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Entries in 2008 cross racing (53)

Cross Racing Week 5: Belgium at altitude.

The weather as I mentioned earlier today provided the absolute, most sincerely awesome conditions for racing the 'cross. I swear to you that you had to rub your eyes to ensure you were not in some muddy field in Belgium. The BoulderRacing team put together such a spectacular course, I ended up calling almost all of my best buds methodically to ensure they had raced that day and hear how happy they were (as it was THAT obvious that the course was labored over). Let me talk a little bit about the course first, before the day...

  • 1 fallen log dismount
  • a triple dismount of sets of logs
  • a set of run up double barriers
  • a set of hot triple barriers
  • deliciously technical wooded sections
  • S-turned pavement sections
  • and one full-on Belgie style muddy field with ridiculously sick laid out turns ranging from drag strip straights that caused beautiful rooster tails of mud spitting out the back when you got your Sven on to flow-y carving turns that needed you to ensure you fully dialed in your tires before you toed the line.

MY GOD!! I will dream about this course for a month. It replicated...end bettered...the courses we railed in Belgium this past January.

So to the race. Truthfully, as egotistical as it sounds, I woke up at 5:20 this AM swore to God I was going to win. The fact I've been devoid of quality training, been on the road this week and am spitting vinegar with angst these days only added to my fire. I didn't care who showed up. I just wanted to unleash something because I wanted to. The weather made me smile in a rather sinister way as I just about salivated thinking about the suffering that would take place.

After some hot laps, I dialed in my Dugasts at roughly 35-38 PSI (F/R). It was clearly a low(er) pressure kind of day as the course demanded absolute flow. You had to be upright today and not even necessarily fast all the time on this course...just precise and on TWO WHEELS all the time to keep your advantages in tact throughout the race. Tire pressure is that insurance system.

We lined up in a moderate field. I'd say 35 to 40. The weather was about 39 degrees and misty rain. Perfect. They did call ups...but not for ACA overall, but from Boulder Racing series overall...which I missed the first race of. So I lined up 2nd row specifically choosing Timmy and and told him sternly: "Homes, just drill the start." I gut a definitive "Yup" in response. I didn't know a lot of the dudes being called up and was sketched as the usual suspects in the front know each other so specifically, we are fluid and safe.

In the line up today, I had what I'd never had before...teammates! PLURAL! And this would be a decisive factor today for our placings. Me, Pete Webber and Brian Hludinski. of Boulder Cycle Sport.

"GO!" says the ACA official and we are off. Timmy as promised punched a hole and in 50 meters I went from back 20 to top 4. Perfect. THANK YOU MAN. We got into the woods first and as we were concerned, a guy we'd never seen before comes barreling in and NASCARs with Timmy and trades paint. Classic. We are all typically so fluid that this was tough to stomach. So with Timmy to the side, I literally did a run through the initial technical sections to get past this guy and set up shop to control him and things. By the time we were out of the technical section and on teh pavement, we'd already got a split of the top 10. NASCAR guy is still in the midst as we barrel down into the muddy fields. It's at this moment I give a 'huh'? He slows down considerably so I yell at the guy to 'UP THE PACE!' I come around him and drop the anvil, flow through the barriers and get back onto the pavement with people shouting at me '20 seconds!' I guess I have a gap.

Flowing into Lap 2, Tim, JJ Clark of Spike Shooter, Jeff Wardell of Excel Sports and my team mate Pete Webber bridge up. Pete launches this attack and I smile as I finally get to sit in. I lamely attempt to block....just slow down a bit...and the 3 come by me. We flow and JJ races hard to bridge to the attacking Webber with Timmy and Jeff in tow and I snap and decide I need to conserve.

By the closing minutes I am still feeling good and trying to up the pace to catch Tim and crew. Webber, my bro, has the worlds worst moment and flats and requires a bike change. He was destined for the W I am certain. At about this time, my OTHER team mat (I can;t believe I have team mates!) Brian Hludzinski bridges up. We work hard lap after lap trading tempo on various parts of the course. Throwing it down. We can see that Brian Maslach of Spike Shooter is coming on us like a freight train in the last lap. I make the call and just throw it down and Brian blocks. I come in in 5th about 30-45 seconds behind the top 4 with a sprint shoot out between the Brians behind me.

