(photo credit: Delphine Page)
Our European based GrassMoots racer Dan Seaton checks in with this early report of contrasts and anticipation of a new mudder in the family…..he writes:
In Belgium, like a lot of places, October is a month of contrasts. Last year my October started with beautiful, summer-like weather and ended a seaside race in sleet and mud. This year is shaping up much the same way, and the races I’ve done so far in October have been so different that it’s hard to believe they all happened within about 50 km of each other. But that’s the beauty of Cyclocross: one day you can be screaming around a hard-packed course in perfect fall weather, and the next you might be knee-deep in mud, just trying to keep moving forward. You have to be prepared for anything, especially in a place like Belgium where the weather can change completely in a matter of minutes.
October started with a race in Moerbeke-Waas, on a course that was just meters from the Belgium-Netherlands border, not far from Antwerp, in a course that wound around a series of farm fields, some grassy and some loose, dusty dirt. The day was blazing hot, maybe 90° in the sun; weather that makes me think more about lazing on the beach than racing ‘cross. And there was no relief of a flat, very fast course with no shade at all.
(photo credit: Mindi Wisman)
I’ve never been great in the heat, but I had good position in the starting grid and blasted off the line to find myself in find position during the early laps. For much of the first half of the race I battled with four other guys, the group working together on the faster sections and everybody looking to break the race open wherever a turn or barriers offered a chance to grab a bit of a gap. For a while, it was going great.
Then an unusual thing happened, we all started to notice guys on the side of the course, clearly beaten by the heat rather than their fellow racers. Soon, one of our group joined them, pulling out of the race in the pits. Just as I was telling myself how tough I was, the heat caught up with me too, and I instantly was dangling dangerously at the back of our group, which now down to just three riders and me. It didn’t take much for the two leaders to pull clear, and I was left to battle the rest of the way with one guy who was able to take advantage of some confusion on the finishing straight to sneak around me just before the line. So the first result of the month was more or less disappointing.
The next week, however, saw a return to real ‘cross conditions, rain and fifty degrees. I headed south to a small race in Jodoigne, in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium. Racing on a gorgeous course dominated by a hard climb on the road and a fast, slippery descent through the gardens of an old Belgian chateau, I found myself welcoming the return of bad weather. The race was my first authentically Belgian ‘cross of the season, and I felt like I handled myself pretty well.
I managed to pull away from a little group of three at about mid-race and hung on for my first top ten finish of the year, with an eighth in my under-40 category and took home a box of cookies as a reward for my best Belgian result in more than a year. Of course, I spent about three hours cleaning my bike when I got home — but when you’ve got a bike as beautiful as my Psychlo-X, what choice do you have?
The next weekend I took my shiny, clean bike back to Wallonia for one more race, this time in Grez-Doiceau, and raced on one of the most perfect fall days I have ever seen. The sky was crystal blue, unblemished by even a single cloud, and the temperature just below 60. And again we were treated to a beautiful and very difficult course that combined a very long, hard climb with a loose but very fast descent and a series of very difficult 180-degree turns. It was, perhaps, the most physical course I’ve seen in a couple of years, and left me sore for days afterwards. (You know when your arms hurt after a bike race that you were really working.)
This time I got beaten in the closing laps by a couple of guys who just played a better tactical hand than I did, but still managed a fourteenth place, good enough for a €5 prize.
Mindi, my wife, and I spent the money on post-race beverages and watched the crazy-fast Belgian juniors do battle on a perfect fall day, chatting with my friend Clément and his family. It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend an afternoon. (I owe Clément a big debt for telling me about these great Wallonian races — Flanders gets all the attention when it comes to ‘cross, but the folks in the south are warm and welcoming and know how to put on a great race too.)
The afternoon was especially great because it’s probably the last I’ll have for a little while. Sometime in the next week or so, Mindi and I are going to become parents. So I’ll be thinking more about cleaning dirty diapers than dirty bikes for the foreseeable future. But I hope to pick up where I left off when the big November races roll around in a couple of weeks.
