Friday, January 27, 2012

Kermesse Q&A: Nick Koops rules your race

Nick Koops was perhaps the most sylish winner of the Ronde Ohop ever. Now he shares his secrets with you!

PruDog: Did the moustache help or hurt your performance and will you be rolling it again in this years Kermesses?

Nick: The moustache always helps. It traps water whether its from the riders rooster tail in front of me or condensation building up from heavy breathing. It basically helps me hydrate without having to reach for my water bottle. And it's always a good feeling knowing I look like Kevin Costner circa 1985 while riding.

PruDog: I find that riders who've never done a Kermesse want a frame of reference to prepare for the race. I find it very difficult to describe. How would you describe a kermesse to a new rider looking to try it for the first time? :

It's the hardest race you'll ever do. The dirt sections absolutely thrash your body. With rocks(mini-boulders) ed note - note: we have these boulders imported from Spain so they are the highest quality boulders, tire ruts, loose gravel and sand there's never a good line to take. You just have to go all out. I think guys with some mountain biking or cyclocross experience are at a huge advantage. If you want to train specifically for a kermesse race go ride your road bike on some gravel trails.

PruDog: What equipment do you plan to use for the Kermesses this year? Any special items of of note and why?

I'm riding my cross bike again with my inexpensive wheels. When you hit the dirt section the thought of crashing or flatting is constantly going through your head. I think it's a little bit easier to say 'fuck it' and just hammer when you're not worried about laying down your carbon frame/wheels/derailleur/water bottle cage.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kermesses: A Mission Statement

I am very excited about the level of interest being shown in the Andy Salmon and Mashel Nisqually Kermesses. I am glad that people are interested in a style of racing that, while inspired by Belgian Kermesses, is really unique to the Northwest.

I encourage everyone to try it. The vast majority love it, but it's not for everyone. And I understand that. As I get more and more emails from riders about the races I am also beginning to get emails lobbying for changes to the races to make the more "accessable". I scare-quoted because most of the riders making these requests haven't done a Kermesse before so are basing their requests on their cyclocross or road racing experience. And, additionally, there tends to be an underlying impression that turnout is low and / or changes to the race set-up would improve it.

I get where many of these riders are coming from. There is a much larger segment of riders who are career Cat 4/5's and treat racing as competitive group rides. This is very very different than the traditional culture of bike racing and definitely causes some friction as well as opportunity for promoters. That said, many of the fears these riders express aren't the reality of Kermesse racing. Kermesse has elements of both road and cross, but it is unique. In road you have to ride as fast as the field or it's usually a long, miserable and lonely ride home. Kermesses are more like cross: the race breaks up but because the courses are short and the terrain is bumpy riders tend to ride closer to their confort level as a whole so it spreads out and you aren't alone. But unlike cross, were technical sections tend to cause riders to be solo Kermesse races tend towards small groups. It's true those groups change as the race goes on but it isn't a solo ride like either cross or road. In a wierd way it's the best of both -- the ride your tempo safety of cross with the group dynamic of road.

Secondly, it is true that the 1/2 field has been a challenge (I believe we had the 2nd biggest non-crit 35+ Masters field last year), but the constraint on field size is the course: our max field limit is 50 riders and we can't run waves.

Now we are always open to ways to improve the race, but my advise to those who are thinking about racing but want changes to be made first is to try it once. Then decide: you're likely to find that the experience is not what you expected (good or bad) and that the changes you'd like to see are very different than the ones you thought you wanted.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Three Kermesse Questions: Martin Turek Edition

The latest entry in our Three Questions series for those who want to try a Kermesse or two. Enter Matin Turek, Cat 4/5 Podium finisher at the 2011 Ronde.

PruDog: What made you decide to try out the Ronde Ohop last year? And what were you expecting?

Martin: I’ve raced most of the races last season but at the end I decided to skip the ones that seemed to be following the typical arrangement of packed peloton and bunch sprint. Ronde Ohop was to be a completely different race (with its unpaved loops) and reminded me of the challenging Paris-Roubaix and other European one day classics which seemed to challenge racers in many different ways than the standard road races. Difficulty of the terrain, bike setup, possibility of being affected by the crashes and crashing myself, accelerated exhaustion, new effects of the climate, …. – all those made me want to try it and test myself against them.