Awesome race. Just awesome. Truthfully, I was so in the zone of thinking THIS IS CROSS!!! while I was racing I probably could have placed better! HA! It was just so perfect...the weather..the course...teammates in the mix. I felt....well, I felt at home in some weird way. Not i=one slip today. Technically perfect. Maybe every so slightly cleaner through certain sections but sincerely no complaints. Just more power needed to bridge and stay connected.

More race photos are on their way courtesy of Mark Wollcott Photography who was out there with his SLR's firing strobes like machine guns. But my good bud and fellow Valmont Bike Park advocate Zach Lee captured some awesome pics of the course! Enjoy his digital celluloid!

'Cross on...

Little secrets

OK, first, apologies for the lack of posts. As it's often said in my broken record kind of way: I've been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest these days. More travel this week combined with deliverables and my lady who's out of town rocking out to Billy Idol at her 20th HS reunion...well, you can see there hasn't been much time to think about the 'cross.

But it's always present, sports fans.

Xilinx today. And the weather is EPIC. 34 degrees and a steady rain as I type this. It's going to be a Flahute-y kind of day...which I relish. Just a bit different than the 66 and Sunny KP and the hoards will be having in Gloucester today.

So, it's mid October and things are going OK this season...unbelievably given the complete lack of training in my engine. I am now under the....

race->recover->some effort->recover->race plan. It's miraculously keeping me in the hunt for my goals each weekend but I am convinced that its my love for this sport that pushes me deeper when I need it on the hard days when I know the required base and greater frequency of efforts during the week are just not there yet obviously required to be at the pointy end of the race instead of dangling seconds behind it. Quality versus quantity I guess...but even the quality is coming into question! Ha! I haven't been able to hit a Wednesday Worlds in weeks and the runs while on the road in Anytown, USA are not the same but do their job. So with that lack of what's needed known (and my bitch session over), I get this little something inside by brain in the middle of races....this little piece of motivation that speaks to me loudly in my head when trying like all get up to bridge to the front group containing some of the fastest guys in the country...and using that same inner something to stay in front of a group of equally passionate mad men who are leaving it all out there as well to chase me down and chew me up.

Cross. It's that inner something...the voice or motivation or whatever it is....that is keeping me authentic when so many I am surrounded by in my daily life are becoming sheepish, twisted bastardizations of themselves or attempting to project themselves as some God-awful cliche'ed character even a movie couldn't dream up. They need a Flahute experience. On second thought, let's keep the Flahute our little secret, right?

Cross Racing Week 4: Frisco downs. Frisco ups.

You're going to bingo me this week as I have no race photos to share. Some weeks it's just hard to get it all together....including handing a camera to someone, teach them how to use it and beg them to shoot pics and vid. So, you get text from me!

This weekend was part of the ACA's BCR or Best All-round Cyclocross Racer Series. Both days were points days at the same the Nordic Center at Frisco CO. All 9,100 feet of it. And yes, Even living at 5,600, feet....9K hurts. Sickeningly.

Driving up...oh's Fall. Foliage in New England is absolutely impressive, but Fall at elevation when the Aspens are exploding crates a phenomenon that can literally blind snow blindness it seems, in the right light. It is incredible and this was the condition we raced in.

Day I:
Howyousay: ouch. I rant enough but I'll just sample here now. I had a max of 1:25 training this week. yee haw! Then the good-man's travel. The stress peaked on Friday evening and allowed very little sleep. But come Saturday, Pete Webber and I rolled up to Frisco and got our cross game on. Sleep? Who needs it? (apparently I do). The course at the Nordic Center was 'good'...if not a bit jungle-y. I love technical but this one included some fairly prolific road climbs and a difficult transition into a decimated hillside run up. Rhythm was hard to find on the day. Pete and I got there at the nick of time and while he had the warm up, I had to dick around with changing out carbon pads...and got exactly 3/4ths of a lap in before having to line up. I somehow got the call up again and waited for the count down. I am sitting there, thinking, "...this isn't going to be good....". And so, it would play itself out that way. SUPER long story short: I played wheel sucking loser and had no gas. I intentionally let the hole shot go...literally pushing Jeff Wardell with my hand to go and grab it as I just knew the day was not meant for me to be aggressive. Mark Legg had a great day motoring up front and while I tried some lame attacks, I mentally and physically settled for 12th. Each lap, the barriers and run up, while awkward, felt fine....but the body felt absolutely horrible. Like a flu even though I was absolutely healthy. I was in a group of guys from the gun including some Spike boys, Matty Opp, Pat Gallegos, and others. Lap after lap we traded attacks but we'd immediately re group. The moment I'd stand up to get on it, I'd have to sit down. At one point, after a last lap attack to try and shake this group of 5, I got dizzy and almost yardsaled in a moment of pass-out dizziness...sickening feelings waving through my body. Altitude? I've raced here PLENTY of times and in fact have excelled at elevation. But who knows. Maybe it was the wussyfluenza. A nasty case of the whimps. 12th. I am alive and healthy, right? Webber crushed it by the way...taking 2nd...all the while looking back for his anemic team mate who could never have bridged even if I grabbed a dose of EPO in the pits. Badness.

