Clinic Hosted By: Steed Cycles Cyclocross Team
When: This year we are offering two clinic dates to meet the demand.
Sunday August 20th and Sunday August 27th, 7:30-9:00 am
Blogs about Cyclocross
Clinic Hosted By: Steed Cycles Cyclocross Team
When: This year we are offering two clinic dates to meet the demand.
Sunday August 20th and Sunday August 27th, 7:30-9:00 am
In the build up to the 2016 BC CX Champs we released some Instagram Videos to hype up the Championships. The 3 videos starred Richie Machhein (Giant Vancouver) SSCX Champ, Craig Richie (Easton/Garneau) Elite Champ and Kevin Calhoun 2015-16 Silver medalist. The response was huge to the campaign with over 100,000 views across all the videos.
2016 results are here.
Lowlights: The collarbone experience – it was a shame to miss out on the rest of mountain bike season, although I tried to stay in shape by aerobic spectating. At least my cowbell skills are on point now.
2016 goes down as one of the oddest years I can remember. I had big plans that I swept under the rug from a cycling perspective until I placed second at BC Provincials Category 3 in May. During that race I mustered up everything I had learned to keep my cool and jump during the race when it looked good. The personal confidence that came with that win put Super Week in sight for 2016. My BHAG has always been Gastown Grand Prix and while I was ultimately only in the game for 12 laps, it was a personal victory to even be there. I entered all the Criteriums during the week and ultimately let the pros fight it out in Whiterock as my chances at that race were slim to none.
British Columbia Cyclo-Cross Provincials is another high/low/waterlogged/frozen experience for 2016. I still don’t know how we pulled it off, but in the end everyone had a great time and some amazing racing took place. My goal in organizing racing is that the racers have a good time. I am still baffled that anyone had any fun during that race.
Thanks for all the support from friends, family, sponsors and Steed Cycles. None of this would happen if I was doing it alone.
See you in 2017.
The past year will ultimately go down as a year of growth. Plagued with illness, injury, mechanicals & a general lack of preparation (physically & mentally) throughout the year, it made for some lacklustre race day performances. Many lessons on ‘how not to do it’ will be reflected on over the off season, some of which include the following.
1. Perspective – Don’t loose perspective on why you race. Keep it fun & the mood light. Remember, you’re not getting paid to do this!
2. Perseverance – If you loose perspective, stop having fun, and you’re relatively sane, giving up is a pretty easy route to take… but you will always feel much better if you slog it out to the end, regardless of the result!
3. Stretch – It’s not about how easily you can touch your toes (or knees in my case), but allowing the body to absorb impacts so you don’t tear muscles and soft tissue in a crash… who knew!?
4. Core – Despite my disinterest in core strength exercises and reluctance to admit any supposed benefits, it turns out having a strong core actually matters to a cyclist! It helps avoid back pain and improves both power transfer & bike handling more than I could have ever been anticipated… damn! #plankssuck
The best part of bike racing is that, no matter the outcome, it’s always a blast. It definitely helps when the cycling community here in BC is an outstanding group of folks! And to top it off, the Steed Cycles family is such an amazingly supportive & inclusive team. With the continual presence of contagious smiles and good natured heckling, you can never take anything too seriously!
This years cycling season was diverse, exceptionally long and, as always, challenging. I ventured into the new territory of mountain bike racing that started in early March, built upon last years experience of road racing throughout the summer, took part in my first time trial, transitioned into long-awaited cyclocross in the fall and topped it off with some new-to-me track. I came to realize towards the end of the season that my biggest achievement was not the race results or kilometres covered by bike, but the notion of feeling as chipper, motivated and excited to ride my bike now in the midst of frosty December as I was back in muddy March. Who says it is a ski season?…I still want to rip bikes in the woods.
Cyclocross was undoubtedly the highlight of the year. Belgian mud, pouring rain and good old race battles will not be forgotten any time soon. The support of the team and friends that became one and the same this year was outstanding.
Some of the race results this year included
3rd – cat.3 – BC Provincial Time Trial Championships
6th – cat.3 – BC Provincial Road Championships
5th – 30-34 Female – Test of Metal XC
5th – 30-39 Masters – Canada Cup XCO
4th – Vanier Park – CX
6th – Queens Park CX
6th – Junkyard Cross CX
5th – Donkey Cross – Castle Park CX
3rd – Valley Cross – Cultus lake CX
5th – Pumpkin Cross CX
6th – Aldergrove CX
6th – BC Provincial Cyclocross Championships
The end of another season of cycling with the best team in town and I even managed to build on my crash streak, taking it into a second year. This year I focused on upgrading from road rash to collar bone break and pretty much nailed it by the middle of the season when, apparently, it was all starting to get a bit too much fun. Nonetheless, 2016 was a super fun season with a great team that notched some awesome results.
Highlights of the season were the Provincial Road Race Championships on a super fun course and getting back on the bike in time for the end of season RBC GranFondo Whistler.
My road season this year can best be described as “brief”. I wasn’t planning to do much road racing beyond the local Tuesday night races; however, in the end I couldn’t resist doing Super Week. My appearance at Gastown Grand Prix lasted approximately 11 minutes, but I managed to (partially) redeem myself by picking up a couple of primes in the Cat 3/4 PoCo Grand Prix later in the week.
I raced Intermediate for CX this year and was firmly (perhaps validly) categorized as a sandbagger by the end of it. I did almost all of the local races and managed to scrape together enough points for a win in the Premier Series and second in the VCXC Series. The highlights of the season for me were the two wins at Valley Cross, while the most memorable race was definitely Provincials (I just got the feeling back in my toes!), which was also my first time racing Elite.
I had tons of fun riding with such an amazing group of team mates at Steed this year. Leading the ride club groups at the start of the season was a blast, especially seeing the jump in fitness that the members accomplished by the end of the summer.
Unfortunately my race season was cut short after my second event in Whistler where I suffered some tearing in my calf muscle. I’m especially sad I missed the Provincials in Squamish that our team put so much hard work into hosting this year.
I’ve just started running again and I can’t wait to get back out on my bike in 2017!
2016 was a different year for me as I tried to balance work, a young family, and riding. My focus shifted a bit from weekly crit racing to two specific road race events. Goal number one was to get a Steed Team rider on the podium for the Master’s Provincial champs, and goal two was to perform well at the inaugural Americas Masters Games road race.
After a recon ride of the provincial road race course the team had a rough strategy for how the races would unfold (for our Cat 3, and Masters groups). Steve was on great form all season, so it was amazing to see him execute the strategy to perfection and take the win!
The Americas Masters Games was towards the end of August which helped me get more kilometres in over the summer. I had covered the Camosun St hill section numerous times over the summer to try to get a feel for any nuances as it would likely be a significant section of the race.
On the day of the race, the peloton was greeted by low cloud and mist, and a noticeable Easterly wind. This would make the long section down UBC highway a little more interesting.The masters group had many age groups racing together, which changes the tactics slightly from normal Cat racing, so it was harder to ‘play’ the racing game as it wasn’t just about shop teams! Every time a rider attacked, it was important to analyze how strong they were with respect to the group, how many team members were in the group, what age category they were in, and how many people were interested in bringing him back… Chasing back a break when you don’t have team mates to work for isn’t that gratifying, so I took a page from Dan’s racing repertoire and attacked more than I usually would (‘it’s more fun to be the hammer than the nail’). Coming into the last lap, the group had fragmented and I found myself in a small group at the front of the race. After quickly checking who was who, I realized that I was now the only person left in my age group. I worked hard to stay with the attacks until the finish, but eased off the back coming into the final corner as there was little point of banging bars to the finish when it was not going to positively effect my race. It was a great event to participate in, and I was happy to win my age group.
