Friday, October 27, 2006

Cross @ Liberty Park, Snow & Eye Candy

Getting back into the groove, knowing a I lost a little fitness, I still have the burn in my gut to race, and feel great on the bike. The bean trade took me to SLC for an install and some market research. A quick visit w/ Jonathan Geran @ Reynolds, I saw first hand their world class operations. Jonathan's cubical was easy to spot with his beautiful Ti IF hardtail perched atop the temporary wall structure. He showed me around their plant, and saw first hand how they produce some of most desired bike products in the world - not too mention the life-saving HANS device used in auto racing to keep drivers heads from getting ripped off during frontal impacts. He said the some of the drag racers have full back HANS devices, 0 - 300 mph in a quarter mile? My thin frame would need a full body device!

After installing some coffee equipment, and testing it out, I was juiced up for a good work out. I found a sweet park - Liberty Park right in SLC for a 'cross work out. Keeping with the race car theme, the outer buttery smooth concrete ring was about 3/8 of a mile, and resembled that of the Indy Speedway. Along side was a woodchip running path, that meandered in and out of the large trees abound, along with a single track. In the middle of the park was a pond, some great features like rolling hilles, steep hills, off camber stuff, twisting and turning paths and lots of trees. Put together, I had to 2 min interval sections on either end of the park with recoevery taking place on the concrete path. People in the park must have thought I was nuts running up and down, charging around the trees, and down the woodchip paths and single tracks. It was a blast.

Afterwards some coffee training and more coffee beverage consumption.

Traveling this week was not easy here in the high country, with foul weather in the form of snow. From what I hear, Lily Lakes up on Kebler is in great shape, and the central and frontrange mountain sound like they were hit with even more snow. I had our new Pilot classic bindings mounted up today.

Back to Reynolds and Carbon MTB wheels. Besides Reynolds (who is the only one to offer both clincher and tubular carbon rims), other carbon wheel choices for mtb are Tufo, Quasar for tubulars, while Bontrager and Cane Creek (which is actually a carbon over alu rim) for clinchers. The later two are actually slightly heavier than a conventional alu rim, so I will not address those options. In the world of tubulars, only Tufo to date offers a true tubular tire, the CX-1. But, if you can afford it, and want the best, check out Dugast. While they do not offer a tread yet, they can lay up your favorite pattern on either their MTB Cotton or MTB Cotton SP (special protection - for extra puncture resistance).

$120 dollars will get you a beautiful set of these handmade A. Dugast tires. But why? Why would you want to run a system like this? For Euro-style World Cup racing, or lighter / smaller riders why not! I mean you get a very supple, low-rolling resistant tire that even if you do in the off chance flat, can ride back around to tech support and swap out. Not too mention the rolling advantages of the light weight carbon wheels, that provide a great ride quality, precise steering and suck up a lot of the features on the trail. Girls, World Cup-wanna bees, listen up, this is your new wheels set and tire system. Hold on to your traditonal wheels for training and forays into the backcountry, but load up your wheel bags with a set of these for the next time you do battle on an XC course.

Or, choose the Reynolds Carbon Clinchers, and set them up ala Stans Tubeless, for an albeit slightly heavier, but more durable set up for those heavy duty courses, or if you can't quite the bullet on tubulars. Disc brakes, carbon and tire technologies and aligned the stars and planets for these to be the ultimate in XC set ups. Are Ferrari's practical? Hell no. But try to keep up with one in you Jetta or Subi - Good luck! On your left!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Two Weeks Too Long

The past two weeks have been way too long, 4 days with no exercise, and only 4 days of riding. Damn! I am hoping I can find the form prior to this unscheduled break in my 'cross season, anyone have a magic bullet? We attended a funeral for my uncle back in Iowa, and then work had me traveling to Spokane, so no bikes. I rode over the weekend here in Gunnison to try and open my legs, knowing I was missing out on one of my favorite races, Interlocken on sunday, but with the way I felt, all the better I was not there getting my ass handed to me. Two weeks until the USGP's and then the rest of the 'cross season for me, looking forward to it. By the way, people are nordic skiing up here...

Monday, October 09, 2006

2006 Gunni-Cross

The past weekend saw nearly a hundred riders converge on the Western State College of Colorado campus in Gunnison over Saturday and Sunday, for the seventh annual Gunni-Cross, part of the ACA Cyclocross points Series. The Western State campus provided the picturesque backdrop, for these two beautiful, but painful bike races. Day one was spent directly on campus, utilizing many of the natural features and landscaping to make up a fast, twisting and turning course. Lap times for most classes were in the 4:30 to 5 min times, but the pro men tossed a few sub 4:20 laps in.

