Entries in racing (11)
A Bucket List item in the books! Honestly, my first bucket list item! Maybe I'm getting old... The Boulder edition of Rapha's 'Gentleman Race' series was incredible and I now more thoroughly get the vision Rapha had in creating these epic days and the justification for the term 'gentleman' in the title of the race series. My whole experience was through posts displaying sort of black and white images of helmet less cyborgs that looked like to me were the discards of the pro peloton. Not true. The vision and people were way more core than that.
Colorado. My home. Absolutely endless miles of dirt road....and this race proved I hadn't seen as much of it as I thought I had. My teammate and fellow New England transplant, Johs Huseby worked with Rapha to extract the sweetest nectar out of this ride...creating a route that admittedly made it one of the most brutal routes I've ever seen....nor done.
107 miles, 13000+ feet of climbing. Pavement, dirt road and scree-filled dirt trail. Absolutely not a trivial century, but rather a test of focus, equipment, will, balls, eating/drinking discipline and the ability to control type A behaviors to cohese as a team. Why? The team must finish together in order to place. Each team was composed of 6 riders.
So it was a typical Boulder Saturday.
While many used road bikes, the weapon of choice was a cross bike with sturdy exploration tires....
Boulder fielded a number of teams, including a team from my squadra, Boulder Cycle Sport. But my good friend and coach, Frank Overton of FasCat asked if I'd be part of his crew and it was all he needed to say. Johs had put together a solid, if not, world class crew for BCS and I did not want to hamper that team's mojo. Frank and I had a plan to stay gelled. Keep it balanced and have a crew of guys that were physiologically, mentally and fitness-balanced ed by a solid road captain...
From left to rgight you see...
Matty from Fascat, Tom from JBV Coaching, Erik from Boulder Cycle Sport, the Big Cat Frank from FasCat, John Verheul from JBV Coaching and yours truly.
You can see the full route below, and I won't take you blow by blow, but the route was epic. Frank had us tight tight tight as a team. No one went too far. Fit/spry guys stayed in the pack of 6 and everyone had 'a moment' but stayed true to the goal of staying together.
We're here climbing Flagstaff with my peeps from Boulder Cycle Sport...
Gaps naturally formed with teams. It was to be expected. We were the 2nd of the last to go off and caught countless folks. But encouraging and even pushing them hard on the way. Everyone from hardened women pros to legends like Andy Hampsten riding on the day on the roads he trained on to get fit for the Giro were seen and communed with.
I do not know what to say when it comes to the beauty of our state. We live in extremes....fire, flood...altitude and wild. This is what we have. I was honored to ride the roads we train on with so many newcomers...and with Johs's help, seeing so many new 'hooks' of routes to bring my routes (and those I'll show my boys) together in an array of bliss. I suspect Rahpa is going to have some emotive imagery to demonstrate the Front Ranges beauty on the event, so what I will say is this in sort of a summary fashion...
- My backyard is insane. It's just insane.
- The people that communed for the Rapha event are beautiful people. They're not in it for the imagrey...as much as to make the memory.
- I entered the day confident, but more interested in learning how to suffer in a new way.
- I exited the day accomplishing that with a new found appreciation for teammates who give a shit and want to crush the goal..together.
So I have Rahpa to thank for that.
When I lined up, I never thought for a millisecond I...or we...wouldn't finish. But the reality was everyone 'got it'. I mean the most instinctual sort of feeling between (what are normally type A personas) that 'we're in this TOGETHER.' We'll do this TOGETHER. Never was a FasCat teammate within 100ft of the group. Almost always together. So many times was a guy like Verheul motivating me to move on and dig dig dig. Go one gear deeper. His hand on my back when he's pushing his own watts to ensure I knew he was there. So JBV...you are a teammate for life. Me, pushing a bro when he went down in a dusty crappy corner and I viscerally felt the need to give back to the team and push hard over Sunshine...a large mountain summit...as my teammate spewed blood from the crash.
The take-a-way from it all was: T E A M. My team was composed of amazing souls. Hard dudes. Good dudes. Disciplined dudes. They 'got' the epicness. Wanted it. But could control themselves....meaning their instinct to go an win personally. They all demonstrated an empathetic capacity to survive, and take each teammate through the portal with them.
