World Championships and Season Review

It is has been quite a while since my last update. Partly because I have been procrastinating and partly because I don’t really feel like I have much new positive stuff to talk about.

Racing cyclocross in Europe is hard, incredibly hard. I have been struggling with sickness pretty much all season and the races haven’t shown me any mercy. I had some lofty goals for this European campaign and I fell short on all accounts.

Despite being disappointed and frustrated with my results I am still able to take some positives away from this trip.

Based on my strong results earlier in the season I was given the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2012 Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde Belgium. It has been a number years since worlds were in Belgium. Plus with Koksijde being one of the most popular and spectator friendly course everything was lining up for a truly spectacular event.

After the end of the Christmas race block ending January 1st preparing for worlds should have been my only priority. Unfortunately I was burnt out on Belgium and feeling stale. A quick trip to London was planned with American Jeremy Durrin and we were soon experiencing a change of scenery and were back among english speaking people. Months of not being able to understand what people are saying gets old after a while.

Back in on the mainland I raced the Lievin World Cup sick. Despite having trouble breathing the race started ok but crashed on the third lap sapped the last of my waining motivation. Rolled around to finish my placeholder position of 51st.
Followed that ride up with a visit to the Doctor whose diagnoses was that I was just fatigued and run down. He prescribed doing some heat stress workouts on the trainer to try and boost adrenaline production.

I wasn’t emotionally invested in the Hoogerheide World Cup with Worlds the following weekend. Fortunately the heat stress workouts seem to he helping and I felt way better on the bike, still didn’t get a great result but the sensations were heading in the right direction.

The Tuesday after Hoogerheide there was an article in the paper saying that over forty thousand tickets had already been sold for the Koksijde Worlds. Pre-riding the course on Friday there were as many spectators as you would get at a UCI race in the US and the venue already had an electric buzz.

I was Canada’s sole representation in the elite races so I was the only one racing Sunday. Support from the Canadian Team was good and my equipment was dialed in. The Canadian Junior and U23 riders having raced the day before were wearing flags and bouncing off the walls. They were getting me pumped up.

The race itself is the closest thing I will likely ever get to riding up a mountain top finish at the tour de France and having the sea of fans part as I ride through. With over sixty thousand spectators packed around a tight course of less than three kilometers the track itself was the only open ground. Just before the start I really notice the crowd, the noise, and the excitement. During the race itself it pretty much just felt like any other race. I was healthy and riding well pushing it hard over the climbs and hammering the straights in my big ring, unfortunately so was everyone else. Through an unbelievable show of dominance the seven rider Belgian team swept the top seven positions. The Belgian riders were unreal in the sand and put close to a minute into me every lap and I was unfortunately pulled well before the end of the race. My official result was fifty first yet again, not the result I had hoped for but I still came away from the race reasonably happy simply because for the first time in months I was fit and healthy.

I considered having World Champs marked the end of my Cyclocross season, but figured the GVA in Lille would be a fun bonus race. The circuit in Lille is a fun course and the sub-zero temperatures made for some frozen and fast racing. The race went reasonably well for me but confirmed that it is was time to call it a season.

Heading to Turkey now with my brother for a few weeks of hiking and time off the bike but I am already excited to start riding and racing racing again.

A Belgian Cyclocross Christmas

This was my second Christmas in Belgium and among my peer group there is no question that cyclocross racing has the lead roll during the holiday time of year not Santa. The cyclocross race promoters in Belgium take full advantage of general population being on holidays and cram in as many races as possible over this short period of time. This is generally known as the Holy Week of Cross but has grown to the point that it is essentially now two weeks of racing consisting of two world cups and seven other major professional races.

BMX bumps at Azencross. Photo by Dan Seaton

Most racers pick and choose a little since racing competitively at all nine races is pretty much impossible. I went with a schedule of six races which still created a two week muddy whirlwind. This whirlwind started off with the Namur World Cup on December 18th.