I’m looking forward to 2017, and have taken some advice from Eric on how he manages to get so many kilometres in with family so I plan on putting that to good use!
The 2016 CX series marks my 16th year of racing cyclocross. It was an amazing season after enduring some health issues last season and into most of this year. I was happy when things turned around just in time for CX training.
The Steed team is absolutely amazing and it is a pleasure to know each team member. Everyone is incredibly supportive and driven to achieve their own goals and goals of the team. The season wouldn’t be the same without them. Big thanks to Steed Cycles for their support and for making the team possible.
I am so excited to see so many new faces joining the sport and especially excited to have so many new women in the elite field. I love to see so many people enjoying the sport that I hold dear.
I am especially proud to finish in the lead of the VCXC series in the Elite women’s field. Finishing as the most consistent rider means a lot when I wasn’t sure I would be able to race. My favorite races this season include the classic Moor Cross in Redmond, Washington. We had an amazing day prior to the race exploring Redmond via bicycle. The weather was beautiful sunshine and this course never disappoints. I also loved the Valley Cross Cultus lake course which is well suited to my skills, flat and twisty. I always love a good sand section! I also enjoyed the challenges of the Aldergrove course this year. Big thanks to everyone that put on a race this year making the season amazing.
4th Fort Langley Classic
4th Donkey Cross
1st MFG – Moor Cross
3rd Vanier CX
2nd Queens CX
3rd Junkyard Dog CX
1st Valley Cross – Cultus Lake
3rd Pumpkin CX
3rd Cross Border Clash
3rd Aldergrove CX
3rd Valley Cross – Mill Lake
I started the year riding the Spring Classics in Europe – excellent ride in the Paris Roubaix Sportif to finish 170 k in a respectable time.
Blake went on to race most of the NSMB Fivers usually finishing top 10.
He then did the BC Bike Race finishing 14 overall. Amazing result!
This year was my first season riding for the #SteedGreenMachine, and what a year it’s been. I came in to the year with some pretty big goals, perhaps a little too big in hindsight. Aim for the stars, right?
•Bear Mountain Canada Cup – 26th (puncture & mechanical)
•Vedder Classic TechC- Not sure on the result but I’m sure I had more fun that everyone else 🙂
•Nimby50 – 13th overall
•JunkYard Dog XCO – 3rd mens elite
•Test of Metal – Concussion
A winter of slogging through the slush with Greg, Corey and the Natasha’s seemed to pay off pretty well with some good results early on. First race of the season was also my first ever UCI race (Cat 2). I had no idea what to expect going in to the race, and it felt pretty crazy sharing a start line with some past, current (and probably soon to be) Olympic and World Cup riders. Pretty much my only goal for this race was to not get lapped, and I almost made it!
I was really looking forward to the Vedder, I had ridden some of those trails before and knew that the Valley crew would put on a good show. Unfortunately I had a couple of weeks travelling with work before this, so my legs did not put on such a good show!
Onwards to Nimby50 and I had a bit of time to recharge the legs. I snuck in a quick sunny pre-ride with Tasha the week before and immediately understood why everyone raved about this race so much. Proper BC trails, with a brute of a climb in the middle. Apparently the previous year was 30+deg, but this year it was a wet and chilly 4deg! I think this played in my favour a bit, as I tend to overheat on the hot days, and who doesn’t love getting wild on wet rocks? Looking back I’m pretty lucky I managed to get home in one piece, but I ended up crossing the line in 2hrs30min which I was pretty happy with.
Test of Metal was my ‘A’ race for this year. This was the final edition of this iconic BC race, and I wanted a good result. Unfortunately the ToM had other plans; somehow I ended up crashing on probably the easiest section of trail on the course, exploding my helmet and picking up a concussion. But hey, at least the bike was ok!
•Aldor Acres – 8th
•Castle Cross – 9th
•JunkYard Cross – 5th
•Pumpkin Cross – 5th
•Cross on the Rock Nanaimo – no idea where I finished but it was a sweet race
•Mill Park Valley Cross – 3rd
•Steed BC CX Provincials – erm….
I love the ‘cross scene here in Vancouver, and we are pretty spoilt to have options to race pretty much every weekend from September through to December. Highlights of the season included riding the ridiculous third run-up at Castle Cross, leading Craig for half a lap at JYD, dressing up as peter pan at Pumpkin cross and getting my highest placing at Valley Cross. Highlights did not include this: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNSpQefgmo1/?taken-by=7meshinc&hl=en but I was having an excellent time up until that point! Shout out to Dan and Paul (and all of the Steed crew) for putting on such an awesome event despite the horrific conditions in Squamish that day!
I have learned a lot this year, and I’m already looking forward to some new events and old classics next year.
Have to say, it was my best season yet. I focused mostly on mountain biking and cycle cross, got away from the road bike, just due to time, family and all the in betweens. Sometimes the biggest race is keeping up with it all.
This year I felt so fortunate to have the Island Cup XC series in my back yard, amazing trail, and the best riding friends. I finished 1st overall in the IC Series 2016, even though I missed the final to take my son to his last lacrosse tourney game. (It was a plea from him to win MVP, or go to my race. He won!)
Onto the marathon races, starting with the Coal Town Classic, Gear Jammer and the final Test of Metal. I placed second, first and third, respectively, with great competition surrounding me. Really felt like my social rides on the enduro bike, my race to train opportunities, and overall experience, pulled together. I also accumulated a couple black eyes, a broken thumb and a few (8) stitches that toughened me up and gave me some resilience for a long season.
Throughout the spring, I threw in a few more races, like the Bear Mountain (11th)and Whistler Canada Cups (4th) to gather a few UCI points. I had an amazing XC season.
After a short summer hiatus from racing, I bounced into the Cross on the Rock series for cyclocross. (Biggest CX series in Canada). I placed 1st overall in the series, with a 1st place finish at every race. Perfect score! Naturally, I was super stoked to take part in the last race of my year, BC Provincials in Squamish, where I placed 3rd overall woman!
Now for some R&R, (rest and repeat!!) Ready to come in blazing for 2017!
After the huge success of the Female #steedgreenmachine the guys had some stiff competition to get podium spots. Once again returning members to the team loved the injection of new talent and the team spirit was high at all the events. Catch up with all the boys below.
Race #1 _ VCXC _ Alder Acres _ September 5, 2015 (29th/53 _ Intermediate B)
I was full of built up anticipation for the first cross race of the season as we pulled into Alder Acres Farm. Lots of preparation and training had been done over the summer. The day felt hot and humid. The anxious excitement of fellow racers only added to the self-induced pressure I was feeling, as this was also my first race with the Steed Cycles cyclocross team. The course was generally fast with a few power sections, but kept things interesting with a long & steep climb, tight downhill switchbacks, a huge mud puddle and a tight and twisty section through the trees.
The race started off well, other than going too hard into the first corner, sliding out on the gravel. However, after a couple of laps the wheels completely fell off (not literally… I would have welcomed a mechanical to put me out of my misery). Each consecutive lap became more and more painful. By the 4th lap I decided I would run the hill instead of riding it. This turned out to be a terrible decision. I had no strength to run the hill and had to resort to a slow, laboured walk, loosing several seconds. After the climb the legs got a rest, but the breaking down the switchbacks with poorly setup canti’s left my arms pumped and exhausted. Passing the start/finish line for what seemed like the hundredth time, I heard the sweet sound of the bell and gave up a small prayer of thanks to the ‘cross gods’. Eventually making it back around the course to the finish line, I slowly rolled to the grassy edge and laid down for a few minutes to catch my breath and reflect… To say I was a little worried about how the rest of the season would unfold was an extreme understatement.
