Wednesday, December 31, 2008

He's Back

Can Niels Albert pull off the story of the year and win the Worlds? Given his rampaging early season form and the seeming ease with which he's slotted himself back in with the front runners after nearly a month and a half off the bike, it certainly seems possible... One thing is for sure, this year's worlds are shaping up to epic.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008


It's been nearly two weeks since I touched my bike (for riding) and I feel like I've been on a quest to see how far off my CX season fitness I can push myself. Aside from the unending consumption of butter, sugar and beer, I've been so sedentary that I wake up every day wondering what level of sloth I can achieve that day. Last night I has a dinner of cookies and Golden Grahams for God's sake. Thankfully, I've joined the masses and started a Facebook page so I can waste time a bit more effectively in the coming days. On the positive side, I had a photo show that was extremely successful, so I have some new found photographic motivation. Perhaps I'll finally rework my website and sort through the thousands of images from this year that I need to edit. That would be a productive use of my time, so we'll see if I gather the motivation to do it. Either way, I'm riding tomorrow, I think and will get to do one final CX race next weekend (albeit with comical fitness) so things will probably get rolling again for me soon. At the moment, though, it's nice to take it easy and recharge, even if I can't help but feel a touch guilty from time to time. I think there's an IPA calling my name somewhere...

CX Worlds 2002

Two points of note on this clip.
1. DeClerq and Vanoppen's chat on the track with 1 to go.
2. Sven's attack and subsequent cornering about 3:45 into this video. While watching the VHS at work, we rewound it so many times that the VCR ate the tape. It's that badass. Watch and learn...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


A list of un-pro things I did in the 24 hours before the race:
1. Didn't ride the bike I was racing until the day of the race.
2. Signed up for the SS race despite never having raced CX on one before.
3. Got to KC later than desired and didn't get to preride on Saturday.
4. Drank too many beers the night before.
5. Didn't go to sleep early enough while waiting for the DB and RB express to arrive and then did not sleep for shit when I went to bed.
6. Had an abbreviated warm up of one lap plus some spinning around.
6. Thought that we would be staged in order of registration only to find myself on the very back row of the starting grid.
8. Rode a bike that was a size too small with these brake levers:

Despite all of this, I had a decent race and lots of fun despite the pain and exhaustion. I managed to move up a bit before the pavement ended and avoided the near immediate crash. From there I just ground my way up the hill trying to stay steady. It was a really weird race for me. The course, as you may have read, involved a lot of climbing. It felt like at least three quarters of the lap were spent grinding away uphill with my back on the verge of seizing. As such, it was impossible for me to do anything but kept a steady pace that was the hardest I could sustain and acceleration was never an option. It worked out ok as I picked people off consistently throughout the race. I went back and forth with this guy for most of the second half of the race before finally dropping him on the climb on the last lap. I ended up 27th out of 82 starters and 55 finishers on the same lap as the winner. I guess I'm satisfied with that. Could I have done better? Probably, but I resolved to do this race for fun and that's what happened. Still, it's hard not to think about the what ifs, but I made the decisions I made and the result is what it is. It was pretty cool to know I was racing the same course as the big boys and it was awesome having the groggy St. Louis crew out cheering before dawn. Thanks guys, it meant a lot that you were there for us. After the race, we went back to the hotel to clean up and get some tub time in before heading back to watch the pros. It had dropped nearly thirty degrees in temperature and we froze while watching the pros and these fools tear up the course. It was an amazing experience and I'm glad I got to share it with my wife and my friends. It'll be kind of hard to go to Bend next year, so this was truly special. As I've stated repeatedly, this CX season was the most fun I've ever had in cycling and it's due in large part to the people I got to share it with. This is hands down the best discipline in cycling and I can't wait to see what next year holds. Now it's time for a break and some thoughts about how I'm going to spend the next ten months. Thanks to everyone for the support and to all who helped make it happen, it was the best. Ever.
Here are some photos Lizz took of the race:

Monday, December 8, 2008


As my good friend and teammate said to me the other night "I love it when a plan comes together". Come together it did. I went into Hermann weekend reasonably confident after a couple of strong results over the last couple of weeks, but since I had never trained like I have this season, I didn't know if the fitness was still running strong or if it was starting to wane. I decided to race both days because I wanted to try and pick up as many points as I could in the Bubba series. I was nervous that the last few weeks had been a fluke and I wanted to squeeze something out of the weekend should state championships go awry. When the race started on Saturday, an SKC rider from Kansas City drilled it and got the hole shot with me in second wheel. He pulled through the first quarter of the two and a half mile lap and I was digging deep to stay on. I was a bit worried that I wasn't going to be able to hold the wheel but stuck with it until we got to the stairs. The stairs which were built in the 1800's are incredibly steep and offer a painful run up for every lap. I suppose the run up work I had been doing paid off and I was able to move up front and had a small gap at the top of the stairs. In the winding section at the top of the course, I managed to pick up around eight seconds on the chase and decided to see if I could make it stick. The gap grew and I held it till the line to round out the series with a win. The course was fantastic with its length and variety. All the turns could be taken at speed and the obstacles littered throughout the course offered numerous challenges and required constant focus. It was going to be a blast getting to race it two days in a row.

Sunday's state championship race shook out almost identically to Saturday's race with the major changes being a twenty degree drop in temperature and a field of fifty instead of thirteen. I managed to get second wheel through the first half of the lap and moved up on the stairs to the front where I got a gap on second. I rode a clean race and managed to extend my gap to the line where I took my first ever state championship. I was helped a bit by Grrman's poor position on the line as he chased me all the way. He flatted toward the end of the last lap but still came home for a solid second place. We were going back and forth all season and it was cool that it came down to the two of us at the big race.

The weekend went perfectly for me and gives me a big boost of confidence going into next season. The whole day on Sunday was perfect as we watched the rest of the races by the fires before moving to the stairs for some dollar and beer primes. The atmosphere was super festive and we all closed out the local season on a high. After the race, it was beers at the Tin Mill and talk of the season gone by. I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing and supportive group of people and I could not have had the year I've had without the support of Lizz, Margaret, Jon Gohl, Russ and Adrienne and every one of my teammates. Big thanks also to Justin Neely for getting me back on a bike so quickly after my S-Works got smashed at the beginning of the season. It's been a truly unforgettable season and if this momentum keeps going, 2009 promises to be equally epic. Next week is the single speed race at Nats and then some much needed down time. Long live cross!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bubba #8 Queeny Park

Sunday's race returned to Queeny Park, home of many a CX battle over the years for the final round before next week's bonanza in Hermann. It had snowed and rained overnight and the forecast called for an inch of accumulation by day's end. It promised to be perfect cross weather after a season of dry courses.

The precipitation was not quite as epic as some had hoped, but it was still enough to make things interesting with greasy corners everywhere and a few choice mud holes. My race went pretty well, I got into a good position toward the front for the first lap when a 360 rider pulling our group went down hard in a hairpin, I took to the front and got a bit of a gap. With the whole race ahead of me, I rode hard but not ridiculously so and tried to keep some distance between myself and the chasers. On the second lap, Daniel Miller bridged up to me on one of the two climbs and sat in for the next lap and a half. After that, we traded pulls and crashes throughout the rest of the race and held or extended our gap over third place. The corners were so slippery that it was impossible to get away from each other for too long and our two man break stuck together coming into the last lap. He gapped me a bit on the run up and seemed to accelerate to try and make it stick. I got back on the wheel on the long pavement drag and tried to plan how I would come around at the finish, all the while in a bit of oxygen debt. Coming off the pavement, Miller crashed in the first turn, taking me down with him and then crashed again in the second turn before the barriers. I had taken a second longer to get back on my bike and was able to ride around him. I punched it for the rest of the lap and managed to hold him off to the line. I got to put my hands in the air again and enjoy another win, this time in conditions that I had waited for all year. Good stuff. Miller rode a great race and it was fun duking it out with him. Next week is shaping up to be a good battle for the state race with three or four riders pretty evenly match coming into the little big show.

I stuck around and watched DB post a rock solid second place in the A race, his form is coming around right on schedule. After the race, the team and friends had our now requisite post race meal at the pub and recounted the day's exploits over some libations. This season has one upped last year in every way and I am truly excited that cross has gone to the level it has in St. Louis. The camaraderie is unmatched and it really is exciting to see so many people into it, spectators, racers and all.