Wednesday, December 31, 2008


2008 is just about behind us and I wanted to put down some thoughts before we pin up a new calender. Everything I've seen and read seems to chalk up 2008 as a bad memory. I think otherwise, for the most part I had great year, it wasn't without it's heartaches and loss but the the most part, I'm calling it good. So pull up a chair, grab a mug and enjoy.

In rememberence of family passed on, we lost an Aunt and Uncle this year. They were an extremely dynamic couple and a huge inspiration to me at a formidable age. Ernest Saxton was a Kodak lifer and one of the funniest persons I've ever had the privilege to know let alone call family. He owned the room when it came time for a story. His wife, Stevie was of Greek dissent and was a true matriarch of the family, She introduced me to that piece of dessert heaven, Baklava so for that I will always be thankful! They will be missed.

Purely monetarily speaking, we and our possessions are worth less than a year ago, Is this a problem ? Of course it is, however I'd like see this as a fault line that has been building pressure for sometime, the plates were going to shift at some point and as much as it hurts, I think it may be healthy for the long term. I'll admit that my viewpoint is a gross oversimplification of a very convulted issue but it makes me feel better so.... check back with me by this time next year and see if I'm singing the same tune.

My bride and I celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary by bobbing about the Pacific ocean watching brightly colored fishes while Humpback whales breached on the horizon. That trip in February mentally ruined me by causing instantaneous loss of focus or attention when those memories are present.

Friends - New and Old. This year was marked by a inordinately large number of friends, most of whom I hadn't heard from for years getting back in touch. Perhaps it's our ever-shrinking global scale and our instant communication at our fingertips ? I'm not sure but I like it, so if I heard from you this year, thanks for getting in touch and keeping in touch!!

The Cyclocross Season. Sure, the results were a tad better than past seasons, but I thoroughly enjoyed this season for so many more reasons. There were few frustrating moments when my body wasn't up to the task (Boulder Cup) and I wasn't catching any luck at all (Boulder #3-puncture, Pikes Peak Supercross #2-puncture, Blue Sky Velo-Xilinx- mechanical from being rear-ended). But here are the positives that far outweighed the negatives:

Courses: Kudos to DBC events for the States course, I couldn't have asked for a better core cross course and if the Chatfield Rez course didn't put a perma-grin on your face then you've got problems

Riders: The cross scene is where it's at, you can't fake this sport and that fact makes for tight group of fanatics who enjoy getting dirty and picking up a hacking, phlegmy cough for the remainder of the day. Thanks to Jim Mathis and Chris Wilkerson, a couple of other Srammies who saw the light this year. Mike Dancel, a Springs rider from Blue Sky Velo, Rich from Frites en Mayo, Greg from Mud and Cowbells, Matty O. Pete Webber, another Maine escapee. Many of you are part of the reason I keep chucking my crap in the car every weekend to take part in the insanity.

Nats: an obvious confirmation that this sport is where I belong. See you in Bend,Oregon next year or over the pond in the homeland.

Looking forward, here's to new leadership at the helm and Phish getting back together with a rumored 5 night run at Redrocks. There's so much more I could list here but time's a wastin' . Here's wishing you and your family the best for 2009 !! Thanks so much for reading and sending your comments.

other misc. photo's from the year:

Tall biking at Fruita Fat Tire fest
Birthday on top of Kenosha Pass

Monarch Crest - a surprisingly super fun solo ride this year

Jen, on her little big wheel bike in Fruita

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Withdrawl Symptoms

We just returned from another quick drive to Kansas and back to visit with the family for the holidays. For sure my body in still consuming calories as if:
A) there are still races every weekend
B) there's a hibernation looming on the horizon
A little self control would go a long way right now (as I look down at the keyboard here, all the crevasses between the keys are filled with cookie crumbs). After a weekend of mass consumption and a total of 12+ hours in the car. I stuffed myself into some cold weather ride gear and spun over to the Bear Creek cross course for a couple of laps with the new shoes. The trails in Palmer are still a bit icy in the shaded areas so I decided to pass on the fat tires, besides I really wanted to get back out of the skinny knobbies. Felt super good to get out for some fresh air, but I am already feeling like I've lost some fitness...oh well..tis' the season. I think I'll go cook up some Spam in bacon grease and serve it between 2 chocolate chip cookies.

snowball fight to warm up before our hike

Karen, Jen, Mom and Don

Nieces on the prairie

Jersey's Christmas gift... a Maine lobstah

Here's looking forward to 2009! Thanks for reading


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Truth be told, I never get that fired up about the Grand Tours come summertime, I have an infinite amount of respect for the (clean) riders who pour their heart and soul into these events but what gets me going are the Spring Classics, especially Paris-Roubaix. I was extremely fortunate to attend this race in 1997 while Rockshox was developing their road fork. If I can manage to adequately translate that experience into words, I will do so here at a later time.

Paris-Roubaix is a thing of beauty, the specialists of this event are so beyond pro. They've ascended to an entirely new level in order to deal with so much pain, suffering, and toil. Masterlink Films has just released The Road To Roubaix and is without a doubt, hands down, the BEST cycling film I've ever seen. If you have any interest in Paris-Roubaix please, I beg you, do yourself a favor and see this film, It is time well spent.

Thanks to my honey for recognizing that I wasn't going be able to sit on my hands and wait until Christmas to watch this film. She let me unwrap this one early!!

Thanks for reading

Monday, December 22, 2008

and another....

