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My friends, the people, my team, so pumped.

I just got back from China and am catching up on what I missed during the week I was out of town.

Love or hate Facebook, when you are up all night with jetlag it is very convenient for catching up with what your pals (that are on FB) have been getting up to.

I am so incredibly stoked on my team mates.

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A team. The team. Team mates. Your team, his team, her team. Their team. OUR TEAM.

This is often such an abstract thing with various implications and definitions. Being on a team means something different to everyone. I’ve been on, been a sponsor of and founded many, many different teams in my years in cycling. I’ve seen people come and go, teams grow and collapse, I’ve seen friendships ruined by politics and shitty behavior and I’ve seen friendships grow stronger because of cycling and our desire for something better and more beautiful than the status quo.

The best thing for me? Coming home and being pumped to see everyone, to ride with everyone and to watch my pals crush it on the bike, in races, in training and in life. My team mates appreciate the beauty in the little things, the beauty in cycling, in going hard, working hard and having fun. I love that amongst the photos of racing and riding, I get pictures of hiking epic wilderness, car engines in pieces, food and art.

This keeps me motivated, keeps me pumped and stoked to hang out and party with all of you.

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Cycling is my life and I am surrounded by people that love cycling and by people that are creative, hilarious, self-aware and treat other people nicely.

I love it. I love that we cultivate this fantastic energy amongst ourselves.

There is so much momentum with the Portland Bicycle Studio team going into this cyclocross race season. I’m riding an amazing wave of positive energy and motivation here. I sound like a f’ing hippie.

Seeing all of your pictures; smiles on your faces, covered in mud and sweat and on your bikes, the photos of your cars, your pets, your pals, your lives, your travels and your adventures.

I’m gonna ride this awesome wave of stoke. Join me on it.

My team is fantastic and we are just getting this party started.

 

All pictures credit: Jose Sandoval. Great dude, fantastic photographer, good people.

Get ready. Reflect. The future.

This is easily my favorite behind the barriers. Some of my favorite people are in it and some of my favorite races too.

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Man, that deleted scene where Thufir kills himself? That is good stuff.

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I mean really?

Stop complaining about summer time cyclocross racing.

There have been cyclocross races in the summer for as long as I’ve been racing cx. And every season people start complaining about how it is not real cx, the races are earlier and earlier every year and how is it ruining the cx season, ruining road season and they are going to protest the early cx season by just riding mountain bikes all fall.

Well, I will be riding mountain bikes and doing big fun road rides all fall too; and you will still see our team and my face at all of the pre-season cyclocross races.

These people like to make up arbitrary rules about the hows and whats of cyclocross. Their knowledge of cx is infinite, with the internet and their computers. The same people that consider tubeless wheels and box section tubular rims for cyclocross! Americans!

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Ronny says: “we created this great cyclocross course in the forest and the riders will be able to test themselves in the pre-season. This is not a big race like Hofstade or Zolder, we do this because we love cyclocross.”

The early season is the PRE-SEASON. Whether you are starting your 2013, 2014 or still finishing up your 2012 season, stop complaining about having races to attend and test yourself.

If they fit in your training program, do them. If not, don’t complain. Support those who are racing and don’t whine about the conditions and the courses. Do you know how many bike races were cancelled this year? Neither do I, but it was a lot. “wah wah summertime is supposed to be crit season!” Where are your crits now? You critic, you heckler, you amateur!

Go support your local race promoter! Or put your own damn race on and stop complaining about having bike races to do. Cyclocross has created more growth and participation in road and mountain bike racing than any of that racing has been able to do for itself.

Even the best in the world fall on their face in the early season. Klass went on to win the Belgian National cyclocross championship a few seasons later. You go hard, you make mistakes, you learn from them and you take all of that and move forward into the the fall and winter.

You have to train, and practice and train. And part of training is riding the early season races, having some fun and supporting the local race promoters + giving the cycling fans something to talk about.

Contribute something to your community or find your self soon with out a community to criticize.

I’m a believer!

gawk_onStrange times these. Contador becoming likeable, British riders clobbering everyone on the climbs. You gotta have hope this is all a good sign.

