New Season, New Colors

And just like the leaves, so do the kit colors of NECX change in the fall…

The weather gods blessed us with a proper mudder to debut (and break in) our New England themed kits, custom made by Velocio.


Velocio is a New England based company that designs clothing for New England weather. Cyclocross is a sport that subjects us all to the most extreme of New England weather. Perfect pair if you ask me.

When Andrew reached out to us about working together for cyclocross we jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been a shameless “pee bib” enthusiast for years now. But seriously, ask me how life changing it is to be able to pee on a ride without taking your jersey or jacket off.

And you may have noticed that their bib model looks an awful lot like Leslie (OK it IS Leslie).

Needless to say, we were STOKED at the chance to work with the Velocio team.


And of course, as some things change, others stay the same. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about Team Averica and why our kits changed. I know everyone loves a story, and this is a nice one. Our deal with Averica was for three years, and 2017-2018 was the third year. Over the course of our time with Averica, the company was sold and we knew the contract wouldn’t renew. Jeff, Averica’s founder, has been and continues to be a phenomenal supporter of us as individuals, of our team, and of the sport. Lydia and Julie are taking the fall race season off to enjoy life with uncommitted weekends. We’re all still great friends and supporters of each others’ goals. And of course there’s #Gary. #Gary is still with Leslie and I, taking better care of us than we deserve or could ever imagine.

Vittoria, Feedback, and Bell/Giro are still with us too, for which we are tremendously grateful. There’s really no way to express how exciting it is to work creatively with the people who produce the best equipment there is.

And last, but most definitely not least, with this team we also get the opportunity to work with some of the finest, and fastest men in New England too. More to come on that!

Bike Racing Enron Math

Yea yea, I get that I’m showing my age with an Enron reference. The adults will get it, the whippersnappers should google it (or read The Smartest Guys in the Room for homework).

As an adult who works in the investment industry, I’m casually interested in how those around me approach saving and investing. No need to pry into personal business, but it makes for interesting conversation to ask. Maybe don’t ask strangers though. In any event, two things stand out to me from these conversations: 1) It’s healthy to talk about these things with other people; and 2) A surprising (to me) number of people keep their entire savings in a cash account. That latter part makes sense – “investing” is abstract and overwhelming.

The sum of these conversations has me thinking I’ll share how I’ve approached a small part of this equation. I’ve taken an Enron-math approach to bike racing money.

I’ll explain, but let’s get a few disclaimers out of the way:

  • I’m not a financial advisor in any sense of the word. Despite working broadly in “investments,” my job in no way includes making investment recommendations
  • I recognize that there’s some privilege in my approach, but I think the concept is useful

Bike racing is an inherently cash flow negative sport. Unless, of course, you’re an actual pro, in which case you can skip the Enron math and jump to the conclusion. Saving for the future is hard, especially if you’re not generating a ton of cash flow. These two concepts are naturally at odds. My personal solution: pay for bike races from my checking account (ouch), and if I generate prize money because me or my teammates are fast, deposit it into an investment account. No self-payback for the reg fee. In a sense, it’s a double loss – checking account debit and “spending” the payback money somewhere else. At the same time, if it’s do-able, small amounts invested over time add up to useful future money. It’s also a really good way to start increasing investment literacy through personal investment (find me someone who doesn’t feel emotional about losing money, I dare you) without risking your entire future.

This is where it gets fun. Where to invest these tens of dollars of winnings? Let’s go with an easy option and a hard option:

Easy option: Robo-advisor. Cheap robot computer portfolio optimization. Low-cost passive index funds, invested according to your risk tolerance (questionnaire-based). Some of them, like Ellevest, have good newsletters to that help frame thinking about investing. I use Betterment, personally, but there are many options and they’re largely interchangeable.

Hard option: Open a brokerage account, deposit money there, select individual equities to invest in. Unless you’re winning tons of prize money, Robinhood is probably your best choice here – free! Buying shares in companies you like is a good way to get yourself to follow markets and better understand what it actually means to buy stock. Of course, buying shares in companies you like isn’t always a great investment strategy (see: GoPro), but this is the risky option after all. Robinhood will let you blow it all on Bitcoin too, if that’s your thing.

My $0.02: for most people, parking money in a robo-advised account is a smart and cheap way to make sure your money is doing more for you than sitting in cash. Let’s pretend you make $200 in prize money this year. Let’s pretend your imaginary robo-account returns 5% a year on average. Simple math means that $200 is $250 in five years. Like I said, simple returns, Enron math.

