Proud of my role in developing this amazing product. 442grams of cyclocross awesomeness.
Building on the success Sponsor Connected and Live to Play Sports had supporting Craig Richey last season the program is being expanded for the 2013/2014 cyclocross season with a three rider roster and increased sponsor support.
Craig Richey is returning to the team after a successful 2012/2013 season culminating in a 34th place finish at the 2013 UCI Cyclocross Elite World Championships in Louisville.
New additions to the team include Tom Skinner and Adam de Vos. Tom is a veteran of West Coast cyclocross with a long standing relationship with Norco Bicycles and Oak Bay Bikes. He has countless cyclocross podiums and finished second overall in the Cross on the Rock cyclocross series last year, and is looking to go one step better in 2013. Adam is coming off an impressive road season that included numerous trips to Europe with the Canadian U23 National Road Team and will be looking to translate that power into winning speed on the cross bike. Tom and Adam will be racing out of Victoria with a focus on the Cross on the Rock series as well as BC Superprestige races. Craig is based in Boston while attending grad school and will be racing the NEPCX and MAC series UCI races, and the whole team will come together for Canadian Nationals in Vancouver late November.
SponsorConnected.com is a free online service that connects athletes that are looking for sponsorship with businesses that would like to use sport sponsorship to advertise and promote their business. Please like the Sponsor Connected facebook page to stay updated on team news and results: facebook.com/SponsorConnected
VOmax is a New England based custom clothing company with all clothing being made on location in Northampton, allowing for quick production time and no order minimums.
Norco Bicycles is a Canadian cycling brand and the team will be racing on the full carbon disc brake equipped Norco Thresholds equipped with hand-built Zed Wheels. Nutritional products provided by Hammer Nutrition and shop support by Oak Bay Bikes.
The support for the Team Canada riders at this year World Championships was absolutely amazing. A shining example of this outstanding support was during the pre-ride on Thursday. The pre-ride window was a short two-hour block, and it was the first time the course was open. Just about everyone was out riding the course and getting in as many laps as possible. The course was very muddy and the sand pits were still soft, so this combination created a tarred and feathered type situation. After two laps gears would be skipping so bad that you couldn’t continue your pre-ride.
At the beginning of the training window there were no hoses or washers in the pit zone. This was the first Cyclocross World Champs for the Canadian support staff, but their years of touring the world with the Canadian mountain bike team more than made up for their limited cross experience. Early into the training session Ian Hughes, the Team Canada coach, became aware of the mud and sand related issues and called the mechanics to work out a solution. Soon after, Team Canada had a gas-powered pressure washer in the pit and Canada was the envy of every other cyclocross rider in the world. A line of other riders soon formed hoping to use the Canadian washer, and Andy being the nice guy that he is, announced to the line that his washer was for Canadian and World Champions only. Marianne Vos was appreciative. Throughout the entire Thursday pre-ride, team Canada was the only nation to have washing equipment in the pit zone.
Not only did the team have a group of experienced and well organized mechanics, but Norco also stepped up to support the team. They brought down the Norco Factory Team trailer, which was set up in the expo area and we used this as a base for team Canada. This gave the Canadian riders the option of getting their bikes serviced in the Expo area near the course, as well as the rider-only warmup area near the start. Hardly any of the European riders had this option and it put all of the Canadian riders on-par with the home country trade team riders, such as Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld and Rapha-Focus.
Canada didn’t win any medals at this years World Championships but we did have our biggest team ever in attendance. All of the Canadians fought hard and didn’t quit, and I’m sure the rest of the world took notice. The Canadian team had a professional presentation and everyone was positive and friendly which reflected well on Canadian Cycling and Canada as a whole.
On behalf on myself and the rest of the Canadian Team that attended Cross Worlds, we would like to thank our mechanics, Norco, and Cycling Canada for the amazing support at this years event.
Having not raced since the Bend USGP in early December I needed some sort of tuneup race before Worlds on February 3rd. The smart people at Cincinnati Cyclocross realized that many riders were in a similar situation and that there was an opportunity to put on a UCI race the week before Worlds and attract many top riders who normally wouldn’t attend a January cross race in Cincinnati. The Kings International was born and an impressive list of top ranked pros signed up including the current World Champion and Belgian cross star Niels Albert.
Coming into the Kings race my biggest priority was not to get injured which is never a race winning attitude in cross. I wanted to get in a hard effort, ride a course at speed, and shake off the cobwebs before worlds. I accomplished all of those things and my conservative cornering on the slippery mud covered frozen course didn’t help my lap times but I still finished a respectable 15th less than six minutes behind race winner Albert.
