|foto by Tom Prenen|
Sometimes it is hard to know how serious to be. I spent many years being serious. Really focusing on my cyclocross racing – I worked part-time, I worked hard to find sponsors, I structured my life around my training and racing, I stopped eating chocolate, and I simply pedaled my bike. I was serious. I had goals. I had expectations. I had self-imposed pressure. I had motivation.
Now, I’m in a new phase. I want to race my bike. I want to race my bike really well. But do I want to be as serious as I was? The question remains, can I achieve what I want with a bit more balance in my life?
I wrote recently about all the things I want to do this year. In short, this was a rather long and slightly unfocused list of stuff. No real tangible goals there. Just stuff that I want to do in 2013. Does not having goals mean I’m not serious?
Do you have to have goals to be serious? I don’t know. I don’t know where the lines of serious, focus, goals, and life balance all intersect.
Right now I’m feeling that without structure, I’m highly unfocused. I’m not being as rigorous as I normally am on my diet (so much Belgian chocolate in this house). I am riding four days a week but not with any structure – I’m just doing what I “think” makes sense right now (riding in a zone 1 wattage for an hour three times a week and for 90 minutes once a week). I’m getting out for 90 minute to two hour skate skis three times a week. Toss in power yoga twice a week and hot yoga once a week and I’m getting some strength building and bendiness in my body. Then there’s the snowshoe running which I’ve only done twice (but I’ll be out this Wednesday).
So, just like my list of stuff that I want to do in 2013, I’m currently doing a lot of stuff. Does this mean I’m focused? Does this mean I’m serious? I don’t know. I do know I’m having fun right now. I’m doing what I want when I want and I’m not tied to a structured training schedule.
But I think it’s time. I crave structure. I like “to do” lists. I like to have a work-out planned and written down on a piece of paper – this means I’ll do it.
But still what is serious? I’m curious to know what you think? I’m kind of worried that if I’m not serious this season I won’t do everything I want. But what if that seriousness takes away some of the fun? Are there levels of serious?
(And yes, I do have some goals. I’m just not ready to write them down yet. I guess this is because I don’t have the structure I “feel” I need to actually achieve these goals…)
Oh yes, my brain is a bit crazy these days. But I think in a good way. I’m in a good place – enjoying riding the trainer, having fun on my skis and snowshoes and enjoying my yoga practice. To top it off, I’m not obsessing about my weight (yes, I did this in the past…) – I’m feeling great about my healthy and strong body and enjoying this feeling.
So what do you think about this whole business of serious? Am I simply being too serious about being serious?
(On another note: huge shout out to Conor O’Brien, Evan McNeely, Wendy Simms, Gabby Day and Helen Wyman – all racing tomorrow in the World Cyclocross Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ll be cheering and yelling at my laptop urging you on. Enjoy it. Soak it all in. Have fun.)
|Rucphen by Dirk Bruylant|
|Hooherheide by Florent Bouchat|
|just before my slide by Tom Prenen|
|ice runup by Tom Prenen|
|photo by Els Bammens|
|modeling my HempAge clothing, |
photo by Els Bammens
It is a big week for so many cyclo-cross racers. In fact for many this is the week they’ve been thinking about, dreaming about and training for – for quite some time. That’s right it is World Cyclocross Championships week. Yes week – the action kicks off on Tuesday Jan. 29 with the Masters World Cyclocross Championships and wraps up with the final races on Friday Feb. 1. Then the Elite World Cyclocross Championships start on Saturday Feb. 2 with the juniors and U23 categories and the elite women and men racing on Sunday Feb. 2.
A week when emotions will be at an all-time high. It is one of those times when you’re so excited to race but also a little bit freaked out about it all. After all this is the race you’ve been thinking about all season. To just be racing at World Cyclocross Championships is a thrill and then when you start thinking about a possible result or outcome – well things can get a little bit crazy.
It has been a while since I’ve raced at such a high-level of competition but I do know what it’s like to deal with the stress, anxiety, fear, self-doubt and overall “circus like” atmosphere of a World Cyclocross Championship…
In my opinion the best thing you can do is to do your “thing”. If you like to eat steak the night before the race do it – even if someone else is telling you to eat bowls of pasta. If you like to put embro on your feet do it – even if someone else thinks you’re crazy. If you like to run your tires at 18 PSI go for it – don’t change just because your buddy runs his tires at 23 PSI. If you have a warm-up that you’ve been using all season, stick with it – don’t make changes the week of, day before or day of.
Quite simply – stick with what got you to Louisville. Trust your instincts. And most of all soak it all up and enjoy every moment. There are no “shouldas”, “couldas” or “wouldas” – just go out and race.
You may never ever get this chance again so make the most of it. Have fun and remember that there are lots of people who wish they could be doing what you’re doing right now. However the race ends up, be proud of it – you trained hard, raced hard, made sacrifices – and you got to be out there having fun on your bike.
(Yes, I’m a little bit jealous of all you folks who are racing this week and weekend. I’ll be cheering for you.)
That's it. As far as training is concerned, 'what's there is there' and 'what will be will be', given good luck and good legs on the day. We are amped here in Boulder. AMPED to race, see our friends from around the country and abroad and celebrate our sport.
