Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moving on....over

After the International Tour De Fromage last week and a solid 8 days off the bike, I had zero expectations for Saturday other than have some fun turning some laps. Friday was filled with some heavy thunderstorms and hail which had me frantically switching tires and putting fresh spikes in the shoes and as expected, these activities jinxed any chance of a muddy track. The course had dried out super quick but received just enough rain to make it ridiculously tacky and FAST !

Because travel had me missing key points races, there has been little to no opportunity to pick up any decent start spots in the 35+4 group. Because any race in the vicinity of Boulder draws such huge numbers in this "catch all" field, I've been stressing way to much about lacking the freedom to race my own race. It really had started to become un-fun routinely getting balled up in traffic. Therefore, I am implementing PLAN B: finish the season in the 45+ group for the following reasons.
1) when I'm driving at least an hour and half every weekend from the Springs, it sure is nice to wake at a reasonable hour to race
2) smaller field sizes =way less stressful starts
3) it's super motivating when my elders are handing it to me with ease

So, Saturday, with no hope of a call up, I find a nice open spot at the back which is only about 4 rows back. Whistle blows are we're tearing up the hill, there is no screwing around with these guys, they are here to tear your legs off, this isn't a social race. The pace is freakishly fast and I'm barely hanging on at about 8 -10 spots from the back. Thankfully I find my rhythm a bit and start moving forward relying more on other riders mistakes than fitness. A short grouping of mini barriers begs to be bunny hopped so I oblige even though the little voice of reason in my head is screaming " you best not shank this". Thankfully I cleanly execute them and pick up about 2 spots on every lap as the section following the barriers is a very rough patch of ground making remounting challenging. I can see a group of 5 in front and bridge up to them just as we hit the pavement climb and the group blows apart. I'm so cross-eyed going through the start finish that I'm looking for the lap counter and realize later that the huge digital board over my head is clearly displaying time and laps. I even hear the announcer give me a call out and I'm delirious wondering how this person knows I go by "Shotty". For the last few laps I'm trading positions with 3 other guys only to move forward and then immediately get dropped. By the end I roll through in 33rd out of 55 starters. Not bummed at all, in fact massively inspired and thoroughly enjoyed the race. So I've got some work to do but I feel super good with my decision to join this field. It's far more motivating and I'm already thinking about what I need to do to earn a top 15 or top 20 placing by the time state champs come around.

A massive thanks go out to Blue Sky Velo for putting on a great event! Yes, you are making everyone else look silly out there. A great course, pre-reg and number pickup was a breeze, I was e-mailed results by 4PM that day ! Jen participates in triathlons and I'm always impressed by the level of organization at these events and bummed in how cyclocross pales in comparison,but Saturday proved me wrong. Great work !

Congratulations to Sram/Avid riders who all climbed to top spot on the podium this weekend: Zdeneck Stybar, Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers, way to kill it out there !

hope to find some images from Saturday, until then , thanks for reading

Friday, October 22, 2010


Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself, but I've put on the Rhino's and installed spikes into my shoes. It's dumping rain out there right now and there are no guarantees that means mud tomorrow. Here on the front range, if the sun makes any appearance at all, the ground will dry up like Social Security.

This is prime time for racing in Colorado in my book; cold nights and cool breezy days, leaves are still on the trees and we've got a heap of quality races on the schedule. Saturdays Blue Sky Xilinx course remains in my top five of favorites ( especially in the wet ). I'm skipping Sunday as I loathe the course at the Louisville Wreck Center which is exactly how my back feels at the end of that race. Halloween weekend are back to back NACT events in Boulder and then the USGP pays a visit to the hallowed grounds of New Belgium Brewery in Mid November. Love It !

Best of luck to everyone pinning on a number this weekend

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I returned back to the Pikes Peak Trailer Park on Monday evening after a few very long flights, it's now Wednesday evening and I'm still at a loss of how to capture the past weekend in words. I've had plenty of time to think about this, what with being sequestered in the flying aluminum tube for hours on end,but I'm coming up with nothing. So I'll just lay it out and see what unfolds.

Our Germanic dealer tour wrapped up late Thursday afternoon and my fellow Srammie traveling companions kicked me to the curb in Aarou, Switzerland. They were on their way back to Germany with a rental car to be returned and flights to catch. I grabbed a train ticket to Geneva and enjoyed a very punctual 2.5 hour journey through some potentially beautiful countryside but was well hidden behind clouds and fog. Thursday evening was spent solo and I was bit spun what with starting the day in the German speaking area of the country, moving into the Western French speaking section and deciding on an Italian restaurant with a full Italian staff that spoke Italian and a menu written in Italian (and French ).

