Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The last one?

I have been treating every local singletrack ride as if it could be the last one of the season but today's ride may very well have been it.

The snow was just shallow enough to ride on regular tires

I am willing to get up early to catch the frozen trails before they turn to mud but when too much snow falls we are done. Three or four inches fell last night and more is in our forecast for tomorrow. It could melt off or it could continue snowing until March at this point and that makes today's ride worth it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Search of Frozen Mud

With fall waning, winter has pulled into the driveway and is unloading her luggage for a long, long stay here in Teton Valley, ID. There is a brief window for those of us not ready to give into this new season but it takes dedication. Temps are now consistently below freezing at night which means that for a short window in the morning, before the sun can affect the moisture-filled dirt, the trails will be frozen solid and the weight of our bodies won’t leave a trace. But if you sleep too late and miss the window, nasty ruts in the mud will reveal your laziness and will you will spend more time washing your bike than you did riding it.

Kenai wishes we had started an hour earlier

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lunch ride amongst the aspens

The aptly named Aspen Trail is tacky, golden leaf-covered goodness right now and is the perfect length for a lunchtime adventure.

JayP, wondering when we will get to the "fun" singletrack

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moose Cross from an organizer's view

Peeto is setting the bar high for race annoucing at Moose Cross

A good team is always stronger than its individual members and our Moose Cross team proved that again this year. I am proud to work with such a passionate and close-knit group to promote diverse cycling opportunities here in Victor. This was my second year as Co-Organizer and Course Director (fancy title for chief shovel guy, re-bar pounder, and course-marker) and this post is from my organizer’s view of the weekend.

A quick word on why we do it. Every cent of profit generated by our cyclocross races goes back into Victor Velo and specifically the Victor Bike Park. We try to make our races affordable and attractive for both locals and the traveling racers.

We didn’t penalize folks for registering the day-of so our pre-registration numbers were not that great. Therefore, we didn’t really know what to expect on race day. I got to venue early to setup the timing tent, the PA system, the generator, and finish a few course markings, and it was alarmingly quiet. But as our first race approached the parking lot swelled and most of the 107 adults who would race on Saturday were out and about. The grand stands were filling up, people were in lawn chairs on the grass section, and others positioned themselves on the infamous double-barrier to run-up section hoping to witness carnage. There were people everywhere and it was awesome!

The kid’s race was again a highlight of the day and this year we broke it out into two separate races. The first race, the Tiny Tots, was for the wee little ones on the strider bikes and training wheels. We set up a short grass course with two tiny logs for barriers and a “ride around” option. Every tot who raced got a bright yellow Moose Cross cowbell. The under 12 race was half a lap and was at least 30 strong. We had serious little cross racers as well as little ones on BMX bikes with full-face helmets. They all got cowbells too.

As racers began to pre-ride I overheard positive comments on our improved course and this made all of the hard work worth it. There were some excellent adult races and an especially strong women’s field comprised of Montana’s and Idaho’s heaviest cross hitters. The largest field of the day belonged to the Men’s 4/5 race where 32 men lined up and the race came down to a sprint for the top three. With half a lap to go it was anyone’s race and hearing our two MCs go nuts on the PA while the tactics unfolded really got the crowd into it. Pulling out the win was our own Gabe “Fiddee Cent” Klamer. Speaking of the PA system, we were able to raise our PRO level up a notch thanks to Andy Williams at Grand Targhee who loaned us their sweet Peavy Amp & speakers. We were rockin’.

Mike Piker navigates the "Grassy Knoll"

Once Saturday’s racing was over the fun was just beginning and we entered a new phase of the Moose Cross weekend. We quickly moved from the park to Pierre’s Playhouse, an old-time theatre in downtown Victor, for awards, pizza & beer, and video highlights from the day. Yeah, that’s right…video highlights from the day. We had a determined film crew of three volunteers scrambling around all day capturing video footage and madly editing to create an eight minute highlight video that had Pierre’s Playhouse cheering. Greatness. The top three racers in each category accepted their prizes on the stage, in front of the packed theatre, on our homemade podium of giant stumps. 35 pizzas and a keg of beer later, the evening was winding down and racers began to think about Sunday’s races.