Race #2 _ VCXC _ Burnaby Foreshore _ September 20, 2015 (11th/69 _ Intermediate B)
Since the wheels completely fell off at Alder Acres, there were 2 significant differences coming into Foreshore Park. The first was that, although the course has a significant sand portion, it essentially has no elevation change which meant no hills to slog up. The second difference was that I had replaced my heavy, cheap clincher style wheels with some ‘new-to-me’ carbon wheels decked out with some Specialized Terra tubular tires. The improvements gained by going with a lightweight tubular setup in both handling and speed are astounding. I didn’t have a great call up due to my previous lackluster performance and started very near the back of the narrow starting grid. I made good progress on the first lap, battling past as many people as possible with the elbows out. I really enjoyed this course and there were a number of spots where I found I could move up through the field quickly. The log hop offered a great passing opportunity, as did the large sand pit. With only a couple laps to go I was able to bridge up to Brett (theholeshot.ca), who would prove to be my closest competition throughout the season. I ended up finishing 11th and felt really strong throughout the race.
Race #3 _ BCP _ Whistler CX (Day 2) _ September 27, 2015 (DNF _ Intermediate B)
The horror stories leading into Whistler from people who had raced it last year, combined with my pre-ride of the rough & rocky course, prompted me to forgo using my tubular wheels in favour of the old clincher setup. This probably wasn’t required, but it gave me some piece of mind and since I was planning on running fairly high pressure anyways, I wasn’t too concerned about a pinch flat. The start was great, and quickly tucked into 2nd wheel up the first wet climb. Coming down the first hill into the barriers I managed to drop my chain… shoot! The chain refused to pop back on through shifting and so I jumped off my bike, letting most of the pack past and I scrambled to reset the chain. With the chain back on and my adrenaline/panic through the roof, I chased hard to regain the many spots I lost. By the start of the second lap I had regained most of ground I lost and was back in the top 10, but I was exhausted from the effort. Back down the hill to the barriers. Dropped chain again… Chase, chase chase… halfway through the 2nd lap, another dropped chain! In a moment of frustration and exhaustion I ducked under the course tape and sat on the grass. In hindsight, I should have used different gearing on the bumpy descents to increase chain tension. I also could have soft pedalled around for the last laps just to finish to avoid DNF status. Oh, well…
Race #4 _ VCXC _ Rodeo CX _ October 3, 2015 (9th/52 _ Intermediate B)
It was another unseasonably hot day out in Cloverdale. I was eager to redeem myself after Whistler’s disappointing result. I surprisingly got a call up that put me in the front row. The tubulars were back on and I was in my new Steed skinsuit… This was going to be a better day! I clipped in quick and was able to grab to coveted ‘holeshot’. I may have gotten a tad over excited and was pinned for the entire first lap. Even the kids were yelling at me to pace myself. Coming into the second lap, I started to slow, my body screaming for a moment of recovery. Almost instantly three guys flew past me. The entire second lap was a lesson in the consequences of going out too hard. By the third lap I found a rhythm and a couple other racers to pace off of. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and I was able to hang on for a 9th place finish – my first top 10 in the Intermediate category. More hard lessons learned, but at least a successful result!
Race #5 _ VCXC/BCP _ Vanier Park _ October 4, 2015 (16th/76 _ Intermediate B)
Vanier Park was a testament to punctuality for me. Prior to the start of my race I had helped out with the kids race. Thinking there was still plenty of time before my race I headed out on the course for a warm up lap as soon as the kids race was complete. Halfway through the course a volunteer told me that I had about 7 minutes to get to the start line. Seconds after, I have a view down to the start line and low-and-behold everyone has already begun staging. I quickly ducked under the tape and raced down to the back of the starting grid not even 30 seconds before the start of the race. Great. The first lap was all about patience. With so many racers, it would take a long time to move up through the pack. Heading into the second lap, I had made up a lot of positions, but was still over a minute down on the leaders. The entire race was spent at lung busting levels of exertion trying to move past other racers. With one last effort I was able to catch the last racer in my crosshairs, promptly collapsing onto the grass after the crossing the line with a satisfying 16th place finish.
Race #6 _ VCXC _ Queens Park _ October 10, 2015 (3rd/47 _ Intermediate B)
Finally a slick course with rain! If there was ever a course suited to me riding style, it was this one. Tight and twisty with a slick, off-camber descent and a short punchy climb. I started in the second row but was able to squeeze up into 6th wheel in the first couple of corners. A couple crashes by fellow racers later and I was able to move into 4th position, however, by that time, the first three guys were out of sight and I had all but accepted a 4th place finish. Then, with only a couple laps to go, I caught sight of 3rd place up ahead. The chase was on! On the muddy descent I had an unfortunate wipeout with Jake and had to scramble to get back on the bike and continue chasing. On the final lap I had closed the gap to within about 10 bike lengths. Descend the muddy, off-camber hill and hard up the paved portion of the climb. The gap was then down to 3 bike lengths. One more turn, then one final attack before squeezing past a large group of lapped riders. Finishing 3rd on such a fun course surpassed my season goal of a single top 5 finish.
Race #7 _ COTR _ Topaz Park _ October 12, 2015 (14th/77 _ Intermediate B)
This race was my first ‘cross excursion on the island and was nicely combined with a family visit for Thanksgiving. In fact, it was the first time my mom, aunt & uncle were able to see Natalia and I race. I would describe this course as “greasy pleasure”. As a guest to the COTR scene I started at the back of the start grid. There were no expectations other than to have fun… And have fun I did! The slippery course demanded close attention in the corners, off camber sections, even on the straights! Despite the concentration required, the thrill of sliding around all over the course left a giggling grin as a permanent fixture on my face. I also want to acknowledge my amazing wife’s achievement at this race. Having only started cross racing last year she had already moved up to the Elite category this season. She managed to pull off a 2nd place finish, out of 11, with an amazing battle for 1st place for the duration of her race. Congrats Nat!
Race #8 _ VCXC _ Mahon Park (Atomic Superprestige) _ October 18, 2015 (2nd/57 _ Intermediate B)
Last season I won my first cyclocross race in the Beginner group at Mahon Park and the race was going to be a great test to see how far I had progressed over the last year. The race started with the holeshot win. I was able to maintain the lead position up until the barriers where the first of a few bobbles occurred. The eventual winner was able to push past me after masterfully hopping the barriers. Luckily Mahon doesn’t over plentiful passing opportunities and a few of us got a sizeable gap over the rest of the pack. As racers dropped of the lead group I was able to maintain my position in second. Unfortunately with a couple laps to go a series of nervous errors caused the gap to first to grow to a few bike lengths… then about 50. I came on to the finishing straight alone in second place, disappointed in a less than perfect race, but very pleased at the progress.
Race #9 _ EV/DEVO _ Castle Cross _ October 25, 2015 (9th/40 _ Intermediate B)
Castle Cross hurt! Even the slow warmup/reconnaissance laps hurt! Sure, some of that pain could be attributed to the mountaineering adventure from the day before, but nobody was going to make it through the day without some serious suffering! I had a good start into third spot, which rapidly started slipping before the end of the first lap. Thankfully, my good initial start allowed me to bleed positions, ultimately finishing in an exhausting 9th spot.
