Thursday, November 19, 2009

Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships 2009

For the second year in a row, we sent a contingent of our silliesttop riders to the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships (a/k/a SSCXWC) in Portland. This year, the actual race was perhaps overshadowed by a Seattle/San Francisco contest to see who will host the race next year. As the biggest contingent of riders from San Francisco, we played something of a role.

I am not going to attempt to describe the experience. Mike and Liza posted a report on their blog, which, I think, accurately conveys the spirit of the event, if not the actual details with any fidelity.
The race ended and the true battle was underway, a statuesque ape appeared at the far end of the Thunderdome ready to through down to bring the race to his barbarian Northern City. In a bold move of cowardice and alcohol inspired reverse psychology, Liza was nominated to battle this insidious swine. His vibrations were getting nasty. But why? Had we deteriorated to the level of dumb beasts? No matter, it was time to fight.

In addition, local rider Paul Guerra was there, and he graciously supplied us with these images of Moonies at the race.

Finally, I don't want to be churlish, but the actual championship race was only 30 minutes long, due to a late start and encroaching darkness. If I had not raced a Cross Crusade race earlier in the day, and so gotten a taste of an actual race in those conditions, I'd be a little cranky about the experience. As it was, though, fun!

Rider Profiles: Arena Reed

Arena's in her second year with the club, and seems to alternate between battling at the front and lollygagging at the back, showing off her dollar grab and handup skills, for which she's widely known.


1. Name:
Arena Reed

2. What do you do for a living:
User Experience Designer

3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been racing?
This is my second season racing cyclocross, I race with the B category.

4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud of?
I picked up 7 dollar grabs in one race (no missed dollars) last season.

5. What should people yell at you to make you go faster?
"Safety third!"

6. What's your favorite post-race beverage.
Recovery Beer

7. What else should your fans know about you?
Motto: "Brakes just slow you down (don't use them)."

Fast Arena

Rider Profiles: Brian Kemler

Brian's new to the team, but is part of the tough group that stays in shape by commuting by bike down the Peninsula to Google in the morning. That's what, a 40 mile bike commute?

1. Name:
Brian Kemler
2. What do you do for a living?
Systems Engineer, Google
3. What category or categories do you race in? How long have you been
I race sport mtn and c cross racing since '91
4. What's your best bike accomplishment, or the one you're most proud
I completed La Ruta de Los Conquistadores
6. What's your favorite post-race beverage?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CX Santa Rosa #1

(photo by Nick Gaetano)

Everybody's still processing Single speed worlds, but the folks who didn't go to SSCXWC went to the first Santa Rosa race of the year. Here are some of their reports.

I heard it was cold & rainy in portland, true?

couldn't have been nicer in santa rosa, where it was sunny & warm, we got savage tans, drank a keg of new belgium 2°, and crushed, well, you know.

results included krishna's 2nd in As, morgan's something solid in masters As, ted/derrick/kemler's unknown-but-pretty-sweet placing in Bs, and my rather impressive 7th in Cs.

emily had a mechanical and came in for a wheel change/brake adjustment and beer partway thru her race, so i'm not sure if the free lap was in effect.

It was an extremely short course (A's took 3 minutes per lap). Not much in terms of climbing either. One fun whoop-de-doo. One sketchy log before a short sharp descent and turn onto a bridge caused a few endos.

Derrick and I battled it out for mid-pack for a while until my chain snapped on an uphill. I ran almost a full lap and waited around for a minute before the finish for the leader to finish so I didn't have to run a second lap to complete the race. Then I realized I'd never put my number on so it didn't matter anyway.

