Sunday, November 30, 2008

Late start to winter

Yesterday was officially the latest into the fall I have done a "real" mtn bike ride in the eight years we have lived in Teton Valley.

Top of Sharks Belly

Nate, Amanda, and I woke up early to catch the trails while they were still frozen and had two hours of surprisingly good riding on Horseshoe Canyon singletrack. There were cold fingers and toes but the "woohoos" and smiles far outweighed any discomfort. Although I am ready to ski, the late season riding has been a blast.

It only got down to 34 last night or I would have gone again today!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ogden, UT cross

Our one-day road trip to the Utah State Cyclocross Champs was a blast. Bergy, Amanda, and I rolled out of my driveway at 6:30 AM and headed south to see first-hand what the Utah cross scene was like and scratch our “cross itch” one more time.

Big race fields, two energetic announcers on the p.a. system, and a fun course made for a good scene. One thing we all agreed on though was the lack of overall crowd stoke. In contrast, when we raced in Big Sky, MT a crowd of 25 spectators sounded like a hundred with their cowbells and enthusiasm. The spectators in Ogden were quietly watching the race and gathered at the spots on the course most likely to have carnage.

Scene of my carnage

I did not have my best cross race and felt like the injectors were fouled the whole time. With a lap to go I was chasing a racer down to try for a pass near the end of the lap and it came down to the last barrier which was a single log. This log was skinny on the outside and fat on the inside. I had been bunny hopping it each lap at the skinniest part and then taking the following corner wide. As I caught the racer I was chasing he veered right which forced me into the thicker section of the log but I tried to bunny hop it anyway. Carnage. Yard sale, everything must go. Pieces everywhere. I picked myself up and rode the final 300 yards of the lap to finish the race and limped back to my truck in a bit of a fog. After watching the Men’s A race it became evident that running the inside portion of the log and shaving the corner was just as fast and not as risky as the bunny hop option. Yet another lesson learned in my rookie season of cross.

Scotty, I need more power!

Congratulations to Amanda who won the Women’s A race. Bergy put in a solid race against a deep field of super fast guys in the Men’s A race and battled with the Caveman for most of the race.

On the way home we all felt sad that this could be the end of the 2008 cross season and there was chatter about Portland on Dec 6th or the Colorado State Champs on Dec 7th. Now that I have had a day at home and the race euphoria has worn off, I can say that I am done. Season over.

Amanda is like teflon, you cannot stick to her wheel for long

Bergy laying down the power

Friday, November 21, 2008

One to go

Saturday's Utah State Cyclocross Championships in Ogden, UT will my by last race of 2008.

Quite possibly the cleanest barrier I ran all season. Ha!

Backcountry skiing, skate skiing, and snow biking are just around the corner and thoughts about the Susitna 100 are already creeping into my brain.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It is probably a safe assumption that every race promoter has moments where they question what they are doing. Is it worth the time and effort? For me, race promotion is not about the money and never will be. It is about giving back to a sport that I love. A story has unfolded this fall that adds a new level of motivation for me to continue to organize races.

Meet Adrian, 9 years old

Adrian lives in Victor, ID just a block from the cyclocross course we built. As of September, Adrian was not doing well in school according to his mom.

Living close to the course, Adrian began to ride it everyday after school and heard about the Victor Cross Series races. His mom implemented a rule; he couldn't ride the course after school until his homework was done.

By the first Victor Cross Series race on October 4th, Adrian's grades were on the upswing and his mom enthusiastically shared this fact with anyone who would listen as Adrian stood by and proudly smiled. By the second Victor Cross race on Oct 18th, Adrian's mom could barely contain her excitement about Adrian's grades and his love of bike racing.

Gritty determination

Adrian's mom kept the momentum going by driving him to all three Rexburg races AND the Pocatello race where he competed against 10-14 year olds and held his own. He became part of our traveling cross posse and we madly rang cowbells while he raced and anytime he heard his name being yelled he would dig a little deeper. Greatness.

