Cross Crusade Wrap Up Party

December 16, 2014

“Ok, let’s do these kid’s awards fast so we can drink grain alcohol and watch adult movies.”

I just remembered why we were so fuzzy headed before racing the GPTB. It’s because what we did right after driving 15 hours, sleeping 6 hours, racing in Eugene,  and then arriving in Portland, was to immediately go connect with some friends and drink a bunch of microbrew craftbeer while dancing on tired bike racer legs for hours at the wrap party for the latest series.

I would guess that there was 400-500 people at this thing and many were dressed to kill. Justin and I rolled down in our road trip clothes, still haggard from the long drive the day before and the racing that morning. Looook out ladeeeeeeez. But 2-3 of those delicious beers set things straight right away.

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GPTB Wintercross 2012

December 13, 2014
Justin gets us from Psycosis to a shower and late check out.

Justin gets us from a bike race to a shower and a very late late check out.

So, from Eugene and now onto Portland and some cool digs down in the Milwaukee area of town. We were really close walking distance to food, coffee, laundry, and a short drive to some great bars and lounges, plus the very impressive River City Bikes.

I had booked our place on Air BnB. It was great – a little stove for warmth, everything you’d ever need. It sure got pretty ‘Man Cave’ in a hurry. Especially when cx racer extraordinaire Mark McConnell popped in on his way south for a few days. Mark was my road trip partner doing these races last year and we had a great time, it was super cool to have his company.


Psycosis Cross, Eugene, OR

December 12, 2014

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Alright, let’s do this for fuck’s sake. We arrived in Eugene pretty late, sort of dawdling on our drive down from Kennewick.  Justin was rad and drove that whole leg. I was a bit shot from the drive to Salmo, only an 8hr leg but it was foggy and a bit icy and I did it after work.

Nice to meet you, Eugene.

I had no idea what to expect in Eugene as far as the racing is concerned. The town is pretty cool, even though we didn’t really get a chance to check out too much of it. It’s the home of the University of Oregon and so there’s lots of activity and energy all the time. We found a great grocery store and stocked up on some stuff then hit the sack to get some zzzz’s. We wanted to spin our legs out after being in the car for two straight days – 22 fricken hours since I left Calgary – but it was too late to get kitted up and go out in the rain so I just opted to stretch and sleep.

ORBA Champs. B? C? Clyde? Beginner?

Morning came pretty quick but we were psyched, and nervous, about getting out to race. I opted to race in the Clydesdale category as I had a lot of fun doing that one at Washougal Wintercross in 2011. I wasn’t sure if I would be C or B if it wasn’t for the Clyde category. Oregon has a beginner category, too. I thought that since I raced in the lowest category in AB, and was typically middle of the pack on a good day, that I might also be beginner in OR. It was good to see the other racers in Eugene because it made me decide on C for the Washougal race the next day. I could’ve done Clyde in Washougal as well, but it was two hours earlier so I opted for the later race as we still needed to drive to Portland and get settled after the Saturday event. In hindsight, after looking at the lap times, I could do C and be in the top 15% or do B and be in around the middle mark. Next time I will do B if there isn’t a Clyde race to do. The dearth of categories is an indicator of just how strong the cx community is in Oregon. A guy I met in Bend, Terry, was telling me that the Master C 35+ group gets 200 (!) guys in a Cross Crusade race. C-razy!

Justin had talked to the ORBA rep about what category to enter and the rep suggested C. Despite that Justin opted instead for B, which is a good thing as he won the race by a pretty respectable margin. He would’ve killed C. I think it was a pretty fair assessment to go into B as he’d only ridden one ‘cross race before in his life. I’m sure some of the local guys will think he’s some Canadian sandbagger but, for real, he’s pretty new to ‘cross. This is my third season and I’m still in Sport in AB, with no upgrade points. Some of us are tuned a bit differently and you just never know!

Bike Racing, F-Yeah!

My race was a total blast. Right off the start it looked like it was going to be a battle between 5 or so more avid racers. There were only around 10 guys in the category which was a little disappointing, I had read that the Clydesdale CAT gets over 50 at Cross Crusade and thought that it would be a bigger race ’cause it was State Champs. I even thought there’d be some normally A or B guys that were bigger dudes that would do the Clyde race just ’cause of that. But anyway, once you’re racing its only ever a battle between you and 2-3 other people anyway, which is how it turned out. I ended up in front over the barriers and just decided to stay there even though I hadn’t pre-ridden the course. I felt pretty good despite the 22 hour drive and that this was the first time I’d been on my bike since getting out of the car. I led for about 2 laps, I think, and then one of the other guys easily rode passed me. I knew there was no way I could stay with him so I concentrated on holding second for the last 3 laps but crashed coming off of a fairly easy off camber turn and was passed. My seat twisted about 30 degrees and I had to jump off of it and punch it into place. That was it, no way I could catch 2nd again. The guy in 4th was getting closer and I really wanted to keep that spot so I laid down an attack on this really rocky riser and it was enough to keep the space.

