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Cross Racing Week 5 | Crits on knobbies

Each week it’s growing. The speeds, the intensity and of course the fun. As a group of old fast guys (or is it fast old guys?) we are thinking better in the heat of the moment, racing smarter, attacking harder and yet, each week, our boy Michael Robson is responding to our charges to reel him back in with authority. Incredible. Kudos to him and back pats to the promoters who are putting on awesome races in spectacular venues here in this incredibly arid fall we’re having in Colorado. Now if only the weather gods could start to cooperate and slow things down from the crits we’re having each week…

Terri - Keller before race

Day 1 – Blue Sky Velo at Xilinx

The Blue Sky Velo Club, as I’ve said time and time again, ‘gets it’. They continually rally their members to put their labor and passion for the sport year after year into creating a great course and venue for us all to enjoy. No details are overlooked and I have never seen or heard anyone walk away grumpy.

The course this year was essentially the same as their well-liked lay out at Xilinx from years past. An essentially flat-ish course with one small drag to slog up inter connecting the north side versus south sides of the course. The race was a Colorado Cup race (as would be Sundays at Monarch…read below) so A-games were on by everyone for sure.

I had a front row call up and dialed myself in for the whistle and the sprint up the paved hill before bombing into the course. blue sky - start line

On the whistle Ariel Brown crushed it from the right side with me slipping a pedal unfortunately. I got that sorted out in a stroke and sat in behind in roughly 5th place.

The tempo on the first lap was conservative. Lots of recovery off the line into a downhill before getting into the chicanes and thus more recovery. But by lap 2, game on. The tempo was ratcheted up and we started to jettison some of the folks who’d helped lead out the initial lap. You can see the selections form by watching Dale’s very clever (and brave for nearly sacrificing your Go Pro!) video here…



Staircam - Blue Sky Velo Cyclocross - 35+ open from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

By now Robson assumed control (never to look back) with a hard charging Taylor Carrington (visiting from N.C.) keeping Michael honest at about 6sec. We then had a chase group of Jeff Cospolich, Ryan McFarling, Frank Overton and Chris Phenecie drilling it to stay in contact with myself and Jeff Wardell on their heels by 5sec.

Terri - Keller and Swift

Midway through, like a freight train, Jesse Swift on his Gates-carbon drive Raleigh 1x1 comes trucking from a 3rd row start. Such a smooth rider and I let him tow me about (sorry Jesse…grin) until he unfortunately burped a tire in the closing lap and was forced to run. Bummer man as you were killing it for a podium, no question.

Terri - run up

I felt incredibly solid all day physically, being able to hang in while the tempo ratcheted higher. Still room to get to the very high end of fitness which is cool for October. The Ridley’s performed spectacularly as well.

In the closing lap Jeff makes a major push to me. I know that Phenecie is going to be too hard to catch in the bell lap so I eased a fraction. Jeff bridged and I let him swing by and I sat in. He’s one of my buds but I think he knew that I’d have to rip the finale as I'd be recovered and we’d take our chances in the sprint. We were flowing amazingly together…matching pedal strokes and lines in and out of the flow course. We finally exited the dirt to get on to the final paved start/finish stretch…

Terri - Keller and Jeff

…and the sprint ensued. I could hear my wife and boys screaming at me and eventually I pulled away for 7th. Super fun, Jeff.

Terri - post race

Afterwards there’s always the hypoxic post-race-post-mortem. Everyone talking about their ride, the course, their lines, etc. So much fun with this group. My son had raced early (8th place as a 9 y.o. against the 10-12 y.o.’s!) and he got in on the post-race action too. But mostly, he just wanted to be with me…

Terri - Aiden and Dad

So 7th on the day. I’ll take it and am proud of the work I am doing. It’s all I got and I know I am riding well. The grins are there in a big way this year. I couldn’t wait for Sunday…

Day 2 – Excel Sports Monarch High Cross p/b DBC Events

The venue was at the same locale as our CO State Championships from 2010. A day for me I wanted to lock in a box and never remember again. What a tough day (let alone rough year…). My chance here again this year I would not repeat in the same abysmal manner. I was here Sunday to go and go well. It’s a course that everyone says is ‘my course’. Flat, fast and lots of technical ‘driving’. Problem is, in my mind, I keep thinking of this as a crit course…something I’d traditionally not been very good at.

As it was the day before at Blue Sky, Monarch was a Colorado Cup Race…so everyone had to be on their A Game again regardless of how tired they were. I felt pretty good in warm up even after Saturday's efforts and was able to secure a front row start again die to points thus far.

The start chute was again a long paved slog. After my slipped pedal yesterday, I wanted the hole shot badly and went through my whole start checklist while on the line…

  • Start gearing – check
  • Unclipped pedal horizontal – check
  • Eyes focused down the chute – check

Tweeet! We were off and I got off the line clean and everything went perfectly....pedal engaging in my Mavic Fury's without thinking. I got us all into the initial chute at a fast tempo and set up for the chicanes that would lead into an incredibly hard sand pit. The sand was deep as hell and the lead in was made even harder as it came right after a 90 degree turn into it. You also had to literally drop into the pit as it was about 10" below the grass in its own 'bowl.' I attempted to ride but blew out of the line I wanted and was forced to dismount and run. I was able to remain out in the lead though when we exited which I was happy about…

Annette - monarch high cx sand

My intent on the opening lap was to create a selection. I went hard and I knew that Michael would be good again as would my team mate Tim Faia…

Annette - monarch high cross 2011 (1)

I was able to succeed in the selection-making and we had a killer group of roughly 10 of the large starting field creating a gap to the chasers. I had my teammates Timmy Faia and Brian Hludzinski in there too. By the closing section of the first lap Timmy was there and came around. I slowed up a wee bit (‘cause I am so sly like that) and Michael says to me calmly: “Mr. Keller, you wouldn’t be blocking for Timmy now would you?” “Who me? No way Michael!” Ha! And so Michael was off to catch Tim and the two of them would slay each other with the trailing group some 30-60 seconds behind for the day.

Annette- monarch high cross 2011 (2)

The chasing group was flat out fun. Phenecie, Brian, Ariel Brown, my coach Frank Overton and Grant Holicky…all throwing down attacks. Joe DePaemelaere created an extremely special course in that it it forced you to stay full throttle on all the flat slogs (like that seen above) each of which would throw you into intricate chicaned 180's. I was recovering amazingly well once I exited the chicanes to throttle back up. You would pass through roughly 4 180s on each side of the course and by the 4th I was ready to get back on it.

Annette - monarch high cross 2011 (3)

By the bell lap I’d dispatched my group and was charging to catch my teammate Brian and Chris Phenecie. They were painfully close and I could see their duel but scarier was the fact that Dennis Farrell was coming on quick behind me. He is like a cobra…silently sliding up through the back, killing you with his smarts. I could see him overtake my last group of Frank, Grant and others and was 5 seconds back on me. Coming off the incredibly bumpy dirt section before turning and going 180deg back up the pavement to the Start/Finish I could see him gaining ground. I laid down a final attack in the biggest gear I could push to get to the line just ahead of him for 6th. Amazing ride Dennis (as always).

I can not describe for you the fun (and INSANE speeds) we are having here in Colorado. I look forward to each weekend to be with this super fun group of guys. We know what we have and we celebrate it weekend in and out with the cleanest racing imaginable…each of us inspiring the other to go harder and dig a bit deeper.

Next weekend. Yup, another grass crit. Interlocken. Bring your file treads please…

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