Day 2:
After a night of talking and laughing over dinner and some beers at our house with Webber and his family, I made the decision that I'd go for Day 2. So, I burned more fossil fuels to get back up there to Frisco. I was solo today in the elite masters as Webber had plans today. I made SURE I got there to pre ride!

Before I left, I did my AM ritual: coffee, b-fast, poop. the last part of that process was interesting to say the least as my whole body did not feel right. The drive up was clearly crescendo-ing with another round of what I'd been horrified with earlier. I tear into the parking lot and about crash my station wagon into the port-o. I debated leaving the engine running as the timing of turning the key off would be too much. Needless to say, I thanked GOD that the plastic haven was free of humans and I barged in, locked'er up and proceeded to get sick again. Not good.

I decide that I am definitively empty in the nether regions and in the safe zone even though things are sort of turned in on themselves. I must race. And so I don the kit, and FINALLY get a good warm up in. The bowels are staying dormant but more importantly, the legs feel light and springy. Whoa. Good times. The warm up also proved how AWESOME the course was today! Like a literal page out of Belgium plus 9000 feet. Tim and the gang who created the course made the perfect balance of flow, technical, efforts and recovery. Perfect. There was one set of triple barriers, one 180/off camber barrier, flowy trails, high speed fire road and a great set of 180 in and out sections to slow you down and ensure your smoothness and power out of the corners. SICK course.

I again do not want to be out front with a hole shot BUT I know that i need to be in the top 5 or so to get into the woods first. Timmy F, Mark Legg and a few others were present and were on their game as was made evident yesterday. The plan was to feel complete and make it 100% smooth. I think I succeeded. I let Mark Legg and Tim with a Spike guy take the hole shot and I sat in. For 3 laps I monitored and just decided to stay in proximity which again was the goal. I would gauge my efforts by my distance to these guys but the micro efforts they put out (frequently) start to shatter me...which shows me exactly what I have to work on. Or, get more than an hour of training in per week. HA!. Fast forward, I was over taken by my bud and National MTB Marathon Champ Mike Hogan and another Co Motion Sports guy in the 2nd to last lap. So be it. I ended up 6th but had plenty in the legs....and probably should have been a bit smarter about so easily giving up a spot in the 2nd to last lap thinking I will get around it. It's game on at that time and I knew that! Everyone is so equally balanced, it's hard to get a single place back that late in the race and I let them take it. No more gifts next time!

So one crap day followed by a day where I felt like a bike racer again. I'll take it. I'm alive and breathing.

More work travel this week so no Wednesday Worlds again. Will try to get in some of the hup hup where I can. It's my passion that carries me through these races. Nothing else. The sheer joy for being in the golden aspens ensuring I am fluid lap after lap after lap. Oh, to again raise my hands some day. Wishing. Need to work.

Photo of the sexy Dan Farrell of Blue Sky Velo on day 1 of Frisco 2008 can be found here.

Random thoughts on the passed scene...

I'm back at it this week...already traveling for work getting buried with lots to do. Getting the training in too as we have some fun races coming up in the following weeks. It seems like a month ago that I was getting my ass rightfully handed to me at CrossVegas...all the while having the time of my life. It was, as I reported, sick. Completely off the hook.

But something occurred to me. I totally forgot to tell you that I met my ABSOLUTE all time hero: Thomas Frischknecht!

