Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Blue Sky Cup - KBK Style

If you are reading this, good chance you are probably a cyclocross racer and you are most likely a stronger racer than I will ever be. I’ve never been on the podium. I'm not even sure where the podium is. So,with that in mind, here is my report:


I’m a 35 year old guy who races somewhere in the bottom half of my Cat 4 35+ group. I’m just slow, but I love to race. If you ever wondered what it’s like to do a cyclorcross race, or what goes through the mind of that guy who comes in a half lap behind the leader or if today is a day to put plastic bags over your toes to keep them from freezing, this article may be for you.

For those of you who missed “the Cup”, Blue Sky threw our very own race this year. It’s what, the second year of the race? Also, if you are not familiar with Colorado ‘cross, you probably don’t know that we live in a world of racing on bumpy, dried out grass and dirt (bag feet if temp is near freezing, race with booties on if below about 25 - coldest race I’ve done: 14 degrees). Sometimes, for an exciting change, we get snow and ice (definitely bag the feet those days, use booties, toe warmers, sit in car before race as warmup). I’m sure this sounds very “exciting” to you summer roadies, but trust me, it’s heaps of fun.

For this race, however, Norse Gods smiled upon our weary town and blessed us with about 15 inches of snow early in the week before the race and sunny weather on the weekend. This created “once-in-a-decade conditions”! It was truly as if Belgium or Portland rained mud on us for the race! By the time the pros went on, it was easy peasy - hardpack. But for my race, it was time to get out the bikinis and oil for some good mud wrestling in the 4 inches of thick, sloppy goodness covering most of the course.

My race:

I come from a world of mountain biking. I like my personal space. All those bikes and handlebars and people who I’m not quite sure are in control can get kinda freaky when you stack up 100 riders at the start. I watch the pro riders; they are straight and fast. My class is much more exciting! People are weaving, bobbing and sliding. I wish I could say this was all tactics, but I think for a good portion of the riders it’s a fair bit of white-knuckling as we try not to get trampled like a drunken 14 year old at the Running of the Bulls. The paved holeshot was about 1/4 mile long at the Blue Sky Cup this year. It lead into some grassy muddy goop where everyone started stacking up and squeaking brakes to weave through pine trees and an off camber traverse over a drainage ditch (you really don’t want to go into a freezing drainage ditch. Trust me from experience). From this point on, it was just alternating mud, muddier and muddy swamp with occasional sand volleyball court or pavement thrown in for added insult. I rode through the sand on the first lap, because, “Hey, I’m cool and I have mad skills”. Okay, it did look cool, but then having a good layer of sand mixed in with the mud in my drivetrain was like switching the sticky mud in my drivetrain for sandpaper and maybe a metal file or two.

If you are Katie Compton (who won the women’s elite at the race), you have three bikes and a bike monkey to clean them, and you change bikes every lap. If you are me, and not only are really slow but look horrible in a skinsuit, you cannot garner bike monkeys to wash your bike nor sponsors to give you bikes and thus ride your bike in increasingly limited gear ratios during the race. I started on 18 and by the end had about 4, and the bike was in automatic shift mode constantly choosing the gear I least wanted to be in.

The best part for me was the heaps of mud. Yes, it made all of those moving parts not so great, but it really put a challenge into every turn. People were wiping out everywhere. Even the pro racers had to do some serious ballet to keep from going down (and many failed). I spent a lot of time in my lowest gear, weight all the way back on that rear wheel cranking past people who were sunk to their waist in mud pleading for someone to throw them a rope. Once, I nearly went in, but I lay flat on my stomach, distributing my body weight evenly and pulled myself on a tree branch to safety. I forgot my knee warmers the day of the race and borrowed a teammate’s (SeƱor Dan Farrell). The best cheer I got for the race was “I didn’t say you could get the warmers muddy!” Sorry Dan.

My race was about passing “that guy” or being passed by “that other guy”. I passed and was passed by the same dude five or six times in the race. He’s got some great hill strength. I dismounted and ran better there. He distracted me by shouting “Look a flying saucer.” I frightened him by nearly falling in front of him so he backed off. These are the tactics in the back of the pack. When I pass the announcers, they are shouting their heads off... about the leaders of the pack on the back side of the track.

Coming into the sand pits on the last lap, I hear the announcers saying, “Here are the winners! Think, there are still riders out there, minutes behind these leaders.” Talk about a morale builder. But, with a whining like a jet engine in my brain, I put the hammer down into the muddy stairs of doom and ran my way past “that guy”! Then, he took me as my foot slipped trying to clip in and I ran it into my rear wheel. Then I got him again as we hit the pavement and by luck of the Irish my bike chose to shift into a gear I could spin out up the hill and to the finish line. I won the race! ... for 50th place!