I had never raced at Namur before and everyone said it was a brutal course with huge climbs, sketchy descents and lots of running. This was a pretty accurate description. A couple of the descents had really steep drop ins with huge ruts. The only way to ride these was to grit your teeth, let go of the brakes and just hold on. Pretty fun in my opinion but there is no way course features like this would fly in North America. The race itself didn’t go that well, I was likely still fatigued from my hard training camp in Mallorca and the course showed me no mercy.

The Diegem Superprestige was next up on December 23rd. It is a urban night race in Brussels and was one of my favorite races last year. This year had an equally electric atmosphere and we essentially raced through a drunken dance party. I rode reasonably well and for the first time since pneumonia in early November I felt that I could put out some power push. Things fell apart on the last couple laps with a series of crashes but I managed to make the lead lap and got to finish the race without being lapped or pulled. A cross race is typically about ten laps and now with the 80% rule which means you can be pulled once you are around four minutes behind the leader simple getting to finish a race against the worlds best is pretty tough. This was the first time I had managed to finish on the lead lap in Belgium.

Zolder World Cup Pre-ride Craig Richey

At the Chainstay we celebrated Christmas on December 24th. It is hard being away from friends and family over the holidays but everyone staying at the house is in the same boat and we made the best of it with a nice dinner and gift exchange.

The Zolder World Cup was on the 26th and I was confident I could make the top 50 and pick up 300 euros prize money. I spent most of the race riding with my house mate Jeremy Durrin and the Japanese national champ which all the belgian fans called Sushi. I felt pretty good but just wasn’t going fast enough and we finished just outside the top 50.

After Zolder the Christmas race block became a muddy blur. With races on weird days of the week like Tuesday and Wednesday I lost all sense of what day it was. It was either a race day or a bike maintenance day. The ice and snow from last year was replaced with unseasonably warm and weather making the courses very muddy. On race day each of my bikes were typically pressure washed around ten times. This works great for getting the surface mud off but it drives dirty water and grit into every moving part. My “rest days” were typically spent doing laundry and working on bikes. Everything from bearing and cable replacement to new bar tape.

Loehout - Azencross Craig Richey

Having so many cyclocross races in such a short period of time does create a unique opportunity to experiment. I wanted to get good results at the World Cups, which I failed to do, and all the other races I was racing for fun and experience so I didn’t care much about the end result. I had been struggling with my starts so at Bredene I went super hard off the gun and was in the top ten after the first corner. I get gotten ridden through by twenty five people but it showed me that I could start well. I also managed to make the lead lap at Bredene which was encouraging. At GP. Sven Nys I tried varying my pace during the lap, resting on the easy sections and really pushing hard when it made a big difference. This strategy actually worked pretty well and I finished 29th which got me in the money and was my first top 30 this season in Europe. I think I learned a fair amount from the Holy Week of Cross and now the focus is World Championships at the end of the month.

Sunny Spain

My recent trip to the Igorre and Mallorca was my first time ever going to Spain and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed. The country is absolutely beautiful, amazing riding, and friendly people. Can’t ask for much more.

My Spain adventure didn’t start off super smoothly with a crazy travel day the Friday before the World Cup. Trying to race on a shoe string budget generally means having to be self sufficient and taking the cheapest route available, this meant my Friday was a logistical travel nightmare. Up at 5:30am. Quick ride to the train-station, make the transfers ok and get to the airport on time. Plane to Barcelona, transfer to Bilbao. Pick up rental van and guess what the traffic signs mean. Flashing yellow light, assume it means go. Blue circle with a red X through it, no idea, take a different street. I then had to find Jeremy Durrin’s hotel and the address he gave me returned four results on google, plus he doesn’t have a phone. Somehow found Durrin, and then drove with him out to the hotel to meet Parbo who drove down with my bikes. Just a regular day in the life of a traveling bike racer.

The Igorre World Cup was a cool experience, the race atmosphere was more like that of a US race than a Belgian one. Everyone was friendly, parking was simple, we arrived less than three hours before the start and didn’t get turned away for being late.