On Monday it was off to Louisville. A city or at least our little corner of it was buzzing with the anticipation of Worlds. The Canadian Team was extremely well organized and booked the whole team into the closest hotel to the venue, breakfast is the morning is like an olympic village. Because of out proximity to the venue I was able to check out the course and help out some of the Canadian masters racers as they competed in their qualifying heats for Masters Cyclocross World Championships which are happening this week. They raced well but are worried about deteriorating course conditions for their championship races.
Cyclist often talk about the weather but here in Louisville it is a hotter topic than usual and for good reason. Yesterday it was comfortable to be outside in a t-shirt and by tomorrow it is supposed to drop well below freezing. Add to that the fact that many people including myself were awoken by the wail of tornado sirens last night at four in the morning. The wind and rain last night was pretty spectacular and the threat of tornados was real enough that some teams such as the British team were forced to evacuate their rooms and move to safer parts of their hotel. The adventure continues. World Championships in four days.
The last couple years I have been totally cracked come January. The brutal Christmas block of racing in Northern Europe left me tired and broken trying to hold my deteriorating health together to World Championships.
This year is a different story. After a nice Christmas at home filled with family and cross country skiing I came into January motivated and ready for the build up to worlds. Victoria is normally a great place to ride but logging 700km weeks in the pouring rain with near freezing temperatures is a recipe for sickness. Time for a San Diego training camp, or Carlsbad to be more specific. The last 10 days of riding have been great and I haven’t been rained on once. Staying with my coach Elliot and Pro Triathlete Charisa which has made for fun times both on and off the bike. Highlights include doing cyclocross intervals on a motocross track. Mexican food. The legendary Swami’s group ride. Climbing Palomar. Descending Palomar. Riding bikes and getting tan lines in January.
A few more days of sunshine then it is back to Victoria to organize my gear before heading to Ohio to race the cobwebs out of my legs at the Cincy Kings UCI race.
Want to read more? Check out a recent press release about my road to Worlds on Live to Play Sports.
My last weekend of Cyclocross racing for 2012 was the USGP Finals in Bend Oregon. Having sustained a pretty serious leg injury three weeks earlier (the day after a solid 4th place finish at Canadian Nationals) I came into the Bend weekend under trained but very well rested. The course was twisty and fast, super fun to ride, plus a fairly large and very enthusiastic (possibly related to the race being held on the property of Deschutes Brewery) made for a real festival atmosphere. I had great starts both days but my lack of recent training was evident on the power sections and the best I could muster was Top 30 finishes both days.
With the 2012 season done it is time for a bit of a break off the bike for the holiday before building up for Cyclocross World Championships in February. I have been making the most of the break with an awesome surf trip to Tofino followed by a solid block of home cooked meals, Christmas baking, and Nordic skiing up in Smithers, BC.
I started this season off with a six week tour of ten UCI cross races and frankly it was a mistake. The trip started off well with two good weekends of racing. After that initial block of racing I stayed out in Easthampton for a block of training rather than racing the Madison USGP or returning home in an attempt to save money and cut down on travel. The twenty five hours of primarily solo riding probably did good things for me physically but mentally it was tough. The roads in Western Mass are great and my love of riding bikes was never questioned. It was more the time spent sitting around by myself for days on end that hurt me.
After my solo mini-training camp I raced Gloucester, Providence and Fort Collins. At Gloucester and Providence I had flashes of good sensations but mechanicals, crashes, and poor starts prevented me from putting together a complete race and a good result.
Rolling as a solo privateer adds the additional stress of organizing all logistics and bike maintenance but I am able to handle that stuff easily enough. The bigger issue is injury management and trip enjoyment. After my training block my left hip was bugging me a little and all the racing only made it worse. I tried seeing a massage therapist but that provided little relief and with my bike being my only transportation seeing a sports specialist wasn’t really an option. By the Fort Collins USGP my hip had reached a debilitating state. If felt ok just riding but any sort of race effort combined with getting on and off the bike caused major pain all down my left side. I tried to put on a brave face for Saturdays race but faded from the front row to the mid-thirties. I was injured, and mentally stale. My flight back to Victoria couldn’t come soon enough.
Back in Victoria I started treatment on my hip right away and within days it was feeling way better. My physical recovery coincided with my rapid mental recovery aided by being back with friends and family as well as the amazing cyclocross riding in Victoria.
