Of torches

No, the torches I'm referring to aren't the ones used by mobs with pitchforks, they're the ones that are passed on, instead. This has been a season of glimpsing that passing of the torch. In recent weeks, our son, Nick, has taken his riding to the next level. He has really committed to 'cross, even jumping on the trainer Fridays after school to do his openers for the weekend races. He's only 11 years old! This dedication has been rewarded by a streak of podiums, including 2 wins in snowy, slick conditions in Colorado, and 2nd overall for the weekend in the mud of Jingle Cross. He's going into the weekend of States riding a wave of confidence and eager for hard conditions.

On the hunt in Iowa City

On the hunt in Iowa City

Given Carl's reduced racing this season, this has created an interesting dynamic, and maybe one we should have anticipated. The focus has shifted from Mom & Dad's races, and the kids just being there for fun, to making sure Nick has everything he needs for his race. His level of engagement and responsibility for himself in preparation has caused us to want to help him--to the point where Carl has raced even less in order to not be a distraction.

We remember watching our friend Harold reduce his own racing, even dropping out halfway through races at times to prepare his sons for their race. At the time we didn't understand that. Now, his younger son is the defending National Champion and his older will race his first World Cup race this weekend! They're both great kids, and if ours can develop into half the quality (and ability) of his, we'd be overjoyed.

Heading for the win at SOCO Littleton CX

Heading for the win at SOCO Littleton CX

Its funny--when viewed from outside, it might appear to be a sacrifice, but we just feel proud. We've had conversations with numerous other parents of athletic kids about how hard to push them and the balance of making sure it's still fun. Our personal approach is not to push, but make the kid pull it toward themselves, instead. We refuse to 'force' Nick to go to practice or head out for a ride. We got into a cycle of that for a while this summer, when he was training for the Courage Classic, and we finally just told him that we're done with that. If he wants to train and race, we'll help, but it's on him to make it happen.

He had to earn his way to Nationals again this year by showing commitment to school, training, and general health. His joy when we told him last weekend that he was going was so awesome! Of course, next year he'll be at the low end of his age group again, so his results will suffer, but hopefully the enthusiasm, dedication, and maturity will stick around. Cross is such a great sport and community!


Magazine Girl!

As many of you have likely already seen (I've heard from a few), Kristal graces Blue's ad on pg 12 of the latest issue of Cyclocross magazine. We knew this was coming, and it brings up a host of thoughts and memories.

First and foremost, it serves as a reminder of the lesson learned that year. The picture in the ad above was taken during Kristal's race at Nats in Madison, January, 2013. That day the course was littered with frozen ruts, liberally coated with greasy mud. Kristal had a horrible race. She crashed multiple times and it completely got into her head, resulting in one of her worst overall finishes at Nationals. She was crushed afterwards. She couldn't believe she had let course conditions beat her. Take it from me--it made for a long drive home. We had long discussions about making sure that race burned in her guts and served as motivation for her ultimate goal 2 weeks later at Master's Worlds in Louisville, KY.

Race morning in Louisville dawned cold and frozen. During preride, the few places with water on the course were splashing up and freezing on our brake tracks (cantis, of course). Kristal, however, was attacking the course, making it hard on me trying to keep up on our preview laps. Afterward, I spent the time while she was on the trainer sitting by a heater in the ProBike Express tent, chipping ice off the wheels with our windshield scraper, worrying about the conditions.

As you probably know, Kristal blew off the line at the start, only briefly relinquishing the lead early on the first lap before riding away from the field for the win. On her last pass of the pits, I saw a huge grin on her face. She had used the negative experience at Nats to harden her and drive her to victory on the day.

I think this is an important lesson; we learn way more from negative experiences than positive ones. Make sure to use them--immerse yourself in them, study them, sink into the frustration--then squeeze as many drops of motivation from them as you possibly can. They will fire you up.

Another overall more pleasant thought that comes up with this ad, though, is a deep appreciation for our long association with Blue bikes. Kristal's first big win, the B race in Kansas City year 1, was on a Blue CXC. We've always felt at home on their bikes, and Orlando Chinea, the National Sales Manager for Blue, has been one of our most ardent supporters. In fact, he was the driving force in our creation of RapidRacing. He kept pushing us "Look, just create your own team, I'll sponsor you" (make sure to read that in a Spanish accent), and finally we took the leap.

Other than a brief period with another brand, we've been on Blue bikes ever since, and our whole family races on them. We are huge fans of the brand and people associated with it. They have huge hearts and care deeply about the experience of their customers. We are truly proud to be associated with them.

In closing, we'd like to apologize for the quiet period--Kristal had taken a step back the past few weeks after some fatigue, but now we're back in action and ready to finish the season strong! So even the headline on Blue's ad seems prophetic...

Thanks for reading.

US Open of CX!

As may seem appropriate to many, we are the title sponsor for the bike pits at the US Open of CX UCI Cyclocross races in Boulder this weekend! Carl is one of the famous 'pit men' of the local scene, often found working in the pit, and almost certainly during the SW Open/Elite races. He has collected many a pit pass over the years from some of the coolest domestic venues. Especially in this past year, when he was sidelined by injury, pitting for teammates and friends was his best way to stay involved!

