Thursday, April 2, 2009

RMM's Guide to Local Road Racing Teams

There are a number of competitive cycling teams in the Boston area. If you are new to the sport or move here from somewhere else, it is hard to figure out which team you should join. Once you join a team, simple minded folk become very upset if you leave the team to join another local team where you fit in better. In the following post, I will try to give a snapshot of all of the local club teams. Even though I am friends with many of them, I do not include any of the upper level teams like Embrocation or Kenda/Spooky since these teams do not accept lower category riders.  Many teams have mountain bike squads as well, which I do not consider in this post, since I am mostly ignorant of the off road scene.  





North East Bicycle Club-



By far the biggest team in the Boston area, this team blanket recruits everyone. It is not uncommon to see 10+ riders on the starting line of a race. It is also not uncommon to see those 10+ guys introducing themselves to their teammates on the starting line of said race. In the lower categories, it is not uncommon to see NEBC riders chasing down breaks that have 1, 2 or even 3 of their riders in them. They sometimes sprint against each other.
Very rarely does this team race as a team, it is more a collection of riders wearing the same clothes. I have even heard one NEBC rider refuse to block for a teammate because the team mate "won" the race last week. When asked what he meant (everyone knew who had really won), he explained that he wasn't blocking because his teammate kept getting better results than him, so he hoped that the break wouldn't stick.
Since it is a large club, there are many people to socialize with. The club is so big that many riders feel lost.
I am told that the upper category squads are more cohesive.
Perhaps NEBC's greatest strength is the women's team. They have an active and well supported group of women who kill the women's races. In fact, there are so many strong women on this team that competition amongst them is common.

Quad Cycles-

This was my first cycling team. Mostly this is a shop's cycling club with a competitive arm. The team often recruits new team members from the club; which is how I began racing bicycles. This is a great team to join if you are not sure if you are interested in racing, but want to try it out.
In races Quad sometimes places well, but is not as cohesive as other teams. While they can be tactically savvy on occasion, their strong riders spend themselves in fruitless and poorly timed attacks.
While two Quad riders may work together, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most of the Quad riders who get results have gotten them as a result of their own talent, as opposed to the support of a team.
The shop and the team are supportive of riders' material needs. There are generous sponsorships.
The social life of the team revolves around the shop, which shop owner, Rustem Gode, actively encourages by keeping food on hand and buying beverages often.
Quad has a small women's racing team and a strong female showing at the weekend club rides.

Boston Road Club-



BRC is a developmental cycling team that does a great job of adding value to the local scene while developing strong racers. BRC has put on the Wells Ave Training Series since the 1980's. In addition they run clinics for members on teamwork in races, sprinting, climbing, cornering, ect. They generally have a coaching sponsor to help new riders make the most of the early years in the sport.
BRC has many members, but most of the guys who race week in and week out work together as a team. If they have a man up the road, they block for him, or at the very least, they don't chase. They take race tactics seriously. In cat 4 races, especially criteriums, you can always expect them to be a factor.
They have many team rides where they test each other at KOM's and townlines. BRC is a very male organization and they have social gatherings at Redbones (sponsor).
For 2009 BRC may be weaker in races since there has been a large exodus of riders to other teams.
Small women's squad, though BRC has been sponsoring elite women to try to develop and support a women's team.

CCB-



Mostly a masters team. They are fast, savvy and curmudgeonly. When these old dudes, show up, they kick ass and take names with a good measure of grumbling and complaining thrown in. If you are getting barked at in race, it is more than likely coming from a guy in blue and pink.
They also have a history of developing junior riders, perhaps you heard of some of them: Tyler Hamilton, Tim Johnson, Gavin Manion
It may sound like I am making fun of these guys, but that is not the case. CCB has been winning races since 1979 and there is no reason to think that they will not continue winning.
It seems like there is little logical place on this team for newer racers. It seems that they have an elite team, a masters team and a junior squad. If you fall in between this grouping, you may get more support elsewhere.
Unclear if they have a women's squad.


Threshold Racing- 2009 will be Threshold's first year on the road. Most of the squad is experienced and savvy. They will be a factor in cat 4 races and sole 3, strongman Leo Desforges will be attacking relentlessly in the 3's. As far as the 4's go, they have a number of riders who are on the verge of upgrading to 3, so they will be a team to watch in the early season.
They have a membership process that requires potential members to actually be approved by the team before being accepted.
No women's squad.

Minuteman Road Club-



This team usually fields some strong riders. Their cat 4's had an impressive season last year. They are generally getting thier results based on individual accomplishment, though on occasion, I can remember them halfheartedly helping my block for a break that we both had a man in.
For 2009 I would expect that they will get some results, but I wouldn't count on them controlling races.
MRC has recently developed a great women's squad. They have been offering coaching and support. MRC women housed the B field in cyclocross in 2008, so much so that taunts of "sandbagger" and "upgrade" became ubiquitous (3+ minute leads on second place). I am not sure if MRC supports a women's road team, but if they do, it will be one to watch.