And that was the key. We all finished together...in 8 hours and change saddle time.
A day in the saddle never to be for gotten. Finishing a strong 3rd place...even with emergency medicine required (topic for another time). Epic days.
The day in GPS...
We're in it now, folks. The meat of the season. Bodies either feeling good or feeling smashed. Equipment is beginning to show some wear and the need to stay focused and push through to your end goals is front and center. I am looking at the coming months while trying not to forget my here-and-now with some of the widest eyes I've had in a very long time. Staring down some basic truths that I've needed to embrace so I can get back to enjoying my sport, being a crazy supportive daddy and generally keep on keepin' on. They're simple truths about myself, my racing and my 'real' life. "The balance", remember? Like all y'all face every season I'm sure. I'll weave all this in as I digest the last couple of weeks of racing...
Sienna Lake brought out the first real test of 'crossers resolve. The day started off calm and overcast for the early AM categories, but by mid-morning would produce a maelstrom of intensely crossy weather...challenging the racers skills and fortitude. Especially the little ones.
Both my little men raced but the limited imagry was due to the extreme lack of spectators! It was simply too crazy to be standing outside on the course tape. Seamus came to the race not well, but decided to jump in and participate with his BJC teammates. He rode super well to a 3rd in the 8-9's.
By the time Aiden's group raced, the weather was becoming evil. The precip turned to ice and hail and came from all directions. The crew got off to a clean start (there's always that panicked moment at the start of a junior 'cross...waiting for the pile up.) and began to challenge themselves on the icy, slimy course.
Photo by Ralph Hart
The kids got after it, flowing super well. Proud of their absorption of all the lessons they've learned from practice. They truly look great at what they do....
Everything in its place, ready to go. Bikes, body, mind. Check them. Then re-check again. Check myself, then re-check me again. In my bike racing past, each summer leads up the same in that I am burning mental matches thinking how fast I need to be. Then never having the experience enough to relax and truly understand the body matches that are needed to be preserved for the moments you need to strike them. Struggling as I open the 3rd beer that its a weight that I should just tie to me as that's what it's doing...but oh how it sooths the brain for those precious few minutes. It's all kind of pathetic and silly. I guess I'm just self proud and like what it feels like to win...on bikes, in business and at home. And I needed ways and things to grasp on to.
And then you crash and it all sort of goes sideways. And you do that again and again.
Alas, no longer. I'm getting too old...not to not care per se. Because I care and care deeply. I'm just getting more patient and know that the sun always rises. I know that I'm not running out of time like I saw my father do through his self-inflicted sorrows. I know I do what I can to be happy and make those around me happy. I know I do what I can to be healthy and to continue doing what I love on bikes. And I know now more than years past that seeing my sons ride their bikes with their little friends laughing and doing Starsky and Hutch 180 degree power skids ('cause it's fun) is magic and mentally massaging.
I'm going to go race my bike again starting this Sunday.My bikes are in shambles, I'm relaxed on my state of fitness and yet...I'm ready. Happy. I am going to feel deep love for my hobby as I've lost focus on that. It's a hobby. It's easy when you're wired the way I'm wired. I'm going to do my best, then go and do it again. Because I can and I'm in love. Everything now in its proper and meaningful place.
No this is not a cyclocross. Yes this a road race. A Colorado road race. This is Boulder Racing's Koppenberg race. If you ain't racing on dirt, you aint racing.
Shot by On Sight Media.
God we are 35 A's. This sequence is hilarious. It is the most polite start to a race, ever. I don't think I've ever remained seated for the start of a race....thus the determination to not win the hole shot Saturday. Ha! J-Rad's wife (I think) shot this sequence. Hilarious....
See Jared's photostream HERE....
The weather is high-desert fall epic-ness. Gorgeous. Today's race was in Colorado Springs. Home of the OTC, huge SUV's and lots of God and gun stuff going on. Driving 220 miles round trip will have to be re-considered for racing for 45 minutes.
