Like clockwork every year around this time (late October, early November) I start to get that feeling of slipping. The legs get mushy, the motivation wanes a bit and what should be a normal upward trajectory starts to slip. This year, the pattern is back but there's a slight irony....I feel really pretty good!
The last few weekends (week 6, 7 and 8 of racing for me) had some fantastic races and classic venues: Cross of the North, Without Limits Xilinx, Schoolyard Cross, Feedback Cup, Interlocken and Blue Sky Cup Xilinx. Also, the 35 Open men this part of the schedule are racing combined with the Elite men for 60 min which has been interesting (in a good way).
My pattern over these races was like Agon Interruptus:
Cross of the North: Felt great top 10
Xilinx 1: DNF slashed sidewall
Schoolyard: DNF slashed sidewall
Feedback: Felt great top 10
Interlocken: Taken out at start DNF
Blue Sky: Took myself out at start DNF
The monkey has its claws deeply dug in my back. My tendency is to get heady, depressed, unfulfilled, pissed and questioning everything. I'm pretty good at not casting blame, but still get overly emotional and bitter that I could not represent. And so, maybe it's a function of me finally maturing as I'm seeing some grey hairs: I fight those instincts and if I can grab another bike and stay in the race, I stay in...and train, represent myself as best as I possibly can and show my Boulder Junior Cycling kids I coach that the sport is bigger than me and us...
So, to this hard re-boot. I consider it like a mental enema. I am going to take the time to purge the bad thoughts and go enjoy this crazy good weather we have here. My early mornings now that the sun is up at 5:45 are spectacular. Peaceful. Battery-recharging. We have November and December to push, show results and prepare for Nationals. Something I am incredibly excited about as I'm playing a role helping the committee here in town dial in all the preparations. We want this to be like the '99 Nationals (combined with a Super Cup that year!) in San Francisco which if you were there, was an all time favorite. This will be better!
On to my Juniors. What to say???! They are true students of the sport. Hungry for more info on what goes down in Belgium every weekend. Who the riders are, the bikes they ride the courses they ride on. Having the internet is an amazing thing at this time period of our sport. In the 80's and 90's, we had to wait for our magazine subscriptions to show up to look at the still pictures of our (then) helmet-less heroes. By the late 90's we could get VCR tapes, in the 00's bootlegged DVDs of cross races and now, absolutely clear, HD images LIVE of the races in Belgium as they're happening. Insane. Real-time education for our kids.
Aiden and Seamus have been rock solid. Loving the game. Great results for their little growing selves. They love their teammates and it's like seeing a tribe grow and gel together. They love it and it's extremely satisfying to see. Tempering ALL of this though...results, training, racing, competition, is very hard. We all play a role in helping the kids STEP BACK and away from the variables that can cause them to start to become disheartened or, even worse, regretting they are in the sport. Their bodies are changing fast. We're seeing kids...and I mean VISUALLY seeing kids...grow and go through these radical growth spurts. Shin-bones, hands, arms, feet all growing. Moodiness, etc. It all can effect their minds, performance and moods. We as coaches need to keep them focused on the prize. No, not Nationals, no not racing...it's their fun, flow and individual 'success'.
Re-set, re-focus. On to the rest of November.
The Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassadors are back! We're having a blast this season evangelizing, teaching, racing and being true...ambassadors...to the sport we love. Our sport is growing and it's incredible to see this viral passion explode. So many juniors and women in particular flooding in to the game, all having fun, challenging themselves and coming back for more week after week.
This year the roster has lost one ride but gained another. Our great friend and teammate, Russ Stevenson, has gone back to Seattle with his growing family to tackle some new opportunities. Can't wait to see him back i January for Nats! Coming in to the squad is our old friend (and teammate actually!) Chris Case, VeloNews editor and all around fast guy.
Watch and read below to learn more about our 2013/14 program, goals and the amazing sponsors that love this sport as much as we do.
