It's time to begin to switch over the engine....both mind and body....to ride long, think hard and put in the time to re-charge. Rides with friends, rides solo...it doesn't matter. Just long and epic.
We started this past weekend...the "RTD' or Ride to Denver. Pete Webber has a phenomenal way to get to and from the 'big city', sending us on a Colorado Road Ride which is mainly dirt road and trail like you see above.
We trekked our way along this route, on our way to visit the NAHMBS which came to visit the Mile High City this year. Tons of eye candy which I'm sure you've seen by now all over the webs.
Most importantly, along with all these long rides, this time of year signifies reflection. And one of those reflections was the Boulder Junior Cycling 'CX Celebration' night where we honor the kids and their amazing season. It never ceases to impress me what they do each fall and winter. They're not like other kids...frankly like other adults! I mean, who in their right mind would intentionally choose to pedal their bike in 20 degree weather with ice and sleet raining down. Well, these kids do. With a smile.
It also deeply re-enforces to me how kids feel success and the role we play in helping them. It's never about the results...only about their personal progress. Did they make mistakes? Was each lap smoother? Did they bobble? Were they able to bridge to another faster group? Progress. It's like a little microcosm of life they're learning and all the coaches are so proud to be a part of that.
On to the spring.
It's finally silent in my head. The thrashing going on inside was like none other I'd experienced before, during or after a race in an attempt to separate the signals from the noise on what I'd witnessed and felt. The success from the failures. The amazing experiences to the let downs. Trying to parse out what 2013 would be like for me after this experience. I needed a few days to separate myself from Louisville. And days later after re-entering the atmosphere of home and work, I am still tired to the bone. My ears still ringing from the roar of the crowd all day Saturday at the elite race. My vocal chords still shredded from screaming my guts out at my friends and racers streaking by us lap after lap. My legs and soul equally cashed from the racing we did the week before. A needed few days of separation between all of this and my last race season, the Master's World Championship. I learned so much this trip…like I continue to learn year after year. But the questions in my head I intimately know the answers to still surface. Why do I still feel impulsed to put my hand back in the white hot flame? I know what the results will be as I watch my own flesh bubble. But why do I put back in again? And again? I'll answer that.
So much was different between this race and the first Worlds I'd done in Mol, Belgium a few years back. Quite honestly, this was more like "U.S. Nationals Part Deux" than a World Championship...although the lone Euro from Spain in our group (40-44's) Marco Prieto, who I give props to for making the journey over to participate, certainly was a worthy World's challenger as we'd come to find.
That's it. As far as training is concerned, 'what's there is there' and 'what will be will be', given good luck and good legs on the day. We are amped here in Boulder. AMPED to race, see our friends from around the country and abroad and celebrate our sport.
Four months. Four months of racing for me and I'm still hungry given a truncated season. A season that again seemed to challenge me in so many ways given yet another broken collarbone in late August and a resultant season of hurry-up-and-try-to-get-fit-along-the-way. Nothing was going to stop me from crawling back on and doing what I love so dearly.
And now we're here. Just days leading up to our trip to Louisville, KY and the Masters World Championships followed by the biggest cyclocross event this nation has ever seen: the Elite World Championships. At this moment I still can't believe I'm here, that I'm going and have enough motivation to tear legs off and go and do my best.
It's incredible when I step back and look at all the support I have in my life to do what I love so much. A few shout outs...
- My wife and family: who deeply understand the teeter totter and how the bike, my sport and my friends balance my life and bring me great joy.
- Brandon and the crew at Boulder Cycle Sport who take such great care of me. I'd love to bring them National Championships (but I think Pete and Brandon have that covered! ha!) but they know how proud I am to wear that Orange we wear and coach all the folks new to the sport who I see fall in deeper love race after race as they see their own improvements the 'Ambassadors' and I teach them. I'll never forget walking in the first BCS shop near my house the day they opened in 2005, seeing Brandon stocking shelves and saying: "So, do you guys do cross?". The rest is history.