Drove up with Sam. Did a pre-ride with him, then warmed up with Ducky, Mark, Evan, Rob. Course was tacky, grassy, twisty and fun with long straights on the back side, mostly singletrack, some really testing tight corners with steep ups following each 180 and a fun root to hop right before a 90-degree turn to a damp bridge. There were three tall barriers near the s/f. The lap was really short, so there'd definitely be lapped riders. It was sunny, crisp and cool. Men's A, 35+ A and 45+ A all raced at 9:45. Race was supposed to be an hour but I think it went about 53-55 minutes. My race was 53:40, I think the race started exactly 3:00 late because the first lap was 3:00 longer than all other laps in the results, and the total time was off from my time by 3:05.


Got a decent start, lined up at the back as usual, but with 14 guys that meant 2nd row, so not too bad. Drilled it as best I could to get decent position and then began my customary battle with Dane Grant (Roaring Mouse, 45+A, not in my category but still a nemesis) and Ducky. (dfL, 45+A) I'm usually being chased by Jason Benford, but this time I was able to keep him behind me and out of sight. Dane's kid would call out my position and say stuff like "Don't let Morgan beat you!" and "Morgan's right behind you!" Grr. Dane works with my buddy Patrick, and they are both keeping keen tabs on who beats who. I knew someone was on my wheel most of the race, aside from Dane, and it turned out to be Ducky, he thanked me for the ride after the race. Dane and I swapped the lead in our little group a couple times. I got him behind me and tried to attack hard with 4 laps to go but couldn't shake him. Sam was giving me water, which helped. Ducky finally attacked hard with two to go, Dane followed him and I couldn't follow either one, which didn't matter so much because they're in a different cat. Turns out the guy in front of me - Phillip Hynes from Mako - was 30s ahead. I don't remember seeing him in the race. I ran Tufo Flexus (tubular) tires and had them as low as I could get away with, which for me is about 32psi front and 35psi rear. They were a little squirmy on corners and occasionally would fold a little with a "brraap!" sound, and I was touching the rim, but they stuck really well on the tacky stuff and grass. They rocked.

Someone kept cheering for me at the top of one of the steep little 180s after the s/f, saying "Go Curtis!" I took it as a complement but after three laps of it I had to say "I'm not Curtis."

My goal this season is the same as last; top half in a M35+ A race. I'm really too slow for this cat and this goal seems almost unattainable, but I was 8/14 yesterday, 30s from my goal! So I know it's possible. This is a motivator for me. So is beating Dane. It's gonna happen. I think he's faster than me, so you'll know that if I beat him it's all heart.

Murphy said he had a big food spread and that I should bust out the cooker and warm it up. Emily was racing after me. Scott Crosby and his girlfriend were there and Scott handed me a beer. Thank you, Scott! Thank you, Murphy and Emily! Thank you, Sam!

I can't promise top half at Sierra Point but I'll continue to giv'er. Sam and I now have a deal; whoever races and gets the better placing in their category gets to pick where we go for treats after the race. It's a lose-win situation for me.

as has been said it 'twas a lovely warm and sunny day in santa rosa. murphy, justin (new one race only team member who rocked his first dirt ride ever on a borrowed Marin CX bike and last year's pink kit) and i arrived early as murphy was mc'ing.

we had a slimmed down team set up complete with pulled pork and broiled chicken. the tent next to us provided the kegs. ted and derrick augmented our stash with some extra rolls and a 12 pack of tecate (thanks!).

my bike behaved wonderfully during the warm-up; yet, as soon as the gun went off my rear wheel popped out of alignment. i made it into the first hilly chicane and could go no further. i pulled over, some guys helped me get it back on correctly, gave me a push and i was off (everyone had passed by then). then a couple of hundred yards further just over the first narrow bridge, the wheel popped out again. i couldn't get it righted so i ran back to the start and the marin guys put me back in action. and scott provided the beer while i waited! off i went, the wheel held and i ended up around 4th. although it is hard to say what with the bungled first lap. the results show me as last (but not DNF!)

i had a good race though and actually passed a couple of people and stayed away. i was quite proud of myself when kathleen boyle from roaring mouse put a foot down right in front of me on the root drop and i readjusted and took the sketchier inside line, passed her and she never caught back up. Oh yeah -- I got three bucks too from the dollar grabs.

murphy dominated the mic. super funny announcing! and then murphy, justin and i hung out and had dinner with carlos and crew. zoe, his new baby girl, rivals griffin in the cuteness category! fun day!

