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Entries in 2009 Cross Racing (49)

Hanging 'em up for 2009

The time has come. The bikes and racing-mind have been put up on the shelf. Another season in the books, 12 straight weeks of racing completed. I have no complaints with my results and new I gave it everything I had with what I was able to do this seaosn in tyerms of training, focus and stress reduction. I wasn't able to put my hands up in victory as I'd tried to focus on, but I can not describe the bliss we had as a racing crew beating the snot out of each other all season.


When the first race of the year completed in September, my first words to my compatriots were: "Holy shit, it's faster this year." And everyone was in agreement. It was subtle, yet still noticeable...5, maybe 10% faster. Everyone just drilling it and riding hard. Dudes had come back fitter, smoother and with much better experience in racing and equipment. The late comers to the sport have 'caught up' and it is clear that it is LIFE for so many now. It is the focused-upon season longed for from the moment the bikes are hung up on their respective hooks in garages all around the the moment they get to be pulled down, dusted off, tires inflated in the summer (and that is as early as JUNE for some people it seems now!). And if you're reading this're already aware of your obsessions.

Each year I use cyclo-cross and my love for it as an anchor that I know will pull my soul through the year. When I would do the insane amounts of travel I did (and will do again) for work, my lap top case was filled with 'cross DVD's that I would study and keep me stoked. It's hard to keep discipline throughout the year but each year for more than a decade I've stayed 'on course'...with my wife humoring me all these years with my passions.

I am going to do a full on year in review before year's end, but in this post, I wanted to jot down some things that worked for me this season...and some that didn't. No real order here, just thoughts and recollections...

What worked:

  • "It's the Indian not the Arrow" Timmy would tell me and that is true, but switching to carbon fiber this year through my switch to Ridley frames was UNBELIEVABLE. Way more compliant on my body and I could feel the terrain less in the form of bone jarring...and more how the bike ebbed and flowed. Carbon just...feels better in my opinion.
  • Lower pressure: Each year I get more and more brave with my tubulars and it feels like I found a sweet spot in terms of tire pressures for various conditions. The real secret is not riding like a ton of bricks. Run them low and finesse the bike through corners with less brake and more English and you can feel the rubber 'stick'. Slower is truly faster when it comes down to it. What pressures did I run? Secret. Ha! Typically 32f and 34r but lower on truly shitty days. States as an example was 29f and 32r.
  • Top 20+ call ups. I think our regional racing governing body got it right this year with call up procedures and literally would call the top 20 or more into the start grid. This seemed to lessen the amount of nervousness and start line 'heroics' that cause crashes. People generally got off super safe when they knew their position and would work from within the race to gain positions (and points) then stupidity off the line.
  • More time between breakfast and the starting gun: Dubba taught me this last year but eating earlier and starting the race a little bit 'hungry' was perfect. You will never bonk in a cross race yet if you have too much food in your gullet, you're doing yourself a disservice.
  • Dual front rings. This entire season I can count on ONE HAND when I threw a chain...and it was to the outside after a crash. Also only once did mud give me issues on shifting from the 39 to the 46...and there were PLENTY of opportunities mother nature threw at us this season to prove I'd made a bad choice in moving to dual rings! The benefits of having a 39 to 'spin fast' and a 46 to 'go hard' was absolutely what the doctor ordered. Married to 12x25's (Dura Ace) or 11x26 (SRAM) I always had a gear that I was comfortable in. It was a great call.

What didn't:

  • Crappy warm ups: Honestly, when the weather changes and gets colder, I need a better warp up ritual. I have way too much muscle mass and it takes my carcass a LONG time to turn over. If I can get to the course early enough, I need more trainer time to open up. The course recco is important but once or 2x around and I am good. The rest is learned in the race...and when the legs are opened, all the easier to stay competitive.
  • Shoe/cleat/pedal issues: I'll admit that I had quite a bit of woes with respect to contact between my Time ATAC's and my 2010 Sidi Dragon soles. I will have to dial this in this spring as I lost precious time and focus trying to re-engage at critical moments.
  • MORE REST: The smart guys have this dialed. Guys like me...well I'll race anything and train cause I love it! Now, I need to trust the years of racing I have in my legs and train smarter and rest harder. The volume is still too much at the wrong time for me and I am working on adjusting that year over year.
  • Energy drinks with Taurine: Honestly, I gave it a college try this season but it wreaks havoc on my body that I need nothing but a good nights sleep and to line up to a race stress free to get my game on. 'Bumping up' makes me twitchy and unfortunately causes precarious attacks of 'Chamois Rorschach' in my shorts. Way too much risk to DNF due to crapping myself.
  • Not having Rhinos: Honestly, I longed for these on so many occasions this season. The Dugast Typhoons are phenomenal;, but in the absolute mess, with anything off camber in the mud, you need them as they are absolutely decisive. Lighter riders can get away with Typohoons on those kinds of conditions but riders with any weight need that level of bite into the terra firma.

Unbelievable. The season is done...and I just ordered a new set of Rhinos and carbon hoops to glue 'em too. All my rubber is downstairs in the basement in a constant temperature and all the bikes are washed and hanging. Time for rest.

8 Months until the 2010 season. HUP HUP!

More cyclocross vid from Bend | I can't help myself

I know, I know: I will get on it and produce my own content soon...but these videos make me weepy for what was an amazing time for racers and spectators alike at Nationals in Bend. I like this one in particular as it focuses on the working man 'crossers and all the suffering that is apparent to our sport.

(We're going to have to help FARfromEARTH Films to understand it's 'cyclO-cross'. Not cyclE-cross. In fact, we'll have to help ElGee there out too. HA!)


CYCLE CROSS BEND OREGON 2009(sat. last race mens) from FARfromEARTH Films on Vimeo.

2009 Colorado CX Championships on Altitude TV

Complete schedule is here. First airing is tonight at 7PM MST!

Mark Woolcott's local athlete profiles | Episode 6

I am HONORED! I made it into Mark Woolcott's on-going series of athlete profiles in the Denver metro area! As you all know I am pretty geeked up on photography and to have Mark, whose work I ogle over and can only aspire to shoot like some day, take the time to interview me...well I am totally honored.

And clearly, Mark 'gets' me:

When I first met Greg Keller, it was much of a “one-sided” meeting.  Two years ago, I was shooting from the weeds (as I normally do) and from across the course I hear the most beautiful, most beatific line of connected profanity I have ever heard.  I fancy myself somewhat of a connoisseur of the profane. This was music to my ears.

Click here to continue reading Mark's interview...

Thank you Mark! Again, I am honored you'd focus on my old ass for an interview!

Hup hup!

Colorado States Photos | The amazing lens of Joshua Duplechian.

For a year or more now I have been enamored with the PDX crowd and their ability to capture cyclocross in a way that is not just focused on the racer. It’s everything AROUND the race…namely the people and the sites we see every weekend that burn indelible images into our brain. These are the images I hope to remember above any single race when I am old and gray.

Alas, Colorado too has a ‘Visual Historian’, Joshua Duplechian. An artist of there ever was one who uses his glass to capture what we all see, taste, smell and hear every weekend.

Click here to see his 2009 Colorado States photographic essay, but I highly encourage you to go and scope out his many visual projects. Absolute genius.


Cross Racing Week 12 | 2009 Colorado States and CycloX

I can barely type at this moment. Absolutely no feeling in my fingertips due to the insanity of participating in my 'last' race of the season today, CycloX, in sub arctic conditions. My body is cashed. My mind is too...although 'at peace' that another season is done and the Holidays are here to enjoy. There's talk of some races popping up on the schedule in January but I am officially done with any racing that requires focus. Racing's always fun, but no need to "think" so to speak.

Cross Racing week 12. Let's get to it.

2009 Cyclocross State Championships - Arvada CO

This is 'peakin' season' for us all as States is always followed by Nationals. Thus folks want to be feeling as much spring in the legs as possible. The week had been snowy as all get up here in Boulder-ville and we all knew we were in for an epic Saturday. It didn't fail. It was my 12th week straight of racing and everyone was tired (save the smart ones mind you...). I took the entire week off except for some roller time in the basement to come in as fresh as possible.

