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. 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.
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?
How do you cope with losing?
And then this:
And Kevin Pauwels response. Use google translate to get the story:
We all now realize that blogging is somewhat D E A D.
Twitter has allowed me to keep up to date with a lot less effort than finding the time to update a blog. And time is certainly the one thing I do not have enough of the last few years.
Here is to a renewed effort to find time to write more than 140 characters and a link to something interesting.
I think you are freaky and I like you a lot!
This year has been really good and uplifting so far! It has struck me that reading between the lines to really get a sense of what is going on from my website is probably hard as, most of the posts in the last 6 months/year or so have been bummer posts. And, that stuff is relevant at the time; crashing, getting injured, being run-down. That stuff is valid and, important when it is happening and I’ve been forgetting to write about the incredible things that happen in between all of the disappointing and tiring times.
I find beauty in so many small things. And, writing about them has not been on the top of my agenda.
Gonna make the time this year. It is already looking like it is going to be a great season.
Here I am, in Koksijde, Belgium watching CX Worlds. It has been a quick trip, right to the venue and right down to business. I am helping out with some pictures for a documentary in progress. All business, no pleasure.
Been a few years since I have been to Belgium, it is weird not to be racing. It certainly makes the visit a whole lot easier. Less stressful.
I am running into everyone I know here. Even though there are 40,000+ fans in attendance, it is still pretty easy to find the people you are hoping to bump into.
The Junior, U23 and Elite Women’s races have been amazing to watch and the notorious Belgian super fans are being notoriously Belgian. (these guys are Dutch)
The Elite men’s race begins in an hour and the venue is going to be insane. If a Belgian does not win, there is going to be a riot.
Like usual, everything in Belgium ends up being more complicated than it needs to be. So, internet access has been sporadic.
OMG, the race is about to start!
I went out for a spin on the road bike with friends yesterday and got taken down by fluke accident.
A branch or rock, something, got caught up in my front fender on the road bike while riding at speed. Wrapped the fender into the wheel and locked it up. This sent me right over the bars, onto my head. I was not prepared for it in the slightest.
I have not laid on the ground for a couple minutes thinking I might not be able to get up since my skateboarding days. It felt like someone took my legs and twisted them into a painful pretzel. Hyper-extended a knee, bruised up the other leg, re-injured the wrist I broke this summer. My neck is locked up tight.
Holding the handlebars and walking up stairs is laughable. I am fortunate that my Bicycle Studio is partnered up with a great PT clinic in Upper Echelon Fitness so, I do have some resources I may be able to access tomorrow.
Are you f’ing kidding me? How many thousands of miles have I ridden with full fenders? ugh. This is the kind of thing you hear about happening to other people.
I’ve iced and elevated. Both legs are wrapped and compressed. Slept for about 12 hours last night.
I will likely just fly out to Madison for Cyclocross Nationals this Thursday anyways, I’ve got the flight and races paid for, no refunds available, etc.
I’m going to try and spin on the rollers tonight and see how that goes. Tactically, the nationals course does not look particularly technical so, if I can loosen up the legs and move without pain in the next couple days, I will still race.
This is ridiculous. One second you are smiling and laughing in the sun, the next you are on your back.
For a very long time I have been sitting on feelings and emotions… considering writing on past experiences that have left me disappointed, hurt and hell, emotionally devastated.
This blog post from Mike Vallely re-kindled the flame. It is a good read. Though if you know nothing of skateboarding, it may not have relevance.
I’ve been disappointed too many times by too many people and am so bored with people using/choosing their “brand” over their friendships or using the classic: “it is not personal, it is just business” line to make it acceptable to behave like a shit-bag. I am over it. Way over it.
I’m far enough removed from most of these folks now that it might feel good to get it all out; like Vallely dishes on Powell in his post.
Mike Vallely was a hero of sorts when I was a kid growing up skateboarding, it is crazy to read his experiences from 20 something years ago in such a condensed and raw, personal way.
It bums me out to see people with genuinely positive intentions get manipulated and burned. That is something that hits home. Having gone into so many friendships, partnerships and business relationships with positive (and likely naive) goals and communication only to come out of them completely manipulated.
I’ve made it a point in my life to never, ever put business above my friendships. You have to make some tough calls as a small business owner but, I believe you can do good, honest business without fucking people over.
There is something in the way I am wired that does not want to acquiesce to the bullshit in the world. I don’t believe you have to play the game like all of the other motherfuckers play the game. So I’m going to give it to you straight and expect to get the same respect back. No lies, no manipulation.
It often baffles me that people can’t or don’t see through the fake, slimy veneer some people exist in. Yet the longer I live, the more I see the lying bastards growing bigger and bigger. It is a bro-fest out there and well… I am just not interested in being a bro. I want more out of life, more out of people. I don’t do the superficial, I want it raw and real.
