Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Sandi & I tried to squeeze a few days of vacation in on this trip, by enjoying what Quebec (the city) and surrounding area had to offer. Coffee suprisingly was not as 'advanced' as what most of us are use to, like there were no Starbucks, nor other coffee shops as we know it. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The first place we found in Quebec was a great bakery, Pliards, offering traditional French baked goods along w/ some hearty multi-grain breads and other treats. They had a sweet 3-group La Marzocco from which to crank out coffees, although in this case, as with many others they imported a cheap 'Italian' coffee. Although Paliards espresso was fairly good and by the third morning we had the staff trained on how to make Americanos. They had these beautiful long, heavy wood tables that provided a sense of community with others who were starting the day off as well.

We tried a few restaurants while we were there, most seemed to cater to tourists, and were overpriced. The food was mediocre, but had some great outside seating. One reastuarnt stuck out, Piazza, a trendy newage cusine mixing Italian, Indian, Mexican and other ethnic dishes into orginal meals, it was very good. I had a Greek Vegitarian Pizza that was so good and Sandi had Thai Cannoli, also awesome. After most of our dinners we cruised the streets, and it was worth it since it was Quebecs National Holiday, and there was lots to see. We happened upon a rave in the town square, where a DJ was laying some great pulsing tracks, onlu if we weren't there to race... We found a great little contemporary hotel that had a sweet coffee bar lounge, where we chilled over what they called the "Monster, a massive brownie stuffed w/ coconuts, pestacios, and other great nuts and flavors, along with some espressos.

Quebec itself is doen up as it was back in the late 1700's, with a lot of original stone buildings, historical locations and museums. It was interesting to learn about the history of this area and the struggle bewtween the English and French to rule it. Also the Americans tried their hand at trying to gain control, but failed. It really felt like Europe in sections, and Sandi & I even broke out what little French we knew. Sandi had a lot more to offer, but I took my stab at ordering and small conversations.

We spent a day checking out the countryside, to include a marine conservation area, some vineyards and the 'highlands' surrounding Mount Sainte Anne. Road biking was a big hit up there, and could see that nordic skiing was also popular with the abundence of nordic trail signs and a few roller skier sightings.

I went to the managers meeting to get my feedzone pass for Sandi's race, and to get any vital information concerning her race. I ran into an old friend, Mike Kluge, from German who used to own Focus bikes. He was traveling with his girlfriend and cyclocross World Champion, Hanka Kupferknagle. I met Mike back when I was doing marketing for Fox Apparel, and I sponsored him and Ralf Berner. It was great to catch up with Mike, he is really a funny guy, and has some great stories. We also caught up with Sabine Spitz and her husband Ralf. And visited with a lot of other peole up there as well. It really is a great community, the mountain bike scene, and we had a great time up in Quebec as well. Recharged, we are glad to be back home, but look forward to seeing everyone again, someday.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Race Report: Velirium Quebec Cup

Sandi & I made the trip up north of the boarder for the Velirium Bike Festival and UCI World Cup at Mount Saint Anne over the past weekend. Having heard that this is a technical course, my expectations were high. When we arrived, it was just finishing up w/ a good rain, and we were about to find out how wet things were w/ a pre-ride around the course on Thursday. It was greasy right from the start, as we made our way around, but I found my groove right away and was cleaning all of the super technical descents and climbs. The track had no substantial climbs in it, they all were short and steep. A top the 'Marmot Switchbacks' we hit was best equated to soupy-peanutbutter mud, I mean thick and heavy. With the bikes on the shoulders, we ran that section to the next down hill, which started off with some gravel, but quickly detoriated back in to the thick heavy mud through some steep twisting, switchback that dropped out onto a bridge and back to the base area. The next climb was fortunately on a gravel/ rock double-track up, that occasionally had a stream on it. Then it was back into the woods for some more twisting, slick singletrack. All in all, the course was nearly 5km, had lots of roots and rocks, and was right up my alley being very technical.

The next morning as we showed up for my race, we learned it had rained hard the night before, which was music to my ears. I wasn't just looking forward to racing, I was looking forward to riding this sick course. Dusty Labarr was there, but otped out of running his single speed. While this race is listed on the Master World Cup, it is actually part of the Quebec Cup, so the top 10 got call ups, and then the rest of us filed in to the start. I lined up behind the points leader Elvis riding for Xpreso. From the start, the pace was fast, and to thin things out we bypassed the first technical section and went straight up the Marmot climb. I was in the lead briefly before Elvis took over. I saw Dusty a little ways back, but looking good inside the top 10. It near the top we grabbed some frametubes, dashing through the ankle to shin deep mud to the next downhill before remounting. Then we hit the fun stuff. With mud flying everywhere, nearly thirty or so of us Masters went plowing down the descent. It was all you could do to stay up right. Then it was out over the bridge and down around onto the 'longest' climb of the day. By now I was thrid, still in contact with the leader. Back around through the rest of the course, we came through the start finish, and out for our 2nd of 5 laps. This time we hit the other super rocky-technical section, enjoying the course in all of its flavors. Then on the second time up the Marmot climb, Elvis went off the front. Running a 34x18, it was all I could do on the climbs to keep the cranks turning, and eventually opted to run this climb the rest of the race. Now in 5th, I watched Elvis disappear.