Winning the always competitive Masters 35+ category was Tim Faia of Breckenridge, Colorado on board his IF over former National Champ Karl Kiester. Both rode a steady pace together, sharing the work at the front, then with two laps to go, Faia made a move on Kiester on the tight techinical section on the backside of the course, putting a few seconds between the two leaders. Kiester was not able to close down the gap, leaving Faia alone for the win. The singlespeeds was won by Gunni-Cross Organizer and Promoter, Ken Bloomer, riding for IF, while wife and teammate Sandi Bloomer took a close second in the Pro Womens race to Stef Ward. Both Bloomer and Ward hit the dirt once, with Sandi sliding out around the fast sweeping bend after the start/ finish, and Ward dumping it around the hairpin on the backside of the course. Ward eventually was
able to gap Bloomer, and hold a steady 15 sec lead over the closing laps for the win.

Defending GCX champion, Alan Obye, fomer U23 National Champion, came back up to Gunnison from Colorado Springs to defend his title against Mike Hall, both of whom threw down some seriously fast lap times. Obye opened it up with four to go, for which Hall had no response. Obye not only claimed the win, but to the 'Holeshot Award' for leading the opening lap.
At the end of the races on Saturday, Ken Bloomer presented WSC President Jay Helman and Wells Fargo bank President, Sandy Curtis, each with a golden cowbell for their long standing support of this event.

"We are very fortunate to have the support of both of these two (Western State College and Wells Fargo) organizations, who have been there since the inception of this event," Ken said during the presentation, "Western State has been very generous with letting us use their great facilities to construct the very best cyclo-cross venues in Colorado, and Wells Fargo has stepped up every year with financial backing to ensure that this events continues and grows."

The skies opened up overnight, and Sunday's race would be held on the soggy and slick Western State athletic fields. Durning warm-up, it became clear the riders who could survive the trechorous downhill hill on the sledding hill, would most likely win the races. This was most apparent in the both the Masters 35+ and Women's Pro races were Tim Faia and Sandi
Bloomer, both riding for IF only went down once during their respective races while their competitors had a bit more difficulty. In the Masters 35+ second place finisher Karl Keister went down 3 consecutive laps on the steep up - down features of the course, allowing Faia to open a :15 second gap that would hold to the finish. While Bloomer went down on the first lap to avoid an already fallen and sliding Stef Ward. Ward would go down again in the same spot on lap two, allowing Bloomer to build an unsurmountable gap of around :30 seconds that would build to over a minute by the finish and to cruise home in first. Both ladies laughed about the conditions and said they had a great time on the challenging course.

Sunday would be a repeat of Alan Obye and Mike Hall giving a 'cross clinic, turning the fastest laps of the day, and lapping the rest of the field in the Pro Men's event. Obye once again won by turning on the gas about three-quarters of the way through, with Hall rolling through in second.

Riders were estactic at the quality of the venues that Gunni-Cross offer up, claiming these are not only the best venues in Colorado, but that of National and National Championship level courses. The Crested Butte - Gunnison Junior Nordic Team gave away a pair of Salomon Carbon Skate skis and provided a lot of volunteer hours make Gunni-Cross happen, raising a
couple of hundred dollars for their program in the process. 2007 dates are already set for October 13 & 14, and organizers are looking into possible National & World Cup point options.

Saturday - GCX WSC Campus Tour
1st Brook Watts - Spike
2nd Jim Everett - Simple Green
3rd Brett Wave - Simple Green

SM 55
1st Al Marvin - Poison Spider
2nd Eric Nordenson

SM 35+ Cat 4
1st Torrey Carroll
2nd Reid Ackerman - Cody racing

1st Darren Cheek - Racers Edge
2nd Adam Rachubinski - Bicycle Peddler
3rd Jamie Ryan-White - KHS

1st Ward Baker - Rocky Mounts - Izze
2nd Jared Roy - Vitamin Cottage
3rd Travis Lukens - Red Rocks Velo

Single Speed
1st Ken Bloomer - Independent Fabrications
2nd Colin McKeirnan - Organic Athlete

SW 35+
1st Kayla Thomason - Schwab Cycles
2nd Sheila Senft - Colovita

SW Pro
1st Stephanie Ward
2nd Sandi Bloomer - Independent Fabrication
3rd Emilie Pavolovich

Masters 35+
1st Tim Faia - Independent Fabrication
2nd Karl Kiester - Spike
3rd Bryan Miller

SM Pro
1st Alan Obye
2nd Mike Hall - SRM
3rd Cory Carlson - Rocky Mountain

Sunday - GCX WSC Athletic Fields
SM 35+ Cat 4
1st Reid Ackerman - Cody racing

1st Darren Cheek - Racers Edge
2nd Jamie Ryan-White - KHS
3rd Michael Tobiassen

1st Travis Lukens - Red Rocks Velo
2nd Garrison Schulte
3rd Jake Lueckel - Bianche

Single Speed
1st Charlie Hayes Harshman Wealth/ Primus Mootry
2nd Colin McKeirnan - Organic Athlete

SW 35+
1st Alisabeth Thurston-Hicks
2nd Kayla Thomason - Schwab Cycles

SW Pro
1st Sandi Bloomer - Independent Fabrication
2nd Stephanie Ward
3rd Sandra Korr

Masters 35+
1st Tim Faia - Independent Fabrication
2nd Karl Kiester - Spike
3rd Bryan Miller

SM Pro
1st Alan Obye
2nd Mike Hall - SRM
3rd Hawke Morgan

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Pure Sweet Hell"

"Pleasure and pain, glory and defeat, mud and…more mud,
PURESWEETHELL tells the story of cyclocross, a sport
that has emerged as bike racing’s punk rock cousin.