The Course

The course was absolutely killer. I encourage every Albertan, or anyone, to take a trip there to do a race or two in Oregon. The scene is amazing, the people are incredible and the courses are brilliant. Mud, run ups, water, stutter sections, rocks, roots, single track, fans, cowbells, cupcakes, waffles, beer, kids, the works. So cool. A huge near lake had formed in one area and you had to choose between riding on the side of it and staying dry, or arcing your turn right through the heart of it – the fastest line but way, way more water. On the first lap, I immediately charged right through the middle, no hesitation. On subsequent laps I would build speed on the narrow line between the lake and the course tape and then apex my turn right through it. People were yelling and cheering, “Yeah, Clyde!”

J-Mass

Boooom! Justin had a great race. I had no idea how he would do so I was surprised as anyone when he rode up to me after my race and told me he’d won. They started his group five minutes ahead of mine so I had no chance to see how he was doing. After the race we chatted with Carl, the second place finisher. He’s a senior tech guy with Felt and was sporting the Parrallax hydraulic brake set up that Ben Berden has been sporting. Pretty cool to see it in person and hear him talk about how it all works.

Race 1 in the books and we both had ourselves a souvenir.

**Thanks to Effie Siverts, and Virginia Xing for the photos!

Next up: GPTB WinterCross…


“Gonna head sawt, ’bout a thousand mile or so.”

December 12, 2013

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As in, “we were headin’ sawt to do some bicycle events. Oh, about a thousand mile.”

I picked up J-Mass in Salmo, BC and we headed down to Kennewick for a quick overnight rest stop before driving on towards Eguene, OR, site of the final Psychosis race of their season and also the OBRA State Championships of CX. Justin rolled down with his wife Alex, also an old friend, and their little guy, Oscar, whom I’ve met three or four times. Enough that I think he recognizes me, which is kinda neat. Justin and I were heading off on our own to do two races in Eugene and Portland before heading ‘sawt’ to meet up with Alex and Oscar to do the USGP in Bend.

 


Deja Vu Salmon Arm

June 13, 2012

My brother Jason, Sugar D, and myself, headed out to Salmon Arm a few weeks ago to pre-ride the Salty Dog mountain bicycle racing course. It was the kick off of my Road Warrior Month and a chance to put knobbies on dry and fertile BC dirt, as opposed to the snow that was still clinging to all but a few K of south facing Alberta trails. I drove to work with all my stuff packed up in the Subie and turbo’ed outta there at the stroke of 5:00. I picked up Shawna, waved ‘hey’ to JJC, who couldn’t make it, and we busted out for the hills. We stayed at the same Cabbage Cabin as last year and Jas’ car was investigated, presumably, by the same young black bear that checked out Scott’s car. We again threw axes at George’s targets and again this was done under the influence of alcoholic beverages. My car, just like the year prior, broke down on the drive to the trail-head, and it was, once again, the fuel pump. Oh wait, that didn’t happen last year. So this trip was different and unique – a silver lining, I s’spose. Good ol Subie just sputtered to a stop on the side of the highway. I called Canadian Tire and was able to book it in for the very next day, and when I dialed up CAA to tow it, we realized that the tow truck place was a stone’s throw away. I walked the keys over to the guys there and then piled into the back of my bro’s car, on top of my bike, and we made it to the trail-head.

The riding at South Canoe was great and I felt good – Shawna was ripping it up on a carbon hardtail and we climbed in close proximity, making me feel like my fitness is better this year. Its amazing how when you’re not just pinned you can handle your bike so much better – with breath, there’s control, grasshopper. One of Jas’ buddies, Scott Wad, came out to ride with us and despite hauling a 5″ and 5″ travel freeride rig up the trails and not feeling very healthy, he was right in the flow of things as we hit up White Lake on the Sunday.

My car was ready to go just in time to head out on the Sunday and the cost of the repairs was just around $600, as opposed to the $700 that I thought a fuel pump would cost.

Then I got a $200 speeding ticket on the way home, testing it out. The RCMP officer didn’t see the humor in the fact that I’d just paid $600 to make it so my car could actually go fast enough to get a speeding ticket. When I pointed that out he looked at me with lifeless, policeman eyes and said, “The instructions for paying are on the back. Have a good day.”

Road trip one, done and done. Next up – Velocity Stage Race.


Laguna Mountain, San Diego Part 2

May 15, 2012

“Oh, its about 25 mile to the highway and then about 25 mile to Alpine from there.”

So said the nice woman in her SUV at the rest stop along the Laguna Mountain National Park. Mark and I had riden about 85k at that point and had climbed around 4000 feet to an elevation of 6600 feet. It was a lot of altitude and a bigger day and we were about ready to get back and have some food. However, there was a slight miscalculation in how much further we had to ride.

We’d started out as a group: myself, Mark, Richard, CP, Amanda and an ex-Calgarian living in SD, Louise. We rode some cool gravel roads and climbed up from the valley into the mountains. At about 50k in we separated into two groups – with Mark and I continuing on to tag the summit of the climb, which we thought was just a few K away. It wasn’t. Like, it really wasn’t.

To quote the man in the store that we bought our second round of Snickers bars at: “It doesn’t really ever stop. You just stay up on the ridge and go peak to peak.”