And yes, the kid will be out there alongside the course with his mom and dad. It’s never too soon to get them started with ‘cross, right?
Our Euro man Dan Seaton gets his early season Hup going in Knesselare, Belgium.
GrassMoots racer Dan Seaton dives into Cyclocross season with hi-hopes and changes on the way. This year they will welcome a little one into the family to help cheer him on! Congrats to them, looking forward to a season of reports coming our way!….This week he writes in on his first race……
In Belgium recently the temperatures have been dropping, the rain falling, and the beer flowing, which can only mean that it’s that time of the year again: cyclocross is back! The professionals here kicked their season off this weekend in Erpe-Mere, while the amateur season has already been going for a few weekends.
On Saturday we headed out to Knesselare, just outside Brugge, for the kickoff of the Flemish Cyclocross Cup and my second race of the season. The day was cool and rain was threatening as we rolled up to the line (a huge improvement from the 90-degree heat I suffered in last week) and, with a lucky first-row call up, I was feeling good about my first real test of the fall. Unfortunately, I squandered my good position by immediately crashing into the barbed wire fence that lined the course, but quickly rebounded and found myself in a tough battle with three other guys with whom I traded position for the better part of the race.
The toughest of these riders was another American, visiting Belgium from North Carolina and testing out the local ‘cross scene. He consistently rode the whoop-de-doo section near the beginning of the lap better than me, but after a summer of the toughest training of my life, I was able to reel him back in on the course’s long power sections. Having spent most of the summer riding on the road, my Psychlo-X and I were still getting comfortable with one another during the warm-up, but by mid-race we were back to carving turns and powering over hills like old times.
My wife and I are having a baby in about a month, so I knew going into this season it was going to be one full of new challenges, so I wanted to make these early pre-fatherhood races count. And I think I did a pretty good job of it: I powered through the last lap and put enough distance on my three pursuers to roll comfortably across the finish unchallenged. I managed to roll across the line just one spot outside the masters top 20, my best ever result at Knesselare, and I also held off my new American friend by 10 seconds or so. All in all, a good day for me.
Before I wrap this up, I’d just like to say a huge thanks to Moots for agreeing to support me and my racing again this season. I really couldn’t do this without their help. Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of another great adventure on my bike — and, this time around, as a dad as well — here in Europe.
Our GrassMoots warrior David Gensch takes some time to raise some money, reflect on what its all about and take a ride with his dad. Does it really get much better than that? He writes in about his experience…..
Rising before dawn, my dad and I, suit up and head out to Leadville to start the 2011 Courage Classic with 5000 other riders. After our first sampling of catered food and the juice of life we call coffee, you can tell that the event is meticulously organized. With all of the fund raising going straight to the Children’s Hospital, the general vibe is about community involvement, support, and selflessness.
The ride Starts in Leadville and heads out over Tennessee pass to Minturn, and then on to Copper Mountain via Vail Pass. We chose to start early as to avoid the masses and the ever-present Colorado thundershowers. The morning was crisp, clear and perfect. With copious amounts of volunteers the aid stations were well stocked and the regularly positioned “cheerleaders” supported each passing rider with genuine enthusiasm. I road a Vamoots CR for the event and it effortlessly climbed up each pass and handled the rough road and frost breaks at high speed with ease.
Returning to Copper Mountain, I was meet by my wife and two boys at the finish line putting the icing on the cake to a great 65 miles. After some super fun family time, my wife and kids left to go back home. On my way back to our hotel, I was walking behind a woman wearing a jersey that read, “Alex’s Angles, In memory of my son Alex”. I did the math on his time here on earth and he was two days older than my ten month old when he left this world. With a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat, it quickly reminded me that we are here for so much more than a great ride in the mountains. Of the many people I spoke with there are so many success stories and works in progress, but when you see the dedication “in memory of” photos on the backs of parents it solidifies the importance of being present each day and being part of a community to support each other and our journeys. After dinner I move on to more trivial things like vicariously living through the drunken tour fan in a speedo as I ice my foot from a serious sprain two weeks ago, (see photo) and melt into the couch.
