Photo © Peloton Magazine
Seeing this picture by Peloton Magazine and all the others of the beer throwing knobs at Cross Vegas crushed me. Worse, hearing Lars Van der Haar say he would second guess coming back because of 'the assholes throwing beer' at the racers made me even more sick.
Don't get me wrong. I want cross to be punk rock in a way, but not at the expense of flagrant idiocy which does none of us any justice.
Then I read this piece by Bill Schieken from in The Crosshairs. Great tribute and one I felt compelled to write about...as a person who gave up on writing some time ago! But subjects like this...as they relate to the credibility of our sport...a sport which I've bled for, broken bones for, evangelized to anyone, coached kids to believe in, made my parents understand and pleaded with my bosses for time off for is too important to my soul. So I wrote this 'addendum' to Bill's piece. Hope he doesn't mind...
This is an exceptional piece by Bill Shieken from InThe Crosshairs . Here's my 'addition' to his great piece:
-Don't bitch, help - There's so many characters in the sport now. Old curmudgeons, fanatical newbies, timid juniors and more. If you are new to the sport, and maybe found some success, and likely felt a connection to the scene and are so wrapped up in it all, you may suffocating the sport. Step back from it all, look at it for what it is, less for what you want out of it and what you can do to make it grow. Volunteer to marshall a race. Help with registration. Attend a city council on why CX should use the grass at some park. Show up. Be present. Understand it's special.
-Evangelize like it's wiffle ball, not the Tour de France - CX is hard. But if you're reading this, you probably know that. Don't gloat in it and how strong you are, and the 10 lbs you lost to cat up. Talk about the bike driving, the friends cheering, the rad bikes, the announcers who know your name, the insane courses we get the privilege to ride on and the beer. And get the people within earshot to understand it (and not you/your pursuits) and help and volunteer and be radicle. Keep it real, not cross-fit crazy, and just a great way to spend a beautiful fall day with friends.
-Help kids. We're at a weird place now in 2014 with a lot of 35-45-something people who have found religion over the past decade in endurance sports. Recreating themselves through suffering, while starting to raise their own families. Now they have brood, many of whom are seeing their sporting lens through their parents: CX, road races, triathalons and other endurance-specific pursuits which most kids really don't understand because their lives haven't developed enough to know the beauty of intentional suffering. I say, let them play...anything. Whatever they want. If they show an organic interest to drive bikes, then pounce on the bike-nerd-youngling and have fun, without talking racing. Just drive bikes like Adam Craig. Or run hills like the Kenyans, or play soccer like they saw on TV during the World Cup. That's it. If they want to drill a soccer ball into the net, let them do that, take Saturdays off from your racing and go see the gromm channel her inner Mia Hamm. Support it madly. Like you hear you being cheered at in a cross.
Cross is not dead - Bill didn't mean that. But it is accelerating fast and will turn into something massive(ly fun) if we do not poison it. It's up to us to decide how it evolves and what we want that evolution to be like. I want progression, but not at the expense of ridiculous asshattery I'm seeing in other growing "fringe" sports. Obviously this is subjective but maybe you know what I mean. Punk Rock is a perfect analogy as the purists would want to evangelize and make a newbie appreciate the message and the tone it was delivered...while the newbie interloper to the punk rock scene would scorn the newer newbie for being a newbie and having 'no appreciation or understanding'. Never good.
OK, rant is over. Thanks Bill.
Purging things from our basement, I uncovered a goldmine of old pictures from 'the day'. Many were from when we'd just moved to Colorado from San Francisco in October of 2004. It made me reflect upon the amazing community we have here, great times and memories of great races....and more recently, the dream of seeing my son's do the same. We're all still learning, even after 18 years of putting numbers on my back for this sport. I can't stop. Won't stop (tm - Michael Cody).
October at the CU Research Park...a.k.a: The worlds crappiest cross course. Opperman and me slaying each other. I think he won that day. I think I passed out as this was my first race at altitude.
Racing for and managing Bobby's Rocky Mounts cross team. We were a crappy squadra but well loved. This was States, Cat 3s I think. I won some races but not this revered one at Xilinx. It still is one of my favorite courses.
States again at Xilinx, this time I move up to the fast old guys, the 35s. Great weather that year. Jon C motored all of us. Couldn't catch that guy as I remember each time on the pavement he was a blur scooting away from us, then each time in the mud/technical we'd accordion that machine back.
35's States, Lyons, CO, 17 degrees. I had frost nip for 4 months after this race.
Cross Vegas UCI race. It was like racing in an oven. When Frischy caught me at minute 50, that was that...but it was a dream come true.
Cross Vegas UCI race again...more oven.
35's, States, the first year of the BCS Ambassador squad. That's Pete throwing hup at me.
This was Aiden's first 'season' - he did a few races and fell in love.
Xilinx, men's open, hotter than Hades.
Aiden getting some at States at Castle Rock.
USGP, 35s, massive field, great day and most perfect conditions.
Aiden bos-rijden at Xilinx, Blue Sky Cup.
Seamus in his first year of racing the beautiful sport with three to go. States, Castle Rock.
Blue Sky Cup, 35's, slipped pedal at the start - literally put me DFL, and had to fight back all day. Anvil material.
