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The art of war is simple enough...

"...Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on." -Ulysses S. Grant, aka the President & General who used to live across the river

The Cuttin Crew likes Galena, and not in a Facebook way. We like to roll deep, squeeze into overstuffed cabins, drink wellwater, and test the limits of 2g cell phone coverage checking the standings. Once upon a time, in the salad days of CBR, every bike racer in Chicagoland ran home and blogged about every move in the race, and scoured flickr for photos. Those days are gone, and sometimes it seems everyone's moved on to microblog their results on twitter in real time. We’re going a little throwback this time. Chapeau to the teams, our fellow racers, the pros, the announcers, the beginners, the marshals, motos, refs, and xXx for throwing it, but pull up a chair, because we’re about to take you to the Cuttin Crew’s front row seat at some Chicagoland stage racing action: the second annual Tour of Galena.

[The tifosi have already posted choice photos to our Facebook page, so go there to see the crew in full color.]

Saturday morning kicked things off in the Time Trial, and most of us rank beginners were confined to the “short course” - three point something miles, with a few rollers. The crew was rolling deep, with five men in the cat fours. The results were as varied as the squad themselves. Andrew ‘I’ve got a couple final presentations Monday, I’m racing light this weekend’ Nordyke was struck by inspiration just after his start time, and decided to do the TT after all. He pinned a backup number on his t-shirt, and in jeans, sneakers, and flat pedals, he somehow didn’t finish last, and if you adjust for him pinning up after his start time, he beat ten people. The rest of the crew spread out across the standings. Mike ‘I’m a climber, not a time trialist’ Morell was somewhere behind Josh ‘recovering from injury’ Shough, who was near the middle. Al ‘rolling with 72 spokes because that’s how Merckx did it’ Pearson grabbed some Omnium points in 7th. Avi ‘I don’t need no stinking gears’ Neurohr showed up on a modified pursuit bike and managed to turn in the second fastest time in the field. At the start, Dave ‘do I look like I’m joking’ Fowkes approved Avi’s bike, muttering “track bike, I like it.” Given their history, that was like a man-hug coming from the official.

The cat four ladies of the crew were up next. Marie ‘Imma treat it like a long sprint’ Snyder turned in the 5th fastest time, but things were heating up at the top. Daphne ‘Imma treat it like a 12-lap flyer at the track’ Karagianis clocked in at 3rd, and Christina ‘Imma treat it like an alley cat checkpoint’ Peck came in 2nd. The event’s top finisher was not entered in the weekend’s Omnium, so the ladies kicked off the weekend with a lock on the leader’s jersey and the second spot as well.

Next up was Brian ‘I got 99 problems but winning ain’t one’ Ellison in the cat threes. Brian tore off the second fastest time on a plain ol’ road bike. We don’t know how fast he was going, but the only guy that beat him was attacking the downhill, in the aerobars, on his triathlon-style TT bike, pedaling through the descent at 52.8 mph. (How does Jostein sit on his bike with balls that big?)

Next up: the road race. There’s no way around it, the Crew’s cat four men imploded. Avi had spent time the previous day discussing synthetic cartilage with an orthopedist, and was under strict instructions not to race (don’t tell her about the time trial), so he left his second place Omnium standings on the table. For reasons that might sound like excuses, we just didn’t have a specialist on form for this race. The heat, climbs, and the lead moto’s inadvertent 10 mile detour all added up, and Andrew, Mike, and Josh came in early. If you’ve never seen Al, he’s nicknamed Roadhouse for a reason. He hasn’t set foot in a weight room in years, but he’s got Quads of the Gods, and he’s on an FBI watch list for being a walking gun show. In other words, he’s not built for the hills, but he made the cut, and he was the Crew’s only GC man left standing, on account of completing the first two events. He went straight to an icy shower to shake off the heat stroke, and was questioning his form for Sunday’s crit.

The ladies had mixed results in their one lap hillfest. Marie made it through Cavendish-style, surviving on “dreams of premes” the following day. Daphne got stronger as the race went on, finishing 6th, with a decent haul of Omnium points. Christina was near the front when the lead moto went off course, taking three racers with him, and after some adjustments, she finished third, with the leader’s jersey still firmly on her back.

