Entries in 2009 Cross Racing (49)
Dale from Crossin Colorado once agian has kicked some butt...simply by being out in the freezing cold at the wee hors of the AM and capturing video! Thanks Dale! Scene's from our race this Sunday at the Rez...which will also be the scene for this Sunday's battle for the Boulder Cup due to the weather-forced course change.
For me cyclocross is a string of memories dating back to 2nd half of the 90s, living in the Bay Area with each winter bringing a worse El Niño than the last. Cross was an ALL day event, most of which was spent after the race, tearing bikes apart to clear out the Santa Cruz mud deposits. A very critical piece of equipment that was in every car that showed up was a roll of duct tape…to literally hold your shoes on as you hupped through mud bogs lest they get sucked off your foot, forever trapped in the terra firma.
Moving to Colorado was a shocker. Entirely different racing which amounted to dirt crit racing. Faster tempos, faster courses, cool temps and maybe ‘Colorado Mud’: Snow. But for us it is a typically dry and fast affair.
Until this weekend that is.
Week 6 of the ACA circuit brought us one new course and one old ‘standard’.
Saturday-Castle Cross, Castle Rock CO
Saturday I awoke with a smile. The crappy weather the day before…a combination of snow and some rain….would surely not disappoint…and she didn’t. The only unknown variable was the course, a new one put on by the Green Mountain Sports crew.
I pre rode with Timmy the Truth and honestly I felt flat. Not, bad, just flat. The course was really fun, albeit long and not even remotely a course in my kill zone as it had mad elevation gain. I make no claim to be a climber and these were fairly sustained climbs. The weather had created super greasy corners and slippery off cambers so I was confident that if I rolled, I could flow and try to stay away from folks to maintain my position. I ran Typohoons at stupid low pressure, 30 front and 32 rear which proved decent…although I kind of wish I had Rhynos for the day.
The course designers had us do a start circuit, never used again in the course. It was tight with a 100ft parking lot sprint to a sharp left, into trail, back onto pavement and finally onto the course for good. I punched it a bit to win the hole shot only so I would not be part of any mêlées that would ensue (luckily there were none). I carried on for a bit not necessarily going hard…just hard enough to put people into difficulty. I could hear breathing behind and Timmy likely did too. He punched it and Chris P jumped to cover. It went like this for two laps until the climbs started taking their toll on me and I could not push it up those things. Powerless. I decided to forego placings and let folks fly and save a matches for what I thought would be a harder race the next day, the Boulder Reservoir. All in all I’d call the day ‘OK’ with an 8th place. Timmy had a good day taking 2nd to a strong Phenecie. I had some mechanical issues that I needed to work out with the bikes but no real bearing on my ride. No pictures from the 35 A’s. Sorry!
Sunday-Boulder Racing No. 3 ‘The Rez’.
(All pictures below from the lens of Dave Weber unless noted)
The town watched the weather roll in Saturday with temps dropping by 30 degrees and rain and snow in the forecast. The weather and the brutal course would make for an epic. Talk to any racer in the Boulder/Denver area who've raced here over the years and they will tell of their love/hate relationship with this Resevoir or 'Rez'. It’s literally 45% sand…super tough on the bike, body and minds of the competitors. Compound that with the terror of Colorado, the goat head weed, and your tires are bound to get toasted either wrecking your winning ride with a flat or perhaps providing you the mercy head shot you needed to DNF.
Pre-riding the course effectively had the same lay out as some of the Boulder Cups of years past. It has everything…and sand. Did I mention sand? The warm up felt pretty good with my legs coming around after Saturday’s efforts and thanfully saving some for Sunday. Even with the potential threat of goat heads, I ran my Tufo File treads and had my backup bike with an old pair of Dugast Typhoons, both pumped with 20ml of Stans. Giddy up.
I took the line and given the massively long straight away, did not want to be out front. The ACA official blew the whistle and Timmy nailed the hole shot with my main Oz-meister Michael Robson sitting behind and with me 3rd wheel.
We flowed nicely and evenly around for a 1/2 lap pushing a nice tempo to separate us from any danger..until I heard a pile up. I nudge Timmy and Michael to punch it and we have a gap and we carve out almost 10…who would effectively dice it for the rest of the race (some more at the dicier end of the dicing than others! Ha!). Brian Hludzinski, Michael Robson, Timmy Faia, Jon Cariveau, Jeff Hartman, Ryan McFarling, Mike Hogan, and yours truly.
