Monday, November 28, 2011

MABRA Championships at Taneytown

Today's race was the MABRA Cross Championships at Taneytown Memorial Park. I was the only KindHuman rider there but I am somewhat of a Cyclocross Socialite so I found some cool people to hang out with. This race is not in the MABRA Super 8 Series so it wasn't one that I was really focusing on but I thought it would be good to race it so I still feel fresh next week for the last race in the Super 8 Series. I didn't have huge expectations going into this one because of rain and holiday plans getting in the way of training. I really didn't ride near as much as I should have this week. On top of that I went for a hike on Friday that was supposed to be 7-10 miles but turned into 16 miles of hiking through Shenandoah National Park with about 3000 feet of elevation gain. I haven't done much hiking, walking, or running lately so this was certainly a shock to my legs. I basically wore my compression socks continuously from Friday until my race started today in an effort to combat the soreness in my legs. So with all of that in mind I really was setting my goals lower than I should have but I did want to grab at least 1 upgrade point since I was 1 point away from the 10 needed to upgrade to a Cat 2. With 40 racers in the the field, that meant that I needed to get 5th place or better. So my goal was 5th place. When I got my number I was surprised by my 1st row starting position since I have only done 2 races in this series and I didn't place well in one of them due to mechanicals. But I took that 1st row position without complaining. The course conditions were pretty rough. I think this park may have been a water park at some point because it retains water like no other. It hadn't rained since Wednesday but there were huge mud bogs and plenty of large "bodies" of water to ride through. So after some pre ride laps on the Pit bike I line up on my sparkling clean Kona Major Jake. I've been trying to figure out why I've been terrible at my starts all season so I was determined to get a good jump on the field. I know I'm not a sprinter but I should be able to get off the line quickly.

The whistle blew and I was clipped in immediately and off. I made it to the 1st corner in 2nd position. BEST START EVER (for me)!! I took a couple of bad lines and was sitting comfortably in 3rd position. I remained there for a bit and as I passed the pit, i made my 1st mistake. "BARTLETT DOWN!!" I hear from a rider behind me as my wheels slide out from under me on a slick corner. I get back up with only losing one position. I made it through the 1st 2 major bog sections pretty well but I definitely took the slower line through it and lost another position. I'm in 5th place now as I pass the pit for the 2nd time of the lap. In an attempt to get back into 4th I try to pass on a slippery off camber straight away and wash my wheels out from under me again. Quickly I get back up and didn't lose any more spots. I run through the Run-Down/Run-Up section smoothly and remount before the next mud bog. This mud has a chain link fence on the right side and the easier way through was right next to the fence. So I take that line but the mud decides to throw me into the fence wedging my right shifter between the fence post and the chain link part of the fence. I get it out but lose another position. Now I'm in 6th as we get to the off camber turn that follows the mud. My tires are caked and I go down again. I'm right back up and now getting pissed at myself. I go through the start/finish and towards the 1st half of the lap that we skipped on the 1st lap. They made the prologue avoid that section because it was super muddy and technical and they didn't want us sprinting right into that with a large group. So right as I get into the mud I have to unclip. I remount and make a sharp right turn into a slick off camber straight away and again my wheels go out from under me. I'm pretty sure I've already crashed 5 times by the time I do one complete lap. Now I'm telling my self to relax and race smarter and let other people make the mistakes. This goes pretty well and an amazing battle starts between 2nd and 5th place. There were gaps between all of us. I bridged up, passed, bridged up, battled, passed, bridged up, battled, passed....until I was in 3rd place. For the next 2 or 3 laps positions 2 through 5 changed pretty frequently. I've never been in such an intense battle. With 2 laps to go I start running a lot more of the mud and start putting a bigger gap on 4th and 5th place because of this decision. Finally positions are claimed by the start of the final lap. I'm in 3rd with a 15-20 second gap to second place that I was bringing down pretty quickly. 4th place was about 20-30 seconds behind me now and 5th place was about 20 seconds back from there. I continue to hammer it through the straights and focus on staying upright on the turns. I continue running more of the mud sections. At the final mud section I decided to let my momentum from the hill take me into the mud and then dismount. Just as I was about to dismount I was tossed into the fence again. This time my brake lever and shifter were wedged in the chain link fence and I couldn't get it out at all. I spend about 20 seconds trying to get it out of there and then it broke and came free. I'm still ahead of 4th place but I only have about 5 seconds on him. I have no rear brake and 3 sketchly turns to go. I get through those cleanly and I'm on the straight away. I try to shift my rear derailleur but the shifter is broken and I'm stuck in my biggest cog. I shift into the big ring and start spinning my ass off to try to hold off 4th place but with a couple of shifts of his gears, he took me by a few feet at the line. 4th place.