Super fun times - the best part was getting my name announced by Murphy every time I came through the start-finish area! What a blast! Emily was totally there for us with waterbottles on every lap! So awesome! In case it wasn't mentioned, I was the dollar-grab winner (I think) with $3 to my name! I enjoyed racing B's - the longer course was nice, as was the later start time. I think my days as a C are done :) Great having the support of the crew and racin' with y'all!

Stephanie got to race for the first time since having Griffin (and second time ever). She was embarrassed about not being faster, but I
was really proud of her and I think she enjoyed it. She even rode the
log before the bridge on most laps.

My race was fairly uneventful. Four seconds after the start I was in second place, and that is where I stayed for the next hour. The guy who won was able to put 1 or 2 seconds on me every lap, and finished 24 seconds ahead. On the bell lap I saw Yuri Hauswald, who was lapped at that point, a little ways up the course. I closed the gap and tried to come around him in a sprint for the line, but got forced off into a curb and narrowly avoided crashing.

Scott Crosby greeted me after the finish with a beer. What a teammate!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

surf city halloween weekend report

We dominated.

the sheila-gators

on my honor, i will try, to serve...

OK, admittedly we only dominated the costume race (best costume for Mark, Lee, and myself for the pink dinosaurs, most inappropriate for Kathryn's pregnant brownie outfit). Still, we showed those other folks who's who!

Plus: candy!



Racing went pretty well for some folks, too.

Surf City Cyclocross #2 C Podium
Lee had a breakthrough weekend, with a 2nd and 3rd in the Cs to go with his costume victory. Every spot on the podium!

Caitlin brought the power, as usual, and finished 5th and 3rd in the B women.

vroom vroom
Arena made the podium in her first masters race.

Lina had a nasty crash. She was ok, though.

The rest of had races of varying degrees of success, but we all had fun.
pedal pedal pedal



(Photo by Steven Woo)

(Photo by Steven Woo)




and hecked!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lina's Coyote Point Race Report

Our newest rider Lina files this report from her very firstest cross race:

hat was AWESOME. my first cx race. my 4th or so time riding on dirt.
(east bayway doesn't count.) i don't even have a bike yet, but Ariel
let me use his! (thanks Ariel!)

i was recruited to the sheila moon team shortly before the race - i
believe the official approval of my joining the team was a text
message reading "crush bitches!". being on the sheila moon team means
being donned up in the hottest attire!

so in a pink skinsuit i lined up at the start line and off we went. up
some hill, ride ride ride, oh this is going fine, i'm hanging onto the
front so far despite riding on dirt, ride ride ride, hop off the bike!
carry it over the barriers, ride... no ride? DAMMIT! the chain fell
off! fiddle fiddle fiddle, oh crap, like half of the field rode past
me... it took me a good half or whole minute to get that back on. i'd
practiced remounts the day before but despite this fine practice i
still didn't do a single proper remount during the race, so that
didn't help - next time i'll practice getting the chain back on
instead! :P

alright, ride ride ride, uh-oh, get off, run up a hill, fail at
remounting again, ride! sand! run run run, ungracefully hop back on,
then some descent with roots and shit but hey! the girl who's scared
of dirt can actually deal with this, as it turns out.


uh-oh, some little boy falls right in front of me, no space left,
CRASH! haha, falling on grass doesn't hurt! ok WOW this is awesome but
is it gonna end soon? ok, passed some more people but still not nearly
as many as passed me while i was fiddling with the chain, ride over
the roots again, hey, this is going alright! whooooa totally losing my
balance, will fall, oh what happened, i'm still upright, figuring out
i have better balance than i think is great!