Let's talk about the race shall we? First, my approach this year at large is totally different than year's past. It's all about this steady progression. A song that crescendos rather than fizzles. Imagine that, when my Type A personality says that I need to be go-go-going all the time, biking, work....whatever. Today my plan was to be tranquil (isn't that a term over used these days by dopers? "I'm tranquil about the fact that my A sample was non-negative..." Sorry, but that was the only word I could think of. ) So the whole line of thinking is of a ramp-up through January instead of blowing shit up early...and then have a lovely and fairly quick ramp down come December.
So, at the core of it all today was supposed to be 'cleanliness'. In other words trying to have a technically perfect race and regardless of placing, get that under my belt. Be smooth. Flow. Last week sucked so I just wanted to ease into things and really focus on form.
Oh, the race. Sorry.
5,4,3,2,1 Go! We're off and literally I sit up after the first 50 feet and wave my boy J-rad through. I do NOT want the hole shot today. F'd up, huh? I just want to race and place and be clean. No desire to try and rule the roost. Steady burn, nothing crazy. That is how convinced I am of the need to just roll clean and feeling complete.
I settle into the first 3 in lap 1....in fact rolling slow intentionally. Save it. I'm not feeling punchy today at all but continue to try and settle in. Lap 3 or 4 of like 7 and...wham! Hit the deck running down this dodgy run 'down' which does a 180 then back up and over a barrier over fairly well pot holed ground. Hidden boulder underneath grass. Roll the ankle and all. Awesome! Totally F up my leg (again....over the same week old cuts) and bend a lever. Swish...swish...swish. 3 maybe 4 guys over take me. OK, sort out the lever, get rolling. I'm ready to punch it and bridge back...
Nothing. No go. Nada.
You know what it feels like when there is a hollowness? When spinning is about all that can be done but the circles you're spinning are not pulling on pedals and creating power? That was about it. Nothingness.
Another guy passes. Then another...and another. D'oh! Again, nothingness. Bloody, again, I put the tail between the legs, roll in and finish 12th.
Complete? Yes? Clean? F_ _ _ no.
OK, switch subjects to a more abstract level. Why do I write this? Frankly why do I write any of this dribble. It ain't ego as I try to live life like the proverbial chocolate brown lab with his tail wagging constantly. I've won races before so I 'get' that and my intent here is not a boo f-ing hoo, woe is me thing. F_ _ _ it, it's bike racing and I love it. It's more like a textual shout into a digital abyss. I am compelled to tell it like it is at this period in my life and I am equally compelled to put my leg back over my bike...every ride...every race...until I line up in Mol in January and look up and say "I f-ing did this, man." It's crazy focus like I've never had before and my wife can see this....and it is intense....and weird...and present in our lives....and will not come back again as sand is pouring through that hourglass.
So I've got to grab it. Talk about it. Live it. Suffer immensely for it.
The counter balance of my mind is firing synapses at a zillion times a second these days. Those synapses are of guilt and odd feelings of remorse. It's weird. I can't explain it. I'm so lucky. I could spit...or cry...or whatever. But I see the scarifies my wife and children make (without the latter even knowing how they sacrifice for me).
Power taps. Weight loss. Think at really intense speeds. Dream about it.
Ha! Week two! You morter forkers will unsubscribe your RSS feeds by November listening to this! Sorry for the temporary mind loss. It's clearly the Chimay I just downed thinking about today. It has an effect on my fingers when near a key board.
OK, the digital scream is capital D done.
Thank you. I hope you come back!
On to RAD stuff.
STEVE! You did it man!!! Great work and I am immensely proud of you. Great effort out there today, homie. I got no pics of you! Sorry! I chalk it all up to my clinics. HA! I should have used some of those lessons today.
BOUPS!! You ALSO did it man! Here comes your ACA Pro 1-2 upgrade beeatch! You would have won on your old Yeti. You would have won on your New Belgium Klunker.
SQUIRES BROS! Huge. Thanks so much for the feeds today and laughs when I was suffering. You're helping me keep it real.
Some pics from today.
Cat 3 stuff before I had to jet back to Boulder:
Week 1, under the belt. Sort of. I figured I'd wait to post until today as I was a wreck yesterday evening. Week 1 went, well, not so good. That said, it's aaaall good. 'Tis bike racing. Lemme sum up the day...