In the threes’ road race, Brian strategically let a kid go off the front (he wasn’t signed up for the Omnium) and with about nine miles left in his 67 mile race, dropped the lead group and rolled in solo for second place, for the second time that day. With that, he took over the leader’s jersey.

Saturday night had most of the crew relaxing at ye Olde Alpaca Farm, with Mike ‘the human spreadsheet’ calculating how many ways the women could win. They kicked things off on Sunday morning in the criterium. If you were wearing pink, this was a fun race to be in. First off, Marie went for back to back premes, making the group chase hard, and split the field immediately. She went on to get all but one preme, and when Daph grabbed it, it left the field vulnerable. Christina played off this and nearly established a three-woman break, with her and Daphne both in it. It didn’t quite happen, but Christina committed anyway. With two teammates controlling the field, she rolled solo for half the race, easily taking the win. Daph took the field sprint for 2nd, while Marie was a little boxed in. She might have been able to push through to sweep the podium, but she made the safe call, backing off and taking 4th. It would be enough to get her on the extended Omnium podium, with the ladies of the crew going 1, 2, and 4. Kinky Llama Katie Tomarelli squeaked into 5th.

The cat four men were next. Several of them had pressing matters and scratched, leaving only Josh riding in support of Al. There are a few things you should know about Roadhouse. In team rides, he’s been known to out-sprint the sprinters, and out-endure the endurance riders. Twice he’s been sitting in a perfect leadout, surging in the finishing straight, and has been crashed out by jokers in the bunch. He’s finishing up his Master’s and he’s a working messenger, so he doesn’t always have a lot of time and opportunity to race. In other words, the man is due.

With about 13 laps to go, he plays off a preme and it’s looking like a three man break might happen. One rider just fades back to the pack. The other guy is working with Al but he comes up with a mechanical and disappears. They announce a $50 cash preme, and Al is in position to go for it, but the pack is hungry and they try to capture him in time to take the cash. He holds them off, but they are gassed from the effort. They sit up, thinking ‘no way is somebody going 11 laps solo - this is cat four! It never works!’ Well, these guys underestimated the ‘house. Building a lead of up to 20 seconds, they brought him back to within five seconds by the bell lap. He.Could.Go.All.The.Way...and he did! Two crit wins for the Cuttin Crew on solo escapes! He vaulted up the standings into the ‘podium shot’ for 4th overall in the Omnium.

In the threes, Brian didn’t need the leader’s jersey to tell everybody to watch him like a hawk, and guys were jostling for his wheel. Since he kicked off his summer campaign in the midwest, Brian has won one race, but finished on the podium six other times. I guess he’s getting tired of it, and didn’t want to take it to a bunch sprint, or risk his Omnium lead to a crash. So he left. Just up and rode away from the entire cat three field. You know how this ends...solo flyer, Cuttin Crew win, for the third time. Second Omnium win. We wish him the best of luck at ToAD in a few weeks, as a newly-minted cat two. Hurry up and go Pro so we can start selling all of your scandalous old stories to the tabloids. We have pictures.

Once again, thanks to the racers, volunteers, significant others, the officials who put in long hours for little pay, and the promoters who made it happen. See you next year.

"Some people say I should wear the jersey in the races...but I'm just gonna give it to my mom."

Glencoe Grand Prix once again came and left with mixed results and a few crashes, but of the happier notes was Ms. Ella grabbing herself both the silver in her category AND the silver in State Champs! Hero Status remains in 2012.

Continuing with their successful recaps, ICA once again brings us the winner's reports. And our very own Brian Ellison scored himself not only 7th place in the 2/3's, but also CATEGORY 3 ILLINOIS STATE CHAMP! Check out the video here, with a cameo by his mama, Linda:

More results posted on USAC website.

Congrats everyone on your performances, and thanks for another great day of racing, Glencoe!


It's a beautiful Sunday here in Chicago, and what better weather to thank some of our mamas for bringing us into this world.


Betty, Dr. Morell's ma, has been with us since day one, dilligently following this blog and sportin' the Cuttin Crew signature shirt!

Mama Perkins has been known to not only show up to some track racing, but also throw in a buck or two as one of our 2012 sponsors!

Jean shows off where Max got the talent to cut the rug!

Brian's mama, Linda, has been a great supporting role in his life and along the sidelines of all CCC events!

My mama, Judi, shows her team spirit with a couple of beautiful quilts!