Watching Froome climb like a gawky bird on a bike… I appreciate the spinning, the cleat placement, the whole package. It is ugly and effective. It works for him. It is not that I admire Froome particularly, but rather… I like that he properly calls it cheating.

Quotes like this: “I’m not sure I said I was honoured, I said I would only take it as a compliment,” Froome said. “Obviously Lance won those races, but to compare me with Lance… I mean, Lance cheated. I’m not cheating. End of story.”

And I appreciate that Lemond calls it like it is. Eventually the clean performances will catch up and surpass the doped ones. This is the hope I cling to. You can stare at watts and Vo2 and w/kg and Pantani vs. Armstrongs times up all these climbs as benchmarks. But one day, legitimately clean riders will surpass these benchmarks.

“…in 20 years I am confident my results will stand.” Virenque never said that. And as far as I can tell neither did Armstrong.

Froome’s humble first words after winning the ITT today: “I did not expect to win today.”

I appreciate that.

Spring Classical.

Thanks Cosmo.

Matthew Slaven #Slaying – More Mountain Bike Videos

Our Giro, Enve, Conti sales rep… repping.

We are getting lucky this spring. A little bit of sun, a lot or dry weather.

And you can’t do this. Even if you tried. (thanks AHTBM)

Sven v Bottle

Let me tell you about the last couple months:

VOS!

Let’s start with an interview (try to ignore the interviewer) of the winner of the World Cyclocross Championships, heart breaker, supercrush of many, Marianne Vos.

looking old MC, looking old.

complete upsets!

Excited for these shoes to come out. There is a lot of great foot wear available and coming out but Shimano always continues to impress with high performance and extremely durable products.

And super excited about all the amazing things coming out of women’s cyclocross racing. For a good read on the who to follow in PRO cx social media, CLICK HERE and dig around the site. And watch all of these videos below:

Open letter to USAC on the topic of cyclocross racing.

My name is Molly Cameron and I am a bicycle racer. I happen to live in Oregon and did the majority of my racing in Oregon and Washington this season. I traveled internationally, raced some UCI races and am preparing to fly to Madison, Wisconsin to race the US Cyclocross National championships next week.

I registered for the 2013 Cyclocross National Championships the day online registration opened. I signed up for the Elite race, the Master’s 35+ race and a “non-championship” race. These were, I should note, individually the most expensive races I have ever paid for.

I’m not complaining here, bike racing has never been cheap.

A few days ago, it was brought to my attention that I am listed in last place on the start list and “race predictor” for all of the races I registered for. Apparently I have no “USAC points” so I am listed in dead last place. I kinda chuckled about it to myself, my goals for the Elite race are reasonable, my UCI points should start me mid-pack and I’ve generally entered the Master’s race as a warm up and to pre-ride the course a bunch at race pace.

While I have a decent shot at winning the 35+ race, it has never been a target for me. (I have finished in the top ten every year I’ve done an age group race at Nationals, which is infrequently). I’ve always tried to focus on being the best racer I can be and race against the best I can in the Elite race. I’ve never liked it when legitimate professional talent (not me, obviously!) cherry picks age group national champ races. Not naming names but it happens, UCI licenses or not. I’ve always held the belief the age group races are for the riders with real jobs and stuff other than bike racing to focus on.

So when a bunch of racers also registered in the Master’s 35+ race sent me notes/tweets/etc voicing how my lack of a call-up in the race was “BS” and “ridiculous”. I put a little more thought into it and, yes. Yes it is ridiculous.

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I emailed a few people at USA Cycling today (December 31st) to inquire about my lack of USAC points. I’m not going to name any names as everyone I have ever dealt with at USA Cycling has been responsive, helpful and professional. I’ve raced all over the world and only had good experiences with the UCI and USAC representatives and employees. I’m not writing this to incite or perpetuate any anti-USA Cycling sentiment. I don’t think USAC “sucks”. Though maybe some of their policies do.

The response I got from USAC was what I expected. I have read and know the rules myself.

“We have some fairly rigid policies regarding call ups. If you are riding in the elite men race, then the first criteria will be UCI points, so your call up would be based on that. For masters, we use the returning 8 places from last year, followed by USAC rankings.” Which is completely fair. My racing and results should speak for themselves this season!

