Sunday, September 27, 2009

My day in Hell...Boulder CX #1

I decide mid Friday (day before Louisville CX) that I am ready to voluntarily upgrade from the 4's to 3's. I am not totally sure of my decision so I email the BSV CX group for advice. In the end, I decide to upgrade. I complete the upgrade form and send it off to Jon Tarkington and Yvonne at the ACA. I receive an email Friday night with my temporary license and I am super stoked. One thing I should mention is that I have not been on the bike for almost 6 weeks. I wake up Saturday morning and am already thinking of my strategy for the race. I decide to ride from Boulder to the race for a good warm-up. I do a quick once over on the bike, add some stans to the tubes, and off I go. I feel really good on the way to Louisville and am thinking about the race the entire ride. I miss the turn for 76th and end up riding to Lafayette and back track to the rec center. I arrive at 1:45, just in time to see the women start and chill out for a bit. I do a few laps on the course and am quickly reminded how demanding this sport is. The bike feels good, air pressure seems about right, and the shifting feels smooth. I speak to Dani Wanner (New BSV CX Racer) and her family about her first cross race for a bit after the womens race. Her brother mentions to me how today was his first race and that he dropped his chain a few times. I show him how I am running a single up front with a third eye and have never dropped a chain with my setup. I even go so far as to say that the setup is bomber. Little did I know that I would soon be eating my words. Fast forward to the start because I am starting to ramble....I line up at the start line and am ready to roll. I am pretty nervous, but this is typical of me every time I race. I see some familiar faces from last year and some BSV riders, Bill Teasdale, Peter Shaffer, and Matt Lohrentz. I feel at home now and am ready to suffer. The gun goes off and the racers are ripping down the long stretch of gravel. I am mid pack and start to pull my way up. I am feeling good and am ready for the sand pit. Run the sand on the first lap and roll up the hill and pull away. I manage to complete two laps before things start falling apart. I pass two guys as I start to descend down the rough and bumpy section after the finish. I make it through the corner almost to the flat grass when I lose my chain. I am shocked am remember commenting on my bomber setup. Not so bomber today, oh well. I quickly fix my chain and am off trying to make up time. I don't lose too much time. Less than 5 minutes later, I lose my chain again. I am starting to worry now and lose more time. It's funny how quickly people pass you when you pull over to fix a chain. I still tell myself not to worry as it won't happen again. I blast through the sand and am heading down hill on the off camber section right before the steep, short climb. I lose all traction as I turn into the hill and go down pretty hard. As I go down, I manage to land on my brake caliper and push it under the wheel as well as tangle my chain beyond belief. I get up and quickly try to fix everything as fast as I can. At this point I know I am doomed. Quitting crosses my mind and I think about it for a moment...I am ok with quitting today. My mind scans back to my first cross race and I remind myself that I have never dropped out of a race. Then I remember the quote: "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." I get back on the bike and go for it. I can't quit, it's not me. I will battle until I am a bloody mess. I say this to myself as I pass the lap counter and think to myself..."are you kidding me????????" I finish the race. Not what I anticipated for my debut Cat 3 race, but still a ton of fun. Better luck next time eh???? I guess it's good to have all the bad stuff happen in one race. Until next time...hup hup!!!!!

Thanks to all who came out to cheer at the race and hand out means a ton!!! Also, props to Jim Heuck for taking and posting all of the excellent pics from the race. Please check out his site at:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brecktober Cross - 2nd Shift !!!!

Hey Gang! Turkey Dave reporting in from the field.
Now Bill's already posted some of the cyclocross goodness had on Sunday up in Breckenridge. Mad props to Blue Sky Velo for being the highest represented team up there by the way !!!!
So with the new schedule this year, there's a wide range of times for people to race.
This is a report of the 2nd shift.

My ribs were sore so I was there to support Michelle who was racing pretty late in the day. Just by pure accident I put my singlespeed on the car - you know - to pre-ride the course with M., to help her out. Its not like there was also a singlespeed class going off with the 3's late in the afternoon or anything.

