Archive for the ‘Cyclo-cross’ Category

Sweet dreams are made of this?

July 25, 2021

Cyclocross weather. Not just in my head, either.

So last night I dreamed that I was racing the cyclocross national championships, and since I was the only competitor I felt I had a strong chance to podium.

But somehow I was managing to fuck it up.

Everybody’s looking for something.

I was missing some important bits, among them a helmet, a race number, and the faintest idea of what the actual hell was going on. Nobody in the dream seemed any wiser.

And at one point I was having a helluva time making the bike move at all, which is a familiar feeling to anyone who’s ever raced ’cross, but this bordered on the ridiculous, like I was trying to cycle through wet concrete with two flats and a dropped chain while the Klingons had a tractor beam on me.

It seemed increasingly likely that the officials would call the race due to there being no actual racing taking place, and I was looking at a DNF in a one-man nationals, when I saw a shooting star in my peripheral vision and abruptly woke up.

There was more to the dream, and I should’ve written it all down while it was still fresh in my mind, but Mia had somehow slipped into the bedroom and was yowling for my attention and grub, not necessarily in that order. Women were hatching schemes in the kitchen. The day was thrust upon me. Coffee was indicated.

I probably should’ve ridden a cyclocross bike but no. After last night it was the road for me, thanks all the same. And I barely made it home before the rain came. No medals or prizes were awarded.

R.I.P., Laurence Malone

May 19, 2021

The details remain elusive, but it seems that five-time U.S. national cyclocross champ Laurence Malone died Monday in an automobile crash near Lancaster, Calif.

Laurence was the real deal. When he turned up in New Mexico back in 1990 or thereabouts he’d pin on a number and go round and round with the little people. But he never went Hollywood on us. He would race in the most outdated, anonymous gear you ever saw, and beat your ass with it, too. Sold lentil burritos, which he delivered by bike.

I knew him to say hi to, but that’s about it. Herself and I gave him a lift to a race once. Another time I saw him ride a sketchy, sandy descent to the pit with his spare bike slung across one shoulder like a messenger bag, and I thought: “Man. I want to learn how to do that.”

And I had the privilege of finishing second to him in the 1991 state road championships outside Albuquerque.

Laurence was good. I was lucky. I was actually riding OK for a change, and Laurence and I had both made it into the break coming into the finish of the masters-35 race. Everybody in there was better than me, so I thought I’d launch one of my patented, doomed, last-kilo’ attacks on Sedillo Hill, go down in a blaze of glory.

But it was everyone else who went down. Well, almost everyone. Cliff Loucks and Rick Quant got tangled up somehow, taking out Tim Schoeny, Neil Davie, and Louis Abruzzo, as the contenders jockeyed for position in what should have been quite a sprint.

I heard the clatter, looked around, and the only dude still with me was … Laurence Malone.

“Shit,” sez I.

And that, as they say, was that.

I should’ve been seventh at best, but instead I got to finish on the podium with Laurence fuckin’ Malone. I’ll remember it until the day we meet again on the Other Side. If I can catch him, that is.

Peace to Laurence, his family, friends, and fans. He left us way too soon.

The dirt on Earth Day

April 22, 2021

“This site is undergoing maintenance.”
How about getting to work on the state legislature next?

It’s Earth Day, and I plan to celebrate by staying on top of it, where I can keep an eye on things.

This ain’t always easy.

There is, of course, The Bug®. And I’ve had a couple close calls while riding trails this past week. No harm, no foul, but still, I think I might give that pasatiempo a rest for a while. A skinny trail can only handle so many remote “workers” before something gives. Our dirt arteries are dangerously clogged. That’s my diagnosis, anyway.

Speaking of keeping an eye on things, and dirt, here’s some bad news: My man Brook Watts has stepped down as organizer of the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Nor will he have any involvement in the UCI World Cup race there.

Says Brook:

“The situation in Arkansas remains problematic and unfortunately, I don’t see any satisfactory resolution. I have sincerely, but unsuccessfully, attempted to work out my concerns and differences with constituents. However, regrettably, we were not successful. I remain dedicated to continuing to use my position of influence in the cyclo-cross community to fight for equity in racing, and to ensure that the sport is accepting and welcoming to all.”