Judy's lack of fear in streets of Chicago definitely rubbed off on Daphne!

And Tresa, the beautiful mother of Ella and wife of Avi...the way this woman juggles three super active kids is astounding!


And speaking of MoM, yesterday's Monsters of the Midway allowed the ladies to showcase some skills of Team Prime and Team Podium! Seems like the ladies stole all of the luck doled out for the day, as the dudes contested against strong fields and flat tires with some unfortunate circumstances. Andrew and Jeff took the mics and easily stole the MC of the IL Cup awards while Dapher's mom braved the rain to cheer the Crew. All in all, another day of bike racing in the books!

For more mama inspiration, be sure to check out ICA's post of the mamas of Illinois bike racing!

See you at the track Thursday!

Brian's Big A Debut

Remember Bri Bri? Well, he's off making a name for himself in yet another region of cycling, this time Collegiate. He's finishing up his second semester at Lees-McRae, and between classes, he has somehow found time to crush some races. Here's his latest report from the weekend.

Photo courtesy of Tom Reed

Had my big debut racing in the A's at Clemson!

We did an 8mi TTT that featured a very tight turn around and a very long roller climb on the way back. My fitness was unbelievable and my smoothness was top notch. We ended up dropping one teammate on the climb and came in with a perfect sprint finish 3 wide.

Later that day was the 3 lap 60mi RR with a lot of rollers and crosswinds. The same climb that was in the TTT was in the RR about 2mi from the S/F. An early break of 6 went up the road on the first lap. We only had one guy in it. I felt we should have brought it back right away but the team captain let the gap build to 3.5min. On the second lap we came through the feed zone where our coach instructed us to begin chasing. Pain face. We had 7 men at the front hammering. After a lap and a half the gap came down to 55sec. The break surged and opened it back up to 1.5min. Coming through the feed again we found out that our teammate wasn't taking any pulls and was still fresh and the chase was called off. However a break of 5 moved up the road with not LMC present. We were all gassed from chasing. My next objective was to attack at smart times and cause Mars Hill and Cumberland to chase me down. I was finding holes very well and countering my attacks. Mars Hill, mainly Sebastian, had to chase me down several times at 35mph. I was then tasked with protecting the sprinter from the crosswinds because everyone was being guttered and the road changed directions too often to form echelons. He ran out of water and I relinquished my last bottle of Gatorade to Zac, the sprinter. With about 2/3 lap to go, Zac got into a break with Sebastian from Mars Hill and one Cumberland racer. Sebastian is Zac's nemesis who has raced for the German National Team so this was big. They go up the road and I stay in with the peleton which has dwindled to only about 10 riders. There were a total of 11 men in the lead group then and 3 men chasing. Everyone else was shelled off of the back. We get to that final climb and I knew that if I was in the back of the group I would have a very hard time staying in contact. I moved up to the front and hit the hill with good momentum and paced the climb. When we get to the top I realize that that brought the pack down to about 6 men. My teammate Joe launched a flyer with a mile to go while everyone was drinking water. He was never brought back. Cumberland sent a flyer a little later. I got a leadout but was dropped off too soon with about 500m to go. I accelerated in the seat and stood up and hammered with about 300m. I was gaining quickly on the Cumberland flyer but ran out of race as a Mars Hill squeaked past me at the line. After I finished I found out that our one man from the early break won the sprint easily and that Zac had dropped Sebastian on the climb.

Sunday was the crit. 60+2min on a four corner course. My objective was to chase down moves and not pull through on them. I ended up in about ten different moves. It was extremely painful to have to go again and again and again but I did it. With 2 to go I was very close to the front when two riders from King College went up the road. I saw them coming and hopped on their wheel. I did not pull through and we were caught. However, I was burning my final matches and struggled to get back into the single file pack. Should have let them go. I found my way back into the top half of the line. Between turns 2 and 3 on the final lap and elite group pulled away featuring our winner from yesterday Jake, Zac, and Sebastian. When I saw this I jumped HARD to get up to them but to also not bring anyone up with me. I got stuck in no mans land and was able to finish 9th, Jake got 5th, and Zac took 'er home beating Sebastian once again.

I earned a spot to race Conference this weekend at Brevard. The head coach says that if I raced like I did at Clemson again, then I will be flying to Utah for Nationals to race the crit! Walk-on B team Freshman to Nationals Team in under one season!