Katie Compton take another World Cup!! details here. ( Photo by her hubby, Mark ) Also, in other news the UCI seeks to undermine the very sport that it oversees by calling the World Cup bad for the sport. Huh ?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

It was a very chilly 3° when I let Jersey outside this morning, winter has officially arrived. The Solstice takes on so much more meaning the farther you live from the equator. When living in Maine, there was a significant and real sense that some of the weight was being lifted off when this day arrived on the calender. It had already been months of shortened dark days and although there were more than a few cold, snowy days ahead, a least they came with some additional light on both sides (even if was a just few minutes a week ). The corner had been turned.

My commutes this week were a true mixed bag of the elements. Monday morning was below zero with some fresh snow on the ground. By Thursday evening we were getting massive, balmy gusts of wind, a few that literally blew me off the bike path into the grass and brought me to a dead stop. I had to actually consider getting off and walking it was blowing so hard ! The Panaracer 45c tires on my Surly have been great on the snow, ice and dirt but they are so painfully slow on the pavement, I need to find something with a smaller block tread. I really like the look of the Kenda Small Block 8's, seems like a decent balance between low rolling resistance and traction, but the widest they offer is a 35c. I'd like to find something wider to keep the flotation factor as high as possible. Since there's a mixture of pavement and dirt on my commute with the added winter elements thrown in, it's always a matter of weighing the pro's and con's.

After the past 9 solid weekends of racing it's a little strange not to be running around the house gathering up bit and pieces of clothing, water bottles, GU packs to toss into the gear bag. ( those activities have been substituted by preparing for the 25th. ). My Jamis arrived back from KC via brown Santa (UPS) on Tuesday with a bent rear derailleur hanger. I replaced that with a fresh one on hand and gave the bike a pro wash before one last tune and then it goes on the hook until perhaps a dirt ride up to the Academy and back.

I also made the very difficult decision to put my old Sidi's out to pasture. I'm pretty sure they're at least 10 years old and they are getting seriously soft in the sole. I pulled the spikes off and will continue to use them for commuting. They've been replaced by a new pair of Specialized kicks in ,yes......white ! These will be stored in a cool, dark, dry area until next fall.

We've just submitted artwork to Champion Systems clothing for a new Colorado Springs specific Srammie kit ( long and short-sleeved skinsuits!!...sweet!! ) so I'll post pics of those when they arrive sometime in Feb. or March. Although we're heading into cyclocross hibernation, here's to looking forward to the next season.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the Solstice

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Shots from Nationals

Trebon is too tall.......Page behind

Land Sharks
Future Hypothermia Victim

Colorado Springs' own Katie Compton on her way to a 4th National Championship

Stu Thorne and crew being anal

Saturday, December 13, 2008


It's over, and it comes with a combination of elation and sadness. Sadness because this is the sport that keeps on giving, our scene is so tight and such an awesome spectacle.... we're many months before the circus starts up again. Elation for putting in a solid effort today, although I was lapped by the top three, I managed another 65th placing today. ( at least I'm consistentantly slow this weekend? ).My goal of not being asked to pull off the course was met.

If you couldn't tell by my earlier posting today, I was seriously wadded up this morning just sitting around. I was doubting my reasons for being here,. For the vast majority of riders here this is their summit push, the culmination of the season and their training program is dialed towards peaking this weekend. I didn't want to get out there just to get in the way of these guys and their goals but that all changed as soon as I arrived.

I was spinning easy on a nice paved roller just a few miles away from the venue and who pulls up next to me is Tim Johnson, the first American ever to podium at a World Championships, subject of an excellent new DVD release, The Nine Ball Diaries and current National Champion with his teammate Jeremy Powers. They pull up and then sit up when coming alongside. We're rolling along for a few miles just chattin it up about this and that. We all have similar motivations for racing, Mine are simple, race the best race I can but more so, immerse myself in the cyclocross racing experience which encompasses so many things but mainly hanging out and riding with those who share this passion whether that be stars of our sport or pack fodder like myself. It's an addiction.

What a scene today, a huge raucous crowd, a group of 5 dressed in shark costumes, someone with a marching band tuba,lots of bells and screaming. I'm pretty sure my sister and brother in law enjoyed themselves. You can't deny the appeal of spectating a cross is NEVER boring! We'll that is it, an even dozen races in the bag this year. I'll make sure I follow the same "training" program next year....downhilling at Keystone, epic mountain bikes rides on Kenosha, Monarch Pass, a Fruita trip, taking the cruisers downtown with Jen to get some grub.

Until then I think it's time to go slide on snow, Thanks for reading!!!


I am not so keen on racing so late in the day. I'm sitting in my hotel room...waiting, just sitting here with heaps of pent up energy. I think a large part of finding success here as a lot to with with being comfortable being out of your comfort zone, the normal pre-race routine, food, sleep, travel, etc. are thrown into a bit of chaos. I managed a great nights sleep and woke to mostly overcast skies and extremely blustery winds. There's a very slight chance of some light rain by late day.

According to the NRS guys the track was drying up very quickly yesterday, the masters women categories had the afternoon to wrap up their events and by late day there was no need for bike swaps in the pits whereas a spare bike and a mechanic/bike wash slave was necessary yesterday morning, pretty epic conditions. Scott M pre-rode yesterday and managed to completely mangle his rear derailleur after the pulleys filled up with mud and ceased to rotate.

Unless it starts to rain, I don't think the mud is going to play a factor today. My legs are feeling Thursdays efforts still but I'm feeling ready to go. My sister Laura and brother-in-law Don will be coming out from Kansas today so this will be fun for them. The hotel is finally filling to the brim with antsy riders. I ran into the "twin towers" from Kona this morning, it's looks like they have just arrived into town. Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers have been here for a couple of days already.