Four months. Four months of racing for me and I'm still hungry given a truncated season. A season that again seemed to challenge me in so many ways given yet another broken collarbone in late August and a resultant season of hurry-up-and-try-to-get-fit-along-the-way. Nothing was going to stop me from crawling back on and doing what I love so dearly.
And now we're here. Just days leading up to our trip to Louisville, KY and the Masters World Championships followed by the biggest cyclocross event this nation has ever seen: the Elite World Championships. At this moment I still can't believe I'm here, that I'm going and have enough motivation to tear legs off and go and do my best.
It's incredible when I step back and look at all the support I have in my life to do what I love so much. A few shout outs...
The bikes and equipment are packed an in-route at this exact moment. We're going to go celebrate cross, race, spectate and come back to our respective homes and evangelize what we've seen to anyone who'll listen. But for now, we rest and think about the week to come.
It's only a matter of days now. My head is spinning a bit given the maelstrom of things going on from business to family to training...all leading up to the big show in Louisville KY. My last foray at a World Championship was in Mol, Belgium some 5 years ago. The lead up then was intense....although almost all self-imposed stress. This time it's sort of a good 'stress'. Much positive energy coming from all seats of my teeter-totter. It's just a lot of energy to handle at the moment!
We're still staying on top of it here in Boulder. We went from sub-arctic temps and snow we trained in to 60deg temps and blue skies. Lots of great miles and lots of large smiles as we slay each other to ensure Colorado represents well in Louisville.
Our training rides have consisted of a lot of mock racing. Shorter/wicked intense efforts combined with long dirt miles on some of our favorite loops.
The Ridley X-Fires are also getting their final preps.The cabling is still spot on after a full season due to it's 100% sealing so only things like brake pads are getting re-freshed. These bikes are literally build and ride. Very little maintnece thankfully.
One final addition I am making however comes by way of my friends at K-Edge. They are such great supporters and want to ensure I have a problem feree ride in their own unique way...but ensuring I have thier K-Edge Double XL Chain Catcher is affixed to both bikes. Such huge thanks Tim and Team K-Edge!!
One week to go. One week filled with immensely important business meetings, travel and in 7 days time, my first heat race. I am so amped for it all and the celebration of the most elite-level cross in the world right here on our soil. It truly is like a dream come true after devoting so much of my soul, my life and my time to this sport that I love.
Wish us luck and more from the road in Louisville!
Something has happened to me that hasn’t happened before… I seem to have lost my motivation. I don’t know how this happened or how to get it back. I guess I need some goals. Something to aim for. So this is what I’ll work on this week.
I have lots of stuff I want to do:
So yes, there is lots on that list. Some concrete and some not-so-concrete.
I guess I need to figure out how I’m going to do all this and to do it all well. I know I don’t want to suffer through two days of Rideau Lakes – so I need to get fit and strong for this. I know that two have fun running around in the Gatineau Park on Tuesday nights I need to do more running. I know that to endure four or six hour mountain bike rides/races I need to spend lots of time riding my 29er and honing my technical skills. I know that to race a solid cyclocross season I need to ride my ‘cross bike and work on the basic techniques and develop some sprinting/acceleration fitness.
All this means I need to get a training plan sorted. I know it is only mid-January but I don’t have a big base fitness cushion to rely on – last season was a bust thanks to that darn sickness. But this is behind me now and I’m ready to get back to where I was.
Hey – I think I just find my motivation again! Amazing what some thinking, planning and typing can do. Last season was a bummer but this season is going to be a good one. I’ll be out riding, running and smiling. Time to prove to myself that I’m a healthy person again – take that ulcerative colitis.
You know that feeling when you’re feeling good? You’re feeling so good that you feel as if you have limitless energy and could ride, ski, or run forever? Well, I’ve got that feeling these days. This is awesome (it has been a long time since I’ve had this) – but it is also not so awesome.
The thing is, sometimes I struggle with listening to my body. Particularly when I don’t have a “set” training plan. Right now I’m out there having fun doing whatever I want. This is great. But often this results in my riding the trainer for an hour before work and then going out for a ski later in the day or meeting up with XCZone crew for a snowshoe run. I can sustain this for a couple of days and then I crash. And I crash hard.
My body simply speaks up and says “hey – you don’t have the deep fitness base you used to have. You can’t do three things at your max everyday. Back off and relax a bit!”
So this is what I’m trying to do. Listen to my body and to that little voice in my head that says “take it easy. Enjoy what you’re doing.” I’m so programmed to be “training” for something. It’s strange to not have a training plan that I have to follow. Some of you would likely think that this is a good thing – that life is too short for training plans and structure. Some days I think this and other days I crave this rigour and structure.
I guess this new “phase” of my cycling life is all about learning how to find the balance. How to balance getting out and doing everything I want: skate skiing, snowshoe running, running, road cycling, mountain biking and cyclocross racing – with not burning myself out and actually building some fitness. I don’t want to be mediocre at everything – I want to get my cycling fitness back, use this fitness when I’m out running on the trails or snow and simply enjoy being outside.
It’s not easy to make this transition. I’ll keep chipping away at it day-by-day – finding the groove and balance that works for me. I suppose this all any of us can do.
