Hopefully you have one. That place where you turn laps, experiment with tire pressure, two wheel drift and let the imagination run.
One of my favorite parts of Cx season is the practice course.
Oak bottom ,Tabor, Pier Park, Randall’s Island, Vancouver Lake all places I’ve invested hours turning laps.
One of my favorites was a tight course I’d practice while living in NYC. West Side park with it’s tight turns around those iconic NYC Park and Rec garbage cans. Dodging joggers and dogs, and looks from people wondering what on earth I was doing.
My latest course in OlyWA- AKA “the secret stash” has quickly become a favorite. Who can blame me? last week I rode a flat half way home on a leaf covered trail and made a bike exchange in my own garage to finish the workout.
Here’s to enjoying your own “Secret Stash”
Barrier sector in the Woods behind my home
Rhythm Single track Sector along the canal.
Wet covered leafs= perfect 2 wheel drift practice
Our Northwest GrassMoots Team rider Patrick Wilder hits the nail on the head with this post….Secret Stash. Patrick participates in all disiplines of cycling and has completed several Rapha Gentlemen’s Races from coast to coast. You can read more about Patrick here: GRASSMOOTS-PATRICK WILDER
GrassMoots racer George Lapierre closes the book on another season in Willistion, Vermont. From the sounds of it he had a good season and is looking forward to the “other” seasons headed his way. He writes….
Here in Vermont the days are getting shorter and the sun is setting on another riding season. In the Northeast we get to experience the whole spectrum of seasons. Spring (we call it mud season) Summer (tourist season) Fall (more tourist season) and Winter (skiing tourist season.) We even have a season between Fall and Winter, when the trails are covered with leaves that used to be on the trees, called Stick season.
This biking season flew by. Spring road miles gave way to bare trails, races were raced, some podiums were climbed and some outright failures were had. I got to travel to bike, bike to travel and explore new local trails. Old friends were visited, new friends were made, and I continued to be amazed at where my bike could take me. As the season progressed, I even got a little tired of biking. Eventually, between adding on to the house and starting school again, I had to relegate my riding to commuting, and run for exercise (not as much fun…..any sport that you can’t coast downhill isn’t maximizing the fun factor) But, as seasons change, along with our time constraints, there are some friends that are always ready for adventure. I know my bike, whether ‘cross, commuter or single speed, always able to take me to new places, old places, and everywhere in between.
David Gensch joins Moots this year for his second season on the GrassMoots Team. He’s and amazing person, adventure on skis, bikes and life. This time around he takes us on his White Rim in a day trip. For those of you that know this route and for those that don’t, it’s a ride that either done over multiple days with support or one big ride with no support, it’s an experience either way. For today you can read Dave’s account of it below:
My breath deepened and slowed as my mind expanded with the horizon line, realizing just how log it had been since I was last in the great South West desert. After setting up camp at the bottom of Mineral Bottom, the evening light broke through the afternoon thunderclouds and gave us quite a show during our walk to set up the beer cache.
The alarm went off early and just as quick as the night had ended the coffee was brewed. Oatmeal, spiked with Honey Stinger gel took a bit more work to get down, but we were off shortly after 5:00 A.M. This was Matt’s first time riding both the White Rim as well as this length of ride. I had no doubt that he would stick it.
The first hour and a half is a climb in the pre dawn light and at sunrise we crested the high point for the day. Riding a few miles further to the top of the Schafer Trail where our water cache was, we noticed the morning chill. Dropping into the canyon, our thin rain jackets did little to shelter us from our chattering teeth and numb toes but the decent is fast and soon we were committed to the next 75 miles of desert.
It always seems that the next ten or so miles trend decieviously uphill but I wonder how much of it is my mind telling me to settle in for the next 8 hours. I hear some of Matts fist heavy sighs and feel my own tweaks and twinges as the early season creeps its way into our ride.
The morning sun trended upwards and our layers began to shed as the rhythm of our pedal strokes regulated themselves. Stopping at some of the more spectacular viewpoints, we made sure to keep fueled and hydrated. By mid day we were half way and although I felt different parts of my body more than others, the simple joy of peddling my bike in the desert far out weighed any discomfort.