Hype is not Frischi. Style is omnipresent in everything he graces when he’s on two wheels. Especially when those wheels have knobbies…which is most of the time. It was such a bizarre scenario at CrossVegas but perfect in the same sense. Hoards of cameras, lights, microphones, BlackBerries and iPhones….all pointed at Lance. Massive hype. Hype before the race. Hype during the race. Hype after the race. And all the while that spectacle is going on, Frishi is present, smiling and keeping consistent with, again, the grace he exhibits. It’s his RETIREMENT race. His last race after an amazing career that saw him race every Worlds since they decided it was probably a good idea to have a championship for these fat tire klunkers back in 1990. A Mountain Bike Hall of Famer. Anyways, the race ends and I crawl off my machine and see my friends from Ritchey at the Scott/Ritchey tent and I get waved in and handed a beer nearly instantaneously. The scrum around Lance is going off a ways away and there is Frischi. Just chilling, smiling, with a frosty Corona.

I hung out a bit with my bros recounting the race and the overall spectacle, having beers late into the already late evening and just couldn’t take it anymore. I walked up to Thomas and just laid it out. Simply and succinctly:

“Thomas, it’s bizarre for me to say this but I have to. I never had any typical ‘heroes’ in sports as a kid. OK, maybe Bucky Dent but I digress. But following your career and having put you on a pedestal of ‘core’ dope free mountain bikers who grit and get it done year after year, you have been that hero for me. I can NOT believe I just raced in the same race with you and for that I am honored. I love you Thomas. Have my children.”

Something like that anyways….

Thomas gushed. Again, grace personified. We talked a bit, clinked some beers and celebrated a great night.

Cross Racing Week 3: Schwab's Watkins 'cross

Just a brief post of yesterday's race out in the middle of nowhere. When I say middle of nowhere, I mean the FULL on prairie! Goatheads and all...

I took a pass for yesterday's race at Interlocken. I love the course, but I literally did not feel recovered from Wednesday's CrossVegas effort and all of the travel. Sunday's race was sponsored by Schwab cycles...part of their Boss of Cross series.

The course was...well, let's just say we got to race! It was a tough course with a lot of elevation gain on fairly bad decomposed tarmac and dirt. The barrier placement was fairly awkward but made it a bit harder...something I actually like....but not at the expense of rolled ankles given the uneven ground leading up to the barriers. A bit dangerous IMHO. The goat heads were also horrendous (I personally got 3) and in my foresight, I brought extra wheels and swapped out all the carbon and tubulars for wheels and rubber I am not emotionally tied to and could thrash.

It was a small field and I got a call up as did the Spike guys. I had very warm up and the little I did, I felt crappy STILL. Not recovered in the legs. So with that knowledge, I decided to not try and blow myself up and win hole shots, etc. Gun goes off and me, the Spike boys and Mitch got out front. A couple of other guys too but they blew catastrophically in a 1/2 lap. was literally just the 4 of us at the front. I paced with a nice Chipotle guy who wanted to work on lap 2 but i think he ended up hurting a bit and faded. So the race was a game of attrition and keeping everyone behind me away which even in my non-recovery was not an issue and trying to bridge the gap to the Spike's and Mitch. Mitch had a mechanical and had a super quick bike change and I saw him start back up again...and eyeball me behind him to gauge the gap I was closing. Homie is SUPER strong and I'd try to bury to bridge but he is so experienced, he'd gauge his power and hold me off. I had no legs to cover the 20 seconds to bridge.

So the race ended as mellowly as it began...started in 4th...ended in 4th. I'll take it.

After the race, I complained a bit about the course. "It's ghetto". or "It's jungle". Going to pick up my bottle and jacket, I swung by the scorer's booth with the ever present ACA officials Dean Crandall and Yvonne Van Gent. It occurred to me at that moment that jungle, ghetto....or's a cross. They are out there officiating in the same sweltering heat in the middle of no where making a fair race for us all. The course is the course. You race what you're given in the series. You have to be strong to win...and you've got to be 'in it to win it' as my dad used to say. So, it's ghetto. It's another name for 'technical'. We're lucky to be racing.

By the graciousness of BlueSky Velo's Susan Prieto, we have some digital celluloid! Thank you Susan!

