road.

Question:  Do these races meet the minimum length for upgrade points?

Answer:  The Cat 4/5 and Cat 1/2/3 races meet the minimum length for upgrades from Cat 5 to Cat 4 and Cat 4 to Cat 3.  Sadly, Andrew Martin cannot use these to upgrade to Cat 1*.

Question:  What about field size requirements?  

Answer:  That's dependent on you guys but the Kermesse fields at #MNK and Ronde Ohop have met the minimums for Cat 5 to Cat 4 and Cat 4 to Cat 3 the last three years.  Again, Andrew Martin is out of luck for his Cat 1 upgrade*.  

For the rules around upgrades go here: 

Question: Dudes! I love to watch Paris Roubaix and post on facebook about how hard I am.  Have you seen my quads?  But really I am a fragile roadie and I'm afraid of getting dropped. This still sounds a lot like a cyclocross race and I'm afraid of dirty corners and riding solo. Please explain this race to me!

Answer: I'm not sure there was an actual question in there (unless you really want to know if I have been checking out your quads?  No I have not.  But if I was I'd tell you they look nice).  Bottom line a bomb is going to go off in the field within the first two laps. The dirt section isn't technical -- it's pretty much a straight line from the entrance to exit. That said, you'll probably be at a slight disadvantage to the cross riders since you won't be used to the feel of riding dirt.  But the good news is the dirt section is short and then you'll be back onto more familiar territory and can either work with the group you're in or take a chance at bridging up to those cross guys who are now at your mercy.

Question: Wait. I'm a cross guy and now I'm worried. I was planning on just dropping all the soft roadies in the dirt (it's officially called ribinou now - ed) but I did Ronde Van Palouse/Gorge Roubaix/Ronde Matt Hill Roubaix Strada and got dropped on the road sections.

Answer: Those are great races. But they have much larger circuits. The big difference between a Roubaix or Ronde and a NW Kermesse is that the shorter circuits mean riders who struggle on the road will find themselves back on the ribionou quickly. And vice versa. 

Question:  I just realized you didn't really answer my question about whether it's a road race or a cyclocross race.

Answer:  I know.  You ask too many questions.  Just register and ride the darn thing:

Want to stay up to date on the NW Kermesse schedule?  Regular updates will be cross posted at the NWKermesse Facebook page and right here at the extremely old and over-rated PruDogBlog

Update: Andrew Martin would like to make it clear he is a Cat 1 already.   PruDogBlog would apologize except it can't accept that Andrew is a Cat 1 when PruDog is only a Cat 2. 

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Where my candy at?

Alright, I've been nice long enough.  I know you all come here for the #hardcandy.  So I'm bringing it now, biznatches.

I see a lot of complaining online* about how masters racing (at least at the Masters 1/2/3 level) is lame.  Interestingly this often takes the form of "the problem is that Team X just stacks the field".  Last year it was the Garage.  This year it's the Garage and Cucina Fresca (my team).

Now I will say up front that our plan from the start at CF was to stack riders into the same race during the early season so that we could work on our race tactics and getting to know each other.   We also have made riskier tactical decisions so that our riders can get used to different scenarios and see how they react, for example, to being in the early break.  And the team has improved a ton for it.  That's going to change over the next month as we start focusing on riding 6-man squads.

And you not what?  The same guys complaining that the problem is we are over stacking the races will still be complaining about something.  Because, you know what?  There are no gifts in cycling.  It is a hugely unfair sport where for 90% of the starters the odds are stacked against you before you even line up.

So to the complainers:  Instead of complaining take Reed Homies advice and focus on learning to how to race your bike.  Figure out how to improve your chances instead of expecting to do well because you've earned it by gracing us with your presence.  Cause, you know what -- effectively asking other teams to handicap themselves isn't going to work.  If you don't know what to do here's a pro-tip: ask someone who does.  If you don't know who is who then that's your first assignment: learn who people are.   Not just because it'll help you know who can advise and mentor you but because in order to read a race you need to know who the riders are.

Here's some free unwelcome criticism feedback from last Tuesday nights race:  what's the end game in sitting on the back, letting Matt Hill, Mark Mirante, Nicos & Landon go up the road what's the end game of sitting on the front and pulling?  Or fighting me for 4th wheel but not actually pulling through?

I don't know your guys individual strengths and weaknesses (although it appears a couple of you think you're sprinters) but I can't think of a single scenario were waiting for a break to establish and then pulling so hard you can't react when other teams immediately counter is a solid plan.

Either get on a team, form a combine or figure out who are the riders most likely to form a solid break and make sure you cover them.

Right now there are 3 teams willing to mix it up: Garage, CF and SBUX.  This is a great scenario for other riders.  Step up and take advantage.

*Except Andrew Martin who is just trying to work the refs
*And the 1/2 guys who come from a field that is a) more tactically sound, b) has more riders and c) has more teams and the imbalance of numbers can actually make the difference between one team winning and the other.

Where my riders at?

I'm off to rock get pummeled at the Gorge Roubaix and don't have much to blog about.  But I know at least 2 people are hitting that refresh button repeatedly and I feel guilty for the resulting frustration the feel getting nothing but Tim Hanks popping up for the last few days.

