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Cross Racing Week 12 and 13 | The Finish Line

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 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 fine tune whatever I could possibly 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 with only teammate Matt Davies in pursuit. The gap was immediate and within 1/2 lap had caught and made it through most of the single speed field. The conditions were exactly what I hoped for....dodgy: snow and ice in the corners with power sections that were super fast. All hovering about 20-25 degrees. 

Photo by Bo Bickerstaff 

Brook's course kept a smile on my face and proved to be perfect for me...or nearly perfect. Matt punched it super hard and it was one interval more than I could manage and he got me at the end. I took 2nd with a huge smile on my face.

Photo by David Weber

Next juniors! My sons and all of my Boulder Junior Cycling kids were excited to go shred the snow. It's been a super long season, with so so much going on in the lives of the little guys. My sons are not immune, either, to the strains of a long season...Aiden, my oldest, in particular REALLY feeling the depth of the season in his body and in his mind. He'd ripped in to the season and by December had hit that wall many of us hit, even with breaks baked in. Growth spurts happening in his body while his other little friends had concluded their 'round 1' of their growth spurts over the summer and were ready to hammer again. He dug deep, pinned up and got on with it to a fine 7th place on the day. I give him the hugest of kudos but more on that later... 

Photo by David Kutcipal of

Seamus was vibrating with excitement as well! He'd be racing for the first time this season in his own peloton of 9-10 year olds. He got his game on at Altitude Cross, driving that 700c MTB of his to a fine 2nd place. 

Photo by David Kutcipal of

Wrapping up the day in Longmont, I literally had to leave the family behind at the race course to jam home, shower and head to the airport for a business trip to lovely Las Vegas. No, it wouldn't be easy to rest and finish tuning for Nationals...

The week leading up

The air was electric in The Bubble with a flood of early birds coming in to the State to race at Altitude CX. I took on a couple of out of town boys from the Lion Hearts team out of Ohio and of course our great friends from Rad Racing NW as well. We made the good trainings together as juniors!

The Big Show - Nationals

The time had come. All of the big and little boys would get their chance at a National stars-n-bars jersey. The racing kicked off with some gorgeous foul weather...6" of snow and cold weather which began it slow thaw over the week. By Friday, my boys who were contesting the Mens 45-49 contest would have (for me, anyways) a dream scenario: frozen ruts and slippery conditions. The Colorado contingent was there to get their game on against a freshly minted World Champion, Don Myrah. Timmy Faia, Michael Robson and Jon Cariveau are dear friends and any one of them could take a race on a given day. As it came to pass, Timmy opened up a can of kill and took his first ever stars-n-bars...right here in his home state. Awesome to see. Michael and Jon C will be hungry to grab that shirt next year in Austin.

Photo by Bo Bickerstaff

While the sweat was still cooling on the 45-49's, I had my junior chores to attend to. BJC was fortunate to have access to a warm airplane hanger for doing our pre-race preps. Warmth, protected from the 50mph winds going on....and a clean and warm bathroom. Surreal. We'll never have that again at a Nats! Aiden dug in to try and rev his engine which was already deeply tired. But he summoned the good spirits and was tremendously excited...

In the hanger, I had changed into my pit-workers clothes and had all of their bikes dialed to give the boys any possible chance on the day. Clean, lubed, ready...

Photo by Shawn Lortie -

The wind was absolutely howling on these little guys as we made our way to the call up. It'd been blowing like this for the past two days and wouldn't stop through the weekend. A huge 40+ JM11-12 field and Aiden would get a front row call up given the insanely awesome performances he had this year....

He truly had his game face on and was ready to go hard...

The 11-12 group FLEW from the line, Aiden setting a super hard pace from the gun. The boy dug so deep it was incredible. As mentioned earlier, by early December, Aid'r showed the signs of fatigue and just couldn't understand why he was feeling so bad. He raced roughly the same amount as the other kids, but his constant complaining of sore ankle, arm and leg bones and constant fatigue and ingestion of whole sides of beef (read: insatiable hunger) could  only mean one thing:...the poor kid is stretching and growing and all that energy is pouring into that huge spurt!... Energy away from pedaling fast! We explained all this to him and he said clearly: "I get it. I'm going to go out and just do my best." Pride. He rode his heart out to a phenomenal 8th place. He and his teammates and season adversaries crushed the field, his good friend Ryan taking the national championship and teammates Jared and Dakota 2nd and 3rd places. Awesome work by Colorado!

With only 5 minutes to spare between the 11-12's, I had to rush to tend to Seamus and his 9-10 Championship race. He was SO pumped. Happy, ready and giddy. We made an at-the-line decision to have him use Aiden's Ridley X-Fire....but ultimately a call that served him well. Lighter and better for the day. It gave him confidence that day which is what he needed...

