Entries in year in review (4)
For the last few years I have assembled a ‘best of list’ for the preceding year. Various things, events, products used and notable/random happenings all get included when I sit and think on what the last 365 days brought to my life experience. This year, I will call the ‘year of the product’. So many things came across my path that were extremely inspiring and very often game changing for me. So now I will pass on to you my thoughts of the ‘best of’ (products, happenings and general randomness) from this past year: two thousand eleven.
Best Products of 2011 -
- The Mavic Fury – Performance, weight and pedal entry excellence.
One of the most randomly known aspects of the blog known to my readers has been my lust for the ‘white sex’ a.k.a. The Sidi Dragon. I’d used every iteration of this shoe
Man the years are TICKING by. Here we are already with 3 ‘best of’ lists, ‘08, ‘09 and now ‘10. What an amazing year of learning…and that is about as precise an adjective I can apply to this year in both cycling and in life. Leaving paying jobs for non-paying ones, breaking bones, struggling to do well in the sport I love…it was an amazing year. So let me recount some of the best things that occurred and experienced this year. Keepin’ it positive, yo.
What an INCREDIBLY fun race and amazing venue. Chris Grealish and Joe DePaemelaere put on what I thought was one of the most fun, scenic and festive races of the year. People balked at the courses ‘technical’ features which were, in my opinion, PERFECT. This was a course that made you have to be focused and attentive 100% of the time and ensured that the best were those that know how to drive their bike!
(Photo by Mountain Moon Photography)
Best Race That I Raced – CrossVegas
Ironically, one of my first races of the season was my best. I’d worked REALLY hard since the summer to get into some sort of shape. I was nervous as hell to crash and hear that clavicle go “snap!’ again but so deeply stoked to be on the bike and with my buds. I think I took an 8th place out of ~160 so people, about 40 of whom wanted to be tops at the race. The victory was that I felt a ‘good suffering’…that kind where you could go deep deep deep but knew you were going to improve over the coming weeks.
I am so looking forward to another Cross Vegas. I love the camaraderie and it is great to get amped up for our seasons with all your friends from around the country. Glad to see Brook Watts will be launching the event again in 2011.
Best Training or Racing Aid – Motopacing with the Good Doctor, Coach Frank!
Frank is truly one of the good guys of the sport. The smile that he is constantly emanating is contagious and reminds you when you walk into his Training Center that you are there to improve your life. He’s smiling cause he knows what you’re about to achieve…and maybe a little smile at the suffering you’ll have to go through to get there. Frank was there offering a hand the week after I crashed this year and built up my confidence again by telling me ‘you’ll be fast again and I’m going to help you get there after all this…’ Frank assembled a great plan to build upon week after week to re-assemble fitness essentially starting from mid August. One of the tools used was motorpacing which was hard, fun and absolutely essential to build up leg speed and the ability to sustain thresholds and keep them there…essential to be able to be with the wheels of a Ward Baker, Michael Robson and Timmy Faia. So much fun and if you can do it, and know when to add it to your training plan at the right time, I recommend it:
Best Food of 2010 – Tie: Session Black Ale and Justin’s Almond Nut Butter
Tough choice so I had to give them a tie. What tasty discoveries this year. First, I am a sucker for anything dark and bubbly and when I saw these little hand-grenade sized 11oz bottles of goodness, I gave ‘em a try. Not a porter yet not a brown. It is a true black ale which is pretty smooth and creamy with a smoky sort of taste. The new fave.
As it relates to racing nutrition, I will have to say that I was blown away with the Justin’s products. Specifically the Almond Butter but they are honestly ALL unbelievably good. I like the consistency and taste of Justin’s for super long rides. It’s real protein and I like the feeling it has in my stomach…which translated means it doesn’t tear me apart. I just wish their packet-sized versions contained a little more!
