Sunday, November 27, 2011


So, it seems every season I get that one race where I should have just stayed home, slept in & forgot about "playing bike racer" for the weekend. Saturday at the Boulder CX Series #4 race at Westminster City Park was that race for me. I've done this long enough to know it happens, that there are just "off" days, and that it's far from the end of anything. Still frustrating, even when you are talking about the difference between a middle of the pack finish to the back 1/4 finish. At least I did not get lapped, though there were a few minutes during the race where I was wondering.

I almost deleted my bar-cam video before even looking at it, much less choosing to share any of it. I was going backwards right from the whistle, a never ending stream of people going by. Any section requiring pedaling I felt like I had 2 flats, and both brakes dragging. Could not close a 5 meter gap on the downhill sidewalk in that race. Just plain nothing coming out.

It was one of the days where you wonder WHY you do this silly sport. What makes you get up at 5:30 in the morning, drive all over, change clothes in the cold-ass wind in the barely post dawn morning, just to beat yourself to a pulp. Race so hard for 45 minutes that you can't really function the rest of the day, all for 36th place in some Cross race. Why you slog around in the grass, dirt and mud each weekend, feeling SO beat up, then just wondering when the next time you can get out and do it again. Makes NO sense, but it's the most addictive sport I've found. Warned a new teammate about it this year. How addictive it is. never ceases to amaze me how this sick little niche sport within in a 3rd rate sport can get it's hooks into you SO deep. But does it ever.

Saturday was my day to remember why. I sucked. Had nothing to race with, no fight, no results. Yet in the end, I had FUN. Fun tearing (Sort of...) around a great course, trying not to crash, trying to go a little bit faster. While it was frustrating to not be where I "belonged" in the race, and to have no real fight, watching all those guys roll past, you can still have fun. Really pretty amazing. Kinda wonder what's wrong with me.

Almost didn't post any of my bar-cam video, but hey, it is what it is, so have my Lap 1, the beginnings of the slide, as well as Lap 2 of the 35+ open & 35+ 3 race. Almost missed that, as I was MUCH more interested in the post-race, malted recovery beverages provided by my wonderful teammate than rushing over to film the first lap that day. Sorry, sometimes you have priorities to attend to. The beer sure helped ease the sting of "defeat" that day. Now, I hope that was the ONLY one of THOSE days for me this year. Only 6 more chances for redemption left this year, folks!

My 35+ cat 4 Lap 1 back-slide:

35+ Open Lap 2

35+ 3 Lap 2

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BDDL From Castle Rock

Two more videos from Sunday at Castle Rock's Beer-Drinking-Dads-League race. Single file from the first 1/2 lap. Yee Haw. The rest are in my post from Monday.

35+ cat 4 - First lap into the finish straight

35+ cat 4 - Lap 1 at the mini-barrier

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Castles, Goat Blood and the Borg

So, we've been assimilated, But the wheels continued to turn this weekend.

The Chicken sacrificing, goat blood drinking CEO of USA cycling (HIS opening joke at the club council meeting, NOT mine...), Joined the Friday voting festivities, flying up from the Springs in his Borg Cube, and we all now have USAC stickers on our foreheads. So, no matter what you thought of the ACA-USAC "reintegration", or takeover, or merger, or "assimilation", it's now done. After a long and for the most part not very informative evening of presentations from all involved parties, the clubs spoke, and 186-100, Colorado is back in the national fold. No matter your opinion of the change, Colorado racing will go on, most of us will continue to support racing here, and we will just see how it goes over the long haul. Then we can see who, if anyone, was "Right" in the massive number of comments & opinions expressed.

I DO have to share Steve Johnson's reply to the question "What do we get for the $50 we send to Colorado Springs"?. His answer:

"The value is up to you"

Corporate speak at it's finest. Welcome aboard.

Enough of that. Strangely the ACA still ran a couple of races this weekend, and I headed to the far south hinterlands with the boys to sample the Castle Cross course for the first time. In spite of a carefully laid out plan to close up the Colorado Cup Beer-drinking-dads team competition points gap HPM has to the Natural Way Racing Team, we had a bit of a setback when THAT evil empire put more guys in the top 20 than we did. Funny how that works. Maybe we need to keep our secret plans for Colorado racing domination a little more quiet. Feels strange to be cyber-stalked.

