Thursday, March 25, 2010
RMM’s 2nd Annual Guide to Local Race Teams Part II
This team appears to be based mostly in NH. The lower category riders appear to be little more than crit jocks, though they also field an elite team that does moderately well in Pro12 races
One of the major advantages of joining this team would be the ability to train with and learn from higher category racers. Also if you are pretty sure that you are going to make an upgrade to cat 2 mid season, this team would be a good fit, since you wouldn’t have to change teams to have teammates to race with in the upper cats.
Cambridge Bicycles/Igleheart Frames
If you are reading this, it is probably no secret to you that I am deeply involved with this team. I helped develop the program for the team’s first road season and continue to exert some secondary influence on the way that the team is run (I no longer hold any official office on the team). I explain all of this for 2 reasons: 1. I am proud of what I have helped build. 2. Clearly I am biased.
Cambridge prides itself on teamwork and race domination. Our goal in every lower category race is to be a determining factor and to put a single rider on the podium. We succeed in this goal a good portion of the time. We practice race strategy and routinely talk about strategy. Instead of having everyone finish a race, some riders’ jobs are to attack until they have to pull out of the race (or stay away and get the result). Before a new rider is allowed on the team, they have to explicitly agree to work as part of the team as opposed to “let’s just wait til the end and see what happens.”
2009 was a highly successful road season. We had over a dozen road podiums and we made decisive moves in almost every race we entered. We have started to build a nascent cat 2 team, which is shaping up to have a promising season in 2010.
We also had a number of riders upgrade and a few riders decide to ride for other teams in 2010. With the personnel change we are in a period of transition. There are a bunch of promising riders in the pipeline; so while we don’t know how our season will play, it is also very exciting.
CB generally only accepts riders who have already demonstrated a commitment to racing…we judge this by race attendance. Currently, we are considering cat 2,3 and 4 riders. If we sound like a team you want to race for, then get in touch.
There are a few stereotypes about CB. We are a bunch of hipsters. We are more concerned with partying than racing (yes we have beer sponsors for cross). We are more concerned with our kits than with bicycle racing. We all wear ironic mustaches. We can be dicks during races. All of these stereotypes are more or less true at one time or another.
I am proud to say that we subscribe to the shrewd, cutthroat form of tactical racing made famous by personalities like Mark McCormack, Paul Curly and Adam Myerson. If I wanted one thing said about our team it would be this: we raced hard and smart.
This team is essentially a cat 3 leadout train. When these dudes show up to a crit, they come deep and start winding it up with about 2 kilometers to go. You can’t get around them, since they have like 10 dudes who are killing themselves to deliver their man to the line first. I admire their work. But they are limited.
It is fairly well known that Mike Norton is the biggest personality on the team. He sprints well, but really hates a hill. So his team generally sticks to flat races where their powerful leadouts almost guarantee a good result. Seldom are they a factor in a hilly race.
Cyclonauts also promotes lots of races. They do a great job. The Norton/Cyclonauts races are some of the smoothest running races around. Reasonable race fees, results are posted quickly, payouts are timely and in cash.
Some people object to Norton and his cohorts based on personality. Norton is a player and is outspoken. He has been promoting races without USAC sanctioning. His biggest transgression appears to be his success. He has thumbed his nose at USAC and has suffered almost no consequences.
Personally, I respect Cyclonauts and their team, while not desiring to emulate them.
While this is not a road team, some of their members race road in HUP kits, so I feel that I need to mention them.
HUP is focused on the feel-good side of bicycle racing, specifically cyclocross. While HUP has some talented riders, I don’t feel like it is off base or insulting to say that HUP is more interested in friendship and camaraderie than in smashing races.
HUPsters are some of the friendliest racers around. They will be the first to help you fix your bike before a race, even if they know that they are helping you to beat them. You will see them handing out cupcakes and beers regularly. Its almost like they bring a mellow west coast vibe to NE.
HUP is the team for you if you are looking to make friends and enjoy yourself. If you are looking for a team to work with to be competitive on the road, then HUP is probably not right for you. That said, many people who desire a strong road team in the summer would really enjoy racing with HUP during cyclocross season.
International Bicycle Centers
This team continues to soldier on. Fielding small teams on the road and off. They sometimes get some decent results, but that this is usually a result of individual accomplishment as opposed to teamwork.
International has started fielding an elite mtb team. While this team does not compete regularly on the road, it is an indication that the regular IBC team is somewhat in decline. The elite team is administratively separate from the regular team. They wear different kits, different colors and share almost nothing but a sponsor. I only mention this since it seems like this team may experience some upheaval in the near future.
Boston Road Club
BRC had a rough season in 2009. A mass of riders left the team and formed the meat of a number of newer teams (Svelte and CB). That said, this team has been in the game for a long time and I am confident that they will rebuild with a new batch of riders. Even with their diminished numbers, they still have some strongmen capable of bringing the pain in a cat 3 or cat 4 race.
Membership is available in two levels, associate and team. Associate membership is for non-racers or for racers from other teams; it offers a discount for the Wells Ave races. In 2008 and 2009, I was an associate member of BRC (not sure if I will do it this year; I’m broke!)
BRC is s developmental team, which does an excellent job of introducing new racers to the sport, teaching them strategy and introducing training techniques. They are the organizer of the Wells Ave Training series that runs every Sunday from mid-March through September. Also, they have regular training rides midweek.
I remain friends with a number of BRC team members and alumni and can say that I have lots of respect for what they do. If you are a newer rider (cat 5), BRC is a great place to learn the ropes while getting some support and advice from more experienced teammates.
This team is like the phoenix, it keeps popping up and then flaming out a few years later. My understanding is that support from Wheelworks has been tepid for lower category riders in the past. Perhaps it has changed?
Its current iteration is a B level/masters cross team. But as these things go, they will likely race on the road as well.
They have a few good riders. The trick will be whether they work together or just all show up to races in the same kit.
For The Teams I Forgot to Mention: If I left you out, it was not an intentional slight. I just included the teams that I know something about.