Thanks for reading and all the encouraging words of support, Today's goal is simple, try not to get pulled.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Todays Pics and a New Forecast

Nuetral Race Support..the unsung pros
hard core cross fans

Jose's Brats

Still Muddy

Here the NOAA forecast for tomorrow:..( sweeeeeet! )

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of rain after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54. Breezy, with a south wind between 22 and 28 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph

Rest Day

So the folks putting on this little goofball event in the heartland posted a video on their event website previewing the course this year. What was posted doesn't represent the course in the least bit. I'm not sure what the story is behind the change but what has been laid out is outstanding!! The course preview video looked like a grass crit, no elevation gain, no technical challenges, few dismounts.....had me seriously worried. The layout has heaps of elevation gain and loss, lots of twists and turns and 3 dismount sections ( one which forces riders to actually run downhill into another sweeping 180 with another uphill....sick,sick people ), So all in all, very fun and super challenging.

It rained a bit last night and when I woke up there was a very heavy frost on all the cars in the hotel parking lot. So much for the course drying out, those poor Juniors this morning, it's going to slick as a smelt.

No plans today, clean the bike up a bit, head back to the airport to pick up Scott ( another Crossphile Srammie from Chicago ) perhaps go for a short spin and take a look at the course later. Forecast call for temps in the 50's and gusty winds tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

One down, one to go

I had to come all the way to KC to get my fix of mud, (be careful what you wish for!) The recent snow here melted off today and left a couple inches of some incredibly greasy, sloppy sticky mud. The Red Rocks race that was held a few weeks ago on snow held WAY more traction than todays run. You had to be super careful on how the power was applied, there were more than a few long grinding climbs where the rear wheel would spin on every pedal stroke and then it was hang-on for the descents. I had a pretty poor starting position and managed to avoid a huge pile up right out of the gate. My goals of A. not crashing, B. not getting lapped and C. not being pulled were met. I think we had about a 100+ person field and I managed 64th I think.
Saturday will be a different story, the course may be drier but I will be a small fish in a big pond, we'll see how it goes, right now I need a warm shower, some Advil and an early bedtime
Aside from racing, it's feels like a bit of a reunion here, I ran into Stu Thorne from Cyclocross World and super honchy wrench for Tim Johnson, frame builder extraordinaire Richard Sachs from my old stomping grounds of Connecticut and Matty O, pro mechanic for Gary Fisher and all around nice guy who races fro Pro-Peloton in Boulder. There is lots of Colorado talent here this weekend.

Thanks for reading


After some delays in COS, I arrived in KC on time this morning. A bit of a rough start, a 4AM wake up call, deicing delay because of a heavy overnight frost and then to top it all off, a flight attendant doing a Mae West impersonation with the safety talk over the intercom, it didn't work for me at that hour of the morning.

There's a bit of snow on the ground and temps are chilly, slightly overcast skies. I'm going to try to work the kinks out my legs and lungs at 3pm today with the 40+ B group. Should be interesting after I just powered down a semi-yucky sandwich in the hotel lobby.....Stay tuned.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

couple of pics from last Sundays race

A little "hup hup" through the barriers

wondering why I got a call up

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two To Go

Today marked the finale of the Colorado season, a little bittersweet, I'm definitely going to miss mixing it up every weekend with the "old guys who don't train and work 40+ hours a week"group. What won't be missed ? The cold, dark early morning drive up from the Springs and goatheads mostly.

Jen came up with me and we packed the weasel along for good measure. Sheila joined Jim so we had our own personal cheerleading crew out on the loop. The course was a superb mix of techy sections strung together with areas that demanded flat out power, seemed as though the ground was still holding some moisture from the snow we had Thursday so it compacted really nicely in spots and was crazy-fast. Two sections of barrier work and a "fun"sand pit with a 180° turn in the middle. There were heaps of very sharp turns that required concentration, all in all it felt a lot like back East. We had cool overcast conditions and a really large field, I don't think I'm terribly superstitious but I felt like circumstances were falling into place today. I do like even numbers, especially two's and eights. My number today was 228, hmmm..nice. Also thanks so much to Doug in Santa Cruz for the skinsuit. I've been denying the power of the one piece for the past two seasons and it came to head in the snow last weekend when my baggy jersey was becoming very droopy and flapping all over the place from all the moisture ( inside and outside ). I couldn't deal any longer. There is power in the skinsuit, it is faster, it's a fact.

I was dumbfounded to get a call up (I think because most of the really fast guys must have upgraded to 35+ Opens), I picked a spot way left in the third row. The folks at DBC like the long, slightly uphill dragstrips on pavement. Staging was done in seconds and the whistle went off. I slid back slightly to somewhere in the middle of the field probably erasing any advantage of the callup but no need to panic. The laps were long and we were expecting 5 to 6 loops within our 45 minutes. I was feeling really, really good on the bike today. I was running the Griffo's a bit on the firm side but there were a few hard shots with roots and and few curbs so I didn't want to risk a pinch flat. A serpentine short uphill section was proving pretty difficult for a few riders and I was caught behind a couple of them failing on lap 2. I was sitting at the back of a group of 5 during lap 3 and decided to punch it around these guys so I'd have a clear shot in these turns, it worked very well, I had a bit of open road in front of me but nearly blew to the sky and was seeing stars after the effort.

