Sunday, December 29, 2013

'Cross the Pond VII: Namur World Cup & Meeting Sven!

Here is my article for CycloCross Magazine published on Tuesday, December 24th 2013.



This is my 3rd trip in Belgium to race Cyclocross, and this place continues to throw curve balls at me. Last year I attended EuroCrossCamp as a rookie to the ways of Belgian racing and the camp taught me more than can be expressed in this post. My most recent trip was much longer and the opportunities to learn were even more so. As I said however, Belgium Cyclcross will always throw you a curve ball whether or not you're prepared.

I've been looking forward to Namur all season, especially since it was a Wold Cup for juniors this year and out of all the 'Cross courses I have done this is my favorite. Almost all Belgian courses are infamously brutal but Namur is, to quote Sven Nys himself, "Something special". It is a course so hard Sven regards it with wary respect, so hard that it pushes the limits of a sport that is about pushing limits. Why? well for one it only has two directions, straight up or straight down. Second there is very few places on the course where you aren't going all out. Thirdly the mud takes away what little control you have on the sheer drop-offs and off-cambers. And finally Namur boasts one of the longest and steepest run ups in 'Cross just to makes sure you're hurting enough. Doing EuroCamp for the second time is a great opportunity for me to do Belgian courses that I am familiar with. It is a big difference jumping on a course knowing what to expect, especially when what you expect is insanity on and off the bike.

The morning of Namur Geoff woke Gavin, Lance, Cooper, Peter, Austin, and myself up at 5:15 in order to make the half hour drive over to the course in time for pre-riding and warm up for our 10:00 race. Of course in Belgium, the sun doesn't rise until about 8:00, so we were pre-riding in the dark. Other than a few switch-backs added in and thinner, more slippery mud the course was pretty much the same as last year. It was really fun doing the course and being able to feel how much I have improved. both technically and physically from last year.

There was a rather large pile up just 100 meters into the race that affected all of the American juniors, some worse than others with Cooper getting the worst of it, breaking his front wheel. After being delayed for an agonizingly long ten seconds, I started to work my way back up through the ranks, going back and forth with my team mate Gavin. Two and a half laps in I was getting back in my groove other and picking off riders bit by bit when I made that one tiny mistake. A rider swept out my front wheel and I caught myself on my hands for a nice covering of slick mud... instead of wiping it off on my shorts, I shook the bulk of it off and resumed racing normally, leaving a slippery film on my hands. a few minutes later I took the same risky line down an already steep and dangerous hill that I had both laps before, only this time my hands slipped off my drops, throwing my weight forward violently and catapulting me into a front flip from which I land my left shoulder blade straight onto a root. I rolled several times down the hill bruising and cutting up my legs.

After the initial shock of the pain, my first thought was to grab my bike and pull it out any oncoming riders who might hit it and crash as well. Then I moved my shoulder and felt that something was definitely out of place. I moved my arm around to make sure that nothing was broken, jumped on my bike, and started riding the course with one arm on the bars and the other on my chest. It was one of the more painful races of my life and I'll be the first one to admit I cried a bit... but dropping out of a World cup willingly was out of the question. I made it till one to go before the officials pulled me.

On a much brighter note, today all the EuroCrossCamp kids and I had the honor of getting a Q & A session with the world champion Sven Nys. Meeting him in person was a great experience and all of of got to ask arguably the greatest 'Cross racer of all time any question we wanted. He is the embodiment of a true champion. Confident, Humble, and disciplined... I learned a lot from him in just half an hour. Big thanks goes out to Geoff for arranging this and Sven for taking the time out of a very busy schedule to talk to a bunch of aspiring American kids.

Despite the nasty crash (which I am healing up from very fast) ruining what would have been a great race for me, I feel more motivated than ever and very happy to be here. I will return to the next race, hungry for more...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Look Back, Koksijde 'Cross the pond VI

It's a beautiful, snowy day here in Minnesota. As I reflect on my trip to Europe, my 6 week stay in Europe was concluded by staying a week longer than Gavin and Dad, and attending the Koksijde World Cup.

Set on a air force base hugging the North Sea coast, this course boasts long stretches of deep, beach-quality sand dunes spread across climbs, descents, endless off-cambers and 180 degree turns. When the weather is dry the sand is loose and deep, causing ruts that change without notice, stopping wheels cold and bucking riders. When it’s wet, the sand clumps together, sucking energy out of your legs. Regardless, Koksijde provides racers with one of the most technically difficult courses on the world circuit. There is nothing like this in the US, it's a Belgian centric course that is often described as a "specialist course" so I was happy about having one of my better races at 21st. It must be all the snow riding I do in Minnesota. 

Now I'm back in home training in the sub zero temperatures. Gearing up for my next adventure in Belgium, as I have received the honor of being selected for the prestigious eurocrosscamp. This is a very expensive trip, so any help by donating or buying a T-shirt is really appreciated!

Thanks so much to the Segers family for being my everything over in Europe and hosting me for two weeks. You guys are the best! Thanks to RedZone Cycling for all the support this year, and huge thanks to the sponsors who have made this trip possible for Gavin and I. Lastly, thanks to all those who have and are yet to donate.
Descending the dunes Photo credit Jack Chevell
Not everything was sand, the rest of the course was dry and fast Photo credit Patricia Cristens

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hassalt Bpost & Asper-Gavere Superprestige 'Cross the pond V

This was one those weekends where I just couldn't wait to race! I learned a lot of lessons from Jaarmarketcross and was super excited to apply them in another race. Not only that, but both courses looked super fun (in a twisted sort of way).

Saturday was Hassalt and on account of it being a "long" drive at a hour and a half away (man I'm getting spoiled, it will be hard to go back to the US) Dad, Gavin, and I got up bright and early at 6:30am. That might not sound like much, but it feels way earlier in Belgium on account of it not getting light out until 8:00am. We hit a few unexpected snags and left about twenty minutes late so as a result I only had one lap to pre ride.