- Pete Webber for spending his valuable time convincing me I can compete at the level I know I can compete at, coaching me to keep a hurting engine to keep going and mainly believe I can flow again. You all have no idea how disciplined Pete is with his preperation and focus to the sport but most importantly how much time he spends helping this community to do their best individually and show the country how we love this sport collectively.
- Ridley, SRAM, Bell Helmets Clement Tires Anthem Branding, Harshman Wealth Mix1 and Mavic who graciously support this old man and allow me such amazing communication lines to provide feedback and help evangelize such incredible products. I can only do that because they are 'the biggest little companies' on earth who relish these racer channels.
- Our community of 'crossers here in Boulder. This is what we do. From our juniors to masters, we simply live for cross and live to shout our guts out at each other to race, do our best and represent where we're from proudly.
The bikes and equipment are packed an in-route at this exact moment. We're going to go celebrate cross, race, spectate and come back to our respective homes and evangelize what we've seen to anyone who'll listen. But for now, we rest and think about the week to come.
It's only a matter of days now. My head is spinning a bit given the maelstrom of things going on from business to family to training...all leading up to the big show in Louisville KY. My last foray at a World Championship was in Mol, Belgium some 5 years ago. The lead up then was intense....although almost all self-imposed stress. This time it's sort of a good 'stress'. Much positive energy coming from all seats of my teeter-totter. It's just a lot of energy to handle at the moment!
We're still staying on top of it here in Boulder. We went from sub-arctic temps and snow we trained in to 60deg temps and blue skies. Lots of great miles and lots of large smiles as we slay each other to ensure Colorado represents well in Louisville.
Our training rides have consisted of a lot of mock racing. Shorter/wicked intense efforts combined with long dirt miles on some of our favorite loops.
The Ridley X-Fires are also getting their final preps.The cabling is still spot on after a full season due to it's 100% sealing so only things like brake pads are getting re-freshed. These bikes are literally build and ride. Very little maintnece thankfully.
One final addition I am making however comes by way of my friends at K-Edge. They are such great supporters and want to ensure I have a problem feree ride in their own unique way...but ensuring I have thier K-Edge Double XL Chain Catcher is affixed to both bikes. Such huge thanks Tim and Team K-Edge!!
One week to go. One week filled with immensely important business meetings, travel and in 7 days time, my first heat race. I am so amped for it all and the celebration of the most elite-level cross in the world right here on our soil. It truly is like a dream come true after devoting so much of my soul, my life and my time to this sport that I love.
Wish us luck and more from the road in Louisville!
Next to cyclocross tires, choosing the right shoes for cross is widely known as the 'next biggest religious debate'. Well, maybe slightly behind the Seattle-vs-Boston-vs-Boulder-vs-Portland regional debates. Cyclocross is a unique and demanding discipline of cycling, requiring the pilot to be on and off the bike frequently throughout the duration of a race...well, unless the course has been Starbucked. In other words, demanding as much pedaling efficiency as running agility and efficiency.
Sidi has been an institution of cycling for eons, and when it comes to Elite-level competition, you will see an armada of the Italian shoe-maker's products outfitting the world's best on the most famous battlefields in the sport...from Koksijde to Kentucky. Their off road product range is very diverse, ranging from the price conscious, to the price unconscionable. For 2013, the new Drako (MSRP $449.95) replaces their long time elite-level shoe, the Dragon, and the Spider (MSRP $349.95) is back as their more price-conscious stalwart. I wanted to look at them both carefully for the application of cyclocross. To really get to the bottom of which shoe would perform and serve 'crossers the best in all capacities from price to performance. Here's what I found out...