I'm breaking some of the rules I teach during the clinics regarding porting in this shot! What's wrong?

The open prarie. Yup, those Dugasts are now dead with Goatheads. Tried to fix it but no joy.

Bob Prieto, regular Wednesday Worlds hard man, getting his hup hup on over the barriers.

Travel this week, so no Wednesday Worlds. I still need the break regardless. Good timing.

Blatant money shot

I picked up an email from a bud when I got off the plane that simply said: 'Money' in the subject line. It linked to this person's Flickr putting the fear of God into LA. Ha! Wishful thinking. Anyways, my boys will love this one some day...

Cross Vegas: My first UCI C1 cherry is officially popped

Wasted. That describes my mind and body at the moment but my spirit is flying. I am at McCarren airport in Vegas waiting for the flight to take me home back to my waiting family...and I am sitting here so spent to my core, you have no idea. I'm smiling wide as I type this, and people staring at me must think I am psychotic.

I am on another high right now that is hard to describe. It's all related to this sport I love and the frothy pandemonium that can ensue when an event like Cross Vegas can take place, assembling the elite of the elite here in the US and nearly ALL of the top players in the bicycling industry.

How do I want to break all this down for you in the short time before my flight? Let me sum it up in highlights, sound bytes and other tid-bits of my experience...

  • A thumbs up: That was what the UCI guy gave me when I was cleared. The helpful UCI folks got me registered and through a small licensing discrepancy I had at sign-in. They are looking out for the racers all the time and I thank them.
  • The course: A leg sapping, heart wrenching, mind blowing course. 99% grass. File treads ruled the day for sure (more on that in a second). It was not technical at all, just fast and furious but designed perfectly by Chris Grealish, Brooke Watts Joe D and the Denver Boulder Courier gang. Only one set of barriers but massively hard climbs with super fast speed sections.
  • The warm up: Spent most of the afternoon there dialing the course. By nightfall we were game on and I was hot lapping. I hear a shout across the field: "Hey! Keller!" I whip around and it is Tim Johnson barreling down on me. This is our Nation's stars and bars wearer and on a night that is incredibly important....arguably the most exciting race of the season...he flies up to me and just shoots the shit for a few laps. We hadn’t seen each other since I think Michel’s house in Belgium, and raps with me like we'd seen each other just yesterday. One would think he'd be in cone-of-silence/"I'm focusing" mode....but he just rides on up and smiles that smile at me, throws a hand on my back and greets me like a long lost friend. If you ever, and I mean EVER, get the opportunity to meet with Tim, it is the most disarming, pleasant and warm meeting you'll likely ever have. Contagious spirit that makes you motivated and confident. His advice to me on the race was priceless...but sorry I couldn't follow through homie! About 5 minutes later, J Powers does the identical thing...rides up to say hello...and we talk through all the recent goings-on. It's like Cannondale has a pre-req to ensure their riders are totally core and present with themselves and life itself. I digress, but PRO doesn’t describe these guys. They re-define and transcend it.It's what I want my Aiden and Seamus to experience in competitors when they come of age.
  • My warm up was classic Keller. Powers is following me as we're chatting and I come into this apex with a quick riser and 'fa-WAP!'...rolled my challenge Grifo XS file tread. D'OH! So, I end up racing on my back up set and all is well. Bummer though as I wanted to fly those for Donn K from Challenge.
  • The RACE!: Crazy fast. Crazy hard. Crazy frenetic. I have never gone so hard. EVER. Master's Worlds was not this fast. Not by a long shot. Add on another 20 minutes and it was the single most suffering I have ever done on a bike. The call ups were crazy. 100 racers in the queue. I talked to a few folks and they said ALL racers would be called up. So I am chilling at the back. Then I see dudes start to crowd up so my instincts kick in. I get myself up behind Travis B and we get up farther. They call up all through Lance and then EVERYONE floods in! So I was probably like in the 5th from last row. Crazy. The start was a total panic with a massive pile up…see picture…that’s me No 74 to the right. Left me near DFL. We motored hard hard hard hard. The fans were SO LOUD it was amazing. A tunnel of people and cowbells and hands in the air and…well, pandemonium. Within a ½ lap ANOTHER huge pile up. My friends: No embellishment: I bunny hopped some dude and his bike and just kept my head down and railed. My friends were screaming each lap. To make a long story short (I’ll write up more later), you have NO FRIGGING IDEA how hard a C1 is. My GOD. I made it to roughly 42 minutes before the fastest train I’ve ever experienced came flying by. Page, Trebon, TJ, JPow et al. I cleared myself to the side and just got on them for a bit. I started hallucinating as I was totally dehydrating (the top guys had bottle cages on which was my mistake). I had a fairly bad crash about this time where I had to get off and straighten my bars….and by this time Barry Wicks….probably 2nd group comes by. So coming through near the S/F area, I rolled off and called it a night. I was SO WASTED I proceeded to stumble over and like an angel put before me…looked at Chris Grealish (who seemed, again, to just materialize in front of me) and mumbled…water. And his eyes grow wide and he grabs bottles and opens them for me and I feel the cool rush of liquid filling my core. I put 3 bottles of water and 2 Pepsi’s into my system in like 3 minutes until I felt my body again. Folks: THIS IS THE GUY WHO RUNS THE RACE! He took the time to just make sure I was OK. Rad. Chris G is so unbelievable to us all. Thank him when you see him for the work he does to get us racing!
  • Boups, Paul Brooks and Nick Stevens: WAY TO REPRESENT!!! Boulder was bringing it hard with SAME LAP FINISHES! This was a C1!!!!! They railed it hard…SO HARD…and I am so proud.
  • I will blog about after the race stuff later…when I am back in Boulder. In addition, I want to write up my experience at InterBike and need to get a hold of my pictures.
Bottom line…I can’t believe I did it. A C1!!! I was totally unprepared….totally tired from working Oracle Open World for 2 days on my feet for ALL day…but TOTALLY PSYCHED to have it under my belt! I am honored I could line it up and do the best I could do. My family was calling me even in the late night hours to see how it went. I am indebted. Wait until I tell you about meeting my hero, Frischi. Pins and needles…