The weather is again perfect and route leads us down to Dillon and then west towards Kremling for the century ride. Ute pass was great as the Sunday vehicle traffic was vacant. However, that quickly changed on the way back to Dillon as large trucks with boats heading for the lake buzzed by close enough to force you look straight ahead and hope that every thing works out. It was down right sketchy and made high speed mountain biking in the tight trees and rocks feel as safe and soft as my sons blankie. A nice couple of climbs in and around Breckenridge lead us to lunch, which again was impressive and full of volunteers. Of the many things I love about riding a Moots bike and representing the company, are the conversations that arise simply because of my bike and clothes. On the way back to Copper, I ran into “Lou the box guy”. He is the man who makes the cardboard boxes that so perfectly cradle the seed of a dream that each Moots owner gets to open and plant.
He was riding with a women who’s son had been in treatment for years and was doing well in large part to the care he has received at Children’s.
Starting early again, my body hurts a bit more today with limiting riding of late due to my ankle sprain. I am again quickly reminded of real pain and struggles by the ongoing stories of the many children and their journeys. As we head over Fremont pass back to Leadville the sun splashes the high peaks and the bike pulls me over each summit with eagerness. Once in Leadville the route loops around Turquoise Lake, which is not only very scenic but what a great little loop that I could just do circles around. We finish at the starting point from three days ago and kids from the hospital handed each rider a medal of completion…what a great touch.
After this experience, I will continue to participate in this great event. This years ride raised just over 2.1million dollars for the Hospital and some earnings are still coming in. Many thanks to the volunteers from the medics and State patrol, to the aid stations and cheerleaders, you guys rock. I loved being able to share this time with my father and look forward to including my sons and wife more next year.
The Vamoots Cr covered the 235 miles and 14000 vert. with such ease and comfort yet negotiated my last minute twitches with absolute precision. Among the 10 or so riders that I saw and spoke with on Moots bikes the oldest frame was 18 years old and it was in great shape. The man said that he had gone through many groupos and wheels and had done nothing to the frame. Enough said…. Thanks Moots.
GrassMoots racer and thrill seeker Andrew Carney has been putting in some BIG rides in prep for the Colorado Trail Race coming in early August. His latest rides find him in the Southwest corner of Colorado high above Durango….he writes:
July has been manic the last few weeks. I started things out right with a 9 day vacation and riding binge in Durango to pile on some final big hours before the Colorado Trail Race in a few weeks. The first day I was in town, I raced the Durango Dirt Century which is put on by a good friend and fellow Moots rider Matt Turgeon and man did he lay out a killer course. The stats are something like 100 miles and ~14k in climbing but what the numbers don’t convey is the difficulty of the trail. Lingering snow, down trees, talus fields, rough trail, and hours spent above treeline all added up to a slow but amazing day out. I finished up in ~14.5 hours and with a big grin plastered across my face. One to put on the calendar for next year for sure!
The rest of the week I rode everything I could get my wheel on….both in and around Durango, including lots of the Colorado Trail and other favorites. The plan was to ride myself into the ground and then spend 3 weeks recovering before the start of the Colorado Trail Race on August 1st. Mission accomplished.
Last weekend, I headed up to Breckenridge for the B68. I opted for the shorter 68 as compared to the 100 which I’ve usually raced in years past as to not dig too deep of a hole. As can be expected after a giant riding binge, my legs were a tad sluggish but I duked it out for a 5th place finish in a pretty deep SS field.
T-minus 12 days until CTR!!!
Also, I ran into Sam from Moots on course at the 68 and he was riding strong!!