The broken shifter was pretty frustrating to me mostly because it caused me 3rd place but I did get my upgrade points that I wanted so at least I had that. It seems like they should start changing the 4th place podium step from saying "4th" to "Chad's" because I've been 4th for 3 weeks in a row now. At least they know what size stuff to put in the 4th place prize packs. Overall it was an unbelievably fun race and an epic battle. I made some new friends and maybe a new nemesis.

Photo by Lauren Howe

Photo by Lauren Howe

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Race Reports: Rockburn Cross 11/20/11

Chad Bartlett’s Report – Cat 3/4 Men 2:00 pm

Photo: Peter Ong

Chad didn't send me a race report for the day, but here's a brief summary as seen by me (Matt). The super short story is that it went pretty well, since he ended up on the podium. From my perspective (working the pit), he pulled away from the field with a group of 3 other riders early on. All of them seemed fairly content to wait until late in the race to shake things up. With about 1 and a half laps to go, the attacks started, and the group split in two and steadily separated further as the final lap progressed. In the end, Chad grabbed 4th place for another podium this season. All of the guys at the front of this 3/4 field are pretty well matched, and as a spectator, it's definitely been a fun race to watch over the last few weeks.

OK, OK, OK. I'll take the hint and go ahead and write a more detailed race report for you Matt. First of all I was really on the fence as to whether this course would suit me or not. The pre-ride laps seemed like it was a twisty course but not the kind of cornering that I can really benefit from. I like a course that has technical corners that are still fast. This seemed a little too tight for my liking but I still felt pretty confident.

For 2 weeks in a row I had a front row starting position and in this race I really think it made a difference. I got clipped in right away and powered up the uphill start to the first set of corners. My only goal here was to stay in the top 10 and stay on two wheels through the first 5 or 6 technical corners before the sand pit. I was successful by going into the sand in 6th position and figured that the guys in front of me were going to be able to ride it clean so I stayed on my bike. It was a good decision until Pierce Schmerge (Bike Lane) who entered the sand 3 spots behind me dismounted and ran around me taking out the course tape in the process. I managed to stay on my bike but had to slow down while he ripped the tape from his bike. Now we were in the power section through the single track and the lead group was about 10 guys and we were all together with a gap to the rest of the field. As we got to the second technical part of the course, I made a mistake by going into a 180 turn followed by a short, steep, slick uphill in too large of a gear. I pulled my cleat out of my pedal and was forced to do an awkward lunge to get over the hill. I did this right in front of Chris Carraway creating a small gap between the last 4 of us in the lead group and what was now the lead 6. With one corner to go on the first lap the lead group split into two groups of 3.

So on the start/finish straightaway I sprinted across the gap to the 2nd group on the road. The 1st group was up ahead and I had to use my cornering abilities to make my way through the group I was in on the first 2 corners of the lap. Now I had some ground to make up. I just hit the corners aggressively and cleanly made my way through the sand cleanly and hammered it through the single track slowly reeling in the leaders. On the run-up, I tripped over the 1st barrier and quickly hopped back up and continued my chase. Again focusing on fast cornering to reel these guys in. It turned out that these corners were just about right for me. They seemed easier and I could really get a ton of flow going at faster speeds (Greg may disagree with me on that comment as his experience was a little different). It took half a lap but at the dismount for the 2nd set of barriers that I finally caught on. Now it was time to sit on and relax for a bit since I had just put out a pretty huge effort for half a lap. We were moving pretty well so I knew we were opening up a gap on the 5th place rider. This was just making me feel more comfortable as I tried to recover in the draft.