Lunch on top of Murphy’s Hogback was timely and welcomed as some famish and heat goose bumps teased us both. The cool rock and warm sand soothed our poorly prepared spring bodies while we lightened our packs by grubbing down.
The rowdy double track downhill off of Murphy’s sets up the remaining 30 something miles with some more featured and fun riding and stunning scenery. We lucked out with not too much afternoon wind and enjoyed a smooth pace. Late in the afternoon, dark clouds came quick and we put in a push to get over Hard Scrabble before any rain would come. We enjoyed a beer at the top that I had previously frozen and it was still nice and cold.
I told Matt that there would be a sand section towards the end of the ride and it was soft and deep this year. It’s definitely a, “put your head down” section and not much fun but we had a beer cache at the old corral. Another treat to bring in the last 6 miles.
We washed off the day in the Green River and cooked some burgers to enjoy by the fire. We had no flats or mechanicals and although we both were not in biking shape we had great day in the desert. It’s always a gift to spend time in these ancient and ever-changing places…
Many thanks to Nic at Aloha for setting our bikes up as we had a completely maintenance free day.
Josh Cady gets his miles where he can, when he can. Like a lot of us our commutes can help add some much needed milage, when time is tight. Josh flys the Moots flag on the GrassMoots Team…he writes:
…..It’s groundhog day. Again. Living in Los Angeles makes everyday feel a lot like the day before. Cycling here can either make you complacent or motivated. After being moved here for work two years ago, I chose to be motivated. I’m not sure if it is the weather or the location, but there is a lot here to be thankful for.
I get to ride to work every day of the year. Sometimes that means I follow a familiar, less inviting path
but a lot of times I find myself on my cyclocross bike, burning up the local fireroads prior to reporting to work.
The majority of the time I’m riding my Moots Psychlo-X RSL. I’m continually challenged in the local road, mountain, and cyclocross race series so I feel like getting on the Psycho-X covers all the bases. In the summer I switch out the front chain rings and run a 50/38 or 53/39. In the fall/winter, the bike gets prepped and run in a pure cross setup. This year, with Cyclocross Nationals close to home, I’ve let the bike stay setup in cross mode a little longer, something I’ll be dialing in until January 2014.
Where ever you are, getting up early to ride is often a good idea. Here in LA, you get a little more for your money.
Nick Stilwell gets his GrassMoots season rolling on his MX Ybb and plots his course for some amazing events….he writes…..
This year I’ll again be riding for Moots, a boutique titanium frame builder that prides itself in providing quality road, mountain, & cross frames. These frames, as well as many components, are shaped, welded, and built by hand in a small town in northwest Colorado. I had the opportunity to visit the Moots factory this past summer when I went out to ride the Steamboat Stinger. Here are a few pictures from my visit. My ride of choice for this year will be the MootoX YBB. I’m a big fan of the efficiency of a hard tail and the YBB provides the near quickness of a hard tail along with just enough cushion for longer rides.
The 29-inch wheels are a must for the rides here in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern CA. I’ve managed to get some good time in the saddle since the beginning of the year as I work towards building the endurance to complete Vision Quest, a ride that’s only five weeks from now and quickly approaching. Last year I was happy with my finishing time of 6:29 (Vision Quest 2012). I’d like to better my time this year and ultimately work towards beating the 6-hour mark one of these years. While I’m not sure I’ll be able to get there this year, I’m still hoping for a good result. The Vision Quest is not a true race, but more of a test of yourself. While finishing times are recorded and many treat it like a race, there are no categories or places. I’m constantly wondering if I’m getting in enough training – and the right type of training.
The past few months at work have been extremely busy and it’s been a challenge to get out during the week. Last year my goal was to get out twice during the week and then a long ride on the weekend. Those quick hour and a half rides during the week, along with the long efforts on the weekends, I think are critical in maintaining a fitness level and endurance to complete a 6+ hour ride at a race-type pace. It’s been a challenge so far this year to get out more than once during the week. It should be an interesting few weeks getting ready for the long ride.