Igorre World CupThe race itself could have gone better. For the first 1/2 lap I was like a frantic junior on caffeine. Over shooting corners, slipping pedals and generally just wasting energy. I had to sit up (meaning I was quickly at the back) and compose myself. I got going again and started catching a few people, a rear flat a slowed my forward progress and I ended up finishing 32nd. My best World Cup result to date but I didn’t feel that great about it because it felt like I had really missed an opportunity to achieve something special.

Monday I was off to Mallorca for nine days of training on the island of cycling paradise. It didn’t disappoint, sunny skies and temperatures near 70 every day. I spent most of my time riding with a great group of dutch cyclocross and road racers including CX World Cup Winner Thijs Al. They knew the island well and took me on some of the most spectacular climbs I have ever done. With the warm weather and great routes three hours easily stretch into five and in my first seven days on the island I logged thirty three hours of training. I must have over done it a little because my health started to falter forcing me to take the last couple days easy. In the end it was a great experience and beat logging rainy miles back in Belgium, no surprise that most of the top Europe cross guys spend a major portion of the season in Mallorca.

Sandy Mustache

I may have made this comparison before but a Canadian racing cyclocross in Belgium is like a Belgian playing hockey in Canada, and the SuperPrestige series is the Belgian equivalent of the NHL playoffs.

I raced cross in Belgium last winter and I remembered the riders being fast and aggressive, and the courses being hard with huge crowds. But I think over the past nine months my memories of Belgium racing had lost some of the harshness. The Gavere SuperPrestige snapped me back to the reality of Belgian Cross, she is a nasty beast. Nothing is easy. Parking is always a struggle, sign in is in a different language, and you often get heckled during course pre-ride. Thankfully Gregg the manager of the Renner Custom team took care of most of this stuff and I was able to roll to the start line relaxed and ready to go.

So far this season I have had the pleasure of starting on the first or second row at every race. At call up the official was joking with me that being ranked 73rd in the World might get you a front row call up in America but here it gets you called up 3rd last. The gun went off and I was instantly reminded of the joys of a last row grinding. Riders who slipped pedals on the front acted as pillions as everyone simultaneously tried to move up. A few minutes into the race having already maneuvered around at least five crashes things settled down and I found myself riding with the British and Spanish National Champions. We weren’t in last place but we were definitely off the back. Like a Belgian, Brit and Spaniard trying to make it in an NHL hockey game we were grouped together and put in our place. After the first two laps our little trio was only 26 seconds back, I raced hard and felt like I was going pretty fast but my legs gave out and I faded towards the end.

Next up was the Koksijde World Cup, which was pretty exciting as we would be racing on the course to be used for World Championships in two months. In my opinion World Cups are significantly more enjoyable than the SuperPrestige and GVA races. The fields are substantially larger and the much more global field means there is usually a fair number of riders around my speed. The World Cups also seem to be more inclusive maybe the Belgian fans enjoy hosting a more international field. Last year I was sporting a Movember stash and had a solid group in the beer garden cheering La Moustache.

This fall in Western Europe has been especially dry making for a lot of fast racing. In Koksijde just the opposite happens, rain helps pack the sand down and helps ruts to form and maintain their shape. This year the sand was dry and deep making sections that were fairly rideable last year now unrideable for the majority of the field. The dry sand presented another issue I hadn’t anticipated, a sandy mustache. When following wheels dry sand would fling into my face and would normally just fall off but not the sand that hit my lip warmer. Besides the annoyance of a sandy mustache the race went alright. My limited sand experience was an issue and it forced me to do a huge amount of running which brought my lack of running form to light. On the plus side I had a great battle throughout the race with riders from Slovakia, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain, only the Slovakian got me at the end and he finished 50th taking the last 300euro payout by mere seconds.

Koksijde World Cup Craig Richey Renner Custom

It has been a couple weeks now since my pneumonia and after some decent training it feels like things are finally coming around. Next up is the World Cup in Igorre, I have been hoping for mud but the forecast looks pretty dry. Igorre is notoriously muddy so there is still a chance I’ll get to break out the mud tires.