On the topic of cross riding in Victoria. I have noticed that just about everywhere outside of Victoria most cross riders seem to ride their CX bikes on the road with slicks or go to a cross course with knobbies to practice skills. In Victoria everyone rides knobbies on their cross bikes all the time. With an amazing mix of bike tolerant parks and urban trails cross bikes are the perfect vehicle for a mixed terrain ride with far more route options than just road riding.
Last week I did some filming with Pelle Gustavs to try and capture the Victoria Cross Ride.
Physically healthyish and mentally recovered I am back on the road to race the Cincy3 as a final block of racing before Canadian Nationals in a couple weeks.
The first major cross race of the season is really a two hour reunion followed by a one hour race. In the parking lot well before the starting gun many old friends are reconnected and lots of stories are shared from the summer of racing road and mountain. Then the new bikes come out of the cars which prompts a solid block of bike geeking and the squeezing of brake levers; it’s pretty rad, and a short month ago it looked like it might not happen for me.
Back in July my cyclocross team setup for this season fell though. This prompted a mad scramble which resulted in me finding a new cross team that I was just as excited about. In mid-august though, I got word that they would not be able to get frames until well into the season, so that setup was no longer an option either. I feel at this point, most riders faced with the strong possibility they are going to have to buy all their equipment and completely self-fund a season would quit. I considered it. The previous season I had struggled with illness and was generally disappointed with my results, but I learned a lot about myself and saw flickers of my potential. I felt that if I quit now I would be going out with a whimper, having never really raced at my potential. With a bit of money in the bank from when I had a real job, and from the online marketing work I did this summer, I decided to take the leap and buy bikes, wheels, kits, flights, and commit to doing a full season of cross.
My late summer sponsorship scramble confirmed something that I have known for a while; that there is no efficient way for sponsors and athletes to connect. As an athlete you send out a huge amount of inquiries, and most never make to the right person or fall on deaf ears. For businesses looking to market their brand or product through cycling there is no easy way to find out what riders or teams are looking for sponsorship. Thus SponsorConnected.com was born; a free site that connects sponsors and athletes. Plus with cyclocross being such a great return on marketing dollars and the confidence that I can produce some results this season, I am going to be racing for Sponsor Connected. (Unless I find a team or sponsor mid-season)
Being my own sponsor does give me a completely flexible calendar so I figured I would kick the season off early with a month long campaign the the Northeast.
First up was the reunion/race at Ellison Park in Rochester. Not only is the pre-race reunion fun but it is also exciting to see where everyone stacks up after six months apart. I was pleasantly surprised. On Saturday after a poor start and getting stuck behind crashes, I rode solo up through the field to finish fourth. On Sunday I was battling in the lead group against some legends of cross, causing me to get a little too excited and I burnt all my matches before the fireworks at the end. I rolled in for another fourth.
Next on the schedule was originally Green Mountain CX in Vermont, but a stacked field and the inability to find a ride prompted me race the Nittany Lion Cross in Pennsylvania instead. The course was dry, fast and really twisty. Sadly, it played perfectly to me weaknesses. After some mid-week start practice I was able to shake the cobwebs out of my starts and took the hole shot. A mid race crash dropped me out of the lead group, and by the time I had bridged back J-Pow had hit the throttle and splintered the group. The best I could muster was yet another fourth.
With Powers absent Sunday it looked like it was going to be a wide open race. After a good start and some time at the front, I found myself in the lead group of five with three riders from the Haymarket team. Usually in cross team tactics are pretty limited but on the fast and twisty course they did a pretty good job of working me over by taking turns attacking and blocking. By the last lap the Haymarket riders had achieved their goal and it looked like the best I would be able to finish was third. Determined on finding my first podium of the season I led the last 1/2 lap riding defensive lines to keep the two riders on my wheel behind me. These less than ideal lines caused me to get a slow rear flat, but I was able to stay in the lead and secure my first UCI podium of the season.
Generally I am pretty happy with my early season form. While I haven’t won any races I have consistently finished near the front and that consistency has me ranked second overall on the USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar behind frenchman Nicolas Bazin. I have a few things to work on, but there are lots of great people to ride with in Easthampton and I should be able to find a little more speed before heading to the first round of the New England Pro Cyclocross Series in Gloucester MA later this month.
Cross Season is rapidly approaching, so dust off your cross bike, do a couple practice dismounts and sign up for my Cross Camp. I will share all the techniques and tricks I know to help your ride your bike faster and smoother so you can have fun ripping it up this fall. Register here.