Drive up from Boulder's 6K to Breckenridge's 10,000 feet elevation was nice and serene. Listening to Built to Spill gave me goose bumps (and would be a prophetic group to listen to vis-a-vis their title! Ha!). It set the tone of ominous clouds and rain squalls that came in and out during the drive up. It was fantastic seeing all the old friends again when I got to Breck. The scene at the Nordic Center in Breck is always alive. The junior races were going off when I got there and I saw team mates like Thomas Prehn and Doug Squires getting their game faces on for their Master's events. Hup hup you guys!
The course was a pretty good one, and very short. Swoopy through the trees with probably 100 feet or so of pavement. Lots of barriers in the right places. My warm up was great and the body felt fine. A little taxed at altitude as I expected but pretty good nonetheless. The equipment felt great and I decided to go go with the Dugast set up on both bikes. I pre-road them both and both felt spot on. The tires absolutely railed the tacky dirt so the thumbs up was given. I had seriously like 3 other sets of wheels prepared to switch out but the tread and the 32 size felt sweet.
The line up was great. Not a huge field of 35 Open guys but all the old friends were there....except Karl Kiester. He rocked one of the other Masters events. Me, Timmy, Jared and some others composed the front row. Ready set go and we're off. I took the whole shot and led the first lap. I was turning around to see what was up and there was a string out and I REALLY wanted to get a group together to start working. You can't win from teh front in a 35 plus race. Jared came through to work and life is good. I think it was Jared, me, Timmy and maybe another guy flowing for a bit, Timmy put in an attack on the 2nd lap on the double barrier run up to see who was there to play for the day. I felt the altitude there a bit but it re grouped and life is good again. The group of about 6 is formed and we're off for the race. The separation was there by lap 2.5. By this time there is already 30 seconds plus on the rest of the field so this was the split in a 45 minute race. Lap 3 or 4 (about 20 to 22 minutes into the race) Chris Phenecie and Jeff Wardell we're in front of me and we're flowing through the woods. As we come railing into this particular section, it happened: Rolled the tubular.
Und das war alles.
Honestly, I hit so hard (no embellishment) both my contacts popped out of my eyes. Ha! I rolled the front tubular at speed coming around this dirt apex at speed and the lights went out. The body is beat up but the ego worse off. Sort of like:
Apparently the last laps saw Timmy, Jared and others crash as well as Phenecie roll his tubular in similar fashion although without the major crash drama. D'oh! All good in the hood though and I'll be back for more punishment next week.
Life is good. Bike racing is awesome, if not unforgiving.
Just a couple of random shots from our home girl Cynthia to show people what the course was like. For out-of-towners having a look-see, you can see our beautiful Flat Iron mountains in the back ground.
Every time I say the name of that city, I get the image of ice skaters, luges and ski jumps. Tomorrow and Sunday will be all about the single track and the epics. It's Daddy's Day weekend (there's still time to get your pop a gift!) and my lady is inspiring me to get with the boys this weekend. She rules. Me and The WB are going to do the WP race and hook some of the single stuff on Sunday with Bobby Mounts and Longman.
Hopefully some pics over the weekend.
Shittily translated by yours truly from CycloCross.Info
"The Second Flanders Indoor Cyclo Cross has moved to Hasselt after a successful first edition in the Malines Nekkerhal. The 2nd Flanders Indoor Cyclo Cross in on Thursday 31 January 2008, but will move to the Ethias sand in Hasselt, and will remain there the next 3 years per the organizing crew Promocycling negotiated. The concept started last yere where the racers do two 20 minute heats will remain."
I spoke briefly to Chris G about this and we have all it takes to do it here in the Denver Boulder area. There is an NBL league that does this already and we could get some RAD things going on here I am sure. 20 minute heats would be sweet as would a Le Mans start. True story: One year at a DFL, they did the Le Mans start thing. I won the running hole shot but ALL the bikes were laid out in front of us. I did a flying leap over what seemed like two bikes only to land square on some dudes wheel. Sorry dude. Yeah it was a training race but it's urban jungle cross man.
I think this would be a marvel concept to add in some barriers etc in a tight format. Advantage to the skilled guys who have had some gate crashing experience (moi). I'll have to do me some thinkin' on this.