(Yes that is one sick climb out from the Green River)
This was year two of this trip, yet bigger this time! 21 people, parents and their Boulder Junior Cycling kids, spent their first days of summer vacation on a completely self supported tour of Moab's famous White Rim. This was our 2nd year as a group taking on this challenge, one which is focused purely on family and teammate bonding. What an incredible thing for these grommets to experience.
So what's the White Rim tour? It's a classic in the annals of US mountain-biking-dom. The ride is essentially 103 miles of non-technical 4x4 road trails which we chunked into 4 ~25mile days. You can see Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 here on my Strava profile.
(Photo by Sally Keefe)
There really is nothing to it....not technical, but it is long, very hot and extremely remote. No cell service and virtually zero exposure to people....especially Park Rangers which in two years we've never seen out on the trails (only near the entrances).
Logistically you are on your own. Reservations for camp spots are required about a year out for the best ones. There's a crapper, but no utilities and no fire burning which is a bummer...and mystifies us as there's nothing to burn up in the desert.
We bring in everything - fresh water, food, supplies, equipment and this year had two sag 4 x 4's. The kids and all parents but 2 travel ahead of the trucks and ride while the 4 x 4s slowly make their way behind. In some cases, the floods of 2013 were a bit problematic still yet our truck selection made these traverses no problem:
Our oldest Junior was 16, and our youngest 8 and they ate it all up. Our mission is simply to bond...give kids jobs at night (setting up camp, cleaning, etc) and pair them with kids they don't know that well. They played into the night surrounded by clear views of the Milky Way. Epic.
The riding was super fun. Lots of sun screen and hydration and we rode always together in a group. The strongest would go for it on the climbs, then go back and help pace-up the younger kids...
(Photo by Sally Keefe)
We're on to our normal summers now but the great memories will still be fresh by the time the kids don their skinsuits for cross season. It's adventure like this together which is why our Boulder Junior team is so special.
On to more experiences!
2014 Butter Gold Ride Photo by Ian Reid @bouldermoto
Grinding gravel. Gravel grinding. I dunno, to me the labeling all just sounds a bit too cliche'. I'm not normally the type to just nay-say a trend, even though I did, because riding dirt™ (Doesn't that sound better? I'm trademarking that post haste) is not a trend to us here in Colorado. It's....well it's just bike riding.
Michael Robson is my kindred soul. We're both essentially border collies without fur. Perennially wagging tails and smiling souls....put us to task and we'll go and slog after it, like a 100 mi bike ride in the rain, simply because it's like the tennis ball we need to get after. Michael has this gene about 10x more than me and frankly anyone else I know. Alas Michael, in an effort to evangelize the burgeoning brand he's developing called, Butter, developed the sort of tennis ball any dirt rider would jump through plate glass windows and forge streams to chase after: The Butter Gold Ride. 100 miles of some of Colorado's primo dirt.
Before I get into the meat of the ride, let's talk about this Butter 'thing'. Simply put, they 'churn the butter' in this industry and this lifestyle we all love and adore. Fine craftsmanship on the essentials we need to succeed at our passions and sublimely exposing us to the details of the sport and the lifestyle to remind us every day why we do this. And now, why our kids are crazy enough to follow in our footsteps. That's Butter.
2014 Butter Gold Ride by Kristin Weber - @sugardesigninc
On to the ride. First of all why? Well, naturally to be a bigger man to laugh at another man who's suffering at mile 98, but sincerely to bond as a core group of friends and support Boulder Junior Cycling as a sort of fund and awareness-raiser. Michael's 'big loop' took us from Boulder out East to Longtucky, up North to Fort Fun and then back on South home to The Bubble. It was a fully USAC-sanctioned ride and had a mix of folks from Tour de France veterans, national elite road champions, masters world and national cross champs and a sordid cast of cyclocross freaks who'd rarely set their 28c Clements on pavement. The ride generally looked like this on The Stravas...