YOGAGLO BECOMES TITLE SPONSOR OF THE BOULDER CYCLE SPORT CYCLOCROSS AMBASSADORS TEAM
Team celebrates its 3rd anniversary with new members, sponsors and focus on 2014 Cyclocross Nationals in Boulder
BOULDER, CO – October 21, 2013 –YogaGlo, the largest provider of online yoga classes, has become the title sponsor of the Boulder Cycle Sport Cyclocross Ambassadors Team. The company, based in Santa Monica, California has recently launched a “Yoga For Cyclists” section on its highly popular website and will work closely with the team to help all riders learn about yoga’s benefits for cycling performance. YogaGlo is a subscription-based website that provides its members with hundreds of on-demand yoga classes taught by the world’s best instructors. The “Yoga For Cyclists” center focuses on key areas of the rider’s body and will assist with warm-up, on-the-bike performance and power output, as well as total body recovery.
“Cyclocross is such a demanding sport and can really take a toll on the body. And, as I have gotten older I’ve come to realize it’s extremely important to take care of yourself off the bike.” said Brandon Dwight, owner, Boulder Cycle Sport and 3-time U.S. National Cyclocross Champion. “I’ve been using YogaGlo for several months now and it’s so convenient to have the classes ready to go when and where you need them.”
The Ambassador Team will continue it’s longstanding relationships with Ridley, Sram, Zipp, Clement and Bell. The team will be competing aboard the all-new 2014 Ridley X-Night bikes outfitted with Sram Red Hydro 22 drivetrains and hydraulic disc brakes, Zipp wheels and Clement tires.
The Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassadors team has amassed significant results-oriented statistics since the team’s formation in 2010 including 7 National, 2 Master’s World and 2 Colorado State Championships. However, the BCSCX Ambassadors are most proud of their participation in the sport’s growth, which include leading junior coaching sessions, free skills clinics, volunteer trail/ park projects, articles and instructional videos, and community fundraisers.
The Ambassador team will be leading more than 100 Boulder Cycle Sport cyclocross club team members, providing skills instruction, racing guidance and strategy, body and equipment preparation advice and more.
“This is a special year for Boulder and for the cyclocross community here in our town,” said team member Pete Webber. “We’ve seen the sport grow dramatically here in Boulder on all levels, from juniors to masters to professionals. The fun has been incredibly contagious. Now, we are honored to host the 2014 National Cyclocross Championships and demonstrate our region’s passion for our sport.”
Departing the BCSCX Ambassador’s squad is 2013 National and Master’s World Champion Russ Stevenson. Russ will be returning to his family’s native Washington state, where he’ll continue his relationship with Ridley and Clement tires.
The Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassadors Team is also proud to announce its association with a syndicate of passionate sponsors, equally as committed to the sport’s growth as the Ambassadors themselves.
• YogaGlo: the world’s premiere source for online yoga classes.
• SRAM – Official drivetrain and brake supplier. The team will utilize the new Red 22 11-speed group with hydraulic disc brakes.
• Ridley Bicycles – Official supplier of the teams all new and ultra light 2014 X-Night cyclocross frame and fork.
• Clement Cycling – Official supplier of tubular and clincher tires such as the PDX and MXP
• Zipp– Official supplier of wheels, handlebars, stems and seat posts.
• Bell Sports – Official helmet supplier. The team will utilize the lightweight Bell Gage helmet
Race Clothing Sponsors
• Castelli Cycling – Official supplier of the BCS team’s race day apparel ranging from skinsuits, cold-weather gloves, arm and leg warmers, thermal and wind resistant jackets.
Casual Clothing Sponsors
• Anthem Branding – Official supplier of the team’s custom off-the-bike team apparel including jackets, sweatshirts and headgear.
• Feedback Sports – Complete line of work stands and storage racks.
The 2013/14 Ambassadors include:
• Brandon Dwight – Owner of Boulder Cycle Sport, 17 years of pro-level racing; 2-time National Cyclocross Champion – @bldrcyclesport
• Pete Webber – 20 year veteran of professional mountain biking and cyclocross racing; National Cyclocross and MTB Marathon Champion, Master’s World Champion – @webber_pete
• Kristin Weber – 10 year veteran of mountain bike and cyclocross, cross instructor, Master’s Worlds Silver medalist, LunaChix womens MTB Ambassador- @sugardesigninc
• Greg Keller – Elite Masters racer with 16 years of cyclocross racing experience, junior cycling coach and nearly a decade of ‘cross-specific skills instruction – @mudandcowbells
• Chris Case – 7-year veteran of elite road, mountain and cyclocross racing. Silver medalist, Master’s National and World Championships, Colorado Cross Cup champion, managing editor of Velo magazine – @leicacase
Starting in early September and running through October, The BCS Ambassadors will provide free weekly clinics from 5:30 – 7PM, every Wednesday open to any age group in addition to early, pre-work sessions. The skills-sessions will progress over the course of the season to teach core skills such as mounting, dismounting, race-day preparations and racing tactics. For more information on the Ambassadors Team, the skills clinics and other helpful cyclocross resources, visit www.bouldercyclesport.com. Any questions or inquiries on the team can be directed to Brandon@bouldercyclesport.com
So after the horse poop race last Sunday, it all started to come undone. The viruses...they came and got me. I woke up Monday AM and felt super bad. So did Amy and we sulked. Great fall weather in the air, and the body felt like death. No playing outside.