(the attack Vos puts down at :40 epitomizes my feeling on attacking. Don’t attack when it is easy, attack when it hurts the most. SO AWESOME!)
Y’know, I probably would have won a few more bike races in my life if I was a bigger asshole on the bike. Yet as many fucking disappointments (and there have been so many) as I have suffered on the bike, deep in the core of my being, I would not be able to live with myself if I played the game dirty.
I truly believe in honesty, hard work, dedication, lots of passion and dreaming big. Bigger than I probably should.
It is how I approach cycling, my business, my lovers and my friends.
Wow. For the first blog post in months, I did not expect this… not writing to toot my own horn here, Vallely’s post elicited an emotional response and I reacted.
Now watch this video of some BMX kid getting all Zef and taking it to the next level. His landings are so clean it makes me want to cry.
I’ll preface this by saying, I had decided earlier this morning not to write anything about getting crashed out. There are plenty of other cx races to do. And plenty of other opportunities to bump elbows and have Reeb put me into the course tape.
An hour ago, I got an email from a spectator that watched it all go down yesterday. So, I’ll just reprint his email un-edited and post a link to the Cyclocross Magazine article that has all the post-race reactions.
John’s email below describes what happened from an unbiased (not a friend of mine and not my words here) point of view:
“Here’s what I saw yesterday. You can quote me as a 20 year ‘cross racing
I watched the Aaron/Molly crash from about 40 feet away.
Molly was 100% right in filing a protest. Aaron was completely at fault and
not only put Molly in danger but also the lapped woman he passed 2 seconds
before. It was obvious to me he was trying to get the woman between himself
and Shannon/Donald/Sean before the right hand corner before pit 2 so that he
could start the long straight without them on his wheel. Molly was clearly
in the lead and it was like a motocross pass where the inside guy uses the
outside one for traction. About 5 seconds after the spot of the crash,
there was the beginning of a long straight where they would have got back
together. With a little bit of patience, everyone would have remained
upright and continued to have fun racing.
Before the crash, there were 5 guys together. After the crash, Aaron was
solo to the finish because the others got gapped with Molly on the ground.
Aaron should have sat up, told the others to ride easy until Molly caught
back up. There were a couple laps to go and 6th was a long ways back.
Again, not my words. I definitely do not think that anyone should have sat up and waited for me post-crash. It just would have been pretty easy not to create a dangerous situation in the first place. Bike races should not be decided by who can run into you the hardest. (though they often are)
I am into full-on aggressive racing but, particularly at these local races with lots of lapped riders, safe and conscious racing. There are hundreds of other racers on the course at the same time as the elite riders. And not all of them are going to feel safe or comfortable getting passed at speed. I pride myself on being as courteous as possible to the lapped traffic while passing and then getting back on with my own race without being a danger or menace to the other riders.
That said, I don’t see much of a difference between something being unintentional and riding with complete disregard for another rider’s safety.
I’ve never protested any race result before, even with punches thrown at me and riders trying to push me off my bike during a race. While I still disagree with it, I absolutely respect the decision (a warning for dangerous riding) that Chief Referee Terri Camp and the OBRA officials came to after hearing my protest.
I’m not angry anymore… I took it all out on the single speeders.
A month into it already and the Oregon cyclocross season steps up another notch this weekend with a first year race in Canby on Saturday and the first Cross Crusade race at Alpenrose Velodrome on Sunday.
Alpenrose is guaranteed to be a complete cluster fuck. And you know what? It just doesn’t matter.
For me the Cross Crusade has always been a goal and a highlight to my season. It is serious racing, hard racing and, fun racing. Alpenrose continues to set world records for attendance. Which means there are close to 2000 riders battling for the win out there. Close to and, over 100 riders in most categories. You have a mistake, a flat or a mishap and, pretty much race over. The course has also traditionally been very twisty and single tracky… moving up through a 100 riders on that course will take a bit more time than an hour. I’m just hoping to ride a clean race and not embarrass myself too much.
Anyways, with my form right now, I am just hoping to stay out of peoples way. Don Reeb is on fire, winning a bunch of early season races, Ryan Trebon is racing, Babcock will be there is he can get out of work, Tuckerman will be aggressive if he maintains the early season form he has. Mcgrath should be here, my team mate Brett Luelling will be solid and you can never discount Tonkin, Shannon, Damian Schmitt and a dozen other fast Oregon riders.
If I finish the race on the lead lap, I will declare that a success.
“…because all the really good looking girls, would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they got all the money!”
It just doesn’t matter if we win or we lose.
Oh, you should come to the Cross Kick-Off party tonight at Portland Bicycle Studio.
There is soooo much pressure and excitement built up for the 1st Cross Crusade and I can’t wait until it is all said and done!
Then I can exhale!