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Cross Racing Week 14: Never Say Uncle

Done and Done, folks. The season is finished and now I am really looking forward to just coasting for a while. I thought a lot about what I wanted to write here and I think if I abstract it all out and up, it boils out to never, ever saying uncle. Ever. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Road tripping is a lost art. When I say I had more fun this weekend than what seems like the past 5 years, it is an understatement. I have never laughed as hard as I did this trip due to Ward Baker, Paul Maude and of Course Aaron Boups Bouplon. There were moments when I came undone laughing that the minivan was about to go into a ditch let alone the frolics we had on the course…and in the bars of lovely Kansas City. Thanks boys. My soul needed that more than you realize.

Let me summarize the weekend’s highlights briefly and in no particular order….and then I’ll get into some bad prose below.

• Everyone should road trip at least once a year. This is mandatory for the soul and should absolutely be part of your training program.
• I have never raced as poorly as I have in what feels like a decade. But I won’t bitch here (see below).
• The performances of Dubba, Andy Jacques-Mayne, Katie Compton and Ryan Trebon were so awesome in how they crushed the fields, it was a spectacle.
• I’m not ashamed to be from Colorado…even though Wicks called us a bunch of poseurs. I’ll chalk that up to the après-race beers, Barry. Ha!
• Jamey Driscoll blew my mind with his ride. Unbelievable and meeting him for the first time this weekend and meeting him showed me yet again another core/good person that is getting it done in the right ways. He’s going to blow some shit up in the next 3-5 years.
• My name was shouted at every bend and apex of the course during my race. Here I am 12 hours from my house and folks I’ve never even met are screaming their guts out at me to go faster. I’m honored and embarrassed at the same time. I wished I could have made my carcass go faster.
• I’ve never been on a cross course with that much climbing. Jeebus it hurt. Don’t get me wrong….the course was great and beautiful, but the antithesis of a course I could ever be good on. No one could hide this weekend.
• File treads work in the mud!
• I love cyclo-cross. I love cheering for cyclo-crossers.

OK, so to the race and details of the weekend. I drove the 10 hours from Boulder to KC on Friday and we went directly to the course before the hotel. The warm up was…..tough. Without saying much to my buds, I knew that my legs were empty. No spring…no punch. Don’t know why, and it’s not important, but I felt nicht so gut. Saturday, race day, we had decent weather. I’d say absolutely perfect cross weather. The course was dry(ing) and it was this interesting mix of soft earth mixed with grass. The days before were debacles of mud leaving juniors running and some in tears. By the time Saturday came around, it was an entirely different course than what they experienced. It radically changed in texture. You literally sank in to the course, without any mud actually getting on you. It was surreal. Never been on a course quite like that. I think it was mainly due to the compacted grass that acted like a sponge. So imagine riding on a wet sponge…on a course that was straight up…then straight down. The funny part about it all, though, was that I ran file treads. They were perfect for the course, hooked up and cornered perfectly in fact, yet still did nothing for the sinking….especially for my large corpse.

My call up was mediocre. I was 41st (4 rows back) and funny enough that’s exactly where I’d end up. From the gun, I settled into mid 30’s and by the 2nd lap, I’m going nowhere. I would suffer like hell on the climb up the courses front face and once at the top, every lap, pass like 3-5 dudes on the running section and even more on the downhill (which was super fun and not unlike a dual slalom course!) only to be passed by them again on the climb. Quite funny actually. I was not strong enough to attack or preserve my position on the climb which was simply too hard for me. Simple as that. Like I said, no hiding on this course and only those strong enough….and strong enough mentally to dig in and attack….could move up.

On to the sappiness portion: Never Say Uncle. This year has categorically sucked for my wife, family and I. Again, the sheer fact I even lined up at the races I was able to this year I am ecstatic about. But while the sickening embarrassment of my ride was occurring on Saturday with all these people I don’t even know personally cheering for me like I was their own brother, I would get another pedal stroke down and move my body up the mountain. It’s as simple as that. I wanted to be top 20 this year. There, I said it. I know I have it in me and likely even a better ride, but not this past Saturday. I would close my eyes as I was climbing and suffering and knowing I am going backwards, knowing I would be embarrassed and then I’d hear it again: GO KELLER! Or C’MON M & C!!! Or HUP HUP GREG!!! Another turn of the cranks. Another few meters. One position preserved.



There will be times in life where the call will be to acquiesce. But, when you have control over the situation, even when you are cross-eyed and utterly embarrassed, you have to push on. For some, they fear that others will see their name in the results….and way down. They think these things during the race yet have the audacity to pull the plug and crawl off the machine. Call it a day. Call it a ‘training ride’. Those, Barry, are the fucking poseurs. My father would tell me to take my medicine. Take what’s coming to me and learn. Don’t hide. Don’t quit. Simply said, how to you explain quitting to a 6 year old? That’s all that need be said. Never let anyone see you quit. Go until your eyes bleed and some official has to physically remove you.

After our race, the gang and I got our beer on and celebrated. We cheered like crazy people for all those getting their Nationals on. Henry Kramer, Jeff Wardell, Jon Cariveau, Brooke Watts, Karl GOD we were pumped for you. It was INFINITELY more fun than my own racing!

Sunday was awesome. The racing and of course après party was epic. After watching the Elite Men from the pits (I was working for Baker, Boups and Dubba) and yelling at all my hombres like Ryan and Ben….but especially Timmy J and Jeremy as hard as I could (can’t speak today), we all communed in this Irish Pub to get our party on. Drinks were had, frolics played out. It was a fitting end to the season. Tim, thanks for dragging me into your Irish Car Bomb session. Priceless.