I didn't touch my bike all week in any intentional way to train. I threw a leg over once on Thursday because the weather was so epic outside. I couldn't stand staring out the window. And I felt you guessed it: like poop.
The biggest weekend was approaching in a matter of days, the Colorado Cross Cup at The Boulder Reservoir and Boulder Cup at Valmont Bike Park. Sigh. Just have patience and breathe. Rest the body in the best way you can was what Amy preached to me...and so I did.
The Colorado Cross Cup | October 12th
Saturday came. The beach sand was waiting. I opened my eyes early and I felt...better. I was super motivated to go and ride my bike fast. I have a love affair with this version of the Rez course, one that needs a lot of finesse to corner well on gravel and maintain steady power. It's dead flat...the complete opposite of Valmont.
I sat and meditated on what I wanted today, Saturday, as I sit and drank coffee and pinned up numbers for me and my boys. Quietly before anyone was up...
I arrived early....happy...and began the warm up. The legs felt springy. Heart rate would jump well. Hmm. Looks like I am just going to let it all out today. See what comes of it.
We lined up and from the gun it was a crit.
Some much to say...so little time to say it! Life is on overdrive these days. We are 'that family'...but in a good way I hope: work setting a huge Jens-like tempo, our kids needing to go to 10 different practices all over town, all of us exhausted when we flop in to bed. The Keller family wouldn't have it any other way. But, as I talk about the 'luxury' of living at our frenetic pace, my mind drifts back to Amy D...and it level-sets me. Grounds me into being satisfied and happy with the frenzy we live in...because we can.
I can ride my bike with my friends on weekends in awesome parks. And drink beer afterwards. And laugh and hug. I never forget that. Neither should you.
The racing the last few weeks has really been fun. New courses and premature snows! It's crazy to think we've still got 12 weeks to go! I wrapped up the last few weekends into one mega-post. Text minimal, pictures maximal....
Cyclo-X Flat Irons Mall | Sept 29th
The last time this event came to town, the clavicle was in pieces. Never got to participate. I was more than pleasantly surprised to race this course. One that was as 'bike driver' favored as could be. Chicanes, high speed sweepers...it had it all. Including treacherously wet early morning grass...
I wrote this to my fellow employees last night, and wanted to share it with you. I, like every one of you, are simply trying to process this incomprehensible loss of our friend and comrad, Amy Dombroski. Perhaps in some small way this will help you.
"Five years ago, I sat in the tall grass at Elks Lodge here in Boulder...known to us bike nerds as "The worlds shittiest cyclocross course." Crappy, flat and littered with dog poop, we loved it. Now, it's been demolished by flood and the Parks Dept who are digging it up to make it look like any other park. We've graduated 7 National Champions and 2 world champions in that park. It means something. At least to us.
So, I sat in the grass five years ago with a 21 year old gal who I admired and could see was stepping to the next level in her bike racing career. "Career" in that these things never really last long as the sport typically chews up young souls and spits them out. It rarely works out.
We talked a ton in that field that night, and a lot more over the years. She'd just finished a clinic that night Brandon Dwight and I had given and she had questions galore. Hungry for knowledge. Extra credit.
Year after year she progressed. This 4'11 micro midget with a never-say-die spirit. What did she need to know? Who did she need to talk to for sponsorship? What was the path to make this her career? It was exactly what she wanted.
Great friends, great family and great mentoring propelled her. Got her on the rails.
She leaned in to exactly what she wanted. Went for it.