Our Pro GrassMoots racer Kelly Boniface is on (to put in mildly) a hot streak as of late. She is typically more into the 50+ mile races, so when lining up with the super fast twitch women’s pro field at Mountain Bike Nationals she didn’t know what to expect. For those of us that know her, we had a pretty good idea that she’d give it her all….which she did. The result? 16th in a field of the best women in America. Kelly has been riding aboard a MX RSL this year…which she describes as “rocket ship”… She writes about her expectations and her experience…..
XC Nationals from the Viewpoint of Kelly…….
Driving up to Sun Valley Idaho from Steamboat Springs I was running the numbers in my head: am I really going to spend 20 hours driving this weekend for a sub 2 hour race? And, a 3.6 mile loop that I would ride in circles 5 times? I must be crazy! But, I’d never been to Idaho and it was the National Championships after all.
The town of Ketchum did not disappoint. It is beautiful with a cool vibe similar to Steamboat. I really enjoyed the people I met (huge thanks to the Johnston family that hosted me) the restaurants and shops I visited, and the fantastic trails I rode the day after the race.
Oh yeah…the race! The best way to describe that course is HARD. Although, during the pre-ride I heard it described by fellow pro riders in a few different ways that aren’t fit to print here. We started up a loose, gravely fire road that got progressively steeper as we climbed. Steep to the point that by the summit on the final lap I was turning the pedals over so slowly that flies were landing on me and I was sure one of them would tip me over.
Then we plunged all the way back down on tight, rutted, dusty switchbacks to pop out just above the base area so that the spectators could see us drop down a rock face that if you even touched your brakes on would send you tumbling through the sharp pointy rocks. I breathed a sigh of relief each time I made it down safely.
The next section was a man-made trials course that weaved through the base area: a fun table top fly-over and then two rock gardens that were all about power and momentum. I was extremely happy to have the 29er wheels through those sections! We weaved through the feed zone (thanks Sam Chovan) and then back up again…..repeat 5 times!
I made certain not to blow up on the first trip up and felt great climbing throughout the race. I even climbed my way up to 12th place at one point. The descent was pretty fun, but there was a lot of potential for disaster so I tried to stay smooth and keep it upright. I would pass as many as I could climbing and try to hold my spot on the descent (sometimes it worked, other times it did not!) I finished up 16th which is my best showing at XC Nationals. But, what I was happiest with is that I was less than 3 minutes out of the top 10. It was thrilling to be able to hang in there with those fast girls that are out there racing all over the country and world.
Now it’s time for some Endurance races!
Next up for Kelly…..The Honey Stinger 50 in her home town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado….”home field advantage”
I Dream in Ti
True story, the night after the Test of Endurance I dreamt that the storage unit in my condo was broken into and my collection and my quiver of Moots were stolen, again. Somehow the thieves had managed to jackhammer their way through the back wall and completely clean out the unit. I’m practically in tears.
Then the dream turns wild, a sketchy van comes driving down the ramp and somehow I just know the guys inside the van are behind this. The driver gets out we argue and I walk up the ramp to where my car is normally parked and the thieves have bicycle chop shop. These guys haven’t just stolen my bikes; they are cutting the parts up, removing couplers and sawing Titanium Tubes. I grab the down tube of the Mooto-X and start wielding it like a sword and yelling for my wife to call the police. She being the good journalist she is tells me, “We need more facts before we call the police”. Of course I wake up before things get really interesting.
Apparently I still have unresolved feelings for the bikes that were stolen from me in 2008 but I’d like to think it has more to do with electrolyte imbalance from the Test of Endurance 50 I completed the night before. The Test of Endurance throws it all at you: gravel logging roads and single track packed into 8200’ of elevation over 50 miles. On a week where I spent more hours on a plane than the 4:50 it took me to complete the course I still managed to grab a podium spot in the CAT 1 35-39 field.
Set Up: Mooto-X YBB, SRAM XO, DT Swiss Wheels with Maxxis Crossmark/Ignitor combo.