TL;DR: Don’t leave all your money in cash all the time, cost of living increases will make you poorer and good savings account rates are a thing the current generation hasn’t experienced.

***We could argue in the comments about these simplistic assumptions and active vs passive and all those fun things, but let’s just not and accept that this is my personal approach and I thought some others might find it valuable


What’s up with those knob bottles?!

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen me post a bunch of pictures of these water bottles (“bidons”, if you prefer):


You may even recognize that image from your stock collection of iPhone emojis. Apple calls the image “knobs”, but if you’ve been around the New England crit scene you may know it to represent “dialed”.

My own experience with the term dates back… well, for as long as I’ve been part of the B2C2 crew. Rumor has it, the provenance dates to the White Plains criterium some years ago. History aside, it’s come to mean, well, DIALED. Like, when you’re dialed in.

I thought it about time this critical image of NE crit racing get memorialized onto merch that will last long beyond the lifetime of this particular emoji. So here we are. Four colors of bottles and a frame sticker to match.

Right now I have a couple dozen of each color. There’s a fancy webstore set up here: STORE. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Never to be ordered again.

Now that my own offseason is over, I’m stoked to get DIALED too.


An open letter to my fellow New England Bicycle Racing constituents:

The NEBRA Board election is just around the corner (January 29, to be exact) and I’d like to take the opportunity to further clarify why I’m seeking a space on the Board, and what I’d like to accomplish if I get there.

You’ll notice I said “fellow constituents” and not “fellow racers.” The NEBRA constituency is not purely racers, nor is it purely promoters. Certainly it includes both categories, as well as officials, youth development teams, clubs, recreational riders, the fondo community, and I’d argue the bike shops too. It feels like we’re at a critical inflection point within the sport, with well-loved events either going away or struggling financially, racer numbers declining, and challenging ongoing dialogue about how to balance competing interests. I’d like to see us as a community to approach these issues openly, and with all stakeholders given the opportunity to voice their specific concerns. I’m a racer, for sure, but racers would waste away, wandering lonely souls, without promoters to offer race opportunities, officials to officiate, and so on.

I’d argue that promoters and racers have the same interests in mind, broadly speaking. We all want high-quality, well-attended and safe events in New England. Racers and promoters are aligned in wanting a financially sustainable sport. We may each individually have different perspectives on how best to both preserve and build upon the current foundation, and I’d like to be part of the dialogue on how best to move forward.

You may have already seen my posted candidate statement here. I’d like to also highlight a couple more specific priorities I’d like to pursue as part of the Board.

  1. Expand the NEBRA governance structure. I have tremendous respect for all of the current board members, their dedication to our sport, and their willingness to dedicate personal time and energy to NEBRA. They are all hard-working people, in the bike world and outside of it. A small team of generalists are limited in how much time can be dedicated to any one project. I believe that moving toward an expanded model and/or subcommittee structure with specific delegated responsibilities would offer more focused effort on individual projects for the same amount of time committed. Our peers in the mid-Atlantic have embraced this model:null
  2. Greater transparency. Using myself as a gauge here: my first instinct to the above model was ‘No, Erin, I’m not willing to do the work and not have a voice at the Board level.’ I think that’s really valid, and truthfully it’s impacted my own willingness to engage. I also think transparency addresses the problem of community members not understanding all of what NEBRA does. I don’t think anybody doubts that NEBRA is working hard behind the scenes to facilitate a healthy racing scene; at the same time, I’ve heard commentary from people not understanding exactly what that means. Our peers at both MABRA and NYSBRA post all Board meeting minutes on their websites here and here, respectively. The first, and simplest step would be for NEBRA to mirror this transparency by posting Board Meeting minutes. The secondary step would be to invite all the delegates to speak directly about their areas of focus. I have discussed the Mid-Atlantic model with a member of their Board directly, and would be happy to update on what I’ve learned both publicly and off-line to the NEBRA Board.
  3. Increased communication. I would never suggest that Twitter is the optimal communication mechanism for anyone, despite being an active Tweeterer. However, I do believe that public discourse is both positive and essential for the health and growth of our sport. I think it’s important for all of us to be able to speak out about challenges we’re facing within the bike world. I concede that there’s a fine line between public discourse and public aggression, but that’s a separate issue. That said, I’d argue that taking all discussion offline about challenging issues lends to a few problems: First, I think it makes people feel like they’re getting excluded from a conversation that impacts them. Second, it leads to having the same conversations over and over, year-to-year, person-to-person. It’s inefficient. Where the prior generation had the Yahoo group (RIP), I’d like to see this generation have the Slack channel. Something like a Slack channel balances public/private, as seeing discussion is exclusive to community members, but allows anyone with an interest to voice an opinion. And it’s more organized than Twitter. More direct conversation (civil, of course) is, I’d argue, a good thing. And for those who aren’t interested, it’s simple not to opt-in!