Michael and his beautiful wife Wendy had the course dialed. Bail out points for the under-ridden of the crew and phenomenal food stops if you needed to stop and scarf down some gluten free goodness, Skratch Labs rice cake or a high octane doughnut. Way too #PRO for chumps like us as we're used to stopping off at 7-10 (not even good enough to be 7-11) stores in the high mountains and shoving a microwaved burrito, Gatorade and a Hostess pie in our mouths simultaneously. What Michael and Wendy did was to frankly destroy our reputations with quite possibly the most elegantly organized pit stops I've ever seen for this rolling mass of bandits.
The ride was kept 1000% safe. We tolerate no bullshit amongst our core crew of friends. No Cat 5 'low-T' AndroGel-lathering mopes with hair on fire to "win!!!" and cross yellow lines, half wheel and puff chests. We rode as a unit, pushing hard but we marshalled the 40 or so folks into solid pack riding. The Wizard-cum-patron Pete Webber laid down the law. Luckily, the Butter crew quite honestly knows each other intimately so there was no "who's that guy...he's gonna take me out" nonsense. They'd be marshalled if we saw those types of antics. Dirt riding to us is our means of driving bikes in an immensely more safe environment (from cars that is) and ensures the cyclist has to drive the bike well at all times....in the corners, on the washboarded straights and over rocks.
What we felt collectively was bliss. Even with 25-40mph gusts and spitting rain, the weather could not penetrate the warmth of the souls on the ride. All believers in the dirt. All old friends...and some new friends like Embrocation Journal's Brandon Elliot who made the trek down from Chicagoland to come see what all the fuss was.
The satisfaction of completing a 100mi ride over the dirt on skinny tires was rewarding, and we're blessed with endless supplies of it here in Colorado. So looking forward to the 2015 edition and maybe a "1/2 Stick of Butter" route in the high country this summer....whatchothink, Michael?
I look at this video often. Probably obsessively. It's one of those assets I am so happy to have...proud to have captured and had the foresight to whip out the digital cam corder (no iPhones back then). Watch it...
I keep hitting replay. That act for me, is like watching some hypnotic repetitive motion I'm sure you all have seen before. Like the girl who twirled her hair in class with her pencil. Or the dog that can't stop rolling its back on the grass. You get that zone-in feeling while watching. It's hypnotic and entrancing but brings me great joy all at the same time.
What it does for me now, is to remind me of pure pleasure. My family. What we are. What we do. How we live. It re-enforces my decisions to continuously drive towards health and happiness. I know Amy and I have done our best for the past decade to make this a reality. And we're looking into the future, into the next decade, and wherever it brings us it must be rooted in these same principals. Never being afraid of the bad moments, because the iron-clad love and steadfastness in our decisions to focus on our well being and happiness is never compromised. Never out of focus.
The life skill is remembering how to recall it. Getting it back. Re-firing the muscle memory that returns your gut to that phenomenally happy place. More than content. More than satisfied. Happy.
Where: Boulder Cycle Sport North Map Here
What: Celebrate...us. Our community, our passion AND most importantly, our HUMOR!
This is me. And my my Uncle Gene. Likely dipping my finger into some cheap-ass Irish whisky he and my dad and all the male adults partook in, in the 70's. And before that, the 40's, 50's and 60's. And after that, in the 80's 90's through to their ultimate demises shortly thereafter.
I don't regret my choices. And I don't scorn them for theirs.
When we are old enough to understand reason and decision, it's up to us. I don't see any other path. Mommy and daddy won't be there. Can't be there. It's up to you and me to make wise decisions. To push forward in the best way possible that your reality can create.
It's tremendously hard to eat healthy and combat stress in ways that don't require medication, booze, cigarettes and dope. It's infinitely harder to contain that mindset without those things.
And this is what I'm learning. And teaching. I want to be 65 and in some way, shape and form ride cobbles with my boys and their brood.
This can't happen unless I reason with my self for its long term.
YES!! The fat lady has sung! That's it...the end of the 2013/14 racing season. Smiles abound as it has been an absolutely incredible and so fulfilling season for the Keller boys. Let's digest the last two weeks, shall we, as we led in to the US National Cyclocross Championships here in our home town of Boulder, CO. It's been an amazing build up the last few months with a nervous excitement in our town preparing for the nation to come and...as we hoped...would be blown away. And the last two weeks blew the top off....