Both the Drako (say 'DRAY-ko') left, and Spider, right, fit extremely well. The material used on both uppers (Lorica) is weatherproof, cleans up easy in mud, but
There's having your equipment dialed and working like butter. There's tire gluing and pressure. Then there's the racing of your bike and all that goes in to it: health, nutrition, training,rest, focus. But to do a 'cross successfully in "real" conditions, it's about TEAM. You simply can not do it by yourself. And this is how Boulder Cycle Sport CX does it. Do we train for this? Yes. Do we talk and plan and strategize on who's doing what and when? Yes. Do we have a pit boss? Yes. Quite frankly, it's incredibly fun to strategize on the bad-condition racing days as we know it will be our advantage. And historically our preparation has proved itself. Some proof over the years....
Photo by Dave Adams
2010 Racing - Some of our most extreme conditions all season
Congrats to Pete and Russ for their 2013 National Championships! Our preparation was key. On to Louisville!
Pride. Immense, glowing, unabashed pride is what I feel for my son having completed his first national cyclocross championship in Madison, WI. Aiden is 10 and did his first Junior Mens 10-12 age group and it was a barn burner. He'll be back again in this age group next yere when the Nationals come visit us here in Boulder CO!
From all accounts, from my teammates to my wife to Aiden's Boulder Junior Cycling team parents who made the trek up north, all descriptions of the conditions were nothing less that epic, if not treacherous. Hearing stories by Tilford and Joe underscore what the competitors faced and experienced and it made my stomach turn not being there to support (and maybe feel like I'm protecting in some way). Black ice, frozen earth covered by a thin layer of muddy slime...adults claimed they knew they'd hit the earth, but had no idea when.
But the conditions are what they are and this is cyclocross. It is all about preparation, equipment and trust in your skills. Knowing my best friends and teammates were there made me extremely happy though...
Brandon Dwight (National Champ) Aiden, Pete Webber (National & World Champ) and Russ Stevenson (long time pro and WA state CX champ)
My teammate and family friend (and fellow BJC dad) had Aiden's Clement PDXs dialed for me. We were texting that AM and he put Aiden's tires in the 16-18psi range. Aiden and the BJC kids know how to drive their bikes in the bad as the coaches and I had taken them
It's an incredibly selfish, self-centered sport this cycling of ours. And we're slaves to it because of what it brings us. The work, the rewards, the fun. But lest we forget how we can do this. Through support. Through love. Through understanding. All graciously afforded to us by our loved ones. Wives, husbands, children.
My wife has always been there. Supporting me over the last 16 years in what often feels like a Quixotic adventure. Always propping me up when I've not achieved what I think I can and telling me I can. Cleaning me up when I am broken and bloody. Hugging me when I've done my best.
She is now managing three of us. My sons and me in our quests to go fast. And we owe her so much. Too much to re-pay. Amy thank you for what you do to enable us to do it. And thank you for this wonderful gift you are giving our son. Taking him to his first National Championship. Providing him such an amazing experience.
You are amazing.
The sun is setting our our local racing scene here in Colorado. Two more stops to go....Nationals and then the Master's Worlds Championships in Louisville. Finding motivation for some after 6 months of racing is extremely hard. For me, I am still hungry. Still trying to prove to myself I can go. To prove to myself I can ride and prove that I still remember how to not give up.
Our Boulder Cycle Sport rider Jaime Servaites put together a great view of yesterday's race at Valmont Bike Park. Super good training for the conditions to be faced in Madison. Technical cornering in slimy mud and snow that was unfreezing lap after lap and enough high speed sections along with a massive climb to deeply train. I raced the Elites and placed 22nd out of 50+ after getting caught behind some starting melee. Really fun and a great bloc of training for me as I'm still trying to scrape the bottom of the form barrel to grab whatever high end I can.
My son Aiden had an exceptional race, pushing super hard to catch his 14 y.o. teammate for a fine and super motivating 2nd place as he'll be making his way to Madison for his first National Championships! He's a bit nervous but excited to race against the country's fastest and learn a ton. This video is from our local paper, the Daily Camera and shows some great footage of the race but also