Entries in 2010 cross racing (13)
Lots and lots to report, sports fans. On the road all week for InterBike and CrossVegas, so I have a massive backlog to pump out to you! Let’s get to it…
- Cross Vegas -
What an amazing ride with my main man and kindred spirited brother, Michael Robson. We had his F-350 (the beast known as 'Trevor') all bio-dieseled up for the 10.5 hour journey from Boulder to Vegas…packed to the rafters with more Belgian carbon fiber and Steamboat Ti than you could shake a stick at. I don’t think the radio got turned on once. For 10 hours we just geeked on bikes, racing, families, work…you name it and it was talked about. One of the truest road trips I’ve had in years…right down to the smoked jerky we consumed on the way down.
We were amped for CrossVegas and doing the Industry Wheeler’s and Dealer’s Race. After doing the Elite Race the last two years, it was time to actually ‘race’ with friends and colleagues rather than set goals to not get lapped. I will say this: Michael and I were hungry to show off Colorado racing and we truly wanted to ensure we walked away with a win for the Rocky Mountains. We headed off to the Desert Breeze Soccer Park where Cross Vegas is held each year to scope out the course and get a feel for the grass. I threw on my GoPro and captured the course as it was being prepared early Wednesday AM. You can get a feel for the course and the thickness of the grass...even though my camera is essentially pointed straight down! Sorry....
With some hot laps in our legs, we packed up and headed over to the InterBike trade show. Michael who is now product testing a boat load for VeloNews was on the prowl looking for the latest and greatest in tire, wheel and sealed cable system technology. I too had a shed-load of meetings with folks, both for my company BlipSnips, as well as for my little ‘side hobby’ in the bike industry. It was fantastic to see my friends at Ridley...especially to walk through all of the ins and outs of their new 2011 product line, provide feedback and learn more about what’s forth coming. They have literally taken 'grass roots' to heart by talking directly with guys like me who race every weekend, as hard as can be, on their equipment. They want to know what works and what doesn't. I love the relationship.
By evening, we’d fueled up our bodies and prepared for war. There would be a good selection of strong riders represented in the Wheelers and Dealers race, and I wanted to be a part of that animation. Our main man Jon Cariveau from Moots who is a staple of Front Range racing, the well known retired New England hard-man Mark McCormack, National Master’s Champ from my old home of CA, James Coats, and a cast of other razor-sharp racers, many former professionals who like to put it down in the Master’s Races in their respective regions. Game ON!
The field was massive, some 150 or more deep. we assembled into the start grid and waited for the USA Cycling folks to blow that whistle. Legs twitching…eyes focused down the start ramp it was on like Donkey Kong (as my man Dave Towle blares out at races…)
TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! We’re GONE! My cleat engages and Jon C and I get right off the front almost immediately. There is a ‘parade lap’ on lap 1 to essentially string out the mass of lycra-clad humanity behind us. Jon and I are chatting all this time, essentially surveying who’s with us and to up the tempo. We trade off the first lap, on and off on the front to ensure we separate those who came to play early on. It’s only a 30 minute race, so we will race differently tonight: all out, full gas.
Michael, who was staged roughly 5 rows back, had an INCREDIBLE charge to the front. By the first lap proper (after the parade lap), he’d passed like 60 people. When he bridged, it was like re-enforcements arriving. I told him to sit in and get his wind back.
For laps 2-3, we’re in a group of 8-10. Robson, Cariveau, McCormack, Matty P from Moots is having the ride of his life…mashing it near the front with ONE GEAR! We’re pushing the pace hard. The course this year is infinitely better. Brook Watts and crew nailed it with a WAY more flowy course (especially the back side’s climb which arced as opposed to just going straight up the grass hill side. They injected an additional set of steps as well to keep it interesting for spectators and racer’s alike.
By the 3rd of the four laps, Jon C pours it on. The 8-10 of us string, separate and we know Jon is on a banner day. He takes Michael, Pascal Wehr (Cannondale), Mark McCormack and John Phillips (Bikesource) with him and they jet. I am paying for my earlier efforts and dangling off the tail end of the front 5. I’m frustrated but still motivated.
A freight train group of racers is coming on fast, with strong guys like Peter Smith (Embrocation Mag), George Barthel (Giant) and other hounds with their tails up in full chase. I feather my pedal stroke and recover. I flow at the front with these guys trailing, setting my own pace. On the last set of stairs, I make a final move and pin it as soon as I re-mount. It’s a LONG ass way to the finish line but I knew if I could get through the S-turns solo, I’d be good.
I am railing the grass and felt great with the tire selection and pressure. It was down right fun! Counter steering through each corner with nary a hint of a slip. I come through the final turn and drop it into the 46x12…click! click! click! and just drill it, coming in right behind the stellar Matty P (Moots) who crushed the single speeds.