Best Product I Tried This Year – Northwest Knee Warmers Embrocation
OK, seriously, how many times in your racing past have you applied embro only to have you actually feel it 4 hours later when you are in the shower? Yeah, me too. That is until I sourced some NorthWest Knee Warmers, Medium Strength. The product is made by Kalli Phillips in the cross Mecca of Portland. She’s a licensed naturopathic physician who has a strong acumen of herbal medicines and blending them appropriately. It’s made in small batches by hand, roughly 40 tins at a time and costs about $19 a tin. One tin lasted me about 1/2 a season. I highly recommend medium strength to start with as it is pretty hot! You will feel it upon application and while racing…the first embro I’ve used to TRULY perform in the way I thought embro was supposed to. Amazing product.
Best Picture I Took – Dubba at the Boulder Rez
Funny enough but this was a year where I wasn’t hammering the shutter too often. But one picture I snapped I seem to look at quite often. I like the dust going on in the race as well as Brandon’s focus. This was the UCI race at the Boulder Reservoir:
Best Picture Someone Took of Me Us! – Any photos by Annette of Mountain Moon Photography!
We have TONS of mad photographers in Colorado shooting cyclists each season, but the award for the most passionate goes to Annette. She shoots ALL DAY, as many categories as she can to make us all feel ‘pro’. Moreover, the quality of her pictures is spectacular, with little or no post processing…just the natural light and glass to provide all the effect you’ll need to remember your races. Lastly, she does this out of love, with 2 pictures for $5. Amazing. We appreciate you being out there in the cold, rain, mud and snow, Annette!
Best of the Best of 2010 – Life Happens…that’s what’s the best.
So much to be thankful for. So much to remember. So much to look forward to. Visually speaking, these were just some of the BEST things of 2010…
I broke my clavicle and learned to be completely humble about my life, my needs, what’s important and what I love.
I left a perfectly good paying job…probably the best gig in Boulder…to not get paid and start my own company with my good bud John Bliss…in a recession. So, shoot more video and use my apps when they launch soon!
(Photo by Neal Rogers)
My oldest son Aiden started racing ‘cross! I’ve never experienced such a confidence boost in a person, old or young, as I did with Aiden this year. Amazing to see and so much fun.
The Ridley X-Fire. Amazing geometry, weight and versatility of this new bike by an even more incredible sponsor to Boulder Cycle Sport: Ridley Bikes. I like to call the bike’s positioning and geometry “fast forward” – weight over the front wheel with the rider more ‘forward’ on the bike. You’ll understand the feeling should you get to drive one. And please try to drive one.
That’s all folks! I wish you all a massively successful 2011…however you define success. And that is fundamentally the fun part.
So, in keeping with tradition I started last year, I'm going to pump out another one of these 'best of' lists for 2009 as the year is (unbelievably) almost ready to expire. It's felt like a year of massive change for me...literally as if the year was forcing itself upon me to instigate and create needed change in my life. And so it came to pass. Bike racing for me felt like I was having mad fun, as it should, but certainly not über-focused like in years past. So much needed my true focus…all of which had zero to do with pedaling circles. And so, my Best Of list for 2009…
Best New Race - Red Rocks Velo, Golden November 29th.
What a rad course an a crew of passionate team mates who love 'cross and wanted their course to reflect all of the features a good course should have. Sand, woods, straights, a man made stair case...the course had it all. Can NOT wait to race it next year!
Best Race That I Raced - VeloCross September 13th.
I think I felt the best all year at this early season race. Probably too good in fact (reminding me that I need to feel the way I felt on that day in November and December). VeloCross could have been my 'best new race' as well given the uniqueness and sheer fun of the course. It was rad to ride through the VeloDrome and felt like an urban cross like those hosted in Diegem and other cities in Belgium. It was flat, fast, technical and fun.