In spite of FRIGID cold right up to before the beer-drinking-dads start, and getting up at an ungodly hour to get down there, the race turned out to be a blast. I usually go rapidly backwards on any course with that much elevation delta, but this one must have been JUST short enough for me to survive reasonably intact. It was mostly a great, technical, twisty, up and down smile fest.

The LONG drag up the paved road for the start works out pretty well. Was even able to pass a few going up that hill on the start. The only section that was not that great was the "Zig-Zag" on the descent. Was fine on the second lap on, but the start was just too tight, and led to track-stand contests in the back half of the field on the first lap. Quickly spread out, and I had a lot of good back & forth. video analysis of the race showed that I ended up passing and holding off more than I had get away from me. really had a blast most of the race, was able to stay focused AHEAD of me, and was able to keep picking up some of the spots I lost on my rather poor first lap. Felt good to get going and finish strong today. Ended up 36 of the 76 finishers, staying in the top 1/2, but sadly ONE spot JUST behind one of those Nemesis Natural Way guys. Next time......

So a bit of video from Sunday to share.

35+ Open and 35+ cat 3 hopping the little barrier on Lap 1:

Bar-Cam for Lap 1 of the Beer-Drinking-dads:

Monday, November 14, 2011


The time seems to have arrived. There is a Club Council meeting on Friday to determine if the ACA rejoins USAC as a USAC Local Association. Details on the deal were sent to the club representatives today, and since clubs are the voting bodies in the ACA, I encourage everyone to talk to their club leadership, and make your opinions known prior to the vote, and insure your club is represented.

While I totally believe that bringing all cycling governance under one body is a good thing, I really have issues with this deal, basically as it doubles the cost of getting licenced to race bikes in Colorado. Clubs will have to buy memberships in BOTH USAC and the new (Old?) Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado, as the ACA will become known. Our team is self-funded, and having to fork out another $150 to be a USAC club, on top of adding the $60 USAC individual licence will double the costs to participate. NOT my idea of making an already expensive and somewhat hostile sport to enter, any more accessible. At least the ACA dropped a few dollars a year off the individual membership costs, since it no longer has to administer licences, rules, and all that overhead.

My personal take? NOT worth the cost, just to benefit a few pros, a few people who go to nationals, and to "unify" cycling in Colorado. I have issues with being asked to support TWO cycling bureaucracies. Out of touch? maybe? better Idea? not really.

Make sure your club votes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

50 - 50 Day

It was another 50 - 50 day today.

Degrees and Miles per hour. 50 degrees, and 50 Mph wind. Strange and annoying. The new course out there at Sienna Lake Park is a complete winner. was even fun in the gale we raced in today. On a "normal" day, it would be twisty, varied, sweet goodness. My hats off to Lance & Tony, and Pete Webber for laying out a great new course for us to play on. Next time we could do without the wind, but I'll take it.

31st for me, bout in the middle again. Had my issues with the deep grass, uphill, directly into the wind sections today, but held on as best as I could. LOVED the irrigation ditch.

A quick look at the 35+ Open on lap 1, but it was NOT pleasant to hang out today, so not anything else from off the bike. You can hear the wind, and get a bit of a feel for the day here....


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


OK, guess I was in a bit of a "rant" mood for my last post. Bitching about lines at registration at races, not so hot courses and all that. Is it really that bad? A messed up registration line run by people taking their Sunday to put on a race is enough to start me whining?

Then I read a great post over on the Frites and Mayo site. A great story about what makes me love cross, and the atmosphere and people who do it. I seem to have lost my perspective a bit, and gotten lost in the little things. Thanks for sharing that story, Rich, and putting me back on a more positive thought track.

One thing I tried out on Sunday, bike wise, was a new front derailleur. Not the sexiest part on a bike, but for any cross bike with top tube cable routing, is a source of limited performance. I like a "clean" down tube, as I am kind of old school about carrying bikes, and pick up by the down tube a lot. Don't really like a cross bike with down tube cable routing. The downside to top tube routing has been no top pull road front derailleurs. The pulley method fo getting shifting never worked that hot. mushy and slow front shifting limited wanting to use the front shifter when it might have been more useful than not.

Shimano finally has a Top Pull front derailleur available. While I am all SRAM for my drivetrain, I went ahead and tried one of these Shimano top pulls when I did my mid-season rebuild. It looks to be a Cyclocross-inspired design, even being named a "CX-70"

Wow, what a difference. The new setup shifts like a dream. Crisp, fast shifts, no mushy feel, and gets rid of a lot of "stuff" on the back of the seat tube to pick up mud.