Altitude Adjustment CX - Longmont CO
The weeks leading up to the Nationals were spotty in terms of precip, and for the true cross nerds here in town, we stood outside, craned our necks and asked the weather gods to let loose. But it was capital C cold...and so, a lot of das trainings were relegated to the basement...
The weekend before Nationals, at a prep race weekend put on by Cross Vegas maestro Brook Watts, Altitude Adjustment Cross brought the good white stuff from the skies above. My weeks leading up had been good. As good as I could have them in three-part-teeter-totter land. I put in the early morning trainings to try and find tune whatever I could possibly fine tune especially given the bad weather. I felt great, was healthy, and knew that if it stayed crappy and cold, no one could touch me in the 40-44's. I raced well at the 5 degree Rez race and felt markedly better since then.
From the gun I tore off like a banshee
Patience. That is a virtue I have to fight to achieve. Interesting struggle there, huh? But alas, breathing, closing the eyes and believing in what I can do actually...worked. I had a string of good ones in this ending chapter of the 2013 cross season. No victories, but plenty of confidence building and fun.
Green Mountain Sports Cross - Littleton CO
Photo by Yann Ropers.
We'd waited and waited for precip. And it never came. And I mean the WHOLE season! The course in Littleton was truly fun and fast. Cornering for days which was good for me but by most definitions a crit. Not my favorite kind of race. This was an unusual day too as our best friends and my old team mate, Joe Ball and family, were there. Our kids raced together and it was amazing to see given we'd raised our kids at the edge of course tape up and down California together. Now they were racing together!
My race was the last of the day. Sun in the eyes yet still gorgeous out. From the gun a phenomenal group formed which I stayed part of, battling all the way until the end. We had some minor separations in the final lap but I was super satisfied with my driving and my fitness. Joe was there and that ballistic cheering at me was deeply motivating. He knows my highs and lows with this sport and knew exactly where to be, lap after lap, and exactly what to say in those moments. Thanks man. Kudos to my boy Scott Upton who took a well deserved 'W'. Taking one for the dads against the young "35" masters. I took 6th and it was a well earned place.
Cyclo-X - Boulder Reservoir
Photo by Terri Irsik Smith
Within a week the real winter decided to show up. From 55 and sunny a week prior, we dropped to 2-5 degrees and snowy. Indeed I salivated for the conditions. Again, the 35's raced last race of the day with the open men. We were staged 2 min behind their start and from the gun, Michael Robson and I decided to take a flier. Lap after lap we flowed like school boys in the ice rink, rapidly catching most of the open field even with the 2 min gap. Lots of fun chicanes on this course but mainly it was the ability to tolerate the cold (e.g. good equipment and clothing) and stay upright. We pushed hard for the 50 minutes and I only conceded two spots, taking 4th on the day. Again, super happy with the results but moreso happy to have survived that epic day comfortably.
Colorado State CX Championships - Castle Rock, CO
Photo by Bo Bickerstaff.
Love. Hate. Love. Hate. That is my relationship with this course in Castle Rock. But when I pull back, it's always my head, not the course that is to blame! It's an intimidating course with massive elevation change but I will say unconditionally, it's one of the finest courses put together for us by John Haley and a great crew down south. I was hungry for a good results and my placing (16th) was a function of me absolutely screwing with a course that I should not have screwed with. What I mean is that the plan I had which was to peel off a group early and stay out of the melee worked initially, but the fitness and endurance I needed to maintain that was totally vacant. So the radical fade came in to play with no real depth in the engine to help me sustain that. So be it. I tried and left every possible thing out there that day.
Now it's the Christmas Period. No, not the one in Belgium, I mean the one here at home...avoiding all the snacks and holding on tight to the motivation to train and keep believing I'll open up a can of something here in Boulder for the 40-44 event on Saturday. We're incredibly excited for the nation to come in and see this great town of ours...filled with the most passionate crossers on earth. More to come on this here blog so watch this space!