Best Race That I Didn't Race - Bend Nationals 2009
Before the season began, I had already set a mental line in the sand of when my season would end, and that was CO States. I knew given all the changes swirling in my life that getting to Bend was out of reach, so I mentally scratched that from my list. But the agony, oh the agony felt not being there for my friends races. I was less concerned with pinning a number on myself and more broken hearted at not donning Wellingtons, gloves and brushes to pit and scream at my boys Webber, Baker, Dubba, Robson, Hogan, etc. Next year…
Best Training or Racing Aid – The Kelly RoShamBo Single Speed 29er
I’d modified an old Dean to be a 1 x 1 in the past but when I scored this old frame and built ‘er up, the sheer joy became obvious. From June through September, nearly every ounce of ‘training’ I did to prep for cross was done on this bike. I couldn't ride anything else! There’s something about a 32x18 in the mountains that was just delectable. Everything felt right out of the saddle pounding out rides in Nederland and I’d never felt more ‘one’ with a bike than this one. The power efforts were done easily and what you lack in being able to train w/ high cadence and light spinning, you make up for in depth and power. Can’t WAIT for the trials to open up to get more miles on her this spring.
Best Food-CLIF Shot Double Expresso
I’ve been up and down on gel’s the last few years. The Chocolates are too chocolaty and the fruit-based ones are too fruity. They all made me want to vomit on long rides. Then, I saw this new product roll in to Boulder Cycle Sport…the Double Expresso. I love coffee…so why not! I tried it on some epics and honestly it felt like the perfect taste when you are deep into a ride and in that ‘bonky’ state where the wring tasting thing will send you into the cave quickly. These were the perfect taste….and clearly the right amount of caffeine (100mg a shot).
Best Road Trip- Single Speed Worlds!!
What a flippin’ EPIC! Pete Webber and I piled in my minivan with tons of bikes (I had all my ‘cross bikes too given I’d head to ‘Vegas from Durango for Cross Vegas as well), beer and cameras to document our trek to D-town for the 1x1 world championships. It was a blast and the Durango Crew assembling the SSWC09 race were so on it, it was incredible. Some how, they preserved the true ‘core’ feeling of 1x1 fanatics with a balance of organization to keep all the smelly bike racers like me having fun, racing safe and getting the sense of how Durango=bike culture.
Best Product I Tried This Year – The 2009 Ridley X-Night
'C’mon, you KNEW that was coming, right? I have professed my love for the bikes since I opened up their boxes and marveled at the construction. It’s more arrow than I am Indian and I hope to ride up to their standards next year with some more podiums but the bikes are incredible.
Everything felt right from the position I had on the bike to (most importantly) the geometry. I’d heard a load of heresy about bottom bracket height being too high, etc but there is a reason why Ridely has won countless World Championships and ridden by the best riders on earth. It’s amazing with the right set of tubulars and the right pressure how this bike behaves when you dive it into corners. Given Colorado’s snowy winter (which turned to mud most weekends), the internal cable routing was flawless…never missing a shift. It was incredible. That and the fact that the SRAM drive trains I use are bomber and will essentially shift with a log caught in the derailleurs!
Best Picture I Took - Matt Pacocha at Frisco Cross
I don't know exactly why I like this photo I snapped so much but I think it’s Paco’s fingers on his right shifter.The whole scene just captures the intensity of a racer bombing out of a corner, mouth slightly opened in anticipation of the next interval to start.
Best Picture Someone Took of Me
Rob O-Dea seems to 'win bike races' a lot as it were...in that each pull of his trigger seems to yield amazing images. Rob snapped this picture of me...my snotcicle an all...at Cross Vegas this year. I look panicked...as if some Belgian was about to catch me (and they did...and a gaggle of Americans like Jamey Driscoll and Chris Jones at 0:53:50!! Bastages. Although I am happy to have had the mercy round put through my skull.
But alas I am honored and have keepsakes like this to show my sons when I embellish my 'back in the day' stories.
Best Purchase I Made in 2009-My ‘Chain Link’ for Valmont Bike Park!
We held an exposition race at Valmont Bike Park this season to demonstrate to the community what this whole area could ‘feel’ like and IT WENT OFF! What a DAY! The course was amazingly fun and the festivities were top notch. If you haven't done so, donate to the park and ensure you become ‘indelible’ with it with a the purchase of a ‘chain link’! We originally had the concept of a brick but the placement of these on the ground never looked or felt right so an artist devised these metal engraved chain links which will be sculpted into an awesome ‘wall’ to show all those who have donated.