The team will be out at the races all weekend, hanging out in the Blue Bicycles tent (shown below at last weekend's excellent Cross of the North). We'll have a few cases of Runa Energy Drink and a cooler full of Fluid Performance for people to try. Don't miss our list of gently used, well maintained frames & forks, wheels, and parts for sale either--never too soon to start holiday shopping!

Look for us near in the podium!

Look for us near in the podium!


Tour of the new whip!

Now that she has a few races in on it, thought it was a good time to give a tour and review of Kristal's new Blue Norcross EX bikes. We'll focus here on the 'A' bike, but I'll detail the (minor) build differences between it and the 'B' bike.

Starting with the frames themselves, we are overjoyed to be back on Blue after a 2 year hiatus and have been getting a lot of questions about the company. It's true--Blue is back, with solid financing and a great management team. These bikes feel like home to us, having had a lot of success on them, including multiple Nationals podiums for Kristal along with her Master's World Championship in 2013. The only change in geometry is a slightly (2cm) taller head tube, which just means we can use fewer spacers. The ride is still the same stiff, reliable, 'point and shoot' that we always loved from Blue.

As for components, this year we ventured into Ultegra Di2 for the drivetrain. So far we love it! The fast, precise shifting, even under load, is amazing! We're past the novelty phase where we were shifting WAY more than needed and now just enjoy the fast shifts that come at the push of a button. The chainrings are the excellent 46/36 from Wickwerks, which deliver insanely fast front shifting paired with Ultegra cranks and Stages powermeter. Our 'B' bikes use DuraAce mechanical, which was handed down from our old 'A' bikes and certainly isn't much of a compromise! Cranksets here are FSA Energy with FSA chainrings and always Time pedals throughout.

Our rolling stock is still happily American Classic, with the Carbon 46 wheels for race day, with Ashima rotors and the bomb proof TCR wheels for training. We use Challenge tubulars, with a full quiver including the Chicane (our personal favorite for most Colorado courses), Fango, Baby Limus, and Limus for the muddy conditions of our dreams.

Slowing the bikes is still the responsibility of the excellent TRP Hy/Rd brakes. We've rarely been early adopters, but have never regretted going with these brakes two years ago. They are easy to maintain (no hoses full of fluid) and provide reliable, solid stopping power when needed. Having raced for years with canti's on carbon wheels, that's definitely appreciated!

Incidental parts are Thompson seatposts on all bikes topped by WTB Deva saddle for Kristal and Fizik Arione for Carl. FSA handlebars wrapped in LizardSkins tape with a Ritchey stem complete the cockpit. Finally, we're big fans of the Yokozuna cable and housing sets. Their compressionless housing is key for making either mechanical or hybrid brakes work their best!

These bikes will be at our Blue Cycles tent this weekend at Cross of the North in Ft Collins and next weekend at US Open of CX in Boulder. Come on by and check them out in person!

Teaching the future!

A little over a week ago, Carl and Kristal had the opportunity once again to coach at the Junior Cyclocross Camp up in the mountains of Colorado. The camp had nearly 130 kids, ranging in age from 6 to 18 from Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Utah. This year, it seemed there were more younger and less experienced kids than in past seasons. This seems to be a great sign for the future growth of cx, but also could have had something to do with the fact that, contrary to past seasons, the race that weekend not only offered Junior categories, but was also a Gold level series race. That likely meant that some racers stayed home to capture points.

Nonetheless, it was a great time, with a lot of enthusiasm and fun energy! Kristal is in her third year coaching at the camp and had a strong group of intermediate riders, while Carl had the youngest 'rookies' for his second year in a row. That group is a lot of fun, since their learning curve is steep, with every rep bringing dramatic improvement!

In addition to riding and skills drills, we also worked on conditioning, maintenance and general bonding among the junior community. The camp is primarily organized by Deirdre Moynihan (remember that name from previous events?) and Clint Bickmore, but countless others play crucial roles in bringing the whole thing together.

Kristal's group preparing for barrier practice

Kristal's group preparing for barrier practice

Junior Coach Cade preaching barrier gospel

Junior Coach Cade preaching barrier gospel

Sand Skills!

Cornering!

Cornering!

Stretch and strengthening!

Stretch and strengthening!

Teaching how to clown around and mug for the camera during staging

Teaching how to clown around and mug for the camera during staging

Twin Blue Norcross EX, ready for action!

Twin Blue Norcross EX, ready for action!


Women's CX Clinic

This last weekend I had the honor of being one of the coaches at the BRAC women's Cyclocross clinic. Some of the women had a bit of CX experience but we had many newbies. I find it very inspiring and exciting to be around people new to this sport. It's easy to forget how fun, and intimidating, your first few seasons can be. I love to feed off their excitement and get back to the basics of really enjoying the awesome cx community.

Lynn and Rebecca imparting their expertise on dismounts and remounts.

We spent the day working on dismount/remounts, cornering, starts, barriers, riding off-camber and even a bit of curb hoping! The day ended with a quick mock race to practice some of the new skills and happy hour!

Start practice

Start practice

As an added bonus, many of the women were out at the Rhyolite race the very next day!

Cornering with Tracy and Lynn

Thanks to Dierdre Moynihan, Tracy Yates, Colin Yates, Lynn Bush, Rebecca Gross, Kim Nordquist, Dierdre Garvey and Kimberly Nuffer for having me!

Sweet Sponsor Suite for 2015/16 CX Season!

We are extremely excited to announce our partners for the 2015/16 cx season!