Lastly: A special note to all of you that found me at the race and said such beautiful things..merely after reading my blog. I am living on a high from those conversations in a way I hope you understand, and I do you proud when I write this stuff. It’s about our sport…about my lens on trying to do my best…basically about the REAL crossers who get it on every weekend in Anytown, USA. I am channeling that spirit that you have through my fingers into these digital characters. I am honored to have met you all from SO MANY parts of the country. I can not wait to see you again!

I gotta jump on a plane and when I can focus a bit, I’ll be more methodic with a write up with pics, etc.

‘Cross on.

Crash photo courtesy of Carlton Reid
Course Photo courtesy of Zach Lee.

On my way...

I'm finally at SFO ready to depart my old home and City by the Bay San Francisco on my way to the City of Sin, Las Vegas. I stayed up in Marin this week and it was super mellow commuting to Oracle Open World with the masses to the Ferry Terminal in SF. I stepped off the boat yesterday and walked through the terminal and did a double take when I saw this just SITTING there right in front of this salami shop at the Terminal:

God it is BEAUTIFUL! Jeremy and Jay do such incredible work. I LOVE my Sycip as you all know. (And Jay is now a Chris King employee and resident of Portalnd!).

So by now you all know that LA is going back to Johan's bubble (Good luck with that Alberto). My sources this AM through 'official' SMS text have confirmed that the peeps of LA have confirmed his CrossVegas participation. One would suspect that Chris and Brook will give LA the 'i'm famous' call up next to Ryan and Tim and the guns up front. But the sadist in me wants his non-UCI-point-having ass to line up right next to me and the other pack fodder in the back of the bus. Bring it.

Lastly, my good friend Zach is at the course site helping to get it built. He sent me an email describing it...

Course update, the grass was freshly mowed this am, although it still feels like shag carpet. Wide, diamond tread tires have been the general tire talk of the day.

We got denied our small stair step run up by the UCI official, so we only have one section with two barriers...first barrier is 35mm tall, second is 40....and on the lip of a hill... So bunny hopping would be super hard.

The course in general is more compact than last year, while being longer per lap...2.8k or to per. Its 95% grass, and then a little concrete.

Chris g. & brook watts have set the course to be great for spectators while Joe D adds to the mix with a racers point of view.. They are quite a team together!

Jonathan page, jeremy powers and jamie driscol all paid a visit to the course today.