The next 2 laps were pretty uneventful as the 4 of us were trying to figure out who was going to make the move to try to split us up. I knew it would be Eric Krause (Antietam Velo Club) because he's a roadie that has a huge engine and loves to attack on power sections. Sure enough that's what he did and the 3 of us were unable to match his power as he shattered our little group. The rest of the race (a lap and a half) was just damage control for me. Trying to keep a good pace to slowly try to reel in the other 2 in the group while holding off the 5th place rider who has shown to have a ton of power late in the race. I managed to maintain my position and ride across the line in 4th place for the second week in a row. Next goal is to get a little higher on that podium.

It was great having Matt and Greg offering support from the pit even though they had their race right after mine.

Patrick People’s Report – Cat 3/4 Men 2:00 pm

Photo: Peter Ong

I had high hopes coming into Rockburn since it was my best race of last year. My personal goal was to shoot for a top 20 finish. I found that the course had not changed much since last year; a few new turns, a run up, and a few features were redesigned. When I got my number, I was horrified to discover that my bib number was 660, essentially putting me in the back of the field. I fretted because I know placing in the first half lap would be important once you the single track, in which passing was next to impossible. I lowered my expectations and decided to just aim for beating my usual rivals. At the start line, I had the usual pre-race jitters. I always talk about how I wish we could all skip the start and first lap, and just start at the second lap. The ref blew the whistle, and we were off. I tend to sink towards the back at the beginning of most my races and then slowly work my way up. I tried to not let that happen today. I found myself within the top twenty at the hole shot, but with such a wide course at the hole shot, holding that position was difficult. I slipped a little further back as the the pack rounded the first few turns, and there was bottle-necking once we hit the sand pit. Running through the sand pit, I fought mercilessly for positions to give myself as best advantage as possible before the next bottle-neck. I hit the off camber section, positioned somewhere in the mid-20s, not too far behind Nate C. When I hit the single track, I stayed as close to the wheel in front of me as possible, goading the rider in front of me to go faster. As we hit the stairs, I managed to gain a spot or two. What really hurt my chances of meeting my goals during this race were the amount of sloppy turns. Over this season, I've really improved my cornering abilities, but I had a hard time finding a line through a lot of the off-camber turns during this race. I forced myself to turn wide and almost go off course more than a few times.

As the race entered its second lap, and the pack spread out a bit more, which is how I like it. I made a habit of dropping the hammer during the start/finish and continuing through the grass and into the first turns at full speed ahead. This allowed me to shed the racers on my wheel at the start of each lap. I continued to move up steadily, passing groups of 2 or 3. I ran into some a little trouble during the third lap, when I was stuck behind a slow rider on the single track, which allowed a group of 5 that I had dropped to catch back up. This same guy continued this habit and slowing my race through the third and fourth laps, as I would pass him at the power sections, and he would catch up at the technical sections. All this time, I was ahead of this group of 7. On the third lap, I suffered a mechanical with my rear derailleur while coming up towards the pit. I was forced to stop and readjust my chain, allowing all 7 or the riders behind me to pass. It didn't take me long to catch back up to the rear of the group, but I wasted energy in doing so. I found myself neck and neck with one of my CrossResults rivals. During the latter part of the fourth and fifth laps, we were neck and neck, yo-yoing not more than two spots from each other. As we hit the back section of the course for the final time, I was leading him, and I knew he was eager for the sprint. I rode defensively, not allowing him to pass me until we reached the road. Until the final 100 meters we were neck and neck, until he let out an unholy growl, and lifted himself out of his saddle to make it a true sprint. I had nothing left to give and was forced to let him have it uncontested.