By the sand on the first lap we are all still tight. My teamie Brian H takes a flier and Timmy and I back it off. We come in to lap 2 and I can see the pace push. Coming into the barriers I was able to get around Jon C, Robson and Timmy as I know it was going to happen right there. Jon was licking his lips (I got som eon me...). I cooked the barriers, got to the front and proceeded to sloooooow down. The Moots powerhouses, Jon C and Robson and I had a laugh with Robson saying “Ooooh! So that’s how it’s going to be!” True team fun at the front.
For the next few laps it was attrition. Like WWI Ypres Salient attrition. Timmy Jon C, Ryan and Michael Robson pushed the pace and broke away for 20 seconds. Hogan and Jeff bridged to me and I sat in until I felt over cooked. I did feel fantastic through the sand running but would lose momentum on the some of the straights and that got compounded. I floated between 6th and 9th over taking some, then being over taken. I still need that extra wee bit of fitness to make the breaks then stay there. Right now, it’s just within reach. I’ll see if I can get there without putting the three part teeter totter into a bad spot.
By the last lap I put in an effort with Dubba screaming at me in the pit to grab Hartman. I bridged to Jeff who was suffering a bit. There was a group if 3 coming up behind us so I thought it best to bridge to Jeff then continue to punch it to try and break free as the sand was coming and I knew everyone was dying. Jeff turned turned himself inside out and was able to stay within 20 feet or so of me in the sand. As we exit I punch it on the pavement to determine if he would settle or fight. The quiet big man decided to fight. I sat up and and he closed the gap when we essentially slow to a crawl. Full on cat and mouse. It was clear it was going to be a drag race and so it was. We started our sprint at a few hundred meters sharing pedal stroke for pedal stroke with Jeff taking 8th in a throw at the line. I forgot I was going up against one of Colorado’s best sprinters. Oops. It was as fun as hell though.
So 9th place on the day which belies the effort. These races are insane with the same crew flogging each other week after week. Knife fighting in the trenches as I like to say. I am convinced it some of the best racing to watch as it is incredibly fun to be in it. Pumped that Timmy pushed hard for the win with a savage Jon C never making it easy.
Up next: Colorado’s BIG cross weekend! The Xilinx and Boulder Cups which are guaranteed to go off!
(See photos from the Rez through the lens of Bryan King here. )
It was a 72 hour interval of sorts…squeezing a boat load of work into a Thursday AM, boarding a plane that afternoon for Vegas, doing my thang with my company then getting back on the plane Friday evening and getting home at the crotch of dawn only to wake in a matter of hours to somehow summon the racing mojo.
Breath…lay back…feel your wife next to you in bed as your ears ring and finally the sleep comes…
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
The alarm clock registers, my eyes flash open, sunshine already outside, and I jump up thinking I am late for my meeting. But I see where I am. I smell the coffee being made downstairs and I smile. I’m home. I made it. And while waking was near heart attack-instigating, what motivated me to put both feet down on the floor was the most exciting day in Boulder for me personally since moving here:
The Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Valmont Bike Park! Oh, and a cross race…<wink>
I spent the AM with the fam fueling up on home made pancakes and thinking about the day ahead. I’d just got in from a trip, have this huge day ahead of me and then need to flip it back to the homestead to immediately get showered, dressed up and out the door with my lady for a surprise night out in Denver.
The DBC Events crew, Chris Grealish, Brook Watts, Joe DePaemelaere and an army of volunteers spear headed by Pete Webber, Bobby Noyes and work crew chief John Bevans slaved for two days to assemble the exhibition course we’d be racing on. I rolled in later in the morning as the activity was already under way and simply looked around. I could not believe my eyes. Even while under construction, with bald mountains and tons of dirt still needing to be placed and shaped, I could see it. I could see just how magical this place will be…
Pre-riding the course we all had smiles. If you were a mountain biker you were in heaven on this fairly technical course. Big tires were a necessity and this past week I had Mike Doyle at BCS dial in a pair of Tufo Dry file treads in 34 for me. Balloon tires! They felt like they were made for Colorado and this course in particular.
