Monday, February 28, 2011

Next Season

On Saturday, February 26th, The ACA hosted the 2011 "Cyclocross Promoters Meeting". Much more than a gathering of promotors to arm-wrestle for calendar dates for the next season, it generally is the "public" input for what teams, promotors, and (Gasp...), maybe even the lowly bike racer wants to see for the next season. As just one more hint of the growth and popularity of cyclocross, the small conference room reserved for the function was about half the size needed for the turnout. After squeezing people in close (I refused to cuddle up TOO close the Frites & Mayo guys... self preservation is important...), the meeting got underway with a round of introductions, along with people asked to answer the question "Colorado is producing WAY more National Champions than the rest of the country, What are we doing RIGHT here in Colorado to make that happen?"
Most of the answers to that question went from the predictable, things like living at altitude, the "culture" and history of racing in Colorado, and the like. More telling was the repeated mention of LOTS of HIGH Quality race events, on many types of terrain, and DEEP, Highly competitive fields. The lots of different races comment would become key later on when discussing options to "fix" the problem of too many racers. One very interesting point was that officials who have worked races in other parts of the country noted that Colorado is unique in getting 45 minute races for all groups. Apparently many other areas of the country have "fixed" the problem of lack of daylight & a lot of categories by giving most groups only 30 minute races.

In the "good problems to have" department, the ACA notes that for Colorado Cross, we are "victims of our own success". This really is only because of the perception that large fields and combined categories on the course at the same time are a "problem". While I can see that starting in the back of one of those 125 rider Beer-drinking-dads races can be an issue, and while the 45+ & Open Women have really outgrown their shotgun marriage, there could be a lot worse problems to be solved by a governing body.

Limiting on-course warm up seemed to be the single biggest positive change in increasing safety and decreasing "incidents" related to big fields. Any time you can keep 2 groups with vastly different skill & speed levels apart, that should be nothing but good. Problem already "fixed"? Course design was talked about a lot as a way to mitigate the issues of large & combined fields. "Longer" lap times (more than 6 minutes...) to spread riders and groups out along with more RIDEABLE width and limited bottlenecks on course to allow ample passing were seen as a way to mitigate the bad parts of the big groups. These would both help a lot, but may impact or make it more difficult to use some of the shorter and more "bottlenecked" classic courses, like Interlocken.

So, while all formal decisions will be made later on by the ACA Board of Directors, what changes were discussed, and what can your average rider look forward to next year?

Photo - Lisa Robinson

- "Split" or 2 day race schedules. There was a proposal to run ALL Colorado Cross Cup races on a bastardized version of the 2 day schedule used at States last year. While spreading out groups, it would also put each cup weekend on a single venue for both days, and limit a lot of riders ability to pick which or both days to race. Promotors hated it. No one wanted 2 days of work per race. This went down in flames. Look to ONLY see the 2 day schedule at States again. The discussion about a LOT of high quality races was instrumental in killing this off.

- Less Colorado Cup Races. 4 races plus states or so seems to be the target number. Finally going to limit the number of series races to WAY less than 50+ percent of events.

- States NOT in the bubble. OMG. End of the world as we know it. Alpha Bikes & Frites & Mayo Velo Club look to have states, likely on the Arapahoe Community Park Course. A great score, and I am CERTAIN those boys will have a real treat for us come late December. Do note that States is moving back a couple of weeks, to the week before Christmas. This move provoked by the move of Nationals to January. (You all have fun up there in Madison in January.... Me thinks I'll pass.)

- Call ups will likely be based off ranking points, at least for the Non-Cup races. More consistent enforcement of the grid & removing upgraded rides were also mentioned. ACA is giving access to the member & results database to, so ACA numbers will be the index, eliminating name conflicts. I for one think this will be a better approach than the disjointed effort of last year. The ACA heard the complaints that call ups were not very consistent, and are trying to address that.

- Chip timing. easier & faster scoring of big races. Even individual lap times will be available in the results database online. Geek out.

- Race day schedule. A "sub-committee" under the ACA Technical Committee was formed, and is tasked with "tuning" the existing one day race schedule & Group splits. NOT an easy task, with MANY "special interests" to serve, and limited time in a day. DO look for a Pre and Post Daylight savings time schedule. That will be looking to leverage the longer daylight hours early in the season to spread out the schedule a bit.

Photo - Lisa Robinson

Again, all this will trickle out as actual policy is implemented. Will have to watch carefully to see how it all comes together, but there sure could be worse problems to have for the sport in Colorado. Participation numbers were available that shows average riders per event is almost exactly flat on the road racing side since 2006. Yet in the same period, cross participation has almost doubled. The ACA sees that, and seems to be reacting well to it. A good thing to see. If you are curious, the Frites Guys posted a preliminary schedule on their blog.

Long way thru the rest of the winter, a long summer to pass, but It's been fun thinking cross for a few days. Should be an even better season ahead. Now if I can only find a sliver of fitness & speed to bring out to play next year.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Hope springs eternal.

For me, that means MAYBE I can really get healed up enough to get in some decent ski days yet this season. Did an easy tour up in Rocky Mountain National Park with my dear wife today. While I am slowly healing up, it turns out I am not anywhere near ready for a real ski day. While I did not set myself back in recovery, am just plain not ready.

Also managed to depress myself, after seeing the HUGE amount of snow that has been piling up while I've been doing nothing but PT and whining. There is more snow piled up on the Front Range than I've seen in many years, based on the road cuts on the Bear Lake Road. Course all this has happened since I managed to take myself out of ski mode. Time yet left in the ski season. All that hope is to get healthy enough to enjoy some of it. Well north of a foot was sitting there after the last "little" storm. Wah. more whining.