Race #10 _ BCP _ Pumpkin Cross _ November 1, 2015 (9th/38 _ Intermediate B)
This was about as close to ‘Belgium conditions’ as I could imagine a cross race to be… Cold, wet, and THICK mud that covered every inch of the course that had started the day out as grass. I, like many others, forgoed any warmup in favour of staying huddled in the team tent. The race started like many others, moving quickly through the field to settle in near the front of the race. That energy was short lived however, and it quickly felt like I was towing tractor tire behind my bike. Unable to maintain the power output of even a small child, this sufferfest became more of a test of mental resilience in an effort to limit my losses. I can only attribute the top 10 finish to the aero helmet I wore as part of my triathlete costume.
Race #11 _ COTR _ Kona Kup _ November 7, 2015 (8th/62 _ Intermediate B)
The first of the Island double header this year. We rode to the park from the Departure Bay ferry terminal and were extremely grateful that Brett (theholeshot.ca) was there with his family and personal tent to give us some shelter from the elements. Brett and I were called up beside each other about four rows back on the grid. When the start gun went I saw Moses (aka Brett) part the sea of riders ahead and move to the front. My effort to follow was thwarted by others attempting the same. The muddy, slick conditions did suit me, and I was ultimately able to make it to the finish in 8th and congratulate Brett on an incredible win.
Race #12 _ COTR _ My Little Pony CX _ November 8, 2015 (1st/65 _ Intermediate B)
Well rested and clean, thanks to the hospitality of Carey & Justin Mark, this second race started much the same as it had the day before with Brett and I lined up side by side in the third row. Taking the outside line off the start, I was able to move into the top 5 by the time we reached the end of the asphalt. This group got a large gap early on the rest of the field and slowly shrunk with each passing lap as riders succumbed to the slick conditions. With 2 laps to go the leader crashed as we exited the ‘vortex’. Being the sportsman I am, I attacked quickly putting enough daylight between us to crush any hopes the poor kid had of a victory. I crossed the finish line amongst cheers and confusion, with the time keepers shouting “one more lap!”. Frustrated, I obliged and pressed on, only to be stopped halfway through the lap by compassionate spectators that had run across the course to inform me of the mix up. Despite the lackluster win, I had achieved a goal that I had reserved for the 2016 season!
Race #13 _ MFG _ Subaru CycloCup (Day 1) _ November 14, 2015 (Last not lapped _ Cat 3 Men)
Owen, Cody, Tasha, Nat, Mark & I headed down to Seattle for what would be my first glimpse of both the US racing scene and an official UCI cross race. Surprisingly I was second call up. Off the start I opened up a huge gap on the rest of the pack. I decided to settle in even before the first corner, but still seemed to maintain the gap for the first few corners, despite the early warning signs that something was wrong. As we approached the crazy steep, muddy run up and everything fell apart almost instantaneously. My chest seized up and I began struggling for air. By the top of the climb the first couple guys had passed me. Mildly freaked out, I tried to calm down and recover on the back half of the course, but to no avail. Every time I put power to the pedals my chest would fill with phlegm. As I slowly dropped further and further down the pack, my new mission was only to finish the race on the lead lap. It was almost as good as winning, making it over that line with one lap to go and the leaders in view behind me.
Race #14 _ MFG _ Subaru CycloCup (Day 2) _ November 15, 2015 (DNS)
After Saturday’s performance I decided it was in my best interest to hang the bike up for the day and just try and stay warm as I cheered on my teammates. The sun did come out in the late morning and the course looked amazing as it started to dry out a bit. Nat was given permission to race in the UCI Elite Women’s race on Sunday, which allowed her to race against the likes of Katerina Nash, Caroline Mani, Elle Anderson & Mikal Dyck, amongst many other incredibly talented women. After her commanding win of the Cat 3 Women’s race before this was definitely an eye opener! But she finished in a very respectable 23rd, a few minutes down on the winner, Katerina.
Race #15 _ BC Provincials _ November 29, 2015 (-1 Lap, 20th/27 _ Elite Men)
As Steed Cycles was the primary sponsor for the Provincial Championships this year, I had the extremely good fortune of participating in this race as both a racer and as support crew alongside my incredible teammates! Having never previously raced for 60 minutes, I was both curious and anxious about how I would hold up. With a backseat call up, mostly unfamiliar competitors and no ambition other than to have a fun race and get lapped by as few people as possible, the start was much more relaxed than normal. Pacing was the name of the game. The support and cheers along the course was fantastic and the atmosphere was electric… especially at the barriers/beer garden! This race was so much fun and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Thank you Kim and everyone else for your support this year!
2015 was my first year racing with Steed, and although I didn’t get the results I had hoped for it was still a great year of riding. On the road I upgraded to cat 3 midway through the season. I found that racing in cat 3 suited my aggressive style much more than racing in cat 4 and I was able to be much more competitive. I regretted not upgrading sooner as I think I may have had a better road season if I had done so. This was also my first year of racing cyclocross. I raced every single race in the lower mainland, this consistency allowed me to win the BC Premier Series in the Intermediate mens division. This year I rode over 12,000 km’s, climbed over 120,000 metres, and raced 39 races (13 cx and 26 road). I am super thankful for all the support from the team’s sponsors, as well as from my fellow teammates. I’m looking forward to the 2016 season, I plan on riding and racing even more than I did this past year.
Photo 1: Matt Lazzarotto
Photo 2: Masa Higuchi
Photo 3: Scott Robarts
Lots more racing next year including Spring Series, Tuesday Nighters, Penticton Fondo, Valley Fondo, Tour de Victoria, Whistler Fondo, CX season, and more!
All of my focus was on the cross season, mostly the great vcxc series. Of course my highlight of the year was the event and volunteer team you pulled together for Provincials.
VCXC series overall – 4th
Atomic Superprestige – 8th
Queens Park – 5th
Vanier Park – 9th
Cloverdale Rodeo – 6th
Foreshore Park – 4th
Fort Langley – 11th
BC Provincials p/b Steed Cycles – 12th
WTNC – Various “pack fodder” appearances
3 Pistes Cycle Sportive in Scotland
Tour de Delta Cat 3/4 – DNF
Tour de Victoria – 59th (9th in age division)
Organizing the Steed Cycles Ride Club
Highs and Lows
My 2015 season started with the arrival of a new human to the household (high) and for some strange unbeknown reason, a considerable lack of sleep (low). Although, coming to think of it maybe a few (potentially thousands) people did warn me about that. As a result, my early season training consisted of cramming as much pain as possible into my commutes (low) and stretching my legs with the Steed Cycles Ride Club which I was organizing for the second year (high). After getting the legs back up to speed with some riding in Scotland (high) it was time to hit the Tour de Delta following a good showing and a whole ton of fun at the event the previous year. As my favourite event of 2014 I was pumped to take the start line again with a bunch of my teammates and a good block of training behind me (high, but cue the low). With a handful of laps to go I swiftly took out my cycling checklist and scribbled a big, messy tick beside “first pack crash”. I guess I had it coming, what with all the cycling around in circles as fast as possible in glorified underwear. After burying my beloved Giant TCR in the back garden I quickly adopted a shiny new Giant Propel with some help from the team’s amazing sponsors. Coincidently, this was also around the same time I seemed to forget about the crash. It turns out a new bike is way more effective than Advil. The Tour de Victoria was the last main event on my list for the season and I had been looking forward to it all summer. With the child-like excitement of some new carbon, a few weeks of catch-up training and the arrival of a fresh delivery of skin, I managed to put in a good effort alongside some awesome performances from my teammates to sign off on 2015.