Pedro/+3 Network --



This is a cat 3 only team, chock full of strong, savvy riders. Everyone agrees that these will be the team to watch in the early season. Cort Cramer was belting out 360 watts in 20 minute indoor TT's in February, what is he going to be doing in May? But CCC is not the only threat, this team is stacked. They have sprinters, climbers, TT guys and hardmen. There is not a race that they can't contest.
No women's squad.
I have Diane Fortini's phone number on speed dial so that I can request forced upgrades when the time comes.

Cambridge Bicycle-




If you were having a cycling party and wanted to make sure it would be bumpin', you should probably invite us. We are an urban based cycling team with its roots in urban culture. Sponsored by PBR and Mad Alchemy Embrocations, we have the best party tent(s) at every cross race.
We race road too. Our cat 4 squad is cohesive and team focused. I am not betraying any secrets when I say that every individual works as a team for the team result. We don't want 5 guys in the top 20, we want one person on the podium and the rest of the results don't matter. Our forte has been criteriums, though we had wins in stage races and strong placings in road races too. For 2009, we have some hungry new riders who are committed to continuing the momentum from 2008.
The cat 3 squad has been beefed up by points-based upgrades. Many of our fours couldn't approach a cat 4 registration table without harrassment for sandbagging, even before we had the points to upgrade. We expect to contest every race, and no, I am not going to tell you any details.  Just rest assured that we have some riders and some plans.
CB is a huge supporter of the New England Velodrome. Our track team is the best represented every week up in Londonderry. Our results on the track speak for themselves, podium sweeps were common. 
We have a strong women's squad for this road/track season, both 3 and cat 2's. While this is the first season for the women's road squad, they are enthusiastic and organized already.
Memebership is invite only. We recruit based on personality. Our biggest question in considering a candidate is : "Do I want to spend the weekend with this person?"  Second question is: "Will this person be willing to work as part of a team?"  If you want to join CB, start hanging around and make it known that you want to join. You can almost always find some CB racers at Zuzu on Sunday nights.

International Bicycle Centers-- This team has strong riders and seems to ebb and surge on a multi year cycle. Last season, they were a factor in races, but they were not executing team tactics. For all I know, they are building a monster of a team for 2009.
They had an elite women's team in 2007 and field a few women every season.
IBC provides support for the team.




There are many other smaller teams around Boston. If I left a big one out (yours), please email me and I'll edit the post to include it. 

If you don't like what I had to say about your team, use the comment section to explain why I am wrong or race smarter.   




32 comments:

kevin said...

NEBC is actually Northeast Bicycle Club, not New England.

RMM said...

Thanks Kevin.

rosey said...

what, no review of the new embrocation road team? they have cat 1-4 racers and seem to be growing by the week. no women's team (yet) though.

commence implosion...

Colin R said...

From what I can tell IBC will have a master's road presence and a women's road presence. The non-old, non-female guys are mostly mountain bikers like me, I think. But I could be wrong.

MattD said...

Threshold Cycling's membership process is similar to the Cambridge criteria. We ask similar questions, like: 'is this person committed to racing and to racing with teammates; 'would we want to hang out with this person while not wearing spandex?'

Team Pedros+3, Svelte Cycles said...

RMM - your comments on our team is flattering. We have not earned a lick'n of your kind comments. We are all just wondering how to make it through Mblhead this weekend in the P1-2-3. Your blog is funny a$$ and spot on, team appreciates it.
Team Pedros + 3, Svelte Cycles

Ps - we are stoked to be in the field with you this road season.

RMM said...

rosey:

Just last week, the management of Embrocation told me that they are not interested in lower category riders (3 and 4).
If the acquisition of PVB and Tall Erik have caused them to change focus, I will gladly include them in the guide.
Metacyclist, comments?

RMM said...

Pedro:

The whole peloton has their eyes on you. Too bad we are also watching the Bike Barn Guys too, since you are both wearing the same kit.

Anonymous said...

So basically, the team you're on rules and the other teams are kind of blah?

Got it.

gary! said...

what about back bay bikes? mostly mountain biking but really attempting a strong push into road racing with like 4-5 cat5s

rosey said...

anonymous, no need to be anonymous. rmm dishes out lots of heckling and trash talk but can take it as well as he dishes it. and let's face it, he deserves his fair share as much as the next guy.

but yes, by default, any team fortunate enough to claim rmm for themselves is the best and will clearly be the TIGHTEST squad at the races with no internal strife.

MetaCyclist said...

Like this whole entry. Good job.