It was a Colorado day for sure. We drilled it fo’ shizzel with Jon taking the “W”, Robson 4th, Matty P 7th and me 8th. It was a really great time. The racers from around the country were such class acts, it was motivating to get in shape for Nationals.
- InterBike -
For two days, I walked around the city that is InterBike. It’s like walking around the Louvre. You need a couple of days to take it all in. Honestly, nothing barked out at me as ‘the next trend’. The UCI rulings for cross (e.g., disc brakes, etc) were effectively non-existent as there simply was not enough time for companies to react from the announcement this summer. I suspect we’ll see tons of light weight cross braking goodness next year. I will however show off some of the cross sex I spied:
Team mate Allen Krughoff and Ridley USA Sales Manager Todd Schmidt talking shop.
Vanilla Cycles Speedwagon. Money.
My man Chris Jones’ custom-painted Focus.
The Wheelers and Dealers winning steed. The 16lb RSL
Tim Johnson showed me his custom Dugasts with Schwalbe file treads. Harkens back to the old Dugast Pipistrellos that Nijs hoards. Maybe even better.
True artistry in Zonconato’s bikes.
Katie’s custom Stars-n-Bars edition Stevens.
See the entire album including my wanna-be-photog action shots from the men’s elite race here.
- Boulder Racing No. 1 – Xilinx -
So after drilling it home for 11 hours on Friday from Vegas, my family and I re-packed and drove out to support our teammate and friend Brian Hludinski’s Boulder Racing series. The first race was at Xilinx, a favorite course for racers in the Front Range. My son raced at 8:30, drilling it again to a fine 4th place. On the pre-ride, I honestly could not believe the kids were going to make it through some of this stuff…big ditches to be hopped, sand traps, logs…a VERY technical course to say the least.
At warm up I felt pretty good even given the travel. It took me virtually no time to get the legs worked up and feel ‘light’. The pedals turned well and the tires hooked equally well. I ran Typhoons…although this was a more Rhino kind of day. A fairly classic Colorado course to contend with so you'd better have some MTB chops.
The BCS crew was in effect. Tim Faia, Mark Wisner and I were all feeling good and from the whistle, we put the hurt on the field. The start is a high speed haul up a long paved driveway leading into a ‘funnel’….a bunny hopped curb that pours into a set of windy single track. 'Be there first' is the rule.
For the first 3 laps it was a tight group. Faia went to the front and set a radically hard tempo around lap 3. Robson flowed behind me with his exceptional handling skills. I wasn't going to tow anyone to Tim so I let Michael come to the front and pull to catch him.
As we flowed into the trees in lap 4, I punched it again to flow first through and let Timmy get some more daylight. Robson and I got a laugh with him yelling “Ah, so THAT’s how it’s gonna be!” When we got to the back-side pavement after we exited the trees, he got into the drops and put such an attack in it was incredible, the Aussie track specialist he is. Tim would have to really work for it today as Michael was on a tear.
For the remainder of the race it was Michael and Tim duking hard, then me, Jeff Cospolich, Mike Hogan (the three of us pictured above) and my teamie, Mark Wisner who turned himself inside out to bridge back after tearing a hole in his new FMB’s (arrgh!). Jeff and I traded assaults, each equally balanced in our plight lap after lap. By the last lap, Jeff came to the front. We flowed on foot through this section of ditches designed to get us off the bike. When it came time to remount I bobbled, slipping a pedal…and again…and again. Grass build up n the Sidis that I had to hit off the seat stay to clear and re-engage. Jeff, the high altitude MTB’er that he is, flowed well and I could not close the gap. he taking 3rd and I holing on for 4th for the day.
The fitness is coming to the surface. I feel like a bike racer again even though I feel my clavicle after these hard efforts. It simply is reminding me to smile and be happy. I feel that level of un-comfort after these efforts that is ironically GOOD to feel…as if there is room (lots) to grow fitness.
Just as Timmy F said as we cooled down: “God I love this sport.” Seriously: what DO people do with their weekends in the ‘real’ world out there? I’ll assume they somehow feel the same things we do after racing. Or so I hope.
By intent, I’ve kept my mouth shut. Never any pressure on them to ride…or even less, to race. In fact, quite the opposite. If there was any inspiration I tried to convey to my young’uns, it is to try EVERYTHING.
And so my boys did. Both of them gravitating towards bikes....with some baseball and rock climbing thrown in for good measure too.
Today was massive for a father and a son. Aiden, raced his first ‘cross. A hot an dusty one in Golden…the Green Mountain Sports Race 1 of their series.
