Big Time Press

Back in August I was getting ready for my last clinic in San Francisco when I received an email from a guy named Daniel Duane.  He wanted to get into the clinic that I was putting on that weekend.  I was already at maximum capacity and didn’t want to take on anymore people, but the name looked familiar.  I looked him up online and my suspicion was confirmed.  It was Daniel Duane the writer as opposed to Daniel Duane the plumber or some other Daniel Duane.  I emailed him back and said that I would “reluctantly” let him into the clinic.  All the while the hamsters were spinning in my head…wondering what he was up to.  Well, he gave it up pretty quickly and told me that he was writing an article for Men’s Journal magazine.  Turns out he is a contributing editor.  It also turns out that this is the one magazine that I have a subscription to.  Amazing in this day and age of the internet.  I confess, it was a gift.  I would never subscribe to a magazine.

Daniel said that he was writing an article on cyclocross from a novices standpoint and that he wanted to take a clinic, get some advice and then enter a race.  I suggested that he look into the Portland scene, since it was one of the biggest in the country.  The SF Bay Area rocks, but Portland has the numbers and it just so turned out that Alpenrose was coming up – a classic course.  So Daniel showed up with 15 other eager students and we hit all the basics.  Now Daniel differed a little from others.  You see, Specialized set him up with a nice carbon cross bike, complete with SRAM hydraulic disc brakes.  This looked good at the time (see latest recall) and even I was a jealous…just a little bit.

Daniel is an athlete and picked up most of the techniques pretty quickly.  As a cyclists he was nails, but as a cyclocrosser I think he was a little humbled.  It is harder than it looks.  In my years of teaching I have found that adults tend to over think a little and be more conservative when it comes to learning a new sport.  Cyclocross was no exception.  The day was a perfect fall day for California – 90 degrees and hot.  We had a great time and he said he would be in touch.  I didn’t cross my fingers because anything can happen in journalism.

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Daniel Hitting the Barriers

But true to his word Daniel gave me a ring the next week and picked my brain for more information about cyclocross.  Then a couple months later he called me again and told me he had been up to Alpenrose for the race.  In true Portland fashion it rained and conditions were perfect – muddy, sloppy and downright silly.  All he could talk about was how much fun he had.  The true cross experience….  Later that week I spoke with an editor from New York City.  It is interesting talking to someone about cyclocross that has no idea what it is.  The guy didn’t even ride a bike.  I related it football, threw in a New York accent (my parents are from there) and he felt right at home.

More waiting followed and I received my copy of MJ’s in the mail in November.  Sure enough the article was in there.  My wife was more ecstatic than I.  CX Nation was mentioned twice.  It felt like a let down until she explained to me that in her business (wine industry) they pay people to write about them and get nothing.  I felt a little better.  The main thing though was that the sport of cyclocross was getting some press and that was the best part.  Now people might see what a great sport it truly is.

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The article…

A huge thanks to Daniel for putting it together.  You did the sport proud…and I think we might have a convert in him.  A link to the article….  http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-rise-of-cyclocross-20131203

The Final Show

The last Bay Area Superprestige of the season happened last Sunday at Coyote Point Recreation Area in Burlingame or San Bruno or I am not that sure.  All the towns run together down there.  It’s very close to SFO and huge airplanes fly right by the course inches (maybe feet) above the water.  It is truly a great venue.  Tom and the Pilarcitos crew did a great job on the course and set up.  It was Daniel Ferguson’s last race with the BASP as he moves to Hell-A.  Daniel has been a rock in the neutral pit for all these years.  I have used him more than once and we have some pro bike swaps.  Great guy, will be missed.

As for the race….I got there early and watched Sage Aldebran, CX Nation team member, just crush the competition once again and win the overall in the Master’s 35+ B’s.  Sage has won pretty much everything he has entered this year.  After just starting to race last year he really is a force to be reckon with.  Next year he jumps to the A’s.  I am sure he will do great. 1476172_10201615103992243_1549184588_n

Sage carving a turn at the Sac final,which he also won

I lined up for a front row start.  Lots of indecisiveness on what to wear in the chilly, but not too chilly weather.  I opted for the thicker skin suit, which I don’t get to wear that much – 3 times in 4 years.  It just doesn’t get that cold in California.  As I looked down the front row all these skinny guys had leg warmers on and were shivering.  Guess I have a little more cushion.  Murrey Swanson got a great jump at the start and he was gone…just like that.  I fell in behind Aaron Wilcher and a group of 4 of us chased for the first lap.  Basil, Coates and Brock were also in there.  Eventually Aaron dropped off but another Buy-Cell guy bridged up.  None other than Don Myrah.  The World Champ missed his call up and just charged past everybody else.  I settled into 4th in the row and we rolled like that for several laps.  I was psyched to be there.