It’s possible you disagree with some of the public stances I’ve taken re: women’s racing particularly. I think that’s okay. I’d like to believe that there’s room for healthy disagreement without the need for things to become personal. I also strongly believe that people of all opinions should be given the floor, so long as they are open to considering the alternative point(s) of view. That aside, the beauty of a diverse board is that no individual view can claim too much power due to distributed voting (NEBRA Blockchain??). What I’m saying is: I’d like you to consider my candidacy based on what I’m laying out as priorities. It would be a great honor to be given the opportunity to work more directly as part of NEBRA to address the current and future needs of our bike community.


Erin Faccone

TL;DR Please vote for me

Coffee Kit Updates!

Maybe you’ve seen our original post about the kit here: Coffee Kit Launch!

We’ve been getting great traction on the coffee kits. I am SO excited and can’t wait to see them out in the wild. Poor Castelli will have to deal with my million check-ins. “Is it ready yet?” “How about now?” “PLEASE?” The good news is that they turn things around pretty quickly.

We’ve also gotten some questions. Here are some answers:

  1. Design: You may have noticed that the for sale design is slightly different than the versions the team is wearing. The team ordered “training” fit jerseys, then voted that we liked the “team” cut jerseys better. Thus, the for-sale version is Castelli’s Podio Jersey, with the coffee print wrapped around the sides instead of the grey panels on the team kits. The long-sleeved jersey is almost identical to the ones we’ve been wearing, but with long sleeves.
  2. Fit: The Podio design is new this year, so we haven’t worn them yet. That said, Castelli generally runs a bit smaller than other brands. I’d say the jerseys are true to size, but fit snug, and the bibs made me question if I got fat but I like my shorts compressive. I wear small bibs and small jerseys. If you know the rest of us, Leslie wears small bibs and jerseys, Julie wears extra small bibs and jerseys, and Lydia wears small bibs, extra small jerseys.
  3. Payment: Folks have been asking about the Castelli store, which requires a login. We promise not to spam you, but totally understand that some people would prefer not to create a login. So, ta-da, I made Paypal checkout options below. If you’re not in New England, please add a few extra bucks for shipping. Prices reflect tax.

USEFUL INFO: Here’s a link to the Castelli Custom site, which tells you all about the Podio jersey, and you can click around to see specs on all the other items. There’s also a handy dandy size chart.

Long Sleeved Coffee Jersey



Coffee Bibs



Coffee Jersey!



Here are some more excellent live photos shot by Daghan Perker.




Behind the scenes #pro team stuff

Shhh nobody tell Cannondale I took pictures of their secret pro tool.

Okay really though it was Gary who noticed and pointed it out. If I wasn’t allowed to photograph and post about this, blame him.

At Charm City Cross we landed a sweet tent spot in the #prozone next to the Cannondale Cyclocrossworld team. This is a cool spot because you basically get to watch a parade of mechanics wash what seems like one million bicycles, roughly every five minutes for an entire day.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, right? Gary noticed they had a stand able to hold a complete bike for washing, with a plastic arm to grab the chain- and seat-stays so that the bike doesn’t move.


The regular Feedback sprint stand isn’t long enough for a complete bike, regardless of rear end attachment mechanism, so it’s clear they’ve started with a custom extra-long tray. The rear-end vertical piece looks to be a truing stand bolted into the tray, with some kind of fashioned plastic bit to hold the bike. I didn’t creepily photograph the mechanics washing the bikes, but I did find an action shot on the internets. 

Look, the bike stays upright, without moving, in this jig while the mechanic powerwashes it! My further creeping estimates that the Cannondale operation is responsible for ~20-40 race bikes on a given weekend. Assuming they’re washed after practice laps, before, and after races, we’re probably talking about 4-5 washes/day per A bike, plus a few more for B (or C,D,E bikes as the case may be) bikes.

The unmodified sprint stand has a fork mount, so the bike goes on with only a rear wheel. Let’s suppose it takes 20 seconds to unscrew a thru axle and remove the front wheel, and another 10 to secure the wheel-off bike in the stand. The custom mod saves ~30 seconds/bike/wash, plus the immeasurable potential annoyance of straightening rotors because the front wheel tipped over while it was off the bike (this can’t only happen to me). Rough math, 25 bikes washed 4x/day at 30 seconds per… that’s 50 minutes of savings just from keeping the front wheel on.