I know, most of you are saying, "come on Dave cut to the "Harden the #!@!# up" part already!"
So, no sooner had we been debriefed by some of the some 1st shift gang, with battle stories told.... when the skies opened up and it started dumping rain! The temp dropped immediately.
Its funny, at times like those, looking around we saw two types of people, those scattering for cover ........ and those with big sh*t eating grins on their faces. I have to admit I fall into the latter category.
Game on !!

First up was Michelle. She may have had a quick bout of being a 'run and hider', but that soon melted away into perma-grin, she got her share of the sweet mud action. It rained hard at times, and the course started getting slick!~ I'm super proud of her, she rocked today and was loving it... her mad skillz helped out in the slick conditions.

(it may not look like it, but this hill is slick!)

Ryan was there Representin' the 4's
What better way to break in a brand-spankin new bike hmmmm?

Needless to say. After standing in the rain, smiling, taking pix, and generally getting good and soaked and cold.... I just couldn't head home... Ribs be damned, I embrocated and went for it. It was a blast, the kind of mud that reminded me of why riding bikes is so cool. There werent many of us 1X's, so they just started us with the 3's. My competition was some uber racing dude, some "mountain bike guy" who was fresh in from the SS WC in Durango, and "flannel-wearing-I have a hang over guy". "Things are looking up".
I was dying a slow death up the long hill and subsequent return to the warming hut, but in true fashion the 'party hill' had a nice selection of loud-mouths (who seemed to be in 'good spirits' and 'well-lubricated' )- they kept me motivated. The more they yelled the more I grinded up that hill. Awesome!!

Kid in a candy store

Welp, thats it for now. It was nice to experience a little bit of fall, get good and cold, and generally revel in the CX aura again. (We didn't know it would follow us down the front -range, I promise)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Brecktobercross - A Wood Chippers Delight

It that time of year again. Time to get your cross on Brecktobercross style. We set our alarm clocks for pain-thirty, and got up early for the drive to Breckenridge and the 9:45am 35+ Open start time. It's bad enough getting up at 5am, but getting up that early to race against some of the fastest guys in the state is just plain crazy.

When we arrived in Breck the temps were in the 40's. That meant two things -- embrocation and long-sleeve skinsuits. After getting suited up, we headed out for some warm up time on the course, and then over to the start area. Pale Power got his front row call up, Kevin A. turned his down, Hollywood stuffed himself in the middle, and I set up in the back. Now being in the back is certainly not ideal, but on a positive note, you're most likely going to go forward in the race, which is preferred to the alternative.

The start of the race took us through a section of about four inches deep of wood chips with barely one rideable line. Apparently wood chips are the new sand traps. This would typically be a good place to move up, but it was risky to got off the main line. Thankfully we got through it without incident and it was game on.

Here's the start. Nope, can't see me.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Weber

Hollywood missed a turn early on and was in chase mode for most of the race. I was able to move up and latched onto a group with Pale Power and Dave Weber from Rocky Mounts. After about a lap, we were starting to get some company from behind, so I went to the front and upped the pace.

Dave and I sucking Pale's wheel.
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Weber

Laying down the savage "attack" Photo courtesy of Susan Prietro

I was able to create a nice gap between myself and the rest of the group, but eventually Dave Weber made his move and started to bridge up to me.

Dave making his charge.
Photo courtesy of Susan Prietro

Dave finally caught me and we rode together for a lap or so, but he was able to create a small gap with his superior technical riding skills that I could not close back down. Meanwhile the rest of the boys were settled into their own group battles.

Hollywood getting it done.

Photo courtesy of Susan Prietro

Crit Master getting a draft.Photo courtesy of Susan Prietro

All and all the Blue Sky Nation did a good job representing. Full results are posted here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I did a century ride - and you should, too!

I also did the Buffalo Classic last Sunday and it was my first century. I really want to encourage anyone who has ever thought about doing a century ride to go for it! I am not a particularly strong or fast rider, so I wasn't 100% sure I would be able to ride 100 miles in a day, but I set a goal to do and it really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy for me, but I honestly think anyone who sets this as a goal can do it. Especially with the great support from fellow BSVers!