I wouldn’t trade this race for anything! It was a great day for a ride and the mud was epic. We had a cadre of some of the best riders in the US show up and make it look easy (well they are professionals after all). Everyone I talked to said that this race was really fun and that the atmosphere around it was great. If you want to come to Colorado for a ‘cross race next year, come to this one. If you find me, I’ll be happy to tell you where the free beer is hidden and to loan you some muddy knee warmers.

Good times,



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blue Sky Nation Rockin' Boulder Cup

Just want to mention a few Blue Sky riders that stepped it up for some good ole' fashion cross suffering in the UCI elite races today. So great to see such a strong showing in these races. Hats off to you guys.

Kristal powering her way to her first UCI points.

Lauren looking smooth through the turns as always.

Susan setting up to cut through the sand pit.

Bryan Harwood slicing through the beach.

As expected, Katie Compton threw it down again.

Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson put on another great show, again finishing Johnson-1, Powers-2. Driscoll again finished 3rd, giving Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com 1-2-3 sweeps on both Saturday's and Sunday's races.

Only 363 more days till next year's Blue Sky Cup/Boulder cup weekend. . .

Friday, October 30, 2009

Back on the Chain Gang

Under blue skies, the Friday noon setup crew packs down the Xilinx course, in preparation for tomorrow's Blue Sky Velo Cup:

And the finish line goes up:

Conditions look perfect for tomorrow. Expect the bike wash to be busy!

-- Peter Schow

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blue Sky Velo Cup Technical Guide

Hey cross fans. The technical guide for the October 31st Blue Sky Velo Cup has been posted to the race website at http://www.blueskyvelocup.com/.

Please note that the UCI categories are pre-registration only. ACA categories can register on the day of the race, but there will be a $10 late fee.

Save you $10 for a tasty Belgium beer and pre-register online at bikereg.com.

A big shout out to Jeff at Leaving It Better for being a supporter of cyclocross racing. Make sure you stop by and say hi to him in the vendor area on race day and tell him thanks!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MORE COWBELL: Frisco - Day 2

For some of those BSV members who didn't get enough cowbell on Frisco Day 1, they came back for some seconds on Frisco Day 2. It was 40-50 degrees, fall-like weather and the beer was still flowing strong. The VELO represented, again, in the SM 35+, SM 35+ Cat 4, SW Open, SW 35+, SW 4, SM 55+, & SM Cat 4's. Here are some pics of all the crew.

Kevin & Derrick; Ready to Race!

Nola, enjoying cheering for 'Daddy' (aka Kevin Abraham) during the 35+ OpenBilly T. manhandling the gravel - Makin' it look easy

Dan Farrell picking his line

Carl Boni showing everyone a lil' bit of how CX is done

Kevin A. using his ox-like road legs to kick-up some dust

Bill T. - Like a Knife Thru Butter
Dan F. yelled to the crowd, 'Check out these skillz in the sand'
Carl Boni: Yes, that is a smile on his face!
Kevin A. comin' in hot
Billy T - 'Eat my Dust'
Dan F. - 'Better than a Gazzelle'
Kevin A. & Carl B. - 'This is how it's done'
Kids CX Practice: Over the barrier and Derrick's elbow is looking good on the left side of the bike
SM 35+ Cat 4 Race
Dave K. putting the hammer down at the start
Dave Kilmoyer - mashin' thru the sand
Lee G. off the front on a hammer sesh
Lee showin' the fellas how the hill is done
Doug R. "This is seriously so fun"
Bob P. - Killin' It
Dave Kilmoyer
SW Open Racer
Kristal Boni Warming Up
Susan P. Warming Up
Lee G. in 2nd place
Bob P.
Dave K.
Lee G. - Barriers
Bob P. - Barriers, still lookin' strong
Wes - Barriers
Dave K - 'That's all the barriers you got for us?'
SW 35+ & SW Cat 4
Michelle V. riding down the 1st area of wood chips - "Gettin' the weight behind the seat"
Kayla T. showing mad skillz thru the corner

Michelle V. - Roll on man, Roll on
Michelle V. kept the legs moving due to Bob & Susan's Chants: Thanks you GUYS! You totally earned super racer/fan status!
Kayla T - Kickin' Rump Over the Barriers
Michelle V - 'Coming On Thru'
Frisco Day 2 ROCKED. Fun was had by each and every one of us! See you all next week gang.

Monday, October 5, 2009

HUP HUP: Frisco - Day 1

Cross was definitely in the THIN air for the BSV clan on Day 1 in Frisco. The compound was established early in the day and the brats were grillin' on Merle for all who attended. Here are some pics from the epic adventure:

35+ Open Brian H. showing his mad skills downhill

Erica and Roxy cheering for Toby35+ Cat 4's Rockin' it

Dave - really? Only 1 gear?Bob cornering like a sports car
Kayla and SW 35+SW Cat 4 Racers
Steve Kahn in 55+Michelle over the barriers
Andy & Cat 4's race!

Youngest riding BSV member - Derrick in his BSV jersey during the kids race.