Naturally Gary saw this and wanted one. My poking around tells me there’s no way to get the extra long tray stand. SORRY Gary. But really, something like this would have an even higher per-bike time savings for a team like ours. Gary’s responsible for eight bikes every weekend. Seven of them are thru-axle, one of them is quick release. He has two of these stands from his #pro days with Astellas, so he cannibalized one stand to put an additional fork mount on the second. This way he doesn’t have to change end-caps to wash the QR bike. Even with that added efficiency, he’s still down 30 seconds/bike wash. Assuming he washes our bikes at the same rate – 4 bikes washed 4x/day costs 8 minutes, plus the pit bikes which we’ll estimate at 4 bikes washed 2x/day – another 4 minutes.

Despite our best attempts at cloning or CRISPR-ing (hi Leslie, I made a science reference!), Gary is still only one mechanic responsible for four riders. Time savings and efficiency become exponentially more valuable as the rider:mechanic ratio goes up. Gary has to think about washing each bike, running through the gears, getting pit bikes and wheels to the pit, and us to the start line before every race. A tool like this has tangible value. Here’s hoping it comes available to the rest of the world someday.

Small Bikes for Small People

Hi! In case you don’t know me in real life, I am a small person. I measure a whopping 62.5 inches tall (no idea what this is in metric), with a 26-27 inch inseam. If you also suffer from below-average height, you may relate to what I’m going to say next.

It can be really hard to find a small bike that fits and handles well. The historical norm was for bike manufacturers to design to an average-sized frame (like a 54!), then shrink and expand the mold to offer a full size run. This would often lead to what I’d call “externalities” in the extreme frame sizes. Bikes would have weird cable routing due to short headtubes and incompatibly placed frame grommets. Toe overlap would be extreme (though I’ll address up-front that it’s almost impossible to eliminate toe overlap entirely).

Certainly for part of the population, “women’s specific” designs have alleviated some issues. For me personally, being a woman with short legs and a long torso (relatively speaking, of course), I don’t fit the prescribed proportions for the adjustments in women’s specific frames. But more importantly, women’s specific designs are more commonly a road-frame thing, not so much a cyclocross frame thing.

To give credit where credit is due, most bicycle manufacturers are making extra small sized frames at this point. Gone are the days of having only two or three reasonable cx bike options. This is my seventh year racing cyclocross and over that time I’ve ridden:

  1. 2011 Specialized Crux Aluminum – 46cm frame
  2. 2013 Bianchi Zurigo – 49cm frame
  3. 2013 Focus Mares AX 1.0 – 48cm frame
  4. 2015 Focus Mares CX 2.0 – 48cm frame
  5. 2016 Specialized Crux Elite – 46cm frame
  6. 2018 Felt F4x – 47cm frame

There are some patterns here, of course. I liked my first crux so much I went back to cruxes two years ago. Specialized has always done a good job designing bikes for the entire population, and the crux is a good aggressive cross bike. Focus made a big jump in geometry between the 2013 and 2015 model years I rode. I enjoyed the geometry of the 2015 Mares and it was a light bike, but it wasn’t made to handle the beating I put my bikes through and I broke it. This year’s bike selection started with talking to my friends at JRA Cycles about which cyclocross bikes they carried and then which frames came small enough for me. Teammate and general rad human Mike Wissell recommended Felt, and I pulled up the handy frame comparison machine.

Note that I’ve used my road bike as a comparison, rather than one of my prior cross bikes. This is because I made significant changes to my fit this spring – I finally found a saddle that allows better forward pelvic tilt, and I moved from 170mm to 165mm cranks. If you’re interested in the relative differences between cyclocross frames, the geometries of the Felt, Crux, and Mares are here.

bike-comparator 2

bike-comparatorThe Felt (Green) is a bit longer than my road bike, but otherwise offered a spot on fit transfer. Note the handlebars – the Felt frame is a bit longer (as they are known for being), but with a 1cm shorter stem than stock I could get my hoods in the exact same position as my road bike.

I highly encourage this exercise for anyone who has trouble translating frame geometry charts into perceptive differences between bikes. This was enough for me, personally, to commit to the bike. I selected the frame that, for me, offers the best spec to price point ratio – the F4x. Now that I’ve had the bike for a few weeks, with a few races under my belt, here are some notes.