The top 5 changed positions all the time, and then on the third lap, I though we had caught and passed Elvis, with three of us going off the front. Two of us lifted the pace through km4 in the tight woods, dropping the other rider, and it was down to 2 Stephan and I. Stephan then pulled away through the start area, and I could not go with, and he stayed out until about midway into the final lap, where I rolled back up to him on the longest climb, and jumped past him. I hammered out the climb, putting some big distance between us. Pushing hard, I came rolling around the final bend into the finish chute, and started to celebrate what I thought was a win. It was awesome, such a great feeling to have endured a great battle with some great riders, on a great course. But as I cooled down and spoke with other riders, I learned we do not catch Elvis, he finished just a minute up from me, it was a teammate of his the we had passed. Still I was estactic with my performance and still enjoyed very much my result.

My IF single speed drew a lot of attention as people hovered around it in the finish area, being that I was the only one on one. Riders asked lots of questions and were checking it out very intensely. It worked awesome in the race, the brakes were always there even in the thick heavy mud, the ride was smooth thanks to my ti frame and FOX 80x fork, and my new Prototype Piranhas were hooking up awesomely.

Big thanks to Sandi for the feed and all of my sponsors for the support!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NMBS#3, Mt. Snow

Checked out the single speed class out @ the VT NORBA National, here is how it shook down:

5 SIMOES, PAUL, 2:14:54.64

Dejay Birtch was a DNF, wonder what happened to him. It looked like it was an awesome course. Good to see 2nd & 3rd were on IF's, props to Thom for representing the factory team. Dusty (now lives in Boulder w/ Georgia Gould) and Kris Lathrop both made the journey out there from Colorado, nice. Dusty should be making it to Canada, hope to see him on his single for the Masters race.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Tour de France avec Lance

The Tour is quickly approaching, and while the odds makers are picking their favorites, here is my $.02 on how the Tour will shake down. Basso will dominate, not because of his performance in the Giro, but rather he has been groomed for years for this moment in time, which was also why he walked away last month w/ his first grand tour. Bjarne Rijs is a mastermind leader, which is how he won his tour ten years ago, and how Jan Ullrich won his. CSC is so strong, the others will be left in awe.

Jan will be either second or third, but I don't like to sit on the fence, so he will finish 2nd. His demons continue to haunt him, he does not have the deep down burning in the gut desire to win, nor does he have the resources at hand. He is still one of the best riders in the world, but will go down in history with the likes of Fignon as a man who 'lost' the tour.

Cadel Evans will eclipse Michael Rassmussem as the highest ranked former mountain biker in the field. Strong climbing and TT skills will see this Aussie land on the podium.

George Hincapie back from injury will be the spoiler for many in this year's tour, look for him to grab a stage win, be the best American, and be the new leader of Discovery. 4th for Georgie.

5th will go to Leipheimer, as Levi continues to be a threat, but not quite there for a grand tour win. Levi is a great week long stage race, but usually has a bad day in a 3 week event.

Valverde will land himself a 6th place if he can stay in the race.

Mayo will climb his way back into the top 10 w/ a 7th.

Rassmussen will be 8th, poor TT's will hurt his chances for a better finish.

Popovich will begin to realize his potential with a 9th.

Rounding out the top ten will be Zabriske.

Landis will not finish the Tour, his over-preparation and trying to dismantle the unstopable Basso will eliminate him from the running, making an embarrassing departure remminisant of Hamilton's departure in his last tour.

There you have my Tour predictions, enjoy and Viva la Tour!

Race Report: Winter Park Series #1 & #2

Winter Park has had one of my favorite course for years, Mountain Circuit One, that for the past four or five years has been held on the Idlewald ski hill in WP. It was a true euro-style course full of mud, roots & rocks, very technical. But evidently too much so as according to the website, "due to feeddback from riders surveys...moving to a less difficult circuit."

Sandi & I still gladly made the three-and-some hour drive to Winter Park, knowing ther riding there never disappoints. Having raced on Thursday in our town series, I opted to keep my wallet a little plumper and not do the hillclimb while Sandi would go for the weekend double doing the hillclimb on staurday and the Mountain Circuit One (new and improved) on sunday. After getting Sandi sent off on her way with a good sized womens pro field, my task was to recon the new course.

It turned out to be an old course from way back when, featuring to fast singletrack downhills on Lower Cherokee and Little Vasquez trails, both with fast bermed turns, lots of rock and water bars. Little Vasquez even had a stream crossing at the bottom. There were two fire road climbs, and lots of short steep climbs, and undualting track double track strewn with rocks and roots around the rest of the 6 mile circuit. We would be doing 3 1/2 laps for a total of 22 miles and 1400' of climbing per lap. During my recon, I started to have stomach pains, at first I thought my gut was disagreeing with my energy drink, but that would not be the case.

