Cycling in a Toque

Cycling in a Toque: September 2010

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cross Vegas CX

Video - Lap 1 Barriers
Lap 1 - Sand Stairs (in the heart of the pack)
Lap 1 - Completing Lap 1 (moved up 50 spots in 1st lap)
Lap 2 - Barrier + Sand Stairs (not in shot, behind Carl Decker in blue)
Finish Sprint - Mourney jumps race long solo artist Jamie Driscoll

It's 2am after cross vegas and I am still wired on racing and caffeine. The event started under a full moon at Desert Breeze Soccer Complex (six miles east of Las Vegas Boulevard) around 9.30pm. 125 racers toed the line and the crowd estimate ranged between 8,000-10,000 people. The course featured mostly hard grass but there were a few sections of soft stuff, with a healthy mix of obstacles to bring the riders closer to the crowds.

Instead of heading right out onto the course, officials added in a short 500 meter oval into the opening section of the race to help string out the riders. Although I was placed 71st of 120 on the preliminary starting sheet, at packet pickup I found that my day would be a little more difficult with a 108 on my back. But the opening lap proved good for me and over the start finish line on our way onto the real course, I was able to move up a lot of spots. By the end of the first lap, Keith said that had moved up forty or so spots. This of course caught up to me and the group I found myself in soon placed my legs and lungs in great discomfort.

Take a lap:

After a close run along the crowd over the start finish, the course winded its way into the main complex. The crowd lined the ridge and it was just nuts to race in front of so many people. Some sections of this area were astroturf/really hard soccer field so the speeds were definitely high. Riding up the sides of the steep banking surrounding the pitch proved the first chance for the crowd to get a close look at the riders; it was also a rider's first look at the tunnel effect. Powering up the first section of embankment, the speeds slowed down and a few out-of-saddle pedal strokes took to the menu. Followed by a fast and bumpy left/right set of corners placed riders at the first of two pit entrances. The orange barriers also the pits narrowed the width of the course, making overtaking into the fast approaching blind right hander a pitch sketchy. The 90 degree right hander set the riders back towards the embankment surrounding the soccer pitch, the exit of which remained shrouded by the a wall of beer garden spectators hanging out over the sides of the orange metal control fencing. As you take the corner, a wall of light knocks you senseless; its bright beams shroud the faces of the rows of spectators below but highlight the fast approaching barriers. A cacophony of noise rocks your senses and you approach one of the more technical elements of the lap. Once up to speed, I unhook my right leg and swung it over my bike, placing it between the gap between the frame and my clipped-in left leg. Grasping the top tube with my right hand, I wait for just the right moment as the barriers approach at 30km/hr. Now! Unhooking my left leg and bounding off one impact off my right foot, I lift the bike with the help of a fist full of front brake from my left hand. Over the first barrier, then two steps to eat up the 4 metre distance to the second. Once clear, gently place the bike on the grass and sprint the remaining 12 meters to the 180 degree bend up ahead. Just as I near the top, I throw my right leg over my saddle in as smooth a motion as I can muster and if my dismount 10 seconds earlier proved good, then my right foot will find my right pedal right at the top of the power phase of the pedal stroke. One or two really hard pedal strokes and I hurl down the hill, clipping into my pedals fully as soon as I came. The next right hand double apex corner has a little drop through its 10metre turn radius, and the exit is again clouded by eagerly watching fans. Once again the course sends me back towards the embankment. This time, already half way up the hill, four stairs full of sand force another dismount. Vering to the left once at the top, the camber of the hill makes an efficient remount challening. If I can push up an extra couple of feet along the right hand side of the taped course, I can maintain a high enough momentum such that post remount, I'll be able to save a little energy. But when passing other riders, sometimes the low line remains the only option and a little more power is needed once the feet hit the pedals. The difference is only about two feet but the fatigue definitely accumulates throughout the 1 hour event. A couple of fast corners greet the riders in the coming sections, then onto another sand stair section (this time immediately following a hard right kink after a fast appraoch) before heading out onto the start/finish area of the course. Approaching this last obstacle each lap, riders would take the corner at full speed with a leg already swung over the bike. Running deep and jumping off just at the last moment, a rider could really nail this section with fast foot speed and make up a lot of time.