Next to cyclocross tires, choosing the right shoes for cross is widely known as the 'next biggest religious debate'. Well, maybe slightly behind the Seattle-vs-Boston-vs-Boulder-vs-Portland regional debates. Cyclocross is a unique and demanding discipline of cycling, requiring the pilot to be on and off the bike frequently throughout the duration of a race...well, unless the course has been Starbucked. In other words, demanding as much pedaling efficiency as running agility and efficiency.
Sidi has been an institution of cycling for eons, and when it comes to Elite-level competition, you will see an armada of the Italian shoe-maker's products outfitting the world's best on the most famous battlefields in the sport...from Koksijde to Kentucky. Their off road product range is very diverse, ranging from the price conscious, to the price unconscionable. For 2013, the new Drako (MSRP $449.95) replaces their long time elite-level shoe, the Dragon, and the Spider (MSRP $349.95) is back as their more price-conscious stalwart. I wanted to look at them both carefully for the application of cyclocross. To really get to the bottom of which shoe would perform and serve 'crossers the best in all capacities from price to performance. Here's what I found out...
Both the Drako (say 'DRAY-ko') left, and Spider, right, fit extremely well. The material used on both uppers (Lorica) is weatherproof, cleans up easy in mud, but
There's having your equipment dialed and working like butter. There's tire gluing and pressure. Then there's the racing of your bike and all that goes in to it: health, nutrition, training,rest, focus. But to do a 'cross successfully in "real" conditions, it's about TEAM. You simply can not do it by yourself. And this is how Boulder Cycle Sport CX does it. Do we train for this? Yes. Do we talk and plan and strategize on who's doing what and when? Yes. Do we have a pit boss? Yes. Quite frankly, it's incredibly fun to strategize on the bad-condition racing days as we know it will be our advantage. And historically our preparation has proved itself. Some proof over the years....
Photo by Dave Adams
2010 Racing - Some of our most extreme conditions all season
Congrats to Pete and Russ for their 2013 National Championships! Our preparation was key. On to Louisville!
Pride. Immense, glowing, unabashed pride is what I feel for my son having completed his first national cyclocross championship in Madison, WI. Aiden is 10 and did his first Junior Mens 10-12 age group and it was a barn burner. He'll be back again in this age group next yere when the Nationals come visit us here in Boulder CO!
From all accounts, from my teammates to my wife to Aiden's Boulder Junior Cycling team parents who made the trek up north, all descriptions of the conditions were nothing less that epic, if not treacherous. Hearing stories by Tilford and Joe underscore what the competitors faced and experienced and it made my stomach turn not being there to support (and maybe feel like I'm protecting in some way). Black ice, frozen earth covered by a thin layer of muddy slime...adults claimed they knew they'd hit the earth, but had no idea when.
But the conditions are what they are and this is cyclocross. It is all about preparation, equipment and trust in your skills. Knowing my best friends and teammates were there made me extremely happy though...
Brandon Dwight (National Champ) Aiden, Pete Webber (National & World Champ) and Russ Stevenson (long time pro and WA state CX champ)
My teammate and family friend (and fellow BJC dad) had Aiden's Clement PDXs dialed for me. We were texting that AM and he put Aiden's tires in the 16-18psi range. Aiden and the BJC kids know how to drive their bikes in the bad as the coaches and I had taken them
(Yes a bit of a lame title, but it fits for today.)
So last week I wrote about how I didn’t go out snowshoeing with a local group – I wrote about how I was feeling nervous about my fitness and not being able to “keep up”. I beat myself up pretty darn good over this. Well then I went out to the snowshoe race at the ARK and had so much fun and the extra bonus was I talked to folks who go out to the weekly snowshoe runs – these people convinced me to come out.
On Wednesday, I did it. I went out to the snowshoe run organized by Dave McMahon and Lise Meloche. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. But I was there and I was going to do it. Wow – I’m really glad I went out. I met a few new people. I ran. I played in the snow. I laughed. I panted. It was so much fun. It has been a very long time since I’ve run for close to 90 minutes but once I settled into a manageable pace I was just fine. I made the classic beginner mistake of going out a bit too fast but soon readjusted my pace. (The group stops to let everyone catch up and rest for a few minutes – so this really works for all abilities.)
There were people ahead of me. There were people behind me. I was never alone. There was constant chatter to keep things light and friendly. The sight of the bobbing headlamps weaving through the forest of the Gatineau Park was simply amazing. I have no idea where we went – I think it was a new “trail” – we ran through deep snow, we scrambled up super steep climbs, we leapt and slid down steep descents – it was fun and good for the soul.
At the end of the run I had a chance to talk with Lise a bit. Way back when, I took ski lessons from Lise and went out to the summer trail runs that Dave and Lise organise – Lise was asking where I’ve been for these past six years. I told her about my cyclocross racing, the ulcerative colitis, the fractured vertebrae, etc. I told her how I was just hoping to get “the most out of each day” and how being sick/injured has really reinforced to me how important it is to do “what you can when you can” – Lise has had her own battle with a very severe back injury so she and I were on the same page here. She said something that has stuck with me “just get out and enjoy the day. Do what you can and be happy that you can do it.”