Photo Credit; cyclephotos.co.uk
Of all the courses to only have one lap to pre ride, this was not a good one. It was certainly not the hilliest course, definitely not the muddiest, nor the most unique. No, Hassalt is simply dangerous and lets you know right off the bat with a 180 degree corner on tar with painted cross walks right at the start. Then after just a few short straights and the first sandpit, the tightest, most technical section of the course is thrown at you. This might not sound like much, but let me tell you, 50 juniors within a minute of starting squeezed into a tight track is quite dangerous as almost anything goes in Belgium. Hassalt then throws its ace of spades at you. This ditch.
There is no "safe" way across this ditch. It's so wide running is almost more dangerous than riding. The first time across it in pre ride, I hopped it, but my back wheel slammed into the edge. I rode it again, and still my wheel slammed into it. Time was running out so it was time to move on. After that there was a few more sketchy aspects, like a corner with wet roots all over it and a set of logs that look deceptively hoppable but ground so spongy in between most everyone who tried ended up face planting into the mud.

I was pretty nervous at the start. I didn't have the course dialed in, couldn't decide whether or not to hop the ditch, wasn't sure how moving up would be possible in such a tight start, and that 180 corner was incredibly dangerous on cross tires. However, I then proceeded to have my best race yet in Europe.
I found that while the sand was ride able, I was able to pass more people running it when they inevitably messed up in front of me. Photo Credit; Patricia Cristens.

I had an okay start, there was some severe bottleneck through the tight twisty section and was forced to stop for a few seconds in places. I hopped the ditch on the first lap, but slammed my wheel super hard on edge and decided to run it for the rest of the race. The brakes on my carbon wheels were not good enough for such a twisty course, so I pitted at my first chance in favor of Ardennes. Then it was just throttle wide open and go!

Throughout the race I tried many different lines, perfecting the course throughout the race. Each lap felt faster than the previous. With two laps to go I was in 17th place, catching Gavin's group of 14th, 15th, and 16th just seconds ahead when disaster struck.

After running over the logs while putting my bike down I noticed my rear wheel wouldn't move, the chain was stuck in between my frame and little chain ring! I tried to get the chain out while running, but couldn't and started running for the pits. By the time I got a bike change I was back in the late twenties. Also, this bike had the carbon wheels with less than desirable braking and I had to relearn the course. A few minutes later Gavin had even worse luck and I saw him on the side of the course trying to put his pedal back on.

In those last two laps I worked my way all the way back up to the group of 17th. Coming around on of the final corners I opted to run around it instead of ride (fatigue has a funny way of affecting your decision making skills) and my small gap was lost. I finished 20th (out of 50) in a four way sprint for 17th, less than a minute out of the top ten.

Despite being so close to a top fifteen, possibly even a top ten, I was just happy at the finish. For the first time yet this year, I only made one or two mistakes, and if it hadn't been for a very unlucky mechanical that would have shown on paper.

With such a great race at Hassalt, I was ready to have another great race at Asper-Gavere. Alas, it was not to be. The course was amazing, if you weren't going straight down you were going straight up. It wasn't perfect for me as the day of the race it turned into a nightmarish peanut butter-like mud that made it nearly impossible to ride any of the uphills on the course. Still, with the sheer physical and technical difficulty of the course it was looking like a good day for me.

I'll cut to the chase. This start was particularly long and fast, and right before it turned to dirt there was a quick right-left. As we hit said corner in the race, going very fast, one of the kids in front of me slipped out, hit the ground hard and then proceeded to get run over by several people. I got out of the mass pile up unscathed physically, but not mentally. Through out most of the race I just wasn't all there. I couldn't focus and kept failing at routine tasks that usually are not a problem. I was scared, and just kept playing the image of that kid getting run over again and again in my head.

the super tricky uphill. Photo credit; Inne Segers
Needless to say, I had a terrible race. With to laps to go I started to shake it off and race properly, but while riding really close to the course tape I caught my shifter on a wooden post which swung me around and slammed my stomach in to the post so hard I stopped by the medical tent afterwards to make sure I didn't have any internal injuries. I finished 29th place.

It was a weekend of ups and downs and I'm determined to end my trip here on the highest note yet Saturday at the legendary Koksijde World Cup. 

Despite some frustrations, I had so much fun this weekend and am very thankful for the privilege to race such legendary courses! I can not thank all those who have supported me enough.

 Thank you HED Cycling, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, Cuore of Switzerland, Honey Stinger the Thirsty Pagan, the Skihut, Focus Bikes, and last but not least, Thank you to each and every person who has so generously supported me in the past  or recently by donating and/or buying a t-shirt. Without you, I wouldn't be able to do this.






Friday, November 15, 2013

GGEW 'Cross Cup & Soudel Neil, 'Cross the pond IV.

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of going to Germany, to race. The intent behind this was to get UCI points. Dad and I packed up the car and left Saturday morning. Besides riding into Germany a few weeks ago while at the USA house, this was my first time in the country. I had not anticipated how beautiful it would be! Flanders has it's own rugged -yet quaint- aura to it's hills and forests... Germany oozes grandoise with hidden valleys, forest, and real elevation change.

We arrived at the course saturday evening and I did a few laps to get a feel for the course, see where the lines were and what-not. Unfortunetly, this pre ride became a moot point as it rained all night... but I'm getting ahead of myself. That night we stayed at very nice hotel and had a good night's sleep, which isn't especially hard when you don't have to race until 13:20 and are ten kilometers away from the race venue.

Once arrived at the course Sunday morning, it had completely changed. In tire tread jargon, it went from a Challenge Fango, debating if one could get away with even a Chicane, to an unquestionable Limus. It was raining really hard there was standing water, and just a few degrees above freezing... needless to say these are some of the coldest possible conditions for a Cyclocross race. So I hopped on the course to take a look at what had and had not changed. The start straight was long, paved, and slightly uphill which fed into the separate finish line, directly after it went slightly downhill, turned to bricks, and took a left hand greater than 180 degree corner. After which it quickly turned right (still on bricks) into a flight of concrete stairs. This already looks like a formula for disaster (something like Rain + bricks + cyclists going fast on mud tires = high likliehood of crashes) but it gets better. Or worse depending on your perspective. After the flight of stairs the course follows a paved town street so you can build up your speed... and then goes down a flight of stairs. Yes you read that right, not up, down.

They have boards on them so it's sort of okay

After going down the stairs you feed into the grass and the rest of the course simply switchbacks back and forth across a very muddy field with a set of barriers thrown in here, going up a ditch there, Ectcetera. After preriding I was very wet so finding shelter underneath a tent with Jonathon Page to warm up was life saving.
JP and I warming up
 
I finished 7th out of 25 starters. It was dissapointing to not get any UCI points, especially with being so close to the podium... (10 seconds back entering the final lap) I was in touch of fifth place the entire race and screwed up on the last lap, (flipping on the barriers... fatigue has a funny way of messing up your judgment) in the end though, this race was about learning, not results. Initial disappointment in my result allowed me to take a step back and remember why I love riding and racing bike. It's not for a virtual point, or a number on a results sheet, or even success itself.
I love racing because it pushes me to better myself in every possible way to get that extra second.
I love Cyclocross because it's raw, primal, and rewards the tough people.
I love getting a result not for the result itself, but for it to embody all the hard work, difficult lessons, and teaching that had to come together to create that moment.
I love Cycling because it gives me freedom and the opportunity to explore the world.

