2008 Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend: The hole shot

Just a few more images and a video snippet from the 2008 Verge Series race #2 (I guess, Saturday's event being race #1) at Catamount on Sunday.

Jittery Joe's rider Chris Jones.

Matt White.

The hole shot: Cyclocross from JG on Vimeo.

The start of the Men's A race with commentary by Richard Fries, who seems to have calmed down quite a bit as an announcer. I can remember him working himself into an orgiastic frenzy (really) at the Rutland Criterium in the Killington Stage Race -- dating myself again.


2008 Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend images

So, I went over to the Catamount Family Center this afternoon to catch some of the cyclocross races. I discovered that this race should have been called the 'Black Fly Cross' because there were swarms of these biting insects present. There are no pictures of the run up in the woods because a) it was dark & hard to take photos & b) the bugs made it really quite unbearable. Out in the open fields there was a fitful breeze blowing which helped keep the bloodsuckers at bay.

Homeboy Jamie Driscoll gets the win in the men's "A" race. A long time ago I helped his mom in the pit at a very frigid edition of the Schoolhouse Cyclocross in Montpelier, Jamie was racing as junior in the "A" race.... Now I'm older and fatter, and he's winning elite races... time goes by, and the cream rises to the top, or something like that.

In the women's race, Amy Dombrowski (leading at the start), another rider with ties to Vermont, led pretty much wire to wire.
Dombrowski again.

Mo Bruno-Roy over the barriers. She finished on the podium and promptly started talking into a microphone about how the pits were misconfigured and on the wrong side of the course... Here's some unsolicited advice: Suck it up, it's cyclocross, riders should take what comes, it's not real classy to get up on a podium and carry on like that.

The men's A field relaxes at the start. My camera (Pentax K100D Super) works fine for static scenes like this... but capturing objects in motion, that's another story. I'd like to try a Nikon or Canon system to see if the autofocus tracks better. Of course, my bad technique may be part of the problem as well.

Dan Timmerman charged off the front of the A race and wasn't caught until the very last lap. The course at Catamount is heavy, slow (there are no paved sections) and relatively hilly and saps a rider's energy over the duration of a race, it's hard for one rider to stay away alone for almost 60 minutes.

Eventual winner Jamie Driscoll leads a group in pursuit of Timmerman early in the race.

And then there were two: Driscoll chased with Chris Jones in the final laps.

Charging to the line as announcer Richard Fries observes.

To the victor goes the post-race interview.

And a gratuitous crash shot from the men's B race. I will be posting some images in my photoblog account later this week from the Mens B, Womens Elite, and Mens A races.


Arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

On March 18, 2008, I wrote (in a post mocking the $600 'stimulus' payment):
"I feel like I am living in Weimar-era Germany or some South American banana republic..."
and that was before the current economic situation blew up. I am beginning to think that the United States is a dead idea and that the current government (both parties, and most definitely including Vermont's congressional delegation) is a self-perpetuating criminal regime.

I felt that something like this was coming -- I always thought that the post-9/11, Iraq war, post-Katrina economy was unnaturally upbeat -- why such happy times? Because the country was mortgaged to the hilt... so I tried to avoid debt and assiduously saved money. But I am far from independently wealthy and now that the crisis is at hand it is very unnerving to peer into the abyss.

Changing subjects, bike racing seems like just a silly diversion in such dark times but the Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend is this Saturday and Sunday.

It looks like turnout will be good -- almost 500 riders are preregistered -- and I will try and be there with my camera for one of the days of racing. There won't be snow on the ground this year but the forecast does call for quite heavy rain on Saturday. Time to get muddy... (more images from this cold, wet 2006 race here).


Mountains, clouds, and crowds: Weekend in the High Peaks

I'm too tired to post much but I did spend the previous weekend in the High Peaks. I am someone who does not enjoy the company of crowds in the wilderness so I chose a bad weekend to be out and about in that part of the world. As I drove past the Giant Mountain trailheads on my way to South Meadows (where there are a handful of legitimate primitive sites for car camping) there were cars everywhere, more than I have ever seen in this area. I was thinking that there was no way that I was going to get a place to sleep but I showed up at a time when most people were out hiking so I was able to get a spot for the night.

I scooted up Mt. Van Hovenberg to try and get some pictures of the sunset over the High Peaks, they came out OK, I wasn't thrilled at the performance of the camera.

Even though I prefer wilder, less crowded and more remote places, I still get some satisfaction from looking at this image and knowing that I am familiar with many of these mountains.

A thrilling 12 second spot featuring the erection of my tent. I did a decent job which was fortuitous as some showers moved through in the night.

With the way the economy is heading, perhaps I'll end up living in my tent.

Sunday was damp and chill. This was the view from Marcy Dam at about 9 am.

....and this was was the view from Phelps Mountain at about 11 am. I was expecting this to be a much easier hike than it turned out to be. When I started I was thinking 'I'll go climb Tabletop as well while I'm here' but I was too tired, sore and demoralized by the drizzle and low clouds to push on to climb another mountain.