So, this is the end of the season and likely my posts will wane a bit as I focus on other things that need focus. It’s been a great season all things considered and once again I am in debt to all of you that read my rants. And it was unbelievable to meet so many of you at Nats this year. I’ll keep ranting…er ah,…writing, if you keep reading.

More photos coming later in a collage of sorts. Stay tuned. Thanks to Longman for most of the racing photos you see above.

‘Cross on.

Reader Comments (14)

Sounds like a tough course! I always figure if I gave it my best there's nothing to be ashamed of no matter where I end up. In this case you were racing the best guys in the country in your group.

Although road trips in some ways can be exhausting, there's little that energizes me so much either. I think more than 1 road trip a year should be required.

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUltraRob

No need for shame, you gave it all you had that day and it happens to all of us. It was appearent in your face you were doing all you could... freaking awesome - never give up! I can vouch that you did not have an off-day when it came to cheering on your bros in every race - you were an animal and your true passion showed every second. WELL DONE!

John Jones

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Heck I felt privileged to ride a couple of laps with the most famous non pro in CX. For every once I heard my name I heard your 10x. You telling off Feldman was worth the pain in my legs.

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScottyD

Scotty: How you and I did NOT have a beer together is blasphemy! I heard you say that to me while racing too! Ha! Which leads me to....Feldman! I left it out of my post, but I'll let people in on what's up: So, I am having a crap day, and all sorry for myself on Saturday. Just bitter and angry as you got the jist of in my post. Coming into the fast barriers with the 180 turn around I see this guy warming up as I am coming in hot. He's got his warm up jacket and pants on and all. As I get closer I see all the world champ stripes and every other piece of bling and guess it is that Feldman guy I hear so much about. I do not know him, and perhaps he serves soup to the homeless in Idaho...or maybe uses all that skill to reach out the community to teach clinics to newbies who want to get involved in the sport. Anyhoo, the sheer fact that this guy has the disrespect to warm up while we are racing (or hanging on as was my race on Saturday) made me psychotic and I yelled a little something-something at him to "kindly please get out of the way, as it is entirely illegal to be on the course warming up while there is a race going on." The guy is so PRO in his head, I suspect that he feels the shit bag un-PRO plebeian vet racers really don't count and he can use 'his' course to warm up on as 'he' sees fit. Parenthetically, Page, Trebon, TJ...all taking their turn at the allotted warm up times....and frankly guys like Powers cheering guys like ME on right by the side of the course to root on EVERYONE. THAT is PRO. Honestly, whatever. There will always be knobs like this in the world and I just have to remember that and not get my panties in a bunch.

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Very Poetic Mr. Keller. All I can say is that voice made me crap my pants & laugh out loud at the same time. In a few years I'll remember nothing about the crap race I had except that moment. I know the beer should have flowed plentiful but I was too busy wallowing in self pity over not going top 20 myself, oh well there are more Nationals & we're the same age so game on!

honest to god word verification

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScottyD

The setting: '99 Nationals at the Presidio, two pretty Colnago C40 cross bikes, one admirer of said C40's and one Dick Feldman and his pit monkey.

The admirer was taking in the beauty of the C40's, chatting with the pit monkey and very gingerly picked one up to see just how light it was.

Feldman belts out in all seriousness, "Do not touch the future national champions bike!!!" No, really, he meant it.

D-bag to the Nth degree.

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

What, the season's over? I feel like a kid that has looked forward for xmas, and then when there are no more presents, you feel like there is nothing to do. Thanks for taking the time to write this year Greg, I know that it can be therapeutic for you to write, but it is also therapeutic for me to read and get away for awhile. It is people like you and LG from Addicted to Bikes that make me want to spend more time in the saddle and less time running ultra's. Because of you, I delved into the 29er world (being 6-4 helps), and I now take my hand off the bars to wave to other riders more than I did before. Next year I plan on buying a cross rig and getting out there to mix it up, because we all know that beer tastes better when you earn it.
Thanks for the ride for the past 12 months....

Bobby Diesel
fyi-Is the magazine in the photo from your road trip a new sponsor of yours?

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBobby

LOL Bobby that was a hell of a catch..dirty old men. Can I get them as a sponsor too?

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScottyD

NIce Bobby! You caught it! I was hoping someone would. That mag was literally spotted by Boups in the pack pocket of a friends jersey as we were in the car and the other guy warming up on the bike. So we pulled up next to him and Boups pulled it out, said thanks, and the rest is history!

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Man those are some great stories about Feldman! Thanks for sharing.....I thought I was one of the only ones that did not like him.

Any theories on why Feldman was a DNS at the last USGP in Portland?? Did not want to get the C40's dirty? Did not love the mud?

Greg we will miss you in MOL this year.

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Greg...I hope you saw the silly smile I had on my face during my entire race. The idea that I could ride an entire course and have people cheering me BY NAME...outrageous!! Your support and that of all my friends, old and new, gave me the biggest thrill I've had in years. One thought for both of us...we came, we saw, and both of us (in coming and seeing) conquered!! Best of times, my friend

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Pete

Thanks for the posts this year, I really enjoyed the racing insights and couldn't wait to get my fix after every weekend. Since you said you were working the pit for Baker, do you have any news on the whole Adam Meyerson thing and if there are any repercussions for Jon?

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarc

My pleasure, Marc. Indeed I was in the pits for Baker and the other Boulder guys but honestly, what may have occurred between JB and Meyerson is between them and the officials and honestly Jon was mellow when he came to the pits to collect his things and we were busy with Boups, Brandon, etc. I hope things get resolved and they can hug it out or something.

December 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Now THAT was a hell of a post GK. Touche.....Alot of people learned alot about the Mud and Cowbells Legacy this weekend if they were in KC, myself included. CX lived large this weekend, thanks for being such an ambassador of the sport. And yes Bobby D, the beers do indeed taste much better.

December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterELGEE

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