Refocusing after Disapointment and Sickness

Unfortunately it seems that just when things are starting to going well something bad is bound to happen. This was the case two weeks ago making the excitement and thrill of my first UCI win very short lived. The next day was HPCX another UCI race and a chance to try and secure another win and more UCI points. For Beacon I had great from but I also had perfect focus and determination. For HPCX my form was no different but I wasn’t nearly as hungry and lacked focus I had a day earlier. I raced reasonably well but made a few mistakes a had a couple bobbles which Lukas Winterberg capitalized on and got away for his first UCI win. I battled with Jerome for 2nd but wasn’t able to match his speed at the end.

In the end I was still super happy with the weekend. I had been training hard and struggling to find form, now with a first and a third it was obvious things were coming around. With a week to go until nationals I had timed my peak well and was excited to head back to Canada to fight it out for the maple leaf jersey.

Looking back should have seen the warning signs, both Saturday and Sunday were really cold conditions. Even before the start of Sunday’s race I had an ugly sounding cough but figured it was just a race cough from the effort the day before. Monday night I couldn’t stop coughing and was having trouble getting enough air. I ended up having to sleep propped up with pillows so I could breath better and my lungs felt full of liquid. I thought “This can’t be happening, I was sick for Nationals last year”. I knew I was in trouble. My dad was making the trip up to Nationals with me and he made sure I was well taken care of with lots of hot tea and rest. I was steadily getting better and on Friday did a pre-ride of the course and my first real ride of the week. I was still kinda sick but could at least breath pretty well. This was National Championship, my number one goal for the season, not starting was never even considered. Plus participation at Nationals is required if you want to go to World Champs.

Canadian Nationals Craig Richey

Once the gun went off I knew I was in trouble. Despite feeling like ass I was faking it pretty well and bridged to the lead group on the second lap. On the 3rd lap I had a high speed crash on the descent that left me shaken and limping a mangled bike to the pit. That essentially ended my race. I rode the rest by myself in 8th off the back of the front group and the despite a lot of much appreciated enthusiastic cheering I could do nothing to get back to the front. I was absolutely devastated. Nationals was the major goal for the season and I had blown it.

Monday morning before flying out to Belgium I went to a walk in clinic and after hearing me breath the doctor immediately sent me for a chest x-ray and antibiotics. I had pneumonia. Five days later after a ton of rest and not touching the bike since Nationals I took the start line at Nommay France. It was probably a little early to be racing but I was feeling pretty much healthy and a very generous start contract and had me willing to risk it. During the race I felt good, I was cornering well and felt like I was going fast, I wasn’t. Francis Mourey lapped me. A couple two hour rides on weekend left me pretty tired, and it was evident that sickness had really drained my energy.

When things are not going well it is easy to dwell on recent results and get depressed and down on yourself. It is a long cross season in Europe and I still have three months of racing left. I am now totally healthy but I haven’t really done anything for two weeks and the bottom line is that I am a little out of shape. I’m motivated and it is time to refocus and get back on the bike.

2011 Beacon Cross UCI C2 – Winner

Many of the riders that I respect and idolize have never won a UCI race. Going into my September/October calendar of US racing I had high expectations and winning a UCI cyclocross race was a major goal. Until this weekend I had been struggling to find good sensations on my bike and had been disappointed with my results.

Arriving in Bridgeton, New Jersey this Saturday for Beacon Cross the conditions could be best described as apocalyptic. Sideways driving rain with strong gusts of wind combined with temperature a few degrees above freezing, this was not picnic weather. The course was a combination of sand and mud with huge puddles of standing water. Growing up in a small town in North Canada and then spending last winter in Belgium I am no stranger to harsh conditions. With my legs starting to come around and I begin my taper for Canadian Nationals I knew this would be my race to loose.

The starting whistle went and I was in the zone. Never once did I think about what I would be having for dinner or if I selected the right tire pressure, my only thought was how to ride the next 50meters as fast as possible. Midway through the race I attacked the lead group of three and established a solid gap to cruise in by forty five seconds. I had envisioned my first UCI win as a joyful and exciting occasion. At the finish the only person there was a bundled up official that gave me the thumbs up, there wasn’t even a finish line, even that had been washed away by the rain. There was no media scrum, podium girls, trophies, announcers, or champaign. There wasn’t even a podium. The conditions were so ugly that as soon as anyone was finished they went straight to their car and left with the heat cranked to max. The only media at the race was a shivering Molly Hurford from CX magazine. As we left my little sister took a picture of me on the podium by myself with her waterproof camera.