Apparently it took something really painful like that result for me to learn my lesson because the next day at Soudal Neil was a blast! Dad and I drove back to the Chainstay Sunday night, got all of our equipment and clothes ready, got some sleep, and left for Neil at 8am Monday morning. Once arrived at the race venue Gavin and I immediately jumped on the course to pre-ride. It consisted of lots of tar, more running, and even more mud. 
Gavin and I. Photo Credit; Inne Segers

Pretty much my entire race experience was fun... I was much more motivated, focused, and relaxed. I had a great race. It was a small field, only about 20 juniors, but many of them had placed top ten in the Superprestiges and Bposts we have been doing. Also every one in the top 5 has actually pulled top 5 results in the other races we have done. The rider who won got away at the start, but by the end of the first lap I was in the chase group. Lap 3 I was driving the group. 
 
Covered in mud. Photo credit; Inne Segers

After reflecting on the race I realize my excitement of finally being at the front battling for the podium led to some poor tactical decisions, namely never letting myself rest on the road sections by driving the pace everywhere. I paid for this on the last lap and lost 4 spots fading from 5th-9th. 

Obviously there there was a little bit of "What if" frustration after the race, it's hard not to when I was battling for the podium at one point in the race. Mostly however, it was a huge confidence booster. I'm ready to rock for Hassalt  and Asper-Gavere.


Big thank you to the always wonderful Segers family for hosting us and taking such wonderful photos! Thank you to my Dad for always being there to help and my Mom for being ever-strong, supportive, and loving... On the team and sponsor side of things, Thank you to John Haley, HED Cycling, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, Cuore of Switzerland, Honey Stinger the Thirsty Pagan, the Skihut, and Focus Bikes!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

'Cross the pond 3; Koppenberg and Zohoven

The legendary Koppenberg... 'Cross race style! For those who don't know, the Koppenberg is a famous Cobblestone climb in the Tour of Flanders that is very steep. Koppenbergcross is a Cyclocross race that goes up part of it and then back down. I pre rode the course a couple of times the week before as it's only 7 kilometers away from the Chainstay. It's not the most technical of courses, however  what it lacks in corners it makes up for in sheer brutality. The start turns off into an extremely muddy feild, then winds through town on roads until it hits the Koppenberg. Half way up the Koppenberg it turns off, then goes downhill. You then turnback up the hill and do a brutal grassy/muddy slog fest back up again. Once at the top, you head down a hill full of switch backs into town and do it all over again.

This time, I had a slightly better starting position. 6th row instead of 9th. My start was also better than usual, by the time we hit the mud I was up in the thirties or twenties. Around the first corner, some one was running and ran into me. His bike got tangled up with mine and by the time I got going again I was back in the sixties. I made my way back up quickly enough, by lap two I was in the thirties. However the course was not technical enough for me to make up a ton of time so I placed 27th.

Zonhoven was two days later, this course was almost as tough as Koppenbergcross, and far more technical. My kind of race. The race was almost entirely sand and a large part of the course dropped into what was basically a sand pit.


My starting position was once again last call up and the start was hard to move up in, but move up I did, slowly but surely. On the second lap I moved into the top thirty. The entire race I could see a big group of riders just a little bit ahead of me, but I was never able to quite catch them. I was in 20th on the last lap, but a bobble cost me a place and I ended up 21st. I was just 36 seconds out of 15th and 1:06 out of the top ten.

Next weekend will be a race in Germany and then back to Belgium for Neil.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Experience in Europe 'Cross the Pond #2


I arrived in Europe for the Valkenburg World cup in the Netherlands. This was my first World Cup and my first time to the Netherlands. Thank you so much to Marc Gullickson for facilitating this event for all of us! Team USA stayed in Sittard at the Fitland center, a big athletic center. This was pretty close to Germany so I later rode there. The Netherlands is only slightly different from Belgium. The houses are a little bit more modern, yet still rustic. 
 
Once done with the World Cup, where I finished 32nd, It was time to set up my base camp at the Chain Stay in Oudenaarde, Belgium. My team mate Gavin Haley, my father and I will be staying here for the next three weeks to race Superprestiges and Bposts. Our first race, Ruddevoorde Superprestige was this past Sunday. The course was pretty different from most European courses I've done, it seemed like more of an American course. Twisty, grassy, and fast. The day before the race it was dry, so I got to try out my new Challenge Chicanes and was excited to race such fast tires... but the morning of it rained a bunch so to my delight it was to be a muddy race. I was the absolute last person to be called up out of 68 riders (Gavin however had UCI points and got a first row call up) but had a fantastic race and worked my way all the way up to 19th place and my team mate Gavin Haley had a excellent race placing 14th. The fields in Europe are super competitive. Everyone is fighting tooth and nail for every last place, with their legs and elbows. This was my best result so far in Europe, and a great first result for Gavin. It's a very positive way to start our campaign. Thanks so much to our Belgian mechanic and friend, Tom Segers for guiding us through the racing scene over here!
Post Ruddevoorde


Belgium isn't so different from my home town of Duluth. Just more amplified... More rain, more clouds, more wind. However, my first week in Belgium was surprisingly sunny, warm, and pleasant. This past week I have been occupying myself with exploring the town of Oudenaarde and riding parts of the Tour of Flanders. I've found some pretty cool stuff so far.
Cool buildings....City hall on the market in Oudenaarde
Good food.in a resturaunt at the top of the Oude Kwaremont
And famous rides like the Koppenburg

Belgian people have a whole different attitude about their history. They take pride in it, take care of it, and show it off for everyone to see. There are no run down buildings here, and no trash in yards or streets. The streets are smaller than I remember, the hedges more elaborate.

The city centers in Belgium are amazing too. Each one is unique with it's own history. It seems like around every corner and down each tiny alley is some new place selling something different. 
 