This is a goddamn shame, frankly. Brook is a righteous dude, a fine racer, and a top-shelf organizer. This can’t have been an easy call for him to make.

I haven’t tugged on his sleeve for more details because he asked for privacy after making his announcement. He deserves that and much, much more.

Some people build things. Other people, eh, not so much.

Sanitized for your protection

April 14, 2021

The new descent.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Elena Gallegos trails lately. But somebody has been putting in the hours over there. And not on a bike, either.

Two rocky stretches have had the kinks ironed out of them, which is both good and bad.

The old climb out of the sand pit has been rendered impassable.

Good in that they’re much easier to ride on a cyclocross bike now. And bad in that they’re much easier to ride on a cyclocross bike now.

One I usually rode as a short descent. It was a real tooth-rattler, rocky and rutted, and I always took a good look around at the top because I didn’t want to meet anyone coming up when I was halfway down. It dumped into a sand pit and turned into a short, rocky climb with poor line of sight, so I usually hit the bell a time or two on the out of the pit.

The other I generally rode as a short climb after a longish rocky descent. It required some negotiation with medium-sized stones in tight corners, and I occasionally dabbed because it looked like it should have been easier than it was.

Well, they’re both easy now, which means people will be riding them faster, even me. No good deed goes unpunished.

Stupor Sunday

February 2, 2020

His Excellency confers with the underside of his eyelids.

As you can see, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) and his adjutant Miss Mia Sopaipilla can’t wait for The Big Game to get under way.

We don’t follow the feets ball here at El Rancho Pendejo, having gotten our fill of artificially augmented athletes at that Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla stands watch at the rear portcullis.

Indeed, we watch no televised sports of any kind, preferring to participate rather than spectate.

Oh, sometimes I’ll watch the U.S. cyclocross nationals, or ’cross worlds, if I can find a free feed uncontaminated by bots, viruses, Trojan horses, poltergeists, pixies, h’ants, djinni, cooties, boogers, and other agents of Chaos.

But I didn’t even watch worlds this weekend. My gal Katie Compton just missed the podium after a poor start, and Mathieu van der Poel — well, let’s just say that the dude might as well have been racing all by himself.

Anyway, this morning I had other concerns. Ironically, they involved my own doping regimen.

As I stumbled into the kitchen Herself intercepts me and goes all like: “Bad news. The coffee grinder’s broken again.”

Happily, she’d managed to brew just enough joe for me to pour a shot in each eyeball and then get to work rebooting the evil sonofabitch.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2019

The Sandias, as captured by my “new” iPhone SE.

O sweet irony, that the first day of winter should be the warmest we’ve had all week.

Your Humble Narrator has been doing more running than riding lately, so once the temperature inched past 45 I scooted out the door with a Steelman Eurocross and logged a refreshing 90 minutes on mixed terrain.

I didn’t want to ride a bunch of road, because all the drivers are drunk and texting relatives about what size orthopedic socks to buy Uncle Junior for Christmas and will they fit under his ankle monitor. And I didn’t want to ride a bunch of trails because all the cyclists are using them to hide from the drunk, texting drivers. Thus, “mixed terrain.” Keep the fuckers guessing.

I took my “new” iPhone SE with me, but didn’t think to take any snaps until I got home. The transition from iPhone 5 to iPhone SE was surprisingly simple — swap SIM cards, charge and boot the SE, load it with an iTunes backup of the 5, zip and zip and zip. Mere minutes only. And everything seems to be working. Even the old Tech 21 case fits like a glove.

It goes without saying that my first two calls on the “new” phone came from bots. But I’m saying it anyway.

And I’m also saying, “A happy solstice to thee and thine.” Grianstad Sona Daoibh!

Slainte, Katie

December 16, 2019

You can’t always be the windshield. Some days you’re the bug.

It happened to Katie Compton yesterday at U.S. cyclocross nationals in Tacoma. She never looked quite herself, barring one stellar, gutsy, downhill pass early on. But she never quit — she hung grimly on to finish third behind Clara Honsinger and runner-up Rebecca Fahringer.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed, but mostly I just didn’t feel that great, and it’s always hard to not have your best day, but that’s OK,” Compton told Cyclingnews. “It’s good to see Clara and Becca riding as well as they are.”