Start of the ride:

My Top 3 Reasons to Ride a Century:
1. You can say "Yeah, I've done a century" and feel cool
2. It makes most other regular training rides you do feel easy and short in comparison
3. Free food all day!!

For me, training involved doing several much shorter rides (20-30 miles) as well as 60 miles as part of the Venus de Miles ride two weeks before. I did a combination of relatively flat rides and rides with hills (I live in North Boulder, so did lots of rides up to Jamestown and up Old Stage Road). But I was probably never doing more than 2-3 rides a week. And never more than an average of about 15 miles per hour.

So, I figured the century was doable, but would probably take me about 8 hours, and it did. That included stops at the many rest stops along the way -- I started just after 7am and finished just after 3pm. As someone doing a century for the first time, it helped to just think of it as four 25-mile rides. I knew I could do a 25-mile ride and feel fine, so I just told myself it was like stringing a few of those together. And the rest stops really do make a difference - it's not like you are getting on your bike and not getting off for 100 miles/8 hours. Also, riding with so many other people and having all the rest stops helps to distract you from the fact that you are riding for so many hours - it's not like just going out and riding 100 miles all by yourself.

It was also fun to ride with other people from Blue Sky. A group of us met up at the start (all people I just met that morning, except for my husband Kevin) and rode together sporting our spiffy matching kits. It was fun to ride as part of a pack. Of course, when I say "rode together," for me that meant starting out with everyone for the first several miles, and then falling behind because a) I am not good at drafting because it makes me nervous to be so close to someone else and b) I really am pretty slow. At one point a fellow BSVer (Brad, I think) came up behind me and put a hand on my back and pushed me along for a bit to help me keep up. That was awesome, but unfortunately he wasn't ready to commit to that level of support for the remaining 90 miles. So I rode alone for most of the ride, but when I'd get to each rest stop there would be BSVers waving me in with smiles and encouraging words, which helped a lot.

The other funny thing about doing a century is that somehow you feel totally justified to eat a ton of random food all day. I'm a little embarrassed to write this all down, but here's at least some of what I ate at the various rest stops: bagel with Nutella, bagel with cheese, banana with Nutella, Ritz crackers, Wheat Thins, Oreos, a Rice Krispie treat, chocolate cake, brownie, chocolate chip cookie, and last but not least, pizza and BBQ chicken (seriously). Hmmm...maybe that is why I was so slow.... ;)

I'm really glad I did it and encourage anyone else out there who is more of a beginner rider like I am to give it a shot. You'll be glad you did!

After the ride - wearing my newly earned century hat and eating some pasta, because clearly I did not get enough calories on the ride itself:

Part of Team Blue Sky enjoying the free food (and beer) after the ride:

There was also a lot of standing in line for port-a-potties - the not so glamourous side of riding a century:

- Becca Bracy Knight

Monday, September 14, 2009

7th Annual Buffalo Bicycle Classic

I had heard many good things about CU's Buffalo Bicycle Classic Century ride (including a Blue Sky Velo report last year), so I decided to give it a try.

I did the ride with some co-workers but caught up with some of the Blue Sky Velo crew at the start, and a few times during the ride:

I'm the one in this picture who is ill-prepared for the 50 degree temperature at the 7 AM start!

I think Eric and team must have passed me ten times during the ride but they always cheerfully offered me the chance to latch on!

The weather was chilly and overcast at the beginning but the sun did come out, and the event mostly lucked out in dodging the rain on Saturday, and some more on Sunday evening.

I thought the race was well-organized, especially at the busy intersections of CO-66 and US-34 in Loveland. And, medical crews quickly got to the scene of an accident early in the ride near the intersection of St. Vrain Road and 75th Street, where a rider went off the road.

The rest stops were well-equipped with volunteers, food and drink including my favorite - Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches! The one complaint commonly heard was with the shortage of porta-potties (and long lines) on the outgoing Hygiene stop but hopefully they can address that next year.