Koppenbergcross is Friday and Zonhoven is Sunday. From watching footage of past races, both appear to be brutal. The former is set on the hillside of the infamous Koppenberg and Zonhoven is almost entirely sand, and hills

It's an exceptionally sunny day here in Oudenaarde so it's time for me to go out and do some training, preriding the Koppenberg... and maybe stop for a chocolate croissant at a cafe.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

'Cross the pond #1; Valkenburg World Cup

I arrived in Belgium at 8:30am CET. I was tired and stressed from being stuck in a tube with a bunch of sick people for 8 hours. I just wanted to get my bags and leave but I guess that just isn't how it was meant to be. I grabbed my luggage and wheel box at the baggage claim and waited anxiously for my bike box to arrive... it never did. I can't describe the feeling of dread a cyclist gets when he or she finds out their bikes are missing... After speaking to the airport officials I was informed that my bikes were still in the USA and would be flown over the following morning. Realizing there was nothing more to do, I went through security and into the pickup area of the Brussels airport. Maxx Chance -one of the other juniors on the National Team- was waiting for me and soon David Lombardo (another Junior) and Marc Gullickson (the MTB and CX program director for USAC) arrived. We drove to USA Cycling's house in the Netherlands and got settled in. Thanks to Tom Segers I was able to get my bikes the next day.
After that whole Fiasco, it was all about physically and mentally preparing for my first race in Europe, the World Cup!

Once race day came around on Sunday, I was a little nervous. But excited! I had pre rode the course Saturday. It was very hard, hilly, and technical.

For this one race, my UCI points from nationals last year would count so I had a second row start. In Europe instead of counting down till the start, there is a light. at any time it can flash from green to yellow. It's a very nerve racking and intense way to start... and all the more nerve racking for me this time. As I start, the rider next to me swerves and his pedal jams into my spokes, stopping me just when I desperately need to be going! When I hit the first corner, I was dead last out of 64 people.

The rest of the race was a game of catch up. I wasn't really feeling fast, so most of the ground I made up was in the technical sections, of which there were plenty. It was a game of put your head down and go. I crossed the line 32nd place, a disappointing four and a half minutes behind the winner. Maxx took 27th and David 35th.


Despite the frustrating race, I had a lot of fun. Plus, it was an incredible honor to represent my county in the first World Cup.

Later I enjoyed some great rides, and got to visit my 5th country, Germany!

Big thanks to Patricia for the excellent photo, Tom for all the help,

HED Cycling, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, Cuore of Switzerland, the Thirsty Pagan, the Skihut, Intelligentsia Coffee, Focus Bikes, and my newest sponsor, Honey Stinger!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Providence CX Festival, the First UCI Race.

Now is when my Cyclocross season truly starts. October has come, faster than expected and more vividly than imagined. Providence is the first of only 3 races I will do in the US from here out. The rest are in Europe, according to the plan... this thought refuses to cease blowing my mind, yet I don't even think it has even fully hit me.
Providence is a huge, prestigious event that finishes off the 'Cross "holy week" on the east coast. It is hosted in the city of Providence Rhode Island and is arguably the biggest race in America besides CrossVegas. More importantly to the other Juniors and I, this is the very first UCI race for the 17-18 category in North America. The only opportunity to snag some points in the USA before the first World Cup (which is in a week as I write this, when did that happen?) and for me, most likely the only UCI race I'll do here besides National Championships.
This inherently created a high pressure environment for myself coming into this race, albeit a unavoidable one. What I mean is I had a really hard time not viewing this as my only chance to get some UCI points. This thought is totally inaccurate of course, every single race but two on my schedule are UCI races, they'll just be harder to place in as they will be the competitive European fields. Harder but by no means undo-able.
However, I knew that I can't put that much pressure on such an early season race. So I gritted my teeth and did my best to stay cool and keep the pressure off.

I flew from Minneapolis with Dad to the small providence airport late Thursday night. Our flight was suppose to have arrived 4 hours earlier but there was unexpected maintenance on our airplane and the airport had to find a new plane on short notice. Luckily we flew Thursday and not Friday! 
Once safely landed, Gavin and John Haley picked us up, having endured the long 15 hour drive from Louisville in their van since the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately we had a great place to stay, some close family friends of ours, the Miners. They lived just 40 minutes away from the course and offered to host us for the weekend. I hadn't seen them in a while, so not only did we have a super comfortable weekend but I got the chance to hang out with some good friends!

Friday morning Gavin, myself, and our dads loaded up the van and drove to the course. Before we prerode, we picked up some stuff I have been looking forward to for a while, Our awesome new Lazer Helmets and Cuore of Switzerland cycling kits!

Gavin & I posing in the Miner's backyard. 
We kitted up and jumped on the course for the brief one hour pre-ride window. It was fast, wide, and fairly technical due to a few interesting course features and the sheer speed of the ridden in grassy surface. In short, a quintessentially American course. The most unique aspect of it besides the obstacles was the start-finish, which was slightly uphill and curved to the left. This reflected the surprising amount of elevation change on venue, which I definitely liked. No actual hills, but enough punchy bumps to make the course physically challenging. There was three obstacles, a set of barriers on a slight downhill with a very fast approach, a short 5 meter long wooden staircase, and finally the most intriguing obstacle of the three, two sets of square wooden barriers on a twisty uphill that you had the option of either riding or running. Overall, it was a very fun, fast & flowing course. Not my style but I still looked forward to racing it.

Riding the the first set of the double obstacles in the race Sunday. Photo credit; Joe miner

Day 1

Gavin and I got the rare opportunity of sleeping in on race day since we didn't race until 2:30pm... I had hoped for some east coast rain but had no such luck.
The course was dusty from races the night before and loose dirt added some technical aspect to it. After riding a lap or two, Gavin and I warmed up on our trainers.

Then it was time to head to the start and ride around until call ups began. I was called up to first row, and Gavin was third row. I had an okay start and Gavin's was great. Half way through the first lap we were both in the front group.

Gavin & I in the 9 man lead group, lap 1. Photo credit; Joe miner
On lap two the group started to break up and a gap started to form. Gavin was gone, while at the time I had no idea why, I later found that he rolled his tire and DNF'ed.
Two other riders and I worked together to catch back up to the lead group on lap three. We caught up to them on the start finish stretch and I was in the front group for half of lap four but was separated on the run by a handful of seconds. I quickly closed down the gap that lap.
By the start of the fifth lap (one to go!) The front group had been whittled down to just five riders plus myself. Coming around a sweeping corner another rider and I got a a little to close and bumped for a split second... On a fast course like this though, that's all it takes. We both were split from the group, and I found myself just a three agonizingly long seconds of seconds behind him, In 6th.