And it’s good to see the 15-time national champ gutting it out to the finish, clawing her way back onto the podium when it looked like a lost cause, and praising the two riders who finally dethroned her. She may have lost the jersey, but she’s still a champion.

Here’s mud in your eye

December 13, 2019

That old cyclocrossin’ gang of mine from the Nineties, at a race in Fort Collins. Lee Waldman (second from right) is still at it: He just took fifth in the 70-74 race in Tacoma.

If you’re weary of watching the mudslinging in DeeCee, why not change the channel to cyclocross nationals in Tacoma?

You can stream Sunday’s elite races live at Cyclocross Magazine‘s website or at USA Cycling’s YouTube channel. M’boy Tim Johnson will be providing commentary along with Meredith Miller and Brad Sohner.

Sounds like a runner’s course out there. My kind of course. I coulda been there instead of here, in Palookaville. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.

After you, Alphonse. …

September 11, 2019

The old DBR Axis TT still rolls a lot better than I do.

For a change it was the other fella on a cyclocross bike and Your Humble Narrator on a mountain bike.

I was descending a narrow bit of singletrack that he was climbing, so I found a small patch of shoulder and yielded trail.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great, thanks,” he replied with a grin.

Your cyclocrosser is nothing if not a perfect gent at all times. The rest of you lot could learn something from us.

Though now that I think about it, I suppose he could’ve been a gravel rider. I don’t know a thing about those tossers. A special bike for gravel, is it? D’ye also have ones for road and trail and track so? A cyclocrosser rides his machine where he will and devil take the hindmost.

Now you mention it, his tires did look a little plump for ’cross. Not honest 33mms like the ones on my Steelman.

The cheek of the fuckin’ bastards. Trying to pass themselves off as cyclocrossers on the singletrack. First they take our drop bars, then our knobbies, and before you can say Danny De Bie they’ll be making eyes at our daughters.

Thank God I was on a mountain bike. Now he doesn’t know that I know.

Quaddammit

February 16, 2019

The 36th Mount Taylor Winter Quadradthlon is today.

Don’t look for me in results — it’s been years since I raced the Quad, but I was pretty OK at it a time or two. The bike and run legs, anyway.

Hal’s wife, Mary, and I used to race it as a mixed pair, and we won in 1990, 1992 and 1993.

I was usually in decent shape, being tanned, rested and ready following a long cyclocross season. And Mary was always tip-top, living at altitude up Weirdcliffe way and running around with jackasses, some of them four-legged (ho, ho).

Quadware included Nambé medals and platters.

Hal, of course, did the whole thing solo, which always looked a bit too much like work to me. I was only so-so on snowshoes and an outright hazard on cross-country skis.

This was and remains a toy-heavy pasatiempo, and Hal’s truck would be stuffed to the topper with bikes, wheels, tires, skis, shoes, snowshoes and a ridiculous amount of clothing suited to any and all weather conditions.

Running shoes were augmented with sheet-metal screws in the soles for traction, in case there was ice on the run leg (there usually was).

Clip-on aero bars? Sometimes. Once I used a set of Scott Rakes to good effect, aero bars giving me The Fear on the descent back to Grants.

The bike was usually standard road. In 1990 I was rocking an aluminum Trek 1500 with 53/39 rings and a 13-24 freewheel.

I know I’ve written about the Quad before, but whatever I cranked out is squirreled away on a Zip disk somewhere or in an actual magazine, and I don’t feel like diving down those rabbit holes this morning.

However, I did find a reference to my first Quad in my 1990 training diary, and that reads as follows:

“Big-time pain. I don’t think I’ve felt this bad since I got the shit kicked out of me at Alamogordo last year. Bike leg was slower than I’d hoped for … and my uphill run was fucking awful. Downhill run was better — but not much — and the downhill bike was spiked by the Headwind from Hell.”

Yeah, good times. The Quad will never be the new golf.

• Editor’s note: Hal “Mr. Awesome” Walter notes that I lifted his faux curse “Quadammit” from one of his own works. This explains why a Spotlight search failed to turn it up on any of my hard drives; that, and an admittedly casual approach to petty theft. Give it a read.