Photo by Dan RieberThe warm up lap I got to take showed that I felt good and the course had no monster climbs which would negate any one single dude from dominating. The course was snowy almost exactly like the 2007 State Champs on that bitter cold day. I brought the de-icer and ran Dugast Typhoons at 30psi. I'd never need to change bikes all day amazingly...even with crashes.

All the usual suspects were lined up save Denis Farrell. I had a 2nd row call up today as I've been suckin' but I knew that being behind Jon C and Timmy I'd get off the line safe, smartly and clear.

TWEET! We're off and as anticipated I snake through a hole with Timmy taking the hole shot along with Michael, Jon and Glen Light. I am feeling really pretty light and spinning well. When we took off the course was frozen but in 45 minutes it would all change.

(See Dan Rieber's photos of the race like that to the left, here).

First lap and I am rolling beautifully along. No issues, keeping The WB in my head to stay conservative and not attack or do anything stupid. Coming over this set of barriers the racers would re-mount then get sent through this completely UNSHOVELED sidewalk (the course guys should have really paid more attention here as this was fairly B league ATMO). There were two lines, the right one being next to this orange plastic hurricane fencing. Exactly like that moment in the 2003 Tour when Lance is pulled down by that kid's mussette bag, my SRAM lever gets snagged in the orange fencing and brings me down so fast it was incredible. Hogan comes by me and my bike takes him out (we have a habit of doing this to each other! Ha!) He asks if I'm OK and we get up and hammer.

Long story short, I suffer two more of these similar crashes. One I will admit was particularly scary. My hand slipped off the hood as I came into this apex and the front tire went into a divot. The hand slips off and I hit the deck super fast and super hard face and arm first. I felt this shooting pain which I literally thought was my arm braking or maybe my shoulder. I get up and look at my skin suit to see if there is some sort of bone protruding! Ryan and Glen Light ask me again If I am OK and I remount and get the diesel working again. It turns out I bruised the bone and my tricep muscle and had some shoulder pain but all will be OK (as you'll see by me racing the next day at CycloX below).Photo by Photo by

Last lap and this is where I need to pause and explain something that needs explaining as it has relevance below further down in the post...

The group of guys we have in the 35A's here in Colorado are absolutely, positively something special. I am not sure what it is like elsewhere in the country but we generally and fully enjoy each others company as we attempt to slay each other week in and week out. Whenever we come across the line there is always a gaggle of hugs, back pats and recounts of the race. Genuine joy between us. The fact is that we all end up trading emails, calls, TXT's etc during the work week as we prep for another weekend of racing and share a bit of the work and family week stuff we all have to balance in our crew. Mutual respect if there was ever a phrase to apply to a group.

(See Mark Woolcott's photos, like that to the right, here!)

So back to the action and the above known, the closing laps got faster and more chances taken. Matty Opp was having a banner day bridging to us dangling off the leaders. As the race wore on the course changed dramatically. Mud was becoming an issue and my cleats and pedals for the life would not engage. I was sore as a mo-fo and chasing Opp hard yet I could hear LG on the mic shouting about my hombre Ward~The WB~Baker's ride. Timmy early on had an unfortunate tire failure taking him out in lap 2 and Chris Phenecie unfortunately suffered a worse fate about the same time with a crash and ankle injury. These gaps allowed a spilt group to simply ride ride ride. Robson, Cariveau Ward and a strong JJ Clark who'd made it through a number of folks to bridge to try and re-claim CO States after his 2008 win. But if you have ever seen Ward ride a mountain bike, you know that this was his day.

Almost every soul hit the deck Saturday. The best of us struggling. The greatest of us, though, stayed as smooth as he typically is and Ward came across the line arms held high in a much deserved win. LG's words on the mic were motivating me to no end shouting out his gap times to chasers. Hearing Ward was going to take it made my hair stand on end as I was racing and made me go harder still.

