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Cross Racing Week 12 | White out

It came…


Yes, it finally came but my patience was admittedly tested these last few weeks as the moisture just refused to come and make a proper cross for us. Mud and rain are one thing but ice, snow PLUS mud and deep freezing temperatures are an entirely different affair. And it came with a vengeance for this past Saturday’s Cyclo-X race at Louisville’s “Bowl of Death” (a.k.a. the Louisville Rec Center)

To start the day, I performed my duties as chief ‘marshal’ for the juniors. The temps were FRIGID and yet we still had record numbers of kids. Some, like my son, were shivering and frankly scared. It was his first race in the snow….ever. And this hard/heavy course and the sub-Arctic temps would teach him lots about himself. A crash in the first 50 meters sent him down into the frozen pavement. The Oakley’s I gave him in pieces…he was so upset. I said “Don’t worry man! Just get up and keep going!” And he did.


Again and again he would wash out on his tiny, ill equipped 24” Redline. He would get up, try and find me and my eyes to see ‘where I was’ and I would just give him the thumbs up and arm pump to keep going. If he only knew what I was really seeing. Aiden would pick himself up and go further. Absolutely on the verge of tears but he would not give up. Michael Robson, marshaling the kids with me, found him walking. Chain off. He kindly said: “Aiden, there’s no quitting in ‘cross. You finish. Always. No matter where you are.” And so this boy did. He finished. Two laps. 25 minutes. Frozen solid. He went with me right into the car from the finish where no one would see him and cried.

So for you adults who pay your money, and decide it’s a bit too hard and drop out…remember this 9 year old. Unless you are too hurt, you go. And finish. Learn a little something about yourself in the process.

It was then time for the big kids to take to the course. The Master A’s lined up for our event and you could visibly tell who was amped, and who was bummed. I think Michael and I were causing Richter Scale registrations in the earth we were shaking so badly with excitement to get it on.

The call up/staging was in the lower field of the rec center…e.g. the bottom of the bowl…in the deep snow. One line through the start finish there and even with shoveling to clear the area, the snow kept falling and piling up in the staging area. Upon the whistle, Michael was off like a dart dashing dead center on the packed down single-track…and the others got consumed in the shit show that was our start. Slipping tires, pedals and dudes running from the back to get position caused chaos…

cyclo x - louisville 2011 (2)

I managed to keep it up and locked dead center getting in behind a Mafia guy (see guy to far left above) who ran from the back to get in behind Michael. I’d never raced with this guy before and unfortunately was not used to his style. He was overcooking turns and the gap grew instantaneously to 20sec…which Michael would hold to the end.

cyclo x - louisville 2011 (3)

Within a few 100m I was able to squeak by the Mafia guy and went to chase Robson. I was feeling great, my bike and Clement PDX tires railing well as I learned the course lap by lap (it would change a lot in our race). I ran 24f/26r and for the first 2 laps was on Velcro. Philip Ball and others were shouting lap times and gaps. 22 seconds back to 30 seconds up to 20 again and so on. It was silly fun.

Cyclo X - Louisville 2011 

By lap 3 the course was changing and I began to make mistakes. Little mistakes that cost me big in terms of allowing gaps to close on me I’d worked to make and subsequently my bros captured me. All the little dabs and braking add up! First it was the duo of Jon Cariveau and my team mate Tim Faia who closed the gap to me after I slipped on the black-iced sidewalk…


I would collect myself and recover as Jon put in a vicious attack and only Tim could cover it. I pushed on, thinking: just ride smooth. Follow Timmy, he’s got Jon. Just make every lap from now on smoother. Every run-up, smoother…

34511345-Cyclo X - Louisville 2011 %28237%29

Every dismount, smoother…

338445_10150403422383635_623523634_8388137_735554030_o (1)

Every re-mount, smoother…


But it wasn’t enough! I had a bad 3rd lap and allowed a hard charging Matthew Klick and my teammate Brian Hludzinski close a gap. I rolled with them, letting Brian control Matthew until the closing laps. My 4th of 6 laps I ran my smoothest…and my fastest. I was confident I could sprint it out for 4th as I was not going to be able to catch Faia and Jon but I could conserve and sprint with Brian and Matthew. I stayed in contact until lap 5…when everyone started making mistakes…even Michael (doing his best impression of the Stations of the Cross)…


By the last lap, we’d successfully run into lapped traffic. My slips in lap 5 let the gap open on Brian and Michael and thus having to negotiate some hairy corners and straightaways where I’d have to go out into the un-ridden snow to get around. No catching Brian and Matthew and thus I had to settle coming in across the line in 6th which, incidentally, made me very happy. I rode the best and smoothest I could…thus making me “6th smoothest” on the day. Michael demonstrating yet again that the conditions don’t matter much for his domination…but alas this type of course and weather is what we live for.

Couple of side notes…


I have been in a manic, crazed search for the best ‘low temp’ glove that is not like a fat boxing glove. I was searching for something that would provide my fingers dexterity over the levers yet ensure I was warm. I came into a pair of Giro “Proof” gloves recently and wore them on Saturday. Verdict thus far: crazy good. I realize gloves are a very personal choice, but thus far, this is likely my Madison glove. The temps for us on Saturday were 24deg…and this glove is rated 30deg+. The glove has an outer shell and removable inner liner and when I pulled them off, post race, steam was visible. My hands are incredibly wimpy too so I was STOKED to have this result with these gloves on their first real very cold use.

Giro Proof Glove


My main man Matty Pronovost from Moots cornered me and handed me this…


It’s his own, new, embrocation: Remsen Brand. I have not yet used it but will be testing it this week in training. My version: “Extra Hot”. I will be blogging about it soon. To date, Northwest Knee Warmers has been my benchmark for absolute embro perfection…having used virtually EVERYTHING out there. DZnuts High Heat, Mad Alchemy Madness heat, and many of the Euro-brands as well.

On to Week 13 of ‘cross. Week 14 is Colorado States and finally we train through to Madison. Let’s hope this white out continues.

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