The course opens at 5:00pm for practice if you want to swing by early.

I am getting butterflies. HA! This entirely old bag of cross loving bones is going to go balls out tonight. I know pops is with me.

Cross Racing Week 2: Bump and grind

I just wanted to drop in a quick race report from yesterday's Green Mountain Sports 'cross in Golden. I'm on my way to a large trade show...and then another one, the latter offering me a chance to get my hup hup on amongst the best. It'll be rad if not chaotic amongst 100 other dudes.

So yesterday was ultimately fun, but it took forever to get the cobwebs out given Dubba's wedding the night before....and an impromptu bachelor party Thursday night that showed just how the pro-iest of the pro racers (many of whom are your heroes and shall here go nameless) get so good: consumption of vast amounts of alcohol.

KP and I drive down and had limited time so couldn’t do the Open race at 3, and opted for the 35 Open race at 11:30. Most of the usual suspects were there, we missed Phenecie and the WB as they would have helped animate 'fo sure. The course was at the Youth Correctional facility in Golden, security fences and all. It was a bush whacked course that was WAY more MTB than 'cross course. As absolutely bumpy as you could every have envisioned. My 32 Rhino's were perfectly suited to it at about 38psi. As Tim said and I agreed: a 9'er with skinny tires and flat bars would have been faster and fun'r. In truth it was incredibly bumpy, but alas, fun. I love technical courses...where the technical errs on the side of MTB so I felt like I was grooving. Like last week, it was 100% about 'clean'.

I got a call up and won the hole shot (YouTube captures the start of the 35 Opens)...

(courtesy of Blue Sky Velo)
...and led out very conservatively for 3/4's of the first lap. Wardell and Faia came through as did Brian (?) from Spike Shooter and we formed a group. Timmy and Jeff got this gap that had them dangling 15-20 seconds ahead but their cleanliness and experience enabled them to stay away by that same 15-20 seconds for the WHOLE race. Amazing. I grooved with Brian and yo-yo'd with him. He is a monster and had this sustained power on the climbing sections that was mad. I let him get a gap that I shouldn't have and that was it. 5 seconds to 10 that I could not bring back. Mitch from Green Mountain bridged and I bobbled and gave him a gap and again, couldn’t bring that back. My bad. So from there, literally 20 seconds behind Mitch and roughly 40-60 seconds behind Timmy and Jeff was the race.

While that was going on in front of me and with efforts to try and bridge, I'd watch my rear view for Matty Opp and Rob Batey who were working as a team in their Pro Peloton kits to reel me in. I'd turn around and either see Rob's white sex Oakley's or Matt's white sex gloves switching lap after lap so I knew they were going full gas to get me. I had a choice to either wait for them to use them to bridge us back to Mitch or go it alone. I decided to gas it and put an attack on the 2nd to last lap to bridge to Mitch and put distance into Matty and Rob and it worked. I settled into 5th and came across the line clean. Again, like last week, it was fun racing that forced me to use my head. I think the body'll come around one of these days, but alas, I'm stoked to even be racing....

As for today and this week, I'm at DIA waiting for my flight to get ready to stand on my feet for the next two days. Yea! Looking forward to cankles. But Wednesday night is Cross Vegas and I am pumped. After getting home yesterday, I needed to flip the A bike around, get it cleaned and prepped for CV. Jeremiah hooked up some new bar tape for me and I dialed in the Challenge File Treads that I'll be running for the grass crit in Las Vegas. They feel fantastic for the short time I was able to ride them yesterday before bringing all the equipment over to Boups', who'll be driving from Boulder to LV tomorrow. Good lad.

Cross Vegas Bike porn:

More reports on the whole Cross Vegas/Interbike Experience coming up this week! Have fun at Wednesday Worlds without me!

Cross Racing Week 1: Clean

I couldn't get it out of my head. "Tic begins!....." and the rumbling ambush of guitar that explodes into the song at that point and crescendos to chaos. One of my favorite desert island albums. Helmet. I'll never get over them.

So there I that all too familiar place with some of the greatest folks I've met here in Colorado surrounding me. On the front line of a 'cross. Ward, Tim, Chris P, Jon G, Clay, Jared. Dads, worker bees, athletes. I'll get to that stuff later. And I am there on the front line with this song in my head...

