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
My friends at Ridley pointed me at this picture this AM, I assume to whet my appetite on Joachim Aerts and Co's new creation. It's a new MY2014 frame the Sunweb-Napolean Games riders (namely Klaas Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels) have been steering, to some impressive results in the kerstperiode in Belgium these last few weeks.
The Sunweb team have been on Ridley's finest for some time...mainly aboard the workhorse X-Night for many generations. But look closely...no seat mast, Cervelo-esque needle-thin down stays, shaped top tube and thinner profile fork. Something tells me this is their new flagship...ultralight and ultra racy.
To be announced in Louisville, KY at Worlds. Stay tuned....
It's cold. And snowy. And we're smiling here in Boulder. The motivation of the crew here in Boulder is extremely high to perform well in Madison and in Louisville. Almost all training exclusively outside., suffering gladly in the bitter cold. It's so inspiring to push each other as hard as possible as we all want to see that sweet Colorado flag flying high on podiums and for our own personal bests at the Big Shows. Our beloved 'Parc des Champions' has become a playground-cum-battleground to push each other to red-line limits while ensuring our bike driving is as smooth as ever...
For me, I will be absent from Madison. My eldest going in my place to rip up the 10-12's in his first Nationals appearance. He's stoked. And my wife is the best for inspiring the idea that she is taking him to the great white north while I am here in Boulder busily working and training for Louisville.
One month to go. I am deeply excited and motivated to shred. Giddy up.
The sunset of the season. The closing cowbell of a long and trying campaign of racing against the fastest masters in the country. Four final races that tested everything out of me. Mainly testing my patience, focus and belief in where I belong and how to stay focused on doing the best that I possibly can. So, here's the quick dump of a lot of drama, fun and anticipation for Worlds and 2013.
Bowl of Death - Louisville
Next to Elks (Official Course of the U.S. National and World Champion), this is the world's crappiest venue. But we love it. It's fun, flowy, bumpy and hard...and a lot of time into making it as good as it can be happens by guys like Mike Hogan and Philip Ball.
I got a great start like last year (although last year we were in 6" of powder) and broke the selection free pretty immediately.
Photo by Michael Schaub
The course undulates with lots of punchy climbs and on/off bike work (which is my strength). Here, I can control my adversaries (a.k.a. my best buds like Jeff Cospolich and Ward Baker below) to check their speed. Shame that they can pedal those bikes faster than me between the technical sections! Ha!
We're in it now, folks. The meat of the season. Bodies either feeling good or feeling smashed. Equipment is beginning to show some wear and the need to stay focused and push through to your end goals is front and center. I am looking at the coming months while trying not to forget my here-and-now with some of the widest eyes I've had in a very long time. Staring down some basic truths that I've needed to embrace so I can get back to enjoying my sport, being a crazy supportive daddy and generally keep on keepin' on. They're simple truths about myself, my racing and my 'real' life. "The balance", remember? Like all y'all face every season I'm sure. I'll weave all this in as I digest the last couple of weeks of racing...
Sienna Lake brought out the first real test of 'crossers resolve. The day started off calm and overcast for the early AM categories, but by mid-morning would produce a maelstrom of intensely crossy weather...challenging the racers skills and fortitude. Especially the little ones.
Both my little men raced but the limited imagry was due to the extreme lack of spectators! It was simply too crazy to be standing outside on the course tape. Seamus came to the race not well, but decided to jump in and participate with his BJC teammates. He rode super well to a 3rd in the 8-9's.
By the time Aiden's group raced, the weather was becoming evil. The precip turned to ice and hail and came from all directions. The crew got off to a clean start (there's always that panicked moment at the start of a junior 'cross...waiting for the pile up.) and began to challenge themselves on the icy, slimy course.
Photo by Ralph Hart
The kids got after it, flowing super well. Proud of their absorption of all the lessons they've learned from practice. They truly look great at what they do....
Boulder's 'Big Show' UCI weekend came and went in what most consider dream conditions - a snowstorm late in the week with sunny skies and melting snow over the weekend. A spectators delight...let alone a joy for the true crossers who relish in the conditions and courses that favor the bike drivers of the lot of us. We saw some maddening racing with Ben Berden taking advantage of Trebon's mishap Saturday and Ryan getting vengeance Sunday but having to beat Summerhill first. Crazy good racing.
But alas, let's recount the old guy and kid races...cause that's where al the real drama is! Ha!
Colorado Cross Cup - Boulder Reservoir
My main man Boups impressed yet again with his Rez course. Every year the complaints start about the Rez a few weeks before the race....Oh the goatheads! Oh the sand! Oh it's flat and boring!....but every year Boups impresses. The course assembled was downright fun. The precip made it more so with frozen snow in the AM and by the time the 35 Elites took off at 11:30, we saw no less than 3 or 4 stages of the course changing. From greasy mud to tacky ripping speedway....all in 45minutes. Awesome.
Photo by Mountain Moon Photography
I'd come off a high the weekend before podium-ing at Xilinx. I trained hard through the week and hit the weekend equally hard. Saturday felt good from the gun