The post-race ceremony offered more food, beer, and sunshine:

I'd recommend this ride for anyone thinking about a century, especially since it's in our backyard and it's easy to train on the course.

The route:

-- Peter Schow

The Civil War battle of Asheville, Biking to Britain, Bike portage as a sport and life with the Spot part deux.

I admit it. I am woefully behind in my blogging. I was looking over my photos from this summer and found that there was so much that I did that I didn't bring all my adoring fans (okay the bored masses goofing off at their jobs) up to speed on. I feel like Britney, keeping you, the loving paparazzi, at bay while I hide out with my small, nearly unclothed children smoking alone in my backyard.

Please forgive me for my indiscretions. I'll do my best to set the record straight right here and now. First thing's first - there were many accomplices. I did not act alone. This summer was a dance - not a slow waltz with caring ear nibbling and giggles, but a fast-paced disco beat of craziness.

As many of you know, I embarkated flagrantly on a Civil War tour of mosquitos, gators, guns, foods fried to within an inch of their lives and attempting to ride on a beat up rental MTB with a busted-ass bottom bracket. This trip was long on and adventure and short on biking, so I'll keep this part of my account brief as well. It went something like this: "Wow, it's hot here. Buildings are old. Savannah is groovy. Swamps are cool but actually hot. Asheville was really cool, but Trek hardtails weigh way too much and make weird noises when you jump them. People will fry just about anything here. Lot of people died in the Civil War. What's so civil about war? What does Cool Hand Luke have to do with Guns 'n Roses?"


Cool city squares that the city is famous for (and lots of Spanish moss).

The old city of Savannah.

What I remember most about walking through the swamps at Congaree National Park

Our camp at the top of Mt. Pisgah (outside of Asheville). It was very lush and tropical and cool. Kinda of like living in a terrarium.

Here is our view looking down on Asheville and our mountain biking Mecca for this trip.

Riding in Asheville was great fun. When I was sold the bill on Asheville, I heard that this was "the PLACE" for mountain biking, but the bike shops haven't really figured that out yet. The best I could find was a fairly beaten up hardtail that weighed in at somewhere between a hippo and the Red October. The best part though, was that it was a "rental car"! Man, I put that thing through it's paces! It was actually pleasing to hear the creak of metal on metal as that thing came down off of a jump - I knew that it wasn't my bike to fix! Asheville's riding was great. It was a lot of fun hardpack through trees with some roots and small jumps thrown in to boot. Now, I had heard a lot about creepy crawly bugs and such (tics dropping from trees, angry spiders and this guy). Luckily, I had no run ins whatsoever. The weather was warm, and humid, but still in the low 80's probably. Good times for riding. So good, in fact, I forgot to take pictures or video. Luckily, there was a camera crew on hand that shot this video of my riding while I was there.

My friends doing some first class Civil War reenacting at Antietam, are demoing most of the rest of the trip. If you ever watched all those cool PBS shows on the Civil War, you might have wondered what it was really like to be in the places where battles took place. It was really crazy for me (a bit of a history buff) to actually set foot on a few of these places. Probably the craziest thing was how close the opposing sides would stand to fight and how tightly they would pack together. At this battle, the major Union line ended up in an all day shootout with the entrenched Confederates at a distance of only about 80 yards. Using guns accurate to well over 1,000 yards, it was just a matter of throwing people into the thick of it until one side gained an advantage or ran out of people. Not only that, but "the enemy" were speaking the same language and often from the same areas as you.

Well, that's enough of the Civil War trip stuff. I have a lot more to tell, but as the soldiers were not on bikes back then, it's probably not terribly relevant to the blog.

Part Deux - the bikes of Britain

There were so many cool things about this little getaway with my loverly wife that I could wax semi-bad-poetic about it for hours. It was a fun trip and a chance to mix history, art and the outdoors in a very British way. First, while Britain has made many leaps forward in the 15 years since I last visited, the food is still bad. I'm sorry, but I am of British heritage, and I honestly can't see how people who eat boiled and fried meats so consistently ever had such a large empire. Wow. But, the flip side is that if you like Indian, Thai, Chinese or any other food from a nation once "befriended" by the British people, you can eat amazing food.