At 2 to go, our group was coming into lapped traffic so our line was immediately strung out and became difficult to tell what positions were being held. At 1 to go I was in a bit of no-mans land, there were 2 about 100 meters ahead and 3 guys just about 4 or 5 bike lengths behind me. On the last section of the bombed out-super rough decent, one of the guys behind me passes me like I'm going backwards. I bridge up to him on the 180 turn before the start finish and I watch as he pushes the chain into the big ring and stands up, "great." I stand up and am able to grab his wheel, I sit in and let him tow me to the line until it's time to come around. I get by him about 2 bike lengths before the line and come through in 16th place. I am super pleased with today's race, no major mistakes and just working the race the best I can. I'm completely aware that even this top 20 finish today isn't going to net me anything worthy to write home about in KC next week but who cares ? I had heaps of fun today although as the girls said after the race "It didn't really look like you were having such a good time out there". But I reassured them that it's a very unlikely pairing of pleasure and pain and that's the beauty of cross.

To all the 35+4's, I really hope to see some of you next week but I know for most of you, today was the conclusion of the season, so hope you have a relaxing "off-season", I can't wait to see you all next September when the circus starts up again. Stay in touch

Thanks for reading

Friday, December 5, 2008

SeaTac Nationals 1996

Couple of retro pics from Nationals in Seattle in '96, story to follow....can you tell which one was taken immediately after finishing and which was taken about 20 minutes later after the cold set in?

Ramping Up while Winding Down

Lot's of cycling-centric things going on, the Colorado State Championships this Sunday which unfortunately looks like they will be held under nice conditions. I'm actually OK with this as I missed out last year due to some brutal highway conditions . I was on-line at daylight looking at CDOT cameras placed along I-25 and decided I'd be the wiser for staying home instead of possibly spending a few hours hanging upside down in my seat belt somewhere on Monument Pass waiting for help.

We just went through a couple of days of some very wintery weather, It snowed lightly all day yesterday accumulating about 3 inches, by today, sunny and temps in the mid-40's. There's still some snow on all the North facing yards, streets and slopes but all will probably be gone by the middle of the weekend. I did throw my Panaracer Fire Cross 700 x45c tires on and they do work super well in the white stuff but dang...they are sooooo slow. Eleven degrees when I rode from the house this morning and the roads were a sheet of ice.. I do really enjoy the baffled looks on drivers faces. The path to work had already been plowed most of the way providing a far safer alternative method of transport.

Looks as though the crew at Boulder Racing has added one last (?) low key event for the season, for details, go here. Think I'll pass on this, States will be my 10th race for the season, a new high for me for the 12+ years that I've been racing cross ( I think I'm becoming more obsessive about this sport the older I get )

Next Thursday I leave for the Nationals in KC, my goals are simple, try super hard to not get lapped and not be asked to leave the race. I'll do a non-championship race on Thursday afternoon if travel goes well. I'll update here as frequently as possible so stay tuned.

Thanks so much for all readers sending lots of positive feedback and continued encouragement about the blog, It has been a very fulfilling couple of months since starting this, so thanks again


Monday, December 1, 2008

End of the Drought

Pay-Dirt!!! I woke early Sunday morning to at least a couple of inches of fresh snow, and yes it did feel exactly like coming downstairs on Christmas morning to find _______( fill in the blank of your most treasured gift ever )under the tree. Nothing was going to stop me today. Jim craftily slid his pristine vintage Honda through the intersection at the base of the Fillmore hill (remember the days before ABS ) and pulled into our driveway at 7am. We both acknowledged that we we were about to do was not the smartest idea but it was game-on. I-25 headed North was a bit of a mess but few cars on the road and being cautious was the order of the day.

The driving conditions erased any opportunity to pre-ride or warm all; race time was at 9:25, we arrived at 8:50. We were headed to registration and bumped into Matt O and Greg K. Matt seemed slightly stunned that a couple of knuckleheads who stand zero chance of standing on the podium that day would risk the drive up to race...too late, we've arrived. A quick sign up in a deluxe camper trailer, run back to the car with the motor running and heat on full blast and pin on the number. I jumped onto the course and rode for about 200 meters before quickly realizing that it had turned into an ice skating rink. There was approximately a 10" wide track that had been packed down pretty well by riders and because the temps were hovering just above the freezing mark had turned rock hard and slick as....well, ice.

Dubbing around on the track caused me to pull up to the line late so I picked a spot at the very back ( where I should be ) and the whistle went off about 30 seconds later. Within a matter of a minute and barely onto the track our race resembled a strung out line of bowling pins at the end of the lane. Riders were everywhere, I've never seen so many guys loose traction and stack it so quickly. I ventured way off track and into the deep stuff on the sides a few times just to get by the chaos, some sections were so difficult to regain momentum that I just shouldered my bike and ran a good portion of the course. By laps 2 and 3, I had settled in and figured out my lines, I was motoring well and picking off riders.

I also couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I relish conditions where fitness and power must take a back seat to handling skills and I felt super good on the bike. Seemed as though a large group of spectators had arrived en-mass equipped with bells, horns and lungs which added to the hilarity and absurdity of the conditions. I had absolute confidence in the bikes ability to stay put as long as I committed to my lines. I never stacked and rolled through in 12 position. I could have gone for at least a few more laps, perhaps conditions were improving but I knew I was picking up speed on every lap. Thanks to the great crew that put on the Red Rocks series. I was a little bummed that the old Morrison elementary school venue was left off the schedule but Bear Creek park is a beautiful spot and makes for a great race venue.