After the race, I had a few people tell me that I looked stronger than I have been all season and they thought I placed well. Hearing that lifted my spirits about my performance. I ended up finishing 33rd. While its not anywhere near where I would like to be and where I think I could be, I'm still content. I'm gradually improving each week, and I hope to finish the season strong. If only I was a better bike mechanic.

Nathan Ong’s Report – Cat 4 Men 8:30 am

Photo: Peter Ong

So today was my second CX race and probably the last of this CX season. I was really looking for redemption from last week's race at Schooley Mill as I plagued with some bike mechanicals. Rewind to last week, i rode last two laps with horrible front brake drag (also slight rear brake drag) and handlebars pointed in a totally wrong direction. So in hope of doing "better" or at least faster [in my head] I did some much needed bike maintenance week and go the bike setup. I had also told myself that i would not repeat my somewhat woeful mount/dismounts that i performed at Schooley Mill last week, so mid week CX practice commenced in my yard. Practice makes perfect i guess and i was more confident in my jumps off and on the bike somewhat.

Lining up on the grid i was number 58 (about 6th row). One of the "new found" strategies i wanted to employ this weekend was some big ring riding especially at the start. My borrowed bike was a full sized crank set 53/39 and last week i had brought a knife to a gun fight opening the starting spring in 39/16 or this week, it meant using that 53T. So the whistle blows and i immediately find my pedal with minimal glances down and start moving up in the line. Going into the first turn I was probably around top 7 and stayed top 7 for about 1/4 of the lap or so. I probably got way too excited and just wanted to keep them in my sights, but this pace was soon putting me into [more like BEYOND] the RED. About halfway through the 1st lap, i gave up trying to stay with the top 5 and started to ride at my own pace...unfortunately my pace soon allowed riders left and right to come past. The field at this point was already strung out but I desperately was trying to ride on courage in hope to not lose to many places. Surprisingly the mounts and dismounts went fairly well for me today. Not too many hiccups I can recall.

2nd lap of three, I felt more at my own rhythm and found someone to somewhat draft off of to gauge the rest of the race. We were probably top 15 at this point. In my mind the gaps were pretty large in front and behind me, so why not stick with this guy for a little and see if i can attack somewhere.... Leading into the sand pit, it got sketchy when the rider in front of me (whom i was drafting) slams on the brakes to get off the bike, causing me to awkwardly unclip, whilest sitting on my top tube, forcing me to get off the bike on the drive side. By the time we exited the sandpit the gap was about 3 bike lengths....I wasn't able to close the gap and the gap grew (end of the day finished 4 seconds behind). 3rd lap I was just trying to not let anyone pass and not let the gap go too much. I did have one "kill" on this 3rd lap so that got me boosted! To finish off the race, i sprinted to the finish , alone.... but cross is kind of a race against yourself at times so i figured it would be fitting.

In the end of the day i finished 17th/57. I was pleased, knowing that this race went by without having a major bike mechanical and having done some things "right" like some of the technical turns, not crashing, and mounting/dismounting. Kinda disappointed at my fitness level giving up so many places, but in the end (as always) it was a good learning experience! Congrats to the team, for getting me caught on the cross bug! =P

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

End Of The Year, End Of An Era

So, cyclocross race numero dos for the 2011 season went pretty, well, painfully. It was a tough race for the singlespeeders. A good course in Charlotte's Veterans Park that begs for big powerful riders to put it down. Not exactly a singlespeeders greatest dream. It was fun nonetheless and I accomplished my goals for the day: ride the run-up every lap and ride the sand pits (without crashing) every lap.

After the race, a group of spectators asked me, "where can I get a TOMS Shoes kit?" For the first time in my life, almost sadly, I had not much to say. But, a lot to say. As most of you on the team already know and some of you might not for 2012 we will be parting ways from the namesake that started this team in 2008. TOMS has grown to be an entity known by many. Their giving efforts are known and felt worldwide and I am proud to say that we have helped grow their One for One cause all across the country. You should all be very proud.