Second thing - the beer. It's nice to walk into a bar and see a range of beers on tap and not see Bud, MGD and Coors featured prominently. But, be prepared as American Bud has more alcohol than most British beers. I had a lively discussion with a bartender when I pointed out the fact that most beers were 4% or less in Britain. I mentioned that the Oskar Blues beers were usually above 6% and that my favorite (Gordon's) was nearly 9. She seemed to think that the high alcohol content of beers made us Yanks all alcoholics and probably explained such things as Jermaine Jackson, most of the people who appear on Jerry Springer and our lack of a strong public healthcare system.

Okay, now for the bikes! Bikes, bikes bikes! London is totally BIKE CRAZY!!!! You would think that a city so totally mind-bogglingly crowded and filled with dancing cockney speaking chimney sweeps would be anti-bike. After all Boulder County seems to think they are akin to the bubonic plague and we are a pretty sparsely populated area. But NOOOOOO, London is just filled with cycle commuters.

I saw old people, young people, fat people svelte people. I think I saw a dog riding a bike! As you can see from this picture, about all that the people had in common on bikes was that they were very pale. There were a lot of bike lanes and people filled them up. Where roads were narrow, bikes and cars shared. I did see one shouting match, but for the hundreds, nay thousands of bikers I saw commuting around the city, it was amazing that everyone just seemed to get along so well.

"How do they do it?" you ask. Well, I guess they have a big toll for driving in the heart of the city now (to cut down on pollution and congestion). Also, the government allows people who cycle commute to buy bikes tax free (not just sales tax, but income tax too). This means that a person could easily pay 50% less for a bike through the program. Not bad eh? Anyway, let's cross our fingers that maybe we can open our minds to things here in Colorado!

Okay, one more geek moment here. As you may not know, I have a master's in geography. As such, maps and things like that are really cool to me. So, we took a quick jaunt to Greenwich to allow me to geek out for a bit. Greenwich is the point of origin for our longitude lines (like 105 degrees West - this is 0 degrees!) It's where it all begins baby! In the moldy old days when boats would set sail, the only way they could know where they were was to set their clocks and to Greenwich time and then do some hocus pocus with measuring the sun angle when they were out at see. So, before ships took to sea, they would look up to Greenwich (up on a hill above the port) and set their clocks. At precisely noon, there was a big red "ball" on a stick that would drop. People could see it from far away and set their clocks. So that's how we get the phrase "on the ball". Geeky huh? I know. So here is a pic of me on the Prime Meridian (the 0 longitude). And another of me trying to keep the ball from dropping!

Crowded touristy outdoors place, but all Britishy

We went to a bunch of other places, but hey, that's what boring slide shows are for right? Come to the next party at my house and your insomnia will be cured! The last place I'll talk about on that trip was going to the Lake District. Imagine Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Put real cars on it and 500 year old stone walls 1ft off the side of the road and you have driving in the Lake District. It was beautiful to be there! The hiking was great! The mountain biking was fun (more in a sec), but oh (choose any expletive) the driving was madness. Here is a pic of Becca hiking a "Fell." What they think of as a mountain, they call fells. We would call them sheep-infested really soggy, don't even think about trying to avoid stepping in manure hills.

But the best part of all was that in the Lake District the public has free access to private lands!!!! That's right, people have right of way on private lands. So, you really could walk from one town to the next on trails that were hundreds of years old through sheep farms and stuff. It was really relaxing and the landowners were a part of the system - not the problem at all. What a difference from the "Trespassers will be Shot" signs here.

I did learn that there are a heap of mountain bikers up there and they love their sport. It was a very different experience from home (again). I went to a part of the national park there that had purpose-built mountain bike trails. Right there on the park's land, there was a bike shop with a fleet of rentals. The area had a slew of trails for all different skill levels. By far, the biggest group of people there were parents with kids on great gravel roads that gave great views.