Watch out for him in the Midwest this summer! Looks like Bri's learned a thing or two this school year!

Top 10 Hillsboro highlights

10. Mumford mooned Half Acre at 90 mph, especially impressive since they had to hot swap drivers on the highway to pull it off.

9. Brian Ellison on a conference call, over breakfast at Dohacks Family Restaurant. "FUCK YEAH DUDES. FIRE IT UP." The entire conversation was in all caps.

8. Jamie opting out of racing in the nasty and serving as soigneur, first class. We all needed it at some time or another.

7. Marie got reacquainted with her old friend, Hillsboro mailbox. This time, mailbox took the worst of it and Marie finished in the top 10.

6. Daphers capped off her first trip to the borough of hills with a medal in 4th.

5. Andrew flatted, and for once, he had listened to the race organizers in not putting too many extra wheels in the truck and counted on borrowing one. No dice, so he celebrated early with the ladies.

4. Avi finally dragged himself over the hill near the front, for the first time ever, where a slow leak caught up with him. He scrounged up a wheel from the ladies of the crew and rode a lap solo, because he has an old DETH B4 DNF prison tattoo.

3. Mumford had to pee, so he told the front group he was going off to make it rain, and rode away. Nobody knows exactly what happened up there, but rumor has it has was wheelying around a corner on a descent, whilst peeing in the gutter, things got a little too krunk, and he decided to pull off and water a tree properly. Unfortunately this act of bravado inspired everyone to start acting like they were in a bike race, and left him chasing.

2. Mike was 5th wheel over the top of the final climb, but a little overcompensation for 4th wheel's wide line put him in some deep gravel. He recovered to finish in the teens.

1. Our post-race goose chase (in search of beer and food under the same roof) found us at a bar constructed entirely of particle board and Tyvek signs. The kitchen had a two pizza capacity, but they gave us free jello shots. Hillsboro's equivalent of "the tamale guy" surfaced, so we didn't starve. We almost had a Karaoke outbreak, but we were able to control ourselves, though the owner tried to entice us by offering to set up the beer pong table. I think he recognized our potential.

Actually a couple of those things weren't very fun at all, but they were supplemented by the following: several members of our entourage, J-Rho and K-Tom, notched top tens. Mumford was interviewed on race radio over the loudspeaker at the s/f, where he recounted his off-road adventures while somehow not violating God's code of conduct. Mike said, "hey, check this out" before dropping his pants. Andrew invented "Nordyking it" though it somehow remains undefined. Avi brought his wife a Neurogasm from a highway truck stop, but she didn't seem to be too impressed. Mumford did 27 other things that were so entertaining, he should be paid just to hang around and make people happy. And for god's sake, if Hillsboro means one thing, it's bike racing season again, so even with good legs and disappointing results, how bad can life be?

Winning Tutorial


Check out our interview at ICA's website! They've posted a lot of really cool media lately, and I can't wait to see what else they've got in store for the season!

We've got a barrage of results to share! 2012 is looking realllll good.

March 24th brought about Barry Roubaix, a grueling gravel race in Michigan. Mumford, Max, Avi, and Christina made the trek and made the results! (If you want more stories, you know all you gotta do is ask them!)

Max - 6th, 36-mile 20-29 Men

Avi - 4th, 36-mile Single Speed

Christina - 2nd, 36-mile 11-29 Women

Mumford - 19th, 62-mile Overall

Followed came a week of racing with Half Acre's well executed Gapers Block Crits, making history with an average of 38 women racing each night! Not all of the racers were placed, but of the results, we had teammates make marks every day!

3/26/12 Mike - 2nd

3/27/12 Avi - 6th Christina - 3rd

3/28/12 Marie - 9th Christina - 10th

3/29/12 Marie - 3rd Max - 3rd Andrew - 11th Josh - 17th

And, finally, the first race of the Illinois Cup series, Super Crit highlighted some lessons.

Lesson #1: Always bring extra pairs of everything because it is much colder than predicts

Lesson #2: You are stronger than you think you are

Lesson #3: If you work as a team, you will get amazing team results

Lesson # 4: Don't give up til you cross that line

Lesson #5: When you win a race, you have exactly one obligation: opposed to... (thanks Greg for the photos!)