The race was very tough but the conditions were ideal. There was a bit of a wind but that actually helped keep the temperatures low, around 73. Since this exceeded the UCI minimum for feeding of 64 degrees, riders could take on water from supporters in the feed zone. Albeit, it was a brave maneuver as speeds in that section topping out at 30 km/hr over treacherous combinations of bumpy grass and dirt.

This evening's race was the first time that I have finished on the lead lap at a UCI cyclocross race (only 2 previous attempts including Starcrossed 2008 & 2010). I think I was close to breaking into the top fifty but full results will come online tomorrow morning some time. It would have been rad to come away with some UCI points but my fitness is good for being on vacation, although my asthma definitely hit me hard tonight and it was a real struggle at the halfway point. It was great to do a good ride tonight as the whole sales team at Rolf Prima came out to watch and cheer. Starting in the hundreds made making the top 50 miracle material but I almost got it!

Keith was able to snap a few shots, I've also included a few from Interbike today. Some flashy stuff in there for sure. Also a big thanks to the Luna Chicks team for having me share some space with them at the Luna Team trailer tonight. Really made my evening easier than it would have been otherwise.

Peter (Rolf Prima) & I prestart at Luna Chicks Tent
Sandy Stairs at 2laps to go
Cool Shoes
New Fizik Line

This one is just for Andy Erickson
Check it out!


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Outdoor Dirt Demo = Rad

Tuesday in Vegas was spent out at the dirt demo. Super rad trails, super rad Orbea 2011 mountain bike. I heard a lot of complaints about the wind, dirt and the sand but all those people hadn't test ridden any of the bikes. THEY FORGOT THAT BIKING IS ONLY FUN IF YOU DO IT! Maybe they'll try spinning their legs more and their mouths less next year.

Summer Bay Resort w/ kitchenette & washer/dryer!
Outdoor Dirt Demo (ODD) featured test rides all day
Three person Tandem kicks off the crazy design section
More wow factor at Giant
These look a tad non-ideal for racing - I'll stick with Rolf!
ORBEA R3 @ Bootleg Canyon
Sweet Trails
Doctor Evil's Lair
Tunnel Vision

C hecking in from the summit: no gravity bus for me.
R3 climbed and descended like a champ.
There is a reason why Orbea has the MTB World Champion in Julian Abselon.

Bootleg should have known I had my name written all over it
Big design changes for 2011 ORCA
Your lady friend's next big gift?
First look at the main drag

Le Boulevard
Uhaul - available everywhere!
Super sized for your dining pleasure
Nature - finally found some

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Starcrossed + Warrior Dash

Hello patient readers,

Since Saturday night’s Starcrossed event I’ve spent some time in the Seattle area with my good friend and fellow Whitman Cycling Alumni Colin Gibson. Starcrossed itself was a blast and the last few days of low internet access have provided a much needed break as my month long vacation continues. A bike racer’s vacation wouldn’t be complete though without a few bike races! I’m now on my way to Las Vegas for Interbike (North America’s annual bicycle trade show) and Cross Vegas (premier event of Interbike), I am stoked about the sensations in the legs and looking forward to a couple days full of biking before some days totally away from the bike prior to 2011 preparations. Here’s the digs on Starcrossed.

This past weekend I toed the line at Starcrossed for the third time, the second of which in the UCI Elite men's race. Some of the most accomplished cyclocross riders in the world showed up for 2010 with eight national champions on the registrations page including Kona’s Twin Towers, Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon, Americans Todd Wells and Jonathon Page, and 2010 French National Champion Francis Mourey. Since the World Cup and World Championships of Cyclcross extend into the depths of winter (World Champs are held at the same time of year as the Superbowl) this weekend’s event kicked off North America’s 2011 UCI Cyclocross calendar. Since I am far from a cyclocross specialist but enjoy it so much that I’ll spend my annual riding vacation doing it, Starcrossed’s night time start and insane beer garden barrier section make for an event that I've now attended ever chance I've had, only missing the 1 of the last four editions due to a mandatory academic trip in 2009.