Anybody who is not a "Single-Ringer" and has top tube cables might want to look at "de-pulley-ing" you bike. The change is dramatic. So I now have a Shimano part on my bike after many years of 100% SRAMing. (Sorry, Shotty....)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Come ON, People......

Seemed like this was the mid-season weekend off for the Cross Community here in Colorado. 3 races, all rather lightly attended. Even the "Schoolyard Cross" Colorado Cup race on Saturday (Which I hear was a bit of a mud-fest...) only drew 457 total riders. For comparison, the previous Sunday race at Valmont was 685, without the pro men or women. 353 total at the Sunday Primalpalooza race in golden. And the "Race for National Ranking Points", put on by the USAC down in the springs drew a whopping 96 riders.

I guess my comments last post about the numbers really going down after Halloween were proven correct. It looks like the whole 35+ "Pro" field decided to take the weekend off. The certainly did NOT take up the USAC offer for the "coveted" USAC National Ranking points on offer down in the Springs, with **FIVE** 35+ riders lining up. Still, 32 of the 96 in the springs were from the Denver/Boulder area, or 1/3 the turnout. I guess the "Bubble effect" continues to reign supreme in Front Rage cross racing, Boulder or bust. (Disclosure here.... I am just as Guilty of NOT driving. Golden was the farthest I've driven to race so far this year... Spoiled? You bet!)

Not sure what all this means for the whole USAC/ACA "merger" that is going to be coming up for an ACA Club vote November 18th, but it sure seems no one was willing to go to the Springs for a race. From the "Colorado Racing News" in my E-Mail box last week was this:

Behind the scenes, our talks with USAC have been proceeding with a renewed sense of possibility. We will have a special Club Council Meeting on Friday, November 18th (6pm at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden) to determine the future of the ACA. Steve Johnson from USACycling will attend and give a presentation to our club leaders. Please watch the ACA site for the latest developments.

No information on WHAT Clubs will be voting on, or how much this will cost us suckers, er, taxpayers, er, uh.... racers yet. Was told details on the proposal would be out Friday, but dead silence so far.

On to the "Race Report" for the weekend. I partook of the Sunday Primalpalooza version of Cross racing this weekend. Underwhelmed would be by assessment of the race in general. After waiting for at least 30 minutes to get a number, while watching people behind the tables spin in circles repeatedly for entertainment as an opening act, I then got to see the course. With LOTS of space and terrain there to work with, I was excited to see what a different take on course design would be. Sadly, NOT what we got.

Lots of "hype" for this race made me think it would be a "good" event, but bad execution and a mediocre cloned course left a bland taste in my mouth at best. First things first. PLAN your registration "process" before the morning of the race. It is not really that hard to make it run smooth. Good promoters do it week after week. Yet we are now at 2 of the last 3 races (Colorado Cross Classic and Sundays race..) where getting registered was a disaster. I've been a race director. There are a lot of things to plan. I understand. But screwing up registration sets the tone for a race pretty well, and NOT in a good way. And note that if there are 50 people in line to register, it is not "running OK, the line is not growing". That many people in line means your Registration is BROKEN. Having to get Juniors parents to sign wavers at the line means registration is BROKEN. Go fix it. I hope this is the last of the Confused, slow, messy waits to get a number for the year. It's Painful to watch, and more so to be on the receiving end of.

The course Sunday was a virtual clone of the states course from 2 years ago, Including the "spiral of death". Whee. Not very inspired, and there seems to be a lot of terrain to work with out there, why not get more original? I admit, maybe landowner constraints are maybe in place, limiting what you can do, but I can't imagine they care which parts of the bumpy field you run a course across. Running that race back & forth across hundreds of meters of gravel parking lot does not make for a course with any flow, and even gets into the boring category pretty fast. I managed a 27th place finish, at least top half. Felt more like my normal self again. Race day results showed me in 29th, but 2 guys got DQed for "Fraudulent Entries", whatever or however you manage that. A strange race all around.

Not much Video this week, as I did not stick around, and the 20ish rider fields in the 35+ and 35+ 3s were not that "photogenic", AND I was busy drinking my post race beer. All I have is my lap 1 bar cam this week.