  1. The geometry is on the longer/lower side. There are two headset caps included in the box – the stock one is a taller stack, but there’s also a low stack option. This lets me actually have some amount of saddle-to-bar drop on a cx bike for the first time. By shortening the stem, I was able to replicate my fit without slamming the saddle forward. I can weight the bars for traction in turns, but overall have a balanced position. This is useful for not going over the handlebars, as I am prone to do.
  2. I changed out the bars for Zipp SC SL ones. The stock bars are stated 40cm, but felt a bit wide for me, so I opted for light and narrow ones – this is purely a personal preference thing.
  3. Once I swapped the stock 90mm stem for a 80mm stem, my fit almost perfectly replicated my road fit. This allowed for a really smooth transition from road to cross bike from a physical standpoint.
  4. I changed the stock 40t single chainring to a 38t single ring. I personally find the 40 harder to get on top of, and rarely run out of gears with the 38. I kept the stock 11/32 in the rear.

Once I got my fit dialed, Gary shortened all the cables to fit my low bars/small frame combo and everything is tight. There are no odd cable routing issues to speak of. I actually have quite a bit of saddle height adjustability. I run a saddle height of 620-625mm. This is… a very small number. I’m typically stuck with very little seatpost showing and very little standover. I was pleased to discover that this particular frame has a short seat tube (it is a 47cm frame, after all), which allows for both seatpost adjustability and also standover.


Which is all to say, it’s hard to find great bikes for small people. I’m really pleased with this one. Bonus – the bike can take a beating. I’ve already crashed it hard a few times and each time it’s gone right back to duty with no issues beyond a replaced derailleur hanger (knock on wood).

Nutmeg Games: Fool Me Twice

Before I get started on what happened yesterday, let’s take a step back a year. Last year, for the CT State games, promoter Rick Comshaw posted what I felt was an unfair and inequitable race flyer. The Women’s elite field was offered a percentage of rider registrations as payout for a State Championship race. For the sake of brevity, let’s assume you already understand the reasons that approach unfairly penalizes already smaller minority populations and offers a disincentive to race. I wasn’t alone in my outrage.

There were mixed approaches to the situation last year, with some of the men trying to organize a boycott in solidarity with the women, some people reaching out to the promoter directly, and some reaching out to NEBRA, our local governing body. It had an impact, with the men’s elite field size taking a hit in numbers.


Some of our peers in the elite women’s field showed force by showing up and racing hard, to prove something that shouldn’t have to be proven at this point: that women’s racing is compelling, competitive, and deserving. Unfortunately, they left disappointed.

So let’s jump to this year. NEBRA held a line that they wouldn’t permit the CT State Championships to a race with unequal elite men/women payouts. We got a flyer for the Nutmeg Games that appeared equitable. I was skeptical, but part of the thing about being an outspoken loudmouth demanding change, is that you kind of have to back it up with a willingness to support change when it happens. This includes rallying my fellow outspoken peers. Positive changes should be positively reinforced, right?


On Friday I noticed that not many people were registered for the race, which I was bummed about because I like racing and big fields are fun.

The 5pm start time on a Sunday near Hartford was definitely sub-optimal, but I figured we’d get a few last minute additions. Knowing we had the NEBRA permit-stand going into this race, it hadn’t occurred to me that there would be any outcome other than whoever showed up racing hard and being paid out as per the flyer.

In the car on the way down my inner skeptic started speaking up. The radar was showing rain and I wasn’t so sure anymore that we’d get many day-of registrations. I bet Leslie one fancy-coffee drink that we’d get to the race and Comshaw would cut the prize list. She took the other side, believing that promoters must hold to what’s on the flyer.

We picked up numbers, got pinned, hid out from the rain, made small talk with our fellow racers, and ultimately lined up at the start. By this point it had started raining and the forecast only called for more rain. At the line, the promoter and an official asked us what our preference was for race time. The flyer stated we’d have a 60 minute race, and we stated that we’d all be happy to race 60 minutes, unless the weather conditions became unsafe. We were repeatedly asked if we would be willing to do 20-30 minutes because of the rain. We declined. We were pushed to agree to 45 minutes, which we agreed to only if the weather became too unsafe to continue racing.

After we declined to agree to a shortened race, we were met with a “ha, you know you’re racing for medals only, right? not money!” from the promoter. On the start line. Honestly, I think we were all too stunned to react. There were some groans, some WHAT?!s, and a brief discussion of whether to just walk away. He followed up with, “it’s in the flyer! Minimum of 30 racers!”