Beacon Cross 2011

With the European invasion that North America has experienced this season UCI wins have been hard to come by. With my win at Beacon Cross I become the first Canadian to win a UCI race this season and join Powers, Lindine and Trebon as the only four North Americans to chalk up wins. This was the 11th edition Beacon Cross and the race has been won by some high profile racers. Even though this years edition was no joke with a strong field toeing the line I will likely not jump to the top of anyone’s rankings or list of top riders.

This lack of publicity doesn’t bother me. My parents had never seen a cyclocross race before and they made the trip out to New Jersey from the west coast to visit with family and watch me race. Sharing my first win with them is something truly special. I also got to share my win will my fellow racers who I greatly respect and can appreciate the difficulty and harshness of the race. The racers I was traveling with were all acting more excited that me. Shaun Adamson, Jeremy Durrin and Anthony Clark where absolutely freakin out. I am super happy to take the win and am happy I could do my friends, family, team, and sponsors proud. I am sure it will sink in eventually maybe next week, next month, or next year it doesn’t really matter when because 2011 Beacon Cross UCI C2 – WINNER – Craig Richey is forever.

 

My Leaking Bathtub

I feel like finding good cross form and putting together a great race is like trying to fill an old leaky bathtub full of water. Training and good rides on the bike represent pouring water into the tub and sickness, injuries, and weaknesses or holes in fitness and skills represent well holes in the tub that water leaks out of.

So far this season I have been pouring a ton of water into my cross bathtub. With a focus on creating a base now that can carry me through to February I have been logging some solid miles on my bike and training through races to build a solid foundation for the season. One weekend on the calendar that I wasn’t going to train through was the NEPCX weekend in Providence Rhode Island. This weekend conflicted with the USGP weekend in Colorado and with a UCI C1 and C2 race just about every racer that wasn’t committed to a USGP schedule knew Providence was the pot of gold at the end of a weaker elite field rainbow. Even though the field was void of all the really big names solid riders came from far and wide with a hope of snatching up UCI points and a piece of the huge prize purse.

In the week leading up to Providence I was optimistic, with what I felt was a full bathtub of cross form I figured I would have a chance of battling for the win. Unfortunately all that water was too much for my tub to handle and leaks started to form everywhere. Thursday I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and Friday I was officially sick with a cold. My hard earned water was leaking out. An overuse injury in my calf from this summer also reappeared. Plus I was just tired, it hurt to go hard and I lacked any kind of punch. Lining up Saturday I knew I was in trouble but with nine grand in prize money and UCI points fifteen deep I was determined to make the best of the situation. I raced pretty smart with what I had and on the 2nd last lap got a gap on a group which would have put in my the top five, I went all in but didn’t have the staying power. I was swallowed but by the group and in the five up sprint for fourth I got spanked and rolled in for eight.

Saturday night after the race I was super sick and Sunday I made the call not to start. Despite crushing ten hour sleeps the cold kept hanging around I generally felt like crap. Looking back at my training log I had over done things a little with eleven races since the start of September and a minimum of fifteen hours a week on the bike. I was reduced to riding the couch for a week and had to skip the Granogue weekend of races. All the water had now leaked out of my CX bathtub.

Going into the Downeast weekend I had logged some good rides during the week and generally felt pretty good. With a focus on building for Canadian Nationals in two weeks my coach and I decided to just race the UCI race Sunday. I watch the race Saturday, the course and conditions looked awesome but the hours of bike cleaning that followed the race looked less appealing. On the start line Sunday I was healthy and while my cross bathtub was probably only half full it was fresher and it was holding water well. Half the course was muddy, my mountain bike and racing in europe skills had me ripping that section. The other half of the course was fast with lots of turns and accelerations, my recovering fitness had me struggling on that section. Mid way through the race I found myself in a heated battle for second with Dylan McNicholas and Luke Keough. I could get a gap in the mud but couldn’t make it stick through the fast sections and late in the race a well timed attack my Dylan and later Luke had me left for dead in forth. Not quite what I was looking for but still respectable. With Nationals in two weeks I am healthy again and feel that I’m in a pretty good place. Make sure those holes are plugged up tight and put a little more water in the old bathtub.

