This Sunday is Rockburn Cross, race #7 in the MABRAcross Super 8 Cyclocross Series, and the Mid-Atlantic mountain bikers’ favorite … Continue reading 2011 Rockburn Cross Course Preview
In this final installment of MABRAcross tandem-cross, we saw some familiar story lines. The team of Adam Driscoll and Pat … Continue reading MABRAcross Tandem-Cross: The Championships
The third race in the MABRAcross Tandem-Cross series took place Sunday, November 1, at Rockburn Cross. Current tandem-cross series leaders … Continue reading Rockburn Tandem-Cross Video
[Ed. Note: Periodically we have guest columnists here at In The Crosshairs. One of our favorites is Jay Morali, who last penned an article for us about this time last year. Jay returns with a column about the internal battle most of us find ourselves in each week on the cyclocross course. Simply put (and I’m paraphrasing Adam Myerson, here) the battle boils down to this: is the physical pain of trying to hang on to that wheel in front of you less or greater than the mental pain you will feel later if you let it go?]
“If you ain’t first, you’re last!”
Too often in life we subscribe to Will Ferrel’s lovable character’s motto from the movie Talledega Nights and we focus solely on the “winner” or “champion” and forget about the rest of the competitors. Look at the great Laurent Fignon, who just passed away. He will be remembered more for the one memorable race he lost instead of the many he won. And it’s not just on the professional level. Just last year I came home from a race after turning myself inside and out to come in second place. I get out of my car and my neighbor, who has no idea what a tubular tire is, asked me how the race went. I proudly told him I crossed the finish line a few seconds behind the winner to claim the second spot on the podium and his response was, “Great, first loser”.
If you race cross long enough and move through the various categories you will find yourself at some point in many different positions in the race. One year you might be fighting it out each week for a podium spot and the next just trying not to come in last. I am currently facing the latter. Last year, I was getting front row call-ups, winning holeshots and picking my own lines. Now, I am five rows back and “rubbin’ paint” as we fight to get past the prologue! (my second NASCAR reference. What do you expect from a Mississippi boy?) But as we all know, unless you are lucky enough to be leading a race, it doesn’t really matter where you are because one thing is always certain in cross: there is always someone in front of you to catch and pass. This is where most of us spend 100 percent of our race.
The purpose of this article is to look into the minds of a couple of the prominent racers across the Mid Atlantic and get a sense of what they are feeling during the “chase.” Do these guys hurt like we do out there? Do they have negative thoughts and consider packing it in? I think you will enjoy their insights and may even learn something from their experiences.
Wes Schempf, a fellow C3-Athletes Serving Athletes teammate, is considered one of the best in the area. He is a former overall MABRAcross and MAC Elite title winner. Wes has had a few memorable experiences racing against pro mountain biker Jeremiah Bishop. Wes explains what it is like for him to fight it out with the former U.S. Champion in MTB short track and marathon in a cyclocross race.
“As you mentioned, Bishop and I have had some experiences,” Wes told me. He explained that his battles with Jeremiah fall into a routine script. “I know that mental preparation is almost as important as physical preparation,” Schempf said. “For some reason, Bishop has a mental voodoo blocker on me. I just can’t seem to get around the fact that he consistently beats me. This has led to a negative feedback loop where if I know he’s racing then I start to think that I’m racing for second.” Continue reading “Through the Eyes of the Chaser”
For most promoters, a full slate of MABRAcross racing is plenty. But the go-getters at DCMTB wanted more so they … Continue reading DCCX Tandem: The Movie
Bicycle Dreams is a full length documentary that chronicles the 2005 Race Across America. As a chronicler of cyclocross racing, a decidedly shorter affair, I was a bit hesitant when the film’s director, Stephen Auerbach, asked if I wanted to review his film.
To hedge my bets, and ensure my ignorance about ultracycling events is kept in check, I recruited Adventures for the Cure’s Adam Driscoll and Patrick Blair, accomplished ‘cross racers and RAAM finishers in the two-person division, to watch and comment on the film.
Cyclocross racing is hard and, if you are doing it right, painful. It’s a redline effort for somewhere around an hour and then it’s over. RAAM, on the other hand, is more of a slow burn. Full-time steady-state efforts, day after day with little time off the bike and almost no sleep. Cyclocross is like a haymaker to the head, RAAM is 15 rounds of rabbit punches, a 45 minute break, and then fifteen more rounds. For nine straight days.