PruDog: What was the biggest misperception you had about the race before doing it and what was the most pleasant surprise?

Martin: I think my expectations of the race were fully met but I did not expect the race to be so intense and so intense virtually non-stop from the moment we entered the unpaved section till the finish line. As a result of this the exhaustion started to build up soon and fast and I never thought I could sustain such level of fatigue but still maintain the willingness to fight. Passing the finish line on the very last of my physical abilities, with some gravel rush and blood dripping off of my left arm, I had the biggest smile in the world - I never thought I enjoyed getting hurt so much.

PruDog: Now that you've done a kermesse (and done well!) is there any special equipment you plan to use and why?

Martin: My setup was perfect. I did some reading about the gear used at Paris-Roubaix and used this info to prep for the Ohop. I won’t spare the details as it’s as interesting to do that research as it is satisfying to complete the race without a single mechanical.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Greatest Internets of All Time

Because the internet is awesome:

1. It's about intimidation. It's MIND GAMES.

2. Star Trek Cribs. I love the left over roast beef.

3. For Jamie. I love you man.

4. For everyone who has ever had to read a bunch of 12 year old who invaded an otherwise nice little board. Or the WSBA Listserv.

5. I hate Hobbits

6. You can take the boy out of the Geek, but you can never take the Geek out of the boy.

7. PruDog. How do you act so well? Sir Ian explains it to you.

8. Rule #1: PruDog is always right. Rule#2 if you think PruDog is wrong you're made of stupid.

9. Because your bases do, in fact, belong to me.

10. All I Do Is Win because, well, he wins! I just am not sure what exactly he won. Seems a lot like my grade school athletic day were we all got medals. But I won!!!

11. Who knew Michael Bolton was a moviephile?

All I do is win.

Much like DJ Kaleeb I am in 35+ 1/2/3 to win the overall this year. Now Erik Anderson has called me out, suggesting that even if I do score the 2 point I expect to I will lose the lead as soon as the fast guys (I am looking at you Sean Phillips) show up.

Yah, see here's the thing. I did the math and as far as I can tell there are 5 races that have Masters 35+ 1/2/3 Categories this year: Andy Salmon, Mashel-Nisqually, Mason 1, Mason 2 and the Ronde. Unless Sean does the Andy Salmon and Mashel-Nisqually I am looking really good here. There just aren't enough races to afford missing any.

He also suggests quality of field will hurt me. Er... I don't know the algorithm USAC uses but I do know my Kermesse races all had over 20 35+ Masters 1/2/3 while Mason had like 3 in the first and none in the second. So, well, game set match.

2012 Washington Cup - On Like A Remodel

Which means behind schedule and still in flux. Here's the current races, which may change based on how well races follow the new WSBA/USAC guidelines:

Andy Salmon Kermesse
Mashel-Nisqually Kermesse
Keller Rohrback Eatonville Road Race
Ronde Van Palouse
Vance Creek RR
Boston Harbor
Ronde Ohop

Whether or not we do non-topline Categories is being debated (overhead!) but f we do we will break it into two halves so riders aren't penalized for upgrading.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kermesse Q&A: John Alving (Apex Racing)

For your reading pleasure here is a brief Q&A with John Alving of Apex Racing. This multi-sport everyman did the Ronde Ohop for the first time last year and had a blast. He also flatted and learned that it's not the end of the world at a Kermesse.

PruDog: Was the Ronde your first Kermesse? What were you expecting coming in and what was the single biggest surprise?

John: As much as I wanted to do the previous years (two years ago) race, I had a conflict. (mountain bike race I think) . So last year was my first race. I was actually expecting a rougher course than we saw from what I heard two years ago . I race as a Master Cat2 in Cyclocross so rough roads are not a problem for me. I was surprised how the peloton completely came apart in the race. It makes total sense but I was not expecting it.

PruDog: You noted that you flatted, yet still did pretty well. How'd you pull that off? Any special equipment choice? What will you use for the Kermesses this year?