Our solo European based GrassMoots racer Dan Seaton writes in about riding the ground as much as his bike at times during a nasty spell of Belgium Fall weather. Dan is an astrophysicist based in Brussels, Belgium, he has a passion for Cyclocross and also writes for Velonews during the field riding season. He writes…….
It’s been a tough couple of weeks of Cyclocross here in Belgium. I did back to back races in pouring rain, gusting winds, and cold weather. Of course these are the conditions that make Belgian Cyclocross truly Belgian Cyclocross, the kind of conditions where the true Belgian hard men, guys like Sven Nys, excel. So I’ve been doing my best Sven impression, suiting up and getting muddy and testing myself in fields that included both the Masters 30+ World Champion, Belgian 30+ National Champion, and a host of guys who, until a year or two ago, were racing with some success in Superprestige and the Trofee series. Needless to say, despite my best efforts, I’ve been a little bit outgunned the past couple of weekends.
Two weeks ago we went to Meerhout, which is a beautiful, rural village not too far from Antwerp. The course was mostly smooth, but twisting and undulating singletrack through what must usually be a peaceful little forest, with a few sandy stretches and a few stretches in a cow pasture thrown in for good measure. On a dry day it would have been fast and technical, but in the pouring rain it was slick, sloppy mud that I doubt anybody escaped without falling at least once. I’m without a pit bike for the moment, and after a couple of laps my front derailleur broke and my rear derailleur was so clogged with mud that I was more or less riding a single speed. I did my best, fell about 10 times, and tried to have fun.
Unfortunately, the results got messed up, presumably because everybody’s race numbers were so muddy that the officials couldn’t quite tell who was who, so I don’t have any idea of how I did.
Then last weekend we went the other direction, to Serskamp, another tiny, rural village not far from Gent. The race there was folded into a little apple orchard, and contained what seemed like about 50 turns, of which all but about four were 180 degrees. Again it was pouring rain, and I switch-backed my way around track, racing many of the same, very fast guys.
In tackier conditions, I think my pretty-good fitness would have helped me pass a lot of people, but again I spent about as much time on the ground as I did on the bike, so I did more chasing and less passing that I might have liked. But I did manage to get around a few people for a not altogether terrible result — enough that I’m not just outside the top ten in the overall season standings. That’s sure to change as the season picks up and I get busy writing about the Pros over here in my VeloNews.com column, but it feels good that perseverance and determination have paid off for the moment, even if that’s pretty much all I’ve had going for me in two miserably, muddy races.
Now I’m starting to get ready for the real heart of the season, which includes a bunch of my favorite races and a lot of tough, physical courses.
So I’m getting very exciting about the coming weeks. First, though, we head to a classic Flemish race: in a trailer park just off the beach near the North Sea.
So stay tuned for more!
GrassMoots racer Andrew Carney writes in with his end-of-season race and a look into what stokes us to ride and what he has on the map for 2013….he writes:
I ended the season with the Crested Butte Classic at the end of September. It is an event I’ve always wanted to do and a great way to end the season as for the past 5 years I’ve either ended with 24 hours of Moab Solo or 24 Hour Nationals Solo which means I always ended the year with a empty tank and a healthy limp. The CB classic was the opposite of that as I finished tired certainly so, but mentally stoked to still be on the bike. Again, it’s been a great year flying the Moots colors even though I didn’t race as much as years past. However, it’s all part of a plan to try and give the Tour Divide a go next year and hopefully a slight step back this summer will allow me to fully step up my game next spring. Here’s a brief write up from my blog about the CB classic.
Hope all is well up at the Moots mothership!
There are moments in a bike race or even in a hard effort when the world seems to close in around you and your whole world shrinks to the screaming of your legs, the burn of your lungs, and the lactic acid filling your body. For some that focused pin-hole view of the world is what they crave. Sure, it feels good to strip down to that primal level now and again, it allows for focus. However, all too often as racers we live in that small world too often. We forget to look around and really take it all in.