Nano-seconds before the collision... Photo credit; Joe miner
Towards the end of the lap one of the riders in the front group broke his chain. This put me back in 5th place so all I had to do was hold my position for one lap, and I would have UCI points. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Maxx Chance caught me from behind. We worked together to try and catch fourth, still just seconds ahead but it was an uneasy alliance, we knew we were battling for UCI points and that makes it hard to work together. Especially when you're on the last lap. Still, it was worth it since we were so close and could clearly see 4th was suffering.
With half a lap to go I put in put in a slightly desperate attack to try and get away. I went through a few corners leading into the run up hot. Riding the run up I took the outside line but Maxx was still close enough behind me to simply slip by me and run in front of me, preventing me from getting away. My half-hearted attempt neutralized, I sat on his wheel, physically and mentally preparing for the sprint.

We hit the pavement sprinting... I came around him into the line... a second too late! It was probably one of my better sprints but Maxx is an excellent sprinter. So I missed 5th place by a split second for the third time. Bittersweet.

Day 2

I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of rain. It wasn't much, but when we got to the course it was a little greasy. I lined up in the same position as the first day, as did Gavin. We both had a pretty identical start to the previous day. Because of the lack of traction, the front group broke up quickly. Peter, Austin, and Cooper slipped away off the front on the first lap. 
Gavin came by me in the first half a lap or so, and I latched on to his wheel as we moved through the traffic. We got into the top ten and then Gavin separated from me a little on the run up. He stayed seconds ahead of me for the rest of the race.
I kept steadily working my way up through the field until I caught the riders I would ultimately finish with, Maxx & David Lombardo. Collectively the three of us were in 6th place, trying to catch 5th place, who was a little behind Gavin. We worked together but when the bell for one lap to go was rung, we still hadn't caught 5th. Ethan Reynolds also caught up to us on the last lap. By the time we came into the finish it was a four way sprint for 6th place. Ethan won the sprint, and I finished 9th. Gavin scored a point finishing 4th!


Despite the frustrations, I had fun, learned from my mistakes, and am super happy my team mate Gavin had a good race.

Big thank you to the always wonderful Miner family for hosting us and taking such wonderful photos! Thank you to my Dad for always being there to help and my Mom for being ever-strong, supportive, and loving... On the team and sponsor side of things, Thank you to John Haley, HED Cycling, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, Cuore of Switzerland, the Thirsty Pagan, the Skihut, and Focus Bikes!

 

 


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trek CXC Cup

It's good to finally be Cyclocross racing! I've attended the Sun Prairie USGP race for the past two years, and wasn't about to pass up doing the renamed and relocated Trek CXC Cup. Our truck broke down on Friday, so there was no chance to pre-ride the course, but I got in a few laps before my race Saturday. It was super exciting to race with my new team mate and good friend, Gavin Haley! The course was fast, bumpy, and full of turns. This made the Challenge Fango ideal. There was a run up on the course that was very challenging, but you could ride it. Also the barriers were perfect for hopping.
Photo credit; Roxanne King, CyclingRox.

On Saturday my start was mediocre, it was a shock to my system as I hadn't been racing much. By the first corner on the course I was about 6th wheel. Gavin was at the front getting the hole shot. It took me half a lap to catch up to Gavin, and we worked together taking turns pulling. We went across the line together with our hands up! Apparently I won, and Gavin got second.

The next day the course was only slightly changed, a few corners were re routed and the downhill was made more challenging. This time Gavin and I wouldn't be walking away from the race as David Lombardo was here. Yesterday I started first row, due to a few of the riders missing their call ups. Today however I was in the second row. There was a little issue, almost running into another rider who dropped his chain which killed all my momentum. Once I recovered, I worked my way up Gavin and David. We took turns attacking David, trying to work him over, but David held strong. On one of the attacks there was a spot where I really found, right before the finish line. I decided to sit back and wait until the last lap. Then going down the hill, disaster struck! David crashed right in front of me in a section too tight to get by him, and since it was a downhill, I was unable to stop in time and ran into him, falling on his bike, flatting in the process.
Photo credit; Gary Smits, XTRphotos.

Luckily, Gavin was in front of David and got clear. I had to ride on a flat tire for half a lap before reaching the pit. After switching bikes the gap to David began to come back down, however my brakes were not working very well and upon hitting the downhill on the next lap, I couldn't stop! I went into the course tape and it took me a while to extricate myself. After that, catching anyone was pretty much out of the question. I finished 6th, but Gavin stayed away and won the race!  I was super happy for him and excited that we won both days.

It was a ton of fun racing with Gavin and the new team, Here is my press release.  

Thank you to all of my sponsors for making this possible, HED Cycling, Intelligentsia Coffee, Apex Physical Therapy, Challenge tires, Enzo's Cycling Products, Lazer Helmets, and Focus Bikes!
& thank you to Gary and Roxanne for all the awesome photos they took of Gavin and I!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Begining Cyclocross Season on the Fat Tires

The month of August was about rest and training. Now, in September, I'm beginning to race in preparation for the fast approaching Cyclocross season.

A little over a week ago, I participated in my first Minnesota High School Cycling League race. This is the second year Minnesota has had a high school mountain bike league and this year Duluth has a composite team. I think Cycling being a high school sport is a amazing way to grow this sport and as such I greatly admire what NICA and the Minnesota High School Cycling League is doing. While I will be unable to participate in most of the high school races due to 'Cross, the first race on the calender did not clash with my racing schedule so I was able to attend.

Brain Hayden -who is one of the coaches for the DCT (Duluth Composite Team)- drove some of the riders on the team and myself to the race course on Saturday to pre-ride the course and have fun socializing with each other. I had previously met some of the people on the team but also was able to meet many new faces. The course was located at Salem Hills and was 4.5 miles of completely flat, very fast ski trails with a hard packed rut though the center and some surprisingly fun flowing Singletrack.

We woke up at 6:40am the next morning, ate breakfast, and drove over to the race venue to set up our team tent. The girls raced at 9:30am, the boys at 12:00pm. We had one girl on our team, Amanda, who raced the Frosh/Soph category and placed 13th. After the Freshmen, Sophomore, JV, and Varsity girls all finished, I did a easy spin around the course to see if it changed at all. As I expected, the already sandy soil was very loose from almost a hundred girls riding on the course. This made the once relatively easy course challenging due to lack of traction

At 11:40pm, after finishing my warm up, I found my way to the call up area for the Varsity boys. only the riders who raced in the series last year and scored points were called up to the front row, however I was attentive enough to snag a second row starting position.