From their whistle, the first 3 riders detonated the 9-10 field....

...the winner from Louisville KY taking thw hole shot and putting on a great demonstration with Seamus taking 3rd and his friend and teammate Kahill taking a great 2nd place. It was so awesome to see him come across the line and I think this experience has changed him forever....

Photo by Brian Nelson - (full article here)

ALL categories, regardless of junior, master or elite status, got the same podium treatment. Given the explosion of the sport, I was so happy to see USAC create this 9-10 category. They are 'tweeners' in that they posses the skills and have large field numbers, yet generally are not capable of riding at the level of most 11-12's. It was a tremendous success.

Saturday morning, Master Men 40-44

Game day. My sleep the night before was fitful. Not because of nerves, but because the wind was so intense, it sounded as if the window to our bedroom would blow right in. I was super relaxed and excited to get my game on. I knew the course, was confident in my abilities and set my goals realistically at a top 20. I'd done it before and was better prepared for this Nationals so knew I had it in me. In the call up grid, I had the opportunity to line up far right 3rd row. Knowing what lied 150 meters ahead (a right hand bend after the start chute), I waited a sec, let another non-local grab the spot and proceeded to take the left spot, 4rth row. I wanted to sweep in to the corner if all things went right versus slow down and make a harder turn into the course.

From the whistle, we got off generally smoothly. A bit of tangling but no one went down. Generally a start of experienced guys. As we gallopped up to speed we approached the right bend. My plan was working. I could see the right side peripherally start to slow down as planned..

...and then it happened.

The sound of carbon and bodies and brake smell all light up at once. A massive pile up to my right which dominoed and splayed out to my left. All in front of me literally making a wall. I was untouched, but I had to stop then hop over bodies and bikes to get back on it. On course, the initial 20 in front of the melee were GONE. Then us in a second group. Within moments of getting back up to speed, I saw some guys off their bikes...surveying their situations. Turns out there was another crash up the hill from where the big crash happened taking out my teammate and true contender for the gold, Brandon Dwight.

I methodically got about my race, pushing hard, feeling awesome and railing teammate Pete Weber's that Michael Robson and I helped test sections of at speed which was absolutely crazy fun. 

As things go, you generally settle in where you naturally should be. I was with my local fast guy friends in a group that are all close buds and we just slayed it. I got to ride Nationals primarily with teammate Brian Hludzinski and good friend Jonny Coln. Trading hammer blows to each other all race. Such good times. The wind made it nearly impossible (unless you are a super human) to bridge to another group. We tried for sure, but the group had settled in solidly for the day by the 3rd lap.

Photo by David Kutcipal of

Each lap around it was like a wall of "GO KELLER, GO!!!!" It was so cool to be laying it all out in front of friends and family.

My favorite section was "Pete's Plunge." A super fast, sketchy and hard to handle off-camber created by, Pete Webber himself. Robson and I tested this section months ago and knew it would be decisive to either bridge to groups or preserve your either case if you had the skills to do so. I didn't have to tripod this and railed it clean every time with a little body English....

Photo by David Kutcipal of

Boulder Cycle Sport put together this video of the 40-44 action which was fun to see. You can see my attacking antics on the stairs deep in. Dudes were DYING on the top of the stairs but my plan was never to be behind suffering guys going in to Pete's plunge (which came right after the 5280 stairs). I feared someone making mistakes and taking me out! So I'd continue my 'interval' and rush past guys a few more steps to get clean and clear to drive the Plunge on my own.

In the end, Pete had his day on his course....with his HEAD plastered everywhere!...

He is an incredible champion and inspiration. Brandon, to his credit, showed he may have had the best legs on the day going from that crash all the way back up to 3rd place. Insane. My day I walk away from 100% satisfied. 27th. There is not one solitary thing I did wrong and I know that I left it all out there. Drained the tank and went hard for the duration. No mind wandering. No suffering. You know when you start to thing "what if..." after a race? Well none of that for me. I can use the start chute crash as an excuse, but I won't. Stronger guys could have got across to the chase groups like those that caught mine could. I finished where I started, some places gained but I lost none. I am satisfied.

So that is it. The 2013/14 racing season. Boulder Cycle Sport and Boulder Junior Cycling both created memorable days, raced super aggressively and had a shed-load of fun! I can not wait for next season already. Thinking of my plans and that of our juniors and how much more awesome we're going to be.

Here's to 'cross. Here's to us for doing 'cross. Here's to this lifestyle.



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