Best of the Best of 2009-FREEDOM!
My life changed in April of this year with a decision to ‘accept the package’ as some people say from my old employer. 12+ years building and building and investing much of my soul into a bunch of zeros and ones working with some of the most talented engineers and business folk in the world. We innovated, we sweat, we won and lost together, but it was time for my life to change. And so it has!
So that’s it folks! A wrap up of 2009. Some bike stuff, some life stuff, but all-in-all another year to thank the Big Man for. Be happy for your health and happiness, my friends. No New Year’s resolutions…those are for suckers. Live life the way you want to in ‘10. On your terms. Make yourself and your families proud.
I saw Kerkove's tweet on his best of list of 2008 and it is RAD! He did a fantastic job in getting this year-in-review out I was inspired to do likewise. So with confirmation from Jeff that I could blatantly rip off his framework for his best-of (after all, he is the MASTER of sports marketing in this Web2 day and age....), I've listed below what were my tops of the year. Thanks to Jeff for letting me 'borrow' his list framework!
Best New Race: The Blue Sky Velo Xilinx 'Cross Race!
TOTALLY pro and the entire Blue Sky Velo team went psycho to get it done and done right.
Best Race that I Raced: Chatfield State Park.
I can not describe the FUN I had at this race and likely was the best I felt the whole season. A true course for mountain bikers and those who can handle bikes.
Chatfield St. Park CX - 8 Nov 08 from Gregory Keller on Vimeo.
Best Race that I didn't Race: Cross Crusade
I'd get an email a week from my hombre Chris DiStefano in PDX this season to let me know how rad the scene is and that they'd measure their racer participation each weekend in the THOUSANDS. I need to make it a mission to get out there in 2009 to mix it up a bit with some of the fast West Coasters.
Best Training or Racing Aide: Nothing.
As it was a very 'different' year for me with no real ability to build up this year (at all), I went completely naked into the season and felt my way through. Not ideal but the best thing I could have done to keep the pressure off. I'll have a better plan for 2009, but just flow-ing in and out of each weekend in 2008 was what the doctor ordered.
Best Food: Pancakes!
For some reason these bad boys made me feel infinitely better than my old pre-race fuel: Eggs. It must be a protein versus carbs thing but my best results came with a healthy dose of the flap jacks ~3hours before race time.
Best Road Trip: Za Trip!!
While the Nationals in Kansas City was an epic road trip this month, it was still (unbelievably) in 2008 (January) that I was in Belgium and The Netherlands on the most epic racing road trip I've ever partaken in. It will happen again. Plans are in motion...
Best New Product I Tried This Year: SRAM Red/Force
This was the year I 'made the leap'. The products are absolutely bomber and worth of the rigors of 'cross and would recommend it to anyone who wants lightness, bomb-proofness, cable-free bars, etc.
Best All-Around Ride:
Best Picture I Took: Some Pro dude in Shriek Grootlo
It's not a technically great picture in the eyes of real photographers I am sure, but I like looking at this pic as it reminds me so much of the trip to Belgium and of the fantastic woodsy courses we flowed on in Za Motherland. It was taken with a crappy Canon point and shoot camera so I can't complain.
Best Picture Someone Took of Me: Larry Rosa at Nats.
I met Larry for the first time in person in Kansas City. I'd admired and aspired to his image taking for some time and was stoked to meet him in person. Salt of the earth! The image is perfect and his effects are rad. I am suffering inexplicably this race and yet I like seeing this pic as it 'feels' like the day to me. Cold. Always climbing. Pain.
Best Purchase I Made In '08: Selle San Marco Concor Saddle.
The product just fits my ass well. What can I say? It is bomb proof which is truly the most important reason (and is so Euro-bling it makes me smile).
Best of the Best of 2008: Lucca! This was the year we got our little fat-head, floppy eared lab/boarder collie mix. She rules. Even though I want to duct tape her up and keep her in a closet some days.
I am really looking forward to the clock turning to 12AM January 1st 2009 tonight. It's been a long year and we are ready to move into the future! I wish you all the best of everything this coming year! Make it your best.