On the first corner I was 5th wheel, I worked my way up to second wheel after the first few corners and stayed there for the first half a lap or so, getting used to the course. I attacked then and rode the next few laps alone until coming into one to go, I had to stop for a long line of lapped traffic. I waited there for about 30-45 seconds and by the time I got by everyone, Second place had caught up to me. I let him lead through the start finish stretch, then attacked. It stuck and I won the Varsity boys. The Duluth Composite Team got 3rd overall! I had a lot of fun racing with the team in a high school setting.

Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival

This was my fifth time doing the Short & Fat. Last year I placed 7th. There is a rule in place that forces you to do the short race if you are under 18. This makes the front of this race consist of some of the best MTB juniors in the Midwest. It's not your typical XC MTB race, there is no singletrack and it is a point to point race, 16 miles long. There is also the Chequamegon, which is 40 miles long. I placed 3rd in this year's short and fat. 

 




Saturday, August 17, 2013

A season wrap up & Montana 'Cross camp.

It's been a long summer and I've had a great Road season. I traveled to New York State for Battenkill, New Mexico for the Tour of Gila, Iowa for Snake alley, and Wisconsin for ToAD and National Championships. Now it's time to switch gears and start preparing for Cyclocross season!

This year, I decided to forgo any late season Road races and attend Geoff Procter's USAC Montana CX Development Camp to prepare for 'Cross. I attended this great camp last year and despite a injury that prevented me from riding, learned many very important skills that greatly contributed to a successful 'Cross season.

Camp is held in Helena, Montana. Instead of driving out there like I did last year, I took a direct flight to Helena. My friend Gavin was on the same flight  we arrived at the small airport in Helena on Saturday, the day before Camp started. On Sunday we headed over to Carol College, which is where everyone was housed and fed throughout camp. This was the "first" day of camp but mostly just a chance for everyone to arrive, meet each other, and get settled into their respective dorms. We did however do a classroom session that night where we introduced ourselves and Geoff talked about the plan for Camp.

Our days started out early at 6:30 AM and run out to the college football stadium, were we did bleachers, agility ladders, strength work, stretching, and jump rope for a hour. After showering we headed to breakfast at 8:00 AM. Then it was time to kit up and go for our first ride, which was about two hours long and involved riding to one of two Cyclocross courses in Helena to practice every aspect of of the sport. Barriers, hopping, sand, starts, corners, off cambers, run ups... you name it, we did it. Once we returned to the dormitory to shower and eat lunch, 1:00 to 1:30PM was designated nap time. Believe it or not, this was a welcome rest as by that time of the day everyone was already pretty tired. After nap time we put on our bottle cages, packed our spare tubes, water, and lots of food for the afternoon ride. These rides were from two and half to four hours and went over several mountain passes. They were serenely beautiful but not easy. Finally to wrap up the day, we ate dinner and attended a classroom session where we analyzed videos and talked of 'Cross. Lights were out by Ten 'o clock as we rested and prepared for the next day.
Montana mountain views

There really is no other opportunity like this camp. Very rarely do all the best Cyclocross juniors in the country all gather in one spot during a non-race setting. I feel like we all learned a ton, not just from Geoff- who taught us so much- but also from being around your competition for half a week. The skills session in the mornings at Geoff's personal cross course was super educational. A lot of different techniques were demonstrated and discussed and we were able to watch each other do all of them. However, the classroom sessions were probably the most informative. Through out the Camp we watched everything from motivational videos to technique primers and race coverage. The rides through the gorgeous countryside of Montana were a ton of fun. The gravel riding there is truly phenomenal!
 
Check out the media coverage of camp;

Tom Robertson's great photo Portfolio

Sam Erickson's AWESOME video

Cyclingnews's article

CXmag's article

Camp was a wonderful experience, big thanks to USA Cycling for funding the camp, Geoff Procter for putting it on, Dave Fleischhauer and Scott Herzig for helping coach the camp and ride with us, Jeff Linton and Emmett Purcell for helping, Tom Robertson for taking lot's of great photo's, and Sam Erickson for making a awesome video of us!

Keep a eye out for my upcoming press release for 'Cross season, which will be posted here in the next couple weeks.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wisconsin Off Road Series (W.O.R.S) #4, Camrock.

Talk about a blast from the past, me doing a Mountain Bike race? its been a while! I had plans to do some late season MTB races last year but was unable, due to my injury. So when I was planning out my schedule this spring, I was happy to see one that didn't conflict with any big races. As I mentioned briefly in my last blog my friend Gavin Haley (you can read his blog Here) has been staying at my house training, racing, and farming. Gavin is a "dirt boy" as well... so we were both excited to go rip some single track!

Where better to do it than the series I grew up racing, the largest Moutain Bike series in the country, WORS! hundreds, sometimes thousands of racers pitch their tent and camp the night before, both to race and have fun.

It was strange pre-riding the night before, seeing the campground and having flash backs to my early years of racing... I've never done this particular WORS race before and it's a pretty tough course. There is lot's of fast single track with enough rocks that it's reasonably technical. It has it's fair share of climbing too, the race starts up a very grassy hill, and the Elite field finishes on on two climbs in rapid succession. One single track then one grassy and more open.

The day of the race was very hot. While I did my warm up on the trainer I think my skinsuit absorbed about pound of sweat! For those who don't know, the start of a XC Mountain bike race is very important. the first mile or so of the course is always open and you can typically pass well enough. Once you get into the single track though, you are at the mercy of the person in front of you. He may give you trail when you ask for it, or he may not. It's been a while since Cyclocross season (which is the only other discipline I do that can compare as far as starting speed) and this was actually the first Pro/Cat 1 MTB race I have done... so I knew I'd have to be very ready for the start!

With fifteen minutes till the start, Gavin and I got off the trainers and rode to the line. Don (who is the one who started WORS in the first place) does the call ups to the line. First the Pro's, then the top rider in each Elite age category, and finally all the Cat 1 juniors (we do one less lap than the Elite men, so they start us at the back).

One minute to start.
"Welcome riders to the fourth race in the WORS series, Battle of Camrock!" Don's booming voice says.