Last lap and I am with Glen. We bridge to Ryan and coming into an icy cement corner and I wash out quickly. We're all pinned but to show the class of the guys we ride with (and my sentiments above about our group), Glen pauses to tell me to get up, get control, get my breathing in order and throw in another interval when I get up and going. Class. Ryan, Glen and I come flying into the last stretch: a muddy run up, then immediately flip to a slick down hil. I'd railed this all day with a foot out but this time I wash out. I am up in seconds and remount as Glen begins to stand to sprint for the line with Ryan starting his sprint as well. I can hear our gears changing to find that 46 x 12...Clink clink clink clink! I miraculously find the big ring and drill it, all three of us basically throwing with me taking the print for 9th. Yup, knife fighting the whole way.Photo by Greg Keller

Ward, I love you like a brother and am so proud of you. Every single one of us knew it was your day. You did it man.

Have a look at my photos of the State Championships (mainly apres-race photos) here in my Flickr gallery.

With a pint or so of my bud Joe Ball's home made Westmalle clone in my gullet, I proceeded to don the smock and rubber gloves to pit for my bros Brandon Dwight and Pete Webber in the open men's race. Let it be known that I indicated to anyone that would listen that today would be Pete's day. I know how hard he is training (and resting!) for Bend, and today woudl suit him well. He and Ward are in fact extremely similar riders.

Photo by Philip BallSo with a small posse in hand, we dialed in Pete and Brandon's bikes for what would be an absolute frozen mudfest. The pit crew work (if I don't say so myself...) would be decisive as we watched lap after lap of the pro men struggle with mud that was freezing in massive chunks around the every concievable place.

Lap after lap Brandon and Pete simply stayed smothed, changed bikes and kept gapping the field by a large distance. It all came down to a sprint between these two old best friends with Pete taking the roses.

See an amazing set of photos here by our team mate Philip Ball including the dramatic sprint finish to the line.


Photo by Philip Ball

CycloX - Boulder, CO

I woke up today (Sunday) feeling like my body had been hit by a freight train. Legs heavy arm sore. I peer outside and it's snowering out and we'd gained another 1.5". Oh and it's 16 degrees.

I guess I'll just 'have' to race one last time, right? The good news is that the race course is literally right down the sreet. So I embro-up right there at my house, grab my de-icer and roll down the street with my two the snow...with cars nearly stopping to oggle me as if I am absolutely psychotic. 

I roll up to the start line and ask someone to pin me up, drop my jacket and discover it's literally just me and two other guys at the start line! Tim Allen and Jon Baker. We're all freezing and we essentially roll off the line, Tim taking off on a tear (Jon and I would not bridge to him for the whole race).

(Click here to see Six Degrees to Slush great photos like that to the right of the day!)

The course was pretty damn fun. I rolled in 28psi, unbelievably low, and found myself hooking up well. I rolled consistently with Baker at 15 seconds, Tim 30 seconds in front of Jon. My fingers numbed horribly and contacts froze and rolled right out of my eyes. The atmosphere was super fun with us all goofing off. My family walked down and braved the elements with Seamus and Aiden hucking snow balls at me.

I pull across the line with my bike above my head, Stybar-style, in celebration of a fun race and my last race of the season.....although my fingers are still frozen and I fear a 2007-like scenario where they stay numb for a month or more. Arrgh.

So that's it friends. I am capital C cooked and happy with the season. I'd probably give myself a B- overall but know that my focus needed to be elsewhere this season and not going to go down some woe-is-me path. I did my best and I did what I could do weekend in and out, essentially relying on racing as my training.

Best of luck to all my friends going to get thier game on in Bend next week. I'll be thinking of I down a beer and go out on a 1 x 1 ride.


Photo by Philip Ball

The Colorado State Cyclocross Championships | What a day!

My full report coming but, man!, what a day of racing. Two of my dearest friends earning incredible victories. My 9th earned in (literally) blood and bruised bone. It was awesome...

This is what the day felt like to me..

Photo by Philip Ball

Cross Racing Week 11 | Don’t overlook the obvious

image“"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.”


-Ferris Bueller

We all work so hard and manage our own versions of the three part teeter totter. It’s who we are and what we do. Week in and week out. Round and round…or up and down as the teeter totters. We…eat, work, contrive a smile, work, eat, am i getting a cold?, try to stay sane, be present with our kids and loved ones, work, stress, don't eat that cookie…OK just one, work, sleep, wake, eat…and so it goes all week thinking of the weekend ahead, the weather in the forecast and the venue that will allow us to release ourselves and purge the demons over barriers, up hills, on sweet trails and on great rubber.

