Entries in SRAM (7)
The big show. The Grand Prix's. The circus comes though once a year to Colorado and it's fantastic to see great friends as they follow the caravan from city to city. But alas, I've had a love/hate relationship with the USGPs. It's a crap shoot so for me, I can really set no audacious goals. Just train within the tempo of the folks who have been racing or are peaking for these two days. And that's exactly what I did. With no meaningful call up procedure (my sorry ass was in the smoking section both days), I had to just look at personal objectives: ride smooth, attack all the hills, stay in the wheels. I still can not figure out why the GP's can not use USAC's ranking system to determine call ups. Order of registration feels like a cop-out as we've now compiled and can access much more sophisticated data to lay out a start grid. But I digress.
It seems like the weather gods know exactly where to be on the first Saturday of the Colorado leg of the GP's: Directly over Fort Collins. The morning races were gorgeous....but by mid day (the Junior races and elite master races), the skies opened up, temps dropped and the rain began to piss down.
My oldest, Aiden (10), is now in full swing racing in his 3rd season of cross. He gets it all...the mud, the suffering, the self control...but on the start line he and all the other brave kids were standing there in a collective vibrating mass. All shivering. Nerves, fear and cold all building up waiting for the whistle. Aiden, on the front row was looking at me terrified. Then the chief referee signals "30 SECONDS!!!". Aiden looks forward, breathes and stops shivering. Today he's racing with the BIG kids. The teenagers. His calmness inspired me and when that whistle blew, he ripped to an incredible 14th amongst a huge field in horrible conditions. So proud of him. I can only envision what he is learning about himself at this age. Let's face it, when I was 10 years old, I was not doing this. Not even close. Shivering on the bench in a hockey arena or soccer field can not compare to this level of bravery.
Photo by Amy Keller
The 35 Masters then lined up. I'm in the back of the bus in the 6th row and I can see my teammate and current world champion Pete Webber not too far ahead. I'm thinking: "How can a world champion not get a courtesy call up? When he goes to Belgium
In 2007, I remember distinctly when Brandon showed up at a Wednesday Worlds on a Time cyclocross bike with brake levers made from carbon fiber. “Dude, you’re riding Campy?” I said as they were the only products we’d seen at the time with carbon levers. “No, check these out! New from SRAM. It’s called Force.” And so the relationship began with the company and before we knew it, we were ALL on the groups. I’d never seen anything like it before in terms of adoption.
Fast forward and SRAM has played a major role in the Boulder Cycle Sport Ambassador’s team success. Multiple National Championship wins (4), State Championship wins (2) and countless podiums, crashes, mud-fests, gear changes later, and we’re still shifting to success with SRAM.
This year SRAM has a new twist on their top of the line group, SRAM Red. The twist is to black it all out! The BCS team’s “A” bikes are all dialed in with SRAM Red ‘Black’ with “B” bikes being equipped with the Force group. We finally have the bikes together and a few races under their belts, and before they get sullied with the wear and tear of a season, I wanted to show the Ridley X-Fires in a state with their SRAM bits hanging in their miraculously-clean splendor.
The 58cm Ridley X-Fire complete with SRAM Red,
On your marks, get set…GO! We’re off folks. The Colorado cyclocross racing season got underway with a fantastic back to back weekend of racing. Colorado Springs Pike’s Peak ‘Cross and VeloCross…a new course right here smack dab in the middle of Boulder literally on and THROUGH the Boulder Indoor Cycling Velodrome’s compound!
I’ll get to the racing action in a bit but it’s amazing that we’re ‘here’ again. Unbelievable. For the last month or so I’ve started to ramp things up and get the corpse used to the high end efforts. I’ve entirely changed my focus on how I train this year by putting ENJOYMENT at the front of everything…where typically that enjoyment came compliments of fat knobby tires. March through May consisted of weekend after weekend of 4-6 hour MTB epics. By mid summer I dumped any and all gears and rode my 29’er Roshambo single speed until I felt like my legs were going to explode (all the while smiling wide at how sick and simple that bike is). Finally by late summer it was time to get geared again and I threw my leg over my cross bikes and got used to the new equipment while torturing myself sadistically interval after interval. Racing as training? Meh…it’s all about the‘cross so why do a crit any more. Why pay to ride mountain bikes…although every now and again it’s fun to throw down on nice courses. Flowing in the woods with my friends is about all I need. On to the racing….
Pike’s Peak – Saturday 9/12/2009
The boys came back all fired up and lined up to kick off the 2009 season. Mark Legg, JJ Clark, Chris Phenecie, Michael Robson and a slew of other hard men lined up to do battle in the elite master’s group. It turns out it was the race of the day given the throw downs and balance within the field. The course was classic Colorado with lots of dodgy loose dirt corners, pot holed grass sections and undulating terrain. I ran my Ridley’s with 34 Dugast Typohoons at some low pressure which helped hook up in the nastiness.