First of all, Foxtrot Wheel & Edge is stepping up as our title sponsor, so we will now be RapidRacing prepared by Foxtrot Wheel & Edge. We are incredibly appreciative of JD and Dana's support and belief in us.

We also want to welcome Wesley and ProBike Express. We've known Wesley for years and his service is incredible. We're psyched to formalize our relationship going forward!

Rich from Fluid has been with us from the inception of our team and we really appreciate his continuing faith and enthusiasm! Plus, his Performance and Recovery products are the best we've tried.

American Classic is another 'charter sponsor', as they've believed in us from the start as well. We continue to have success and reliable performance from all their wheels (10 pair on Boni bikes alone!) and love working with Ellen and Cody.

Finally, we are very happy to have Runa and YogaPod returning for another year. We love their products and positioning and in both cases, feel like the more we have, the better off we'll be!


Colorado State Championships!

This weekend is the culmination of the Colorado 'cross racing season for 2014 with the State Championships in Castle Rock at Rhyolite Regional Park!

Follow our Twitter feed: @rapid_racing or on Facebook for updates throughout the weekend!

Key times are:

Saturday:

8:10a SM35+/4 Colin ][ 9:55a MM35+ Boups ][ 12:50p MW35+ Kristal ][ 1:40p MM45+ Rob

Sunday:

8:55a SM4 Colin ][ 10:45a SW4 LeeAnn ][ 1:50p SW Open Kristal & Errin

Unfortunately, Bard is out of town on work travel, but Carl will be manning the pits and trying to keep up with updates!

View from the pits: Women’s Cycling

Now that I’ve extolled the virtues of our ‘never say die’ junior racers, I’d like to turn to the growing phenomenon that is Women’s Cyclocross on the front range.

I’ve been standing in the pits watching the women’s fields ride by for eight years now, so I think I have a pretty good perspective. The growth I’ve seen culminating in this season is nothing short of amazing. Many weekends, the SW4 category has been among the largest fields! This is a phenomenal success story that’s really heartening to see. I remember not long ago, when the women had few fields to choose from during the day and still it would be considered a ‘large field’ if it was over 20 riders!

Now, we have a Cat 4 field that is very respectably sized, feeding into a solid SW3 field that in turn is moving women up into the SW Open with nice frequency. Besides those three, we still also have Junior and Master’s fields as well! This has led to not only larger fields, but stronger ones, since more riders slows the upgrade process to an extent, giving riders more experience before being thrown into the shark tank that is the SW Open.

What has been especially cool is seeing women such as Deb Homan, Rhonda Mansell, and LeeAnn Benesh (and I’m sure there are many others, those are just the ones I know), who were athletes, but either uninterested or even intimidated by the idea of racing cyclocross. Now all three are regular and enthusiastic participants, smiling through the pain most weekends! LeeAnn took her first win last Saturday, and Rhonda has been doubling up, doing the 4’s and 35+ (back to back!) on most recent weekends!

The other fun thing to watch--and it’s a marked difference from the Men’s race that becomes immediately apparent from the pits or tapeside--is the vibe in the women’s races. While the guys will engage in aggressive argy bargy, even chopping each other’s lines or sprinting dangerously for 38th place, the women’s field presents a more genial, but no less competitive environment. They are absolutely trying to beat each other, but also display at least a modicum of caring, even mid-race. There have been numerous times when riders will pass the pits, letting a pit crew know their rider has an issue and will be coming in. I’ve even been instructed to give one of Kristal’s wheels on occasion to a competitor who flatted! Never seen THAT happen in the Men’s field… It reminds me of the line that was said about Katie Compton, that she would “rip your legs off, but go back to help you find them afterward”. I’m not saying by any means one is better than the other, but it’s great seeing the women’s fields grow to provide more balance to the environment.

I guess the point I’m trying to get to through all this rambling is that, while I’m happy to see more people participating in cyclocross, it’s even better if we can get the demographics more evenly dispersed. There have always been plenty of guys, but avid racers serve as our best recruiters, so the greater diversity we have, the more people we can get aboard! That in turn leads to a healthier community, more races (although this year’s schedule was a bit lean), and perhaps even sponsorship dollars if we’re smart about it!

Life lessons in cx

If you haven't seen it already, there's a great blog in Bicycling (http://www.bicycling.com/blogs/fitchick/be-your-personal-best) by Selene Yeager on maintaining perspective while racing. One particular line really resonated with me "It’s about handling adversity not just with power, but with grace."

Two weeks ago, at the Schoolyard CX and Feedback Cup CX races, I witnessed actions by two of our local junior racers that have really stuck with me. One of them lost a pedal during his race--as in it actually fell off--but continued on, pedaling one-legged like he was doing some sort of crazy mid-race drills. The other got the hole shot then immediately washed out on a corner, nailing his knee on a rock and dropping his chain. Nonetheless, he stayed calm, ran to a wide spot then stopped to put his chain back on and finished the race, holding his knee and grimacing in pain.

Both of these boys are usually found at the front of their races. These mishaps pushed them to the back of the field. Many of us may have just thrown in the towel at that point, waiting for 'another day', or maybe even gotten off our bikes and thrown a tantrum! These boys aren't even 10 years old, but calmly handled the situations with grace, setting an example for all of us.