But there has to be more. There is life beyond our self-centered universes. Right?

For each day you spend in this vicious cycle, a bit of distance grows between you and what is important. For me that is obviously my family and friends. How many times are you driving or on the bus and you have your cell phone in hand, see a name of your friend in your contacts list and don't hit ‘call’ to say hello. “Ahh, I’ll give him a buzz tomorrow.” And tomorrow turns to weeks. How often are you avoiding obligations that could ‘interfere with your legs-up time’ and before you know it, opportunities to connect with neighbors is wasted. It’s a tough balance.

This Thanksgiving week brought a lot of that to the surface for me personally. Our dearest family friends, the Balls, came into town to celebrate what is becoming our collective ‘tradition’. We all looked forward to this for weeks if not months. Joe is the one responsible for my ‘cross fixation having effectively taught me everything I know back when we lived in SF, pre-kids, careers just starting. So lots of talk of ‘cross would happen this Thanksgiving. Lots of beers downed. Lots of laughs had all the while our children getting to play together like cousins. But alas, we virtually ALL got sick with a vicious flu. Down like dominoes we went one by one. You could imagine how the moods would spiral into the darkness. I found myself going there fast. Bitter. Snapping at my boys. Patience completely lost. Bummed that I am going to finally go down the sickness path I’d been avoiding like a hypochondriac all season so I dare not miss a single one of my races. Digressing into a vinegar-filled little boy.

And then it hit me: Stu Thorne is not waiting with baited anticipation for the ‘right moment’ to call me and beg me to come race with TJ and JPows on his team with a large six figure contract and free Dugasts for life.


Life happens people (and yes, I’m telling myself this too). My friends being in my house this Thanksgiving, spending priceless time together even while we’re all sick, was such a great reminder of ‘life’. Real honest to goodness life. Laughs still happening even while vomiting in syncopation because you’re in such proximity of your close ‘family' having such needed time together.

Relax. Try your best in everything you care about and do what you can to maintain happiness. Holding onimage too tight merely strangles the life out of anything good. I generally do this….but I have to remind myself (or get reminded) of my idiocy from time to time. It’s hard though, because I love it all so much.

So with that diatribe known above, the weekend had some great racing action and I needed to let things roll off my back. I was simply out of commission and I relaxed and simply…forgot about racing! While Friday was spent in bed almost the whole day, Saturday was spent resting and re-entering civilization. If I felt semi-alive Sunday, I’d go and race in Golden at the RVV race.

Sunday came and when my eyes cracked open while still in bed, I did one of those full ‘body scans’: Do I have that fever? Is my stomach still in knots? Do I have to rush to the toilet? Luckily, I felt fairly alive.

I made the drive down to Golden and figured I’d do a hot lap and then make a decision. The gut still sort of ached but the legs felt decent yet the course Clay Harris and the RVV crew created was too irresistible to pass up. Honestly, it was too fun to say no to. Thus the decision was made to stay and go and race in the blissful sun.

image I won’t bore you with the blow by blow of my 35 A’s race. It was another top 10 (10th), fought hard for, with not enough power to stay with the chase group trying to nab Jon and Timmy, but enough power and flow to keep the wolves at bay trying to take me back. No complaints.

What I will spend time on though was the course:

Grass, sand, perfect grade climbs and fun rolling and flowy paths to put the hammer down on. They also injected a set of steep man made stairs to get your Belgie on which was super fun.

So, the ‘official’ season is almost done. CO States is this coming weekend. I’m feeling better and still excited to race…albeit with a reminder of what I am doing and why I do it. I pan across my group of racing compatriots…virtually every one of us…with more-than-full-time gigs, a gaggle of kids, tons of obligations…all of us balancing. And I smile. I can’t be the only knob stressing about these things, can I?

Nah. I’m not the only one who overlooks the obvious on occasion.

OK, maybe I do a little more…

Oh, and if you made it this far, here's a vide encapsulation of EXACTLY what I am talking about above.