In the cooking world, you go to Paris or Milan to get shit on by the great chefs to try and make it.
You go to Hollywood to bury yourself to make it on the silver screen.
If you bleed software engineering, you are a moth to Silicon Valley's flame.
And if you are a bike racer, you go to Belgium.
Amy Dombroski went to Belgium. To face the best. And she got respect. And a contract. She'd 'made it'. She'd executed on her dream in 5 years. She was in the system now. A pro cyclocross racer at the top most level on earth. This was her job. 5 years of making ends meet to simply: get a job.
She leaned in to where it was toughest because it's where the best were. That was Amy D. Frankly, it's not even where the most money could have been made. Simply, it was where the best were. She wanted to take them on. Belgium: where she new she had to be challenged. She told me this in that field. That she knew they were fast, but she could hang. She asked me about what it was like racing overseas and I told her: "It's hard as fuck. But I had to go and race against these myths, even if at my age they were master old myths."
My friend Amy passed away today. Tragic, and I thank you for your well wishes. It means a lot. But, it's not the point of this email.
It's about you. And taking on a bit of 'Amy Dombroski' in your spirit and in your lives.
Ask yourselves: Are you challenged? Is this your Belgium? Is this where you can face the stuff that makes you better? Makes you more incentivized to learn more...do more...dig deeper? You all are amazing. Look at the progress, but your lives should be enriched. And part of that is what you do to earn your livings and more specifically be absolutely...
And while we know it's hard to carry stoke every day, your foundation at work is the belief in what you're doing and with those you're doing it with. What we're doing to change the publishing industry and to enrich the lives of the employees that we call LinkSmarties. We have something very very special. It's time for us to reflect and close collective eyes and meditate on that fact. Just for a moment.
Lean in. Hard. Make this place that memory in your bright futures where you can say looking back: "I held nothing back." "I went as hard as I could." "My teammates bled from their eye balls too." "We...fucking...crushed...it."
And you are.
I truly love you all. As silent as I may seem to you some days as I too am learning brand new things. Challenged by what it's like to make a smooth environment for you...for us...to succeed. My Belgium.
The season got going in ernest this past weekend with the first test race at Valmont Bike Park...hope to the 2014 US National Cyclocross Championships this season. Over 600 racers on the day and stacked fields in nearly every catergory.
This weekend was the first real test...actually the first real ride on the new Ridley X-Nights. I haven't had the opportunity to hot-lap on the bikes to really test them. The weight of the bikes is surreal, but my fit was not yet dialed. I'd use the race to learn really what I needed (primarily lower bar height and hood position along with a cm seat change to get my weight a bit back/centered).
The 35 Open field lined up and the pace from the gun was vicious. I just was not prepared for the effort and combined with the fit issues, I just needed to roll, drive the bike and train. I ended up a sort of anonymous top 20 but I'll take it for now. I new exactly what I needed in bike and body and regardless had such a phenomenal time on what could be a sensational course for Nationals. There will be more event-location testing to come.
Leading up to Valmont, I tweaked with Aiden's Ridley as well. The benefit of having a parent who races is the inevitable 'hand me downs'. Now my wife realizes why I have been "hoarding" all these years. My crystal ball was correct and now my sons get to use all the equipment I trusted over the years and kept in good shape...just for them. The Clement MXP rubber I have the boys on is remarkable
I'm a week late posting this...for obvious reasons. The destruction here in Boulder due to the floods and landslides has been surreal and bike racing has taken a very far back seat while we as a community have been helping our neighbors. I've been in basements and back yards the last few days helping literally dig my friends out. We will recover and move on. But it has been a true mental block for many of us to think about biking.
Last week, however, was just awesome. It was a true 'kick start' to the season for both my Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassadors as well as my Boulder Junior Cycling grommets.
Kick It Time Trial - Fort Collins
The weekend started up in Fort Collins with a time trial. It was one, big, technical 'drivers' course. Full gas to stage for starting positions on Sunday on essentially the same course, albeit a bit shorter.
My BJC'ers crushed! Watching my sons rip it was also amazing to see. They're both in the 10-12 division, Aiden winning and Seamus taking 7th at 9 years old! Very proud of all the kids.
My race was smooth and fast, enabling me to take 4th overall and a first row start up on Sunday.