Year in Review,
Road, Cross, and Mountain
Favorite was Single Track 6 – Its been awhile since I had this much fun on a Mountain Bike, and I had one day inside the top ten, The Whistler Fondo was a success and of course Cross was Outstanding!!!
Also enjoyed my chance at Sock Doping the team.
I will keep this short and sweet. Some of the highlights this year were passing 15,000 km for year, getting my hands on a Peter Sagan edition S Works Venge frame set and then getting to see him take World Champion in Richmond, Virginia.
My stubborn-ness didn’t allow me the patience to win any races, but my attack during the Whiterock Crit presented by Cressey was definitely one to remember. There is always next year.
On the cyclocross front cohosting provincials with Paul McCarthy in Squamish was a personal highlight as it reminds me of the past when I used to host BC Cup DH races.
Looking forward to a more balanced year and more focus on fun than stressing over attempting to win. As obviously stressing over winning clearly got me nowhere near the podium.
See you on the Tarmac.
Saturday morning. A dreary little breakfast room in a hotel that seemed to be somewhere south of Seattle, or possibly beneath Niagara Falls. Outside, aggressively bad weather hammered at the walls. Inside, I stared at my bowl of cereal in silent calculation of how much more caffeine it would take to get me out the door into the endless, unforgiving darkness.
A lot, it turned out. A lot of caffeine.
Our group of five Steed teammates (Owen, Mark, Natalia, Corey, and me) and one Devo representative (Cody) had driven south the previous day, across Peace Arch, past the foggy hills of Bellingham and the crowded outlet mall of Tulalip, through Seattle traffic purgatory and the Land of the Airport and $15 Minimum Wage, deep into the heart of suburbia. Our objective was the Subaru Cyclo Cup, a double header UCI/USAC event hosted by Seattle MFG. A couple of us had prepared for this expedition by stocking up on US cash, and delighted in waving fistfuls of dollar bills (so, about $11 total, or $209 Canadian) in the others’ faces. Which, it turns out, never gets old.
Upon arriving at Fort Steilacoom State Park and parking in a newly formed lake/wetland habitat, we dragged gear over to the tent. A few racers were out pre-riding, looking from a distance like soggy pieces of confetti. We immediately discovered that the porta-potty across from the tent was in the unusual condition of being freshly cleaned. I paused for a moment before opening the door, reveling in the dream that it was my own personal VIP porta-potty, and perhaps there would be sprigs of fresh lavender tucked in between the toilet paper rolls and a tasteful IKEA print hanging on the door. Like so many dreams, this one was swiftly and cruelly shattered.
Cody and Mark were the first off for the day, both making strong starts in brutal weather. Meanwhile the rest of us tried not to drown. Cody made the win look easy, and Mark powered to top ten in a huge field. Natalia, Corey, and Owen were next off. Natalia took control at the start and held the lead the whole race. Corey snagged holeshot off the line and hung in tenaciously despite a bad cold. Owen’s strong technical skills gave him a distinct edge on this exceptionally difficult mudpit of a course, and he finished just outside of top ten.
Finally there was no one left to go but me. I drank one final latte while warming up and watching the elite men suffer their way through approximately eight thousand laps. I suspected most of them were drenched in equal parts tears, slobber, and rain, which definitely made me feel like racing and not at all like hopping in a taxi to the airport and catching a flight to absolutely anywhere else.
Suddenly I was on the line, rain dripping off my helmet, mascara streaming down my face, everything in front of me a blur of legs and lycra, 30 seconds and GO. A glorious, suspended instant as thirty-one women reacted – the spark firing from mind to muscle – and then we surged forward. We all leaned together through the first turns, simultaneously holding each other up and shouldering into the best lines. Then we slammed into the run-up to end all run-ups: a three-tiered wedding cake of mud, lined with screaming spectators and a chihuahua named Bosco. The air was sharp with the scent of soil and roots chopped up by our feet. Back on the bike and a climb, heart rate redlined, before a series of 180s through an old orchard, downhill into a field and a sandpit, and through the chute for the next lap. For 45 minutes, the entire world fell away.
Sunday morning. Sun started to break through the clouds as Cody cruised to another podium finish and Mark edged further into the top ten. A similar course, but no run-up and slightly drier conditions. Corey’s cold had become worse, and he made the tough decision to sit out the race, instead throwing himself into the role of official mechanic/photographer. Owen demolished most of his field and snagged sixth place. Natalia upgraded to elite women and joined me on the start line in the early afternoon.
Right away I got a bit too friendly with the course tape, as I am wont to do, and by the time I extracted my handlebars from its grasp I was sitting in last place. I was annoyed about this, so I started chasing like there was a raging grizzly bear behind me. On the third lap or so, Natalia and I joined forces and started picking off spots. Existence seemed distilled to its purest form: full awareness of the moment, the sense of self subsumed by this new purpose, every breath and every motion fresh and raw and instinctive. We finished in golden afternoon light, diving into the warm jackets our teammates held out for us.
On the way back we stopped for BBQ and lively dissection of the weekend’s events, then continued home lugging our bags of muddy clothes. Meanwhile, in Squamish, frost crystallized on quiet grass at the Logger Sports Grounds, with two weeks’ calm before the storm of BC Provincial Championships…
Images by Scott Robarts Photography
Visit the Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition for future race dates, schedules and how to get involved.
The Ultimate Gravel Grinder Road Race
This is the 10th anniversary of the Dirty Kanza 200, a gravel road race through the Flint Hills in and around Emporia Kansas. The Flint Hills were once the home of the Great Kanza Nation, and remains as a good representation of what the Great Plains once looked like. The Dirty Kanza traverses this area on gravel and dirt roads. First run in 2006 with 34 participants it has grown to a field of 1500 competitors with 900 trying to complete 200 miles and 600 entering the 100 mile version. The dropout rate is not insignificant, of last year’s 1200 entrants, only 465 finished. The last finisher came across the line in 22 hours 55 minutes. Yikes!
The race allows support at only two location, one at 75 miles and one at 150 miles. In between the competitors are on their own and must manage any and all issues that arise. The Flint Hills are notorious for (wait for it) gravel made of flint! This results in a very sharp edge to the stone and cut tires and flats are apparently rampant. Bike choice is usually a cyclocross bike built up with fatter tires tubeless. I’m using a Giant TCX Advanced with disc brakes and Clement MSI 40mm tires.
Race was Saturday May 30 at 0600 hr and the winning time last year was 10 hours 42 minutes. Think about that… an average of about 32 km/hr… on gravel!!!! Our customer John Ramsden being the power house that he is was participating in this treacherous race and will be reporting back shortly on the outcome and his experience.
UPDATED!! Words by John Ramsden
Well that was downright nuts!
I arrived in Emporia, Kansas late Thursday evening to find that the area had been inundated with rain for several weeks. The temperature was a very cool 15/16 C with high humidity / light rain / heavy rain occurring on and off. The expectation was that Friday and Saturday would be quite similar except that they expected to have 20-25km/h winds from the north both days.
The word on the street was that the organizers wanted to make the race harder because last year someone had scorched the course in less than 11 hours. To do so, for the first time they had incorporated B roads and farm field access paths that were really nothing more than two wheel tracks across the prairie. With limited drainage they were apparently holding water, and of course deep mud. Expectations were that this was going to be a very different DK200 than any that had gone on before.