I did have my first "Colorado Street Cred" experience there too! I got to the rental shop at about 11am (after proper British breakfast - ugh no more fried tomahtos please) and went into the shop to rent.
"Hi, I would like to hire a bike." (people say hire there instead of rent. Go figure)

"What kind of bike do you want to rent?"

"Um.. Whatever is cheap that I can take out onto the singletrack"

"Sorry, we've hired out all of those bikes. We just have the cheap cruisers for riding the gravel roads."

"Sigh. Can I use one of those on the singletrack? I don't mind," says I with a hopeful, slightly lost puppy dog look on my face.

"No, I'm quite sorry. It's not allowed. The bikes couldn't handle it" (oh crap, I think. Who told them about my trip to Asheville?)

"Oh.... I understand," I demurred. "I just haven't had a chance to ride in the last week since I left home in Colorado"

"Colorado?" says the bike shop dude excitedly as if I just offered him a secret handshake after standing at the door for five minutes. "You're from Colorado?"

"Yes. I live in Boulder and ride around there."

"Oh.... Hmmm," looking over his shoulder up to the sales floor of the bike shop. "I say,
Worthington. Chap? Do we have that brand new Canondale demo ready to go? There's a fine upstanding man from Colorado here and he wants to ride singletrack today!"

And that's the way it happened. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'! So if you ever need a bit of shop lovin' in another country, don't forget where you come from!

Here I am in front of some old moldy building from a time before Tim the Sorcerer with a brand new Canondale that I got to thrash on for the afternoon.

The trails themselves were fun, but very different. I guess imagine if someone made all of our mud kinda much more fun and less likely to gum up your bike with 50lbs of sludge and that'd be a start as to what it was like. They had a lot of boardwalks and some skinnies which I really enjoyed. There wasn't much elevation gain, but they put in a lot of obstacles and such. And let me tell you, I was one wet, stinky dog after that ride!

Les Grande Finales! Isn't it fun to carry your bike?

The last thing to throw into this smackdown blog report is the only thing that you'll probably even consider as a thing to do yourself! I rode an amazing, stupendous and butt-kicking epic ride out of the White Pine area called "Canyon Creek". This ride had all the suffering a biker could want.

A couple of my friends asked me if I wanted to do an amazing all-day ride on the other side of the divide with 10 miles or so of downhill. "Hell yes," seemed like the only appropriate response unless I could counter with "How about we ride with Captain Nemo in a submarine and go visit penguins in Antarctica instead?" Since that whole incident with the giant squid, I thought it might be best to stick with their offer.

What they didn't tell me is that according to the Mountain Bikers First Law (namely all things that go down, must also go up) we were going to be in for a day of some climbing. The picture there is of me at 12,500 feet. I ported my bike on my shoulder for nearly 500 vertical feet of climbing after already riding that dang thing up 3,000 feet! Wow, I was just like this guy at the top.

Then came the descent! Man, what a trip. If you like fast, pumpy descents with some hardpack, some technical and a lot of rolling pedaling sections (makes me giggle just thinking about it), this is the trail for you. It was just an amazing trip down. Of the five of us (me, two other men and two other women), we had no wrecks. Just a great day! If you want any of the deets on the ride (map, GPS file, better review), let me know and I'll get back to ya.

Well, that's about it for my summer! I'm excited to start blogging about fall and CX races and practices and brats and stuff. Let's here some other great summer stories!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

VeloCX Funhouse - 9/13

The BSV CX riders were out in full force today at the VeloCX course. How many people out there can say 'I rode my CX bike inside a building!' Here are a few pics from the Men/Women Cat. 4 races.

Michelle & Brianne lined up at the start. Michelle has the 'Kevin Abraham' stare!
The ladies on the course behind the warehouse...get ready for the 180.
Brianne rockin' it before the mud...
Michelle making the 180 degree turn before going up the blue ramp on the left inside the Velodrome.Checkout the ramp out of the building...SICK. I had to get my weight back and use some mtn bike skills on this one.Into the warehouse after getting the bike up the last step.

Andy battling it out for going up the stairs!

Looks like Andy won after his competitor did an endo down the ramp...

Super fun day! Can't wait for more to come. - MV