Jen arrived in Geneva midday Friday and we grabbed our rental car and struck out bound for Leysin, a small ski resort on the Eastern side of Lake Geneva. It's situated about 18K Northwest of Aigle up some super fun twisty, narrow roads that start low among wine vineyards and wind their way up into an alpine environment. No sooner had we pulled into town, found our hotel and dropped our bags, I heard "Hey!, can you work on some brakes ?" Turned around to find Mark Legg-Compton and Katie who were directly across from us through a small courtyard at the same hotel. The global cyclocross community remains a small one,when you travel to another continent and coincidentally, those from your hometown are sharing the same hotel.

Saturday was spent dodging rain drops and snow and Jen and I explored town, hid from the weather in a cafe enjoying some amazing coffee and pastries. Both of us, desperate for exercise finally committed and suited up for a 3 hour hike up to an alpine hut through some very heavy snowfall ( the first of the season for this area ). There was a cog train that ran from Leysin to Aigle so in the evening we jumped on for the steep descent down to Aigle and went full native, enjoying some escargot, fondue and sampling the wine from grapes grown in the region. While working off the meal before catching our train back, we strolled around Aigle and started spotted riders campers pulling into town, just returning from a 2 hour aftrenoon time slot to do reconnaissance on the race course.

Sunday arrived looking a little less bleak, the clouds had lifted just enough to show off all the new snow that had arrived. There was a pretty stiff breeze but temps were rising nicely. One quick stop at the bakery to load up on all things tasty and made with real butter from happy Swiss cows and then we came down into town prior to the women's start. I'll say it now, my wife is a saint for having the patience to deal with me and the cyclocross OCD. I was barely functioning on Sunday with all thoughts on witnessing what about to go down. The race was held on the grounds of the UCI. It's a pretty impressive building with the Alps as a backdrop and a portion of the building jutting out to a sharp corner mimicking the bow of a huge ship. Cross in Switzerland is not a huge draw and crowds were pretty sparse. This was actually a benefit as it was very easy to move around the course and visit riders. We parked and immediately found Zdenek Stybars camper. I had pre-arranged a meeting through his Belgie mechanic, Gilbert so as not to disturb the pre-race routine(too much). Both Zdenek and Gilbert were extremely accommodating and we stuck around long enough to grab some photographs, have some rider cards signed and talk product for a bit. I'm super thankful that even as long as I've been around bikes and bike racing I'm still not jaded by being in the presence of, or meeting those who have risen to the pinnacle of the sport. This was a huge opportunity and I couldn't have been happier to partake. After letting Stybar get back to prepping, we wandered down through the rows of riders campers from Page, Wellens, Pauwels, Nys, Albert. Also on hand were the Cannondale/ contingent of Stu Thorne,Tim Johnson, James Driscoll and Jeremy Powers who were looking to get some international competition under their belts after becoming bored and tired by climbing podium steps relentlessly in the States.

I won't go into a blow by blow of the race as anyone who reads this has most likely already absorbed all the digital media published from the weekend. But it was pure joy watching Katie get the season off to a sucessful start by completely dominating the womens event followed by Stybie crushing the field in the mens race. After watching countless hours of streaming video from my computer at home early in the morning, it's still hasn't sunk in that I was standing along the tape witnessing these riders race by me. At the end of the day and final podium appreance in which the announcer mistakingly though that they would be playing the French national anthem for the Czech born Stybar, we derbied our way back up to Leysin just as the sun was breaking through and got off some great shots of the area. To top off an already great weekend, we were invited to join the Cannondale crew of Tim, J-Pow, Stu and his wife Emily for a Feldschlosschen lubricated dinner out before packing up for the next days flights.

So there you have it, no this summary from the weekend still doesn't read the way I envisioned
it when this trip came together.What I can say is if you care about this sport enough,you owe it to yourself to witness these events. I'm going to commit to return at some point ( hopefully Belgium, just for the crowd factor ). You're more than welcome to join along.

