Friday, February 25, 2011

The Post You've All Been Waiting For: RMM's 3rd Annual Guide to Local Road Teams--Part 1

Every year this is one of my most controversial posts. The fallout generally lasts for months with riders commenting in person and online. I do my best to just present things as I see them, while acknowledging my biases.

Again, I am category racer, so I will only be offering observations about lower category teams.

Part II will be published this coming Monday.


North East Bicycle Club--NEBC

Membership: Online, no screening. NEBC recruits everyone they can. Regardless of skill level or personality.

Initially in my bike racing career, I had little respect for NEBC as they field huge squads of lower category riders (4 and 5) who do not work together in races. In fact they often work against each other.

But after I upgraded to cat 3 and began racing with some of their seasoned riders I began developing some regard for the team, while striking up friendships with a few riders (don't worry guys, I won't publicly shame you by outing our friendship on the internet). The cat 3's generally work well together, while not dominating any races.

I think that NEBC would be a great team to join if you were looking for a large social club built around bicycles, as NEBC has a huge membership. Also it is good for someone starting out racing, but maybe is not 100% committed to racing, as they do some good work around development and training. Also, they do some work around women's development, so women will probably be comfortable on this team.

NEBC's shop sponsor is the sketchy, underhanded CycleLoft, which made itself famous when its owner Jeff Palter stole the New England Velodrome from the founder, Tony Eberhardt. You can read about it here, here, and here if you missed it.

Boston Road Club

Open membership, no screening. There are 2 levels of membership, Associate (discount at Wells Ave) and team. I maintain an associate membership to this club even though I've never raced for them.

I love the Wells Ave Training Series, therefore I love BRC. Wells is an incredible community resource for us racers. I am thankful that they put it one week after week, year after year.

When I was starting out as a 5 and then a 4, BRC was the team to beat. They had a large squad and generally took charge of races. I think that BRC's luster has waned recently, but they have been at this for a long time, so I have no doubt that they will have another strong crop of new riders at some point.

BRC is a great team for a new rider looking to learn how to race and train effectively. Collectively, the team has decades of racing and training experience under its belt. And they are eager to pass this knowledge down to new riders. BRC has lots of social events for members. Many of the Boston area's best racers spent time on BRC. Highly recommended for new racers.

Quad Cycles

Membership: Online, no screening. Club and team.

This team started me racing. And for that, I'll be forever thankful.

In early 2011, Quad's race team is a shell of what it had been in the mid 2000's. They seldom field teams of more than 2 0r 3 guys and teamwork is sporadic at best. Any decent results are generally earned on individual rider strength as opposed to focused teamwork.

Quad does have a very active club rider community that sometimes intersects with the racing community.

My assessment of Quad: a good club to join if you are starting out cycling and are looking for some club rides and you may be interested in trying out racing at some point.

Minuteman Road Club--MRC

Membership: Online no screening.

MRC has a large club that focuses both on road racing and triathlon. While avoiding the normal jokes about triathletes, I will point out that triathletes often have monstrous levels of fitness coupled with comically bad pack riding/bike handling skills. Working as a team is alien to the triathlete mind. When MRC gets good results, it is often due to individual fitness, as opposed to the cooperative effort of the team.

MRC has done some great work with women's development, especially in cyclocross.

MRC is a good team to join if you are like it all three ways, but want to be sketchy in a road race once in a while too. MRC is not a good club if you are looking to learn effective road race tactics. It may be a good team for women looking to get into the sport, as MRC maintains close contact with Lady's First, one of the area's most effective women's racing teams.

Svelte Cycles

Membership: Contact Justin Spinelli. If you can't figure out how to contact him on your own, you don't belong on this team. Cat 3 and above only.

Brainchild of Justin Spinelli. This is a cat 3 and above team, not for beginners. Overall, Svelte has firepower, but doesn't appear to work well together, most of the time. I keep waiting for the cat 3's to gel and smash every race. So far this hasn't happened. Good results tend to get earned individually. Obviously, there are exceptions.

I have it on good information that Spinelli is opposed to sharing his prize money, so maybe an individualistic ethic runs through the team?

I am friends with many Svelte riders and enjoy hanging out with them and racing against them.

Svelte is a great team to join if you are a cat 3 who is on the cusp of upgrading to cat 2 and you don't want to change teams after the upgrade. Once you upgrade to 2, you will get the pleasure of being Justin Spinelli's domestique, which is really like being a domestique to Mario Cipollini, since Justin rode for Cipo back in the day.


rosey said...

remind me, how was it that tony came to be in control of the track in NH? it was by offering to pay more than the previous go-kart race holding renters, no?

not saying it was nice of the current renters to do, but they did what tony had done before them so calling them out for it hardly seems fair.

RMM said...

Tony took control of the track slowly. Originally, he rented the track concurrent with the go carters. When the go carters no longer wanted to use the track, Tony took it over entirely. As far as I know, there was never a dispute between Tony and the go cart tenant.

Secondly, the Palter, Begemann and CycleLoft stole the track from someone WITHIN the cycling community. Surely, we can agree that this should cause us more distress than a regular business transaction outside of our community.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the Cycleloft appears to have brought the cycling community little to none of the value that they promised to add to the track with their takeover.

mkr said...

FYI, NEBC launched an effort this year to 'reclaim it's identity', and reduce confusion as to them vs. the Loft's house team. This included a spiffy new logo that will feature prominently on the front/center of the lightly reworked kits.

Team-work, who needs team-work. NEBC is all about individualism :)

In terms of the track thing, having no insight and never using the track save one cross race pre and one post change, it's what it is, cold-hard-business. I did prefer the current cross race to the old cross race and got the distinct impression that the facility appeared much improved and the cross course was well designed and in excellent condition. YRMV.

RMM said...


I was wondering how relations were between the Cycleloft Team and NEBC. It seems like there must be some overlap, confusion or tension at some point.

As for the velodrome: most of us consider the NE competitive cycling community to be a big family, sometimes disfunctional, but a family nonetheless. Palter's behavior, explanation of said behavior and dismissal of all concerns demonstrates that he could care less about anything other than money. Can a coat of paint and a new lap bell really make up for such a blatant violation of basic ethics?