My last race of the season was the Crested Butte Classic this past weekend and I spent the first of the three laps trying to get my racing legs underneath me. However the hard truth was that my legs were like the engine in a Honda Civic trying to tow a trailer over Independence Pass. I would stomp on the gas, but nothing would happen. Some days you’re the statue, some days you’re the pigeon.
Leaving for the second lap was a hard choice as I knew I wasn’t really racing, but rather out riding. The ego is a tough egg to crack sometimes. At the base of Slate Du-Huez (mile 40 or so) I made a deal with myself. The scenery was stunning, the Aspen leaves were peaking, and all I could think about was how the simple experience of being in an Aspen grove can make me smile from ear to ear. It really was that simple. I quit looking at my stem, expanded my world from the ache in my legs, took a big deep breath, and looked around. The deal I made with myself is that I would ride the rest of the route with a giant smile plastered on my face. If that smile ever started to fade to a grimace I would slow down until the smile returned. Simple.
For the next ~60 miles I grinned from ear to ear and even let out whoops of joy as I carved through Aspen groves along a thin yellow ribbon. It was intoxicating.
For the past past 5 years I’ve ended the season with either 24 Hours of Moab or 24 Hour Nationals and put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well. That pressure took its toll on me, the enjoyment I took from a simple ride in the woods, and those close to me. It was a tough way to end each year. As much as I enjoy trying to ride as fast as my body and mind allows I need to take a step back and remember that I ride bikes because I love the feeling of floating along through the woods, not because I take home a paycheck. The motivation needs to come from the feeling of riding not from standing on a podium. I can’t think of a better way to end this seasons racing than to remember what it feels like to smile so hard for so long that your face is just as tired as your legs. All from the simple action of going for a ride in the woods
GrassMoots Racer and world traveler Patrick Wilder writes in this week about sticking to your “creed” as best you can and his time bagging the toughest course in the world on a Cyclocross bike….Patrick writes…..
Years ago I came up with a “creed” to summarize my riding/ racing goals:
“To ride the toughest course in the most challenging conditions against the best competitors.” I had heard 3 Peaks was touted as the toughest course period. Little would I know my “creed” would be tested in full.
The story begins like any good adventure should, over a beer with friends. In January of this year I’m sitting Brugge with the guys from Pave Cycling Classics sipping an enormous glass of brown liquid. Each man is recapping highlights from the day (Koskidje World Championships). The conversation moves onto each man’s riding interests for the upcoming year. Alex mentions 3 Peaks Cyclocross. I come to full attention. Impulsively I say to Alex, “if you can gain me an entry into the race I’ll do it.”
Fast forward to June. A suspicious European email hits my inbox. I hit delete thinking its spam from the European cyclocross feeds I’ve streamed all winter. Later I get a message from Alex telling me we’re in and I should have received notification of the entry. I frantically dig through the trash folder of my inbox.
Over the next few months the plans come together. Over the years I’ve learned to enjoy the logistical pieces of these adventures. Travel schedule, airfare, bike preparations, rendezvous and supplies all start months before an event like this. One of the key challenges I had to manage was the rendezvous with the guys. Pave Cycling is based in Lille, France. They planned to bring Clem’s camping car across the English Channel and pick me up at Heathrow. Not wanting to hassle with the bike I arranged to have the Moots shipped weeks in advance through Bike Flights to William’s house in Lille. He’d assemble and I’d step off a plane and race the next day.
6 hours later on the wrong side of the road we arrive in Yorkshire Dales National Park in Settle England (about 100 miles from Scotland). We proceed to immediately get the camping car stuck only to be pulled out by a trusty Land Rover. Quickly we unpack and head out for a ride to spin the legs in some of the most amazing country I’ve ever seen. After a proper English meal (meat, potatoes and local ale) we’re fast asleep.
The alarm comes quickly. Excitement quickly dilutes the jet lag. (My start time is essentially 12 a.m. back in the states). Also perking my attention grey, sky and light drizzle. I smile and tell the guys, “Looks like a typical Pacific Northwest Sunday”.