Then, disaster struck in the sand pit.  You had to dismount on the turn into the pit, but you could remount and ride the rest of the sand if you were strong.  We were all riding it when I missed a clip and that was it.  They rode away from me.  I chased and chased, but couldn’t hook back on.  I ended up 6th…just off the podium, but still a great result.

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Digging just after the sand pit – Brock crashed on the decent and is hot on my heels

I always get so excited when one of my athletes does well in a race.  Every year there have been some great successes.  This year has been no exception.  William Youngman scored a major goal of his and won the Master’s 45+ A’s in the Sacramento Cyclocross series…literally by a foot.  I was so stoked for him.

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William on the podium

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Jon Suzuki caught me mid-story with this shot. Who knows what I was saying….funny.

Deja’ Vue All Over Again

Crazy as it sounds, but this was the last big weekend of the 2013 cyclocross season.  What started out in snow of Louisville at Worlds was now finishing on the beaches of San Francisco Bay.  Once again Bike Monkey and CX Nation decided to hold a race the day before a Bay Area Superprestige race, which meant a full three days of work, racing and more work.  It all started on Friday when my set up crew (Dan and Nick) met at the venue for Round 3 of the Santa Rosa Cup.  Maxwell Regional Park in Sonoma was a new venue and hopefully one that we can keep for future years.  This one had quite a mix of terrain and features that lent itself to a great course.  SR Cross

Marking of the course – labor intensive.

After a full 8 hours of marking the course we were ready to go home.  Just in time too…a storm was moving in and it was going to be a cold one.  Ice, wind, maybe even snow were in the forecast.  True cross weather, but always a concern of a course designer because you don’t want to damage the course too bad, so that you are not invited back.  It dawned cold and brisk – just short of bone chilling.  You have to remember that we are Californians.  Every time it rains they call it “storm watch” and winter is when you have to scrap ice off of your car.  We are delicate flowers out here.

The wind picked up and dried the course quite well.  Races went off on time, some locals complained, people had fun.  All in a days work for a cyclocross promoter.  Then, I turned racer and jumped into the last race to get a workout in.  I followed Colby Pearce ( a local mtb shredder) around for the last half of the race.  We had a huge log jump on the course and I couldn’t believe he cleared it each time.  I wanted to be behind him each lap so I could watch it.  We battled it out and I ended up using my skills (big legs and sprinting) to take him at the line…for like 16th place or something like that.  Quickly I got off the bike and started to clean up for 2 more hours. Like I said, long days.

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Santa made a guest appearance in the B race – sandbagger

Video of the Elite A race from Hans Kellner

http://vimeo.com/81474135

 

The Double – Part 2

Sunday dawned nice and clear for Day 3 of my long, long weekend.  Usually my body does pretty well when I race two days on a weekend.  Saturday seems like a warm-up for Sunday.  But setting up a race course on Friday, then running a race all day Saturday, can be a little much.  Throw some racing in the mix and the old dogs were screaming Saturday night.  I drove down to Candlestick Park in San Francisco for Round 4 of the Bay Area Superprestige.  This day was supposed to be like Seal Team 6 – get in, race, get out.  The course was damp from a recent rain and contained the usual suspects – a 180 barrier hop and the Bridge of Sorrows (staircase leading to a drop).  They set up the bridge in an interesting position this time.  You went up and then had a right turn at the bottom.  Made for some crazy descents and broken bones.  Lots of crashes and lots of discussion on the blogs after this one was done.  I slid out a couple times and thought that it was tough to make a turn at the bottom of a ramp, but it was no worse than other obstacles that we have had throughout the years (i.e. Cess Pool of Filth).  Others didn’t feel the same and let it be known when hiding behind their computers after the race was far from over.

I got a front row start and with the crack of the gun we were off.  I slotted in around 6th as we made our way around on the first lap.  World Champ, Don Myrah, who is notorious for mediocre starts quickly mad this way around me…in a turn.  He always does that. How does it happen?  Might have something to do with the fact that he in the best…or something like that.  Separations began as Myrah and Justin Robinson hit the front and drilled it.  It shook out with me and Aaron Wilcher riding in 6th and 7th, while Brick Dickie was just ahead of us.  We chased for a couple laps and finally caught Brock.  Usually Brock is right up there, but he faded quickly.  Aaron and I went off course a couple times because our heads were down and we were following lines in the dirt from previous races, plus we weren’t getting enough oxygen to our brains.  This allowed Basil M. (if you saw his last name you would know why I just put “M”) and a big guy form Utah to catch us.  They drilled it and we lost Aaron.  With almost a lap to go I was sitting 3rd wheel when Basil crashed hard in a turn.  Again I was running over people’s wheels (Sorry Basil). Now there was just two.