Womens 4: Daphne - 1st Marie - 2nd

Mens 4/5: Andrew - 7th

Womens Open: Daphne -  6th

Mens 4: Andrew - 19th Josh - 27th

Our next sanctioned race is looking like Hillsboro, but if you wanna keep in shape this weekend, join us for BEERSTER!

Glencoe Rapport

By Marie Coming off an impressive night at the track, including hours upon hours of reviewing every single team tactic possibility of podium sweep contenders, C3PO rolled in ready to conquer fears at 2011’s Glencoe Grand Prix.

Stone. Cold. Ella.

As Daph, Jamie, and I show up to the course, Ella is just finishing the last laps of her race. Setting the tone for the day, Ella races with all the big boys and finishes strong against a girl literally twice her size. Little did we know, not only can Ella grab those bronze medals (to hang next to her inaugural track performance), she can climb a tree in bike shoes like nobody’s business!

With CCC lining three deep in the Women’s 4’s, D, J, and I are ready for anything. Due to years’ previous crashes, most of the women are timid, grabbin’ handfuls of brakes ‘round every bend. The first fifteen minutes show for long, laborious laps led by the Daphinator. No one’s moving to break away til the prime laps are announced, with Michigan’s Amanda Schaap stealing ‘em all, Daph chasing and holding her wheel grabbin’ those 2-deep primes. Three laps to go, and there’s still little movement...except James passing around the field with precision! We’re down to the bell lap, and I’m pushing with all my might to catch the token orange jersey. A bike throw and cool down lap later, I learn that we got James sitting at 4th, me with the fiver, and Daph concluding with a solid ninth. Because Schaap won, our top Illinois women included Sarah Rice (Tati), Amelia Katz (Alberto’s), and Glencoe’s very own hometown hero, Jamers!


Double Up Squad features Doc Morell and Avi, their first race being the Master’s 30+ 4/5's. Morell sustains a solid effort (in addition to a surprisingly strong showing in the ping pong tournament the night before), concluding with 11th place ca$hmoney. Avi manages to grab the most points for the Sprint Title, and more importantly, an amazing orange and black Swiss Army watch prime!

Sprint Winner! + Master's 4/5 podium. Credit to Erica

After a walk to and meal at the generous Gavin-Smyth home, the crew heads back to the course to spectate Part Deux of the Double Up Squad: the notorious Cat 4, also known as Teen Dream’s Last Stand. The forty-five minute run has to be handled carefully if DUS and TD are going to dominate. Our men stay with the pack throughout the entire race, supported by Brian’s ever present family on the sidelines. The standings come down to a tight finish, and a particular finish full of life lessons: even if you throw your bike with the gangliest of arms, sometimes the other dude will get ya by a millimeter at the line. Awarded his silver Illinois medal and second place flowers (given to his ma, of course), Bri proves to show maturity in his skill, positioning, and attitude. Avi finishes just at the back at the pack, and the Doctor once again comes through in the money.

Throw what ya got! Credit to Tati

Remember Jannette’s showing last year? Well, never doubt a lady with revenge in her eyes. The original 70 minute race is shortened by 10 and held at an exceptionally fast pace. Jannette is not to be held down, as she plows through the hill, ten technical turns, and a stampede of Vanderkitten and Tibco PROs. After a hearty hour of power, Jannette grabs that bronze Illinois medal and a tenth place finish, with an abundance of post-race pride. JRho conquered her demons with a big smile!

Jannette knows what's up. Credit to Erica (again)

At the end of the day, we took home podium spots in every category entered, a belly full of delicious food and beers, and a desire to continue successful teamwork! Special thanks to all of the race’s sponsors, in addition to the Neurohr fam, my family contingency flying in from all over the country, Sarah’s excellent massaging skills, the Teen Dream Team, Maria & Andrew for making the trip out to cheer, and the welcoming Gavin-Smyth household!

Chicago Comfy Crew. Credit Bill Draper

Harlem Classic 2011

When Olympic gold medalist Marty Nothstein calls you "fearless" and "an incredible bike handler," it's worth immortalizing.

Velonews broadcast the entire Harlem Classic live last weekend, and our East Coast contingent was all over the amateur fixed gear event. You can watch the whole video here. Jump to 51:30 to see the whole race, or if you just can't take the suspense, jump to 61:30 to see the nail-biting final lap.