Our own marquee welcome

Saturday's Elite Men's podium

Pierre's was built in the 1940s and was an original Paramount Theatre

Fitzy teammate, new dad, cross nutjob, and I/O Bio Merino Director of Marketing, Tim Kelley

Sunday’s racers numbers were down a bit from Saturday but a drastically different Day 2 course kept the racers from getting bored. We eliminated the far end of the Day 1 course and chose to weave the course through two ball fields closer to the Start/Finish line and this made for a spectator friendly course. It also resulted in a course that favored a powerful rider as the spongy grass was relentless on the legs.

Elite cross'r Sam Krieg, who is nursing a hurt shoulder, decided to give it a go on Sunday and unleashed his fury on the Men’s 1/2/3 field and took the win. Sam always brings great energy to an event and his compliments were greatly appreciated. Heal up fast Sam!

Sunday night, while details were still fresh in my head, I created a Google Doc for Moose Cross Post-Race Notes and jotted down improvements/ideas for next year. I had moments before the race where I swore I would never put on another race but once it all comes together it is magic and I love the feeling of giving back to cycling.

I think we lost some spectators to the Church on Sunday, but the stoke level was still high

A sincere thanks to everyone who supported Moose Cross this year!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When in doubt, call Phil

The Phil Wood square taper bottom bracket

My Campy bottom bracket recently developed a "crunch" and since it resides in my cross bike these days I needed to address it with a replacement that could handle the mud and repeated power-washings. The same Phil Wood square taper bottom bracket currently in my FatBack is over 4 years old, is on its second snow bike bike, and is still as smooth as day 1. Oh yeah, and the Phil Wood bottom bracket cups allow you to adjust your chainline by 5mm to either side which is perfect for a single-ring cross setup.

When my new Phil arrived yesterday and I lifted the shiny nugget from its closed cell foam cocoon I was reminded of Phil's slogan: Build it strong. Keep it simple. Make it work.

Why did we move away from square taper bottom brackets?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moose Cross in 4 days!

Our small crew of volunteers is a little stressed, a little grumpy, and spread very thin these days but none of that will matter in 4 days because Moose Cross is coming and you cannot stop it. And when that first race goes off on Sat, and the cowbells are ringing, and the burn barrel is burning, and Peto & TK are going wild on the mic calling the race, it will all be worth it.

At times I think we have bitten off more than we should have by trying to grow Moose Cross from simply a "race" to a "cyclocross festival" but I know our crew will rally, and do whatever it takes to pull it off. I can't wait to raise a glass and toast my friends for putting on an awesome event!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our Field of Dreams

We, the Victor Velo crew, have the same attitude that Ray Kinsella had in a Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come. We didn't have to order custom printed course tape, or rent a backhoe to make the lanes wider and cleaner, or hand paint the barriers, or have the bleachers moved to start/finish area, or even borrow a professional PA system. But we believe in doing things one way: PRO.

Suffering up the PRO-style run-up

A quick scan of various results from the weekend tells me that cross is growing in popularity:

1400 (not a type-o) raced the Cross Crusade in Portland

Utah Cyclocross Race #1 was a big success

And then there was a little race in Gloucester, MA.

Cross racing in Teton Valley is a no brainer. Our weather typically turns to crap around the first of October anyway so why not transition to a sport that embraces the rain and snow the way a Belgian cross fan embraces beer and frites?

We hope to see more cross converts out on the course in the coming weeks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Random Post-Cross Race Ramblings

1) Training with a little "specificity" might be a good idea if I want to stay with the Masters in future races

2) Mad Alchemy Uber Secret Formula Embrocation rocks

3) The long-sleeve skinsuit does NOT have super powers as I had hoped

4) I can't blame the bike: Bergy broke his shift lever minutes before the Men's 1/2/3 race so he borrowed my bike and won!

5) I wish I knew how to get more of our local cyclists stoked on cyclocross. 32 adults raced...it should have been at least 50! Scratching my head over this one.