ok, ride ride ride, hey there's mariska on a mountain bike yelling her
race is all about beating ME! that's what i get for heckling her
during the cx class we took a month back. alright, some more riding,
some more falling, haha, falling doesn't hurt at all! but dammit,
mariska got ahead when i fell, alright, but gnat isn't going to beat
me! ride run ride ride ride RUN ride ride FINISH! 30 minutes later
with an average HR at 91% of my max.

and then beer with my new team followed. sweet! spent the rest of the
day drinking beer, watching the other races, cheering and heckling.
feeding beer to the racers. oh and some water too.

so, everyone should do cyclocross. it's fucking awesome and insane
amounts of fun.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bay Area Superprestige #2, Coyote Point

The Pilarcitos Bay Area SuperPrestige Series came to Coyote Point this week. Traditionally the site of the season finale (as it will be this year), Coyote Point offers plenty of course possibilities beyond the Beach Run of Doom for which it's known.

The organizers are saving the Beach Run and the flat parts of the park for the finale, and so carved out a pretty brutal up-and-down sleigh ride that combined some off-camber loose stretches with lots of soul-sucking grass and a nasty little sandbox run.

As is often the case, I got there late, so I missed the debut of our newest member, Lina, who raced the women's Cs. She jumped right in to her first cross race, rocking last year's skinsuit and a borrowed bike.

Lina's first race (by Veronika Lenzi)

I also missed the Superprestige debut of Sam Fletcher, who battled the bigger kids in the Junior 10-14 field, punching way above his weight for a respectable 6th.
re mount!
Sam's got Skillz (by Lauren Haughey)

Cruisin' (by Lauren Haughey)

The Men's Cs was the biggest field ever at a Bay Area Superprestige race: Over 140 starters! Included in those 140 starters were Moonies Ted Ketai, Lee Slone, Derrick Chao and Mark Wheeler. Derrick and Lee had excellent races, finishing 32nd and 35th, respectively.

Derrick (by Veronika Lenzi)

Lee comes around (by Veronika Lenzi)

Ted started strong, only to run into trouble (more or less literally) with his lack of running training. This was a runner's course, with a set of barriers, one unridable runup, one long marginally ridable section that was often quicker to run, and the sandpit, which was ridable at the extremes, but for most of us mortals was much smarter to run. Still, Ted continued his gradual climb up the results, easily finishing in the top half.

Running is not Ted's strong point (by Veronika Lenzi)

This was, I think, Mark's first race of the year, and he's almost certainly the only one racing with a 6-speed bike*. Plus, he totally trumped my tired striped socks with his diamond tights.

Mark wins the fashion award for the day (by Veronika Lenzi)

(*Mark informs me that his derailleur doesn't quite reach one of the sprockets in back, so technically he's on a 5-speed)

I was the only one around to show the flowers for the Masters B race. Fortunately, they're calling up the top 20 in the masters field, and since I got 20th at the first race, I got the final callup slot. Despite my good start position, my race was pretty undistinguished. I clawed my way up to probably 10th or so in the first couple laps, only to slowly slide back to 16th as my lack of warmup took its toll, where I finished.

Mount or dismount? (by Steven Woo)

Still, last year at this time I would have been ecstatic with a 16th of 60-something placing, so hooray for progress.

Team Sponsor Brian Bruckner also raced the 35+ Bs, but he had the temerity to race in the colors of his bike shop, Big Swingin' Cycles, not the Moon pink, so we don't have any pictures of him putting in a really good result.

Oddly, we also only had one rider in the Master A race, Morgan Fletcher. Morgan moved up a category last year when he was training all the time, and has had trouble finding his legs in the Master A field. He had what I think was his best race of the year, though, staying solidly on the lead lap, and battling for position with several other folks.