On Friday in Seattle, the skies opened up and set up shop. The racing complex received a saturating yet healthy dose of rain making for a few fun turns during an early Saturday afternoon preride. Jumping up from Portland with the help of Joel from the team’s wheel sponsor Rolf Prima, I took the chance to get situated on my new ORBEA bike (build it on Friday night!) and practice riding the tubular tires. All I can say is wow, running a tubular tire (which is glued onto a relatively flat rim), as opposed to a clincher in which the tyre bead hooks under a metal rim, allows a rider to run a much lower tyre pressure (dampening concern of pitch flating). After a restful afternoon at the Gibson household, Colin and I took off for the venue two hours before the 8.30pm start. It started raining pretty hard through the women’s race and reports came in concerning a few corners to watch on the opening laps. I lined up on the 5th of 11 rows (each row 10 wide) with some of the top guys in the world stacking the front end. I was able to avoid the a crash in the first corner but in avoiding a crash on turn three, my chain popped off. After some dramas and a long run through the log section I was back on my bike. I was really feeling great and after the first two laps had jumped up into the top 30, riding with Allegro Cyclery’s Nathan Bannerman (Walla Walla). On the tubular tires I could just surf and powerslide through corners, making up a ton of time on the riders around me until the unevitable happened. A couple of slips later, despite yo-yoing between groups on the course, my front brake lever worked itself so loose only the bartape was holding it on (that’s what I get for riding on a 22 hour old bike!). I had to pit about 35 minutes in at which point the two leaders went by, but I slipped back out for another lap of playtime, holding off the charging chase group of Page, Wells, and Parvo through the completion of the lap. A highlight of the race definitely included the beer garden. Since I didn’t want to confuse the garden patrons after flying through on lap 5 with a healthy sheath of brown covering the right side of my Yellow skinsut, I made sure to equal it out for the next lap.

Although my race on paper looked less than ideal, Starcrossed 2010 was, due to the perfect combination of a number of factors, the best day I have ever had on my cyclocross bike. Colin ran around all night making sure I was prepared for the race and had my thermal jacket ready once I was out; the mud, the course and the lights were epic as usual, the fans were loud and crazy, the smaller Orbea frame made my life a breeze and the 'new-for-me' Rolf TDF48s were just way too much fun. Aaron Schooler of HR Block did an awesome ride to finish 13th; although being the competitor he is, said he had hoped for a cleaner run through the corners. Another Canadian Tyler Trace also had a solid ride, finishing 15th. Nathan Bannerman finished a strong 28th to opener what I hope is a wicked season. Fellow collegiate cyclists Steve Fisher and Ben Rathcamp also threw down, finishing 16th and 36th respectively.

I am in Vegas right now and will update you all tomorrow on my Tuesday trip to the Outdoor Dirt Demo . Cross Vegas is tomorrow night starting at 9.30pm so hopefully the temperature cools down a bit.

Hope you have a chance to ride a bike soon, winter is coming!


Top guys line up at Starcrossed
Get blurry already on lap 1
Slippery Exit of Barrier Section /Beer Garden and Velodrome.
Great shot of the logs (Bob Ludeman)
Starcrossed brought out a lot of fans and I found two videos of the action. You can see a glisp of yellow in a few spots if you look hard - guess I just better get faster! Video 1 and Video 2. Sunday served as a second event where Canadian National Champ Geoff Kabush took an early lead, ultimately finishing __. Check out videos of that event here including some sand pit problems, Trebon slipping momentarily and an action pack sprint finale.

In final preparation for Starcrossed, a few friends of mine came up to Portland for the annual Warrior Dash! This 3mile run through the forest includes fire pits, barbed wire, logs in lakes and more obstacles. We all took off early on Sunday, with 200 other warriors in our heat (17 heats throughout the weekend equaled out to about 3500 runners) after a much needed stop at Voodoo Donuts for sugar and caffeine. Dressed in the latest in fashion, we blew away the competition!
Myself and Galen rocking women's jorts and vests. He did the shopping.
Brooke and Caitlin, with safety pinned komonos!


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Rubicon-Orbea Cycling - 2010 Season Review

After the recent conclusion of the team’s 2010 road campaign at the always-well-attended Portland Twilight cycling festival, the riders and staff have now had a few weeks to reflect on the successes of the season. Although a few early-season injuries left the roster a little thin, the riders took advantage of the team’s strong management staff, led by Norrene and Dave Godfrey, to once again rise to the occasion and claim our title as the region’s most successful cycling team. Utilizing the talents of Canadian, American and New Zealand riders, the team successfully rode in support of the Livestrong Foundation, accumulating over $8,000 dollars in donations throughout the season from Livestrong Block Party events.