Aiden pushing hard at Primal Palooza in Golden at a horse farm. We got poop on us all day.
Seamus showing fine Boulder Junior Cycling form at Primal Palooza in Golden.
On to 2014. More memories to be had as this whole story evolves. Proud to be part of this community and fabric of characters who call themselves Colorado crossers. Lots more photos collected over the years found here in my Flickr repository. You may see yourself in there! SO many great photographers out on the race course every weekend it's incredible. Dejan Smaic, Shawn Lortie, Terri Irsik-Smith, John Flora, Mountainmoon Photography, Daniel Dunn, Yann Ropers, Bo Bickerstaff, Green Curry Photography, and many many more. Thanks for being out there and making memories.
A Bucket List item in the books! Honestly, my first bucket list item! Maybe I'm getting old... The Boulder edition of Rapha's 'Gentleman Race' series was incredible and I now more thoroughly get the vision Rapha had in creating these epic days and the justification for the term 'gentleman' in the title of the race series. My whole experience was through posts displaying sort of black and white images of helmet less cyborgs that looked like to me were the discards of the pro peloton. Not true. The vision and people were way more core than that.
Colorado. My home. Absolutely endless miles of dirt road....and this race proved I hadn't seen as much of it as I thought I had. My teammate and fellow New England transplant, Johs Huseby worked with Rapha to extract the sweetest nectar out of this ride...creating a route that admittedly made it one of the most brutal routes I've ever seen....nor done.
107 miles, 13000+ feet of climbing. Pavement, dirt road and scree-filled dirt trail. Absolutely not a trivial century, but rather a test of focus, equipment, will, balls, eating/drinking discipline and the ability to control type A behaviors to cohese as a team. Why? The team must finish together in order to place. Each team was composed of 6 riders.
So it was a typical Boulder Saturday.
While many used road bikes, the weapon of choice was a cross bike with sturdy exploration tires....
Boulder fielded a number of teams, including a team from my squadra, Boulder Cycle Sport. But my good friend and coach, Frank Overton of FasCat asked if I'd be part of his crew and it was all he needed to say. Johs had put together a solid, if not, world class crew for BCS and I did not want to hamper that team's mojo. Frank and I had a plan to stay gelled. Keep it balanced and have a crew of guys that were physiologically, mentally and fitness-balanced ed by a solid road captain...
From left to rgight you see...
Matty from Fascat, Tom from JBV Coaching, Erik from Boulder Cycle Sport, the Big Cat Frank from FasCat, John Verheul from JBV Coaching and yours truly.
You can see the full route below, and I won't take you blow by blow, but the route was epic. Frank had us tight tight tight as a team. No one went too far. Fit/spry guys stayed in the pack of 6 and everyone had 'a moment' but stayed true to the goal of staying together.
We're here climbing Flagstaff with my peeps from Boulder Cycle Sport...
Gaps naturally formed with teams. It was to be expected. We were the 2nd of the last to go off and caught countless folks. But encouraging and even pushing them hard on the way. Everyone from hardened women pros to legends like Andy Hampsten riding on the day on the roads he trained on to get fit for the Giro were seen and communed with.
I do not know what to say when it comes to the beauty of our state. We live in extremes....fire, flood...altitude and wild. This is what we have. I was honored to ride the roads we train on with so many newcomers...and with Johs's help, seeing so many new 'hooks' of routes to bring my routes (and those I'll show my boys) together in an array of bliss. I suspect Rahpa is going to have some emotive imagery to demonstrate the Front Ranges beauty on the event, so what I will say is this in sort of a summary fashion...
- My backyard is insane. It's just insane.
- The people that communed for the Rapha event are beautiful people. They're not in it for the imagrey...as much as to make the memory.
- I entered the day confident, but more interested in learning how to suffer in a new way.
- I exited the day accomplishing that with a new found appreciation for teammates who give a shit and want to crush the goal..together.
So I have Rahpa to thank for that.
When I lined up, I never thought for a millisecond I...or we...wouldn't finish. But the reality was everyone 'got it'. I mean the most instinctual sort of feeling between (what are normally type A personas) that 'we're in this TOGETHER.' We'll do this TOGETHER. Never was a FasCat teammate within 100ft of the group. Almost always together. So many times was a guy like Verheul motivating me to move on and dig dig dig. Go one gear deeper. His hand on my back when he's pushing his own watts to ensure I knew he was there. So JBV...you are a teammate for life. Me, pushing a bro when he went down in a dusty crappy corner and I viscerally felt the need to give back to the team and push hard over Sunshine...a large mountain summit...as my teammate spewed blood from the crash.
The take-a-way from it all was: T E A M. My team was composed of amazing souls. Hard dudes. Good dudes. Disciplined dudes. They 'got' the epicness. Wanted it. But could control themselves....meaning their instinct to go an win personally. They all demonstrated an empathetic capacity to survive, and take each teammate through the portal with them.
And that was the key. We all finished together...in 8 hours and change saddle time.
A day in the saddle never to be for gotten. Finishing a strong 3rd place...even with emergency medicine required (topic for another time). Epic days.
The day in GPS...
(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!