From my point of view I really felt great. The shitty (no pun intended) conditions were definitely going to be to my benefit as I knew it would be mental block for a large number of competitors. My experience riding in similar conditions on a regular basis was definitely going to be an asset.
Friday, I met my support team and we went out for a quick hour spin to check out the road conditions and to make sure there were no last minute bike issues. The conditions were atrocious. Riding in a pace line any further back than third wheel resulted in a blinding spray of sandy grit. Glasses were quickly of no use. It was hard to imagine how we were going to manage 200 miles of similar conditions.
Saturday breakfast rolled around at 0400hr. The rain continued to drizzle down and with the wind from the north the temperature felt well south of 15C. It was clear that this day was going to be a war of attrition. To finish, racers were going to test their physical and mental fortitude as well as their mechanical skills.
The field rolled out promptly at 0600hr behind a pace car and about 2 minutes later pulled up full stop as a train come barrelling through the outskirts of Emporia at about 90 km/hr. Once it was by, the pace car pulled off, testosterone took over, and the race was on.
Forty five minutes of gravel grinding brought us to the first of the field access paths and we were promptly hike a biking for 3+ miles. The mud was several inches deep and clung to everything. Each shoe weighed about 5lbs, and if you tried to push your bike it took about 2 minutes for your wheel to be carrying 2 inches of mud. The spaces between your chain stay and seat stays quickly clogged up as well as the space between your derailleur and cog set. Your 22lb bike quickly became 35lb plus and attempting to change gears resulted in torn off derailleurs and broken drop outs. I am betting the field lost over 150 riders here with torn derailleurs and other mechanical issues. (They tried to ride it)
We eventually finished the hike a bike and aimed mostly south heading for the first aid station in Madison, Kansas at about 75 miles. With mostly a tail wind the miles quickly disappeared, and I felt like I was totally ripping it. I was riding with the pro’s or what was left of them, and in the top 75. I was keeping up with hydration and nutrition and did not feel I had burned many matches. I rolled into the first aid station in Madison after 5 hours and 24 minutes to find the entire main street lined with cheering spectators. I handed my bike off to my support mechanic, had the bike checked, restocked my supply of food and hydration, and was back out on the road in less than 10 minutes.
The second 75 miles proved to be much, much, much more difficult. There was more mud to traverse carrying your bike and as we headed back north, we began to fight the headwind. I started to feel tired and began making stupid mistakes in bike handling. In the slimy mud, these often had the consequence of an unintended body wash. I probably wasn’t eating enough, and bonked once or twice. This slice of the race took just under 7 hours and everyone in my vicinity was clearly having the same issues. No one seemed able to “get away” and we just seemed to keep exchanging places back and forth.
My big screw up of the day happened as I was coming into the second aid station town after 12+ hours of riding. I lost concentration for about 30 seconds and missed a course turn. I was about 100m behind the racer ahead, and in a moment when I had my head down, he must have made the turn. I merrily went sailing by the turn and although I quickly knew I was off course, in my screwed up state, I couldn’t tell which way to go. Eventually, I had to get out the written cue sheet to find the actually name of the street I needed to turn on, and then backtrack until I found it. Mulberry Street was my downfall. I spent around 15 minutes trying to find the proper way, and that silly mistake moved me from 1st in my division to 4th. Once again the town was rocking as we headed down the Main Street. It was really quite amazing that all these people were hanging in some little town in the middle of the Kansas prairie at 6 o’clock in the evening. I resupplied, had the bike checked, but was out of the second aid a little bit slower than the first time around as I took the time here to actually eat some real food. Ahhh, the wonders of a chicken burrito after 12 hours of riding. No more bonking for me.
The first 15 miles out of Aid Two were straight as an arrow right into the head wind. Picture this, seven hills in sight, each hill slightly higher than the one before and stretching into the distance as far as you can see. That really hurt; both physically and mentally! The rest of the race is a bit of a blur. Night arrived and I started riding with lights. For the last 50 miles, I basically rode all by myself. I think I maybe saw 2 other riders. I could see the occasional light behind me but it was hard to tell how close they were and if they were gaining or falling back. Eventually, quite un-expectantly, the Emporia city sign came out of the darkness.
Riding into town was just outright insane. For three blocks, they had set up a barricaded path right down the middle of the street. The barricades were lined 3 and 4 deep with cheering, cow bell ringing spectators reaching out to give you high fives. The energy was crazy… and it was already almost 10 at night. Beer tents, food trucks, live music… you name it, the place was going off. It was easily the biggest finish of any race I have ever been involved in.
I finished in 15 hours and 40 minutes, 82nd out of the 900 starters, and 4th in my age group. Looking back I probably should have tried to draft more, but as a group came by I kept telling myself that each one was either moving too fast or too slow. I kept thinking I had to just ride my own race.
Immediately post-race I had super sore back but that improved with some ibuprofen. I felt awesome on Sunday after such a big effort, but by Monday I was a lot sorer! By Monday night, I had a fever and was wondering if I was coming down with some sort of bug from all the cow shit I consumed off my water bottles. I guess we can call that an occupational hazard in a race like this. Would I do it again? I’m not too sure, but if you are looking for a challenge in a different locale with a really cool vibe, get on it next January and register. www.dirtykanza200.com
What a season it has been for the Steed Cycles Team. All of the members represented in all forms of Racing across the Provence. We had Winners and Podiums in Road Racing, Cyclocross and Mountain Biking. Here are some of the highlights for the Team:
EVSS Thunderbird RR – B Group – 3rd
Murchie RR- B Group – 9th
River Road RR- B Group – 9th
Overall Spring Series- B Group – 9th
Tuesday Nighters – Cat 3
Brodie b-Team Superprestige – Masters Cat 3 – 8th
Atomic Superprestige – Masters Cat 3 – 7th
Vanier CX – Masters Cat 3 – 4th
Burnaby Foreshore CX – Masters Cat 3 – 9th
Fort Langley Classic – Masters Cat 3 – 5th
Starcrossed Seattle – Masters Cat 3 – 9th
My main goal this year was to maximise the balance between running my business and racing. I decided to push the start of my season later in the year to focus on the ‘Cross season.
Penticton Corto Fondo and Whistler Medio Fondo riding with my son Cody and the dEVo Team
Multiple Tuesday Night Crits riding Cat 3
Aldor Acres; 14th, Master 40+
Starcrossed; 10th, Master Cat 3
Burnaby Foreshore; 16th
Atomic Super Prestige 14th
All hard fought Midpack battles!
Dirty Duo Off Road Duathlon(run25/bike30km) – 1st Place Overall women – 5:16
Island Cup Mtb Series (6 races) – 1st Place Series Winner Overall – elite women
Test of Metal – beat PR – 1st Place category – 3:30:34
Nanaimo Road Critirium series (8 events) – 2nd Place Overall – elite women
Whistler Cyclocross (2 day event) – 1st Place Overall – elite women
Cross Coalition Ft Langley – 1st Place Overall – elite women
BC Cyclocross Provincials 2014 – 3rd Place Overall – elite women
Cross on the Rocks series (7 events) – 1st Place Series Winner – elite women
10,000+km, 123,000m Elevation
Cypress Hill Climb for NS Rescue – 4th
Tour de Victoria – 10th
Whistler GranFondo Giro – 32nd
Tour de Delta Cat 3- 18th
UBC Grand Prix Cat 3 – 16th
Valley GranFondo – DNF
Tuesday Nighters – Cat 3
RBC Grouse Grind Charity Event – 1st
Dirty Duo Offroad Duathlon – Men’s Solo Category 2nd Place Overall – 4:19
Island Cup XC #1 – Hartland 4th overall elite
Island Cup XC #2 – Hammerfest 2nd overall elite
Island Cup XC #3 – Cobble Hill 3rd Overall elite
Island Cup XC #4 – Cumberland 3rd Overall elite
Island Cup XC #5 – Port Alberni – 3rd OVerall elite
2nd Overall in the Island Cup XC Series
Cumberland Marathon XC – 2nd overall
Test of Metal: 2:52 – 2nd in 40-45 cat
Nimby Fifty – 2nd in Mens 30-39 cat
1st overall – Nanaimo MIVA hill climb series
3rd overall – Nanaimo MIVA crit series
3rd overall – Nanaimo MIVA time trial series
5th overall Cross on the Rock series – Mens Elite Cat.
