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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Todays Haiku

strong north wind blowing
a cold front arrives today
two pedal strokes home

at least that's what it felt like....the commute home this evening was spectacular. Clouds were looming over Monument pass and I could tell we're losing our daylight pretty quick. Fresh snow coating the higher portions of the peak while the bright gold trees provided an impressive contrast to the dark clouds out East. It was one of those rides we're you feeling pro, rolling effortlessly along in the big ring while the only audible sound is the light buzzing of your tires on pavement and the occasional crunch of leaves. There were a few poor souls headed North, directly into the teeth, I felt for them because we've all been there, a nod and a wave to acknowledge their efforts but for the moment I was thoroughly enjoying my push South. Did I mention that fall is the finest season ? It is.

Thanks for reading,

Tripped Up

Sven's mistake, thankfully I'm sure this hasn't happened to any of us.....much

Monday, October 20, 2008

Core this is how it's done. Sven Nys with a nice start to the season despite earning a nice shiner after tangling with a barrier the previous day......mental note to self: must learn to suck it up.......

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet and Sour

The Blue Sky Velo group put on an excellent event today out at the Xilinx campus, a long fast course with a nice mix of pavement, dirt, lot's of barriers, a deep sand pit and enough technical sections to keep it pretty interesting. I was coming into this race a bit tentative, my hip's been feeling better but I hadn't tested it at race pace, in addition, my points standings have been sliding because of missing last weeks events, and the Frisco races, so I had to say goodbye to my sweet start spot. I had managed a top ten finish at the Pikes Peak Velo race which entitled me to my first ever call up to the front row at the kickoff to the Boulder Series. That experience is identical to that first time you've flown business or first class...once you've been there, there's no going back to the cattle car section..In the past I've tended to be perfectly happy starting at the back....allows me to start the race at my speed ( slow ) but this year I've tried to abandon this practice and get up there to avoid what happened today. We had a decent size field, probably eighty guys and I was about 5 rows back from the line, right in the middle. A super high speed pavement start for about 200 meters then directly onto dirt with a chicane....immediate bottleneck, heaps of dust, I see riders off to the side picking up their bikes and dragging their carcass' off course.

Looking ahead, I had my work cut out for me, slowly and methodically I try to move up through the field, then about halfway through lap #2 , the rider in front of me, does a quick brake check. I immediately get on the stoppers to avoid a pileup and I feel the rider behind me hit my rear wheel. We descend onto pavement and my chain is stuck in my 11T cog, I'm rolling along frantically flailing at my paddle shifter looking for an easier gear..nothing. I look closer and realize that when the rider hit me, his tire pushed my derailleur cage up the cassette taking tension off the shift cable. The cable housing came out of the stop and that's what caused the immediate downshift. Huge amount of relief as initially I thought this race was over.I pull over and hop off, my oxygen deprived brain isn't completely putting a solution into place as fast my hands. I'm really trying hard not to count how many places I'm losing. I take a couple of deep breaths, stick the housing back into the stop and jump back on. I'm basically frothing at the mouth because of the adrenaline surge. Within another lap and half I connect back to the group where I ran into trouble and keep pushing from there. I'm so spun I never remembered to look at the laps remaining nor do I hear the " one to go" bell. All of a sudden we're finished..too bad because I had a couple more good strong laps in me.

End of the day in 33rd place. I can't be upset about that. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I was able to complete the was a beautiful day, I felt really smooth through all the barriers. Good fun. Post race activities included an exchange of a donation for the Valmont Bike Park for a couple of brats ( a wicked good deal ) watching Pete Webber ( former Mainer and all around good guy ) absolutely crush the 35+ Open's more sandbagging...I think there's a spot for you in the senior Opens.
If I find some photo's I'll post them here.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 17, 2008

New England Worlds Vid

Go here for some footage from Gloucester last weekend...extra bonus is the soundtrack from Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Indian Summer

This mornings commute was a brisk one....o.k.,more like a cold slap in the face. I checked the thermometer so I could formulate a plan for layering . 30°...that's a first for this season and had me digging for my sweet pair of new Craft riding pants, my goofball headband and warm gloves. There was a good hard layer of frost on all the grass along the trail on the way in. Typical Colorado though, by noon, shorts and t-shirts were far more appropriate and I decided to bail on cross practice in the evening and take a lunchtime spin in the dirt in Ute. Our new trail is starting to bed in nicely but would benefit from some rain to pack down the loose sand.

I finished building my commuter/spare pit/cross bike, a Surly Cross-Check. In one word to describe the ride: butter. This bike is ridiculously smooth, I'm guessing it's combination of being weight challenged and made from steel. I've been able to dial the geometry so it matches my race bike perfectly. I equate riding this bike to those baseball players that are using two bats to warm up prior to stepping up to the batters box...when I throw a leg onto the race bike I can't help but kill it.

The city works dept employees of Colorado Springs have obviously never been properly introduced to the joys of plowing streets like those back East, who at the slightest sign of snow will gleefully drive around with the blade dropped on dry pavement sending sparks everywhere.
The Surly is equipped to handle more than a few winters worth of sketchy roads. The frame will take up to 45c width tires with fenders!! Fatties do fit fine! Perhaps even studded ones.