I think this just might be my theme for 2013: do what I can and be grateful that I can do it. (Feel free to remind me of this theme when I start moaning on this website…)
(I’ll be out for the rest of the weekly snowshoe runs – if you’re thinking of coming out. To learn more about these runs, check out Natural Fitness Lab on Facebook and visit the Natural Fitness Lab website.)
It's an incredibly selfish, self-centered sport this cycling of ours. And we're slaves to it because of what it brings us. The work, the rewards, the fun. But lest we forget how we can do this. Through support. Through love. Through understanding. All graciously afforded to us by our loved ones. Wives, husbands, children.
My wife has always been there. Supporting me over the last 16 years in what often feels like a Quixotic adventure. Always propping me up when I've not achieved what I think I can and telling me I can. Cleaning me up when I am broken and bloody. Hugging me when I've done my best.
She is now managing three of us. My sons and me in our quests to go fast. And we owe her so much. Too much to re-pay. Amy thank you for what you do to enable us to do it. And thank you for this wonderful gift you are giving our son. Taking him to his first National Championship. Providing him such an amazing experience.
You are amazing.
The sun is setting our our local racing scene here in Colorado. Two more stops to go....Nationals and then the Master's Worlds Championships in Louisville. Finding motivation for some after 6 months of racing is extremely hard. For me, I am still hungry. Still trying to prove to myself I can go. To prove to myself I can ride and prove that I still remember how to not give up.
Our Boulder Cycle Sport rider Jaime Servaites put together a great view of yesterday's race at Valmont Bike Park. Super good training for the conditions to be faced in Madison. Technical cornering in slimy mud and snow that was unfreezing lap after lap and enough high speed sections along with a massive climb to deeply train. I raced the Elites and placed 22nd out of 50+ after getting caught behind some starting melee. Really fun and a great bloc of training for me as I'm still trying to scrape the bottom of the form barrel to grab whatever high end I can.
My son Aiden had an exceptional race, pushing super hard to catch his 14 y.o. teammate for a fine and super motivating 2nd place as he'll be making his way to Madison for his first National Championships! He's a bit nervous but excited to race against the country's fastest and learn a ton. This video is from our local paper, the Daily Camera and shows some great footage of the race but also
Fun was had today. There was huffing and puffing. There was gasping and screams of delight. At times there was tripping and falling and other times it felt like my inner five year-old was letting loose. This good clean fun was had in the great outdoors and saw myself and many other hardy folks strap on the snowshoes to run, hike, scramble, tumble and laugh out loud during the second race in the Atlas Mad Trapper Snowshoe Series.
Located just 40 minutes north of Ottawa, near Wakefield, Quebec, the ARK is located on an amazing piece of property that truly is a big outdoor playground. This was my first time out to the ARK and boy have I been missing out. Think of a large yet cozy building surrounded by nature – this is the ARK.
I’d been curious about the snowshoe races held at the ARK ever since Derrick and Natasha started doing them. They told me how much fun they were and when some of my other friends agreed, I made it a goal this year to participate in the race series. I missed the first early race due to my lingering running injury – but today I was ready to go.
Of course there was a big pile of nerves along with this excitement and eagerness. But once I made my way to the ARK, pinned on my number and chatted with friends and new faces – I soon felt comfortable. It was an interesting group of people – dedicated runners, avid skiers, serious cyclists, and folks who just love to be outside. A pretty darn good group.
The race and race course were simply awesome. This was definitely a “hilly course”. These hills combined with the deep white snow made for some challenging times. I was very happy to learn before the race that it is “okay” to walk the hills. This was a valuable piece of information. Thanks to fine pace setting by Dawn, Heather and Vicki – it was a challenging yet enjoyable time to be running and hiking. Admittedly there were moments when I didn’t think I could climb another step but thoughts of the fun downhill kept me going. Once I found my groove on the descents, I really had a blast – this is when the inner five year-old comes out – I discovered I just had to “let go” and literally jump down the hills in the deep snow. So much fun.
The atmosphere of the event was excellent. Very friendly and outgoing. Afterwards everyone hung out in the ARK, enjoying some great food and tasty beverages. A large number of prizes were given away at random. Lots of laughs and stories were told of experiences out on the race course. Kudos to those folks who did the 10 km race – I cannot imagine doing two loops of that course. (Well, maybe next year…)
The next race in the series is on Jan. 26 and everyone says this one is the most fun – we run at night in the woods. Awesome. I’m really looking forward to this one (also because it promises to be less hilly!). If you’re new to snowshoes and snowshoe running – don’t be shy – come on out. This was only my second time running on my Atlas Run snowshoes and I really haven’t been doing much running – it didn’t matter.
Thanks to the organizer, Mike Caldwell and to everyone who was so encouraging and welcoming – I’m hooked.
Remember the other day when I wrote about “squeezing the most out of every healthy day”? I felt pretty good when I wrote that. Inspired. Motivated. Focused.
Well, the truth is sometimes I don’t live up to my lofty words and ideals. You see the thing is, sometimes I convince myself that I’m not strong enough, fast enough, fit enough, or simply good enough – and I don’t do what I want to do. This happened on Wednesday.