After my warm ups I sat silently in the BCS tent and just took it all in. The people were happy, kids were everywhere, we were crossing on ‘hallowed’ ground. Life is good. I sat back in a folding chair and popped open for the first time ever…
OK, typically I’ll have a gel, maybe a bar before a race. I literally had this can of Monster collecting dust in the fridge for months. One of those artifacts from an event in the past that I never used and sat neglected out of site in a tray in the fridge’s nether regions. I popped that beast open and put some back. It…tastes like….burning. By 10 minutes before the race I feel like I am on meth, not certain if I’ll hear the official say ‘go’ off the line let alone if I’d do a simultaneous vomit/diarrhea while waiting for the whistle. Heed my advice: this is the devil’s elixir.
I line up with all the boys under the Clif start. It’s a big field and everyone is amped to go. There I am on the start line like an addict. Head humming, leg twitching due to the green poison I’d ingested. Friends are talking to me and I’m responding like a coked up fiend with quick answers, laughs and general idiocy.
We get the whistle to go and I have one thing on my mind: Go! I’d been complaining incessantly of having cleat/pedal contact issues on remounts and occasional starts and well whaddya know, it happened again…
I thankfully recovered pretty instantaneously and give it a go. The course was a mixture of freshly dug out trail plus sections of bush whacked forest. It made for a hard yet twisty course albeit with tons of bumps and the continuous need for control and flow. On the first lap, Moots strong man Glen Light took a flyer and strung us yet I could feel the hounds on us. I decided to up the tempo and pulled the group around for a lap. Fairly instantaneously it was me, Ryan, Dennis, Brian, Mike and Jeff. We were gone.
And then I got stupid.
Lap 2 it’s the same order. I am still pulling. Lap 3 same thing. Nearly all of lap 4 the same. I feel good and turn around to take stock. No one is coming around. What I fail to realize is that this is Colorado. And the guys I race every weekend are…fast. And more importantly…smart. I’d put in an effort, turn around see heads down suffering and attack again. These guys would claaaaaaw back every time. Regardless how hard I’d hurt them, they’d bridge back. Bulls.
By the beginning of lap 5 I suspect Dennis had had enough of the interval session and got out front. We all were a giant train sitting fairly OK until some new and significant attacks came and I paid for my earlier sins and faded. Jeff was with me and we traded work on lap 6 and he put in a punch and with it a gap. I clawed back got back to him and push passed with Jeff saying “…Nice!”. That was rad Jeff.
Last lap Jeff and I converged on the run up, crowds cheering and we both gassed it trying to scramble for that precious inside line. Jeff squeaked passed and got the gap when I freeeeking bunged the remount with another slipped pedal! ARRGH! That little gap was it. The group of 4 (Dennis, Brian, Mike and Ryan) pushed it to the line with
Dennis taking a hard earned “W”, Jeff floating in for 5th with me trailing in seconds thereafter for 6th. What a rad race.
I sat afterward and could feel the effort and my head swirling with the green crap still floating in my veins. Not sure if I’ll ever do that again. Moreover I though about all the little pieces that have to come together. It’s amazing to think of all the little tiny parts of a race when you decompose it afterwards…especially those parts you contribute. Each little mistake adds up and those that make the fewest win. It’s an awesome game we have.
This park is going to shine. It is going to be the place I get to do hot laps with my boys. Where many Wednesday Worlds will be held with no hiker.dog walker conflict. It is ours and we pushed hard for it. Racing on it was so sweet.
And yes, I made it home in time to scoop up my beautiful wife wife for our Denver night out. And it was gooooood. I knew you were keeping tabs.
“Stay loose. Just stay loose, kid.” It was his patent phrase. He’d use it with me on the field, when I would take a test and was stressed beyond my small brain’s capacities, or when I’d call home from New York, close to jumping off the WTC as my first real job that I had to ‘work at’…well it scared me and wasn’t confident that I’d be able to succeed.
“Stay loose, kid.”