The season started with a bang and after only a few weeks the tireless work of the team’s talented riders and staff paid off when both Patrick Bevin (NZL) and Marsh Cooper (CAN) graduated to the Bissell Pro Cycling Team and Kelly Benefits Strategies Pro Cycling Team respectively.

The team reinforced the roster with further additions from New Zealand and Canada and climbed to 2nd in the King of the Mountains (KOM) competition at the prestigious Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in June. At the Tour de Grove in St. Louis, the team kicked off a 3 week Midwest trip with 3 top ten results, two of which included podium girl kisses. Once at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota, the team clicked it into high gear with Taylor Gunman (NZL) finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Amateur and Young Eider’s classifications respectively. In the process, rider Mike Northey (NZL) stole the aggressive rider’s jersey from the peloton with a well timed attack on the final day up the notorious Chilkoot Hill in Stillwater.

After a short drive south, the guys rallied for a third week of racing in only 28 days for the Tour of America’s Dairyland in Wisconsin. Throughout the event the Yellow Train appeared on full display regularly and in addition to a healthy bank account boost, the riders worked smoothly through the eleven day Omnium event to steal 1 win, 5 podiums and an overall Omnium podium spot despite missing the first five days of competition.

Athough missing out on the team’s Midwest trip, cancer survivor Quinn Keogh held down the fort in Portland and won the Cirque du Cycle in dramatic style in June before finishing 14th at the U.S. Elite National Time Trial Championships. Experiencing good sensations in the legs at elevation, Keogh’s strong performance continued in the U.S. Elite National Road Race when he initiated and drove the break of the day for 80+miles.

A fast drive home and a short hiatus in Portland prepared the whole team for the next stint of racing in July. The Tour de Delta in Canada proved a great weekend with a win in the prologue and a 5th place finish overall with Ben Chaddock (CAN). Despite narrowly missing both the Team Classification and the Young Rider’s Classification, the rider’s were all stoked to race up North, it was cool!

After a tough ride at the treacherous Boise Twilight criterium, Bend’s Cascade Cycling Classic provided redemption. Ben Chaddock (CAN) finished as top amateur in 20th at the opening 3.2km prologue, with fast-finisher Mike Northey (NZL) stepping up big to initiate the breakaway in the stage 5 Downtown criterium, sealing his tour with a 4th place finish. All-round tough guy Roman Van Uden finished 17th in the Young Rider’s classification after strong performances throughout the week, especially in the Stage 1 Three Sisters Road Race where he finished just behind the leaders in the second group.

In preparation for Portland Twilight, the Yellow train continued their winning ways once back on home turf with a 1-2-3 sweep of the Camas Criterium, a 1-2 sweep at the Vancouver Courthouse Criterium and a 1-2-3 sweep at the Oregon State Road Race Championships on the challenging Mt. Adams piste. The team’s convincing 1-2-3-4 sweep at Portland Twilight in mid August illustrated just how strong our team was this season. Every rider contributed to the success of the team by not only developing their weaknesses and maximizing their strengths on the road but by bringing their best every day; the team’s training and racing atmosphere was truly unique and easily lent itself to producing high quality race results.

Post season, Canadian rider Ben Chaddock ventured out onto the velodrome track. After a little training in Portland, he was able to claim 4 top five finishes, including a podium in the Team Pursuit at Canadian Track Nationals in Bromont, Quebec. A lot of generous sponsors were able to come together to help Ben get to the starting blocks so he was especially pleased to snag a 5th place finish in the Points race and a 4th place time in the 4km Individual Pursuit.

Fellow team track specialists Dean Tracy (USA), Andy Williams (NZL) and Jason Allen (NZL) all threw down huge results this summer including wins at the Ballard Criterium, FSA’s Track Grand Prix at Marymoor Velodrome and the Alpenrose Challenge in Portland. As a result, Jason Allen is currently ramping up for the Commonwealth Games in India next month while Team Sprint rider Dean Tracy is preparing for a World Cup training camp in Los Angeles with the U.S. National Track team where coaching staff will consider potential Olympic riders.

