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 !