He was a baseball player. A good one in high school and got sucked into the Yankees and Washington Senators training farms after high school right before getting sucked into Army Green to go defend us from tyranny of the evil North Koreans and their diabolical plans to attack…Alaska. Which in reality amounted to him and his buds going skiing, shooting elk and tending the officer’s club in that desolate outpost. Hilarious. Anyways, he had a phenomenal throwing arm and taught me the secrets of his ‘fork ball’ and all kinds of change up stuff that I’d practice over and over and over again. I sucked, beaned batters all the time to the horror of their parents who’d come to home plate…their child sprawled on the ground, bell rung and crying….to dust off and escort them to first base to take their freebie. So he stuck me in the hot corner most of the years he coached me instead of his hope for me to strike out batters. Again, hilarious.
But alas, it was always “stay loose”. Lessons he learned form coaches about how to keep the elbow, shoulder, wrist…and mind…loose. It rings continually through my ears and I see it as he would mouth it to me in silence across the field for only me to see to ensure I’m in the game. No where else.
Cyclocross is as I keep saying…hard. Anything you want to do well at is hard, right? Else, why bother. This past weekend at Interlocken for Boulder Racing’s 2nd race in its 4 part series I’d run ino those feelings again. Honestly, it is a course that I loath. Lots of dudes relish it…thrive on the all grass course which in all reality is beautiful. But for me, it’s been a write-off course as I’d performed so badly there over the years. The grass and elevation changes working me over and over and over into a vegetative pulp.
Sunday would be different, however. The weather conditions changed everything with snow and bitter cold temps. That variable and Boulder Racing’s modifications to the course made an absolute ‘cross playground. A twisty, flowy faster and more technical affair with off cambers, twists speed straights and recovery sections. INFINITELY more balanced in my opinion. Frozen grass has never felt so good.
Warm up was difficult with my head popping and crackling with sinus-infected blood-booger hell and legs that were heavy and would not come around. I seemed to roll just OK in warm up but the bike and 32 p.s.i. Typhoons seem to roll me around the course with confidence. So I had that going for me… I’d try my best but was still all mentally bound up. I got to the car to change clothes before the race and broke a zipper on a jacket and instantaneously had this pissy black raincloud over my head. Brandon came over to help and for about 10 seconds I proceeded to spit venom, with him giving me a simple smirk to tell me I am being a retard and to chill out. Stay loose…
The start needed to be a drag race as we launched a 100 meters into a sharp left…all of us gunning for this pathway followed by another tight left to get us into a barriered run up. I got clear with team mates Timmy Faia and Brian Hludinski and into the apex and that’s when we heard the horror behind us. Someone mussed up and cased a sidewalk lip in the hole shot chaos wreaking havoc. A group of us were safe and clear thankfully. I told Timmy to punch it when I heard the mele and to go get a gap. My legs were still not able to come around and feel fresh as Dennis Farrell and Jeff Wardell bridged to me by the end of the 1st lap and I simply sat on into those machines floated away to go in pursuit of Timmy but it was never to be for them. By the first lap, it was all Tim all day. Off the front…a 45 minute time trial straight through to the finish. Arms up. Good on ya Timmy. That’s 3 in a row for BCS.
The race for me was less of a race, and more of a maddening torture training test. Trying to push out watts that were not able to get pulled out, but I hung. My team mates Von and Brian worked with me through the race until I needed to collect and conserve. Essentially it was a game of bridge and drop a dude/get bridged to, then get dropped! Back and forth it went like this for the race staying level headed and trying to get the best ride possible in for the day. The last few laps were dodgy as all get up due to lapped rider scenarios where new guys were not sure what to do and not clear lines for race leaders (so sorry dudes I sort of had to muscle a bit!). But alas, 4 of us in the top 10 with me taking 10th. Honestly, I can not complain even though I’m in that zone of knowing what I need to do to push ahead and hold positions and race more conservatively. We all know what we need to do, right?
But back to staying loose. The ‘cross season is a long one. Patience is so key and mentally flailing is the disease that will send athletes off the rail. Staying loose simply means…relax, trust, work, stay focused on the big picture. Stay focused on the belief that if you can put the work in, the right things will build upon themselves and materialize. I’m in love with this concept. This hope that forms not by simply having the feeling of it, but the pushing that goes on to create hope and opportunities. It’s not the other way around because hope on its own is a strategy for suckers. The game is how you never lose sight. Keep the mind loose, the legs more so.
Stay loose and come back weekend after weekend, ‘crossers. Personal victories await you: a race with every corner smooth; a race where you emerge from mid to front of the pack; a race with no mechanicals; a race where you feel earned accomplishment.