I had made up my decision to try and drop the big guy on the back side straight.  I went and gave it everything I had.  I didn’t look back but I could hear him.  I mustered all the oxygen I could get and tried not to crash the last 1/3 of the race.  As I round the turn for home I could hear the announcer say that I had 5th!  This was a huge accomplishment.  I had been 6th or 7th or lower for over 4 years.  I could never crack the Top 5 and get a podium.  The men’s 35’s are just so stacked with talent.  I had done it.  But that just made my day longer.  I was waiting for a podium now and really had to get home to help my sick wife.  She didn’t understand when I got home, but I think she does now and I appreciated that.  It was a huge deal for me.  So I ended up behind the current world champion, three former world champions and one guy who finished 4th at Worlds last year.  Not bad for this guy.

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The Double – Part 1

Somehow scheduling of the Santa Rosa Cup races was not really my forte this year.  All of our races coincide with the biggest race series in the SF Bay Area – The Bay Area Super Prestige.  Sr Cup on Saturday and BASP on Sunday.   I was wondering why no one had taken those days when all the promoters got together to plan out there year.  What it meant for me is a long weekend.  My crew of three spent 10 hours on Friday setting up most of the course.  Then I got at the site at 5am to finish up.  By 8:30 we were racing and I managed to throw myself into the last race.  Tired was an understatement.  Then, to race the next day…oh man crazy.  Throw on top of that a sick wife taking care of a 2 year old for the entire time. Now that equals TNT!  Thanks babe.

Round 3 of the Santa Rosa took place at Windsor Baptist Church.  A church you say???  Well I am now convinced that this is an untapped resource for cyclocross venues.  Most churches have large tracks of land, tons of parking and all the other things that make a great cross venue.  This one had a soccer field, baseball field and a playground.  We really didn’t have a venue lined up for our second race in the series due to some last minute problems, but my buddy Lance stepped in and gave us a huge hand up and he had help from Big Man himself.

The course wound its way around the church where Lance is the pastor.  8 acres of land gave us plenty to play with, even though lap times were pretty quick, you always had to be on your toes.  There were lots of places to end up with sod in your helmet.  This race was also a debut of sorts for the CX Nation team.  Officially I am not starting the team till next year, but I got some early commitments from 3 people and including myself we all raced in the CX Nation kit for the first time that Saturday.  Miles Daly started us off on a good foot and lead the Juniors race wire to wire.  They I took his number off and he went right into the C race and proceeded to win that one.  This kids got energy!

SR Cup 2 Miles

Probably the only picture where Miles has his tongue in. Michael Jordan of cross.

Sage Aldebran took the stage for CX Nation in the Men’s 35+ B’s and finished on the second step.  Sage was the first signing for the Nation.  I had been watching him all year and the guy just doesn’t lose…often.  He always rides at the front.  I can’t wait till he bounces up to the A’s next year.  Dude also  makes some mean canned tuna from stuff he caught himself.  Impressive.

SR Cup 2 Sage

Through the rollers. Best part of the course.

My female acquisition is road and mountain bike extraordinaire Kristin Drumm.  Along with her sister Helene, the Drumm sisters have been striking fear into the Northern California female race scene for years.  Kristin came away with a hard fought 3rd place in the Elite Women’s race.

SR Cup 2 Kristin

The face of calm…right before the storm!

And who can forget about me….that’s a joke.  I’m not much into myself.  I lined up in Elite A’s race which is hard after being on my feet for literally two straight days.  The first year we did this race series I didn’t race.  Then, after consulting with my co-producer Carlos Perez of Bike Monkey fame, I decided to just get out there and get some riding in.  I mean why should I build a course and not be able to ride on it?  I never have my best races, but I have a ton of fun and that’s what it is all about.

SR Cup 2 Brian

Pointing it to the next turn.

SR Cup 2 Finnerty

I rode so slow this guy lapped me – Brian Finnerty, winner of the Elite race

The last two pictures offer a little training tip.  Both Brian and I are heading into a corner.  When you are doing that you have to look where you are going, even exaggerate the motion.  When you are looking where you are going your body will want to track in that direction.  This is one of the things that contribute to proper cornering.  Try it sometime.