Here is the catch: USA Cycling is my national governing body yet, USA Cycling does not recognize ANY of the racing I did this year (except CrossVegas, where a mechanical in the last lap ended my race) and that affects my USAC ranking; I currently don’t have one. Zero points. Even though I am internationally ranked by the UCI, I don’t officially have any USAC points. Not a single point. This year, I had a great season. I won races, was rarely off the podium and consistently raced against International caliber competition at every race.

Many of you may know about the non-reciprosity between USAC and the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association. You might have read this article on Velonews detailing the current state of affairs, if not, give it a read for some context. Read the comments too. There is a lot of the “blah blah USAC sucks” type but, you can find some intelligent exchanges in-between the USAC bashing. Here is another article.

People jokingly comment to me; “move to Colorado!” or “move to New England” suggesting that, I would not have this problem if I was in a region that had USAC reciprocity and there is a bunch of USAC sanctioned racing. That is not a realistic solution to the problem. If anything these are pretty selfish recommendations, from riders not caught up in this power struggle.

I’d like to also note that I’ve never felt like the USAC or UCI is “evil”. My intention here is not to vilify the USAC or UCI. I’ve never felt the need to trash talk either governing body. Like I said, I am a bike racer, I show up, play by the rules, race clean and do my job the best I can against the best competition available.

I’m not writing this looking for sympathy, special favors or to bend the USAC rules for me. I’m writing to point out how flawed this system is. If USAC is supposed to be my national governing body why don’t they recognize any of the racing I’ve done this season? This is, of course, a rhetorical question.

I represent everything that USAC should be supporting. I am a 30-something year old bicycle racing “consumer”! I love bike racing, I put lots of money into the sport and race consistenty. I travel to races, I’ve been going to US Nationals yearly since I started racing cyclocross. I buy my spendy UCI/USAC license every year and pay my entry fees with no hesitation. I represent many, many of us cyclocross racers; we work full-time jobs, have a lot of other responsibilities in our lives and still dedicate ourselves to being the best cyclocross racers we can be.

But, because of some political power plays between the governing bodies of our sport, my racing does not count. At least not to USA Cycling.

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When I asked about my UCI points and UCI ranking superseding any USAC point system for ranking in the master’s race. And, to be fair, I was just pointing out how silly it is that I am ranked internationally but not nationally.

“No because most of the people with UCI points are professionals and not allowed to ride the masters events anyway. If you are on any kind of UCI team, or you have ridden world cup events this year, you are considered an elite and not allowed to ride masters events at any level. That takes care of most of the people who have UCI points. The philosophy is that if you are good enough to earn UCI elite points, you should be riding elites and not masters.”

I’m sorry, you are incorrect. Most of the people with UCI points are not professionals. Not even close.

While I agree with the philosophy; and I too think that if you are good enough to be getting UCI points you should be racing the Elite race but, not necessarily to the exclusion of any age group racing you are able to do. I also like the rules about UCI team members and World Cup participants not being able to race age group races. Makes sense. But in reality it is because the cyclocross community is largely self-policing that most professional-caliber riders with any self respect or self awareness know better than to cherry pick the age group categories at nationals. It is not because the USAC rules are so well written that the categories work them selves out.

You (USAC) are wrong about most of the people with UCI points. The overwhelmingly vast majority of racers in the United States racing UCI races are not professionals. There are hundreds of UCI licensed riders racing UCI races and NOT getting UCI points. And the vast majority of racers getting UCI points in those races are not professionals. Of the currently 87 UCI ranked US riders with UCI points right now, about a dozen are professionals. Maybe. The other 75 something US riders with UCI points, (while some are very well sponsored) are bicycle racing consumers. Grass roots level bicycle racing consumers, that put a lot of money and heart back into the sport.

Let’s consider for a minute: What if my season goal was winning the Master’s National Championship 35+ race? I don’t see why it could not be, I’m 37, I work 2 full time jobs and still managed a competitive cyclocross season. I’m the stereotypical masters racer. If I trained hard and maintained my form through the holidays just to find out that USAC does not recognize any of my season’s race results and that I have to start in the back row of the most important race of the year, I’d be pretty devastated.