(All racing photos by the now famous Mr. SixDegreesToSlush)
All around good-guy and hard man Rod Yoder captured our 35 Master's race Sunday on a cold and frozen day on 'the grass' at Interlocken...BoulderRacing's 2nd race in its 4 part series. Have a look-see at the video carved out into three parts. Most impressive is Rod's wattage from how many crashes he goes through to bridge back and drop the leaders....me included! Ha! Home boy is a stud.
Full race report forthcoming by the way.
Cyclocross…is…hard. I’ve raced it all, even a little track, and cyclocross is simply the hardest (in my overly biased opinion) to put all the pieces together and do something ‘special’ in a race. To be absolutely pinned for 45-60 minutes, maintaining your smoothness while on the bike under this load, keeping absolutely fluid and efficient when off the bike through barriers and run-ups and finally paying attention to the race as it evolves so you are ‘in it’ to make decisions on what to do to improve your position…is simply mind bogglingly hard. So, the above said and already known to you my cyclocrossing fanatics, I give myself the…
…for week 3 in the elite master’s category here in scenic Frisco Colorado. I think categorically I could not do any of the things I talk about above as it relates to fluidity, efficiency and of course smoothness. In fact, I might as well have raced completely drunk and likely would have had better flow. It was comical and I’m not in a ‘weep with me’ mode here…just expressing how hard it is to continually put all those pieces together and race a great race. I think y’alls know what I’m sayin’, right? So on to the details.
Frisco Day 1:
Frisco traditionally attracts great fields as it is the traditional kick off weekend for many of the racers transitioning from their mountain biking and road seasons into ‘cross. So it’s definitely a reunion of sorts. This weekend saw the arrival of Jon Cariveau and of course “The WB” Ward Baker…both dear friends and known hard men of the sport in the fast old guys group. Also, we saw the true coming out of Mr. Timmy The Truth Faia in his new Boulder Cycle Sport kit and Ridley! A new team mate! The fields were pretty complete and the throw downs would commence.
We launched into our race and essentially picked up from years past. The front group got a split and we moved pretty quickly into getting folks into discomfort. Tim was off the front with Ross and Chris Phenacie super quickly and with a teamie up the road, I merely had to sit in! Brian H and I admittedly sat on The Ozster’s wheel (Mr. Robson) and allowed his immense diesel engine to tow us around. Life is good. Engine feeling awesome. And then…
Doy! I become a total side show act.
Flowing into one of the wood chip S-turn sections I come unglued and dab throwing a chain to the outside. I try to drop ‘er back on by shifting the front derailleur but no joy. I get off, put that mo-fo back on and then go to remount. I slip in the wood chips and essentially spaz out and miss the mount and jack up the seat. I stop again and pound that seat down with my fist. Awesome. Meanwhile….whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh! The chase group is sweeping in upon my carcass like a buzzard dive bombing a dead rotting possum lying on the highway.
I get back up to speed and am pinned to chase on. 10th place. I will fight back up. Another lap around and…
Doy! Whooopish! On the ground again.
I suddenly within a lap un-learned how to handle a bike and forget completely that I am a mountain biker. Front wheel wash out in the wood chips AGAIN. (What’s the definition of insanity?). Two more guys drop me like a bad habit as I collect my retarded spaztic self off the ground and ramp the engine back up.
Round and round I go and I’m racing myself. I come into this apexed corner that sends you up and around this tree and…
Doy! Whooopish! On the ground again.
By this point I am reconsidering bike riding let alone racing as a hobby…sort of laughing. I finish in 15th place, tail between the legs and proceed to have a little stormy rain cloud over my head and act like a total knob (for 15 minutes). That is until I was handed a Mama’s Little Yella Pils which nearly instantaneously corrected my foul and childish mood.
I see Timmy and he’s smiling like the Cheshire Cat having bagged this one and the first for BCS this year. Salvation.
I then get to watch my best buds race the Open race while I shoot pictures and enjoy some adult beverages. Double salvation.
Frisco Day 2:
(Note all pictures below credited to SixDegreesToSlush)
(Note all videos below credited to Dale Riley of Crossin Colorado)
I went to bed restless the night before. Thinking about all the little mistakes…all the willingness to ride smooth and keep fluid. My heart was also racing a bit too given the nearly 11,000 I was sleeping at that night at my friends cabin.