There is a local group here in Ottawa/Gatineau that meets twice a week for snowshoe runs in the Gatineau Park. I’ve wanted to go on these runs for a long time. Last night was the night. My bag was packed. My snowshoes were in the car. I was ready. Then during the day, I managed to talk myself out of going out to the snowshoe run.
I worried about being able to keep up with group.
I stressed about running for 90 minutes.
I mumbled to myself about a lingering heal injury.
I obsessed over the cold weather.
I told myself that I shouldn’t go.
I justified this with some twisted logic.
I let myself down.
Sometimes I let my crazy brain and insecurities win. I guess this makes me human – but I still hate it when this happens. Interesting how self-confidence can slip through my fingers like water.
My friends at Ridley pointed me at this picture this AM, I assume to whet my appetite on Joachim Aerts and Co's new creation. It's a new MY2014 frame the Sunweb-Napolean Games riders (namely Klaas Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels) have been steering, to some impressive results in the kerstperiode in Belgium these last few weeks.
The Sunweb team have been on Ridley's finest for some time...mainly aboard the workhorse X-Night for many generations. But look closely...no seat mast, Cervelo-esque needle-thin down stays, shaped top tube and thinner profile fork. Something tells me this is their new flagship...ultralight and ultra racy.
To be announced in Louisville, KY at Worlds. Stay tuned....
It's cold. And snowy. And we're smiling here in Boulder. The motivation of the crew here in Boulder is extremely high to perform well in Madison and in Louisville. Almost all training exclusively outside., suffering gladly in the bitter cold. It's so inspiring to push each other as hard as possible as we all want to see that sweet Colorado flag flying high on podiums and for our own personal bests at the Big Shows. Our beloved 'Parc des Champions' has become a playground-cum-battleground to push each other to red-line limits while ensuring our bike driving is as smooth as ever...
For me, I will be absent from Madison. My eldest going in my place to rip up the 10-12's in his first Nationals appearance. He's stoked. And my wife is the best for inspiring the idea that she is taking him to the great white north while I am here in Boulder busily working and training for Louisville.
One month to go. I am deeply excited and motivated to shred. Giddy up.
My name is Molly Cameron and I am a bicycle racer. I happen to live in Oregon and did the majority of my racing in Oregon and Washington this season. I traveled internationally, raced some UCI races and am preparing to fly to Madison, Wisconsin to race the US Cyclocross National championships next week.
I registered for the 2013 Cyclocross National Championships the day online registration opened. I signed up for the Elite race, the Master’s 35+ race and a “non-championship” race. These were, I should note, individually the most expensive races I have ever paid for.
I’m not complaining here, bike racing has never been cheap.
A few days ago, it was brought to my attention that I am listed in last place on the start list and “race predictor” for all of the races I registered for. Apparently I have no “USAC points” so I am listed in dead last place. I kinda chuckled about it to myself, my goals for the Elite race are reasonable, my UCI points should start me mid-pack and I’ve generally entered the Master’s race as a warm up and to pre-ride the course a bunch at race pace.
While I have a decent shot at winning the 35+ race, it has never been a target for me. (I have finished in the top ten every year I’ve done an age group race at Nationals, which is infrequently). I’ve always tried to focus on being the best racer I can be and race against the best I can in the Elite race. I’ve never liked it when legitimate professional talent (not me, obviously!) cherry picks age group national champ races. Not naming names but it happens, UCI licenses or not. I’ve always held the belief the age group races are for the riders with real jobs and stuff other than bike racing to focus on.
So when a bunch of racers also registered in the Master’s 35+ race sent me notes/tweets/etc voicing how my lack of a call-up in the race was “BS” and “ridiculous”. I put a little more thought into it and, yes. Yes it is ridiculous.
I emailed a few people at USA Cycling today (December 31st) to inquire about my lack of USAC points. I’m not going to name any names as everyone I have ever dealt with at USA Cycling has been responsive, helpful and professional. I’ve raced all over the world and only had good experiences with the UCI and USAC representatives and employees. I’m not writing this to incite or perpetuate any anti-USA Cycling sentiment. I don’t think USAC “sucks”. Though maybe some of their policies do.
The response I got from USAC was what I expected. I have read and know the rules myself.
“We have some fairly rigid policies regarding call ups. If you are riding in the elite men race, then the first criteria will be UCI points, so your call up would be based on that. For masters, we use the returning 8 places from last year, followed by USAC rankings.” Which is completely fair. My racing and results should speak for themselves this season!
Here is the catch: USA Cycling is my national governing body yet, USA Cycling does not recognize ANY of the racing I did this year (except CrossVegas, where a mechanical in the last lap ended my race) and that affects my USAC ranking; I currently don’t have one. Zero points. Even though I am internationally ranked by the UCI, I don’t officially have any USAC points. Not a single point. This year, I had a great season. I won races, was rarely off the podium and consistently raced against International caliber competition at every race.
Many of you may know about the non-reciprosity between USAC and the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. You might have read this article on Velonews detailing the current state of affairs, if not, give it a read for some context. Read the comments too. There is a lot of the “blah blah USAC sucks” type but, you can find some intelligent exchanges in-between the USAC bashing. Here is another article.
People jokingly comment to me; “move to Colorado!” or “move to New England” suggesting that, I would not have this problem if I was in a region that had USAC reciprocity and there is a bunch of USAC sanctioned racing. That is not a realistic solution to the problem. If anything these are pretty selfish recommendations, from riders not caught up in this power struggle.