The best part: Report cards arrived just before the Pocatello race and Adrian is now doing very well in school. Great job Adrian and Mom!

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Your pain is not special"

This line will stick with me for quite a while. I don't know Sam Krieg very well yet but his energy is infectious and it is obvious that he loves all things cyclocross.

One of the best cycling Blog posts of the year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Cross Bike Tech

My close friends know that I can't jump into anything halfway and so during my first season of cross racing I have made it a point to learn about what pieces makes up a good cross bike.

In my mind, the three key pieces are crisp shifting, reliable braking, and the delicate balance between rolling resistance and traction.

For someone starting from scratch, the "Easy Button" is to purchase one of the of very nice complete cross bikes being offered by Jamis, Cannondale, or Kona. No worries about gearing or compatibility because it comes out of the box ready to rock. Done.

The Jamis Super Nova is a sweet bike

If you are like me, and already have some parts to contribute, you may want to buy a frame and build it up from scratch and this is when you will realize that there are not a ton of options for cross-specific cranksets outside of FSA.

Being a Campy fan, I decided to try and use a Campy Centaur Compact crankset thinking I could simply buy a set of 110 BCD (industry standard) Specialites TA chainrings in 36/46 gearing and be done with it.

Do NOT try to dremmel your new chain rings!

When my rings showed up I was surprised to see that the bolt holes didn't perfectly line up with my Campy CT crank arms. Fack! So out comes the dremmel tool and I proceed to ruin a perfectly good set of chain rings in an effort to go "custom". Evidently Campy decided to ignore the 110 BCD standard and 4 out of 5 holes on their CT cranks are at 110 BCD while the 5th hole is at 112/113. WTF!

Compact Crank Options
SRAM - 110 BCD
FSA - 110 BCD (available in 36/46)
Truvativ - 110 BCD
Shimano - 110 BCD
Campy - 110/112 BCD

I ended up pulling the Campy standard crank off of my road bike since 42T rings are easy to find in 135 BCD and now I am running the sinlge 42T ring with a light bashguard. Having recently ridden a bike with the SRAM Force shifter, I am glad that I stuck with Campy for its crisp, positive rear shifts.

Setting up cantilever brakes is part science and part voodoo. They never seem to be "perfect" and there is always some variable to address which bugs the shit out of me. Squeal, chatter, and clearance all seem to be moving targets.

TRP Eurox Mags, 103 Grams per wheel and dead sexy - $299

I opted for the economical and perfectly functional Tektro CR 720s. Although boring looking, I really can't say anything bad about them.

Tektro CR 720, 161 Grams per wheel and boring - $59

At least I got the tire & whhel thing right on the first try. My MC-built, Stans 355 wheelset, one scoop of Stans goo, and Hutchinson Tubeless Ready cross tires are also like the "Easy Button". I have been able to run low PSI and have had no flats. (knock on wood) Stan's Raven CX tires look promising too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Congratulations Amanda!

Amanda's biggest win as a PRO came this past weekend at the Iceman Cometh race in front of big crowds and her sponsors. As a friend AND a fan, I could not be happier for her.

Thumbs down to VeloNews for not mentioning the women's race at all in their Iceman coverage.

At least they published the Press Release.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Double-header weekend of cross

The CUBE Race #3 in Rexburg, ID was the final race in the series and the organizers put together their best course of the three in my opinion. More grass meant longer lap times and tire pressure was an important consideration. Fitzy, Jannine, Bergy, and I rolled into Rexburg plenty early and casually rode the course and chatted with some new faces from Boise who came for the weekend double as well. Although a bit chilly, the weather held and rain never fell during the race.

With the addition of the out-of-towners, the Men’s A field was the deepest yet and they separated our start from the Bs which definitely reduced the congestion at the start. I had a good, but not great, race and just couldn’t close on Bob Walker in the final two laps. I could always see him…just ahead…but he never faltered and I didn’t have anything extra to real him in.