Quick, get your magnifying glasses, I think this is what we’re relying upon:

2017 Nutmeg Crit Flyer - FINAL

“Minimum field f is 15”.  Of course, I couldn’t see this until after the race, when I was out of the pouring rain and could inspect the flyer more closely.

Ultimately, I decided to race, and I did so for a couple reasons.

  1. It was a state championship race for the 4/8 racers that were from CT. It wouldn’t be fair to them to walk away and make an already small field smaller. It wouldn’t be fair to any of my peers who wanted to race.
  2. It was 5pm on a Sunday night and I still needed to do a workout, which I was unlikely to do if I left that venue.
  3. I paid $40 US Dollars to participate in this event.
  4. Field size is not a proxy for competiveness
  5. Field size is not a proxy for competiveness
  6. Field size is not a proxy for competiveness

The field was small by numbers, but loaded with talent. We made a good race of it. But that’s not the point here. What the promoter did was disgraceful. It’s a poor representation of the Nutmeg Games, who fund this event. It’s clearly in defiance of an agreement with NEBRA, and NEBRA was quick to reply:


More than anything, it put us in an impossible situation. It feels like “fool me twice” for me, believing that there could be a different outcome this year and showing up to be proved wrong. It undermines my trust that there’s actually any governing-body power to stop this kind of inequality. I’m not clear if that’s an acceptable line in a flyer, if it’s binding, or if it’s the version NEBRA approved. I’d argue that even if it is valid, there’s a burden on the promoter to make this known to racers in advance. Promoters have the ability to message all riders through BikeReg, where we all dutifully submitted our $40 to race. I’d argue that it’s disingenuous at best to accept our money fully knowing there was no intention to pay out the prize list. At worst, it’s fraud.

In a show of grand generosity, the promoter did say he’d still pay out the primes he’d planned for the race. There were two primes, each for $10. Yes, you read that right, $10. Leslie won them both. She used her $20 to buy me dinner, actually. Take a second and look back at that flyer for me – see something notable? A minimum of three (3) $100 primes for the men’s elite race.

So where do we go from here? Well, I’m going to write a letter to the Nutmeg State Games directly. I’d love if you would be willing to do the same. Tell them that it’s disheartening to see them supporting a promoter that doesn’t believe in equity, and who thinks changing the rules on the start line is an acceptable way to run a race. Tell them that CT deserves better for their state championship, and that there are other deserving races in the state and other promoters who take an active stand. I’ve already been in touch with NEBRA. And here’s where it gets tricky: men, I’m going to ask you to take a stand. Situations like this can persist indefinitely as long as there are powerful people standing by to allow it. And men, particularly elite men, you are the empowered group. Unfortunately, saying nothing here IS saying something. I know we all want to race, and we want racing to be a relief from an outside world that seems to be raining politics on us full-time. That’s exactly why we need bike racing to remain a safe space for all of us, and a refuge from the injustice everywhere else. Men, we need you to take a stand against races like this, and against Rick Comshaw personally. Men, particularly prominent elite men, refusing to participate sends a message that this matters.

Thank you for hearing me.


UPDATE: After communications with NEBRA, the Nutmeg State Games are stepping in to reverse Sunday’s decision and pay out both the Women’s elite and Men’s 30+ fields in accordance with the posted flyer. The official statement is here.

I appreciate the quick response from the Nutmeg Games. Personally, I’m going to donate my winnings to NEBRA. They do great work for us here in New England and work tirelessly to improve our racing community. They also provide resources, financial and otherwise, to promoters and racers. It’s my most sincere hope that we will not all be in this position again, that the race in New Britain returns in the future, and that we can all race there and have a good time.

Trans-Sylvania Epic! So epic mannnnnnn

Listen, I KNOW “epic” is so played out as a descriptor. Like, epically played out. The word is practically retired from our lexicon. BUT REALLY, TSE is epic AF. In my mind it was going to be 3-4 hours of mountain biking a day with some hangouts in between and lots of burritos and everything would be ultra rad, no big deal. I was like 25% right. Let me attempt to tell you about it in a number of words that will hopefully not add up to “epic” length.

As background, it’s worth noting that I ended up at this wild event on a one-way TSE hype train driven by conductor Mike Wissell (choo choo!). If you’re unfamiliar with Mike’s um, fondness, for this event, start here.