I’d like to also note that I’ve never felt like the USAC or UCI is “evil”. My intention here is not to vilify the USAC or UCI. I’ve never felt the need to trash talk either governing body. Like I said, I am a bike racer, I show up, play by the rules, race clean and do my job the best I can against the best competition available.
I’m not writing this looking for sympathy, special favors or to bend the USAC rules for me. I’m writing to point out how flawed this system is. If USAC is supposed to be my national governing body why don’t they recognize any of the racing I’ve done this season? This is, of course, a rhetorical question.
I represent everything that USAC should be supporting. I am a 30-something year old bicycle racing “consumer”! I love bike racing, I put lots of money into the sport and race consistenty. I travel to races, I’ve been going to US Nationals yearly since I started racing cyclocross. I buy my spendy UCI/USAC license every year and pay my entry fees with no hesitation. I represent many, many of us cyclocross racers; we work full-time jobs, have a lot of other responsibilities in our lives and still dedicate ourselves to being the best cyclocross racers we can be.
But, because of some political power plays between the governing bodies of our sport, my racing does not count. At least not to USA Cycling.
When I asked about my UCI points and UCI ranking superseding any USAC point system for ranking in the master’s race. And, to be fair, I was just pointing out how silly it is that I am ranked internationally but not nationally.
“No because most of the people with UCI points are professionals and not allowed to ride the masters events anyway. If you are on any kind of UCI team, or you have ridden world cup events this year, you are considered an elite and not allowed to ride masters events at any level. That takes care of most of the people who have UCI points. The philosophy is that if you are good enough to earn UCI elite points, you should be riding elites and not masters.”
I’m sorry, you are incorrect. Most of the people with UCI points are not professionals. Not even close.
While I agree with the philosophy; and I too think that if you are good enough to be getting UCI points you should be racing the Elite race but, not necessarily to the exclusion of any age group racing you are able to do. I also like the rules about UCI team members and World Cup participants not being able to race age group races. Makes sense. But in reality it is because the cyclocross community is largely self-policing that most professional-caliber riders with any self respect or self awareness know better than to cherry pick the age group categories at nationals. It is not because the USAC rules are so well written that the categories work them selves out.
You (USAC) are wrong about most of the people with UCI points. The overwhelmingly vast majority of racers in the United States racing UCI races are not professionals. There are hundreds of UCI licensed riders racing UCI races and NOT getting UCI points. And the vast majority of racers getting UCI points in those races are not professionals. Of the currently 87 UCI ranked US riders with UCI points right now, about a dozen are professionals. Maybe. The other 75 something US riders with UCI points, (while some are very well sponsored) are bicycle racing consumers. Grass roots level bicycle racing consumers, that put a lot of money and heart back into the sport.
Let’s consider for a minute: What if my season goal was winning the Master’s National Championship 35+ race? I don’t see why it could not be, I’m 37, I work 2 full time jobs and still managed a competitive cyclocross season. I’m the stereotypical masters racer. If I trained hard and maintained my form through the holidays just to find out that USAC does not recognize any of my season’s race results and that I have to start in the back row of the most important race of the year, I’d be pretty devastated.
Just because I live in Portland, Oregon and race local races.
In addition to all of the race results, I asked about the chance I’ll be fined for holding a UCI Elite license and racing non UCI events this coming season:
“The penalty is a 100 fine the first infraction and a 30 day suspension for subsequent ones. Last year it was only the professional riders but I have heard discussion of all international license holders but am not sure when/if that takes effect”
While this is pretty unlikely to happen to me, it very well could. Again, USAC is just enforcing a UCI rule that has been around for a while. But I hope they pick up on the public outcry. It is a rule that makes no practical sense and bums out everyone.
No one benefits with these kinds of rules. Well, maybe the UCI does.
Where does it leave us in 2013? UCI cyclocross racing is very important to me, important to my sponsors but, the bulk of the racing I do is in Oregon under OBRA. I already have both my OBRA and UCI/USAC 2013 licenses. USAC can potentially fine/sanction me for racing non-USAC races as soon as the local season starts up. I can race as many master’s cyclocross races in Oregon and Washington as I want to and I’ll still never earn a USAC point.
It is a broken system. One would think, that USAC, looking to actually live up to their namesake and represent every cyclist in the USA, would just be gracious and acknowledge OBRA races and results. If anything, just do it for the racers. This kinda stuff only makes our lives complicated and does not in any way improve our racing experience or benefit the national racing scene.
I know the USAC representative I emailed back and forth with about this will eventually read this and I apologize for just copying verbatim your emails here but, I know you are just dictating the current policy and it is nothing personal. I appreciated the quick responses to my questions. I have a lot of respect for every race official, race promoter and everyone involved in the various bicycle racing sanctioning bodies. While I may not always agree with you, I could not race my bike without all of you doing what you do.
I’m really not concerned with my call up at Master’s nationals. It is the damn principal here. USAC does not appear to have a real grasp on what bike racers are actually doing, what is actually important to us. Maybe one of these years I will actually show up with some fitness and contend for the win. But if things stay the same, I’ll still never earn a single USAC point in 2013 regardless of how much racing I’ll do, UCI, Masters, Elite or otherwise.