Really looking forward to seeing everyone here!
So, lately, I’ve see this flurry of posts on Facebook and elsewhere asking for the "8 or 10 things you didn't know about me". They’re all funny and enlightening but as we pull into this 2013 Thanksgiving period, I’m having, or pehaps wishing us all for, a mental shift. Maybe it’s just me but the centricity of all of us needs to reverse course…and directed towards thanks for all and to all of what you have in this life. We all need to reflect, and now. And so (and I recommend the exercise) my thoughts on where I am putting my thankful energy and practicing myself as it is nowhere near perfected…but inspires me:
1) This life. We're luckier than any generation before us and we still aren't satisfied. Nothing’s good enough. Why? Change it. Stop sucking. Stop deflecting and blaming. Fix your shit.
2) Your friends: You select 'accept friend' on your twitters and your facebooks every day. But what do you know about them? Ever hugged them? When recently have you reached out to your college bud or teammate or co-worker and said “you're rad” and “I love you”? “How's YOUR world?” The time for narcissism must shift. It’s all the same shit anyway in the facebook feed. Selfies, new cars and bikes. I do it to. First world stuff. Fun, yes, but the reality is we get sucked into feeling doubt about ourselves with the repetition of the imagery. Don’t say you don’t know what I mean. Shoot pics of random shit you and your friends have done in blissful moments and show those off.
3) Kids. They need you. Even if you did not create them. Help them. Coach them. Tutor them in math or HTML. Don't complain your generation was better. Inspire them to crush the reality we’ve made into something way more inspired. Shape their mental toughness to sustain what will be a tough go in the next 50 years. Because it is getting very very fragile.
4) Your job. I’m not saying ‘be thankful for your job per se. What I am saying is: “every single nanosecond counts.” Are you doing what makes your mind hum? I’d probably have said “are you doing what you love,” but love is a tough adjective for this and reserved for the brave who have cracked the code of turning passions into paychecks. But if what you do and who you do it with sucks, move on. The economy has never been better. Just grab it. Be thankful for what you know and believe in and apply that to an industry that needs you.
5) Patience. I am thankful for this…or the promise of it. Do not think you are the only one whose day completely sucked. The guy in the SUV probably had a shitty day too. Don’t block his path egotistically because you can on your commute home. Be kind, show patience and wave hi to him. Let him pass. Get home to those that love and need you. The moment will pass.
6) Health. Be thankful for it…or the many many paths you can take to achieve it. It’s never too late. You are not too fat or too wimpy or too feeble. Science and great medicine can help solve deeper problems if you face those too. But you need to absolutely believe you can start. Cork the wine when you know it is extremely hard to do and you think you need another glass. You don’t need another. Breathe to exhale the stress that’s binding your heart. Drink water, and tons of it, to cleanse and cleanse. Moderate it all with balance.
7) Mentors. Find one and be thankful for the time they can and willingly share with you. Your ego can get checked for a bit and you may not know everything, smart guy. Reach out and learn more. Ask for help. And return that favor. Tech start ups, kids coaching, whatever. Either find a great mentor to help you learn where the land mines are or be one to the next generation. Be thankful for those people.
8 ) Your home. Walk in to it and I hope you smile. It should be your absolute sanctity. Your safe place. The place where toxicity gets cleaned from you. If it’s not, ask yourself why and then ask those you live with how they feel. Make it the one place where you absolutely are you.
9) Church. If you go to the Catholic church down the street, the Mosque or the Synagogue, awesome. Your church may also be your trail, your favorite stretch of road, your garden. In any of these cases, be present. Not looking around at the neighbors in the pew and how much more holy you are or perhaps trying to climb the hill faster on a Sunday than the dude in a kit you’ve never seen before on 'your' climb. Respect your moment in the peace you probably deserve and need. Remember what you’re chosen church was meant for and practice that.
