Alan Atwood Cycling Diary
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An interesting week
Boy, has it been an interesting week since I wrote here. Once in a while you get the non-cycling related stuff slapping you in the face, and this week was my turn.
On Tuesday evening I was sitting at home watching TV when all of a sudden the lights dimmed. OK, looked like a brown-out; no big deal. Then my TV started to turn on and off. Not good. Then I saw smoke outside of my house. Really not good. Then the next thing I saw was sparks and more smoke coming out of my cable junction box at the front part of my frontyard. Yikes!! -- so while I'm running like mad unplugging every electrical item I own, I see this 2-foot bolt of electricity shooting out of the ground, from underneath the junction box. Holy @#$%!!!! So by the time I finished unplugging everything the fireworks show was over and I was on the phone to the power company. They had to set me up with the temporary meter box until they could dig up the problem and fix it. And since all the utilities are underground, I do mean dig. And needless to say my main cable line to my house was fried, so I've been without cable (and internet) since Tuesday. Not that may be the norm for most folks who read this website, but I am definitely one of the few that were born with remote controls in their mouth (instead of silver spoons). Me going a night without watching the tube is like drug withdrawl. It's been a week now and I've been caught in the typical beaurocratic struggle between 2 utility companies, each of them saying it's the other's fault. So meanwhile I have 15 volts of electricity in my front lawn and I can't do jack squat about my TV until that's repaired. Figure the power company would want to come fix that....nope. So in the meantime I'm getting lots of sleep (badly needed mind you) and catching up on some old videos I recorded years ago. Guess I'm making the best of it, but god do I hate all this beaurocratic BS....just come fix the damn problem and everything will be just fine.
Meanwhile, in the middle of all this chaos was a trip to Canton, MA and the Canton Cup Cyclocross on Sunday. This is a local NE race that gets a pretty good crowd due to it's proximity to Boston. I had even more reason to go because of the lack of entertainment in my house, but this race I was going to go and take some pictures with my dad's new digital camera (see last week's entry). But with the threat of rain I decided to leave the camera at home and bring the lawn chair. So I spent the morning walking the course backwards to see what it was like; nice loop. Even with the wet conditions it was extremely fast in the first half of the loop with some nice transitions to twisty-turns and mud-slogged run-ups in the second half. A good mix for a cross course. The most amazing section was at the end of the pavement by the lake where the riders were taken up a 2-foot wide single-track section that was muddy and full of leaves. That was scary to watch; the riders had to take a single line into it and if anyone slipped-up; they'd take the rest of the field with them. Reminded me of SuperCup '98 in Ft. Devens with that muddy run-up next to the stairs. Luckily everyone made it up that section and no one kissed the trees; that could have been ugly. So after my 1 lap on foot I went to watch the run-up for a while and hung out at start/finish line with my mug in one hand and a hot dog in the other. Even with the drizzle, not a bad way to spend a day.
A section of this course reminded me about the lost art of running in a cross race. There was a trecherous 180 degree downhill right turn after the run-up that the riders handled in many different ways. But the one constant was the riders who had to either unclip or stop altogether just got back on and grinded their gears back up a small incline to head towards the pits and the finish line. Many people don't realize that there are certain situations where running will be just as fast if not faster than trying to power a high gear through loose grass and/or mud. I see these people just killing themselves trying to turn the cranks and I can't help telling these riders, "run it, don't grind it". I saw several examples where riders did run it in part or entirely and they actually gained ground on their nearest competitors. Man, I needed a video camera to document all this; this would be a great coaching session for newer riders. So to any of you out there that are getting into this great sport, if you find yourself stopped or close to it, don't be afraid to get off your bike and run with it. Sometimes it can be the different between getting a placing and being out of the money.
So next week is the first NECCS race of the season, the Downeast Cyclocross in New Gloucester, Maine. I always enjoy Maine this time of year and this should be no different. I'm definitely taking the camera with me as Sunday's race will give me lots of time to shoot pictures of not only the riders but the scenery. Perhaps if I can figure out how the pictures feature works on this diary, I can put them up next week for all of you to see.
So until next time, I remain your faithful scrivener.
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