Not to be out done by the young ones, Heather Van Valkenburg won not one, but two gold medals at Master’s Track Nationals held in Frisco, Tx. Heather took the stars and bars jersey in the 500 meter time trial and the match sprint competition, rounding off her medal haul with a bronze in the points race. Team Chiropractor Darren Smith (CAN) also stepped it up to show the boys in Yellow what he could do by taking 10th in the world at the Paratriathlon ITU World Championships in Budapest. He knocked seven minutes off his pre-injury time!

At this time, all of us at Rubicon-Orbea Cycling would like to thank you all for following along as we rode in support of the Livestrong Foundation this season. We’d also like the say a big thank you to our generous sponsors and homestays, whose support makes our race results possible!

For everyone here in Portland, we hope you are all ready for a little mud! Its cross season soon and we expect to see you all out there playing in the mud. Look for Quinn Keogh and Ben Chaddock who’ll be sporting the Yellow colors at Cross Crusade events throughout the fall.

Taylor Gunman (Mt. Hood Stage 1)
Taylor Gunman & I (Tour de Grove Stage 1)
Mike Northey (Nature Valley Stage 5)
Taylor Gunman (Nature Valley Stage 5)
Podium (Tour de Delta Stage 1)
Jason Allen (FSA Grand Prix)
Rubicon Orbea (Cascade Cycling Classic)
Quinn, Aaron, Mike (white), Roman, Me & Jason (Portland Twilight)
Quinn Keogh (Oregon State Road Championships)

Starcrossed (Sept 18th) this weekend then its off to Las Vegas for Interbike and Cross Vegas (Sept 22nd)! Look for more info on Friday and race updates Sunday morning and Thursday morning.


Monday, 6 September 2010


Lowden Ride with Whitman Cycling Team
This weekend Zac Strode '08 and I showed up in Walla Walla just in time for the Whitman Cycling Team's no-drop Friday Team Ride. I hadn't been back since graduation in May and Zac not since Ibiza Nights - Volume 2. Harder and Faster back in February so it was awesome to ride with the team and relax a bit.

Friday's ride took off up the classic Birch Creek route with a little race up 5 mile to see who has been training. Both Zac and I were super impressed with everyone efforts, especially as for a majority of the 19 riders, it was their first group ride. We had a few riders jumping right in the draft like champs and a few staying with the likes of Emrie and Momany when the road tilted up.

Saturday's evening ride took the group out to Lowden in the ridiculous wind storm. We probably should have turned around but it worked out. The stronger riders rode the front to protect the newbies and then we all cruised home at 40mph with the tail wind.

On Sunday morning I took off with the hammer heads at Allegro Cyclery's early morning Sunday ride. 7am was a bit early, even though I am a college alum now so it took a while for the legs to wake up but it was a beatiful morning in the wheatfields. The classic "ride till it's gravel" was the breakfast of the day so we took off to find the edges of Birch Creek, Russell Creek, Scenic Loop, Mill Creek and Blue Creek. It was a great way to start the day.

Top of Scenic Loop pavement - checking out Walla Walla to the west
But a better way to finish the day was yellow sign sprints on Mill Creek. The 22km excursion into the Blue Mountains averages 2-3% so the way up is a nice workout and way down is hella fast. Seven riders showed up and I was extremely impressed with everyone. We stayed as a tight group on the way up and formed a very tidy leadout train on the way down. There are about 15 yellow signs spread out over a 15 km distance, some closer than others and the game is to sprint for each sign as if it is the finish. I am also happy to announce that there are actually more signs that there were in the past! Zac sprinted with the other riders, displaying strong sprinting technique while I set a fast pace throughout the descent. A highlight of the night was new rider Rachel Guider, who attacked the 30mph leadout train at 400metres for the final Brown Sign sprint at Rooks Park . Extremely wicked! Let's get you some cycling shoes now!

It has been a long season and a busy week of moving into a new apartment in Portland with buddy Zac and Rubicon-Orbea teammate Quinn Keogh, but I am feeling revived after this weekend's memorable cycling moments. There truly is something very special about the Whitman Cycling Team. I am also extremely pleased to announce that I'll be competing at both Starcrossed in Seattle and CrossVegas (in Las Vegas @ Interbike) in the next 14 days. Thanks Orbea Bicycles! Time to go fast again!