I WAS healthy enough to sit on on the ACA's Cyclocross Promotors meeting, held saturday in Golden. In yet one more indication of the growth of cross, the room turned out to be WAY too small for the number of people who turned up to talk about Cyclocross in February.

Much more than just hashing out the race calendar, much of the time was spent trying to understand the desires & direction for cross in Colorado, what is happening in Colorado racing to manufacture SO many National Champions, what "type" of races do both promotors and riders want to see, and how to handle the growth in rider numbers in a fair & reasonable manner.

Thankfully, some of what I see as the "less desirable" ideas did not seem to be gaining much traction, and there was frank discussion about some things that could be better for cross next year.

Outside of a VERY full calendar, running from Early September to the week before Christmas for states (Moved a couple of weeks later for more race weekends, and to better time with January Nationals...), Nothing completely decided so far (In the end, the ACA Board makes the decisions for real changes…), but Seems like most changes might be for the better.

More on my take of the discussion about cross in Colorado soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


So when even a crappy "athlete" like myself gets hurt and can't do much, it's amazing how it affects much more of one's life than just the workouts. Not that I have any life changing injury, actually just the opposite. I have one of those silly and stupid injuries. Never seems like you even get a good story from many of the "old people" hurts you can get. Somehow, "there I was, in my kitchen..." just does not have a lot of storytelling impact.

So, I've managed to do some kind of bizarre damage to a couple of muscles in my hip of all places. Seems as if the "piriformis" and "tensor fasciae late" are not merely decorative in nature, and really do perform some anatomic function. When they are all screwed up, all sorts of normal activities can become non-functional.

Skiing? Out. Riding? Out. My weight training "program"? Out. After a couple of weeks of nothing but therapy, I am getting a bit batty, and getting grumpier every day. My plan for future dominance of the Colorado cyclocross fields thru a super-secret off-season weight program? Stopped before it got started. Getting some of the GREAT snow that has been dumping over the last 2 weeks in the nearby hills? I don't even want to think about that.

I am beginning to see an end to the "broken" period, but it sure seems that any kind of healing goes into complete slow motion in the 50+ year old world. Well, at least I can look forward to the "PT Stretch & Roll" workout twice a day for a little while longer. Whee.

OK, Ok, enough of the Crooked, broken old guy whining. I did have a pleasant surprise to find myself pictured in the last issue of Mountain Flyer Magazine. They did a real nice spread on the Ft. Collins USGP race, with a bunch of nice Eddie Clark Photos from that mud-bath.
While I would LOVE for it to have been a shot of me railing around in the mud in one of his typical, stunning action shots, it really captures what I do much better than race my bike. It's a great shot of me, beer in hand, mouth wide open, screaming at Katarina Nash to go catch KFC. There was even a second shot in the series of Pete Webber hammering uphill, and and race announcer, fellow mid-packer, and all around good guy Larry G.'s head leaning over the course tape. Oh, well, gotta take what fame you can get.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rise of the 'Mericans?

The CX Worlds went down again this weekend. . Poor KFC missed the big prize again. Again. Are there curses in cycling? After seeing KFC absolutely DOMINATE all season (Again..) and not be able to pull together the ONE day she wants, you have to start thinking........

The American men are really starting to show promise in the "big leagues", with all the finishers staying on the lead lap, and in the top 1/2 of the field. Page and J Pow in the top 20. Staying on the lead lap may not sound that great, but after my personal experience in the 35+ and 45+ open races around here, and seeing the last place rider at worlds being listed a ** 7 ** laps down, it really is a great result.

The women are showing more depth, again all finishing on the lead lap, and in an AMAZING U-23 race,

all the up & coming USA guys stayed on that lead lap, and Danny Summerhill got into 13th. The U23 race was not the usual Euro cross race, all spread out. 10 guys in a tight bunch into the "Laatste Ronde". More fun to watch than the usual spread out laps of a euro race, good, tight racing. All in all a better showing for US cross than in many past years. Good on all the big boys & girls for their efforts. Cracking the euro-Belgium stranglehold is going to be a LONG and painful task.

Back in the local cross scene, we actually had a bike race in January. Kinda hard to tell, as more pople clicked into 303 Cycling's "should we have races in January" poll, than managed to make it to a race in the heart of the Boulder Beast. With "issues" getting up to ski that day, I went ahead with an experiment. How does a Cross race feel after 6 weeks of not really riding? With maybe 3 rides since States, I knew it would be "different" to go flog myself with NO riding.
The result of that experiment? well, it all hurts about the same, you just have one speed. a rather slow speed, and no real ability to actually "race" people. With a fun and reasonably technical course, I was able to get a good start, and hang in OK in the really small field. Based on the bike handling, or more like lack of bike handling, most of the other folks had not been riding either. Made for a fun slalom thru the falling, fallen, or generally frazzled middle of the field. Lots of frozen sand and a few bits of snow & ice to spice up the eastern half of the course made for probably the best course I've been on at Boulder Rez. With NO aspirations or notions of "racing" turned out to be a LOT of fun. One of those things about cross, the ability to be in the back & have a great time.

On a less fun & more personal note, after surviving a full season of Cross with no real injury, I managed to tear up some strange muscle in my hip, in my kitchen, 2 hours after that last "experimental" race. Keeping me off the skis, off the weight training, on the PT, and pretty much insane. Oh boy, below Zero temperatures, snow & a broken body. I guess winter is in full force. Why do the real injuries never have a good story to go with them? Always something stupid.