2011 Cross Season Opening Thoughts

I have a theory that just about every elite racer secretly hopes and thinks they are doing something special during the off season. As the racers take the starting line at the first major race of the season each hopes they will have miraculously jumped up a level. This was how I felt anyhow coming into CrossVegas and StarCrossed. However, this year like the last couple other riders get faster and slower but I seem to be more or less at the same point as the start of last season.

This was my first summer not having to work full time and also my first summer with cross as the major focus. I logged a ton of base miles with no structured efforts used racing as my intensity work. I managed to do a good mix of both road and mountain and has some success in both disciplines. At the start of August I had the opportunity to tackle my first mountain bike stage race. The Mongolia Bike Challenge, 1200km across the deserts and mountains of Mongolia over nine days or racing. It was epic. The Mongolia earth was stained with my blood and sweat but I surprised myself with a stage win and a 3rd place finish overall.

Last year I rolled into cross season after a full UCI mountain bike season. I had good form early on and hit my stride in October only to get sick a couple weeks later and then struggled to hold it together until February. That season left me shattered and restricted to riding the couch for a month.

This year I am coming into the season fresh and with a great base that will hopefully carry me though to Worlds. I am however lacking any sort of top-end. My Mongolia motor allows me to ride at tempo all day but without punch. I am gapped off the start and during the last lap surge to the line. One pleasant upside is that the races don’t seem to hurt as much, likely because I can’t do the spikes in power that set the legs on fire. My steady motor is great if it is muddy. The Nor’Easter cross race in Vermont last weekend was one of the muddiest races I have seen. I rode a steady pace for the hour and plowed through the mud for a 6th place finish, and some valuable UCI points.

At Nor’Easter I finished 6th but was the 2nd North American and it is now pretty clear that American cross is experiencing a bit of a European invasion. Cross racers around the world are scrabbling to secure UCI points before the first ranking update on October 16th. A number of big names from big teams like Telenet and Rabobank made the trip over for some of the the high profile US races like CrossVegas. Flying a little more under the radar is a contingent smaller profile yet solid Euro Pros who are racing the UCI calendar in New England. Here they are snatching up UCI points in September like Easter Eggs in April. Ian Field, Nicolas Bazin and Tom Van Den Bosch have been sweeping the podium at many of the New England races and Nor’Easter was no different. The women’s field in also experiencing a European presence in New England with Helen Wyman racking up a string of dominating wins. Is this European invasion good for American cross? In the long run definitely. In the short term it is a little harder to call. Mid-tier pros from smaller teams are not getting the wins, points, publicity and prize money of previous years. However the racers are now faster and North American riders are forced to elevate their game if they want to get on the podium. This increased competition is a good thing is these North American Pros want to be competitive on the world scene.

October is a big month for cross in America. The next few weeks of the US cross calendar are stacked with major UCI races. Tonight I am racing the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross. The next couple weekends I will be fighting it out at the first two rounds of the Shimano NEPCX series at Gloucester and Providence.

Off-season Racing

Since I only made the decision to focus on Cyclocross at the end of last summer, this is my first time experiencing a summer “off-season”.  This is definitely something I could get used to.

After returning from Belgium in early February I spent the next three weeks riding the couch while most cyclists on a traditional cycling calendar were out logging soggy miles in one of the coldest and wettest west coast springs in recently history. Come March I escaped the grey skies and wet roads of Victoria for the sunny ski trails of Smithers in Northern BC.