Everyone raced clean and put out. I felt really pretty good for it being so early. I need you to appreciate how vicious the attacks guys like JJ Clark and Mark Legg can put down. So difficult to cover as these are two unbelievable bike racers but I maintained myself in the front as best I could and just waited to try and work with folks to reel them back…until a true Colorado racing moment occurred:
Tumbleweed. Yup: through and in between every gear in the rear. Dunno how it got there but when it stopped any turning of the rear wheel or shifting, I sat there and laughed for a second until I hupped the bike to the pit and grabbed the freshie to finish the race. Hilarious. No one was catching JJ or Mark who went on to win. I grabbed 7th place after losing 3 places outright fetching the other bike. Portland may have its mud, but we’ve got some serious high desert drama to contend with. Ha! Have a look here at some of the fantastic photos my main man Rob from www.ultrarob.com took of the race as well.
VeloCross – Sunday 9/13/2009
Let’s just say that this may be a race that sticks. I tweeted a bit about my concerns about this new and untested race being listed as a ‘BCR’ event (the regions points competition for ‘cross). As it turns out, the race was super fun and well spectated. The course essentially wove itself around the Boulder Indoor Cycling compound, an area down in a very industrial/warehouse-y part of town. A true ‘urban’ course which could likely be used as a model for inner city promoters who may want some help on how to lay out courses with limited space and limited grass. The course took us from grass featuring 180 degree turns to pavement sections…up stairs and directly into and out of the Boulder Indoor Cycling facility itself. In one door and out another! It was a unique course and the racers I spoke with all agreed it brought smiles.
We had a great field again and I felt that my legs were good after Saturday’s opening salvo and it was a course that if I could win the hole shot I could likely hold off and work with the strongest to sort out the rest of the race. I truly felt like I had a shot. So as the gun was sounded what I wanted came to pass which was to get to the front and first to the 180 degree turn around. I wanted to make it super difficult for everyone and try and shake out who would play. My homies, Chris Phenecie, Mike Hogan, team mate Brian Hludzinski and my mate from Oz, Michael Robson all came to trade and work. On an off it went; the race changing leadership 6 times I was told.
Bombing into and out of the Boulder Indoor Cycling Center was pretty fun. You’d run into a door, remount, then power back a 180 through and over the obstacle course (just a part of it actually). The fans were hollering and it was super fun.
We kept the pace hard and with leaders taking turns crashing or having mechanicals, I found myself out front in the last part of the race. I’m thinking that if I keep the pressure on and ride clean, maybe, just maybe, I could have some hands up action. Unbelievably Chris Phenecie and Mike Hogan used their super powers to bridge back. I was in awe with their fantastic riding. I ended up taking a 3rd place, in the money and happy to have an understanding of where my motor is these days while having a boat load of fun at the race.
On to the fun stuff: The 2010 equipment! Pike’s Peak was the debut of the Ridley X-Night duo under fire…and BOTH had to be used during the race as I mentioned due to the lovely tumbleweed attack.
The Boulder Cycle Sport crew cranked out the second bike for me in time for finite adjustments and dialing in of the new 2010 SRAM Force group. Immediately I noticed how the Q-Factor of the BB30 was in comparison to the SRAM Red with Truvativ BB30 inserts to run my normal bottom bracket…
Here’s the SRAM Red with the Truvativ inserts for utilizing the normal SRAM Red bottom bracket.
Now here’s the SRAM Force. Note the narrower profile of the crank arms. Narrower but not so narrow that it is causing me any issues. It actually feels more comfortable!
Overall the Force grouppo for 2010 is fantastic. It’s essentially Red for all I can tell. The bikes weigh the same and the shifting is as tight if not tighter than it’s Red counterpart.
Ergonomically speaking, I like the feel of the Force levers better than my Red levers. While similar, there is less of a outward flair in the levers themselves which is noticed when you have the hoods a bit higher for cross than you would for road.
I am running 175 length cranks married to 46 x 39 front rings with either 12 x 27 SRAM PG 1070 PowerGlide cassettes or 12 x 25 Dura Ace Cassettes (simply due to me having a gaggle of these and they work OK with my SRAM drive trains). See some close ups shots I took of the bikes and new 2010 Force. Yum.
Both front and rear are Force. Given the Ridley’s internal cable routing, barely any cable shows so shifting through some muck thus far this season (Sunday) has been spot on. I’m looking forward to some real crap weather.
Well, it looks like SSWC09 in D-town followed by a road trip to VEGAS! (baby..). Stay tuned….
Full posts tomorrow but...BANG...we got shocked into our first day of racing here in Colorado today with races today and tomorrow. Some teasers....
