Wednesday, March 24, 2010

RMM’s 2nd Annual Guide to Local Race Teams--Part 1

Last season, I posted a guide to local teams. The post caused some controversy, since some rider’s objected to my portrayal of their team. So here I am writing this thing again. I expect a similar uproar, as I plan to call it like I see it again. Please take all of this with a grain of salt, as it is nothing more than my opinion.

This post is mostly meant as a guide to lower category (5, 4, 3) riders who are looking for a new or first team. I will outline what I know about the team’s behavior as well as what I know about admission and benefits of joining (I will not share any inside information) It is not meant to dish on any teams or to promote any teams in particular. That said, I am a long standing member of Cambridge Bicycles and have put considerable blood sweat and tears into helping build that team into the best team possible. Therefore, it should come as no surprise what I say about CB.

NEBC NorthEast Bicycle Club

This is by far the largest team/club in New England. Their members number in the hundreds. If you are looking to meet the maximum number of cyclists, NEBC may be right for you.

Admission is open. They regularly recruit newer races from the “C” race at Wells Ave.

The downside is that NEBC is so huge that many riders feel lost on the team. It is not uncommon to see 10 lower category NEBC riders on the starting line of a race introducing themselves to each other.

In the cat 4’s and 5’s teamwork is out of the question. In fact, quite the opposite is often true. Teammates often chase teammates. Teammates sprint against one another. If you are looking to join a cohesive lower category team, NEBC is probably not right for you.

There are a few situations where NEBC might be the right club for you. These include if you want lots of organized club rides (though you don’t need to be a NEBC member to go on most of these) or if you are a higher category rider.

My understanding is that NEBC takes fairly good care of the cat 2’s and 3’s. I don’t have details, but there are a number of talented riders who chose to remain on NEBC.

Svelte Cycles

Mostly a cat 3 team, which is run by Justin Spinelli (aka semi-famous Euro domestique to Cipollini). Spinelli comes out and mixes it in Pro123 races and appears to offer guidance to the cat 3’s.

Svelte appears to only be open to riders above category 3. I believe that you must contact Justin Spinelli directly in order to be considered.

Last season was Svelte’s first season fielding a cat 3 team. The team was chock full of talented riders who never seemed to gel into a cohesive unit. Their results suffered as a result. There were a few exceptions, such as Chris Bailey shattering everyone at the Attleboro Criterium

This season, they have an influx of extremely motivated riders, many of them well versed in team tactics and riding very strong. While last season was surely a disappointment to Svelte’s cat 3’s, this season may prove to be a breakthrough.

I have no idea if the team has addressed their every-man-for-himself race tactics for 2010. If they have, expect some serious domination and some upgrades. If not, we can expect a repeat of last season with Svelte taking long suicide breaks that get brought back and then countered by another team who ends up with the win.

Green Line Velo

This was another new team in 2009. They mostly seem to an amalgamation of collegiate riders, thus the name, which references the many colleges that are located on Boston’s notoriously slow Green Line.

I don’t know their admission policy, though I assume that if you are racing collegiate, you know a rider or two from Green Line.

My assessment of Green Line is mostly based on seeing them around before and after races. They don’t have too many outstanding results, but they are a bunch of young guys and a few gals, who seem to enjoy racing bicycles.

During races, they tend to remain invisible, taking few pulls and attacking infrequently.

If you are a collegiate rider who is looking to carry that good time collegiate vibe into the USAC season, you don’t need me to introduce you to Green Line, since you are probably already a member.

Quad Cycles

Quad is mostly a bicycle club with a racing arm. This team used to do some great development work, helping club riders make the transition to USAC racing. In fact, Quad developed me into a racer way back when.

Quad has open admission. You can register online at their website.

Anecdotal data suggests that Quad is no longer developing riders. It seems that every season they have fewer and fewer racers, mostly racers who have been racing with them for a few years who haven’t moved on.

In races, they tend to sit in and then try to jump in on someone else’s leadout train. While they have garnered a few decent results over the years, they are seldom a factor to consider during a race. Teamwork is rare. Tragically, the one leadout train I saw them organize in 2009 was crashed out wholesale by a Threshold rider in the last lap of the Attleboro crit.

Threshold Racing

Another new team for 2009. These guys came out swinging and got results. They were often factors in both the cat 3 and cat 4 fields, often getting in decisive breakaways and using their wattage to remain away from the field. If Threshold had a motto, it would certainly be “Attack!!”

Team cohesion appears important to Threshold, as does strategy. If they have the manpower in a race, they attack and then counter their teammate’s attacks. They tend to get into a lot of breaks and work those breaks hard. On occasion, they have worked those breaks too hard, getting out-sprinted in the end.

Many of us enjoy making fun of Threshold for posting power data on the Internet, but seriously we make fun mostly because we are in sheer awe or Leo Desforges’s wattage.

If you are looking for a good group of guys who take training and racing seriously, this is a good crew to hook up with.

Embrocation Cycling Journal

This team is a grassroots road team, who focus on pro races. They happen to have a couple of elite cyclocross racers who chose to race cat 3 in Embro colors on the road in New England. Since the founder of Embrocation has moved to the Portland, OR area, there is now a west coast branch as well. I have no idea what they are up to.

I happen to be good friends with the NE cat 3 riders as well as some of the riders on their elite road team. The New England branch of Embrocation is not accepting lower category riders on the road, so stop emailing them to ask.

The Embrocation riders in general are known to have lots of style. They have a loose affiliation with Rapha, a tight sponsorship from Ridley and hookups all over the place. They are VERY concerned with bike fashion. Tan lines are regularly compared and a discussion of proper sock height can last for hours. During cross season, I heard that one of the “executives” of ECJ was upset that a photographer had published photos of an ECJ team member leading a race while wearing a garish pair of orange construction worker type gloves. I am not dishing on them, as I support their push to make sure riders are professionally attired. I like white handlebar tape, shiny Italian shoes and tall socks as much as these dudes.

As far as cat 3’s are concerned. They have a few strongmen who will be factors in break-aways and hilly races of attrition, such as Tour of the Hilltowns or The Central NH RR. In general the cat 3’s don’t even show up for criteriums.

Part II will be Published Tomorow


Chris said...

I've been waiting for this. Thanks RMM!

Re: joining Svelte...Riders should be contacting me or any other team member, not Justin.

RMM said...


If you send me the appropriate email address I will appropriately edit the post.

gary! said...

svelte: (not trying to be accusatory, just curious) how much wisdom is imparted from spinelli to the lower categories? or is he just the unseen boss doing his own thing in the pro races?

threshold: when it comes to numbers and power data, these guys are good; and i have the utmost respect for cory johannson - solid dude

green line velo: college hacks with no tactics, not yet accustomed to the normal kind of usac road racing.

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