Thirty seconds.
"One foot in, one foot on the ground. Wheels BEHIND the line. Be safe out there, have fun, and most importantly, treat each other kindly!

"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five..."

"GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Just like that, the race is off! It took me a while to move up during both the start and most of the first lap. I didn't get ahead of enough people before the first single track, so I pretty much got off my bike and stood for a good fifteen to twenty seconds in the racing equivalent of a traffic jam. Half way through the first lap, I was a minute and thirty seconds down on the top three for cat 1 junior. After I got through a few more open sections where there was good passing opportunities I was able get up to my own pace in the single track and the time gaps started shrinking. By the second lap, I had gone from about 7th out of ten to 4th, twenty seconds behind my team mate Gavin and a minute out of first.

During the second lap I caught Gavin and we worked together to catch the leader, Bret. We were pretty much out of the traffic so we closed down the gap quickly and caught Bret just before the two climbs coming into the lap/finish line. I passed and dropped Bret on the grassy climb and rode my own race for the last lap. I came into the finish with my arms up and a smile on my face!

It was good to do a mountain bike race after the long absence, Now I'm off to Tour of America's Dairyland and then shortly after that, Road National Championships in Madison!

You can Check out some more awesome photos of this race and more at XTRphoto.com!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A look back: Quad cities 2013 and State Time Trial

Another year, returning to Quad Cities once again. For Snake alley, I was returning for revenge. Last year I had a rider crash in front of me in the first corner and had mechanical issues later on. I was determined to make up for that this year... Last time I ascended the Infamous snake, I was sweating in the incredibly hot sun. This year, I woke up to the sound of thunderstorms. It was sweet music to my ears, I knew the conditions would favor handling skills, guts, and an affinity for cold weather.

As I sat on the start line, already soaking wet, I prepared myself mentally for the whirlwind of pain that would be the junior race. I'm not sure if I sat around for to long and my legs were cold, or if I just wasn't quite mentally ready, but my start was slightly lack luster. It was so wet that the traction on the Snake was considerably slippery... I think more people crashed on the UPHILL than the downhill, which, needless to say is pretty unusual. After I got out of the traffic and into the front group, the race was pretty uneventful. Each lap one or two people would get dropped from the front group until it was just seven of us on the final lap. The acceleration was made and I just couldn't quite match it, I caught back up on the downhill but not quick enough to be in contention for the sprint. My team mate David Lombardo won, I finished fifth, and Gavin Haley came in right behind me for 7th.

Later in the day I did the cat 3 race, which was (unfortunately) dry. I finished third.
The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful, I placed 14th and 13th in the juniors and cat 3 at melon city, and was on track for a really good junior race at rock island but was crashed out. I still finished 9th, and 11th in the 3's race later.

The next weekend was Minnesota State TT and Criterium. I had a great time trial, I was really focused for it and got my first win of the year! My friend Gavin is staying at my house for the month of June, so we did State Crit together in the 3/4s and the 1/2/3s. I finished 8th and 19th respectively.

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Experience In Endurance... The 2013 Tour of Gila


I came into the Tour of Gila with a sort of mental expectation of difficulty. I had talked and thought about doing it pretty much since the previous year in May while the race was running. A friend from the Midwest had done it and my dad and I decided to look into it. Gila is a very, very tough stage race. In fact, the promoters claim it is the hardest stage race in North America! That's not a claim I will dispute readily either...it has mountains. Real. Mountains.

Stage one (a point to point Road Race) ends with a mountaintop finish on a Category 1 climb,

 Stage two (on the right) climbs and descends over three Category 3 climbs. Pinos Altos is the first
climb of the three, then after a fast descent into a small town it pitches up again and goes up another climb! The third and final climb is closer to the finish. On the final stage of this race, (the picture off to the right) it gets even harder! The so called infamous Gila Monster Road Race. This stage has rolling hills leading into a high speed category 3 climb early on in the stage, a VERY steep (10 to 11% gradient pitches on the switch backs) Category 2 climb closer to the finish, and one smaller and less steep hill leading all the way into the finish.
  Anyways, my point in showing you all of this is when my dad and I saw how hard and hilly this race was I knew I had to go out and do it because of how much I love climbing!


After driving down to Milwaukee from doing the Kenwoods memorial race in Minnesota on Saturday, we flew out of the Chicago airport down to Tuscon, Arizona on Sunday. We then drove out to Silver City, New Mexico and got comfortable in the place we would be staying for the week during the 5 days of the Tour of Gila  -a lovely guest house up very close to Pinos Altos (so it was close to the course for Stage 1 and stage 3).

On Monday, I decided after looking at the elevation graphs for the three road races that I needed to pre-ride Meadow Creek, the second climb of Stage 2 and also the descent leading into the finishing climb on Stage 5. The roads were very twisty and turning!

Tuesday, I pre-rode the mountaintop finish of Stage 1, but I also wanted to ride the Time Trial course as it would play an important part in the overall. So my dad and I decided to do both. We drove to the TT course -which was very hilly- and I pre-rode that on my TT bike. I found out quickly from riding the TT course that the two downhills were steep enough I was extremely spun out in my junior gears. I knew this would make it more difficult for me to place a competitive result during the TT, so I really concentrated on working on my cadence while pre-riding the course. After I rode the TT course, my dad and I drove over to the finish of Stage 1 to pre-ride the Category 1 climb mountaintop finish. As I rode the climb, I was struck by how incredibly real it was! I felt like I was watching a ProTour mountain top finish while riding it. I was excited, I knew this would be a very difficult climb for everyone during Stage 1!

Stage 1:

On Wednesday morning I woke up, ate breakfast, and started  mentally preparing for the first day of my first big mountain stage race... I was excited! My dad and I drove out to the start of the race and as we did I was going through everything in my head. "It's a hard race, and it's hot today," my dad said to me as we drove. "Make sure you stay protected, hydrated and eat a lot!" I nodded, focused and ready for the first day. We (the racers) rode out onto the the course with the Referees giving us a neutral start to this 117.6 Kilometer (73.1 mile) long road race.

 The Cat 3 men were off. Throughout the stage I made sure I was up front, drinking, and eating as the weather was extremely hot at 90 degrees Fahrenheit! Remember, I live in "cold and snowy" Duluth, Minnesota where I had been training in low temperatures and snow for a few weeks leading into the Gila. Stage 1 was one of my first experiences of the year in some serious heat. The course led through a big valley that funneled a lot of wind into the pack, so despite many break-away attempts by riders (even one that had a 5:00 minute gap at one point of the race) no one could stay away from the aggressive field until we were around 30 kilometers from the mountaintop finish where an attack was launched from the field by the biggest, most well organized team in the Cat 3 race, Ziavelo Cycling. They had six riders going hard and rotating at the front when one of their riders -Marcus Toya- launched an attack that ended up staying away. He later won the stage, narrowly avoiding being caught by the shattered remnants of the Peloton. I suffered hard on the hill because of the heat, but my motivation to do well in the overall kept me going, and I moved up through the pack as we got farther and farther up the hill. My Result was 17th, 4:38 back on the stage winner, just 1:05 down on the rider who won the "sprint" from the Peloton to get third place, David Vaughn. Who is also of the Ziavelo Cycling team. To put things in perspective, my time at the finish line was Three hours and Thirty-Eight minutes!

Stage 2:

 Tuesday morning was Stage 2 of the Tour of Gila. Another road race, this one with a very fast technical descent called Sapillo Creek. This descent was steep enough that (despite many hairpin bends and switchbacks) I reached a max speed of 63.2 Kilometers per hour (38.7mph) without even pedaling down most of it! I had a lot of fun ripping this 10.0 Kilometer descent down to the bottom. As scary and dangerous as it was to go so fast down such a twisty descent, with a lot of riders around me, I was just thinking about how much fun I was having. Going through the valley Ziavelo went for a time bonus sprint, and after everyone crossed the line. (For said bonus sprint) I attacked the field, unhappy with how little separation there was. Hoping to get away, and get some time. I heard some one in the field behind me shout; "He's little! Just let him go."

 A minute or two into my attack, Ziavelo sent one of their men -Marcel Berger- to cover my attack. He asked me if I was a threat to his team leader in first place, to which I smiled and shouted across the wind, "No I'm not, I'm four and a half minutes down." He thought for a second as I broke the wind and he said, "Okay, let's work together!". Marcel and I continued to work together for 30.0k of the 54.5 kilometers I was off the front. He was very strong in the wind and the two of us were rotating so fast that I was spun out on the downhills in my junior gears. He dropped me at the 20km-to-go sign, wherein I got on the wheel of Matthew Rowe of Cycleton Denver- who had been trying to bridge our two minute gap to the field for about 25 minutes. Both him and I were very tired, so we worked out an agreement, "You chase down Marcel up ahead, and keep the gap down, I won't sprint you at the line." I said, through gritted teeth in between huffing breaths. Matthew nodded and said "Okay"...it was all he could say he was so focused on Marcel up ahead.

A smile of satisfaction after being in the break
I was cross eyed while I watched the kilometers tick down. 15k to go! The sign on the side of the road said, almost smugly to my tired eyes. When I saw the 10k to go sign, I thought, we're almost there! and I can see Marcel up ahead. after 54.5 brutal kilometers away in a break, Matthew and I crossed the finish line. I honored our agreement and pushed him across the line for a few extra seconds in the overall. Marcel finished 1st, 22 seconds ahead of Matthew Rowe and I. The field, whittled down to just 14 men by my aggressive attack, finished almost two minutes back on Matthew and I.

Stage 3:

Stage 3 was the Time Trial. A relatively uneventful day for me GC wise, I defended my 11th position in the Overall. It was a very interesting course for a time trail, it was difficult to not lose any time on the two big downhills in the course because of my limited junior gears (some of the riders I raced against ran a 54 front ring, I have to run a 52 by USAC ruling!). However, "What goes down, must come up!" and I was able to gain enough time on the uphills to have a decent Time Trial. It was fun to do! I love Time Trialing.


^A video Dad took of me in the TT^

 

 

 

 

  

 Stage 4:

Stage 4 was the Criterium, there was almost zero change in the overall that affected me. I just stayed at the front, made sure no one got any time in a break away and that I didn't crash, or expend too much energy. I placed 19th, with the same time as the winner.

 Stage 5:

I came into Stage 5 expecting it to be the hardest stage yet. The Cat 2 climb up Sapillo Creek was a very steep climb and I knew it would be a good opportunity for me move up in the overall. So when I did hit the climb, I went to the front and started to pound out a good pace. The group was whittled down to about seven riders at the top of the climb, then a few more caught on and others were dropped as Samuel Chovan attacked in a move that would later win the stage. On the downhill leading into the final climb, we rotated hard to prevent any more riders catching on and to make sure that we kept our gap to the GC leader, who had not made the selection was not in our group. Coming up the final climb, I drilled it to try and drop any riders I could, and attempt to catch Samuel. However, it came down to a sprint. I finished a great 8th place on the stage, and moved up into my final placing of 9th overall! I am happy I was able to move into the top ten!



Thanks to my parents for their ever loving support, and to our generous hostess Steph!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

IScorp Team Training camp 2013

The season began for the IScorp Elite junior team in late March. We all met in Milwaukee and packed up the bikes of everyone who was going to camp into one of the team sprinter vans. At the crack of dawn my dad and I left for our trek across the country. We arrived in Arizona a few days later to a beautiful 80 degrees.

We ascended Mt. Lemmon many times over the course of the camp, one of the days all the way to the top where to the famous cookie cabin. The food at camp was the best I have experienced at any camp, very healthy and delicious. I can't imagine how many tens of thousands of calories the 18 kids went through over the course of camp!
Each morning I led a Yoga and strength routine


We had the fortunate opportunity of having several Pro riders at the camp who did a number of great talks over the course of camp. Greg Brandt rode with us every day, 


Chad Hartley gave us a great talk on (among other things) massaging our legs out post ride,


Brian Matter talked to us about being a free lance pro,



 and Gord Fraiser gave a excellent talk on sprinting and taught us about getting hand ups from the team car.


In addition to the 20+ hours of quality training we got in, we went to a ropes course! We did some great team building exercises like trying to all fit on a tiny wooden platform


and belaying for each other.


One of the biggest things I was impressed with about camp was how well all of us got along despite the wide range of ages and backgrounds.

Big shout out to our sponsors Intelligentsia coffee, Hincapie clothing, Spy glasses, Trek, and of course WCJ Pilgrim, Endavour, and IScorp for making this camp and the team possible. Thanks so much to Billy Jones for personally making this camp happen, all the pros who came and contributed advice and knowledge, and my dad for directing the camp. Being together and bonding as a team while putting in huge hours on the bike with such great roads and temperatures was super fun!