State Finals on Sun. see you there
Thanks for reading

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I waltzed into work last Wednesday thinking I could get away with wrapping up a few odds and ends and bailing by lunchtime at the was not to be as I stumbled out, completely frayed about an hour later than planned. Rode home, then Jen and I frantically packed the car for the 6+ hour drive to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Kansas. For various reasons a bunch of us Connecticut yankees ended up planting stakes in the middle of the country. Thanksgiving is far and above the most underrated holiday of all... there are few cards to send, no gifts you feel obligated to purchase, the home doesn't need elaborate decorations, etc. This one is so beautifully simple, make a special meal and gather around with those close to you to share.

I had communicated a desire to delay the family greetings by a few hours because I've always wanted to ride by bike from my sister's place in Salina to my other sisters home in Newton, 56 miles due South. Thankfully, my wishes were granted and I threw a leg over the bike on Thanksgiving morning under perfect blue bird skies and chilly temps. I had been watching the weather carefully and sure enough, the pieces had fallen into place, I had a huge push south by a very consistent wind from the North that was building as the day went on. Only three hours later I pulled into the driveway, I spent perhaps 10% of the ride in my small ring up front. For sure, this will need to become a tradition, if not a point to point,then why not a nice big loop.

After dinner, Jen, myself, my bro-in law and handful of nieces went for a short hike around the property, felt good to stretch the legs again . Friday, traditionally has been a "work day" at my sisters farm, a huge sprawling piece of land with a few outbuildings, silos, barns and a cool old brick house. Since we've got a pretty good crew of slightly skilled workers on hand it's a great opportunity to check off some projects from the ever-growing list. We had a slight morning delay and spent that time shooting tin cans with various rifles and handguns. It's been a good couple of decades since I've used a gun, turns out I migrate towards the smaller caliber rifles that don't throw you in the back seat when the trigger is pulled. Friday was spent indulging in heaps of leftovers and celebrating our niece Hannah's 11th birthday...we had a great weekend catching up with everyone so thanks to my whole family for putting us up in their homes, putting up with us and taking great care with our care and feeding!

We packed up Saturday morning amidst flurries that were rapidly turning into a full fledged snow squall. We made it back to the Springs by dusk, emptied the car and then repacked for Sundays Red Rocks race. The forecast calls for snow...substantial amounts!!!

Thanks for reading

Sunday, November 23, 2008


The second race of the season was held Saturday in our little burg under sunny skies and cool temps. Being from back East I've got a serious hankering for some real mud. Not the variety that feels like you're peeling frosting off your birthday cake, I'm talking about the black as ink, completely saturated type. It's a vile mixture of a equal parts decomposed bark, leaves, water, tadpoles, etc. and a supreme exercise in handling skills to ride through it, across, it , over it while maintaining an upright, forward progression. Ah, but it was not to be today, here in the high desert, we looked forward to dust clouds and thorns.

I have to admit I was seriously tentative about today's race. I'm not sure exactly where it was coming from but I felt devoid of energy from a crazy busy work week and perhaps a feeling a little bit too much pressure on myself to live up to my 9th place at the first race. Nervousness left at the line where I ran into the usual cast of characters. Mike was there and not feeling too ready. I was jammering with Rich when the ACA official announced that after the top 20 were called up that he'd be staging us in sequence which for some reason sounded like sequins. So we were all cracking up about our forgetfulness to show up to the line with sequins, capes adorned with sequins, bejeweled bikes, etc.

The whistle blows and we are off to the slowest start I've ever encountered. It's a wide open dirt road with a bit of elevation but the group seems to just be cruising, not racing. Well, fine by me, I'll keep moving up without blowing up. I settled in for a heap of rapid short laps with 3 barriers ( two dismounts ) per lap. I was going well, not great and trying desperately to bridge up to a group of 5 in front of me. Sitting in 8th or 9th I started feeling the rear of my bike wash a bit on the corners, sure enough I've punctured. I nursed the bikes as best I could and thankfully I was close to the pit, I rolled in, changed my rear wheel and tried not to pay attention to places lost and just do a clean wheel change. Back in, it didn't look too bad, I got to the top of the run up, looked up and there's Rich telling me "14th place." I had 3 laps remaining but I was worked, I caught and passed a couple of guys only to be passed back and then started running into lapped traffic. By the bell lap I wasn't sure where my placing was but just working on maintaining flow. I rolled though the line alone in lucky 13th place. A super fun day of racing. Jim busted out his vintage zebra stripped skinsuit ( sorry-no photos....yet ) and pulled out an 18th place today, He swears in was his fashion statement that was responsible for his success and will continue to use this garment for the remainder of the season.

It's hard to believe that we only have two weekends of racing left in our Colorado calender although I will adding an additional 2 to my season as I'm confirmed for Nationals in KC, as of this weekend ! (more on that later)

For some pics of Saturdays race go here . Thanks for reading !


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Let's just say it's been one of those weeks and try to leave it at that. I've been craving rest, some serious downtime, but it's just a matter of time before the arrival of daytime type thoughts show up and pull me from bliss. This is temporary but I can't completely focus on the end goal just yet...seems as though everything else has taken a back seat. The pendulum has paused at one end of it's travel.

There are many things I'm thankful for ( priming already for my favorite holiday ) , thankful for the biggies like an extremely patient and understanding partner in life; and smaller things like my commute to work by bike. Since daylight savings, I've been witness to some amazing sights on the way home, a huge owl, preying on wild bunnies behind the Intel building, a couple of raccoons, much larger than basketballs waddling across the street. Tonight, I came around a corner on the Sinton trail path and there was a very large, very healthy coyote standing in the middle of the trail , he gave a slow glance in my direction before heading off into a meadow.