In that time, our relationship with TOMS has gone in many different directions and as their company grew, their support of our team lessened. In a matter of four years we have grown into 16 states, we've had a teammate featured on a SRAM commercial (during the Tour de France, no less) and we have become one of the most widely known and well respected teams on each of our local circuits. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Ryan, Jen, Matt and Wade for their contributing efforts over the years as well as our sponsors that have supported us along the way. I think we all owe a great deal of thanks to Travis at as well. Without all of you, our next step wouldn't be possible. The end of an era, but the beginning of movement. The KIND movement.

Starting in January 2012, Team TOMS Shoes p/b KindHuman Sports will officially be known as KIND Cycling. Their is a supporting sponsor in the lineup but the officiality is postponed for the time being. The first official order for KIND Bikes and Wheels has been placed and riders will be receiving frames in the next couple of months. That is something to be excited about. Also, we are in development of an aluminum cyclocross and 29er frame for everyone to #GETRAD on next season. That is also something to be excited about. Of course, all proceeds of future sales will support junior cycling and hopefully we will be welcoming some young new riders to the team very soon.

Please stay tuned. We are preparing our 2012 Jersey and Socks order for December. Also, information for reapplication and new applications to the squad will be accepted in the next week or so. If you have friends who want to jump on board with the KIND kids, now's the time.

I want to thank all of you for all that you do. You're all incredible people and 2012 will be a big one for all of us. But first thing's first, there's a lot of racing left in 2011...I know Matt and Ryan are headed to Nationals, who else if going to Madison?

Alright...time for me to get to work. Team applications won't write themselves.


Monday, November 14, 2011

This Week's Practice: Starts

Nathan O, Nate C, Patrick, Chad, Greg, and I headed over to Schooley Mill for race #6 of the MABRA Super8 series. The vast majority of us had some pretty horrible starts, but everyone stuck with it and managed to drag themselves back into their respective races. We'll just roll through the day's races.

Nathan O. Lined up for his first CX race ever, and his adventures are chronicled here. The quick summary is that he learned how to dismount/remount 30 minutes before his race started, then promptly learned all the joys that cyclocross has to offer.

Chad, Nate C, and Patrick lined up for for 3/4 race. Nate had what appeared to be a great start, but managed to lose a pedal somewhere around turn 4 of his race. He came running into the pit shortly after and suffered his first DNF in like a million years or something. This wouldn't end his day though. He walked the course for a bit, found his pedal, and immediately registered for the elite race. Patrick had some 1st lap woes as well, suffering a mechanical shortly after climbing over the barrier that most horses would trip over. I couldn't see his mishap from the pit, but I did notice that he steadily worked his way from about last place to battle it out with some of his regular rivals. Chad was the only one to get through the 3/4 race relatively unscathed. From the start, he was in the top 10, he quickly split off with the lead group, and he brought a podium spot home for the team.

Greg, Nate C, and I lined up for the 1/2/3 race, and it was more of the same for the team. Greg appeared to have a great start, then crashed hard near the pit on lap 1 and suffered a mechanical that cost him at least a minute. He regrouped and started working his way from last all the way up to 11th by the end of the race. It was the best worst race of his career, as he put it after the race. I had a miserable start, nearly running into Joe Dombrowski's rear wheel on my first pedal stroke, failing to clip in, and slowly accelerating my way up towards the finish line. I think I was in last place going into the grass. I managed to put myself right behind the first crash of the race, having to stop completely to avoid running the guy over. Then in a desperate attempt to regain some time, I washed out 3 corners later. That would be the end of my troubles, and I was able to find my way back to 8th at the finish. Nate C (in his first elite race) surprised himself by actually racing in a group, not finishing in last, and just barely getting lapped. I think he got both his best and worst cross results score in one day.

The poker race was a great addition to the event. We fielded 2 teams. Greg, Chad, and I shared 1 bike and 2 pairs of shoes, but only got 2 pair in the end. Only good enough for 5th. Nate, Nate, and Jim brought home the 2nd podium spot for the day, finishing 3rd with a better 2 pair.

Great day and great fun for everyone.