Patrick Wilder lives in Portland and rides & races on the GrassMoots team. He travels weekly for work and enjoys life to the fullest….usually on his Moots. To us he’s one of best people you could ever be lucky enough to ride along with….
Andrew Carney follows up with a report from the Bailey Hundo this last weekend. His luck, form and single speeding skill found him on the top step (or log as it may have been). Nice work man!
The Bailey Hundo is a second year 100 mile event in Bailey, CO that is pretty rad as it supports three youth cycling initiatives in Colorado. The course itself has ~12,000 feet of climbing and some amazing singletrack riding in the Buffalo Creek area including some portions of the Colorado Trail. Once the gun went off at 6 am sharp with twin shotgun blasts on main street Bailey, it was on and stayed a super close race all the way to the finish almost 8 hours later. For the first ~55 miles myself and 3 other single speeders basically tried to beat each other into the ground. However, towards the end of the last singletrack section (the last ~45 miles were on roads) I played the smart card and backed off the pace, let a gap of about a minute form, and let the other single speeders work each other over while keeping them in sight. When they stopped to access their drop bags at the 60 mile mark, I spun on past. My fueling strategy was simple, start with everything on board, grab bottles when needed from the aids, but always keep the wheels turning. The K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) strategy in action!! The second half of the race may be on roads (both dirt and some pavement), but the miles were far from easy. Several big climbs lurked in the final 20 miles including a ~2,000 foot climb up and over Stony Pass. I stayed on the gas and tried to hold my gap over the chasers. I also passed a bunch of geared riders on the final climbs, which is actually quite amazing since on a geared bike I’m anything but a climber but when on a SS you don’t have a choice but to keep givin’ er up the steep pitches! As I neared the final climb of the day which was maybe ~10 minutes long I saw another rider ahead of me and figured I might as well empty what I had left in the tank and give chase. About halfway up the climb I noticed that the rider wasn’t sitting down which can mean only one thing on a climb like that….he’s a single speeder! Crap, that means this is going to hurt. Basically I threw everything I had left into the last climb and caught the rider, who turned out to be Mark Thompson and a good friend, only about 10 yards from the top. I made the pass, eeked out a “Hey Mark” and took some chances on the final half mile descent to the finish. I crossed the line as the first official single speeder (23rd overall) in 7:54:18, a scant 54 seconds ahead of 2nd place (Mark Thompson) and only 4 minutes ahead of 3rd place (Jeff Carter). All in all, it was an amazing day to race, the trails were top notch, and the close competition made it all the more memorable. Days like that are what we chase year round!
Andrew Carney of Fort Collins, Colorado rides and races on the GrassMoots Team. He is a very active member of the cycling community in Fort Collins….he also likes nice long rides. He’s been doing some regional races lately in order to prepare for the Colorado Trail Race coming in late summer. Did I mention he does all this on a single speed? For some that’s no big deal, but for me, that’s crazy stuff. Just recently I’ve been spending some time on a single speed and have found a new love/respect for the one gear rig and the riders that choose to ride them…..this makes me a newbie of sorts….after all these years finding a mode of cycling I put away after 10 years on a BMX bike….fun.
Riding down here has been fantastic. Earlier in the month, I raced the Growler down in Gunnison and came in 9th in the SS class. It was a close race with 5 of us turning the screws on each other the last 30 miles. Unfortunately, I fell off the pace in the last mile and finished at the back of that bubble, but that’s racing.
Last weekend, I raced the Ridgeline Rampage 60 miler down in Castle Rock and came in 4th. Again, I finished at the back of the bubble, 20 seconds off the podium
Other than that, I’ve been putting in lots of miles getting ready for the Colorado Trail Race later this summer. I sewed some custom bags to fit the Moots and have been putting them through their paces on a few overnight tours.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos from the races, however attached are some pictures of the Moots fully loaded for multi-day racing
Our local power girl; Kelly Boniface put in a nice race in Vail this weekend up against some of the top pros around. Kelly placed 13th and said she wished there were two more laps. Kelly likes the longer less punchy races, but said she was happy with the effort.