The ride home is serious decompression time and highly valued to me, much more so than cup holders, heated seats, sitting at lights, encountering rude drivers, etc. If driving, I'm sure I would arrive home in a worse state then when I departed. If you can manage riding to work, just one day a week, even if it's just one direction, give it a try.

Thanks for reading and hope to see some of you at Pikes Peak Supercross on Saturday


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sanity Check

The last of the Boulder Series events was held yesterday at the Louisville Rec Center. This was my seventh race of the season in the bag and it's been wearing on me that the weather has been holding up so nicely. Friday morning it looked as though things were shaping up to be epic. By mid morning, snow was blowing horizontally carried by a stiff wind from the North, the mercury showed no signs of ascension which meant whatever landed on the ground was most likely staying on the ground. By mid afternoon the breeze dropped off, the sun burned through the layer of clouds and subsequently the snow disappeared on cue. Looked like another day in the sandbox, choking on dust.

I met Sander and Jim at O-dark thirty Saturday morning and quickly began to question my motives and sanity. It was 14° degrees, the sun had yet to show over the horizon and we were on our way up to Boulder. By the time we pulled into the parking area, the thermometer on the rear view displayed a less than cozy 24°. Pfffssshhh ! Ten whole degrees, just since the drive up, no problem, by our 9:30 start time it'll be downright balmy ! Standing in the registration line just about killed any ambition to suit up and ride. I was wearing ninety-nine percent of what I packed for the day and stood for what seemed an eternity out in the cold wind. I could feel the concrete beneath my shoes pulling any remaining warmth and ambition out through the soles of my feet. What added insult to injury was that we were lined up along an expansive glass wall of the Louisville Recreation Center. On the other side of that wall was a simmering , steamy hot tub and beyond that a nice large pool with folks hanging out enjoying being immersed in warmth. While they were being kind and not blatantly pointing at us I could tell they were confident in their choice of activities this morning.

You really have to love this sport and despite my inward doubts and longing to opt out and sit in the car with the heater on, perhaps listen to "Wait, wait, don't tell me". Today was one one of those rewarding rides that completely eclipses any and all of the negatives. I simply had a great ride today. I managed to avoid what seemed like three or four first lap crashes ( a guy in front of me managed to go over the bars on a short steep climb!! a pretty impressive feat! ) I settled in and tried hard to advance through the field. This course is just absolutely brutal on bike and rider, incredibly rough and many sections are near impossible to hold onto the bars and maintain some semblance of control. My sense of timing was way off as I came through the start/finish expecting the bell would be out with one to go. Sign read 3 to go..."really ??!!" I managed to pick up a few more places, a few due to to dropped chains, on bikes running a single ring....very bizarre as the entire singular purpose of using one chainring is to avoid these problems. I finished up my 3 laps as smoothly as possible and finished 14th. Pretty stoked, this was a personal best for a Boulder Series race. All the lack of training and preparation is really starting to pay off.

Sadly, Sander and Jim were victims of a sand pit crash/shifter problems and a snapped shoe strap respectively. However, fun was had by all and thankfully the high for the day reached a smidge above 50°. Only 3 weekends left of racing in Colorado, a total of 5 races on the calender, I'm planning on 3 to go with our local Pikes Peak event next weekend. And perhaps a trip to KC this year for Nationals ! Willing to travel great lengths to experience some real cross style weather...I know, I know, be careful what you wish for ! Stay Tuned

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Cyclocross Primer

A piece in the NY Times about our quirky post season activities

Monday, November 10, 2008


For as long as the Michelin Mud cyclocross tires have been in existence, I've been a loyal and devoted fan. From the green versions with their "mud shedding" abilities to the ubiquitous Mud 2. They've been flawless, I've never had a good enough reason to even look at anything else. Tubulars are not meant for punters like myself, I'm definitely not worthy of some hand sewn, made in the homeland, super pricey tire that I'll most likely roll on the first corner because I just know, with my less than stellar methods of gluing tires to's coming off.

A few weeks back, I was introduced to the Challenge Griffo clincher. I must say I liked the look, the fact that the TPI count was twice that of the Mud 2, it's also lighter. I decided to order a set and promptly broke my own cardinal rule of bicycle racing. I installed them last Friday evening before the On the Cross race. There never seem to be any monumental leaps in technology in cyclocross, it evolves cautiously. Cross bikes traditionally been the red-headed step children of the road market. Once something shiny, black and most likely made from carbon fiber has proven itself in the road market it gets handed down to it's cross brethren. Not so with these tires. What a huge improvement, a great tread pattern that is very surefooted and stable, the volume of the tire and it's supple casing provide an amazing ride and feel on the trail. I am hooked, these are not some watered-down, hybrid style, road/ off-road tire, these are made for cyclocross and the advantage is immediate and real. Get some.

Oh..That Ain't Right

Here's the aftermath of " the incident" ,see the Squadra Colorado Springs posting below for an explanation

Sunday, November 9, 2008


If you're already thinking about the transition season, go see Warren Miller's film "Children of Winter" great stuff to look forward to when cross is over..

Squadra Colorado Springs

Bike dorks, we are. Sander, Chris W, Jim and myself headed up to On the Cross at the Chatfield Rez in South Denver yesterday. We're all sporting our Srammie team kits, nervously running around, prepping for our 45 minutes of pain, laughing and poking fun at why we get so amped for a race when for the most part , we'll just be getting in the way of faster riders.

Personally, yesterday was pure bliss. The course flowed like no-other I've ever ridden. Organizers were extremely creative using some pretty flat terrain, There was a decent amount of barrier work, some long winding sections of tight paved bike path cutting into even tighter sections of buff and bermed singletrack.....if you fell asleep at the wheel, there were dues to pay and I witnessed more than a few.