Cross Racing Week 10 | Exiting the mosh pit


Whoa. You ever get to that point in a season where you are like: “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, get me done already!!” And when the season finishes you suddenly start longing for ‘do-overs’. I equate my cross seasons to be somewhat like finding yourself in a mosh pit at a hard core speed metal show for 5 months straight, getting the absolute snot kicked out of you by some dude’s black leather jack boots, then leaving the theater after the encore with a bloody nose, ears ringing, ribs bruised….but then suddenly longing for one more song. Just one more….

We’re nearing that point in the season where the smart ones are peaking and the passionate ones are flailing (me). Races are raced hard, yet the smart ones are resting infinitely harder. (Make mental note: must practice this…). So as we’re growing close to season’s end, there is still racing to do. This past weekend saw some great racing action in Colorado Springs and Golden. You could literally see the exhaustion on, in and around most racers yet the courses were delectably fun.

Colorado Springs- Pike’s Peak Cyclocross No. 2

(All pictures below thanks to Ultra Rob unless otherwise noted. See album here.)

Driving 2 hours to a ‘cross to do a 45 minute race is…well I guess you can consider it an obsession. Co Springs is quite a hike but the folks that put the race on are great and the course I like…even though it is the antithesis of a course I know I can excel on. Needless to say, it appeared that ALL of us from the Boulder/Denver area are obsessive as it was a good sized field that showed up to play. All the usual suspects were there for the call up and would make for another hard day of racing.

The course in the ‘Springs is classic Colorado. Lots of bumpy rhythm-less paths, a death climb….and now Colorado’s new feature for ’09: mud! Many of the corners were super greasy making the tempo a bit slower and the need for bike handling a must. I took a total gamble before the season started and opted for Tyhpoons as the last few years have been super dry and fast. This year, however, the moisture gods have opened up with 2X the amount of snow we get on average here in the Front Range. Couple that with radically swinging temps and you get mud fairly quickly.

I decided to chill out and save a few matches for Sunday so with the whistle to send us up the paved straight, I just sat in the front 5 or so. I felt OK the first few laps but by the end of lap one, it was clear that Jon C was on a tear and he was gone. The only one realistically who could (and did) cover that obscene display of kick-ass-ness was JJ who left us all behind to play cat and mouse with Jon. The rest of us would scramble for the scraps of top 10 positions.

As the laps wore on I could see the exhaustion settle in. Mistakes made, lines blown, power lost. I bridged to my good friend Michael R who has been on a tear this season and even he with his MTB skills found barriers to be ‘just that too much high’. All of us were losing that slight bit of concentration and the flow became choppy and for some, true squares were being pedaled. Nonetheless it was super fun to be railing (or sliding!) with your buds in and through these muddy S turns. The bike and the Typhoons (32 today) railed well. The tire pressure was dialed in perfectly and I found myself only un-hooking once unintentionally. Everything else seemed to grab well even in intentional controlled slides to get through some dicey corners. I came across the line conservatively in (drum roll….) 8th with me gauging how hard to go to keep a late charging Robson and a resurgent Shawn Lortie at bay. No complaints, I rode well and kept to my plan to not blow my wad on day one as I wanted to go well at the Golden course the next day.

Golden-Green Mountain Sports ‘Cross

(All photos below by Dan Rieber unless otherwise noted. Buy some of his pics here!)

image When the eyes opened on Sunday morning, I could feel the boogers in the nose, scratchiness in the throat and some swollen lymphs in the neck. It was a bit more pronounced than Saturday but not enough of a cold to keep me from ‘crossing. I dosed up on the secret cold serum and packed up the grocery getter with my equipment to make it down to Golden for the last race in the Green Mountain Sports series.

Golden is Boulder’s neighbor to the south and only takes 30 minutes or so to get there. When I pulled into the driveway of the venue, the car got immediately gunked with mud. It was incredible. Having raced this course before, I knew that it would be an absolute classic Belgian farm-field style race with essentially every square meter of course covered in mud…and so it would be!