Bicycle Dreams tells a compelling story. From a technical and aesthetic standpoint the film is amazing. The shots are artfully framed and flawlessly executed. The color grading and lighting in the film are breathtaking. For this alone, the film is worth viewing.
The idea of a race across America in itself is, dare I say, epic. Finishing this event is truly an achievement only a small number of bicycle racers will accomplish. The human struggle, exhaustion, will-to-go-on and desire-to-quit is the kind of stuff compelling, edge-of-your-seat films thrive on.
The problem is that once you get beyond the big picture “epicness,” the actual competition is mind-numbingly dull. It’s equivalent to going out and watching an accomplished racer on a long solo training ride. This is not the Tour de France. There are no suicide breakaways, tactical chases, sprint finishes or mountain-top duels. Not to give away any plot points, but there is exactly one instance in the film in which we see a rider passed by a competitor.
To overcome the sport’s inherent lack of on-bike action, the filmmakers focus on the meta. The real drama is found in the racers’ back story, the mind-over-body struggle, and competitors’ interaction with their crew. Continue reading “Bicycle Dreams”
Adam Driscoll and Patrick Blair (Adventures for the Cure) usually get interviewed on this site because they are fast guys finishing at the top of their fields each week of the ‘cross season.Blair is always battling for the top step in the 3/4 race and sometimes jumps in to the elite race for a little more pain. Driscoll, in his first year in the elites, is a mainstay on the podium, nipping at the heels of the top three finishers every race.
Driscoll will be the first to tell you he is still learning the CX game. He hasn’t been racing that many years and was handing it to the cat fours only two years ago. The first time I remember seeing Adam was in 2007 at the Ed Sander Memorial race. He was leading the C race when he had a mechanical with about a quarter lap to go. Second place was charging hard but Driscoll didn’t panic. He picked up his bike and got his sprint on. I think he ran that finishing stretch, shouldering the bike, faster than most could ride it. He held off second and took the win. He then fixed the bike, lined-up, and podiumed in the B race.
With that flavor of toughness and persistence it is not a surprise that Driscoll would conceive a plan to ride his fixed-gear across the country. Along with Blair and Jesse Stump, the trio set out in 2006 to ride their bikes across the continent, raise awareness for diabetes and support a host of other worthy causes. So why the fixed-gear angle? As Adam—who is a Type-1 diabetic—puts it, “everybody knows somebody that has ridden their bike across the country, but not many know of somebody doing it on a fixed-gear bike.”
So how did the trip go? Luck has it that you can find out for yourself. “Adventures For The Cure: The Doc” will be screened tonight, December 3, at Bicycle Stations (2204 14th st NW). Show starts at 7pm with a screening of a short documentary on the 2009 Lost River Classic. Don’t show up late, word has it the shop can seat around thirty folks.
Although not officially part of the Bicycle Film Festival, the AFC movie is a nice kick-off for a weekend of all things celluloid and bike. For more information on the festival, check back here tomorrow and also go here: bicyclefilmfestival.com.
If you can’t make it to the screening, the AFC documentary is available for purchase at www.adventuresforthecuremovie.com.
Recently, I chatted with Adam and Pat about the movie and life on the road with your single-speed bicycle. Here’s what they had to say.
In fifty words or less (and, yes, I’m counting) tell us what the movie is about.
Patrick Blair: Three guys riding across the country on fixed-gear bikes! The mission is to make a difference while having fun biking across country and fixed gears makes it more of a challenge. Submission: sing karaoke in every state they visit! [40 words]
Adam Driscoll: An award winning documentary which covers a group of three cyclists in summer of 2006 as they bike 6,500 miles across the country on fixed gear bikes to raise money and awareness for American Diabetes Association and Kupenda for the Children. It also shows us attempting to do karaoke each state we bike through and you experience how bad of a singer I am. [63 words. Good thing we aren’t doing this interview on Twitter.] Continue reading “AFC: The Doc: The Interviews”
Patrick Blair (Adventures for the Cure) started a video project this past weekend that we hope to see him continue. … Continue reading Granogue Men’s Elite Video By Pat Blair