Morgan battles (by Steven Woo)

Any concerns about lack of representation were very much put to bed by our showing in the women's race. As has been the case all year, we fielded a huge crowd of moonie women. Representing in the As were Liza Hartlaub and Carrie "Crusher" Edwards. Lauren Haughey flew the flowered flag in the 35+ class, and we brought five women to the Bs, including Caitlin Trahan (fresh off her win last week at Lion of Fairfax), Kathryn Aaker (fresh off the plane from New Zealand), Jenny Oh (fresh off her wedding last week), May Woo (just fresh), and Emily Mclanahan (I seem to have run out of fresh jokes). Somehow I ended up being the only one handing out water at the top of the climb to our riders, and was kept pretty busy.

Moonie women lined up for the start (by Matthew Blain)

Liza flat out crushed it. In her second A race, she made it into the top half of a stacked A field. Sometimes it's hard to believe that Liza's only in her second year of racing cross.
Liza (by Ted Ketai)

Carrie, in contrast, didn't have such a great race, cutting a tire and bowing out with a lap or two to go.
Carrie's race did not end well (by Steven Woo)

We also showed a range of results in the Bs, with Kathryn--who returned from a two-week trip to New Zealand the day before--overcoming a slow start to finish on the podium in fifth place.
B's Women Podium!
Kathryn on the Podium (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

It would be a mistake to believe, though, that she pulled it together through sheer force of will. She had help. And it was tasty!
Mmm... tasty! (by Ted Ketai)

A quick midrace cider break perked her right up, and she overtook two other riders in the last quarter lap to grab her podium position.
Kathryn glides over the barriers (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Caitlin, too, rode a good race, and although she didn't match her success of the week before, she cruised into the top 10, putting on a good show for her dad and sister (who were in attendance) by powering through the sand pit.
Caitlin powers through the sand pit (by Steven Woo)

Jenny is quickly gaining experience and confidence, and supplied the following report:
Today was a truly fun day of racing for me. With each race, I'm becoming more comfortable on dirt and I think this course suited me much more than McLaren and Surf City #1. I think I prefer a soft and loose course rather than a hard, bumpy and dusty one, so after pre-riding the course yesterday I actually felt more confident than I had in the past - which is a huge psychological boost! It's a great feeling to just focus on moving faster and not worrying about whether you're going to crash.

And so no crashes for me and I felt technically comfortable on the course. Lap 1 I felt energized, Lap 2 I was started to wear thin and by Lap 3 I was really feeling the burn. Laps 4 and 5 I started to recover and so this race was definitely a battle of fitness for me rather than the terrain. Hopefully with my training regimen I'll be able to get more oxygen into my system. :) But I'm inching my way up slowly and cracked the top 20!
I Never Thought I'd Be Running With My Bike...
I never thought I'd be running with my bike... (by Shawn Hatfield)

And I appreciate when the leaders / A's women are encouraging and ask us to move out of the way nicely, or cheer us on from behind. One racer said, "Go, go, go, you got it!" when I was negotiating the sketchy gravel section. Super cool. Than there are some women who are wenches and totally mean and practically knock you off the trail. Whatevs.

While I pretty much tune out the world around me and my facial expression looks like I'm giving birth on every lap, Team Beer Jon's comment made me laugh, "My life sucks now too!"

"my facial expression looks like I'm giving birth on every lap" (by Veronika Lenzi)

In addition to taking the lead on organizing the team infrastructure for the day, Emily had a decent race.
Emily (by Jon Suzuki)

May, unfortunately, did not have such a solid race, with a couple crashes and a mechanical. Her bad day didn't show on her face, though, as she fed her reputation as the cheeriest-looking racer around.
Even on a bad day, May's smiling (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Another racer who did not have an ideal race was Lauren, who had a disappointing result in the 35+ women.
Lauren (by Jon Suzuki)

In the Elite men, in what was probably the Moonie performance of the day, Krishna Dole took advantage of a start position better than the last row he had last time, and cranked out a stunning 7th place finish.
Krishna uses his tires' grip (by Jon Suzuki)

As with Liza, it's always surprising to remember that Krishna, too, is only in his second year of racing cross.