Just because I live in Portland, Oregon and race local races.

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In addition to all of the race results, I asked about the chance I’ll be fined for holding a UCI Elite license and racing non UCI events this coming season:

“The penalty is a 100 fine the first infraction and a 30 day suspension for subsequent ones. Last year it was only the professional riders but I have heard discussion of all international license holders but am not sure when/if that takes effect”

While this is pretty unlikely to happen to me, it very well could. Again, USAC is just enforcing a UCI rule that has been around for a while. But I hope they pick up on the public outcry. It is a rule that makes no practical sense and bums out everyone.

No one benefits with these kinds of rules. Well, maybe the UCI does.

Where does it leave us in 2013? UCI cyclocross racing is very important to me, important to my sponsors but, the bulk of the racing I do is in Oregon under OBRA. I already have both my OBRA and UCI/USAC 2013 licenses. USAC can potentially fine/sanction me for racing non-USAC races as soon as the local season starts up. I can race as many master’s cyclocross races in Oregon and Washington as I want to and I’ll still never earn a USAC point.

It is a broken system. One would think, that USAC, looking to actually live up to their namesake and represent every cyclist in the USA, would just be gracious and acknowledge OBRA races and results. If anything, just do it for the racers. This kinda stuff only makes our lives complicated and does not in any way improve our racing experience or benefit the national racing scene.

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I know the USAC representative I emailed back and forth with about this will eventually read this and I apologize for just copying verbatim your emails here but, I know you are just dictating the current policy and it is nothing personal. I appreciated the quick responses to my questions. I have a lot of respect for every race official, race promoter and everyone involved in the various bicycle racing sanctioning bodies. While I may not always agree with you, I could not race my bike without all of you doing what you do.

I’m really not concerned with my call up at Master’s nationals. It is the damn principal here. USAC does not appear to have a real grasp on what bike racers are actually doing, what is actually important to us. Maybe one of these years I will actually show up with some fitness and contend for the win. But if things stay the same, I’ll still never earn a single USAC point in 2013 regardless of how much racing I’ll do, UCI, Masters, Elite or otherwise.

Mountain air.

I can’t breathe and it is beautiful.

This is my third year coming to Japan, staying at Yatsugatake bicycle studio in Minamimaki village on the Japanese Alps. I am here to race cyclocross and am doing rides people write stories about.

I am a part of something special here, this family of cyclists, racers, photographers, fitters, frame builders, workers and friends.

The sun is shining, it is bitterly cold. The riding is brisk and spirited.

This is an experience all of us will remember fondly.

Disc brakes are taking over cyclocross!

Disc brakes. In cyclocross. OMG!

People seem to have forgotten that disc brakes have been available on cyclocross bikes since the early 2000s (and earlier on custom built cx bikes). The majority of disc brake equipped cx bikes on the market are still using the same mechanical caliper that was available back in 2002. So, they generally work about as well (and weigh about as much) as they did 10 years ago.

Every manufacturer swore up and down that their top PRO cx racers would be on disc brake bikes this year.

Pics or it never happened!

Oh wait, we do have 1 win on them!

And de Euros?

I thought Colnago promised us that Sven and Niels would exclusively riding disc brakes this season? I guess not.

And Timmy continues to preach the industry gospel.

Note: I’m not hating on disc brakes at all here. I love cycling technology and advancements. I think steel bikes are fantastic and carbon is a material you can do amazing things with. I keep an open mind regarding cycling tech and like to try new things out myself. These are not things to get emotional about.

I have a responsibility to my clients to know a lot about this technology, read between the lines in the marketing and not sell them crap.

I am waiting for the day that production-level technology catches up with the marketing hype. When there is zero weight penalty for using disc brakes on a cx bike and we don’t have to use adaptors and one-off prototype parts get fantastic braking performance.

Unfortunately (or not), cyclocross ends up being the testing ground for a lot of new gear and tech that the bicycle industry (and/or UCI) wants to eventually place in the road market.

While I am a critic, this stuff is exciting!

So what are the Euros waiting for? The mud?

You put so much into it.

How do you cope with losing?

And then this:

And Kevin Pauwels response. Use google translate to get the story:

Respect. To get it, you must give it.

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