Regarding Embrocation, it's true that our focus is and has been on fielding a competitive Cat 1/2 team this year. We are not, nor do we plan to recruit any Cat 3 or 4 racers. If however, riders who are known to us as good fellows want to pay their own way and race in our colors, it would be bad business to tell them no.

Jordan said...

@anonymous -

when you every move you make in a race is marked by shrieks of "Watch Out!" or "Here they come!" then its safe to say you have a solid racing team. There's nothing more humbling to have placed well in a race because of the moves of your teammate who is now rolling across the line 30 seconds after the main pack. That's a real teammate (and also RMM, awwwww...)

@Rosey - brilliant. \

RMM said...

Gary:

I have never raced with any of the people on Back Bay and they have no history. I can not make an educated comment, so I will hold off until they show up for a few races and give me something to work with. Since they are primarily a cat 4 team, I will be asking you for observations...

Anon:

It is not fair that you are not willing to identify yourself with your comments, which immediately causes me to lose respect for you and your comment.
Secondly, yes, I think that Cambridge is the best team in the peloton. That is why I joined CB. And to insure that CB remains the best team, I work hard behind the scenes and in races.
If you don't feel the same way about your team, I seriously suggest that you join another team. Or you could buck up and give a little back to the team you are on and build something to be proud of.
And being the best is not about results, so don't even go there.

RMM said...

Oh rosey, there is always internal strife when I am involved. I have a real gift for pissing people off.

Anonymous said...

While tactics, and results are cool to talk about. Everyone knows the best part about being on a team is getting the cool looking kit. Out of all these teams, Cambridge clearly has the coolest kit, followed by CCB and Minuteman. The Back Bay team, will easily win the award for tackiest kit ever, it's bad.

Billy

Anonymous said...

what happened to everyone favorite team Corner Cycle? no mention?

RMM said...

Anon:

Corner Cycle is too far outside of the city for consideration here.

This blog is very local.

shane said...

Thanks for the write-up! You're right- by the the middle of the season we do hope to have a number of guys in the 3s, but more importantly, we aim to be competitive in the party tent category.

RMM said...

Shane:

Road is all business. No tent, no party.

But I encourage you guys to practice your party tent skills during road, so that you will have your moves straight for cross.

CCC said...

My fav EBTI post, ever. Nicely done. All eyes on Leo for now...and best part - he's currently doing it without help. Wattage rules...

RMM said...

CCC:

Whenever I am fit and ready to rumble, I also do everything that I can to draw attention to other riders.

Also, due to huge positive response, I will be updating and maintaining this post.

Eric Silva said...

Re: QuadCycles, I can't think a good result in a category 3 or 3/4 race in the past year that wasn't a result of teamwork.

RMM said...

Mr. Silva:

re: Quad Cycles

Perhaps the 3 squad works together better than the 4 squad. I will update the post if I see evidence that contradicts what I wrote.

Also, remember, I was on Quad Cycles for 2 seasons. I have raced with almost all of your strong guys and I know what kind of planning (or lack thereof) there was in the years that I raced with you all.

Sure, once in a while one of you leads the other out, but beyond that, I don't see any evidence that anything has changed since my time with you guys.

Again, show me something different and I will update the post accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Nice post!

With this single post I think you may just have become the lightning rod of hate for most cyclists in Boston.

I am posting anonymously. Ha ha ha!

Eric Silva said...

You're correct, there was little planning during what was for many of us our first season racing. Are you the same racer you were in 2005? Probably not. I know I've learned quite a bit during the 200+ races I've finished since then.

And yes, the category 3 racers on QuadCycles work more cohesively as a team than the category 4 racers. Is this a really surprise?

But, as with all the teams you write about in this post, you make sweeping generalizations based on tenuous data.

Since you asked.

(Bonus video.)

rosey said...

silva, didn't you see the previous comments. whichever team RMM is on (currently) is the best and the rest are kind of blah. you know the expression, save the best for last.

RMM said...

Mr. Silva:

This post is all about sweeping generalizations based on MY OBSERVATIONS. If you think that the data is tenuous and inaccurate, don't read the blog. Or better yet, get people who are not on your team to advocate for your cause, since that will be far more convincing.

If your team is tight in 2009 and I SEE IT, I will update the post accordingly.

One last thing, I have had lots of feedback on this post, both in public and in private, and you are and Anon are the only two people who are upset. All the other feedback has been positive.

Most people would like to see the post expanded and updated.

Furthermore, arguing on the internet is pretty stupid.

RMM said...

Rosey:

Yes, as I said, I always want to believe that I am on the best team. If I didn't feel that way, I would start looking for a new team to race for. Why race on a subpar team if you can help it?
And again, we are not talking about race results.

nato said...

thanks for this post. as a n00b looking to get into the racing scene around here, this info has been helpful on what to expect. maybe see you out there some time!

Eric Silva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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