9th overall in BC Cyclocross Provincials
Nothing comes easy in life and in sport. 2014 did not end the way I had planned and that is the way that it is. Learn from mistakes and revel in small victories. Then train hard all winter and try your luck again. Favorite moment of the year was the Delta Crit where I was crashed out of the race in the 2nd last lap, almost pulled from the race by the follow car, but managed to get my way back and pull off a 7th place. I must learn to tap into that energy each race. Then I flatted the next race at UBC. Thanks to Steed Cycles, and all the sponsors for the support.
1st Place Masters CX Whistler
6th Place Elite CX Foreshore Park
7th Place 40-45 age group, Test of Metal
1st Dirty Duo Bike Race
15th Elite – Atomic Super Presitge, Mahon Park
10th Masters 35-44, Kona Kup, BC Provincials, Nanaimo
3rd Singlespeed, Pumpkin Cross
Cyclocross (Masters 1/2)
Foreshore Park 3rd
Vanier Park 5th
Over-all VCXC masters series points 1st
Dirty Duo Solo (run & MTB) 1st (new CR)
Cap Crusher 1st (new CR)
5Peaks Golden Ears 2nd
5Peaks Alice Lake 2nd
Knee Knacker 1st
Squamish50 50 mile 2nd
Sky Pilot 2nd
WTNC Cat 3 – 2nd overall for the season
UBC Grand Prix Cat 3/4 – 11th
Whister Giro – 38th
Paul Mc Carthy:
Starcrossed Masters 35-40 4th
Whistler CX Singlespeed 2nd
Vanier Park Singlespeed 5th
Foreshore Park Singlespeed 3rd
Foreshore Park Elite 13th
Mahon Park Singlespeed 4th
Castle Cross Elite 13th
BCBR Industry Race, Squamish 4th
Nimby 50 Cat 30-34 13th (102nd overall)
Snow to Surf – open women team – 1st place (I did the time trial)
Test of Metal – 3rd 40-44, 21st woman
Gear Jammer – 1st 40-44, 11th woman
Levi’s Grand Fondo – 11th woman
Aldor Acres CX – 2nd
Burnaby Foreshore CX – 2nd
MFG Series, Woodland Park GP – 4th
Waves for Water UCI CX – 18th after starting in 38th
June 10/14 Glenlyon Cat3 4th
June 24/14 Glenlyon Cat3 4th
July 1/14 UBC Cat3 2nd
July 15/14 Glenlyon Cat3 1st
July 22/14 UBC Cat3 1st
July 29/14 Glenlyon Cat3 2nd
Aug 12/14 Glenlyon Cat3 1st
Aug 27/14 Glenlyon Cat3 1st
July 20/14 Prospera Valley Fondo: 3rd
Sept 6/14 Whistler Giro Race (Cat 1/2/3) 15th
Sept 20/14 Whistler CX Elite Men 5th
Sept 27/14 Burnaby Foreshore CX Elite Men 7th
Whistler Half Marathon 1:31:19 17th Male/3rd in division
Steed Cycles would like to thank all of our Partners during 2014:
Poc Sports: Vince and Charles
Smith Optics: Chris Bridge and Andrew McMillan
Sugoi: Jen Campbell and the team at Custom.
Bean Around The World: Barney, Nicole and all the gang at Cowboy Coffee.
Bridge Brewing: Leigh and all the Team.
Giant Bicycles Canada: Paul, Colby and all the staff.
Kazlaw Injury Lawyers: Marc Kazmirski.
We would also like to thank all the Race Organizers, Volunteers, Photographers and Clubs for making it a great season to race. best of Luck in 2015.
This past Sunday, November 23, was the final race in the Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition (VCXC) series. A lot of people continue racing into the new year, especially down in the US, but for me this was going to be the last race in my Cyclocross season. The venue was Aldergrove Lake Park, and by some miracle, the rain was holding off. The course was still pretty soaked, and the wind was howling, but it was far from horrible CX weather. I always feel lucky when I can race CX without my hands (or entire body) freezing and going numb. I hadn’t planned on racing my bike this deep into November, but I was leading the masters points series, and had a legitimate shot at keeping the lead if I raced Aldergrove. Plus…a hard anaerobic effort fit nicely in my final taper week into cross country Nationals on the 29th.
I got out to Aldergrove with plenty of time to do a couple laps of the course, and see what I was in for. As expected, the course was a serious grinder! It took all the power I had just to keep moving smoothly through some of the sections. This was a course that favoured the ‘big-power’ guys: long open sections, deep water, and hardly any corners. I would have to race smart just to survive. No crazy anaerobic efforts, just a smooth, threshold output (whenever possible).
The best part about leading the series is that I get called up first. Which means I was able to choose the fastest-tracked line at the start…and I sure needed it! Right from the gun, the guys with big power shot past me into the first corner. David Kvick and Matt Drown jumped ahead, and then Brad went after them. When I saw Brad go past me and up the first little hill, I knew he was going to win the race. He was just flying…it was that obvious.
Those three guys were gone after the first lap, and I settled in with two Atomic riders; Christian and Colin. I knew that there was little chance of me bridging up to the lead group of three, but I was pretty sure I could hold on where I was. Colin was right behind me in series points, so as long as I could finish close to him, I would keep my points lead (David, though ahead in this race, was just a few too many points down to catch up). Race smart, don’t take any chances, and don’t let Colin get away. Sounds like a simple plan…until I hit the long/fast descent, and it became obvious to me that I had no rear brakes…NONE!
How the hell did I wear through my rear brakes already?
I took a quick look and realized that It wasn’t as bad as I thought…I must have clipped the brake calliper on a dismount, and popped the cable out. It was an easy fix: when I got to the top of the long run-up, I stepped aside and put the cable back in place. Both Colin and Christian went past me, but I got right back on their wheels.
We shuffled our positions back and forth for the next few laps until Christian fell off the pace (from a crash I think). Colin moved ahead of me, and stayed there. I was just following his wheel, and protecting my position. There really wasn’t anyone close behind us, so I just needed to avoid a crash or a mechanical. I’d like to say that I had some heroic sprint at the end and got past Colin, but that’s not the case. He put a small gap on me on the last half lap, and I wasn’t able to close it. I definitely raced as hard as I could out there. I minimized my weaknesses and got the most out of my strengths, and managed 5th place. For me, 5th place on that course is a solid result. All the guys ahead of me were just stronger.
Leading the points series was never a goal for me…it just happened. I don’t want to pat myself on the back too hard though. A few of the top masters racers didn’t compete as masters this year. Bob Welbourne (our masters National Champ) and Kim Steed are the two big names that would have lead the series, but they raced Elite this season. Plus, Matt and James raced several Elite races, missing out on masters points. Both of those guys would have been right in the mix with me. Then there is Brad Issel. The guy is seriously strong. He raced one fewer races than I did (he missed Vanier and Mahon), and he had three wins this year. Had he gotten in one more race, we would have been within a point or two of each other….but most likely he would have taken the series title.