Sandi & I met back at the car, she of course was rightfully stoked on her 2nd place ride right behind Anne Trombly. Back at the hotel room my condition worseoned. By now it felt like someone had stabbed me in the gut, and was twisting the knife around inside. After a quick trip to Safeway, I ended up skipping dinner, and drank half a bottle of pepto. was in the midst of a relapse from my spring bought with Hepatitis A.

The next morning, alothough the pain was gone, I had flu like symptoms, that included some wicked muscle pains and chilled feeling. I was not going to race. After checking in at reg w/ Sandi, and seeing some friends who were racing, my anger and disappointment ook over, and found myself suiting up to race. During my warmup, I felt like crap, pondering if this was a good descision w/ the Canada World Cup coming up in less than a week. Colin pumped me up at the starting line, and with in a minute or two, found myself chasing the first attack up the first climb.

The two of us were just off the front as we hit the first downhill, then I felt a splash of water on my leg, on a very dry descent, my waterbottle had taken flight. I heard "your going to need that." as I ran back up the hill to retrieve my bottle, coughing up at least :45 to the field. Back on the bike, I reintregrated the field about mid-pack, and was hungup behind to slow descending expert riders, who I quickly disposed of on the next climb. It took me to the half-way point in the first lap before I had the lead again, and just put my head down to ride through my rusty body pains.

I knew where I was all of the time in the race, but at the same did not. Just riding, my focus was getting through my aches, and trying to enjoy the race course, a mix that proved to work as I crossed the line over 5 mins ahead of 2nd. Sandi would also have a stellar day, having a good race as the 2nd place girl pushed her the whole time, but never quite got close enough to Sandi to stop her her from taking her second win on the season. Sandi was beeming over her new steel IF, FOX 80x, how well her XTR was working and her new Hutchinson tires. She loves the bike.

Absent from this race were John "Rocco" Caligno and Tim Faia. I have not seen Rocco all season which is unusual since he is a regular on the MTB scene, and Tim was to have built up a new single speed, I have been looking forward to seeing him out at one of these races.

We leave on wednesday for Mount Sainte Anne, and I will be racing in the Masters World Cup on Friday, with Sandi starting the Womens World Cup on Sunday. Maybe will will get in the Euro-style racing yet...

Enjoy the Ride!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Race Report: Catching up

Here is a summary of my past few weeks of racing. 2 weeks ago went to the Teva Games, and things did not go so well for me there. Dry, dusty conditions coupled w/ heat, caused my asthma to flair up, and I dropped out on the first of four laps. It is frustrating since I was climbing strong, and had already pinned back many of the pro riders that over a minute headstart on our field, and was leading most of the way. But I have learned it best to stop in the scenarios, allowing myself a chance to recover for the next race, than push and do some damage to the lungs and be out for a long time.

For the same reasons at Nathrop, extreme heat and dryness, I did not take to the start, instead I fed Sandi and Colin ( during their races. It was a good fight for both, Sandi riding most of the time near the lead, looked strong, but the heat took its tool on her too, causing her to fade bad on the last half of a lap. Colin looked strong as well, riding in the lead for a bit, and eventually keeping Charlie Hayes in his sights for a great second place.

I have did a group roadride on my single ‘cross bike (44x16) which was freakin great! I was able to hang quite well in the group, coming back down HWY114, I was rapping it out around 140rpm’s occasionally, sticking close on the wheel of whomever was is front of me. As the pace lifted w/ 6 miles to go from home, I knew I would be out geared in a sprint for the town line, so I animated an attack on the first of two small rises, hoping someone would go w/. Trek rep Lester, jumped on my wheel, and we opened a nice gap that looked like it might work, but I pulled through too quick on the flats, pushing me into the red, and was unable to grab his wheel again. The group caught us, and spat us out. With Lester dangling just 50m up the road in front of me, that was all the motivation I needed to reel him back in. half-a-mile from town, I nailed him back, caught my breath and launched away from him to pick up and scraps of pride at the town line the front three might have left for us, there were still plenty of riders straggling in behind us.

Last night, I was able to jump out of my Cravens Coffee car, into some spandex, and ride out to Hartmans for the spring series. A TT was in order on some great Gunnison trails. Starting :30 sec behind Dave Weins, I had my work cut out. Off the line I felt pretty good considering the number of hours I had driven that day, and how many coffees I had during my barista training I had given after installing a sweet new Franke Evolution. Clarks in Aspen is steeping up with an espresso bar in their deli, and are using Dagoba Chocolate, Horizon milk and Silk soy, very nice program! Back at the race, I was holding Dave to a steady :30, not gaining or losing, but we both were gaining on the first two riders out of the chute, Jeff Irwin and Ben Preston. We hit a fast twisting singletrack, were it all came unraveled for me. Dumping my bike after washing out through a sandy corner, I was all sketched out after that, dabbing a few times along the way back to the finish. 33 min later I crossed the line, good enough for a 5th place. It was an OK showing for me, I had more, but kept it respectable considering my troubles.