The race this year was five stages, down from the historical seven. Some of the stages were similar to years past, some stuff was new. That’s what they told me, anyway. It was all new to me. There are probably a hundred people on the old internets that have already described the stages in detail, so here’s the TL;DR version:

  1. Stage 1: “The road stage”. Probably 50% dirt road/paved. Fast.
  2. Stage 2: Tussey! Beautiful exposed riding, ultra fun trails. Many rocks. Wrestling the bicycle for hours!
  4. Stage 4: RB Winter. Pouring rain. Cyclocross practice! Note: don’t play gas tank chicken in the middle of nowhere.
  5. Stage 5: Get dropped off 20 miles away and ride back to camp. Start with an hour climb. End with a long climb. Wonder if you’re in one of those endless stair paintings as you crack from 20 hours of riding in five days.

I obtained a GoPro to document this adventure, but I’ll go ahead and spoil the surprise. It wasn’t on for my one epic crash of the week. I’m sorry. But I did get this really critical footage of NECX favorite and ultimate ray of sunshine Vicki helping me with a bike wash. I earned a coveted title at TSE – somehow I managed to be the actual muddiest person on course every day. Shocking I’m sure.

Also the time I aggressively rode the wheel of a stranger downhill (because he refused to let me enter the enduro section first). He finally let me pass and then followed me directly into the bushes when the trail turned and I did not. Oops.

Moving on…

On day 1 I hit the first trail section with all the enthusiasm of a person who doesn’t understand stage racing and thought I’d “make up spots” by “pedaling as hard as I could” over “rocks”. Obviously I flatted spectacularly after I smashed my rim into a boulder. Stans shot out of the tire. It was spectacular.. And then I blew a CO2 trying to fix it. So I waited for friends. First Vicki stopped for me. Then Alex. It held enough air to slow-pedal to the rest-stop where the fine Stan’s folks sealed me up and I was on my way. In my mind I lost approximately three hours in this endeavor and all hopes of reasonable performance were gone. In reality it was probably like 15 minutes. And way less than Ian, who exploded his fork and freehub yet somehow finished with a positive attitude.

Day 2 I was all “I’m going to get some time back!”. Which I was TOTALLY DOING when I pinned it on one of the enduro segments, right up until the trail took a sharp turn over some rocks and I promptly ejected into a mud bog. I did have an awesome interaction with Mr. Dirtwire himself up on Tussey Ridge, where he somehow made my inability to negotiate the rattlesnake pit of a trail actually fun. There’s even video of it here.

Enduro day is the crown jewel of the event, if you ask me. I was super stoked to share on-bike footage of the segments, but did you know that on-board cameras do a really crappy job of showing how EPIC the descents are? They do a really crappy job. EPICALLY crappy, amirite?? Note: this blog is actually only possible because Mike and Selene warned me a million times that Wildcat is genuinely hard and not to go full huccone on the way into the rocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave enough time before starting the segment and caught someone in the super steep chute before the rock section of death. The result is a weird stop/start video that culminates with a H-I-I-I-I-I-I T-H-O-M-M-M-M-M as I praised my dropper post and momentum for facilitating my survival. Wildcat was the last warmup for the final enduro segment, a long descent over a dagger field of rocks with completely shot arms. All I could think was how much it would hurt to crash, but my arms were too tired to brake. 10/10 would recommend as a mechanism for learning how to descend faster: I actually made up some time on enduro day.

Stages 4 and 5 were cool too. There was pizza at the end of stage 4! And I almost ran out of gas in the middle of actual nowhere. Literal gas. Like, for my car. We passed a half-dozen buggies with Amish kids in hats and I thought I’d have to ask one of them for a gas can. They should really warn us city-folk about how there can’t be a gas station on every corner, because there aren’t even corners in the country. And there are no gas stations in the middle of corn fields.

Every insane climb in the last two stages made me question what series of bad decisions brought me to the race. I was a shattered cracked shell of a human by day 5, saved only by riding with great humans and a copious amount of coke and pb&j at the rest stops. By the way, the rest stops. The humans who volunteered their time to feed shattered bike racers in the pouring rain deserve praise beyond anything I could provide. Now that some time has passed, all those negative feelings about climbing, rocks, and EPICNESS had faded and all that remains is my advance ticket to next year’s hype train.

Damn. I’ve reached “epic” post length and haven’t hit the most important part yet. Rimmey. The best part of the race was staying in this big boy scout cabin with a dozen bunk beds populated by some of the raddest humans I’ve had the luxury of spending time with. I was saved by their knowledge and advice at least once on every stage, and they were the biggest part of what makes this such a great event. It really is a summer camp vibe. We really dropped the ball on not making friendship bracelets. The promoters pour so much into this event too. They make it feel like they’re sharing their favorite trails with you and they really want you to experience the best of what their local trails offer. Their excitement shows through in so many ways.