I think I was infinitely more stressed than my boy pre-race. He was just amped to get under way. We pinned him up and he and I went about doing a recon lap or two, me explaining the fine points of tire pressure and what lines to take…he, not giving a rats ass about tire pressure, call-ups, hydrating and any of the lessons I was giving up for free…but simply stating: “Dad this is AWESOME! We get to ride our BIKES on these trails???!
That was what I needed to hear. And from then on I just watched him. Smiled. Flowed.
When they sent off his wave of 8-9 year olds, I couldn't help myself. I just got on my bike a pedaled behind them. Watching him lead out, crash, then get back up and just keep going. No complaints. Just his focus ahead. He noticed a while in that I was around, and he just blurted out like a banshee:
” I…am…having…FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. Reminders of why we do it.
Yet a bittersweet taste was present this AM and I felt it run deep in my soul as I rode behind him, smiling. I kept thinking back to my own father. My own one-on-one time with him, as rare as it was. I was the youngest of five and the reality is, the age disparity was simply too great for him to be active with me. He did, however, try to teach me how to throw a mean knuckle ball…his forte’. I never could get that right. Kept beaning batters sending them crying to their moms.
But alas, I thought of him and am sure he was smiling at the scene, the pride, the time being spent between father and son.
At the end of my boy’s race, it was dad’s turn. No warm up to speak of after his race ended. I was on a high watching him. I had a bud pin me up, I tightened down my shoes and got to the line. We had call ups from last year which enabled me to take a front row seat. Many of my buds were there today. My teammates, Faia and Wisner, Legg-Compton, Cospolich, Harris, Hogan, and of course Mr. Michael Robson. We lined up just like old times, and settled in for our pain-cave session.
Let me digress for a moment if you’d humor me however.
In June I sat on the couch with a snapped clavicle thinking “Oh well, maybe I can at least take picture this cross season if I can’t race.”
But today, 3 months later, I was smiling in the sun. The human body is amazing. I had no expectations for today other than to get a massive workout, feel the joy of pinning on a number again, and test our Mr. Robson’s tubeless set up he prepped for me (Mavic Ksyrium ES’ with new Hutchinson Bulldogs).
Today's course was Colorado to the core. Fast and flowy dirt trails, mixed with a wee bit of grass. They feature-ized well with a very creative stair case run-up timed nicely after a fast ingress turn into it.
Along with the tire testing, my plan for today was to literally focus on lines, technique and tire pressure. Tubeless for the first time. All executed to plan. At the whistle I feathered a bit to let a few guys like Faia and Robson move to the front and let them pull around. Mark Legg-Compton came through second lap and put it down and tore Faia and Robson with him which was too rich for my blood today. (Yes, Frank, I could feel your presence rationing-out only a few matches to me.)
To the tubeless testing: Many of you have been tubeless for ages. I run them on my MTB, but the burping in cross I witnessed time and time again last year was too risky to try. This year, with Hutchinson's updated kevlar bead, things were VERY tight to get on, but super solid under my 180lbs. Roughly 34psi in the rear and 32 in the front. The feel is not the same as a tubular. Quite frankly, they aren't as supple (at all)…but really felt pretty remarkable on this radically bumpy CO course. I intentionally would dive into corners, trying out some lessons in counter steering Pete Webber walked me through this week, and they felt fantastic. Not one wash-out or any un-hooking in corners. So, I am definitely impressed with this years Bulldogs.
By mid race it settled into pretty fun pack racing. Wisner attacked our group and went to bridge ahead while I worked with a Green Mountain guy and my man Mike Hogan for the remainder of the race. Like the crafty national MTB champion he is, Mike attacked perfectly and I covered but felt myself starting to pay for it, decided to keep the change in my pocket and let him slip away. I yelled at him in the final turn ‘great race you crafty sombiotch!’. I took 7th on the day and all within the limits I set.
Picking races to focus skills on is critical…especially early season. Smarter racers than I have been doing this for their careers. Me, even 14 years on in this sport, it’s still an educational evolution. It’s GREAT to take a mental break from racing…while racing! I want to take on this season way differently this year. I want to feel fast when I want and need to feel fast. And I want to feel like I’m riding my bike every race moving forward…not licking my stem in agony. Today, I accomplished that.
Off to Vegas this week for Interbike and Brook Watts’ Cross Vegas. Robson, Cariveau and I will represent CO in the Industry Cup. FINALLY I am thinking sensibly and get to watch the Elites with a beer, instead of racing it and making it a goal not to get lapped before 50 minutes.
Hup hup, buttercups. We're underway!
My boys up in Steamboat Springs, Glen Light and Jon Cariveau of Moots, are helping us all get our cross on as early as can be in the beautiful and scenic resort town itself.
Reports from local hardman like the Michael "The Aussie who should have been the Belgian Tornado because I simply own the gutter on you" Robson say the course will be hard yet fun.
Glen sent me one spy photo. Video forthcoming: