Hi, I’m Joe V. The V is for Vadeboncoeur, but no one ever really calls me that (except my business card). That card also calls me the Global Director of Product Development, Marketing and Creative Design for Trek Bicycle. Yep, I am sometimes not really sure what all that means either. I do know that I dig bikes, oatmeal, motorcycles, burritos, the weird things I see along the way, my family and my job. I get to travel the world helping make great bikes, so it’s a pretty great gig.
Haven't we all heard about just how many things could kill you in Australia? Is it really true? Do a google search, seriously, you will get a back a huge list of things that will kill you - including Russel Crowe. But, geeze - spiders, snakes, rock fish, crocodiles, hoop snakes, drop bears etc... I will just leave that there for you to think about.
Anyway, I am going to Australia for work next week. There are bikes and bike stores there, so I will go there. It is pretty simple actually. If you have bikes, and you have bike stores, I want to go there to learn something and paint it Trek - somehow. That is kind of who I am. It is a burden, I know.
Ok. My friend Simon lives in Australia, and suggested that while I was down there I should come for a visit. Awesome idea, I thought. We could catch up, go for a bike ride, get a beer together, do something Australian (as we have traveled all over the world together but never Australia). I got after getting my plan together, packing up my gear etc... I am all ready to go. The anticipation is building.
Then tonight, he and I are having an email exchange about the trip and other things going on in our lives. Everything is going swimmingly, towards the plan. Then out of the blue, he says "Hey, take a look at what was on my deck last night!", with a photo attached.
WTF? Simon said he was never so scared. So do I cancel?
I mean, Simon has lived there most of his whole life and he is terrified of snakes. So seriously, do I cancel?
Fruits!.....No dammit, FRUITA! Ok, I am just trying to type Fruita, and the dang predictive spelling will just not allow it.
Ok, Whatever. Fruits it is. Whatever you call it, the place might be the most awesome riding anywhere. After all, it is in Colorado and does have incredible single track, and there is beer and pizza and burritos. I mean a lot of single track. It is just dripping with awesomnicity there. I think when I am done with all of this, and people wonder where I am - start in Fruits, there is a good chance that is where I will be.
Liz and I started planning the Fruits excursion, about a year ago. We will outfit the back of the truck, drive out to Fruits with the dogs, stay for 10 days, ride, hike, float rivers, fly fish etc... Of course, slowly over time as it got closer, the trip kept getting shortened and adjusted and abbreviated. But, I saw, I rode, I love it.
We did sleep in the back of the truck on the way out and back, but we did not sleep in the truck out there. We rented a really cool little VRBO that had a fenced back yard for the dogs an outdoor BBQ and a full kitchen with a Nespresso (not exactly roughing it I know). It was good that we did, because it was pretty cold and raining out there. Would have been for some rough camping weather.
As I noted, the trip got shortened before we got there, but we held on to 4 planned riding days - that ended up 3 because of needing to build an Ark on the last day to get out of town. Holy crap, that was some rain.
Day 1, we rode on the eastern end of the Kokepelli loops. Hanna and Adam joined us, and it was a ripping time. Liz and Hanna claimed they saw a rattle snake. I have decided not to believe them, as I just do not do snakes.
The crew on day 1. A little bit colder than we hoped for, but killer riding on the southern Kokopelli loops.
That is the get in to Horsthief loop. It is rideable, by some people. But once you are past that, it might be just about the most cool loop of desert riding anywhere.
Cool wet conditions at this time of the year, make for awesome blooming cactus in the desert.
Really good times on a rock face. I wish I was there now.
After riding most of the morning, we headed over to Colorado National monument. It has some unbelievable views and hiking around on the cliffs.
Laugh if you want, but she is excited because all that is hers.
On day 2, we rode out at Book Cliffs or 18 road trails. OMG. The flow, the flow! It can be so seducing. If you go, you have to ride Joe's ridge, and Mofo below it, and PBR, and Chutes and Ladders, and, and and. Wow, it is hard to get enough of those trails. We will definitely be back on these.
Basically, you go up for about 30 minutes, then you scream down for about 15 mins of crazy fun swooping trails. berm jump, drop, steep, berm drop, jump... Wow. Can I go back now?
That is exactly how you feel when you are riding out at Bookcliffs. Oh my!
That is Liz dropping into a really cool trail. Look closely and you can see Hanna going over the top of the ridge, down the next slope. Look really closely, and you can see Adam already down onto the next ridgeline. Heaven.
Unfortunately, it had to end. Hanna and Adam had to head back to Boulder and it dumped rain for the rest of the afternoon.
Liz and I had decided to do a big epic loop on the Western Kokopelli trails. We went out Troy Built, which was a really cool rocky climb and roll along the edge of a cliff looking out on the Kokopelli trail heading towards Utah. Then we ended up on the most amazing ridge line overlooking the Colorado river and then a super rocky steep jagged edge rock decent back down to Steve's loop. Liz was amazing, even though she doesn't normally ride that kind of stuff.
Lots of amazing views like this from our lunch spot on the trail. Look closely and you can see the little ribbon of single track that we came from.
Colorado river in the background.
I guess it is time to start the planning for the next trip. Copper Harbor, Whistler, Moab, Chatel... There just isn't enough time. Seriously, put Fruits on your lists if it isn't there already. Have a great time.
Out. To a Pearl Jam concert, or riding, or something.
I have to say that the PJ show in Greenville, might just have topped all possible PJ show experiences, and by that you can also take that to mean ALL show experiences possible. It is a bold statement, I know. But, I like bold statements. You could say that I am really good at bold statements, maybe even that I am normally the person that makes more bold statements than any person should. My wife says that is because I am full of hot air and it just needs to come out some way - but what could she possibly know?
Here are some facts!
They played 3’40” show. Burned the house completely down. Just how does a band play for 3'40", night after night?
Played the whole album “Vs." start to finish. Told the story of creating the album, what each song meant to them along the way, the outtakes, the funny things that happened to them while making it etc…
They played the most amazing cover of Comfortably Numb ever. Even made the original feel like something less. I know it is sacrilege to say that someone could outplay Pink Floyd on that song, but the whole audience was gobsmacked over it.
Our seats were one row off the rail in the first seated section. Ed came and sang a song literally 3 feet from us.
20,000 people in the audience. Not a single person sat down for the whole 3’40”, the whole audience sang every song out loud, which is normal. But, normally the seats up high, people sit down during the show - not this night.
Ed talked during the show about that PJ was the first band to play that arena when it was first built. I think they were really pleased to be back there again and it showed in their performance.
I could not sleep afterward, I was so amped.
The setlist was amazing. If you have not been to a show, you may not know that no 2 shows are the same - ever. The setlist is a big deal.
I meet so many people, from all over the country at concerts. It is really cool to meet people with the same passion. I always find that I am really just a casual fan when I have only been to a small number of shows. I routinely meet people who have been to 50+ shows or 100+ shows. Everyone goes to multiple shows, people take whole months off their lives to follow around and go to 20k people concerts all over the world. I was there at 9am to pick up my tickets for an 8pm show, there were 2000 people in line for the doors to open at 6pm. There is food, music, beer, games etc… beforehand, like an outdoor event.
PJ band members can always be seen around town the day of, riding bikes, taking photos, with their families and friends. They are approachable on the street on at the sites in the city. The band is politically and socially responsible and they are not shy about that. They wear their politics on their sleeve – literally. Ed commonly wears a shirt with an anti gun message, or positive social responsibility message. He railed against the southern states and their stance on “religious freedom”, and he was in a southern state. If you are a PJ fan, you have come to accept that the band is going to be controversial in their stance - it is part of the story. But, they respect their fans and respect that they may have different views.
Going to a PJ show is actually an experience that helps you build some faith in America, because as the band has said, "We are all just people and people are so much alike around the world. We all just want a safe place for our families to live, to have good friends of our own choosing, to get drunk when you want to, to love who you want to..." In the end, I think that faith is what keeps us all coming back.
Belge, Belgique, Belgie, Belgien, Belgica, Ah Bheilg, Belgio, Belgicko, Gwlad Belg, Belgium... The Galactic center of cycling. There are many different ways to say it, in many different languages. Of course, you know by now that I think that is just about the silliest thing ever, as I have ranted against that before. But, basically they all mean the same thing...Friteland! Yep, come for the cycling and the beer, but leave with a belly full of frites and mayonnaise.
My friend Skip Hamilton used to say, "it is a potato, right? How bad can it be for you?" I do not know the answer to that, but I suspect it isn't really relevant. You are in Belgium, you are riding bikes, you are drinking Belgian Beer, why wouldn't you eat frites? duh...
So this years trip to Belgium started out the same as other trips, airports, no sleep, tired as hell when you arrive etc... But once you put down in Belgium, and it is April, it all seems to be alright. You are in the center of the cycling universe after all, in the grandest of months ever. H3, Flanders, Roubaix (I know this is in France, but it has cobbles and it is in April, and I am writing this...), just the 3 greatest races of the year. Specifically, Flanders. But, we will get to that in a bit.
"I am going to eat a pound of frites every day while I am here!"
Our trip started with Amsterdam airport, and a high speed car drive down to Belgium. We had decided after the Brussels bombing, that maybe going through Amsterdam was the right thing to do. Turned out to be a good decision as the airport was still not open. Global politics and religious fanaticism are complicated topics, but no matter what we are all with the people of Belgium when we say that a catastrophe like that will not stop us. Belgium does not deserve this.
We arrived in Brugge at the team hotel, Liz immediately took a nap. I do not know how she does that. If I sleep when I get somewhere, I am screwed for days. No, better to gut it out and stay awake for that day insuring sleep when the night comes. A quick trip to Service Course to sort out bikes and we were all set for the week.
Shake down ride. Lost a little bit, but still the ride that convinced Liz that it would be ok to do the Flanders Sportive.
Liz had herself convinced that she was not going to do the Granfondo. But, the day before we went for a little shakedown ride. Dirk said "go out of town, left right left and then find the little roads in the forest." We did that, found the little roads and all and then of course ended up in a place where we did not know where we were. Found our way back, and Liz said, "ok, I will do it..." And there it was.
I got to introduce the new partner level sponsor with the team that day. CA Technologies joins the Trek - Segafredo team as an important sponsor position. They will be providing software to help manage the team and the product development with the team. It will be a great addition.
CA technologies will be a great addition to the team!
Long lost kid!
Liz was out on a little run in the forest and posted a picture of a castle in the woods. Tagged with Brugge and thought nothing more of it. A few minutes later, she received a note from Lukas, our former foreign exchange student from Germany, "Are you in Belgium? So am I!" He hoped a train and a few hours later, we were all sitting at our favorite little pub in Brugge eating dinner, having a beer and frites and talking about all the good times we have had around the world together. Wisconsin, Canada, Germany, France and now Belgium. Wowza, the world it is a small place.
It was really great to see Lukas and his girlfriend Sarah. Fun in Brugge.
This is the 2ndd reason we are in Belgium. Flanders - Granfondo. Okay, maybe the 3rd - oh wait, the 4th. Frites - Beer - Flanders - Granfondo. Yep, something like that. I mean, come on frites are made of potato and fried in oil! How can you top that?
We all headed out together, but Liz peeled off and did the 75k ride. She figured that 75k of climbs and cobbles is enough for her. She made the right choice. Flanders is hard. I just did the 130k ride, and I can tell you that it is enough. I am not sure how pros can do 260k of that. I guess that is why they are pro's and we are not.
Chad Brown from Trek took most of the pictures. He is mister camera. I never have to worry about pictures while riding if I am riding with Chad. Anyway, enjoy.
Our group, minus Liz as she had already peeled off. Tim V, Elle, Matt, me, Chad, Freddie, Tim H. Yes, we all called each other and decided to dress alike.
Yes, that is Matt dropping me on a cobbled climb. Probably the most common site for the day.
The whole thing does just make you smile!
We all know what happened in the race by now. Of course I am extremely proud to have been with Fabian at 7 of his 13 Flanders races. Also proud to say that for 4 of those he was on the podium. Wow, what a record there. I do not know if it is true, but he must have the most successful record with that race of all time. He is a hero for sure.
Since the crowd was so big during the granfondo, there was too many times that you had to put your foot down on the cobbles to make it up the hill. liz and I both were not satisfied with that so we went out the day after the race to get over the cobble sections on our own. We were mostly successful with that, but I will tell you that it is not easy. A new Domane makes it better, but it is ROUGH and your internal engine will be redlined to get up.
I already cannot wait until next year. Flanders and Belgium in April is the greatest place to be as a cyclist.
Liz getting up over the Patterberg, and not even in the gutter!
I went to Luxembourg to see my friend Andy Schleck at his new store. It is awesome. He did a great job opening one of the nicest Trek stores in all of Europe.
These guys figured out what to do with their dads old jerseys.
So, every year I do this silliness of publishing my goals. They are just a listing of things that I want to accomplish by the end of the year or be able to look back on at the end of the year. Some are big, that have been on my list for a while, some are small.
So, without a whole lot of preamble (which I know is not like me), here they are:
1. Take Liz to a non cycling vacation. You know, something like a beach or hike a mountain, or look at pengiuns or... 2. See Pearl Jam minimum of 3 times. They did announce a tour for 2016, so odds are pretty good that I can make this happen. 3. Ride Strada Bianchi citizen race. Not sure I can plan on the longer one, but the shorter should be fine. 4. Ride Whistler. I think Liz will will do this with me... It was actually my Christmas present from her. 5. Ride Fruita. This is probably an easy lob over the net, as it is already on the calendar. 6. Do a MTB trip with Lloyd in the Alps. I have made it the last years, but I do not want to miss it.
7. Wave at all cyclists that I see. 8. Drink more water. I should be drinking 116oz per day. 9. Get rid of all the junk in our basement. We made a good start, but damn there is alot of junk. I really want to get it to a family that needs it, or kids that need the games or just do something worthwhile with it. It is all just sitting in closets down there. 10. Get rid of junk in garage. Some of the stuff could go somewhere to someone who needs it more than me, but if alot of it could go it would at least make me feel better. 11. Do a Trek Travel trip. 12. Take Liz and girls to NYC Liz has been all over the world, but not to NYC. 13. Build 2 sets of sew up wheels for my CX bike. 14. Ride State Championship CX race 15. Ride National Championship CX race - maybe. 16. Ride Copper Harbor at least once. 17. Ride Marquette 18. Ride Duluth 19. Ride 3 MTB Enduro races (Spirit Mt., CH, and something in Colorado) 20. Ride 2 GNCC races 21. Ride 2 IXCR races 22. Ride Loose Moose Enduro 23. Go on trail ride trip with Pete Laubmeier 24. Build loop at cabin for MC training 25. Ride a race with Russel 26. Ride a race with Noah. I fear he has given up on me.
27. Drink only great beer. Life is too short for mediocre beer.
28. Read 5 personal books. 29. Read 3 professional books.
30. Donate all of my old books to someone that could make use of them.
31. Find a good charity that I can align with. 32. Volunteer somewhere. 33. Preseason off-road training camp in late March before S. Carolina GNCC 34. Put together the plan to climb Kilimanjaro with Liz 35. Help Ali n Thomas with their house. Not sure what part they will take on this summer, but I hope to make a better showing this year than last year. 36. Finish Birkibiener ski race, did it last year but so far I am not feeling as ready. 37. Do more night rides. 38. Publish a dance video from traveling. 39. Build a 2 stroke. Maybe a 205XC. Hopefully I can give someones a try first. 40. Go to a World Cup DH race. 41. Go to a World Cup XC race. 42. Go to a WEC MTB Enduro 43. Go to Flanders and Roubaix pro race 44. Ride Flanders citizen race 45. Ride Roubaix citizen race 46. Go to a World Cup CX race. 47. Help to get a trail in from Nordic Ridge to the Camba trails 48. Outfit my truck to camp in the back. 49. Ride my MTB at a trail network that I have never ridden at before. 50. Visit Hanna and Adam at least 3 times this year. 51. Visit my father 52. Visit my mother in Arkansas 53. See my sister 54. Visit my brother in Dallas
So 2 days ago, Pearl Jam announced a big North American tour. (I guess not that big, it's only 18 cities. Are you frigging kidding me? 18 cities? Can you imagine the logistical undertaking of 18 city tour? Trains, buses, trucks, cars, airplanes, staff, crew, media, PR, handlers, sets, lights, sound equipment, wardrobe - flannel shirts and jeans -, oh and of course the guys).
But seriously, why are all these people not in front of their computer planning and sorting logistics for 5 or 6 shows they want to go to? They only have like 12 hours and then they will have to have their choices in. OMG!!!!! I cannot hardly sleep or do anything else.
I don't know about you, but I am not planning to leave the house until it's all sorted. Ok, let's see, Florida or Greenville or Quebec City, or Chicago... No sorting that, just get them all.
It is hard to believe that a year has come and gone. I literally just got comfortable with writing 2015. I mean, think about it you had to keep reminding yourself to scribble a 5 after the 1 instead of a 4. After today, I will have to remind myself that I need to write a 6 after the 1 instead of the 5 that I was reminding myself to write vs. the 4 that my brain wanted to keep writing. Not even sure what to say about the 3. (Math is hard you know.)
I usually take today to look back at the year, vs. tomorrow that will be all about looking forward - just keep trying to see around the bend or around the magicians curtain to see what is coming. As I sit here now writing this, I am watching it snow on our deck in Cable, while drinking an Amante coffee from Boulder, typing on a computer linked up to the world wide interwebs. The world is a funny place.
Before we get caught up talking about coffee and burritos and the general merits of tire size or if a pizza is an appropriate thing to eat for breakfast or which PJ song is the best, I think we ought to take a look back on some things that did or did not happen for the year. I also want you to know that I will not mention Donald Trump even one more time in this blog entry.
I published goals at the beginning of the year. So, let's see how I did.
Take Liz on a non-cycling vacation. I tend to be one track minded - 2 wheelers. She has tolerated that for a long time.
I am claiming a win on this one for 2 reasons. This could be thin, but first we went to Japan/Korea in January of last year. In Japan we took a tour of Tokyo and we saw a Sumo wrestling match. Secondly, we went to Boulder in November and did not even take cycling gear. We hiked and did Boulder city things.
Yes. That is what it is like!
See, no bike or bike gear in the picture at all.
Also, no bike gear in the picture.
See Pearl Jam. Rumors of a 25th anniversary concert.
- I definitely failed at this one. There were about 15 concerts that they put on in 2015. I tried to get tickets to NYC, but when I failed there I did not chase tickets to South America.
Ride the Strade Bianche citizen race.
We got this one in. What a great ride. Beautiful because it is Italy, the pizza is great and wine of course. The white roads of Tuscany are amazing to ride on. I also think that the pro race the day before is one of the most beautiful of the year.
A lot of the scenery looks like this. It is an amazing place to ride a bike.
If you ever get the chance, it is completely worth it.
Make a decision on our house. Keep it or sell it.
We do revisit this one way to much, but we have made a decision not to sell it. Too much effort.
Ride Moab or Whistler or Fruita or something iconic
I clearly failed this one. We did ride in a lot of great places, Copper Harbor, Duluth, Marquette, Brown County, Chequameon etc… but I failed at getting us to one of the iconic places noted. We already have it planned for 2016, but that does not count.
Do a MTB trip with Lloyd.
I got this one in, and it was amazing. Click the picture below to get to the story. I hope to get this one in every year.
My annual ride partners, Lloyd and Ben. The best days of riding every year for me.
Lots of this sort of thing happens in the Alps.
Learn to take tight switchback turns on my Slash. This was on my goals last year, and I failed. So...it remains.
I would not say I am expert, but much much better than last year. It will make it to the 2016 goals though, as it is still a work in progress.
Wave at all cyclists that I see.
I do not think I hit 100%, but I know I got close. I almost always say hey, or wave or something.
Drink more water. I should be drinking 116oz per day.
I had such a great start. I completely failed this though. 2016 goal.
Get rid of all the junk in our basement.
OMG. You should see all the junk in our basement. If you could burn that without burning the whole house down, that is for sure what I would do.
Do a road bike trip. I do like riding my road bike, and more importantly it is what Liz really really likes.
I am claiming a win here. Strada Bianchi was a great road trip, see #1.
Master small and medium double jumps on my mountain bike.
This will remain, because I put the word master in there (that was stupid). I can get them, but I am not a master.
Learn to wheelie on both my favorite mountain bikes and my motorcycle. I have said before that this is a genetic skill. I am going to take the year and learn to wheelie, or at least just about kill myself trying. By the end of the year, I will either wheelie or it will be a lost cause.
Sadly, this is a lost cause. I cannot wheelie, and I never will be able to. I guess this will have to finally come off the list.
Take Liz and the girls to New York City. Liz has been all over the world, but not to NYC.
Change all my mountain bikes to 1X drive systems. Time to move into 2012.
Not a front der. in site. Other than road bikes, there isn't one in my world any more. Good riddance I say.
Ride Copper Harbor.
Win. It is such an amazing place.
I don't know if it is true or not, but it should be.
You do not need a bike this big there, but it sure makes it fun.
Ride at least 3 MTB Enduro races.
Failed here, as I only got one in. 3 will go onto my list for next year though as they are a crazy amount of fun.
Copper Harbor terrain is crazy fun. I cannot wait until the Enduro there next year.
Ride a race with Noah.
Failed. I wanted to, and I asked, but it also did not happen.
Ride a race with Russel.
Came close on this one, as I did not make it to an early GNCC, and that is where this is going to happen.
Drink only great beer.
Win! The amount of bad beer that I have poured out somewhere is appalling.
There is some really good stuff in there.
Ride the State Championship CX race in Wisconsin.
For the first time, I was able to do it. It was great fun, and it will stay on the list for 2016.
It does not look like fun, but wow was it ever. I guess being in the old guy class can be fun.
Amazing that these 2 photos were separated by just 1 week. One of them should have been fun, but as you can see wasn't.
Read 5 personal books.
Read 3 professional books.
Get more involved with my community. Give time, get involved with a local cause directly. Find a good charity that we can align with.
partially got this done. I could claim that I am vicariously through Liz, but that isn’t really fair.
Preseason off-road training camp in late March before South Carolina GNCC .
Ride the Loose Moose Enduro.
Got this done. It was amazing fun, but I didn’t do as well as I would like. Next year it will be on the list, and I will do better.
Crazy fun terrain. Everything about the UP makes me excited.
Finish on the podium at Ironman GNCC in my class. In 2011, I was 4th at Ironman GNCC, then 5th at the first Loretta’s and won the 2nd Loretta’s race. In 2012 I notched a 6th at Ironman and then 5th at Loretta’s. In 2013 I came 5th at Ironman. In 2014 I was again 4th at Ironman. Close, but not quite there.
Still failing at this one. Another 5th this year.
The clean up is the same regardless of placing.
Learn to use the rear brake while using the throttle on my 250F. I am still struggling with this skill. I think it is imperative for me to get this skill if I have any hope of winning a GNCC race.
Maybe this is my problem, or I am just old.
Master flat corners on my 250F.
Get one of those really cool Bluetooth phone devices that allow you to walk along in the airport talking to yourself out loud. You look so cool while doing that.
Do all of my Christmas shopping from Sky Mall catalog.
Does this even exist any more?
Get a Babelfish installed. This whole multiple language thing has me baffled.
Put together the plan to climb Kilimanjaro with Liz.
Liz is not as motivated as I thought she would be be.
Help Ali and Thomas build a garage.
Technically I helped, but in the end I was not that much help. It took them all summer to get it done, but I was only able to help 3 or 4 days.
Finish my first Birkebeiner ski race in 10 years.
I did get this done. I wasn’t very fast though.
#6 Birkie for me. I haven't done one in a while, and my time shows that. Can you say slow?
Make 3 dance videos while traveling.
I made all 3, but I did not publish. I should get around to that.
Make my bed every day.
Cut as much sugar out of my diet as I can. Sugar is the new boogieman.
Still a work in progress.
Build a little 2-stroke for tight woods races.
Built it, hated it, sold it. Live and learn.
I built it, I rode it, I hated it, I sold it. Turns out, I really only can ride one motorcycle very well. Kinda limited that way.
Go to a World Cup DH race.
Go to a World Cup XC race.
Go to a WEC MTB Enduro.
Go to Flanders and Roubaix pro races.
I was at Flanders, but not Roubaix.
The rest of my goals were work-related, and although they were relevant and important, I keep those to the appropriate circles at work.
I don't think that is a very good result. For next year, I am going to make a concerted effort to get it right. Maybe the goals should be easier...
I used to say Cyclocross was dumb. I mean... think about it@! You ride effectively a road bike on terrain that isn't really mountain bike terrain, but is really far from road bike terrain. My sensibilities around socks had me really struggling with how to treat the whole experience, if you do not remember those sock thoughts - check it out HERE.
I mean seriously... do you wear mountain bike gear, even though you are on a road bike? Do you wear road gear when maybe you are actually on a tame mountain bike ride? What length socks do you wear? What about the helmet, road or mountain? Of course, then you find yourself wondering if maybe you should be on disk brakes, because those things they call brakes on regular Cyclocross brakes are not seriously going to provide some sort of stopping type activity. You might as well plan to use your foot on the top of the from tire, just be careful you do not stick your toes in between the fork and the tire, that can leave a nasty mark - all over the place.
But somewhere in the goofiness of trying to ride a road bike with things that are almost brakes on a slippery grassy field over barricades that you could easily bunny hop on a MTB (yet scare the crap out of you on your Road/CX bike), and when you jump off to run up a muddy or sandy or flight of stairs hill while your heart rate is bouncing off the rev limiter, you kinda decide it is in a sort of weird way - kinda fun. I mean a little like biting a lemon makes you pucker and squirm at first, but the tastes good later, sorta kinda.
Clearly, the tires fault. I can tell you though, that this is pretty much impossible to save.
Plus, the beauty of an amateur CX race is that they are only 30-45 minutes long. I feel like you can do anything for 30, minutes. Trust me on that. I have said that many times. (Along with "Math is hard", but that is another story).
At this point, I really like the silliness of CX. I really enjoy tearing through a wet grassy field searching for cornering traction. I like living on the edge of staying upright or tumbling across the grass. I like that my drivetrain sometimes gets so frozen or muddy that I am a stuck in the gear I am in. (I use disc brakes though, I am not that daft, I want to be able to stop after all.) I love it when during a muddy race the ruts get deep and it is hard to get back into your pedals. Pedal slip, pedal slip... Hey, everyone out there is struggling with the same things, there is no real magic to getting it right.
This year I was really busy with other things, and did not start doing any CX riding much less racing until the 2nd to last weekend of the season. (Don't judge me). So when the weekend to get started did come around, I ponied up and did 4 races on that weekend (mostly because there wasn't a 5th available). Because, you can get all your CX fitness in one weekend. I only fell twice, but one of them over some tires was spectacular.
Warm up for the State CX Championships. Hmmm. I cannot tell if it is going to be slippery in some way or not.
I had said to myself that this year was a write off. I was just going to do a few races and then next year I would try to win the state championships in my age group. No pressure, just go do some races and have fun. Maybe dress up in a cow outfit, and bring a megaphone to the races and take the bacon or whiskey hand ups at the top of the hill. You know, just giggle a lot.
That was all going really well. I hadn't shaved, I was drinking plenty of beer, I was doing my best to eat my share of frites and jerky and I was being careless with my tire pressure. You know, all the stuff that actually insures your results. Which, as it turns out is exactly the preparation you need for Cyclocross.
As I said, the effort to giggle a lot was going really well, and I went to the State Championship with one thought in mind - where is the bacon? Then a funny thing happened. In the state championship race, the guy leading the race kinda went slow up the hill and I found myself off the front by myself. So given it was a short race (which was the only condition ever that in my current beer infused fitness would create a situation that would ever have me contemplating gassing it), I gassed it. I gassed it and ended up finishing off the front, by myself. Yep, there you have it, the accidental state championship!
Fastest old slow guys!
So the disclaimer... It is the slow old guy class, and I mean really old guy class. I am legitimately of that age and in that class, and I did go fastest on that day, but I am not quitting my day job. Nonetheless I am thinking of taking on that Sven Nys guy, he is getting old also.
Now, I just have to figure out what to do next season. After all, I accidentally achieved one of the goals that was being formulated to feature on next years goals list. Hmmm. I guess the only thing left to do is train a lot, over prepare and stress about next years race, and then go and finish 4th.
Time for some real CX training. If a little beer makes you state champion of slow guys, I wonder what a lot of beer can do?
Sometimes you say things outloud and then wonder what you were thinking. Sort of like when I say something to my wife like “Those pants make you look really thin…” As you are saying it, you wish you could stop the words in mid-air so that they never reached her ear. You already know that you have stuck your entire Nike into your mouth and laces are going to get caught in your throat. I mean, the natural reaction to that statement from any female in the world is “So my other pants are unable to make my fat rear look slim?” There is no amount of back pedaling that will get you out of that situation. You have bought yourself a ticket to regretting the decisions you have made that entire day. No amount of wine or dinners out or thoughtful actions that weekend can dig you out of that situation. She now owns a full on red card with your name on it.
Wisconsin in the fall is an amazing place. The hills and trails in the Cable area hold my fascination now.
I live in Wisconsin. Yep, it is a flyover state. I still remember the day that I told her I had a job there and we were moving. I can still remember the look on her face. I also remember the day after we had moved out of Madison to a small town closer to work when she was in tears because I had moved her to that horrible place. But, in spite of all of that we are still there. We are still in that house in the small town in Wisconsin, because it absolutely rocks.
Ever wonder why the laces are shorter on one side of the pair of Converse you have on?
I love living in Wisconsin. There, I said it. I have no regrets no lingering angst about those words living on in cyber space. Wisconsin kicks ass. I mean sure, there are some bad things (Winter that will not end, Scott Walker, you cannot fly anywhere directly out of Madison, Taxes… to name the worst things that come to mind). But, there are so many great things that make up for it. If you are an outdoor person, there are only a few other places in the US that rank as high.
Liz being Liz in front of the DH course at Copper Harbor. I love this place.
The cycling kicks. The road cycling is amazing. There are just roads everywhere. Wisconsin MTB riding is really on the rise. There are so many great places to ride, and the list keeps getting longer. If you are into MTB XC racing, we have the WORS series (known as the largest participant series in the USA). Wisconsin does not have any mountains, but up along Lake Superior the hills are almost mountains and there are a number of great Enduro MTB riding spots. The Cyclocross racing is amazing. Every city seems to have a CX race in the state series. If you are inclined, you can race CX every weekend from Sept – Dec, sometimes both days on the weekend. I feel like the cycling is way on the plus side for Wisconsin.
As you have figured out by now, I race offroad motorcycles as well. From April 1 to the end of Sept, we have racing and riding every weekend here. Not huge fields, but an enthusiastic community for sure. Between the Harescrambles races and the Enduro’s there is a lot of racing to do. In addition to the racing, the northern part of the state is covered in forest and has plenty of places to ride your offroad bike. If you get tired of racing in the same small district, you can just go down to Indiana to the south and race till the cows come home.
We have CX here in Wisco. Lot's of it. Sometimes it can be a bit slick, but dang fun.
The UP is just north of us. It is about 5 hours from Madison and I can be in the U.P. If you have been there, you know exactly what I am saying. If not, you cannot imagine just how gtreat things are there. It is out in the woods paradise. I am not a hunter, but I am ready to get back into fly fishing between the U.P. and northern Wisconsin there is just amazing places to go.
Madison has amazing restaurants and Barriques Coffee. Milwaukee is one of the great undiscovered cities in the USA. It has Café Benelux with the best frites outside of Belgium and Collectivo Coffee. Wsconsin Craft beer scene is amazing. The University in Madison is one of the truly great places in the state. The lakes in Madison area awesome. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are great lakes (Ha, see how I did that?).
If you like winter sports, get your jacket on. We have small DH ski hills, no mountains after all, so you can get your ski legs under you before you head to the mountains to ski. But, we make up for the lack of mountains with the best XC skiing in the country. Seriously. If you are into doing ski races you can get one in just about every weekend all winter. Lots of ski clubs and again a great community to get involved with. If you are into snowmobiles, look no further than northern Wi. It is the kind of place that the restaurant that you.
Fall is waning. Winter is coming - John Snow.
But beyond all the great places and things in Wisconsin, the best part about it is the people. People there are friendly, humble, honest and down to earth. It isn’t about having the latest car or current fashion. It is about your community. It is the kind of place that you know your neighbors. Where there is a neighborhood get together on the street or the fire pit in someone’s back yard. It is the kind of place where you do not stress if you remembered to lock the door or not. It is the kind of place where your neighbors will bring your trash cans to the street if you have forgotten.
I wish we had mountains but you can fly to those, remember – winter will be over eventually, and don’t worry there will be an election eventually also.