Trial by Fire

My name is Nathan Ong and I will be blogging about my past weekend's experience(s) at the Schooley Mill Cross event this past weekend. This was my first cyclocross event, my first 'race' experience, and my first weekend with KindHuman Sports. At first the guys had convinced me to join them for the poker relay while borrowing Nate C's bike, but it quickly evolved into borrowing another friends bike for the morning Cat 4 Beginner Race. Before Sunday morning, my experiences with a bike have been mainly road focused so my knowledge of cyclocross was limited to mainly pictures and youtube videos floating around the internet.

So having set up a bike, borrowed from my friend the night before the race, I was not able to ride a single mile prior to Sunday. Matt B, was gracious enough to meet up early with me in the morning and give me a cyclocross101 lesson at 7:30am. Upon meeting Matt in the morning, we got my number pinned on and class was in session. Matt quickly took me to a grassy patch near the start line and showed me a dismount/mount technique which was practiced a few times at walking pace. After doing a few jumps on and off the bike, we promptly went to the circuit and rode the circuit 1.5 times. I tried to soak in the atmosphere and visually keep all the hairpins and obstacles in mind for later recollection. After riding the course and talking, Matt accompanied me to the start line to give me some emotional support.

I arrived slightly late to the start line I was probably lined up 40 or so out of a field of around 65, i'd guess. Once the bell/whistle/voice sounded for the start, we were off! At this point all the adrenaline had come to me and I just tried my best to get a decent position while exiting the asphalt and staying upright while cornering shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel with the other riders. Being told that this was a more "technical course" than last year by Matt, I knew it would be tough to gain ground on people while needing to navigate the cyclocross obstacles around the course, so I tried my passing on straights and up slight inclines. I was fairly successful in this wayward strategy and probably passed 10-15 people on the first lap despite losing major time on dismounts/remounts and people falling closely in front of my bike. I felt fairly good about the lap =).

Now unfortunately this is where things quickly went downhill... Inevitably on the second lap about 2 minutes in, I went down due to coming in a bit hot and locking up my rear brake. I got back on the bike as best I could and quickly noticed that my handlebars were pointed in a very different direction to that of my front wheel. This being my first cross race, I suppose I didn't realize that stopping on route to fix issues is way faster (in the end) than riding a possibly broken bike. I trundled on, and subsequently realized that I was nearing my LIMIT. My lungs were burning, my legs were screaming for oxygen, and the flicks of my right wrist could not find any more gears. In my mind, I had accepted the fact that I had blown up spectacularly and was merely a spectator in the race from that point onward. Suddenly all the people who I had passed, were passing me left and right no matter the terrain. This continued on, until I crossed the finish line placed roughly 45th out of 60.

Matt quickly gave me some post-race verbal support and gave my bike a quick lookover. After a couple of seconds fiddling with my bike, it was apparent that the brake was rubbing my front wheel considerably not allowing the front wheel to spin freely. Looking back, this was probably due to improper tightening of the quick release before the race =( . So there you have it, my somewhat "crash" course into the world of cyclocross. A few notable things that I've learned from the weekend are:

  • Cyclocross is quite straining, but fun in retrospect

  • Always double check equipment before the start

  • Smoothness can often times trump pure speed

Thanks to Matt for the lessons, the team for their support, and fun times during the poker race relay shortly after the Men's 1/2/3 race!

Friday, November 11, 2011

My New Year Of Making A Better Effort

It has been a while since I've been able to post about a race that I have done. I know, I'm the team director, there are no excuses for me to not be racing. I should be out there every weekend busting my tail repping for the team and for the cause. Getting rad. Getting beat. I agree. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way. Races are too far and there's not enough gas in my car. Money saved is money maybe better spent to visit family or my beautiful fiance, all of which are a long drive or plane ride away. Looking back, it's funny. I did the most racing of my life when I was unemployed. Nearly every week I found myself at some nondescript industry park crit or makeshift cross race on an all-girls college school grounds. Truth is. I really miss it. I miss the competitive companionship. The mutual respect amongst competitors and the pats on the back and 'atta boys after the race. I miss the burn in your legs and lungs that you can't replicate on a training ride no matter how many watts or BPMs. Last Saturday's Cross in the Park at Greenville's Cleveland Park was where I would put my pedal back to the meddle of racing. It was cold. I dressed in the zoo parking lot. On the other side of the trees were primates booing and barking as I chamoised up and globbed some embro on my thighs, knees and calves. This is where it all starts coming back to me. The balmy mentholyptic aroma that hits the back of your throat and nostrils is my first sign that I am stepping back into my old comfort zone.