As April approached it was time to get back on the bike and begin building for next cross season. My coach and I decided to go with a less conventional training model focusing on building base miles throughout the summer without any structured intervals. This model would leave me mentally fresh for cross season and with the huge amount of mountain and road races available over the summer, I could use races for my intensity workouts. This would often mean racing at the end of a 20+hour training week, but with little emotionally invested in the outcome, I was able to embrace the training befit of the races and ride aggressively without fear of getting a poor result.

This off-season racing for training model generated some surprisingly good fitness and results. Maybe it is the ability to relax and race without stress, or it could be that three months of getting my face stomped by the top European cross racers has changed me as a rider. In previous summers I had spent a lot of traveling with a full calendar of Canada Cup, US Cup and World Cup mountain bike races. This summer I was able to race a bunch of West Coast road races including the Bastion Square GP Criterium in downtown Vitoria. With a huge number of cyclists in town for the Victoria Cycling Festival and Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria, this would be a hotly contested crit with big money on the line. I haven’t done much crit racing in the past, but I think it is good training for cross and going into the summer I wanted to race at least a few crits.

Despite being at the end of a heavy three week training block I managed to finish forth at the Dallas Road Time Trial, only 12 seconds behind Ryder Hesjedal. I entered Bastion Square the next morning feeling pretty optimistic. I was without any teammates and there were a number of major teams present, but there were also a couple single guys from UCI Continental road teams and I figured they would help create some confusion during the race. The 70 lap race played out predictably and with 25 laps to go I was in a seven man break with most of the teams represented, along with Nic Hamilton of Jelly Belly. At six laps to go I attacked just after a prime where the two strongest riders had just sprinted. Six minutes is like the final lap of a cross race and I thought “I can go all out for one lap”. Just as I was caught a lap later at five to go, I re-attacked and this time I was clear. I crossed the line with a seven second lead wearing my CyclocrossRacing.com p/b Blue skinsuit taking my biggest road win ever. Off-season racing is pretty fun.

At road provincials a couple weeks later I was marked pretty closely and it was obvious that the same type of performance would be tough to replicate. I still managed to get in some hard training miles which is what my summer is all about. Next up is Canadian Mountain Bike Nationals and then later this month I head off to Mongolia for the Mongolia Bike Challenge. NOP Systems/BC Bike Race is sending me and my buddy Tom Skinner to represent for North America and fight it out on what is arguably the toughest mountain bike stage race on earth. 1200km over nine days all at elevation with a huge amount of climbing is going to give me plenty of opportunity to put some big deposits in the pain bank. Add a little interest on those deposits and I will be ready to rip it up come September.

2010/2011 Cross Season Recap and Thoughts

Cross season is officially over (for me anyhow) and I have been back in Victoria for a week. The trip home was an epic 27 hour journey that left me weak and broken. I understand completely why Jonathan Page didn’t make the trip back to the West Coast mid season for US Cross Nationals.

Overall I am happy with my cross season. It was a full one with 28 races over five months in seven countries. Making the trip to Europe for the last three months was definitely a good decision and I learned a huge amount from my 16 European races. I saw some progression throughout the season and have made huge gains over last year.

Looking back my race reports all had a similar theme: Technical course, tons of fans, deep mud, crazy start, super fast field and occasionally a crash or two. That pretty well describes the European Pro cylcocross scene. My “Holy Shit” meter is now a few notches higher.
For anyone considering tackling Europe on a cross bike and increasing their “Holy Shit” meter I would definitely say it is worth the time and money. That being said having the right gear makes a huge difference and without it your trip could be a frustrating one. The general rule of thumb is to have two of everything. That might be a little excessive but an absolute must is: Two bikes, two sets of good mud tubulars, two pair of shoes, lots of brake pads and sealed cables systems if possible.

It has been ten days since my last race and I have done zero physical but still feel tired and sore. Stacking a full cross season on top of a full mountain bike season has broken me down pretty good. After 13 months of training and 10 months of racing with no real break I probably shouldn’t be surprised by my current state fatigue. Now my focus is rest, recovery, and catching up with friends. Cross training starts in March and I will get back on bike in April.

Thank you for the reading my blog and stay tuned for more this summer as I fight it out on the road and mountain bike.