While the team hit the East Bay hills I was back East riding and crashing at a friends bunker in the Green Mountains.
Lots and lots of this in Vermont.
Rolling into town with Adam and Erik.
Fading to black on the way up Appalachian Gap. This last kick is 20%. Oof.
At the top looking out towards the Catskills.
South on VT 100B.
Camel’s Hump in the distance.
Thanks to The Shop for getting me dialed before my trip, Rick for the bike that shreds all-terrain, Paul for the most radest brakes, Pacenti for rims that were rock solid no matter what I threw at them, and Thunderbird for the tasty treats.
Its good to be home with burrito in hand. Looking forward to the season.
Like many people, I hadn’t been riding much at all over the holidays, so I didn’t feel on-form at all, but what better way to spend a Sunday than getting out of town and riding cross around Fort Ord? The drive down was mystical. Right as my favorite demo version of one of my favorite Thorns song came on, I drove between two lakes with eerie mist rising in dead-still columns as the sun started rising. It was hard to resist pulling over, but I was running behind already.
Somehow I ran short on time and only got in about a quarter of a lap of recon/warmup. The start went directly into a left and right corner which didn’t suit me, so not the best start. I chased around for half an hour. The course had a really fun flow, like a rollercoaster. I tried to talk myself out of touching the brakes on the downhill, but it had been a bit since I’d ridden cross, so I was botching corners and braking when I shouldn’t. The climb suited me, and that’s where I would close gaps back up.
Of course Kevin White was right in front of me again. Two thirds of the way through I closed the gap to him, but like usual he turned on his late-race afterburners and gapped away from me again, so I battled to the line with some young kid who was climbing good. 11th place. I sat on the tailgate for a while until I was sure I wasn’t going to puke.
After looking at lap times I realized I would have gotten 3rd place if I would have raced my age group. I had a really fun time racing. The inner dialog for cyclocross is pretty funny: “This log is small, I can bunnyhop this lil guy.”,” I hope that wasn’t poison oak.”,” I’m gonna pass this guy on the left when we hit the sand.”,” Quit being a wimp, let go of the brakes!”,”Haha, whoops!” etc.
I took the opportunity to explore the woods and wastelands around Fort Ord before heading back.
I also stopped at the Mountain Bike Exhibit at SFO on the way back. If you’re a bike nerd, you’ll want to check it out before it comes down in February.
Figured I would end the season with a double header, Santa Rosa #3 on Saturday, Surf City #3 Sunday. With all the racing here in the inner Bay Area these days, Santa Cruz has started to feel far away. This is a far cry from how the scene was when I started racing cross in 95, Surf City was the deal, otherwise you had East Bay Bob Liebold specials with truly strange course features (not saying bad, but…odd) and not much else. Surf City is still the best series in my weird little world, damn good courses, nice promotors and staff, just generally the kind of thing I want to support, vote with your dollars y’all.
So this weekend was all around excellent in that Bike Monkey is pulling off an excellent Surf City imitation and providing the same kind of superior experience and vibe, the northern outpost of good, high quality, positive vibe racing here in Northern Cal. Carlos and his crew just kill it, the only thing being a lack of venue variety but that will change big time next year with some new options opening up. Go, support the Bike Monkey empire, get results fast (with lap times!), get paid out well and see the future of quality events.
Saturday’s course was sweet, pure off camber, slippery, pay attention stuff. There was even the possibility of ending up in a pond if you blew it bad. Crashed hard warming up at near walking speed, whacked both knees somehow, was left stumbling around in the rain wondering what just happened. Got that out of the way and the race was clean, stayed upright, sat in fourth all day, couldn’t make the needed power to catch anyone, made 43$, which I think is more than I made for 8th at GGP BASP last year, this at a tiny race with fields under 20 riders. Thanks Carlos and the Bike Monkey crew for doing it right, go support this series, it deserves to grow on its merit, not just on its geographic fortune.
Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville is probably my favorite venue. Always good, always varied. Before the race I was warming up with Cody Kaiser and realized I have been racing cross since he was three and I was about to get my ass solidly beat by him, perspective. More perspective: the first time I rode top ten at a Surf City was in Watsonville in 99, Cody was in 2nd grade. Solid field in the A’s and boy was I feeling the beat down from Saturday. Started like molasses and just kept moving up. Some serious kook moves from a couple riders on the first couple laps, got pushed into a tree, why do folks have to ride so damn sloppy and pass where there is no way it will work out? Got rid of the kooks thankfully and caught the king of N.Cal cross Justin Robinson. Turns out he had spent five hours in the rain the day before shoveling then rode the masters race, thats the only way I can keep up with him, humbling. Had a blast ripping around, sliding in the mud trying to beat on Justin (didn’t work) and ended up 12th. Best thing of the day was the reemergence of Abe, so good to see him out.
I’m done for the season, huge thanks to all the team, the sponsors, Travis for making it happen on the shortest of notice and really big time gratitude to Rick Hunter for 15+ years of support.
For the past few years I have been really wanting to race one of the USGP events. As a coffee vendor, I have been to many usgp and national cx races for the sole purpose of selling coffee. Bend Or was the closest to the Bay Area and has always been touted as one of the best race courses in the US. It did not disappoint!!
A group of Fresh Air-Hunter, DFL, Dolore Grotta, and Cal Giant riders all planned the long weekend event. We started driving Thursday evening and made it half way. We arrived in Bend around 1pm on Friday, found our incredible rental house, and unloaded all our bikes and gear. Pre ride was from 2pm-4pm, so we quickly got suited up and road to the course and spent the next hour whipping around the super fun course. Within the first 30 mins, Ducky, Justin, and John all crashed hard and got shook up for sure. Ducky crashed right in front of Danny Summerhill and tried to make it look like it was no big deal, but Danny comforted him and made sure he was ok.
On Saturday my race was at 1pm. Each night it would freeze but by 1 pm it was soft and really muddy. Since I had not done any usgp races this year, my start position was bad as usual. Back row meant for dodging crashes and watching the front 15 ride off quickly. I spent the next 45 mins passing and working my way up as far as possible. I finished 21st overall out of 60 starters.
For Sunday the course was changed up and I was able to squeeze in 1 pre ride lap before my race. Another back of the pack start, but this time I was able to pass a few more during the start and have a slightly better position. As luck would have it, there was a crash in the first half of the lap and I was not able to get around. After that, I just focused on passing as many people as possible. Finished 24th, but finished closer to the lead riders. There were an additional 10 or more riders on Sunday and this made the field even deeper.
Overall, the experience was incredible and unforgettable. This was also my first race with my new Hunter Cycles race bike. Fresh Air Bikes built it in one day and had me on my way. I can not thank Rick and FAB enough!! I had so many people come up to me and ask about the bike during the long weekend. I cant wait to do more of these type of races next year. Watching the pro men and women race each day was humbling and great time. I spend way too much time watching these races online each weekend, so it was great to finally be there live. -JB
I had a thermos full of coffee and a heavy demo version of Re-Ignition stuck in my head. I was ready to go hard. I got a decent call-up, and with the start line at the beginning of the climb I was feeling cocky. When the gun went off I went for it, and passed a bunch of people on the right berm, wedging into the top 10 as we hit the flat top. I wasn’t feeling as sketched in the technical stuff, the ground was tacky and my tires were clawing in nicely. One lap in I was still in the top 10, and burying myself to stay there. This was looking good!
Somewhere in the back stretch I felt my rear tire bottom out a couple times, and was having an increasingly difficult time staying on the guy I was chasing ahead, and soon realized I had a flat. I kept riding it and milked it to the neutral wheel pit only to find it un-staffed. A helpful nearby roadie sprang to my assistance, but it was taking forever as I heard racers whizzing pass behind me. Damn it!
Once the wheel was on I got to cranking and passed 4 people instantly. “Maybe I can salvage this…”, I thought, and put myself into the red zone. I still felt good and was having a blast. I took the right side through the mud pit on the last lap and sideswiped the chainlink fence hard with my shoulder and helmet. I was laughing as the guy behind me said “Holy shit!”
Pulled back to 18th place and had an awesome time. Another rad course by BASP!