UltraRob was there with his mad lenses and tweeted this one out to me. Thanks bro!
As was my team mate Walter Knapp! Caught me about to lap some dude with Robson coming on fast.
It is VERY safe to say that the 2010 SRAM Force group is mad. Super light and precise. Full details coming up!
Those even more geek-dified than I am on the equipment tip may have already known this, but spying the photos from Erpe-Mere I believe Fidea is the first Continental pro 'cross team to make the leap to SRAM. Note Bart's SRAM Red. Oh, and his personal leap from Shimano shoes to Sidi White Sex. I knew he'd come around.
Day 13...and the ribs are starting to feel a bit better, although I can feel the lowest one crunch around a bit. Yes, it is absolutely disturbing to feel that. 4-6 weeks says the doc. I did not ask for what that means so I may be seen doing the secret training...
But enough of that. I've been through annoying injuries before and I'll bounce back. But I am bummed as I've been champing at the bit to talk about this coming cross season and all the exciting stuff that is taking shape. It's been a glimmer of fun for me to distract my mind with in a summer of absolute heartfelt agony.
So, without further adieu, what *is* going on this season? I guess it is all rooted in Belgium where Brandon and I talked deeply about the BCS CX team...and creating a 'cross-specific team in general....and what could be done with it. Mainly it centered around pure passion for the sport and how we love it deeply...and how folks really seem to be falling in love like we have been. But, the interesting thing is, with all these people...and MANY first time adults....pouring into the sport, how are they learning what to do? Are they enjoying themselves? Who is 'coaching' them...when we all know SO many adults are too shy or 'don't have the time' to get taught. Who is teaching the the basics? The history? The technology?
By ALL definitions, people need BIKE PRACTICE <--and yes I'm quoting Tim.
Literally, the fundamentals need to be taught to those flooding into the sport. There is no difference between the type of repetitive motions a baseball player needs to go through to perfect, say, bunting, than that of a 'crosser's needs...say, porting or re-mounting. Over and over and over and over again the motion of properly sliding back on the bike (note I did not say JUMP back on the bike) need to be taught in fine detail. So, the lessons, skills, techniques, etc will be taught to them to help ensure their entire experience with the sport is super fun and allow them a path to continually see improvement. Joe Ball taught me...and you all have a story of a guy or gal who taught you. It's those experiences that seal the contagious spirit and make lifer's out of the newbies.
So with these thoughts in mind, and finally coming out of "the summer I want to forget", I'm proud to say that made the leap to hook up with Dubba for this coming season as BCS team rider and cross 'evangelist'. My family of compadres at Rockymounts are all in support of the concept and the move and the need for me to focus my time on this, which is so close to my heart.
So, what is at the core of all this? I can net it out this way:
- The BCS Cross Team is all cross...all the time.
- The team's focus is pure evangelism for the sport we love and passing that spirit on to folks of all abilities and all ages.
- Education will be my primary focus this season. Teaching and involving myself in clinics....and with individuals...as much as possible, wherever and whenever possible.
So with this move to BCS and teaming up with Dubba, there'll be new colors and new equipment to rely on....and as many of you know, I am pretty obsessive about my bikes and a Class A snob for knowing what I like...and what I don't like. So, I wanted to send a shout out to those who believe in this old crippled guy (who cries like a baby....).
Boulder Cycle Sport: Brandon and most importantly the boys at the shop....Dwayne, Mike, Coleman, Evan and Jeremiah have been there for me non stop no matter what uniform I wear for years. With my crazy schedule, these guys dial in my bikes and genuinely care about the quality of my ride, and for that I am grateful. It has made all the difference these years.
TRP Brakes: I have gone on and on and on and on and on about these unbelievable pieces of cyclocross art. All my bikes will be equipped with TRP stoppers...the EuroX Carbon and EuroX Magnesiums. This is a company that HAS LISTENED to 'crossers and delivered on all the little nuances such as toe-in, micro adjustments pad width, pad changes...you name it. They did NOT just replicate an ancient version of old mountain bike or touring cantilever design. Perfection. Especially for stopping a carcass like mine.
The very fine folks at SRAM have enabled me to ride INCREDIBLE product: Their Red and Force groups. When I saw Brandon installing these at the beginning of last season. I got all wobbly knee'd. I lusted the lever design and knew it would be a PERFECT application for 'cross. No cables to get in the way when porting (the way I do), simplicity and tightness in shifting....it all made sense. Funny that Tim Johnson won the Nationals with his Red group....and Brandon the Master National stars and bars with his Force group. I am stoked to have made the leap!
There are so many other folks making huge commitments to this team...and the sport in general....that I will take more time in future posts to highlight them as well. The folks above have truly shown faith in me and I am eternally grateful. I'm going to work my butt of and play catch up and do the best I can this season, but ultimately.....
'Cross on, crossers.