Cross of the North - Fort Collins
This year, the Colorado 35-Open class is in an weird spot: We start the season racing at 8AM in essentially our own group for 50min...but end the season racing at 3:30 PM for 60min mixed with the Open guys. Getting up early...no problem, but the inconsistency feels weird. We'll see how it all evolves. I got up at 5 and headed up to Fort Collins, got in a decent warm up and before I know it we were on the line and going full gas.
I honestly had zero clue where I'd be fitness-wise in this first race of the season. I'd had mental goals of being OK with 10th-ish, but no real idea how I'd do under that intensity. The Crack and my 1 Wednesday Worlds ride before more or less showed me that my bike driving was good, and my fitness was OK...but mostly I was HEALTHY starting a season for once. No protruding bones, road rash or other ridicu-scars.
The course was fairly blown out. Dry and dusty but really required finesse and constant power. Stuff I'm decent at. I was back on my only operable bike, my 2012 Ridley X-Fire with cantis.
My first cross took place in some anonymous church property, somewhere in the middle of New Jersey in 1996. My mountain biking bud, Chris Evans, told me about this sport, saying that'd be cool if I showed up on my mountainbike and do 'this obstacle course type of race.' Back in the old NORBA days when we mountainbike-raced, you had to do 'all 3' disciplines: XC, downhill and trials. I really thought Chris was talking to me about some sort of trials course. I could do those fairly well and, so, curious, I showed up with my bike at this 'cross' race. Chris shows up and out of his car he pulls out this sort of road bike....a Ritchey Swiss Cross. It had these tiny knobbies, beautiful lines and feather weight. We pinned on numbers, waited amongst a field of 10 mopes for the whistle and when it came...chaos. It hurt, I came in nearly last, had no idea how to perform the gazelle-like maneuvers when my eyeballs were bleeding...but I was helplessly hooked.
And so, like the years past, we prepare for the season. I come in to this one, healthy, motivated and in awe of what our sport has become. I've raced the old man worlds, I've been overseas and now, I see the youth pour in, in droves. Hungry to make road style bikes go fast in the dirt.
This year I am honored to work with some of my best friends on teaching the beautiful sport. Pete Webber, Michael Robson, Johs Huseby, Emily Zinn, Dave Weber and Margell Abel. All pouring back what was poured in to us as coaches for the Boulder Junior Cycling program...
This year also marks the 3rd anniversary of the Boulder Cycle Sport 'Ambassadors' team. Brandon Dwight, Pete, Kristin Weber and Chris Case will all be evangelizing 'cross to anyone and everyone who will hear us. Especially in Boulder with the coming of the National Championships to our crazy passionate city this January.
It's September, and as I type, I can still hear the whir of Air Conditioning units outside. Before we know it the leaves will change and the cold weather gear will get brought out. But for now, the kids....and the adults...are spending our time on long, tiring yet beautiful rides. The time for intervals and inhumane intensity will happen soon enough...
On to the 2013/14 cyclocross season. Best of luck everybody. Keep it smooth.
But the 10 weeks shouldn't be "it". It's not enough to sustain all around health and stability to carry me through the 'violent' efforts of cross and the tolls it takes on the body. But time is a precious asset. I need to occupy the time I'd spent doing Yoga now for training in the early mornings. So how can I balance it? Intro Yoga Glo for Cyclists!
I'm posting a lot about my boys lately. Yes pride is driving a ton of this...but mostly amazement. On many levels. My boys are flying (almost) free now. Not completely solo yet (small rides by themselves on local/close trails...letting the reigns go a bit wider) but they are riding with their grommet friends and coaches in places I share with my best buds. Nederland, Winter Park and more. Magical.
Long dirt road rides with dad showing off all the local spots....
Short spins to just have that deep one on one you can't get with other brothers or parents nearby. Just soft pedaling, calm voices and laughs and authentic smiles that telegraph 'I'm alone with my daddy.'
I continually pull mind and self from all of this wonderment. I spend the time to ensure my sons aren't doing all of this, eyes rolling, to appease their old man. That 'this is dad's thing'. And it refreshes me when I see them kit up on their own. Bike gear...lacrosse gear...whatever gear. They're exploring, seeing, playing, growing.
But I'd be a liar if I said it's not a rush to rail singletrack and high altitude with my boys. It's here.