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
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”
Here is the final Tacchino ‘Cross installment. These podium interviews are just what you need to get ready for this weekend’s races. Pre-ride strategy, race tactics, barrier technique, pre-race food. It’s all here.
Thanks for reading.
Under ideal conditions (you arrive on time, it’s not pouring down rain), how much time do you spend on the course before racing? Do you walk the course? Do any hot laps? What are you looking for during this time?
Steevo Cummings (Indiana Regional Medical Center, 2nd Place Men’s Elite): 20-25 minutes is ideal. I ride around the outside of the course and watch the racers when I arrive. I got to pre-ride the course after the Elite Masters with Gerry Pflug. He showed me the lines he was taking, where bottlenecks were forming, where to recover, etc. That was like doing 3 or 4 laps on my own. Some of the stuff I would have not found on my own.
Jared Nieters (Haymarket Bicycles/HomeVisit, 3rd Place Men’s Elite): I try to arrive early, during the ‘B’ race, and do the pit work for Tyler Karnes (he does a great job taking care of the task for me during the elite race). After the ‘B’ race, I ride one lap slowly, in my street clothes, and get a good solid look at all of the corners and lines. During the next race I get my number and throw my kit on. Before the women’s race, I typically try to take a lap at a comfortable pace and then another where I hit a few of the trickier corners at speed. Some of the lines I take aren’t the ones that get beaten in during the day (I take early-apex lines more than most people in order to keep exit speeds high), and that becomes more obvious when I’m warming up at speed. I hop on the trainer during the women’s race, and make sure everything is taken care of, before catching the end of the women’s race.
Jennifer Maxwell (ATAC Sportswear p/b Bike Rack DC, 2nd Place Women’s Elite): Usually get to the race 2 hours before a UCI race and 1 1/2 for a local. I park, get the LeMond back-up bike ready, and ride to registration. If I can get on the course, I will do a few laps to get a feel for tire pressure and lines to take. I like to sometimes ride behind an Elite women/male to get a feel for which lines to take. HOT laps are for when I am running late and know that I will not get a full hour of warm up on the trainer. So I then register, drop off the LeMond in the pit, and head to the car to warm up on the trainer. I prefer warming up on rollers but with grass and uneven parking venues I need to use the trainer for cross.
Tyler Karnes (Pioneer Racing, 1st Place Men’s 3/4): I usually try to arrive at the venue a little over 2 hours before my race, that way I can get out of the car and get straight on course to pre ride a lap before the early race starts. I usually try to get another lap before the last race ahead of mine. This weekend, some unfortunate events in a rider breaking his ankle allowed a lot more course time than usual. I think I got 6-7 laps in before my race, and I re-rode some of the more difficult sections numerous times. I usually walk some of the course on the way to registration, noticing how riders are taking lines and if they are avoiding anything on course. I will get a couple hot laps before my race just as a final warm-up prep.
Patrick Blair (Adventures For the Cure, 2nd Place Men’s 3/4): After racing about 13 races this season I think I finally have my pre-race prep figured out! Before the CAT4 race I try to get in at least 2 slow laps, analyzing every aspect of the course. After the CAT4 race I try to get in at least 2 more laps at a faster pace but still taking lots of mental notes on the course layout. During the races before my race I spend time stretching, checking tire pressure, eating, cheering for teammates, etc.
Tim Brown (The Bike Rack, 3rd Place Men’s 3/4): I normally like to get in at least 3 laps before racing… an easy lap, a hard lap, and one to work on tricky sections. I usually never arrive early enough to have time to walk the course.
Meg Schiffman (Squadra Coppi, 2nd Place Women’s 4): I feel most comfortable if I get 4-5 laps in on the course…which usually means getting there about 3-4 hours before my race. I don’t walk the course, but get a few slower laps in and then one or two just below race effort. My objective is really just to gain confidence and familiarity with the course while getting the bod warmed up. The more laps I get under my belt prior to the race, the better I feel on the start line! I do try to test out lines, look for the dryer ones, etc. during the warm-up laps as well. Continue reading “Tacchino ‘Cross: Podium 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
The MABRA Cyclocross Series dropped in on Chris and Fred Kelley October 4, 2009, to play in their backyard. Talk about a scene that would have driven my grandfather crazy, all those kids with their bikes on his property!
Kelley Acres ‘Cross featured lots of climbing, ridable barriers, and a Euro-style flyover. It was a great day in the country for cross racing. We caught up with some of those on the podium to see how the day went. Thanks for reading.
Note: All photos by Kevin Dillard of Demoncats Photography. Check out more sweet images by Kevin at www.demoncats.com. Continue reading “Kelley Acres: Podium Interviews”
The Breast Cancer Awareness Cyclocross Challenge presented by Antietam Velo Club took place Saturday, October 3, 2009. The first race in a weekend doubleheader for the MABRA Cyclocross Series, the course featured several hairpin turns, good off-camber riding, a sand pit made unridable by strategically placed barriers, and a mean little hill. We caught up with the podium finishers in several categories to find out about their day.
Photos courtesy of Lindsey Hillesheim of The Uff Da! Chronicles. Continue reading “BCA ‘Cross: The Podium Interviews”