I love the fact that we've seen such growth in junior cycling as there are so many great lessons to learn: training, nutrition, commitment, dedication. But perhaps especially in cyclocross, where things can and will go wrong in a race, the greatest lesson may be overcoming adversity. When the inevitable malfunction occurs, whether mechanical or physical, will we throw in the towel and quit, throw a fit, or lash out at our fellow riders, or will we find a way around it and keep going like these boys did?

They'll run into issues in 'real life' too--we all do--and they'll be better prepared for it now. I'm not trying to make cx a metaphor for life, or any more important than it is, but everything helps build the foundation for the future and you're never too old to learn. I feel like I got a reminder from these two boys that weekend.

 

Words from LeeAnn

Valmont

At the beginning of the season, I said that I was never going to race at Valmont. My lack of bike handling skills make all of the bank turns and whoop-di-whatnots seem like they are about 15 feet larger than they actually are...and I am not a big fan of crashing. With my in-laws in town acting like a built in babysitter, I gave into the temptation and registered for the race.

It was AMAZING! The course was so fun! While there was a lot of hard work involved (mostly all of those right hand turns and such-cyclocross is seriously 90% mental!), there was so much reward. I adored the long climb up the front side of the course and the stair running. Nice to be a “former runner” on that course.

After battling with some ladies for the entire race (that was new for me!), it came down to the final finish straight. I came out of the last turn onto the finishing straight 3rd to start my sprint until I was well clear of the gravely corner (thanks, Errin!). As soon as I turned, I put all of the power down that my legs could muster. I passed the first of the 2 ladies fairly quickly and went all out for the finish line. I snuck up on her right side (I don’t think she even knew I was there) and caught her just as we went over the line. It was the coolest feeling looking down and seeing our wheels going over the line together...and even cooler that mine was just in front of hers! Beat her by 0.02 seconds.

And then proceeded to try not to collapse onto the ground. It was the most exciting bike ride of my life!

Interlocken

If I just say, “that was hard,” is that enough of a “race report?” Holy moly. That.was.hard.

About 15 minutes before the race, I was warming up and broke a spoke. Thankfully, Terri (an awesome rider who was just about to race her first Cat 3 field), allowed me to borrow her husband’s wheel and kept my race dreams alive.

The race was pretty uneventful. A LOT of pedaling. Grass. Run ups. Sand. Right turns. Nothing overly exciting. I finished 15th race and was pretty okay with that result. After all, the next day would be another and my first and only double race weekend!

Powering through the tough grass at Interlocken

 Xilinx

What a difference a day makes! I went into this race a little nervous. The day before provided a thoroughly exhausting race that made me question my sanity about even thinking about getting on my bike again (let alone racing). All of that was erased with the start of Blue Sky Velo. It is a glorious steep uphill asphalt climb. **Angels Singing** Exactly my cup of tea. Thanks to a little smaller of a field, I was able to have a front row call up. WHAT?! Front row and a climb. Music to my ears!

I went out hard at the start and got the Holeshot!!! I never in a million years would have bet on that happening this season, but it was AWESOME! I got to the top and hit the dirt first. By the bottom of the hill, my lack of experience had me sit up a bit to let some ladies pass so I could see what lines they were taking. With each lap, I gained more confidence and enjoyed the 2 lovely climbs on the course. It was a bit shocking that my legs felt so good (must be the trailer training!). I finished a solid 5th incredibly excited for that result!

Schoolyard Cross

Our Team’s Race!! Coming into this race, I had no idea what to expect. It is one of the few venues I had never spectated at and had no idea what the terrain would be like. It was pretty much a “love one half, terrified of the other half” kind of course. Errin was awesome and pre-rode the course with me. There was a section that was totally off camber and all right turns into the uphills. We were not friends. During the pre-ride I had to bail on 2 sections and stop to talk myself into one of the downhills. I was pretty nervous because this would be the first section of the course. Luckily, the backside was way more fun. Lots of climbing and a pretty long drag on the road.

Kristal gave me a pep talk about the off camber before the start and it totally helped. I started in the second row and went out pretty quick, but I backed off as we went in to the sketchy section. I ended up having to bail on one of the uphills because there were a ton of girls and we are all a little sketch with the bike handling part! By the time we went by the pits, Colin let me know that I was about 12th.

The rest of the first lap was great! I was able to ride all of the rest of the stuff that I couldn’t during the pre-ride. Thank you race adrenaline! Over the course of the race I passed a lot of ladies. Thank you uphills! Even the hard section was pretty relaxed by the last lap! There was a girl in front of me and I let her go a bit too far on the technical section and kind of just let her go....oh how I wish I hadn’t! I finished 4th, just 7 seconds behind her. Drats! Next time I am coming for you lady!! It was an awesome day of racing!!

Updates from Bard

Cross of the North (races 2 and 3)

All four times I've raced the COTN courses at The Ranch, they always manage to have a feature or two that scares me to death the first time I come up to it.  During pre-ride, I'm lucky to get through some of these drops rubber side down.  But every time I've survived the race having conquered something new, and feeling much more confident in my riding and racing.

Bard rocking the runup!

Photo by Pedal Dancer

This year's installment featured a lot of the deep, wet peanut butter mud that I got baptized with last year.  While most of the course was nice and tacky, the north end in the bowl was super thick, and not really rideable on Saturday.  That meant I was finally able to really put this running advantage I keep telling myself that I have to some good use!  The few guys that tried riding the deep stuff had little success, and with the exception of a very graceful slide through the tape on the first lap, I was able to pick up a spot or two in the run on most laps.  Unfortunately I started cracking on the last lap, and dropped a couple spots on the long climb out of the bowl, ending up just inside the top twenty for the first time this season.