10) You. When is the last time, if ever, you said: “I TOTALLY believe in myself.” It’s the hardest thing to do. Be thankful for what you have achieved and the plans you’re making. I need to tell myself this every day because I often let the demons in that signal to me it isn’t true. That I shouldn’t trust myself because I’m not smart enough, or fit enough or engaged enough. But I fight, every day, for it. The balance, the belief and the security in the knowledge that the worse option is to give up.
Be thankful for your radness.
Have a look at this great video to learn more and get your stoke on for the kids at Nationals. If you are on the fence about this being the year to bring your kid to a national-level event, THIS IS THE YEAR! We're pouring as much as we can community-wise into making teh event most especially awesome for the kids. The sport is growing by leaps and bounds with their participation. They deserve to be supported with extra care and stoke in January. C'MON AND HUP UP PARENTS AND KIDS!!!
More information and registration info can be found here on the USA Cycling Nationals Event Page.
Like clockwork every year around this time (late October, early November) I start to get that feeling of slipping. The legs get mushy, the motivation wanes a bit and what should be a normal upward trajectory starts to slip. This year, the pattern is back but there's a slight irony....I feel really pretty good!
The last few weekends (week 6, 7 and 8 of racing for me) had some fantastic races and classic venues: Cross of the North, Without Limits Xilinx, Schoolyard Cross, Feedback Cup, Interlocken and Blue Sky Cup Xilinx. Also, the 35 Open men this part of the schedule are racing combined with the Elite men for 60 min which has been interesting (in a good way).
My pattern over these races was like Agon Interruptus:
Cross of the North: Felt great top 10
Xilinx 1: DNF slashed sidewall
Schoolyard: DNF slashed sidewall
Feedback: Felt great top 10
Interlocken: Taken out at start DNF
Blue Sky: Took myself out at start DNF
The monkey has its claws deeply dug in my back. My tendency is to get heady, depressed, unfulfilled, pissed and questioning everything. I'm pretty good at not casting blame, but still get overly emotional and bitter that I could not represent. And so, maybe it's a function of me finally maturing as I'm seeing some grey hairs: I fight those instincts and if I can grab another bike and stay in the race, I stay in...and train, represent myself as best as I possibly can and show my Boulder Junior Cycling kids I coach that the sport is bigger than me and us...
So, to this hard re-boot. I consider it like a mental enema. I am going to take the time to purge the bad thoughts and go enjoy this crazy good weather we have here. My early mornings now that the sun is up at 5:45 are spectacular. Peaceful. Battery-recharging. We have November and December to push, show results and prepare for Nationals. Something I am incredibly excited about as I'm playing a role helping the committee here in town dial in all the preparations. We want this to be like the '99 Nationals (combined with a Super Cup that year!) in San Francisco which if you were there, was an all time favorite. This will be better!
On to my Juniors. What to say???! They are true students of the sport. Hungry for more info on what goes down in Belgium every weekend. Who the riders are, the bikes they ride the courses they ride on. Having the internet is an amazing thing at this time period of our sport. In the 80's and 90's, we had to wait for our magazine subscriptions to show up to look at the still pictures of our (then) helmet-less heroes. By the late 90's we could get VCR tapes, in the 00's bootlegged DVDs of cross races and now, absolutely clear, HD images LIVE of the races in Belgium as they're happening. Insane. Real-time education for our kids.
Aiden and Seamus have been rock solid. Loving the game. Great results for their little growing selves. They love their teammates and it's like seeing a tribe grow and gel together. They love it and it's extremely satisfying to see. Tempering ALL of this though...results, training, racing, competition, is very hard. We all play a role in helping the kids STEP BACK and away from the variables that can cause them to start to become disheartened or, even worse, regretting they are in the sport. Their bodies are changing fast. We're seeing kids...and I mean VISUALLY seeing kids...grow and go through these radical growth spurts. Shin-bones, hands, arms, feet all growing. Moodiness, etc. It all can effect their minds, performance and moods. We as coaches need to keep them focused on the prize. No, not Nationals, no not racing...it's their fun, flow and individual 'success'.
Re-set, re-focus. On to the rest of November.