Lastly, thanks to Thom for capturing all my last-day feels in this muddy wideo. I think. I was cracked. And I don’t like watching myself on video.

That was at least 500 words more than race report need ever be, and yet I haven’t even scratched the surface on this event. Until next time.


  • TSE is actually epic
  • The people make this race amazing
  • There are a lot of rocks
  • I still don’t know how to ride rocks
  • My heart is full but my legs are empty


I owe Colin Reuter two coffees and also have some feelings

…and just like that, Nationals is over. USAC and the Biltmore really did a great job with the event this year – the course was fantastic, we were blessed with rain, Asheville is a rad city, and the elite races had by-far the biggest crowds I’ve seen in American cyclocross. But, as climactic as Nats is, with it comes the bittersweet reality that the season is over. Months of training and racing summed up by one forty-five minute race. Certainly half the point here is to get to the prediction-postmortem wherein I owe resultsboy two coffees, but first let me talk about some feelings.

My race Sunday did not go as I hoped it would. Last year I was blessed with several tailwinds that blew me to my best ever elite finish. This year my race was over within two minutes, after getting hit from behind on the pavement and crashing ultra hard. Note: pavement is much less forgiving than dirt.

Race result aside, it was an incredible weekend. Jeff Kiplinger, founder of Averica, flew down to watch us in action. If you missed his three-part blog this week about the return on Averica’s investment in our team, please go back and read it here. We are so lucky to work with Jeff and Olga at Averica, but the relationship is so much more than that. They have become part of our racing family, they’ve become friends, and we feel so supported by them. Teammate Julie and I were lucky enough to spend all week in Asheville after racing in Tennessee last week. And we owe so much to mechanic and man-of-the-year Gary for driving our bikes to and from NC, fixing everything I broke, and living in a house full of women for a week. My sister Rosie and her boyfriend Taylor loved pitting in Austin so much that they couldn’t wait to come to a second championship event. My sister Laura spent all week with us, hanging out, cooking food, and making this rad-tastic sign. My lady Julie, and teammate-Julie’s husband Drew flew down to support us in the million ways partners do. The cheers from so many NECX’ers and other cx-friends stood out from the crowd at every turn of the course. It was unreal.

So when I hit the pavement, full speed and with a crunch, I did what any reasonable person would do considering the above. I got the F back up. It took a minute, and I couldn’t pedal hard, but the only thing weaker than my pedaling would’ve been bailing on the ability to ride that course, with those people, on that day. And then I cried, because that wasn’t how I wanted the season to end, or the show I wanted to put on for friends and family. But such is the cruelty of sport.

The good news is, other people raced REALLY WELL and totally destroyed our predictions. Airport wifi meant I could watch the replay and see so many friends ride like total bosses. NECX crusher-of-road-dreams-2015 GoFahr stomped to a 6th place finish! Wuuuuuut! KFC defended in her biggest challenge yet. Georgia Freaking Gould said “LOL RACE PREDICTOR” and stomped to 2nd after announcing all the masters women’s races on Thursday. What a dreamboat of a human. Antonneau rode in no-mans-land for 3rd all day, reminding everyone that she is the heir-apparent. And the return of Elle Anderson – proved me super wrong and stomped to 4th and a return-trip to worlds. Race predictor postmortem:

Erin’s Picks

  1. KFC
  2. Antonneau
  3. Amanda Miller
  4. Crystal Anthony
  5. Georgia Gould

Actual Results

  1. KFC
  2. Georgia Gould
  3. Kaitie Antonneau
  4. Elle Anderson
  5. Rachel Lloyd

The men: to be fair I admitted I know a lot less about the men. I know now that I owe Colin two cups of coffee: one because he bet on Travis Livermon in the top 5 and I said he was crazy.

coffee bet

Travis finished 8th, and Zach McDonald finished 19th. Colin and his “data” were right.

I stand behind the ZMD pick because DID YOU SEE THIS VIDEO??

And oh yea, Powers defended, as champions do. Logan Owen stood on a podium in his first Elite Nationals, and something unexpected happened to Danny Summerhill. Timmerman had a cleat fall off mid-race. Basically my non-podium predictions were all wrong:

Erin’s picks

  1. Hyde
  2. Powers
  3. Owen
  4. ZMD
  5. Timmerman

Actual Results:

  1. Powers
  2. Hyde
  3. Owen
  4. Page
  5. Kerry Werner

And thus we end the 2015 season.