Sunday was drier, but with all the power washing going on in the pit, the north side was still pretty wet and deep.  I was able to ride it three times, but stalled and had to run it a couple laps.  The legs felt better today, and I kept up the effort though all five laps.  One bobble on the final lap set me down in one of the tight turns, costing me one spot, but I managed another top twenty finish.  Tons of fun on great courses this weekend...thanks to the COTN crew!  Hopefully I can make it out and race all three days next year.

Looking calm following the off camber drop

Photo by Bo Bickerstaff

Cyclo-X Interlocken

Our unseasonably warm CX season continued this weekend for the fourth race in the Cyclo-X series.  Travel had forced me to miss the first three races, so I was glad to finally get my chance to line up, as Without Limits always puts on great events.  I ended up in the fifth row of the starting grid, by far the furthest back I'd been all season, making me think every 35+4 ranked higher than me must have shown up.  The start was re-routed away from the first bottleneck along the sidewalk, instead going up along the off-camber hillside.  While this kept the first couple hundred meters wide, the hill it went up sloped down the right, and got steeper the further left you went.  I made sure to line up as far right as I could, in case things got messy...which they did.

My streak of good starts continued, and the field parted right in front of me, giving me room to move up into the top twenty.  As we hit the first off camber running six or seven wide, somebody high up on the slope lost traction, and started a pileup that moved quickly downhill towards me. I snuck through unscathed on the back of a big lead group.  Coming up to the one tricky part of the course, I was faced with a run or ride decision into a short, but very deep mud/bog.  Given I was in traffic, I hopped off and ran, picking up a couple more spots with a good remount at the top of the bump.

I rode well and steady for the first two laps, hanging on to the top twenty.  Unfortunately, my streak of blowing up early and going backwards also continued.  I'm definitely not at my best in the heat, and I was cooked by the fourth lap.  With my legs cramping, I slipped into 35th place, a bit disappointed given how good things started.

Blue Sky Cup

I love the courses at Xilinx.  This is the first place I ever raced CX, and the site of a couple of my best results ever, so I was looking forward to lining up Sunday morning.  Some cloud cover and gusty winds kept the temps down, which made me happy after yesterday's broiler.

I didn't get my greatest start, trapped behind a bit of crowd, but I managed to move up several spots during the first lap, well into the top twenty.  The cloud cover burned off and it started getting hotter the rest of the way; despite that my legs felt great.  This wasn't a very technical course, with only a couple of moderately tricky features, which allowed me to ride about as mistake-free a race as I've ever had.  I felt strong every lap, jockeying for spots the whole race, and notching one more top twenty finish.

So lots of good things coming out of this past weekend.  Our team had a great showing, especially the ladies (as usual)!  Every weekend I've doubled up and raced both days I've had a better performance on Sunday, and I feel like I'm moving the right direction as far as my fitness and skills go.  For the first time I'm consistently competing from start to finish, racing for position with other riders, as opposed to time-trialing by myself in the back half of the pack

CX of the North

This last weekend was a new experience for me, 3 days of CX racing! The event was held at The Ranch in Loveland and was truly well done. The amount of work put into the course, planning and overall involvement was some of the highest quality I've ever seen. Each day we raced on a slightly altered course and the changes definitely impacted the flow of the race.

Earlier in the week we had received pretty heavy rainfall so I was anticipating some fun "crossy" conditions. The mud at this venue has received a reputation for being particularly sticky. Think instant adobe on your drivetrain. 

We arrived about 5:00 on Friday to get ready for that evenings race. Racing under the lights is always a cool experience and I was really looking forward to this. The course was well lit and we even had a delay because one of the light towers had blown out and they were driving cars out to shine their headlights! The promoters were on it! The course had dried out a bit during the day and provided lots of tacky mud for awesome corning and a nice mudpit by the pits. The entire night was full of cheering, smiling and just enjoying the moment. I even yelled at Carl as I went by the pits, "this is so fun"! Definitely one of my favorite races.

©ShotWilliam

Saturday started out foggy. We arrived at the venue around 7 to get ready for Nick's race (our son). The course was muddy from the moisture but by the time my race came around had dried out quite a bit. I had a decent warmup but had a bad start. I tried to battle my way up a bit but just didn't have much. I raced as hard as I could and was fairly satisfied with the out come.

Our "home" for the weekend. ©JimHeuck

Day 3...New territory. Again we got to the venue early for Nick's race. The course wasn't as wet as Sat. but the area by the pit was still muddy. I really wasn't sure what to expect of this race but it turned out pretty ok. I had a better start and even moved up a few places. I am really happy with how I rode most of the technical stuff and the power sections. I felt way better then expected so all in all it was a good day.

Racing with Ashley Zoerner, one of my fav juniors.

Big kudos to the entire 1st City Mortgage team. You have raised the bar and created a very fun festival atmosphere with this event. Let's do it again next year!

Mud! ©GreenCurryPhotography


Junior CX Camp

This past weekend, Kristal, Carl, and Boups all had the opportunity to help out at BRAC's Junior CX Camp. This is a full weekend in the mountains above Denver, practicing skills and teaching kids about cyclocross--what could be more cool!?