Thanks for reading

Here's just a few of the pics I came back with:

The curent World Champion and some dork on the right
Stu Thorne , enjoying some fine Italian leather
Tim, tweaking that the course was drying out

James and J-Pow, Peanut Butter Jelly Time

walk in the park for KFC

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Greetings from Frankfurt Germany. I'm here for a weeklong tour visiting key dealers in Germany and Austria followed by a side trip to the first UCI World Cup cross race of the season in Aigle, Switzerland. The plan is to take in a little sightseeing and then meet up with Stu Thorne and the rest of the New England Cyclocross Mafia at the end of this week. And if all works out, a little face time with Stybar.

But first, let me back up to Saturday morning. Bags are packed for my Euro trip and what better way to prepare for my late afternoon flight then to head up to Interlocken for the 2nd race of the Boulder cross series. This course is pure cross-heaven, and definetely the exception, not the rule of courses here on the front range. Interlocken is cruelly configured to demand maximum power output with some elevation gain and deep, thick , wet grass this year. It hadn't even dawned on me that the potential for mud would even exist. I hadn't installed spikes, neglected to throw my mud wheels in the car, it's been so dry here lately that I had planned on a fast grass crit. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Not sure if the grounds keeping staff had purposfully left the sprinklers running all night, but the track was completely saturated and SLOW. My warm-up had my heart rate pegged and I had serious thoughts about making a $25 donation to the organizers and going home. Again a huge 35+4 field ( I would have chose the 45+ group if I didn't have a flight to get to in the afternoon ) 125 guys strong and no call-up ( again ) since I had missed the Xylinx opener. I had a deep forth or fifth row start position and was witness to one very ugly first lap. Our hoard was sprinting to the first corner only to come to a screeching halt into our first bottleneck traffic jam. Thankfully the field strung out pretty quickly and then it was time to get busy passing. My goal was to get myself up to those riders who had earned a front row starting position.

It's always surprising to me how a course feels at warm-up vs. race pace. Perhaps I had hit my stride a 2 laps in but the course felt really fast, really fun ( techincal and muddy ) and I was moving through the field as best I could. A few of the techical bits through the sand pit got the best of me on the last lap as I was coming unglued a bit and manged to work my way up to 20th position by the end. A respectable Boulder series position however I was sill having some "what if" moments thinking about my placing with a better starting position or less errors on the course. But regardless, I'm super pleased with the effort I put in and that always puts me in the right state of mind to set off on another excursion. Be satisfied with the effort.

Couple of other things:
Because Greg Kellers enthusiasm for all the cross cannot be tempered, he was kind enough to serve as a megaphone for my work at Avid. Read it here

Also a Matt Pacocha review in Bike Radar here

Thanks for reading

Monday, October 4, 2010

Doubled Up or Doubled Over

My Annual Cyclocross Secret Training plan: Revealed:
1: get a bike,aim for a light one if possible
2. as soon as you've reached any signs of fitness, stop riding immediately
3. travel to a foreign country - preferably one that is at least 10 time zones away, offers food that you cannot recognize and language to go with it
4. arrive home in a stupor and throw race gear bag in the car
5. pay $25.oo , pin on a number and sit back to partake in the mayhem that is your own body trying to adapt to it's new surroundings (again )
6. repeat as necessary

And there you have it, I wouldn't recommend this for everyone but it kinda works for me in some strange way. My M.O. after returning from Taiwan is try to get back into sync as quickly as possible and that means racing cross if the travel coincides with Fall. ( which it does...often ).
Jen and I made a weekend of it, travelling up to Frisco for a double weekend of racing. I dipped my toes in the 45+ open category for the first time and didn't find the water to be that chilly. I was happy, battling it out with Bob Prieto( Blue Sky Velo )who I've swapped many places with in the 35+4 group last year, including Bend Nationals. I ended up in 22nd spot out of 44 starters. Sunday was back in the familiar 35+4 group where I managed a 15th place...again. Same finishing position as the Sunday race the prior year. I guess I'm consistent ?

All in all, I am pretty pleased with these finishes. Frisco is an absurdly difficult course that requires more than 2 lungs and bike handling skills to boot. Lots of elevation gain and piles of wood chips are just aching to wedge themselves into your rear derailleur cage.

Next Saturday, I'm thinking about the deep grass at Interlocken, then followed by another trip to the airport as I'm off to Europe for the week. However there is a side benefit to this....I'll just happen to be near Geneva Switzerland at the tail end of this trip which coincidentally is near Aigle, host city to the first UCI Cyclocross World Cup of the season !! Yes, I plan on attending so stay tuned geeks.

see you Saturday