I felt super relaxed at the start, since the past 4 races haven't really played out as planned I just wanted to sit back a bit and work the race from the back. I was chatting it up with Rich from Frites en Mayo who I hadn't seen much at all this season. ( "Good to see you again, I'm glad you're back ! ") Our field was a bit smaller than usual, I think a result of an absurd new schedule this season of forcing us "old" guys to race first thing in the morning and Juniors going in the late afternoon. Thankfully I'm not a parent of one of these kids who's stewing in their hormones all day, waiting to unleash their entire days' worth of pent up energy. It's no mystery that kids who are racing will be up at dawn filling their bottles and gear bags so, let them race early and us old guys with our creaky knees and lame backs wait until the sun is a little higher in the sky to warm our cold's nature's way, we need the old schedule back.. I'm done ranting.

The whistle goes off and I immediately realize that I should have scoped out the start. There are huge bomb holes in the middle of this dirt road and I'm hitting them so hard and can barely pedal. There's no space to get out and move to the left or right and get onto some smoother terrain. Then, a super sharp right hander into singletrack and an immediate bottleneck. I'm pretty sure I'm still way back so just play it out and see how many guys I can pass without blowing up or stacking it. I felt super good, bike was flawless, I had heaps of power and barrier sections were buttery. Then I realized following closely to another rider in front of me that I had pinned my number of the wrong side ( rookie! ) and probably wasn't being counted through the start/finish area. Minor panic attack though really, it doesn't matter that much and if I keep thinking about this I'm going to fly off the course into the trees. so back to focusing on the trail and finishing. The course was so long we had completed only 4 laps in 45minutes, I pulled off the side immediately after finishing and the ACA official nodded that indeed, my placing was noted despite my not paying attention to where my number should have been pinned. 22st place. I'll take it...

I spent my cool down riding with Chris W. who was warming up for his second-ever cross race. The first one didn't pan out so well at Bear Creek in the Springs, when he literally flatted 100 meters off the start without a spare set of wheels. It was over before it began and the disappointment was clear. Today, he was feeling great, the course suited him perfectly, not super technical and requiring a lot of straightline power, something he's not lacking. Jim and I are standing at the end of the dirt road where it dumps into the singletrack. Chris comes through with room around him and about 5th spot from the back of the field, not a huge problem. I turn away for a second and then hear some major commotion just a stone's throw away down the trail. I look to see, and there's Chris standing next to his bike on the side of the trail, yet there's another rider who is laying on the ground behind the bike and a number of people running towards the pair including a medic. In all my years of being around bicycles I've never witnessed a spectacle of what just occurred. A rider, trying to a avoid a crash veers and hits Chris. The rider pulls a foot out and plunges it into Chris' rear wheel which wedges his entire lower leg between the wheel and the frame, doing so with enough force to buckle the steel seatstay on Chris's frame. The downed rider is carefully extracted from the bike, amazingly without a serious injury. A friend loans him a bike and he's on his way again. Chris is not so fortunate. He's left standing with a broken bike and mangled wheel. With a very audible scream/grunt, he's picks up what's left and heaves it into the woods. I can only shake my head, I'm speechless. A nearby bystander shrugs and says " well, that's racing " I have to disagree, this is almost as unlikely as being struck by lightening. Sorry, man.

No firm plans for the next few weeks, I've been doing a poor job of treading water at work and home and it feels as though a couple of weeks off from racing would do me well. I've learned that slowing down will make me faster. we'll see.

Thanks for reading

Monday, November 3, 2008


Hat's off to Chris G and his staff at DBC events, they know how to build a cross course. The hardest, most grueling, sadistic, ridiculous cross course......ever. Did I mention that it was hard ? That's at least that's how I felt with two laps to go and so desperately wanted to stop, dive under the tape and wander back to the car to sulk. I left home without even packing my C-game, I was going backwards from 2 laps in and watching the guys I'm usually battling with just ride away. Excuses ? sure! heaps of them, but it seems to just boil down to a bad day on the bike.

The course was chock full of grunty steep climbs, heaps of sharp corners, an interesting chicane, type jog to the right approaching a double set of barriers ( just so some riders didn't get the smarty-pants idea that they would bunny hop them ) a seemingly 4 mile long sand pit with two ninety-degrees turns in it and oh yes, the sun came out for our race so it was an invigorating eighty something degrees out. This day demanded throwing down as much power as possible for the entirety. There wasn't one spot to sit up and gather yourself, trust me, I was looking.

Jen did her best to console me and let me know that I "looked really strong out there" although I knew better. My Maine home-boy Boobar, who was pitting for his girl Kelli, saw otherwise, he knew I was hurting since we've spent a fair amount of time swapping paint back in in Santa Cruz at the Surf City Series. He was pulling out all the classics, yelling "unhitch the trailer!!!!" as I'd wobble by with spit and drool stuck to the sleeve of my jersey.

Highlight of the day: watching the pro's be pro. Georgia Gould displayed her domineering style by leading the scattered remains of the ladies field by at least a half a lap. The mens event was outstanding. I have a huge amount of respect for Ryan Trebon, he's a great rider, but it's tiresome watching a complete blowout if he rides away from everyone else like last years event. It also irks me that he displays some not so pro activities when the race isn't going the way he likes it, i.e. hopping off and ghost riding the bike after crossing the line, throwing a hissy fit in the pit area when his bars came loose, etc.