This year's edition had nearly 140 kids attending, ranging in age from 6 to 16. That alone is testament to the popularity of cx in Colorado! As in past years, the main organizer was Deirdre Moynihan, who puts in countless hours organizing various cycling events through the year, but as a team dedicated to growing Women's and Junior cycling, this one is closest to our hearts.

Carl coached the Rookie group, comprised of 7 kids who had very little experience with cx. It was awesome to watch their skills and confidence grow throughout the day, with two of them moving up at the lunch break and two more ready to do so by day's end. Kristal was paired with a large group of beginners and junior coach, Ashley Zoerner, helping her. Meanwhile, Boups was coaching the Advanced group--13 strong riders, including TWO National Champions!

Saturday was spent working on cx specific skills--turning, barriers, braking, sand, climbing, and descending, as well as general riding on trails around the camp. Sunday was a practice race, with younger and beginner kids heading out first on the 2 mile course, followed by the advanced and older kids (and coaches), in a hotly contested event that eventually saw Boups finish in second (to a 16-yr old)!

Nick and Cate also attended the camp and we saw a huge improvement in both of them in technical skills as well as general fitness over the weekend.

In addition to participating as coaches, our team also sponsored in the form of a $500 donation as well as manning an aid station at the Denver Century ride this summer in order to secure an additional $500 donation from that organization.

Overall, it was a great time and we look forward to seeing 'our kids' from Camp out at the races and continuing to help with their development. There are great photos from the event on our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/RapidRacingCyclingTeam

and also at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/21460753@N07/sets/72157647737059499/

and

http://dmoynihan.smugmug.com/Cycling2014/BRAC-CX-Camp

Enjoy! and thanks for reading.

 

A newbie's view...from LeeAnn

Boulder Res

Racing bikes is fun! As someone who is very new to bike racing (and bike riding in general), I was a little nervous going into my first cyclocross race. Over the spring and summer, I worked very hard to build the fitness that I knew it would take to survive a ‘cross race, but “mommy training” means a lot of trailer rides and trainer time. These don’t exactly translate into good bike handling. The being said, this was maybe the most fun I have had on a bike, EVER.

The race start was a little intimidating, but luckily not many Cat 4 ladies wanted to brave the early, cold start and miles (okay, not really) of sand! Before I knew it we were off and riding. The first lap was a little scary and I had to work to control my heart rate (not really out of effort, but out of nervous excitement). Once we spread out a little bit, I felt much more comfortable. The course was hard and bumpy and there was a lot of “running” in the sand. Before I knew it, there was 1 lap to go and I hadn’t been lapped (goal accomplished)! I worked really hard to maintain my position and was excited (and shocked) to finish 5th in the race! By the time I was back at the car, I was already wondering which race I would do next.

It was an absolutely amazing experience and I am incredibly excited for the rest of the season!

Xilinx

Spectating 4 seasons of cyclocross gives you a good idea of what a course is kind of going to look like and luckily I have had some pretty cool people close to me racing and showing me how it is done. At the beginning of the season, I was not sure that I would want to be racing this course. Sure, everyone talks about how fun it is…but to me, there were some technical areas that I was not quite sure I could conquer. Maneuvering between trees with powdery sand and tree roots isn’t exactly something I see on the trainer often.

For some reason, I decided to give it a go anyhow. Why not, right?

The start of this race was a bit insane! There were 50+ women in my race and that meant lots of calls ups and starting WAY back. Yay being a newbie! When the whistle sounded, my large group of new friends and I raced up the first climb of the course. Climbing…on pavement…that’s my thing! I tried weaving my way around ladies (a little sketchy and scary!) and was in the upper half by the time we hit the dirt. Heart rate-HIGH…here comes the technical parts! There is a random log that most everyone else was able to ride over. My brain got the best of me and the flashbacks to people eating it over the log in previous seasons made me too tentative. I chose to run it and it cost me some time each lap (except the first! There were so many people there that I was able to run past quite a few), but I was able to gain most lost spots back on the upper straight section.

I managed to stay upright for all 4 laps (WIN!) and even LOVED the giant mud puddle that was present in the second half of the course. Passing people was a little tougher on this course and I ended up getting stuck in traffic a few times, but in the end I finished 18th (about the top 1/3) and was really excited with that! I finished filthy dirty and with a giant smile! I had to fight my 15 month old for my Fluid Recovery drink after the race because she loves it so much! Can’t wait for the next race.  

The Vitos and the UCI weekend

CX Cup and Boulder Cup.
So Errin and I showed up for her race before the sun rose on Saturday morning.  It definitely felt more like a “cross” day with the temperatures hovering around 32 degrees.  The course is always a good one for me with not much elevation change and fast corners where I can carry more speed and use my bike handling.  We were surprised to be presented with a course that had more sand sections than any other course in my past 3 years of racing.  Good thing I’ve been running hills every week, I thought.

Errin raced first and had a fantastic race taking the first Rapid Racing podium for the day in 3rd.  Immediately afterward I went off from a first row starting position and stayed with the front group for the first lap.  I was passed by a few people and ended up in the 1st chase group ending up taking 13th.  It was a good race as I finally could push hard without my back gremlins bugging me.

Off to the next day and Errin had another great race pushing hard the whole way taking 3rd behind some really fast juniors racing this weekend.  I ended up in 22nd after a good race but suffering up the long climb after the front straight.  The only place I was passed was on the way up this climb and then I would make up ground on the bike handling and flatter sections!!  Guess I know what I need to work on!!