11:00am | Although few competitors are near to be seen, I register and hop on course to recon the pain that was about to ensue. Red and white course tape lined the tree covered course that resembled more a short track event than a cyclocross race. Not a cambered straight or even run-up on the course. This, was nature.

12:00pm | My reconnaissance would pay off in turn one. A sharp, bottle-necked 90-degree turn that quickly wrapped into a 180-degree left-hander before a doglegged sprint into the singletrack. I on my singlespeed and the majority of our field geared, was at a disadvantage in the sprint. The lead riders took off and seemingly forgot the aforementioned hard right to 180-degree bottleneck I just described and piled on top of each other. I made a sneaky pass on the right and found myself sitting in first place through the singletrack. I sprinted hard and put a solid gap into my geared rivals.

12:08pm | It wasn't long before the stampede would catch me. I did my best to fend them off by taking tight, fast lines and making myself big through the turns. Did I mention the corners on this course? This course was one big corner. It was very difficult to stay on top of your gear because the optimal chances to open up the engine were nonexistent. Cant left, cant right, foot down, at every opportunity I was out of the saddle trying to get back up to speed. My hips have never burned so much.

12:10pm | My attempts to hold onto number one were flighting. A rider tried to take my inside line and jammed his front wheel between my crank and chainstay, right under my foot. After untangling myself from his mess I found myself in fourth place. I like to call this part of my race: Momentum Lost.

12:35pm | One more rider ended up catching me around the barriers (where I need lots of work) somewhere on lap two. For the remaining three laps, I did my best to limit my losses on the front five and hold off the field behind. My cornering become a bit more sloppy but I found myself having a lot of fun. Snot pouring out of my nose, the dreaded cross hack creeping in my chest and throat, the burn of Soigneur embro still tingling on my thighs and calves I soon crossed the finish line in fifth place. First in the single speeders.

They started the juniors about a minute behind our race and I gotta say, I had the most fun on the course riding alongside these lapped saplings. I would ask if they were having fun and encouraging them to try to sit on my wheel. These kids, most of whom were forced to race on their entry-level mountain bikes with skateboarding helmets and flannel jackets were probably wishing they were at home playing Wii at the start of the race. I hope, and think, that maybe I helped make this forced family fun - more fun.

This is a new start for me and my off- and -on relationship with racing. This is my New Year of Making a Better Effort. I have the love and support of a great woman who wants me to pursue my love of competitive riding. I also have this group of amazing individuals that has truly grown into something spectacular and inspiring. Some of you I plainly consider my closest friends. In this New Year of Making a Better Effort I will also not take anything for granted, not my loving wife-to-be's support and encouragement or your selfless efforts and contributions to this little team we started four years ago.
This weekend, I'm off to spend Pre-Thanksgiving with my amazing parents Mark and Patti, in Winston-Salem. On my way home on Sunday, I'm going to make effort number two at Veteran's Park in Charlotte, part of the growing NCCX series and hopefulyl stop by to see my college roomate and good friend Dan who bought a house on the course about two years ago. Here's to making a better effort...


On another note, we have found a steel/aluminum manufacturer Stateside to build our cross and mountain bike models. We are actually in the process of providing detailed insight for their house geometry. This has all of the promise of a beautiful partnership for KIND Bicycles, our team and our causes in the future. Be stoked.

Also, our carbon order for the Koura, KorsAir, KuTT and K.38, K.50, K.60 and K.88 tubular wheels and rims ends tonight at midnight. If you want/need race wheels or frames for next road/tri season...get those orders in tonight!