The route back to South Meadows. I'm not much into peakbagging (I have climbed 17 of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks so far) but going through the list does give one a set of diverse intineraries to work on and I've been back to places I've enjoyed (like the Dix Range) more than once.


Remote places and wild things

The track starts where I left the trail (near waypoint 001) and waypoint 0BS is where the photo of the bear scat (below) was taken.

It was kind of ironic that I was roaming around the streets of Manhattan on Sept. 10, 2008, because just four days prior to the trip to New York, I went for a long, lonely bushwhack in Ricker Basin, needless to say, I did not encounter any people. I did catch a quick glimpse of a bull moose but they are skittish at this time of year and the animal charged off through the woods after becoming aware of me. It is quite disconcerting that something so big can disappear so quickly but I was way off trail in a very overgrown area and the moose are much better equipped to move through this environment than I am.

I found a small watercourse that had scoured the topsoil away and followed it up into the bowl on the east side of Ricker Mountain. It was kind of like climbing a slide in the Adirondacks but on a much smaller scale.

The seasons are starting to change, the foliage is turning slightly now...

A rotted stump rises from the understory. It's much easier to move through the forest in the winter on snowshoes. Getting down from the high point of this bushwhack was not particularly easy or entertaining and I was wet and sore when I finally emerged from the woods -- showers had moved in, as promised in the forecast. These images are an interesting contrast to the photos I took when backcountry skiing in this area (and here) in the previous winter.

Bear scat -- and fresh and hot. Black bears are usually shy in Vermont so who knows: Perhaps this well fed ursine was watching me from the shelter of a thicket or deep hollow in the woods? It's been reported that it's been a good season for bears in Vermont (unlike humans): Too bad I can't hibernate through coming the winter.

I'm planning on camping at South Meadows (close to Adirondack Loj) in the High Peaks Saturday night... So I hope to get some photos of the sunset over the mountains and to go for a long hike on Sunday.


Please help out: The 'Rose Long' fund

UVM Cycling's Rose Long climbing at the 2008 GMSR.

I met Rose Long at the 2007 Green Mountain Stage Race. We were talking at the post race volunteer's dinner and she was telling me about how she had transferred from Colby College to UVM because she wanted to race bikes...

I didn't really speak to Rose at the 2008 race but I did email her a couple of photos I had taken on Appalachian Gap. Unfortunately the next I heard mention of her was when a local cycling email list reported that she was involved in a truly horrifying accident while riding in Burlington:
Long, who is a member of the UVM cycling team, sustained a broken wrist, a collapsed lung, severe facial lacerations and a broken nose, jaw and pallet for which will have to get reconstructive surgery this week. Long will also need reconstructive dental work to replace a number of teeth that were knocked out in the accident. (As reported in the Burlington Free Press -- the 22 year old man who hit her was driving with a suspended licence -- he left the scene of the accident, a felony.)
Anyway I am very saddened that this accident occured (I used to ride through the intersection where it happened all the time) and certainly wish Rose a full recovery from her injuries. UVM Cycling has set up a website that can accept donations to help cover the costs of her treatment and recovery, not all of which will be covered by insurance. I thought I would post a link here because this site is still getting some GMSR-related traffic: "Support Rose Long".

The coverage of this accident and a related rally downtown in the Free Press has stirred up a hornet's nest of ugly comments on the paper's website about cyclists vs. drivers from characters with screen names like "realvter" & "underground82":
I live many miles away from Burlington but wanted to chime in about this problem becoming huge. It is the mindset of these idiots in their skin tight designer clothes that the automobiles on the road need to look out for them. The only reason that these guys drive their bikes the way they do is for attention. Why else would some one so blatently put themselves in these situations. ... If I never saw another bike it would not bother me.
I won't get into the merits of the bikes vs. cars thing but I am fascinated and appalled that a mainstream media outlet (granted, the Free Press is in decline, who knows how long they will be around, their business model does not work anymore) would turn over part of its online platform to such characters: They are idle -- a small pool of people dominates the discourse -- illiterate, mean-spirited, vicious, 'haters'; to wade through this dreck leaves one with the impression that the inmates have taken over part of the asylum...

Maybe Gannett's strategy is to justify professional journalism produced and edited to a certain standard of quality by allowing this waste stream on their website; but the whole experience of reading the comments is rather sickening: If these are my neighbors it's time to get out of Dodge and I don't wish them well. But this is just a digression: If any readers have made it this far please go over Rose's site and make a small donation... Thanks.


A sad, anachronistic little book

Damn it feels good to be a banker (published, with epically bad timing, earlier this past summer).... Not now it doesn't feel good to be a banker on Wall Street, unfortunately the pain is being spread around (I had dinner tonight with someone who lost their job -- along with 15 others at a local company -- on Friday), and the well-heeled and well-educated will probably come through the cataclysm in better shape than the little guy (like me).