The interesting thing about competing in a series is how consistency usually wins out. I missed one series race this year, as did almost all of the other top masters (except Brad missed two). I had ZERO DNF’s from mechanical issues, as opposed to multiple issues every other cross season. I didn’t win a race (though I had my chances), but I was always near the top….consistency.
It’s pretty impressive how strong the over 40 field is (actually, over 35 yrs old now). There has to be 10 guys (or more) who could win a race on any day. With several of guys moving up to Elite this year, it’s most lilkely that I will move up to Elite next season. I am actually looking forward to it. I like the idea of longer races (60+ minutes, as opposed to 45), and having to work my ass off just to not get lapped!
For now though, my bikes are back into the dark part of the basement. I have some serious running to tackle. With The Coastal Challenge coming up at the end of January (kind of the running equivalent of the BC Bike Race), I need to start grinding out some big miles and some big vertical. I’ll be getting VERY familiar with the North Shore mountains again!
Keeping with the bike racing theme, I had another pair of really fun events over the last two weekends. First off was the CastleCross race, out in Port Coquitlam at Castle Park on Oct. 4th. This was a new venue for cyclocross racing, and it didn’t disappoint. The course had bit of everything on it; some long grass straightaways, off-camber corners, punchy steep climbs, and even a few run-ups requiring you to shoulder your bike. The other event, last weekend (Oct. 13), was over in Nanaimo at Bowen Park. It is a staple of the CX scene, and this year was the BC Championships. The Bowen course definitely favours someone with a mountain bike background…especially if it’s wet.
As I may have mentioned before, your ‘call-up’ in CX is pretty important. The closer to the front you are positioned for the start, the better your chances of avoiding traffic and having room to manoeuvre. I had a great call up at CastleCross, and was in the front row. I also happened to chose the correct side (left) on the opening straight…the dryer side. They sent us off, and without having to dig too deep, I was comfortably in second place by the end of the first lap.
WOW…do i feel strong!
Don’t over-do it….you’re slowly closing towards first. We were half way through lap 2. I came fast into a technical/downhill corner…and before I knew it my bike slid out from under me. As I grabbed my bike and started to roll it along, I saw I had rolled my front tubular tire off the rim! (hence the crash)
I panicked for a few seconds, and was really disappointed that my day was done. Or was it…
I looked down at the wheel and saw that only a short section of the tire had come off the rim. I managed to re-place the tire on the rim, and decided that I may as well keep racing (the worst that could happen would be that it comes off again). Three guys had passed me while I was working on the wheel, but I still felt strong and started to chase. Full of adrenaline, I pretty much sprinted until I got back up to third place, and right on Brad’s rear wheel. Brad is a strong guy, and can put down some good power. I was just barely hanging on, trying to recover from my catch-up sprint, but we were closing in on first place.
As we cornered hard through some mud, it happened again…I rolled my front tire off the rim for the second time (once you roll a tire once, the bond with the rim is gone, so this time I wasn’t surprised at all). I was quick to put it back on the rim, but I had lost Brad’s wheel.
I was still in third with half the race to go, but my game plan had to change. More of my tire had come unglued that time, and it was even more likely to happen again…and keep getting worse. I really wanted to finish the race, so i had to dial it back in the corners and baby my front wheel around the last few laps.
I put in really hard efforts on the straights, and soft-pedalled all the corners. My tire did come off a third time, but I had enough space to hold my position to the finish line. I am really happy with how I kept my head in the game…and I got lucky that my tire didn’t fully separate from the rim. Mechanical problems are part of CX racing. So much so, that a lot of racers have a spare bike that they keep in the designated ‘pitt’ area. I don’t have a spare bike, or a second set of wheels, so I did what I had to to avoid the DNF.
One of the worst jobs in CX bike maintenance is gluing tubular tires on, which is exactly why I had avoided it for 2+ years. Sadly, with another race only a few days away, I had to get dirty and re-glue both wheels. It’s a dirty/sticky/slow process, but fingers crossed that I’m good for another couple seasons now.
I love the Bowen Park course, and I was really excited to head to the island for the weekend. Not only was I racing on the Monday, but my sister was racing the Victoria Marathon on Sunday. I drove over (via ferry) to Victoria Saturday morning, and had time to prep a few things for my sister before I had to grab her at the airport that afternoon. She would be tight for time, so I got her race package and picked up some items she needed for that evening and the next morning.
I’ll jump right to the point here…my sister kicked ass on Sunday! 7th over-all woman, a PB, and a negative split (on a tough course): pretty much the perfect race. I had a great time being her support crew, and I managed to get out to 3 key points on course before meeting her at the finish line to help her hobble back to the hotel. No time to rest for her though; straight to the airport in a semi-bonked, half crippled haze, for her flight back home.
The next morning I headed out to Bowen Park early to help Norm set up the course for the CX race. Thankfully, the forecast rain hadn’t hit yet, and the course set up went quick and smooth with a lot of helping hands. It was possibly the first time ever, but I saw Norm standing around mid-morning with some free time (usually, he is just full tilt on race day from sunrise to tear-down). He actually got to do a couple laps of the course before the racing got under way.
I had plenty of time to relax a bit, eat, then do a long warm up before my 1:00pm start. I felt strong, and with the rain just starting to fall, I knew the course was going to be awesome. I got called up into the second row, which would normally be great…but in this race the first 800m is a wide open road, slightly uphill, which then funnels into tight single track. When the gun went, I gave it all I had to try and hold my position. It lasted for about 500m, then it felt like the whole field came past me…I hit the single track in maybe 20th place. This was pretty much as I had expected though. I know how this course plays out, and I knew I would have to just float through the first lap, then start picking my way through the field. I probably gave up over a minute on the first lap, while stuck in traffic, but that’s my own fault for having such a pitiful starting sprint.
I don’t know how better to describe it, but I probably raced as tough as I ever have on a CX bike. Not only were my legs strong, but I had one of those days where suffering was truly fun. The course was like a puzzle, and getting past other riders was part of the game. I took a few good wipe outs in corners, but they were soft slide-outs and hardly disrupted my race. I had a few good back-and-forth moments out there, but I always moved forward. Time just sailed by, and before I knew it the race was over. I had managed to work my way up to 8th place. Most importantly though, my effort out there was a 10/10. I executed as good a race as I could have, given the field and the course. There just happened to be 7 guys (in my race) who were faster.
There are some great photos of the Bowen race from Patrick Burnham here
The rain was hammering down by the time we were done (not that I even noticed during). Plus I didn’t have a ferry reservation, so I was in a mad rush to get packed up and over to the ferry terminal. I feel a bit bad for not hanging around to support my friends and Steed team-mates, or for helping with tear-down, but a 3.5 hour wait for the boat was about as much as I could handle. By the time I got home at 8:30, I was totally wiped…but also totally satisfied. The weekend really couldn’t have gone any better.
This coming weekend should be another good one. Myself and my girls are racing an XC running race out at Cates Park (North Van) on Saturday (the Frank Reynolds Memorial) , then I’m hoping to get really muddy on Sunday at the Mahon Park CX race. Mahon is another course that I love, and it will probably be my last CX race this fall. The BC XC (running) Championship race is the following weekend out in Abbotsford, and the National XC Champs is at the end of November down at Jericho Beach. There is a nice window there to get in a few days rest, then some solid prep for November for sure.