"Tic begins!!!!!!!"

It's beginning. Again. And I'm so happy. I'm staring down at my machine and the perfectly new tread on my Dugasts as the ACA ref counts down 1 minute. And I start to smile.

In one minute...massive reflections of this past summer. No sorrow. I'm smiling. No deep training. I'm smiling. Heart rate which is normally pumping hard in those nervous seconds before a race...decelerating. Calm. I'm smiling.10 seconds. I'm smiling.


I'll get to the race in a minute....

I picked up my A bike last night. Jeremiah, Mike D and D-Wayne all took turns dialing it in. Built on Saturday, picked up at 5 and I 'd planned to just hot lap it at the race in the AM on Sunday. Bottom line, the bike with all its new bits came out AWESOME. 17.03 lbs. Not bad for a fairly big bike...e.g. ~59cm. Some shots of the sex:

So I warmed up with the A bike today fully intending to ride the B bike with the Shimano still affixed which I have been used to for a decade or more (SRAM Force is going on this week on the B). Confession time: I've never ridden more than 10 feet with SRAM before. By 100 meters into my first warm up lap...I GOT it. Everything felt right. From the hoods to the lever's unique 'double tap' use, it all felt completely right. Ward as we're warming up is trying to get into my head: "Dude, you know it is not the smartest idea to race a freshly built bike in a race for the first time...." Yeah, yeah, yeah. But dude IT FEELS SO GOOD! I took a lap on the B and honestly, it wasn’t the same. I had to take the risk. I don't care this season. No points, nothing. I HAD to ride that newbie. Mmmmm. And so it was to be.

"GO!!!" Back to the race….

The smile was likely still on my mug as the ACA ref shouted for the race’s beginning and I instinctively I win the hole shot with very little effort. I want to be out front, get a tempo and stay out of drama. No elevated heart rates or afterburners. Just push a gear that is sensible, 'floaty' and somewhat fast without the watts. That and a subtle punch at the moment I hear go is all it takes.

All in all, I feel I spun it well and sensible in today's 35 Elite race in Breckenridge CO's 10,000 feet of blissful and beautiful altitude. All the while, lap after lap, I'm not thinking with a blood lust to go and vault after the leaders in the late laps of the race. I can see their uniforms in the apex bends in the courses seconds ahead. Instead, I'm whispering to myself. "Clean. Take it clean. No rolled tires. No pressure. Clean lines. Every line clean." I rolled for roughly 1/2 the first lap out front wanting a group to split so I could relax and sit in. Timmy, Ward and Jon C came through and I hung then Jon dropped the gauntlet and I did not want to follow something like that yet. I just spun the legs super 'Lancey' today with a 42 x 23 or 25 in a lot of sections that I’d normally be low in cadence and high in power. Keeping them free of lactic build up and it worked well. I'd float back to groups easily and just hammered along. I spun with Chris P and others for a bit finally settling in with Glen from Moots trading between 4th to 7th place.

By the bell lap, I'm wavering in what could be 5th to 7th...depending upon how I play it. We can see Tim, Ward, Chris P etc in the woods. 35 seconds. My wife and boys are cowbelling their little hands off and Amy is shouting times at me as I swing by each lap. I can see the two white Moots uniforms and Glen and Jon are together for some reason. Jon apparently had a tire and a gear issue and I bridge up and we both attack it at exactly the same time up the final hill in the run towards the finish with TONS of fans going nuts. THAT was great cowbell action folks!! Jon is incredible. He lets his team mate grab the distance watching me carefully marking me PRO style. His strength is incredible as we both go for it and I concede to his 'powah' and we roll in 6th and 7th I believe behind Glen.

I am STILL smiling. It was so good to be back and racing again. Moreover, racing with guys who are some of the best in the country...and all have this rich balance in their lives. Fantastic conversations we have continually and if there is ever a group of folks who can truly parse the words of my crappy blog and 'get it', its them. Perfect.

More digital celluloid.

Drive Dubba;s truck up. Day began in pissing rain at 5,500 feet.
But the bikes looked great all pristine-like....
Seamus trying to port a bike he needs a ladder to get up on.
Chris P, Jon C, Tim F, Glen, Yours truly.
Chris P and his new steeds...
B is identical.
Jon C's Bike. Not sure if he welded this one himself...