Winter is here. In full force. The snowbanks in our front yard are now so high that I can’t see over them. All this snow is a good thing – it enables me to get out and snowshoe and skate ski – but I must admit that I can do without all this shovelling…
In between shovelling I’ve been getting out for some fun snowshoeing adventures. I’ve been out three times now – each time at a different location. After only three snowshoeing runs/walks I can see why people are so addicted to snowshoe running. Wow – what a work-out. Combine running with ankle to knee-deep snow and you’ve got a some seriously heavy breathing and burning legs. Oh and toss in a few steep climbs and you’ve got a great way to get outside and have some fun.
It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of running in the snowshoes but once I figured out that I need to lift my knees high and try to really step forward, things started to flow (a little bit). I’m doing a mix of running and walking – essentially because my fitness does not lend itself to outright running and because I’m still nursing some annoying running-induced injuries. But through it all – it is so much fun.
Today I drove out to Relais plein air in the Gatineau Park and explored trail 65. While the main trail is quite packed-down, there are lots of side trails that make for some challenging snowshoeing. I simply followed the already made tracks into the deep snow – for the most part these trails hooked up with the main trails. These side trails afforded me some awesome views, some steep climbs and some tricky descents that involved some jumping, sliding down on my bum, and hanging on to the random tree.
On Sunday I plan to do something I haven’t done in a long time… Skate ski. Yep – it is time to get out and see if I can remember how to ski. It has been six years since I’ve skied… I’m excited and a bit nervous. My plan is to go out early before the crowds arrive and to test out my legs, core and lungs on a flatish section of the Gatineau Park. I’m pretty sure it will be another fun day out in the snow.
Of course with all this activity, my thoughts are wandering towards 2013 and thinking about 2012. I could write a long post about the year that is almost over. But honestly it wasn’t the year that I had “planned” on. Sure there were lots of highlights: racing in the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series (and rediscovering why I love cyclocross), watching Marc race on the road and seeing how happy he was with the success of his young teammates, watching Marc have one of his best cyclo-cross seasons ever, and experiencing racing with such a robust and friendly women’s field in the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series. But along the way, I still have a bit of a bad taste in my mouth – really I’m still angry with my body and this darn disease. It is hard not to think of all the things I missed out on this past year. But there is not time to feel sorry for myself – all I can do is make sure I squeeze the most out of every healthy day I have. This means that in 2013 I might seem unfocused or not “serious” but this is not the case – rather I want to do it all – trail running, mountain biking (can’t wait to get out on my new 29er), road racing (just a little bit), and cyclocross racing. I will be staring with a coach in 2013 and I’m excited to get my fitness back and to build some newfound fitness.
Thanks for hanging out with me this past year – it has been a tough one but I’m confident that 2013 will be a good one.
|Post-Scheldecross by Ilse Hendrickx|
|This does not do a very good job of capturing the scale of the dump pile. Bonus points if you notice the solar panels on the house that peeks over the top, in the background. The next day there were giant diggers driving around on top of this.|
|The beach now runs through all these megamillionaires' backyards. Most looked pretty battered. Many were just gone.|
|You can very easily capture my heart by giving me a cornucopia of chocolate goodies.|
I kind of thought my racing days were over… but it turns out they aren’t…
These last few weeks I’ve been spending time riding the trainer and watching many programs on Netflix – and this has resulted in lots of time to think. All of this riding in place has made me realize how much I miss structured training, setting goals, and challenging myself.
I’ve decided that I’m not ready to stop racing. I had so much fun racing in the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series this year and I want to experience these sensations again next year. The difference being I want to be racing with fitness and strength.
It has been a long time since I’ve “trained”. Since April all I’ve been doing is riding my bike to and from work and then racing cyclocross on Sundays. I know from these last few weeks of trainer time that I have a lot of work to do.
But this is okay. I’m mentally and physically ready for this. I want to race again so I’m willing to do the work to get me ready for it.
My racing plans are pretty simple for the upcoming season: race the occasional road race, race the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series, and do some cyclocross races in New England. Amongst this I plan to spend lots of time on my new mountain bike (maybe do some four or six hour mountain bike races), participate in Rideau Lakes and do the Tuesday night trail runs in the Gatineau Park.
I thought I was done with racing but I’ve realized that I need to finish racing on my terms – not because I’m sick or injured.
(Now I’d like some real snow to fall so I can get out and ski and make use of my brand new snowshoes.)
Sunday rolled around and I hit the GACX race that was only about 45 minutes from home. This was a new course for the Georgia series and I wanted to get a look at this course. It was a nice wide open course with a mix of woodland trails, open field and some ballpark grass/pavement mixed in. I got a great start and was in the top 3. I stayed with the lead group for awhile, but the second time through the climb and big runup coming out of the woods I lost touch. I started sliding back for the rest of the race. I still managed to pull out a top 20 which is my best finish so far this year. All in all, I liked the course and didn’t suck to bad.