But tonight's headlines on the New York Times site lead with "In Frantic Day, Wall Street Banks Teeter", touché, I'm sick of hearing how the best and the brightest products of the USA's most elite universities aspire to work in this environment, I don't think that it is particularly fruitful, it's just gauche... The origins of the current financial crisis have many roots, but a primary cause (IMO) is the rise of the financial services 'industry', driven by 'quants', finding ever more arcane and complex equations to allegedly mitigate risk.

As it turns out, these bright and mathematically gifted young people were not quite so clever as thought, and now the whole house of cards comes tumbling down with them. I only hope that I'm not caught up too severely in the fallout -- though I have my doubts. And let's not forget that John McCain said that "he just doesn’t understand the economy..."


Flying from New York, 9/11/2008

I (along with my boss) was in Manhattan on Wednesday September 10th for a business meeting, which, as things turned out, was an event with some darkly comic and deeply ironic elements to it, but confidentiality prevents me from disclosing what went on. As we had some time between appointments we ventured downtown to the Ground Zero site, I had never been there in person.

The churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel, looking towards the WTC site.

When I first saw the site -- rebuilding is slow, it's presently just an immense hole in the ground -- I noticed how bustling downtown is (it was a beautiful late summer afternoon in New York) and thought of the point David Chase was allegedly trying to make in the ending of The Sopranos: "Life goes on", even in the face of almost unimaginable tragedy. Given the date, there were some tourists around, and preparations were underway for a ceremony the following day, but most of the people in the area were workers from the financial district going about their daily business.

The inside of the chapel is the closest thing to a 9/11 museum at this time. Some of the relics of the recovery effort are displayed, it is quite moving.

I listened to part of Sarah Pallin's acceptance speech at the Republican Convention, which was full of snide references to 'liberal elites' in big cities and paeans to allegedly virtuous small town America, seeing this banner from Oklahoma, made me angry, not at the banner, but at the sentiments of her speech, terrible ugly things can happen in small towns, and virtue can exist in big cities. "Out of many, one" does not seem to a sentiment that the Republican Party buys into since the era of Karl Rove, or more probably, Richard 'Tricky Dick' Nixon.

Even though "life goes on" -- one still looks back towards downtown and sees blue skies -- very reminiscent of 9/11/01 -- and thinks of how thousands of people died violently there, in what is now empty space. Someone posted pictures from a childhood visit to the WTC towers in 1980 on a blog, I have memories (but no photos) of a similar experience about the same time, I remember it as a warm, humid, very still summer day, there wasn't a breath of air moving, even on the rooftop observation deck.

Flying out of New York on the morning of 9/11 could have been an emotional experience but I was too tired to think about it much -- we were supposed to return on the evening of 9/10, but the flight was cancelled, USAir was not helpful (the 'customer service' agent was positively belligerent) and it was a long, tiring night.


2008 GMSR: And that's a wrap

A last quick post on the 2008 edition of the Green Mountain Stage Race. Since I've been living in Waterbury I feel very much out of the loop of the dynamics of getting this event set up but I keep showing up in Burlington on Labor Day Monday and there's always plenty of glamorous tasks to do (this year, I helped relocate portolets as well as other things). But the event seems to go pretty smoothly -- and it's a good opportunity for me to reconnect with the bike racing crowd and the local cycling community.

Jake Hollenbach convincingly wins the crit: This year, the P12 race stayed together until the end -- which is rare, given the technical, choppy course -- usually a break manages to get away. I know that the race crew was happy that Jake also managed to scoop up the $600 winner-take-all crowd prime. This (obviously) isn't the greatest image but the original is basically a photo of the sunlit road surface and deep black shadows.

Women's stage and overall winner Katheryn Curri Mattis nonchalantly chats with announcer Alan Cote as the category 3 race surges by.


2008 GMSR: More road race images posted

I have lots of images of the race to sort through and a day job but I have posted some images from Sunday's road race finish atop Appalachian Gap in my photoblog account, specifically of the P12 men and Category 3 men.

I like how the road is reflected in this rider's glasses. I will post some more images from the race over the coming weekend, I can see from the traffic logs to this site, that many people are searching online for images and reports about the race.


2008 GMSR: Burlington Criterium (time lapse)

I'll add to this post eventually, but Labor Day was another long but successful day at the Burlington Criterium stage of the 2008 Green Mountain Stage Race. Thanks to all who helped out.

A couple of victory shots from the various races. The Pentax isn't a great sports setup and the combination of bright sunlight and deep shadow made getting good images difficult.

Katheryn Curi Mattis raises her arms as announcer Alan Cote tells the women racers "Keep going keep going one lap to go ...." The confusion eventually did get figured out and the pictured result did stand. I was in a great position to capture Jake Hollenbach's emphatic victory in the P12 race but all that came out of the camera were the deep black shadows under the Flynn Theater marquee.

The P12 men await instructions at the start.

Gary Kessler gives an interview to WCAX television.

This is how I made the following time lapse clip, starting at about 6:45 am and going at it sporadically all day long.

2008 GMSR: Burlington Criterium, time lapse from JG on Vimeo.