It was a great weekend of racing and the fit and ease of putting on the Verge skin suits was awesome!!  We were really happy to not have to do the skin suit awkward dance trying to put our arms in them.  Off to the next race and improving every weekend!!

First Few Weeks…Kristal

It's CX Season!! Whoohoo! I'm really excited for our expanded team (up to 8 members!) and to see old friends again. 

Kick It CX

With the new schedule this year, we are out allll day long. Our son Nick races at 9:00 and I go at 3:30. In between Cate "races" (it's not a race mom) around Noon. Unfortunately Carl is out for a bit with a knee injury so he is playing super teammate by pitting and cheering. However, since we are there all day we get to watch our teammates and friends race!

While cheering on our teammate Colin, Cate snapped this shot of Errin.

One of my favorite parts of the day, taking our Junior team, Cate, around in her Pre-J event.

the Castlerock venue is always done well. John Haley puts so much work and love into the course and he nailed it again this year. Being the first race of the season I had a lot of cobwebs to shake out. My start was mediocre, I think I forgot how fast the start is! I didn't feel too bad on the runup (a bit of running in my training has paid off). I was racing pretty okay but I dropped my chain going into a little hill and had to stop to pull it back on. Then I dropped it again, but fortunately near the pit since it was really stuck and I had to run. So the race was a mixed bag, but a decent start to the season. 

US Open of CX/Boulder Cup

Starting the season off with a bang! Other than States, this is the biggest weekend of local racing! I've been pretty nervous about this weekend since it was announced last year. I'm not on my A game this early and last year I had terrible races at these 2 events. However, I was hopeful that things would go better since I've been training more consistently with the help of my new coach, Grant Holicky. 

Boulder Res Sand. photo: ShotWilliam

Saturday's race at the Boulder Res was pretty typical. A combo of bumpy grass and a lot of sand. Fortunately, over the course of the day the sand had become completely rideable. I had a decent start and was riding pretty well. On the 4th lap coming back onto the pavement my rear wheel came out of the drops and my brake rotor was bent so the wheel wouldn't turn. Sooo, I had a long run to the pits. Fortunately, I've been running a bit so it wasn't as awful as it could have been. But by the time I got to the pits, the leader was coming around so I knew I would finish up the last 1/2 lap and be done. I felt good but had unfortunate luck.

Sunday took us to Valmont. The course was pretty much the same as last year which included a couple of steep ups and downs. This was the course that I suffered hard on last year so I had a score to settle. Again, I had a decent start and over all felt good, for early season. My result won't show it but I had fun and I'm getting back into the groove.

The Valmont Stairs

Xilinx

The Puddle Photo: ShotWilliams

This is one of my favorite venues. I did my first race here back in Dec of 2004 in a complete blizzard, so it holds a special place in my CX history. The course was very familiar but with the added bonus of very deep 150' long puddle going by the pits. The field was small but strong as ever. I had a good start and was right with the lead group hitting the dirt. My focus this week was on riding well and maintaining momentum. Our lead group of 5 established a bit of a gap. I was sitting in 5th and started to get gapped. I didn't put in the dig that I needed to on the paved hill on the 3rd lap and I lost the group (something to work on!). I maintained 5th for the rest race and was generally happy with how I felt/rode.

First Few Weeks…Bard

Kick-It CX

Opening weekend this season was the Kick It CX at Rhyolite Park in Castle Rock.  There isn't anything too technical or intimidating about this course, so it was definitely a good place for me to shake off the summer rust and get racing again.  I started second row, and was able to get through the first tricky turns without losing any ground.  Once we hit the grass, I moved up several places as we approached the first run-up.  After the run-up and steep drop, there's a long, winding climb up to the high point on the course, where I moved up into sixth or seventh place, right on the back of the lead group.  At this point I was feeling strong, but I ran into a bit of bad luck in the sand pit.  Most of the pack got through clean, but I got caught up in traffic in the sand, and couldn't quite ever catch back on to the leaders.  

Bard playing on the lawn Photo: RapidRacing

Whatever good feelings I had as I completed the first lap faded quickly.  I didn't feel like I was redlining, but as I tackled the steep run up for the second time, my legs got very heavy, and I spent the next three laps moving backwards.  On the final lap I was able to give it some gas, and I picked up three or four spots, finishing right in the middle of the pack.  

US Open of Cyclocross

Not a great day for me, unfortunately.  Of the four or five times I've raced at the Res, this was the toughest course I've faced.  Lots of sand as usual, but no clear lines through them early in the morning, so I spent a lot of time off the bike, running up and down the beach.  I ended up right behind guys who stalled out/crashed in the same muddy ravine crossing two of the three times I went through it, crashing pretty hard myself the second time.  From there I was feeling strong and steadily picking up places, but I flatted about halfway through the second lap, just past the pit, and ended up with a DNF.  

Boulder Cup

Better day than yesterday, despite a tough start getting taken out twice by other crashes at the bottom of each of the first two descents (feels like the theme of the weekend!).  That pushed me from a third row call up to near the back of the pack in the first two or three minutes.  From there my only goal was to ride hard and steady for the rest of the race, and take advantage of the opportunity to practice some trickier terrain at race pace.  I moved up two or three spots per lap, and was happy with my ride.  Just have to work on getting out in front early and avoid some of the messy traffic.

