Thursday, October 19, 2006

Gloucester - Coach's Report

We’re through the first big travel weekend of the season for the TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar cyclo-cross team. Gloucester, MA is always a great race with great atmosphere and people, and this year was no exception. I think we mostly had a great time, except for Reed who was on one leg most of the weekend, and Nick who got sick.

I have two roles with the team from which to view the trip. First (since it takes most of my time), I’m the assistant team manager. That means being Ben’s assistant for whatever he needs, working out the logistics of every big trip from the time we get on the airplane (or don’t, if you’re named Howes or Stetina) to the time we come back. We’ve got to make sure pickups at the airport go smoothly, we get to housing at a decent time, all the riders are set up to get on the course for their warmup/course inspection at the appropriate times, everyone is set to race…and all the while of course we’ve got to ensure the riders get enough sleep and eat well. When we’ve got anywhere from 6-10 riders plus staff, it can get complicated.

For this trip I think things went pretty well. Thanks to Ben, Brady and the mechanics, really no one is traveling with a bike anymore. That makes airport stuff way easier all around. We also had a much smoother time with the Boston Port Authority police this year, even without Brandon to help us. Everyone’s flight got in on time, we even had the extra space to give Shriver a ride to Gloucester. Ben says it all the time, but in cyclo-cross, while we’re all competitors on the course, helping each other out the rest of the time is kind of the norm.

We had beautiful weather in Gloucester, making it a lot easier to keep our team space in order. We also got to partner with the folks from Clif Bar who had a display in the expo area. We just set up the team space next to them, and act as a second team space for our fellow Clif teams - Clif riders Mark and Jesse, and of course the fabulous Luna Chix Georgia and Katerina. It also gave our riders a chance to staff the Clif booth for periods, and meet lots of the great New England fans who came out to watch the racing at Stage Fort Park.

Thanks to Stu, who drove up from NY to help Ben shop and prepare food, we had good meals for the riders for the whole trip. Stu even made apple crisp on Saturday, which was his birthday! Congratulations on being able to vote now Stu.

My other job with the team is as team coach. This one is a bit more ethereal, I basically view it as trying to always have the riders in position to put forth their best ride on any given day. The results are pretty cool when the team has talented riders like Toast and T-Biz, but as long as everyone is ready, puts out a 100% effort, and gets better in the long run – we’re happy. We’re a development team, and it’s important not to forget that. All that being said, we actually had pretty good results for the first trip of the year – highlighted by Jim’s win Sunday.

While Troy is off racing in the mid-atlantic this weekend, we’re looking forward to the next big team race, USGP rounds 3 & 4 in Longmont & Boulder. It’s actually a “home” race for the whole team being in CO. We’re excited to have all the riders’ families there for the races (Brady’s dad is promoting one of the races!). I’m taking the opportunity to run a power clinic that week up in Brandon’s shop, Boulder Cycle Sport.

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