Told from an insider’s perspective, the filmmakers traveled to
‘cross competitions throughout north America, dug up
vintage photos and film footage, and followed ‘cross luminaries
Justin Robinson, Gina Hall, Barry Wicks and Rick Hunter.

Shot entirely on Super 8 and supported by experimental
rock music, PURESWEETHELL surfaces both the strong
community behind the solitary sport and the grace that
arises amidst all of its grit."

I remember my dad taking me to some obscure bike races when I was young, very young, so all I have are these blurred snapshots in my memories of these events. Some of are sunny warm days in the park for road criteriums, but the ones that stir up strong emotions and desire to ride a bike are those of a muddy cold day in a small park in Burlington, Iowa. It was a 'cross race held on a moist, cold mid-west fall day, and all I rember was some riders dressed in black and white team kits, churning through the mud, and the awe of the people watching, my father included, of the effort and suffering going on.

It would be many years for me to find my way back to cyclo-cross, but since my own personal discovery of the sport, I am forever hooked. "Pure Sweet Hell" not only chronicles the current and past heros of the sport, and the sport itself, but does justice to why those who have choosen to part take in this sport, do so. The pure pain, agnoy and suffering of the sport, is the sport, and what makes us want more. Masochastic as it may be, there is an inner peace that lies within that suffering.

Not too mention the social aspect and the beautiful bikes, Mike Ferrentino says it best, "It's the most beautiful form of bike racing, far and away."

PSH is well put together, and the editing and soundtrack bring out much of what I love of cyclo-cross. It is the soundtrack for the sport. If you have not seen it, do. It is timeless, and will be one of those videos you pull out time and time again, each time as good as the last.

Brian Vernor has kindly hooked us up with a few copies which we are giving away at this weekends Gunni-cross, along with some other great prizes. The forecast is cyclo-cross weather - rainy saturday in the 50's, and sunny sunday in the 60's.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

'Cross Report: Boulder CX #1

Abandoning our cool confines of Gunni, Sandi & I ventured out to Boulder late Friday evening to take part inour first 'cross races on the season. By the time we arrived in Boulder, it was 60F @ 10pm, our daytime high was just around there. After a good nights rest, we awoke to a bluebird Colorado day, and made our way out to the CU Research Center, for round one of the Boulder CX Series, also part of the ACA point series.

The 'cross sceene is so nice in many ways, swett bikes, nice people, and races contained in a small area brimming with excitement. We have a family of sorts w/ those people we meet week in and week out during the cross season, and it was like a family reunion this past weekend. We met a long lost relative for the first time, Daisuke Yano from Japan, who had made the trip over for Interbike and to 'work' in the Boulder office of Cateye for a couple of days. Rocco was kind enough to lend out his cross rig for Daisuke to jump on in the Cat3's.

First up was Tim Faia, another IF brother who nailed the 35+ class by beating out the always up front Karl Kiester. I haven't seen the offical results, but it looked like an epic due to the size of the field - BIG! I was going to do that class, but opted for the Single Speed, figuring they are giving us a class, and I should support that. But as it turns out I was the only one, and the officials let me start with the Cat3's, but at the back.

Guessing there were 50 - 60 riders, I had some work to do. I saw Daisuke on the first lap, along with Brett Batchelder, who is picking his new IF up next week, and just put the gas to floor to work my way through the field. By lap three, there were approx. 20 - 30 riders still out front, and I kept my head down, passing riders each lap. Wtih two to go, I finally figured out that I was sitting in 4th place, and was trying to close down the gap to the leaders. While I came close to pinning thrid back, Iwas amped on my ride. Even while in the red the whole way, I never let up, and felt good with my result, afterall I won the single speed class...

Daisuke did not fair as well, altitude, Interbike and the heat kept him from riding up front, but it seems he still had fun with it. Sandi also did not fai so well in the womens race, stacking it hard while chasing in third, she messed up her bike and her spare was not along for the ride. She would limp home in 7th.

Great start to the CX season, little over a month until the two USGP's in Boulder, but a lot of 'cross racing to be had between now and then including our own Gunni-cross next weekend! New venue for Saturday, we had to move due to scheduling, so both days will be on the campus of Western State. Day one will take place on campus, though all of the department building, ampatheater, student union and dorms, killer course. Day two will be the traditional course around the athletic fields.

Hope to see you there.

IF's Japan contigent, Daisuke in full mud-glory racing in Japan