First Few Weeks...Rob

The 2014 Colorado cross season is now in full effect, with the first two weekends of racing already in the books; the first race on September 7th, followed the next weekend by two big races in Boulder. With dry courses and fresh legs, I have managed relatively decent results so far, mid-pack finishes in both 45+ and 35,3, qualifying as acceptable for me in cyclocross.

I am coming into this season little sense of my cycling form. My riding has been fairly typical for me, including one quality day per week and the remainder consisting of bike commuting. After a relatively bad result in the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb in August, my only bike race of the spring/summer, I have come to realize and accept that I need more rest days as I get older, so I am now taking two days a week off the bike, doing easy jogging on the treadmill instead. Combining running with cycling to prepare for the triathlon season left my legs a little beat up, so I had to cut back on my already minimal running program to get right for cross season.

At the first cross race in Castle Rock, last minute mechanical issues prior to the start of the race sent me straight to the pit for a bike swap on the first lap due to a loose shifter. Well off the back at that point and riding my old-school heavy aluminum frame “B” bike, I was grateful for the pit support from my wife with help from Kristal in getting my “A” carbon frame bike ready for the next lap. Unfortunately, the bumpy downhill sections on the otherwise fun course were too much for my poorly adjusted front derailer, and I dropped the chain on almost every lap, until on my 4th chain drop I gave up on the “A” bike and jogged it back to the pit for my “B” bike to finish the race.

Rob closing in on another victim. Photo: RapidRacing

The following week at the Boulder Cup, I completed 58 minutes of racing without a mechanical, crash, or flat tire, which is fairly atypical for me in cyclocross. I am taking this weekend off due to off-the-bike commitments, but plan to be back in the game for the Flatirons race on September 28th, hopefully with my new Unovelo cross rig ready for action, having conceded that I need all the equipment advantages I can afford.

Season Wrap Up: Errin

Cyclocross 2013: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I started my second season of cross with a little experience, a lot of expectations, and an awesome new team, Rapid Racing! What I did not have, however, was much time on the bike.

First race of the season was a short TT on a super dry, bumpy course. Made the decision to ride a mountain bike and ended up winning the 4's, which was really exciting. The lack of bike training came back to bite me when the actual racing started, and I kind of muddled through the first part of the season mid pack.

top step!

top step!

Toward the end of September a friend with a ton of race experience offered to help me out with my training, who was I to say no? Results gradually got a little better and then, boom, I came away with the win at the Colorado Cross Classic at the Boulder Res. I love that course and was so excited to get a win. Little did I know I would have the high point and low point of the early season on the same weekend. The next day started with a huge amount of excitement to race the Boulder Cup at Valmont. I knew the course would be tougher, but I had a ton of confidence from the prior day and rode 4th or 5th for most of the race. On the last lap, I ended up catching and passing 2 racers, but then got passed by one of them on the final climb. Managed to catch back on and rounded the last turn on her wheel prepared to sprint it out for third-unfortunately, my excitement exceeded my bike handling and I went down hard in front of about 2 dozen spectators. I was able to get back on the bike and finish 4th, but then ended up in urgent care for 5 stitches.

Bowl of Death

Bowl of Death


After a 2 week training (but no racing) block, I was raring to go for the first Xlinx race, but ended up with a mediocre finish and a bit of frustration, and then more frustration the following week with another below-expectation finish.

Then came the Blue Sky Cup, another race at one of my favorite venues. I tried to clear my mind of the past weekends disappointments and only focus on doing the best that I could. Was really pleased to get my legs back and finished 4th.

Next weekend rolled around and it was time for the infamous Louisville Bowl of Death. Such a fun course, but so much harder than it looks. Pre rode the course and it hurt already, and I knew the high winds weren't going to help anything. Expectations were low, but after watching Kristal battle back from a mechanical, I knew I had to give it my all. The flat fast start suited me and I managed the hole shot which I somehow kept for the whole race! Win number 2!!

Flatirons CX

Flatirons CX

Then came the good and bad email; "Congratulations, you have to upgrade." Yikes!

The rest of the season racing as a 3 felt like starting all over again. Fast starts, faster girls, and much more competitive in general. Crashed lap one in my first race and ended up looking like I was pig wrestling instead of bike racing, but finished. Race 2 was a little better, but still felt like I was a bit over my head. States definitely felt like my best race of the year, not results wise, but I pushed hard, took chances, and rode the best I could.

The end of the season was totally anti-climactic. Got some terrific training in over Christmas and New Years in preparation for Nationals, and then crashed pre-riding 2 days before my race and re-opened my knee injury. The knee was too swollen to pedal, let alone run stairs or remount, so I was a spectator instead. Disappointing, but definitely fueled the fire for next year.

Feedback Cup

Feedback Cup

It was a massive learning year for me in every aspect—training, racing, bike handling, and injury management, and I still have so much to learn. Preparation for the 2014 cross season has started already!

Love my Unovelo cross bike and thanks to Fluid and FRS for keeping me fueled and Runa for helping me wake up in the mornings this season!

Huge thanks to Kristal and Carl for all of your advise on racing and technique as well as always enthusiastic cheering as I suffered. Thank you so much for inviting me to Rapid Racing and I promise I will be faster next year! Thanks also to Bard and Rob for the cheering and encouragement.