Fitzy and Jannine rode solidly and claimed their respective overall series championships! Congrats! Despite racing only two out of three races, Bergy took 3rd overall in the series by winning the two races he entered. Bergy is quickly building an impressive cross resume.

The Victor crew was really excited about the King & Queen of Cross in Pocatello, ID for the opportunity to race on a new course against some new faces. Sam Krieg did not disappoint and put together a brutally hard, long, fair, and fun course. This was my favorite course of the year by far and my lap times were in the 11 minute range.

Being a “BIG” race, Fitzy and I signed up for the Men’s B race. The Men’s A and B groups started together but were scored separately in the end. I like having more folks on the starting line but when the “A” guys take off it definitely gives me that “I am SO off the back” feeling. I need to work on my cross starts for sure.

The feature that defined this course was a HUGE run-up (Fitzy appropriately named it the walkup). It was about 80 meters of very steep singletrack that left us non-runners totally blown once we reached the top. On lap two, I came into the run-up just behind another rider and actually made an adrenaline-fueled pass on the run-up but the effort left me so wrecked I was re-passed shortly after on the pavement. Doh! Most of my race was spent suffering alone as I was in between the lead pack and the slower group of B riders. I never once let off of the gas but I find it far easier to squeeze out that little extra when I am racing close to other riders. In the end, I placed third in the Men’s B race...once place behind my hero, Fitzy.

The Victor crew accumulated some impressive results in Pocatello:

Bergy – 3rd Men’s A
Trevor Garner – 5th Men’s A
Fitzy – 2nd Men’s B
Jannine – 2nd Women’s A

It was a great weekend of racing and traveling with friends! It would have been great to see more of our friends from Jackson race too.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Cross Stoke

Two days until the weekend double-header of local cross racing so let's keep the cross stoke going. This video is from a November 2nd Seattle Cross race where rain left the course saturated in places. Nice change-of-pace music too.

Fun at Donida Farm from Dessa on Vimeo.

Saturday is The CUBE Race #3 in Rexburg, ID and Sunday is The King & Queen of Cross in Pocatello, ID. I haven't done back to back cross races yet so it will be interesting to see how the legs feel.

It looks like the weather could get a little "crossy"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

42, Single, and Ready To Mingle

Tuesday is a little early to be talking trash before a big double-header race weekend...but Bergy & Fitzy should be a little scared right about now.

42 Teeth. So sexy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rexburg Cross Race #2

Seeing the Rexburg race promoters so excited about their own cross races and seeing the numbers increase from last week was very cool. This week, they pulled out the inflatable finish line arch, digital clock for the start/finish, and spiffed up their barriers with fresh paint. The cross stoke is alive in Rexburg, ID.

One of the things I love about cross is the mini-battle that can form within the race. My personal battle was with Jared who took 2nd place last week. My third row start position combined with him dropping a chain on the first barrier coincidentally had us locked in battle halfway through the first lap. I remebered how strong he was last week so I made it my mission to stay on his wheel for as long as I could. After a couple of laps of staying glued to his rear wheel I realized that I had a shot at taking him if I picked the right spot. With about 15 minutes to go, he bobbled a grassy corner and I attacked and got a gap. But Jared would not go away. Everytime the course doubled back on itself I could see him there, still coming at me. Meanwhile the fast guys were off the front doing their thing and I had no idea what place we were battleing for...and it didn't matter at all.

With two laps to go Jared found something extra and went by me on the pavement like I was on a tricycle. We came through the Start/Finish with 30 seconds on the clock which meant this was our last lap and he had 20 yards on me at the banner. Amanda was screaming "get on is wheel" and I knew that this is where I needed to be...but I was cross-eyed already.
When we hit the grassy section I pedaled hard through every corner and attacked the barrier. Suddenly I was on his wheel again and I had a plan.

I timed my attack on a sharp right-hand corner, got the inside line, and was able to execute the last barrier smoothly to hang onto my personal victory over Jared.

I congratulated him on a great race and we agreed that having someone to battle with brings out that "little extra" you wouldn't be able to summon on your own. Greatness.