So for your amusement here are some rapid thoughts about the state of cycling (all of which I have actually thought about but am too lazy to go old skool 538 on)

  • Why is the road scene shrinking?  Well two basic thoughts:
    • Is it shrinking or does it just seem that way because we had a huge spike in participation *and* we have more fields?  I remember when the 1/2/3 race at Sequim was combined..... 
    • For the vast majority racing road requires a willingness to suffer for long periods of time for the reward of watching some else win.  Or to put it another way the pitch is "hey come spend your day riding super hard so I have someone to ride with before I crush you in the finish"
  • Why does USACycling suck so bad?
    • Do they suck?  As a promoter I can say that I've seen a lot of attempts to make things easier and better for cyclists and promoters.  The challenge is they are huge and don't always have a good grasp of what life is like for your average promoter.  To be clear, I am not your average promoter.  I am not doing it for a living but I promote enough that I'm sort of a professional amateur.  The tools & rules being developed are great for me and likely awesome for truly professional promoters.  Teams putting in one-off races?  Not so much.
    • I don't think USACycling as a whole understands that it's the team doing one-off promotions that are the backbone of the sport.  I'm not making a normative statement; I'm making a positive statement.  They just are.  Increasing the barriers to promotion is great for professional promoters in CA and CO were there are plenty of races and competition for a large pool of racers.  But for the rest of the country promoters aren't making enough money for a rent-based system.

As you may notice, my default is to question the premise.  Have at it in comments or teh facingbook.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Win

We didn't win Tuesday night.  Instead, Tom Hanks did.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Matt Hill, perhaps not talking about me, mentioned that old dogs can learn new tricks.  Last year I learned to sit on because whenever I was in a break there were like 506708 Garage riders with me.  That doesn't mean I like that new trick.  I hate sitting on. Hate it. Hate it.  Hate it.  But guess what?  Now that we have a full squad I don't have to anymore.

Am I tipping my hand?

And I don't care if I end up attacking myself out of the race!  I likely will regret it Sunday at Ephrata but YOLO!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

To Attack or .. actually just attack

Saturday begins the road season proper as we get a steady diet of weekend and weekday events to feast on.  As a public service I want to make sure everyone knows when the best time to attack is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Left Lane Movin'

"You know what makes me safer?  Blocking 15 cars that are going to try to take risks to pass."

I first heard of the Left Lane movement last year when a rider was hit by a bus on Hwy 101.  The report was quickly overwhelmed by Left Lane riding advocates flooding the comments with assertions that had the riders been riding to the left then the bus would have been forced to move into the opposite lane of traffic and the accident never would of happened.  Despite video that showed the issue was low visibility and no solid evidence that riding to the left would have changed that.  Or any evidence that riding to the left*, perhaps more accurately described as taking a full lane, is actually safer.

But Holy F^%$sticks that doesn't stop dudes from being militant about it.  There are two types of bike commuters I regularly run into that drive me nuts -- eBikes and LeftLaneLarrys.  The eBike guys are a menace because for the most part they use their bikes as scooters and don't have the skills or awareness to ride with other bikes.  The Larry's though not only cockblock cars they cockblock other cyclists too.  And they get angry about it when you try to get around them.  

Hey I get that sometime following the rules isn't the safest option -- I strategically break the rules too.  But there's a difference between making an individual decision to break the rules and forcing others to adopt your personal riding preference. 

Riding in the left makes the rider squeeze by on the right (which apparently is what Lefty's expect) or go into the other lane to get by increasing their risk.  It also means the rider behind you is the one closest to irritable cars.

But what makes it especially annoying is the personality type of every Lefty I've ever encountered is not someone who is a solid bike rider making a thought out decision on how to increase their safety.  Every single one (caveat: anecdote is not the same as data!) has been a low-skill rider who isn't comfortable riding without 4 feet of space on either side *and* they are alphas who just hate being passed at all.  

So to all you Lefty's let me say: F&^% you.  I'm sorry you aren't comfortable on your bike.  I'm sorry you aren't strong enough to win the tour.  But I don't want to be part of your movement and I'm not going to adapt my riding to make you more confortable.

*The study most generally used to support left laning is this one:  Interestingly it does not actually address Left Lane riding.  It does, however, note that riding against traffic is a significant risk factor for cycling accidents.  If you where going to draw a conclussion that isn't directly addressed from this study about Left Laning it seems to me it would be that it's more dangerous since it puts the rider closer to oncoming traffic.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Blog or Go Home

I post one blog...... and now I feel so pressured.   Really the OBRA guys let you all down by not being completely stupid.  I can usually get a good 3 posts out of one PR (nee SIR) just off of OTB or BikeSale (oh snap!)

Just kiddin'!

The good news is that PR starts this month.  So maybe it's as good a time as ever to raise the bar and call out the 1/2 field.  Hey 1/2 field!  Guess what?  We're coming for you.  We don't care if we win. All we care about is catching you.  And lapping you.  Yes, this will happen.  Get your excuses ready for why a bunch of old guys completely pwned you (is that still a cool word?)

It's coming.