Saturday's weather is calling for sunny skies and 70° and I'm sorely disappointed to hear that. I can only hope for a super techy course because if it's dry and fast that requires power and that's something I'm lacking. T-minus and counting.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Community Service ( the voluntary variety )

For a fun diversion from the usual office activities today, a number of us from work spent a good part of the day building a new multi-use trail in nearby Ute Valley Park. The employees and volunteers from City Parks and the Medicine Wheel group laid out the general path, we followed up and removed a ton of scrub oak and graded the path so it doesn't suffer the same fate of the trail that we had to close due to serious erosion problems. Great way to spend the day, some good hard work ( I am good and tired this evening ), burritos from Chipotle afterwards, and a brand new trail to ride and burn in.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Life During Wartime

There's good timing and then there's "it was meant to be" timing. More than a few decades ago, while in college I had my eye on a girl from Maine, at that time she fit my criteria perfectly, one: she was wicked cute, two : she owned a mountain bike...granted it was a Peugeot, nothing terrible special at the time but we're talking about the late eighties..there couldn't have been more than one hundred mountain bikes in the entire state of New Hampshire at that time. One of our first dates was going to downtown Keene to the Colonial Theatre and watching Jonathan Demme's film "Stop Making Sense" in my humble opinion, far and above the finest concert film ever made. I was a huge fan of the Talking Heads and back in day had a copy of the lyrics to "I Zimbra" taped to my dorm room door. ( Don't ask... it was a long time ago ).

On October 8th, we just passed two decades of marriage together, depending on where you're standing you could say 20 years is a good start or a long time to be with one person. Either way it's worked for us very nicely. Last night David Byrne was playing in Denver. We had never got to see the Talking Heads play live before the bands demise however we've always remained a fan of Byrne's music. His performance was sublime, his voice hasn't diminished at all and his musical abilities are very well intact. Brian Eno and he recently collaborated on a recent release titled " Everything that happens will happen today" Eno provided the background soundscape, Byrne wrote all the lyrics. It's a collection of beautiful songs and I would highly recommend taking a listen.

A pretty special night and quite surreal, the same songs that we heard watching the film all that time ago still evoke the same feelings of euphoria, introspect, serenity...but it's the new material that really makes me listen. I'm glad for artists like David Bryne, he could take all the original material and play it to death or keep reinventing and building on a solid foundation...much like what keeps a lifetime commitment interesting.

Thanks for reading...I'm just about finished building my winter commuter cross bike and making some tweaks to the race bike..stay tuned for some geeking out on bike stuff


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Welcome to my first stab at putting my random thoughts into some coherent order for all to read. Nerve racking ?....Yes! However, I've been wanting to start a blog for some time now and been inspired as of late by a number of great writers who've managed to keep me coming back every day to check in. Why do this even though it's seems a bit egocentric ? Seemed like a great way to connect to the greater community of two-wheeled enthusiasts around me.

I've been a bike geek for some time now. My first real job was in a bike shop and to this day I've never held a job outside of the bicycle industry. My wife and I started our married life in Maine, headed out to Boulder in 93 and then to Santa Cruz California. After about 5 years the likelihood of putting down roots was becoming non existent as the cost of living was far exceeding our earnings. We headed back to Maine for about 5 years and while the great Northeast is home we struck out again for Colorado. We've been in Colorado Springs for just over 3 years now. Cyclocross is my main obsession, and the thing is...I'm not that good ! I don't care for training ( takes all the fun out ) I've been racing cross in every state we've lived for the past 15 years and I've taken the top spot on the podium once. The draw to cross is inexplicable to me, I have a difficult time trying to convey the appeal to most folks. But if you've been bitten by the bug, you know what I mean. Who else wakes up on a very chilly and dark weekend morning, looks outside to see a light rain falling and immediately the pulse quickens just thinking about the course turning into a quagmire. I feel like I should be in some support group on a 12 step program.."Hi my name is Chris.....I like riding my skinny-tired bike around in small circles every weekend, preferably in thick mud...." It's a problem.

This weekend I'm home nursing wounds ( from what, I don't know ) we had cross practice ( note: not's practice! ) in Monument Valley Park on Thursday evening and when I woke on Friday morning it felt as though my right hip needed replacing. Deep deep pain and very limited mobility. It might be the result of an over enthusiatic dismount and barrier section that I was trying to warp through in combination with a minor get-off on my moto from the previous weekend which left a nice black and blue on the same vicinity. I'm left hobbling around the house instead of a planned double ( Boulder # 2 at Xilinx and Red Rocks # 1 ) this weekend, I'm trying to not let it get to me as there is still plenty of the season left and what I need to focus on is rest. On the right coast is the unofficial "New England Worlds" in Gloucester at Fort Stage Park. It's such as classic venue, literally right on the ocean and will consistently attract a very savvy cross crowd armed with brats, beer and bullhorns. I hope to see all my fellow kooks at Blue Sky Velo's event next Sat.

Thanks for reading, I truly hope you enjoy my future ramblings, check back for more