Talk to ya’ll later. DS
I coached my son’s soccer team again and they got 2nd place, but we managed to finish early. So, as soon as we got home I packed up the car and headed te Anniston for the 1st race of the Double Down weekend. Saturday racing under the lights. Ricky Bobby would be proud. I love that course and I like racing under the lights. I missed the first race, but got a great warm up for the second race. I got to the start line early and grabbed the last spot on the front row after the call ups. I got a great start and pulled out the hole shot. I was in the lead for the first half lap, then I settled into the lead group of about 6. As we hit the big sandpit right before the finish line the guy in front of me endo’d, so I lost my momentum and had to run it. I lost the last wheel in the lead group and just couldn’t pull myself back up. I lost a little gas as we got near the end and ended up losing a few spots. But Imanaged to ride the sandpit the rest of the race and on the last lap I went for the double handup—beer then cash. I spilt the beer and missed the bills. But I still pulled out a top 15. So, it was good Saturday night.
Talk to ya’ll later. DS
This year is a first for me—a ‘cross season that stretches into January. I am traveling to Madison for Nationals, for the privilege of getting my ass handed to me by the fastest old dudes in the country. I can use all the training I can get, so with the MN State Championship in the books, what’s a guy to do? Head to Badger Prairie, that’s what. The race is held at the same venue as Nationals, so it is a great chance to preview the course (that was my thinking, anyway).
Sunday, race day—35 degrees and steady snow give the course a little bit of everything. Slush: check. Ice: check. Mud: check. For some reason, I thought that the Masters 35+ 123 was the field for me. Everything was fine until the whistle blew. Then those dudes just rode away from me. Humble pie is always a little bitter, but that’s how it goes sometimes. They were fast, fast, fast! I was not, not, not.
It was a great course, though. And with no one around to bother me, it was a good chance to push myself. Can I go a little faster through that slippery downhill section? Can I ride that slick, icy hill this lap, or will I have to dismount? Should I take the bacon-wrapped cupcake hand up? (The answer to that one is always Y-E-S!).
One more December ‘cross workout done. I’m making this up as I go. Five weeks ‘till Nationals.
I’ll admit it – I miss racing my cyclocross bike. I guess I looked forward to the Sunday morning races more than I realized. Now instead of thinking about the upcoming race, I find myself thinking about the past races (what went well and where I could have improved). Yes, it turns out, I’ve still got that competitive spirit inside of me. (Phew!)
This time of the year is a trick time. It is too cold to ride outside comfortably – not to mention the ice and ridiculous winds. There is currently no snow so skiing and snowshoeing are on hold. So what to do? Well for me this has allowed me to get back to one of my favourite activities – running.
I know many of you cyclists are shaking your heads and thinking “Running? Yuck – I hate running”. I admit that running is not for everyone. But I do enjoy it. I’m not a fast runner. Nor am I graceful. But I thoroughly enjoy it. There is something about the freedom that running affords. Pull on some tights, a base layer, tie up the shoes and you’re out the door. In 30 minutes a good hard work-out can be had – anywhere.
Of course this recent excursion into running hasn’t been without its problems. First very weak calf muscles resulted in some severe hobbling around. Then I made the silly decision of changing my running gait from a forefoot strike to a heel strike – this resulted in some injuries. And now that I’m back-on-track and following the advice of a top-notch physiotherapist, I’ve got a new problem – one that even surprised my physiotherapist… My right heel is locked. Apparently our heels are supposed to move around – allowing us to pronate and supinate. Well my right heel is locked, causing some serious pain. No idea how this happened. I’m guessing it is because I “run like an elephant” (my words). Anyway, I’m now able to start running again…
This running is not the same as cyclocross racing or a long road rid in the summer – but it is still pretty darn good. My mind is free to wander and roam – to dream up new challenges while my legs are burning and my breathe is coming sharp and loudly. Soon enough I’ll be juggling running on the bicycle paths with skate skiing and snowshoe running.
Meanwhile through all of this I’m thinking of that moment in Perth when I dropped my chain and how in Almonte I had too much pressure in my tires and in Morrisburg when young Lois dropped me on the run-ups and in Logosland when I found my groove on the long false flats and how my barrier technique finally came together by the end of the season.
(To help keep the cyclocross vibes running through you, check out these awesome videos of women racing in Europe: Petitesreine’s Videos. If you watch the videos from 2011 you might even catch a glimpse of someone racing around in an Ottawa CX skin suit…)
Please see the post below for registration info. Stick around after the on Saturday for a chance to win a pair of Oakley Jawbones! A $240.00 values. Just buy a raffle ticket or 3 for $5.00. Proceeds will go to the Virginia Intermont Cycling Team! We’ll also be giving other stuff away along with the awards for the top three in each category.
Race #8 and series final (Double Points) will be back at the Farmhouse Gallery& Gardens on December 8th. Collegiate racing in the morning, MSG racing beginning at 11:00AM
Cobra-Tornado Cross, December 9th, Collegiate races and limited USAC category racing (proceeds to benefit collegiate racing).
Nice to see all the Crossniacs at the race.
Christopher Fisher took the top step of the podium with Craig Faulkner one step down in the open Mens race. Joshua Roeser took 9th on Sunday. This was all after Saturdays’s men’s Cat 1 & 2 race were Christopher took 5th with CJ in 7th, Joshua in 11th and Rhett Finley round it out with 15th.