Tim Johnson, Trebon and Todd Wells all held the lead at some point during the first 45 minutes. Johnson gassed it with 2 laps to go and took the race by a healthy margin. Nicely done.....I love seeing the humble, guy from Mass. ride away from everyone on a course that he isn't know to excel on. For the real skiiny on what went down, go here.

Up next : Saturday, It's up to Chatfield Reservoir for On the Cross, an event I haven't participated in previously.

It's Tuesday Nov 4th , I hope you exercised your right and voted today!! That's as political as I'll get here although our front lawn states our preference : Change!

Thanks for reading !

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Circus Comes To Town

Race prep, it's an extremely meditative, cathartic experience. I love tinkering with my bike, always have, although there are certain rules one must always adhere to, such as NEVER dinking with your ride the night before an event unless it's cosmetic touch-ups such as coating the frame with furniture polish so it looks extra special and the mud doesn't stick. I've been known to break these rules when in Jr. High, I would go visit my cousin Slade the evening before a Saturday time trial. We'd spend hours holed up in his room repacking hubs and bottom brackets with the freshest of grease looking for the slightest edge.

The Jamis was put in the stand a few nights ago because the rear shifting was feeling a little sluggish. Fast forward a couple of days and I've managed to change out all the cables and housing, threw on a new chain, chainrings and cassette. Even bar tape. This is me being completely neurotic and trying to ensure that I leave nothing to chance. Thanks to my wife who secretly wishes I would apply the same attention to detail and fervor to home projects as I do to my bikes... do I wash the car after an especially mucky drive through the mountains ? No.

This weekend, the circus arrives to the front range, The Boulder Cup, two days especially tailored for us fanatics. Saturday brings everyone back to the Boulder Reservoir, Sunday is Harlow Platts park in South Boulder. I'm going to pass on the Rez but very much looking forward to Sunday's romp in the park, it's a fast grassy course with a nice long sand pit thrown in, a great venue, unfortunately it's looking like another picture perfect weather weekend. We could really use some character building type weather.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Rez Strikes Again

The Boulder Reservoir course is my nemesis, today made it two for two, I managed to pick up one of those filthy little goatheads..again. Last year, a puncture ended my race in the first lap since I didn't have a spare set of wheels in the pit. This year played out a bit different. I watched the weather Saturday night which called out sunny bright skies and temps in the mid 60's. I've been in Colorado just long enough to throw a long sleeve jersey in my bag before stepping out the door this morning. Good thing, when Jim and I arrived at the Rez, the wind had kicked up something fierce, literally sending the registration crew into hiding and whipping up huge whitecaps across the surface of the water. My warm-up ride was just about pointless, despite wearing just about everything I brought that day, I was still shivering at the line. I got a call up with a decent spot 3 rows from the line and played a start safe by leaving a generous amount of room around me. The start here is super sketchy, very high speed pavement into loose gravel that's 3 inches deep in spots. The course laid out today was working to my favor, pretty techy with some loooooong deep sand running sections. I was steadily moving forward and latched on to a group of 4, I felt amazing...really strong and smooth.

During lap three I counted out my spot to be somewhere in the top 15..very stoked!! , there were a handful of riders in front and felt confident that I could pick them off with 3 to go , perhaps earn myself a top ten finish which would be a personal best for a Boulder Series race. During lap 2 I was up, out of the saddle rounding a short uphill pavement turn when I felt my front end push hard......a puncture..again! Realizing that the tire wasn't going flat fast, I rode it as long as a could on the pavement and some "smooth" dirt sections and ran everything else. Needless to day I was going backwards quickly...I came into the pit and swapped my wheel, while some bystander thankfully helped hold my bike up as I dealt with loosening and tightening the skewer to get around the fork tabs (lawyer lips.....mental note to self....must grind off after this )

Back on the rivet, I had one lap to make up as many places as I could. Getting around the previous lap basically riding on the rim had taxed me heavily. With a half lap to finish, there was a group of 5 closely bunched in front of me.. I stood up and passed all only to have a quick wave a nausea roll over me. "Whoa"...sit up again, gather myself and just finish. 38th place. Definitely mixed emotions today. I can't and shouldn't get all worked up about the placing in the "old guys who work 40 hour plus work weeks and don't train" group, but on the other hand I wanted to race a clean race after last weekends little mishap...well chalk it up to a really worthwhile practice session, perhaps these mid-race mini calamities and chase from behind are good for motivation, fitness but above all else, remembering to enjoy myself and not get bent on results, It's not what matters at the end of the day. Perhaps it's working, today's course was pure joy to race on, really challenging and well constructed so kudos to the organizers.

This week will include a complete teardown of the drivetrain after all this sand. Next weekend, the Boulder Cup and the pro's arrive into town. Saturday, back to the Rez ( I'm not tempting fate and will skip this race ) but plan on attending Sunday's event. Till then, thanks for reading


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Velo Swap and.... ?

Beat....after an alpine start up to Denver , schlepping heaps of bike goodies to Velo Swap and returning with quite a bit less I am a bit crispy around the edges. The consensus from the swap was attendance was about the same but sales were in a slump. Walking the floor I noticed that there were quite a few vacant booths. We packed our gear and split around 2pm as it seemed as all was left were the low-balling vultures. Chalk it up to the rosey news as of late or just a better day to head out on a ride somewhere and forget about your 401K that just turned into a 200.5K.

Boulder Cross Series # 3 tomorrow at my least favorite venue, the Boulder reservoir, acres and acres of deep sand and lots of goat heads lying beneath the surface waiting to take you out of the game with a flat. It's almost 7PM and I'm not sure if I'm up to the task of getting up early..again, or not. we'll see

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

First Snow