When I left my house it was 30 degrees. By the time I hit the course for warm up it was 46 and rising fast. What were once trails frozen with snow were rapidly decelerating into a muddy mess. I love this course as it actually reminds me of the terrain in Belgium. If you added more trees it could be Baal. Not a lot of climbing and flowy undulations of the terra firma. Most similar however are the fields we ride on which are just like a prototypical Belgian farm fields. My warm up had me smiling given the fun factor but quickly I realized a) ‘wow, Typhoons are a pretty tough call on this course…’ and b) ‘holy crap, my bike in warm up is completely gunked with mud….and there’s no water source!’. image

By race time we’re nearing 50 degrees so I embro’d up with Sportsbalm Hot (finding this to be pretty good having used Freddy’ Choice Extra for 2 seasons), grabbed my clean bike and lined up. They had us use a  start chute on this grassy infield that was still covered in snow. At the whistle, I failed to do what I usually remember to do….and that is to ensure the cleat you have on the ground is clear of mud or in this case snow to get in the pedals quickly. So upon the whistle, I proceed to slip my left foot once…then twice…the three times. IMMEDIATELY in the back 15 or so. I tried like hell to push through the mêlée and get to the top 5 but the bottle neck was incredible. Today was a day that should have suited my off the line style…and was an absolute need to get out front…and I failed! ARRGH!

The first lap was all a mad scramble to position. The chaos of people losing their shit in the lines was incredible. I was able to scoot up to about 10th controlling my speed and trying to just stay smooth. The lines were unbelievably greasy and those that could flow would maintain their position. If you could do it from the get go, even better as the pack behind was a fumbling mess. By the end of lap one it was true attrition. Bikes were already a mess. The mud was thankfully not Colorado clay, it was wetter and soupier, but it was also filled with grass. I went two laps before I needed to dump off that A bike and grabbed my muddy B bike from my teammate John who was carefully watching us racing.

Photo by Linard CimermanisMy A bike was on 32 Typhoons and when I jumped on the B bike, I could feel the difference positively with my 34’s. The larger surface area hooked better. Unbelievably, the SRAM Red on that B bike was shifting like a champ. Even with a caked front mech, it still got up and down from the 46 to the 39 without problem. The rear was also perfect with a SRAM Force cassette on the back which ejected the mud well. I’d ride this bike for the rest of the race…even as it gained an additional 15 lbs in mud!

For the middle set of laps in the race, I was railing with my team mate Mark Wisner and David Overstreet. On specific sections, I was amazed at David’s traction with his Tufo Cubus. It was spectacular. I would be slipping and unhooking up these sextons where I’d literally watch his rear tire dig in. (I will be trying these next season…). With my heart rate pinned and my body not able to keep the wheels railing, I lost contact with that group. The rest of the race was pure attrition. I could feel yesterday’s ‘reserved’ effort tear me apart in closing laps. Robson was dangling in front of me as I worked to bridge to him while I gauged my intervals to keep a charging Clay Harris from catching me. I had zero idea where we were. Just that I knew I wanted this ‘fun ride’ to be over. We all came across the line and dudes…FIT dudes mind you…were sprawled out on the snowy grass absolutely positively spent. It looked like a MASH unit in a combat zone. It was…awesome. 13th place. An anonymous 13th place that was harder than any placing I think I’ve ever worked for…save maybe for my absolute-crap ass showing at Nats last year.

And we do this every weekend to ourselves?

3 hours to clean the bike…including taking all those cassettes off the bikes to clean every square inch of mud out. I am still in disbelief this shit shifts under those conditions!

We’re almost there. We’re almost at the close of the 2009 season. Colorado States is December 5th and I am considering hanging up the sew-ups after that. No Bend for me this year. Just too busy with life and work…and the fact that Nat’s has historically been the bane of my existence. Even as a Cat 2 I’ll end up in row 200 trying to swim upstream all day. But alas, I’ll find myself at a Nats sometime again in the future…only after I go feel the energy of the different scenes around the country and report on ‘em. Hmm, where should I go next year?

Eet es bettah too loog good dan to feel good | Colorado Springs sufferfest

Full report coming after I get out of this weekend but today's race in Colorado Springs was painful. Waking up heady didn't help either. 8th...again. It's getting comical.

Anyways, UltraRob caught some awesome photos from the day which I'll share in their entirely tomorrow. Here's a teaser of me looking way better than I'm feeling...