Next week a race in Parker, a new venue that looks good, but sure to suffer greatly for it's distance from the Bubble. and a new race venue in Broomfield from the Beyond Limits guys that looks interesting. I'll probably be at the Broomfield race, being the spoiled rotten Bubble-neighbor, non-traveling, my truck will blow up if I go too far crosser I am.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Muck and Sequins

It was muddier than I expected. It was harder than I expected. The Colorado Cross Classic & Boulder Cup were both muddier and harder than I had expected. Muddier was good. Harder, well, not so good for me.

Saturday, Boulder Rez.
In a departure from most races this year, the day got off poorly when the registration became a complete failure in the morning. I plan lots of time for my pre-race tasks, but waiting thru two 20 minute lines, while the registration people tried (unsuccessfully...) to figure out how to register & hand out numbers put a dent in my prep. Still got ready OK, then got my usual 2nd to last row call-up. Last 2 rows BARELY fit up against the fence at the back of the staging corral (you can see that in the seatcam video....). I will almost always try and get staged at or near the outside rows, as that usually gives you a little room off the start. This time I lined up on the left fence, which turned into a good thing, as there was a MASSIVE pileup about 100 Meters into the start sprint, on the RIGHT side. Lots of grinding, crashing & fence-clanging was heard. You can also see riders & bikes piled up, just about higher than the orange fence in my on-board video.

Once it spread out a bit, the race went about as normal for me. Was able to move up for a bit of the first lap, able to get by most in the greasy corners on the west side of the course. Settled into a spot for a lap, then managed to semi-blow up trying to bridge to the next group. That little miscalculation saw me slow down & loose 3-4 places quick. This years course seemed to not have a lot of places to recover. for me, seemed to be pretty much full on for 95% of the lap, causing me to take that full lap to get going again. I was feeling VERY slow on the long westbound gravel grind heading to the west end of the course. Kept thinking I had a brake rubbing or mud packing up. the kind of thing where you keep thinking "I HAVE to be able to go faster than THIS...".

Eventually recovered, and over the last lap and a bit, got back most of the spots I lost, and was starting to move back forward. Not enough time to really go anywhere, but felt good to finish strong. Ended up exactly at mid-pack at 39th. Interesting in that only 77 of the 35+ cat 4 riders finished out of 111 starters. Pretty high attrition, maybe some of it from the big crash early, but also likely a read on how hard of a course it was. Not sure I've seen many races with a 30% abandon rate.

Overall I REALLY liked this course for a "Rez" race. Been enough races out there to see how course layout in the same venue can really change the feel and rhythm of a race, and this one, while hard, was a lot of fun.

Sunday, Boulder Cup
Back to Valmont. THIS one really surprised me. Once it melted out, the mud just kept coming, getting deeper and deeper as the race went on. Even harder, with less recovery than Saturday, Even with the course hard like that, it was a real bike drivers course. Good little snotty off camber bits to test your driving skill and power modulation. Sadly, I had ZERO power in the tank, and had a miserable day, going backwards the entire race. 4th from DFL in the 45s. Sigh.

Still, the slithering about kept the smile on my face I had at the start. Thanks to Jim Heuck at Six Degrees to Slush for capturing my shirt's full "Shiny Factor"

And my sequined disco shirt did get a few "Saturday Nite Fever" heckles, so it was still Cross. Some say the Colorado Cross scene is "too Serious". Since I saw a grand total of 3 costumes in the 45+ race, some devil horns and a great wig on Lennard Zinn., I am beginning to think that may be true. Can't people figure out a costume that lets you still go fast? Or is it rally just THAT serious out there?

So, after 2 days of icing my poor, sore knees from slogging around at high power both days, and getting my mid-season, full bike rebuild done, it's almost time to hit it again. A Cup race in Brighton, and a non-cup race in Golden, with the USAC race in the Springs, there are a lot of choices. I am expecting the HUGE numbers to start dropping off starting this weekend. Seems like each year, the fields start to shrink after Halloween. Maybe the Boulder Cup is the unofficial early season championship race for the warmer weather set, and it gets harder & colder to race about this tieme. Looks like the cold & wet will be hanging around, too. At least it won't be as dry and dusty as last season.

I'll be out Sunday at Primalpalloza, mostly to try and even up my own Rapha/Focus Cross Clash Challenge. You gotta make your battles where you can. Stay warm.