Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Green Mountain Sports 'Cross

The cyclocross season is winding down. Last Sunday it was back to Golden for the final race in the Green Mountain Sports series. It was at the same location as my first race of the season where I decided to really take it easy. This time I wanted to go full gas.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why go to the Grand Canyon

I just read this in a blog post about some people who ran a double crossing of the Grand Canyon in one day (South Rim to North Rim and back to the South Rim again):

View along Eminence Break hike.

I don’t want to go around telling anybody how to live their lives; heck, I usually don’t know what’s coming next in my own.

If you haven’t.
Go to the Grand Canyon.

Writing the reasons to see it are like trying to capture the canyon in a photo.
Go and you’ll understand.

That sums it better than I ever could.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I flew down to visit Christine at the "winter home" in Austin for the first time since spring. I've decided that I can't travel to Texas June-August, or else I'll melt. The trip turned into a good excuse for us to eat and drink our way around town and we started Thursday night with some wine and junk food (high class funnel cake and bread pudding) at Max's Wine Dive.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alpha Cross

Another weekend, another race. Today's special: Alpha Cross in Brighton.

My legs were missing some snap today. Don't know why, they were just kind of dead. I had to hope to outlast people instead of attacking them. My second row call-up was quickly killed when there was a lot of pushing and shoving at the start. I was a little bit unprepared to deal with it, but this was more than the usual elbow and shoulder bumping. This was "I'm going to put my skewer in you spokes" kind of action. After nearly going down on the gravely start, I ended up near the back of the group. Ugh. Lot of spots to make up throughout the race.

The course was not exactly my favorite. With the exception of one bumpy grass section, the entire course was on dirt. It seemed like more of a short track MTB course than a cross course. Not only was there a lot of dirt, but it was rutted up, construction traffic tread bumpy. Adding to the fun were several switchbacks. It was like they needed to add time to the course so they just kept adding switchbacks. I don't have a problem with switchbacks as a technical element, but 10 (there were at least that many) is a bit much.

It seemed like there were always people around me, which is nice. It's way more fun that way, rather than racing alone. On the last lap there were a couple people in front of me and a charging pack behind me. One of the riders in front of me took a water bottle in an unusual spot and it was easy to cruise around him. I managed to hold of the rest and finish 14th.

Not my best performance, but Christine put it all in perspective for me. She reminded me that I used to be happy with top 20. So yeah, 14th out of 50 is decent. I can deal with that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blue Sky Velo Cup

Yesterday my team put on a huge race, and it went off in a major way. Our race, the Blue Sky Velo Cup, was part of the North American Cyclocross Trophy series, and a UCI C2 categorized race. (The UCI is the international cycling organization.) What all that means is that this race would have the eye of the national and international cycling world and we'd play host to some of the best cyclocross racers in the country.

In the end, everything went amazingly well. The UCI official on site was shocked that this was our first UCI race. The lion's share of credit for the quality of the race goes to our race director, Bill Teasdale. Throughout the year, he has put in a ton of time getting all our ducks in a row and dealing with the UCI, USA Cycling, and ACA to make sure our race was a professional quality event. A lot of thanks also goes to the volunteers. We had an army of people setting up, tearing down, marshalling, registering racers, and more.

In week leading up to the race, Colorado saw some record snowfall. I wasn't sure what to expect of the course Friday when I prerode it. I was surprised to see that the course was mostly free of snow. They didn't get as much snow there, plus our setup crew did a good job of clearing snow in a lot of areas. With the sun out and the snow melting, there was a lot of mud. Sticky Colorado mud. It was clearly going to be a fun course.

After my win last weekend, I got a sweet front row call-up and I was hoping to perform well at our home race. My legs were a little tired from pre-riding the day before. I guess I worked harder than I meant. I went hard up the long uphill starting straight and went into the first corner in the top 5.

The cold overnight temperatures froze the all the muddy ruts from Friday's preriders, and that made for some tricky racing. I hit one section of ruts that bounced me around so hard that both of my feet popped out of the pedals. As the race went on, though, the course warmed up and there was a tricky mix of frozen ruts and mud. Every lap brought new conditions and challenges.

By the second lap, there was a group of 4 of us off the front. I drifted on and off the back of this group, but felt pretty comfortable for the most part. With a long climb to the finish line, I knew I had an advantage over most people. With 1.5 laps to go, tragedy struck.

I was running my tubeless tires and I burped some air out of my front. I rode gingerly for a little while, but then it was just futile and I had to run. I picked up a wheel a little while later and got back into race mode. I didn't know how many places I had lost, but I figured I'd at least try to finish strong.

I gave it my all for that last lap as I saw someone closing in on me. Every corner I'd check my progress and I was happy to see I was keeping my distance. Through all the mud and slop, I was trying to be careful while still riding fast. When all the mud wrestling was done, I finished in 8th place.

It's a little frustrating, because I just knew I could have gotten on the podium. But at the same time, it gave the feedback about my form that I was looking for. Was I just lucky in winning last weekend? I guess not entirely. I actually *am* in good shape right now. Now, I wonder if I should upgrade to the next category and get my ass handed to me all over again.

2009-10-31 09-16-30_0015 (by ryan_l)