The ride would be anything but typical. I finished in 4:50. My goal was simply to ride within myself and finish. To compete the 3 Peaks, that’s a whole other level. The conditions were so grueling and intense I can’t imagine turning Rob Jebb’s time of 3:09.
Weeks later I’m still contemplating what exactly makes a tough race. One thing I’m certain 3 Peaks sets the bar for my creed: toughest course, conditions and competitors.
Well done lads, well done.
GrassMoots Racer Andrew Carney writes in about a race that was moved due to the fires this last summer and taking a bacon hand-up….bike racers that smile and good people that put on great events.
Andrew is based in Carbondale, Colorado.
Early last spring I signed up for the 40 in the Fort race in Fort Collins and at the time figured that racing single speed was a good plan. After a few pre-ride laps on the course it was pretty obvious that the course was a very technical one with plenty of climbing. Roughly 7,000 feet in a scant 40 miles. Sure they were my backyard trails for several years, but dang, that’s a lot of up for only 40 miles. When the High Park fire started in June and shut down both parks West of Fort Collins the race date was moved to this past weekend so I made the trip back to town to race.
After the start I made it up to the top of the first climb in 5th position overall, however I’ve been really good at crashing lately so I was a bit hesitant descending and allowed a bit of a gap to form on the first descent not wanting to push things too hard until I got some confidence back.
Once back to the valley I noticed that one of my water bottle cages was about ready to fall off. Not wanting to have to pick through the weeds looking for bolts if it came completely off I opted to stop and tighten it thus allowing a few more people past me. Once everything was tight again I chased hard and made up some good ground but also worked myself over as well.
My very good friends Stacy and Dan had once again set up their renegade aid station, Bacon Hill, and were busy handing out bacon, doughnuts, bacon-doughnut sandwiches, and all sorts of other items you really don’t crave at the top of a wicked steep climb. Racers would pass through their little slice of real estate 4 times total and would risk getting shot with a marshmallow out of a slingshot each time.
Even if I had refused the bacon, I’m fairly sure that Dan would of tackled me and forced it down my mouth so of course I took a few bacon handups. From about halfway through the first lap on I would pretty much ride alone and couldn’t seem to make up any ground on those ahead of me.
In the end I finished up 2nd overall in the SS class and someplace around the top 10 overall I believe. Big thanks to Overland Mountain Bike club for a great race and to Stacy and Dan for running what is perhaps the most amazing aid station ever and reminding all of the racers to put a smile on their face…..and eat some bacon.
Our European based GrassMoots racer Dan Seaton gets his Cyclocross season into gear with a visit to his favorite race. It seems his less-training-more-intensity-approach is working. He writes…..
I went out to one of my favorite Belgian races, in Knesselare, last
Saturday. After becoming a dad in the middle of last season, I’ve had a lot
less time to train — though I’ve used the time I had to train very, very
hard — so really I wasn’t sure what to expect in my first race since
January. But it actually went very well. The race organizers changed the
course a lot since last year, removing some long, power sections in a cow
pasture and adding a huge section of really fun whoop-de-doos to a course
that already had it’s share of little ups and downs. They also added a
totally classic Belgian ‘cross feature: a massive pile of dirt, maybe 15
feet tall, with a steep approach and a nearly straight-down plunge back on
to the course on the other side.
Anyway, after chatting with a guy who drove down from Sweden for his first
taste of Belgian ‘cross for a while, we lined up and pretty quickly got the
gun. I didn’t do anything spectacular, but I got into a group of guys who I
was not usually able to stay with last year, stuck with them until the
moment seemed right, and then rode them all off my wheel. So it felt like a
solid start to the season.
This year’s calendar in Belgium is a little sparse early in the season, so
I’ll take next weekend off from racing and spend some time gluing tires and
getting organized to start another season of writing about pro ‘cross in
Europe for VeloNews.com, and get back to racing in Antwerp the last weekend