The course was mainly up dirt fire roads and straight down single track. The course officials had to make some changes to the course vs. past years due to the amount of snow left from the big winter.
Nice work Kelly….super proud of you!
Ian puts the MX RSL through its paces during the Sisters Stampede
GrassMoots racer Ian Leitheiser got to put his new MX RSL to the test during the Sisters Stampede held over Memorial Day weekend. He writes in about missing the start and his “other” new love…his Vamoots RSL…..
In Oregon, we’re already about six weeks into the racing season. Until last night, I’d not yet raced a bike this year. A wicked combination of flu and then pneumonia put me down for all of February and most of March. The start of Tuesday night racing at Portland International Raceway was a good way for me to finally get back to riding hard. I have something of a love/hate thing with PIR. One on hand, I’m more of a climber and threshold guy, where PIR is a dead flat race track for things with motors, or for those riders built more like muscle cars than climbers. Good riders are good riders everywhere, but I often feel outgunned at PIR by the trackie/sprinter types. As for the love, there’s not much better than being able to ride to work in the morning, leave the office at 5:30 to ride out to the race, get your race on, and then ride home as the night settles in. Pretty sweet.
As for the racing itself, I got my season off to a swell beginning by shooting the breeze with my brother in law and missing the race start. One of the officials had lots of fun with that as I set off in a solo pursuit of a field of about 60 that was going way, way too fast for the start of a race. That’s what PIR gives you, though: it’s a low-stress opportunity to do things you might not in other race formats. Attack like an idiot, put your nose in the wind just because you can, or heck, as I once did, sit ten meters off the back of a 100 rider field all night long and get what amounts to a good motor pacing workout. Different riders go to different races for their own reasons. Roadies might race ‘cross in the fall “for fun,” which doesn’t compute to someone like me who lives for October. My typical messing around at PIR is certainly a different approach than those who are there to ride for a result, but that’s one of the things that’s great about living here. Plenty of racing, and opportunities to do races that have no pressure if they don’t happen to be something on which you’re especially focused.
Now that’s horse power…..the lead out from the gun…
Anyway. I tried to put in some work, despite the fact that it was obvious many guys had at least a few race days in the legs and I quite clearly had none, and essentially got out of the way in the end. It’s that outgunned thing again. At PIR I’m there to work. I’ve had a PIR result or two by going to the line in a small-ish break, but I tend to try bridging efforts, or work to bring breaks back, rather trying my hand in a bunch sprint at the end. As much as I like to go out there and tell myself I’m training my weaknesses (flat and fast), I’ve resigned myself to generally avoiding the crazy part of bunch sprints. Rolling through with the right amount of work done is enough for me for that kind of racing.
I have to comment on the Vamoots RSL. I’ve had excellent road bikes of all materials, and rather than spew the usual cliches about the ride, I’ll just say it’s the best overall bike I’ve ridden. If I were to compare it to one bike, it reminds me of the compact Anvil steel frame Don Ferris built for me back in 2002, the frame I had while riding and racing in Europe. I mean this as the highest compliment. I loved that bike, but the RSL frame takes all of the metrics up a notch: about a pound lighter, stiffer, smoother, and just faster feeling on the road. I don’t know if you use any Anvil tooling, but I like to think you do, because it lets me believe there’s a lineage between that old bike and the RSL. It’s perfect. I could talk about how you use the right head angle on the 58cm, how the BB is properly low, etc., but you already know all that, obviously. Can’t say enough good things about the design, guys
One last thing about racing last night. I’ve never noticed much attention being paid to what I’m riding, but last night was different. It was odd, and really not my style, but yes, this bike was noticed. Don’t get me wrong. The bike, which I consider understated, is absolutely my style, but receiving attention because of the bike was new. I’ll just force myself to get used to it. While I’m just flat out not as good as the bikes, I’m so happy to ride them. Thanks to all those who play a part!