John: I did flat, none of the guys that finished ahead of my flatted. My team hit the dirt with four guys in the top five. I was third wheel. Riding at race speeds a foot off a guy’s wheel on that road did not allow you see what was coming (rocks, holes). I had intended to race on 28mm or worst cast 25mm tires but neither would fit on my frame so I ran with my standard 23mm tires. About 100 yards from the end of the first dirt circuit I noticed my front wheel was flat. I rode it to the neutral wheel support and was changed out pretty quickly but the leaders had a 1 minute gap I was never able to close. A team mate flatted at the same time. I never saw him until the last lap where we worked together to leave the small group we had. We finished 6th and 7th. What a total blast. I can’t wait until next years race where I will be racing my cross bike with 28mm tires and 53/39 chainring. This is what I have set up for the Kermesses. My only concern is the bike is a far cry from my fancy BMC bike so I will have to see how I like it on the road. I pick it up from the shop this week (snow notwithstanding).

PruDog: One thing riders worry about is getting dropped because they are used to road races or crits were once you get popped it's a long lonely ride home. At some point everyone in a Kermesse ends up alone or in a very small group but it's not at all like "getting dropped" -- I like to say that every one who finishes earns it and as a result the overall satisfaction per rider is very high. How would you describe the racign dynamic to a rider who is interested in racing a Kermesse but is afraid of being "dropped"?

John: You still have to be careful because about getting dropped on the road section. You are right about the getting dropped comment though, it is similar to Cross racing where everyone finishes and can race their own race. The groups are very small and is really only an advantage on the pavement section. I would be surprised though if the Kermesse races break up a much as the Ronde Ohop [which has 12 miles of paved road before entering the Kermesse circuit] but not having raced [just the kermesse cicuit] I will have to see. There are a ton of Cyclocross riders [that this would be] a winter diversion [for]. This seems like a perfect “gateway” race to road racing. The only thing that will keep me from attending is a ton of new snow in the mountains (skiing) editor - again with the priorities John. Seriously..

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Monday, January 16, 2012

No Hills? WTF

Oh, also too, I was asked why we don't have hilly races. Cause, we are in the NW and there are hills. So what up?

It's because NW Cyclists are soft and have not been properly beaten by Eddie Meryckx. As a result they do not show up for hilly races. When we promote them we need to claim there are "punchy climbs" and hope no one pre-rides the course. That's right Tubbs, I am looking at you. You too Boots.

WA Cup 411

I know I know. What's up with the WA Cup Prudog? You tease us but then there is now news.

Well, I ain't got news because I am old and lame. All I know right now is that 4 of the 10 races are:

Andy Salmon
Mashel Nisqually
KRRR AKA Jamie Stangeland Hates You
Ronde Ohop

I am hoping to include:

Ravendsdale/Market Street
Ronde Van Palouse

+ three of Anderson's races because I love him.

Really, I am totally infatuated with Anderson. Or maybe that was Cindy Crawford. Again really old and senility is making things hard right now.

Fuck this shit

I was going to post about the Washington Cup or Andy Salmon Kermesse. But why bother? I am old and threw out my back. So I ain't gonna win my own damn race. What's the point? Seriously.

Get off my damn lawn, being old is lame. And I am not even old. Now Jim Flynn, he's old.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Clarification: KRRR has no dirt

Since there is likely to be confusion about the various race courses... The Keller Rohrback Road Race has no dirt sections. It's all paved. In fact, significant sections through town are newly paved. And we removed the two punchy climbs everyone whined about (I'm looking at you Tubbs!); instead of heading down Hwy 7 into Ohop Valley the race turns right back into town. The loop is 6 miles instead of 5 and doesn't head up Hwy 161.


The good news is I've been getting in some good riding this month. The bad news is I smacked my back up good. For the third time in 12 months. Perhaps it's time to admit I need to do Yoga. No!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

2013 Masters Nats

No snarky comment, but does anyone know why Nats are in Bend in 2013 and not rotating?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Getting Antsy

So there are 4 Roubaix/Kermesse races (not even counting the Grand Fondo Ephrata) in the first half of the year. Excellent. I can't wait to get it on. Will Sean Phillips be there or will his crossing ways have him over trained and tired? Only time will tell.