He was totally right! So 40k after we thought we’d be descending back for home, we were still climbing. And laughing about it, at least. I’ve never heard McConnell go, “Man I hope this climbing stops soon.” But he did. I wholeheartedly agreed, but couldn’t actually speak. We finally decided to ask someone. And that’s what prompted the quote up there. I was incredulous.

“Did that lady just say its 25 to the HIGHWAY and then ANOTHER 25 to ALPINE?!”

“Yep. That’s what she said.”

“Oh man. That’s, like, another 80k. Dude.”

So we clipped in and started pedaling back uphill, accepting the notion that it would be a long time before we were eating hamburgers. We debated turning back the way we came but that was further to go so onward, ho. I was just thankful we didn’t buy the Belgian beer we spotted in the last store, where we stocked up on Snickers bars the first time. We lasered into the very next place we saw, which was a neat little store, bar, and series of cabins, just before this cool looking observatory and way, way, way, high up above the sprawling landscape below. There were signs warning against snowball throwing and the elevation was between 6500-7000, but I can’t be sure. This was where the guy said that it was a ridge much more that a climb and descent. But right after he said that he told us that we were, actually, at the end of it. That it “descended to the highway” from where we were. And it was more like 10 miles to Alpine once we found the highway, not 25. So not 80k to go from where we were, but more like half that, with half of that a 4000 foot descent – a freebie. I was pretty psyched.

And oh man. We descended for 15 miles non-stop. Losing about 4000 feet of elevation in half an hour. 30 minutes of non stop 60k+. We rode into a headwind, so we weren’t setting any real speed records, and you still had to give it some jam, but after climbing for 4 hours it was pretty damn rad to get in the drops and carve some corners.

We arrived at the bottom of the descent and the intersection with the highway. We had a choice: continue on the road we were riding, which rode back up into a range to parallel the highway for the final 10-12 miles. Or ignore the signs that said “NO BICYCLES PERMITTED ON FREEWAY” and go straight towards Alpine. The shoulder was huge and we decided we didn’t want to climb back up into the mountains again.

The first 10k were brutal. We were riding uphill again, into the wind, as semis thundered by. I was losing the humor brought on by the surge of adrenaline the descent had brought and we took turns quietly pulling towards the horizon. I was looking at my computer and calculating our speed. 8k an hour. At 8k an hour it would take us quite awhile to grind out the 24k back. About 3 hours, I think.

However. With one last, final push of my left pedal, we crested the hill and – behold! – we saw, shining before us, a sign from the Universe that things were Going To Be A-Ok. Specifically, we saw three signs. And specifically, two were actual road signs. One said “6% Grade, Next 15 Miles.” The second said “Alpine 12 Miles.” And the third was the fact that the asphalt was brand, spanking new. Like fresh, jet fast, black tarmac. Booom. We lit it up all the way back into town, renewed again.

It was a pretty sweet ride, no lie.


Sunny San Diego Part 1!

May 15, 2012

I wrote that headline in ironic reflection of the trip I took with a few teammates to get some KMs in during the month of April, a traditionally cruddy weather month in Alberta. Irony is huge these days, by the way, so my use of it is topical and quite modern, I feel. What’s ironic about saying ‘Sunny San Diego’ is that you’d expect San Diego to be sunny, and we went there because of that, but then what happened is that it rained like goddamn holy hell for 5 days. Except for when it hailed like goddam holy hell. Actually, maybe this isn’t irony so much as a sarcastic commentary on what can only be seen as a bit of a bummer on some levels.

But just a bit of a bummer, mind you, because any time you can get away to ride a bike with friends its never, ever all that bad, even if its not exactly ideal. While there were definitely ways in which this particular trip was brutally, horribly, fricken awfully not ideal, like the fact that Mike got hit by a clueless 16 year old in a Hyundai and had his trip ruined, his bike ruined, and very nearly his health ruined, or the fact that I’m an idiot and had to delay my own arrival for 4 days whilst awaiting a passport renewal that I only discovered the day before my flight out, or the previously mentioned cruddy weather, there were still good times aplenty and some quality riding to be had. Plus I also understand that it was sunny both the week before we went and the week after we went. And, yeah, I realize that paragraph was pretty much one sentence. Its what it is, reader.

In reflection I can see the silver lining in some of the bummer-tastic things. For example: Mike could’ve been hurt much more seriously. Thank the Universe he wasn’t. There’s also the chance that I could’ve been with him and Mark on that ride, and I probably would’ve been if my passport problem hadn’t delayed me. If I was with them then there would’ve been three of us on that section of road and not two riding single file. The extra guy could’ve put one or more of us closer to the path of the idiot 16 year old. So these things occurred in ways that weren’t necessarily ideal, but had a ‘what if’ element to them. It could’ve been worse.

We stayed in Alpine, CA and the riding there is brilliant. The day before I arrived the rest of the crew did some riding up the coast that they said was beautiful. I only ever explored inland, up and around the mountains, but what I witnesses and rolled through was some of the best riding I’ve experienced.

Details to follow…