Most of the team, at this point, had finished their racing and were deep into their cupsspectating. One crowd posted up at the top of the climb, and handed out encouragement and water when we needed it most. Another big crew took it upon themselves to monitor the action (and the surface) at the sand pit.
It's Not Hard Enough
It's not hard enough! (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Lina, Murphy and crew groom the sand pit (by Veronika Lenzi)

The final race of the day was the Men's Open B/Single Speed B race. As has been the case all year, we fielded quite a few folks in the Open Bs, and two of us in the Single Speed Bs. Before we raced this event, our teammates made a point of getting our hydration handup requests: water or beer? I opted for water, but reserved the right to change my mind should my race go badly.

Uri Friedman--often our B leader--flatted far from the pits, and spent half a lap working on his running fitness.
Uri (by May Woo)

Mike Hartlaub ran his spectacular crash streak to two races, ruining the grooming work Murphy and crew had done. Fortunately, it was caught on video. And even more fortunately, Mike was OK and managed to finish the race.

Jason Ferrier rode a solid race, finishing mid-pack, solidly on the lead lap, even finding time for a beer grab.
Off-Screen Beer Grab
Off-screen beer grab (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

Ryan Henbest and Mat Davidson also followed what seems to be becoming a Moonie B Men tradition, by finishing one right after the other, with Mat, particularly, improving on his rough previous Superprestige race.

Ryan over the barriers (by Veronika Lenzi)

Michigan Mat remounts (by Veronika Lenzi)

Run simultaneously with the B men is the Single Speed B race. The scoring snafus of the McLaren Park race blunted the news a little, but we started this race with 2 racers on the front row, Evan Sarna and myself. Evan was coming off a second place at McLaren park, as well as a win at the previous week's CCCX Single Speed B race at Toro Park.

Sasha gets a good start (by Jon Suzuki)

One minute after the open Bs, our whistle blew. I had a good start, ending up in second slot, with Evan grabbing fourth and snaking the inside line to end up third at the first turn. As we hit the grass chicanes at the top of the course, we ran across the tail end of the open B field. I failed to anticipate that the guy ahead of me would not ride one small rise, and didn't dismount in time. Evan took the opportunity to sneak into the lead, and didn't look back.
Evan (by Ted Ketai)

Now that my teammate was in the lead, I resolved to fight for every place. after the first lap or so, I started to feel the effects of my first race. Over the next few laps, three more guys got by me. The final guy to get by me was Denis, from Peninsula Velo. He never managed to get much gap, and by the second-to-last lap, I closed back to his wheel. For an entire half a lap I tried to figure out a way to go by him, but he did an excellent job of closing the door every time I tried to get by. As we hit the bell for the last lap, the effort started to tell on me, and he built a gap of 8 or 10 seconds back up. By the time we hit the sandpit on the last lap, I was pretty cooked. This time, when I passed the peanut gallery and they offered me a beer, I took it.
why yes, i will have some beer
Why Yes, I will have some beer (by May Woo)

Furthermore, I took it in step.

Whether it was the magic of the beer or what, I do not know, but within a minute, I was right on the tail of my nemesis Denis again. This time, I was resolved not to be denied. At the last turn into the finishing stretch I dove underneath him and sprinted to beat him by a wheel.

It turned out, that much to my surprise I had just snatched away the final podium spot. Evan, meanwhile, had gone ahead and won the race.
Evan! (by Jenny Oh Hatfield)

So we put two moonies on the podium!
Sasha and Evan on SSB podium!
Sasha and Evan on SSB podium! (by Kathryn Aaker)

Overall, it was another great day for the Moon Machine, highlighted by Liza and Krishna's great showings in the As, Evan's win in the SS Bs and some truly epic heckling.
Liza post race (by Jon Suzuki)

krishna & griffin (future cx krusher)
Krishna & Griffin (future cx krusher) (by May Woo)

Thanks to Friends of the Moon team Veronika Lenzi, Steven Woo, and Jon Suzuki for permission to use their photos.