Waking up I felt re-born. Head was really happy and I was determined to ride clean. Think not of places but think of every single lap cleaner and more precise. I needed the mental victory.
Call ups again and I am in the front row. I go out semi-hard to attempt to be in the clear and off the front for Timmy and Brian H to sit in. It’ll be harder with Jon and Chris ready to slay dragons so in my caveman mind, I go and try to string it a bit. The course was better than the day before. More ‘crossy. It utilized many of the same features from the day prior but included a great run up which would prove decisive. Both days had massive elevation changes with actual and LONG-ass climbs. Never ever good for a tank like me but I’d go hard regardless.
So back to those first lap heroics: I proceed to push it too hard into this maze of turns all separated by white Shimano tape. Pre riding I even said to myself ‘whoa, be careful’. Of course bombing into this maze I am like a deer in headlights…utterly confused and I proceed to follow the lines from tires of the day before! Directly into the tape! HA! Essentially I get laughed at and I too laugh pretty loudly as I get dropped untangling myself by the passing freight train of 4-6 folks. Jon C, Robson, Hartman, Farrell, Faia…others all whoosh whoosh whoosh! So not even the first lap and I’ve failed my plan of cleanliness. Doh!
I settle in and just focus on lines and flow. Nothing else. Flow into corners, accelerate out. Precision on flowing into the run up and go hard. Lap after lap. I end up working with Ward, Ryan McFarling and Brian Maslach and others. I can’t cover some of the accelerations but find that I am flowing and way more confident.
Last lap and I push it hard to ensure I am near the group. I know I am feeling better and better as the race wore on and wait until the run up to put in a move. I work the run up with Maslach and we come out pushing hard. A set of grass turns, barriers and a pavement stretch to the finish. Brian pushes me hard all the way to the line for 10th. Battling for 10th! It’s like a frigging knife fight amongst all of us week in and out. Timmy again is sitting there at the line waiting for me high fiving having bagged another one! He fought it out hard with Jon C and Chris for another great BCS effort.
So there ya have it. Week 3 and me ranting already! Ha! Honestly it’s all this that keeps me coming back. It’s the imperfections that must be perfected. When it all comes together….when all that hard work comes together…its what makes it worth it.
After my debacle-race on the first day (report coming), I was able to whip out the photo shooter and snap some pics of the Open Men. Jake Wells rode super strong with a tenacious 16 year old Yannick Eckmann causing all kinds of drama for 2nd place. I'm figuring all this photography stuff out on my own kids, so I hope you like! Credit back to the site as always if you use any.
Click on the photo below...
For more Frisco Day 1 action, see my man from Six Degree's to Slush's photos!
Frisco Nordic Center tomorrow in scenic Frisco, CO. Just a snowballs throw away from Breckenridge at mad Colorado altitudes. Back to back races this weekend and Dubba, Pilot and I are heading up to get our game on. Should be fun and I'm again indebted to my rad wife for these weekends. It's huge.
The mystery blogger that is Mr. Bike Snob NYC himself sent his readers....and a mass of readers I must say....to M & C on his hilarious regular Friday quiz post. I hope my home boy is retiring because the amount of readers he gets a day is sick. Monitize, yo! His writing speaks for itself and he deserves every amount of readership he gets. It' makes me crap just a wee little bit in my pants when I laugh reading his site.
Lastly, my main man Brian Patrick from On Site Media...the folks who do a boat load of the race coverage you see on Velonews....gave the Boulderites some love in this video clip! Boups using is collegiate running skills is the first guy coming up the run up followed by a focus on Dubba. I'm in the next clip which was the group right after theirs, dangling behind that group the whole frigging race.
Reports from Frisco forthcoming. Huppity hup.
Ladies and gentlemen! Get your hard hats and shovels out and come and celebrate the groundbreaking of the Valmont Bike Park. The day will be complete with festivities for the family and racing. Oh yes racing....cyclocross racing! An ACA event is scheduled and will include all major categories.
Also, note too that the BMA is looking for volunteers to help establish the race course which will be used to demonstrate the concept of the courses that will be 'officially' manicured into the Bike Park in 2010. We'll be testing all sorts of concepts so be there to help influence! If you can volunteer, that'd be great. Go here for details.