53. My First CX Race

Wohoo, I didn’t get lapped!

Sunday, September 10, 2017.  Millbrook, Ontario.  My first Cyclocross race.

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Me.  My first CX race.  “I’m not getting lapped!” (photo courtesy Hinkel Yeung)

Trail Tours Cross, presented by Substance Projects and Bateman’s Bicycle Co.  It was the first race in the SubstanX CycloCross Series.

And, as the title says, it was MY first CX race, ever.

And, as the first line says, I didn’t get lapped.

Well, I got lapped, but not really.  I mean, I WAS lapped, but it wasn’t in my first race, and when I was actually lapped (in my second CX race on the same day), I was in the Single Speed category and apparently you’re SUPPOSED to get lapped.  Yeah, I’m a bit confused too.

But I’m not confused about this:  CX is really freakin’ awesome.  Like, totally, utterly, wickedly, giant boomedly, AWESOME.

Okay, full disclosure, it ain’t MTB, and my heart sings for MTB, but it’s really really really close.  By the way, that’s probably not the best slogan for Cyclocross.  “CX”:  It’s not MTB, but it’s really close”

It’s close because it’s very similar, but not really, and very different, but kinda the same.

Okay, now I’m more confused.

And to make matters worse, instead of being one big race with a bunch of different categories like MTB, a CX “race” is a series of shorter races with an actual crap tonne of different categories.

To put things into perspective, my last MTB race was a two lap 78k (or 37k) race, with a start time of 11:00 (or 11:30).  Trail Tours Cross was a 40-60 minute race, on a 3k lap, with a billion different start times, and 20 billion categories.  I’m sort of exaggerating, but not really.  And, because of the multitude of start times and categories, I got to do a Novice race at 9:30, and almost immediately after that, I did a Singlespeed race at 10:50.  So, my first CX “race” was actually was my first two CX races.

Wait, did that make it more confusing?

Either way, it was a blast.  Seriously, it’s the funnest.  It was so fun that I did my third CX race (or was it my second CX race) two days after, on Tuesday night, when the King Weekly Series MTB race shifted to the King Cross Weekly Series.

Aw dang it, I’m too old for this. My first cross race was two races, and my second (or third) cross race was actually my weekly MTB that became a CX series.  And I still don’t know if I should call it CX, Cyclocross, or just Cross.

And wait a sec, what the heck is a Cross race anyway?  Is it MTB?  Is it road?  Is it gravel?

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I love this shot (photo courtesy Hinkel Yeung)

Yes.  Put simply, Cyclocross is a MTB race on grass and gravel–and some trail–with lots of corners, and the occasional (somewhat-ridable-but-not-really) barrier thrown in for fun, ridden on a bike that looks like a road bike but is as close to a road bike as a potato is to a duck.

Put even more simply, it’s really just an easy MTB race, but on a different bike.  Sorry hardcore CX riders, but I’m just sayin’.

Oh wait, you don’t have to ride a CX bike, or a Cyclocross bike, or even a cross bike. Really, you can pretty much ride any bike you want.  Unless it’s a UCI Cyclocross race, in which case you HAVE to ride a CX bike, with tires that are between 30-38mm wide, and other restrictions.

Except, from what I’ve gathered recently, most CX races aren’t totally UCI and allow pretty much any bike.

So thanks for making it even more confusing CX race organizers.  Or should I say Cyclocross organizers.  Or is it Cross organizers…

By the way, here’s my bike.  Drool.

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My Norco Threshold SL.  So dreamy.

And what’s the deal with cowbells?  “Cowbell Cross” this, “MORE Cowbell Cross” that. Cowbell, cowbell cowbell.  As a genre of racing, you can’t settle on a bike, a name, or a start time, but you can agree on a style of bell?  And more of that bell?

I’m kidding of course.  CX rules are pretty deep and mighty (and they really aren’t “easy MTB races”–they’re super hard and technical) but for someone like me, it’s all a bit overwhelming.  Especially with all those cowbells ringing…

So, in an effort to make it a bit easier for newbies to join the ranks of the CX, I have a few tips and observations.  Oldbies need not continue reading.  I’m not going to get more funny, and you won’t learn anything.

Here are 12 things I learned about CX in my vast (three race) experience:

  • CX is technical and hard:  Bikes take one heck of a beating.  Like, a real crap kicking. That said, they’re only really hard and technical if you want to win.  If you just want to ride, they’re fun and awesome, and totally ridable.  Honestly, I’m taking my kids to the next race.
  • Narrow tires:  Speaking of a beating, 33mm tires are wicked fast, wicked hard, and wicked fun.
  • Tire pressure:  Make friends with your pump.  However, whatever pressure you choose, it’ll likely be wrong, but you never know.  If you’re riding a MTB bike in a cross race, increase the pressure (it’ll help you on the grassy sections).  If you usually ride your cross bike on gravel and rough road, decrease your pressure (it’ll help when you smoke a rock or root)
  • Pacing:  CX races aren’t designed for endurance.  They’re short laps in a short period of time, and require an entirely different pacing from a long MTB race or road ride. Think fast, hard, and relentless.
  • Barriers:  Every once in a while in a CX race, there’s an obstacle (or barrier, or step up, or run up…) that you have to somehow manage to get over with your bike. The pros bunny hop the barriers; the proficient riders hop off, carry over, and hop on in a one boss looking fluid motion; and the newbs slowly approach, brake, awkwardly unclip and dismount, clamber over, and clip in, in a long and horrible series of sasquatch-like grunts and maneuvers, before continuing.  Wait, is that just me?  Of course, the Joeys do this:
  • Laps:  Lots and lots of laps.  With a race time of 40 minutes to an hour, and a 2-3k course, you’re looking at 5-7 laps.  This means a pre-ride can give you a whole bunch of information about lines, timing, pacing, and other snags–that you’ll encounter at least half a dozen times in a race.  By the way, if you get lapped, you’ll get pulled out of the race.  Or not.  It depends.
  • Visibility:  With such a short course, spectators can see most of the action from one or two places.  This is good if you’re a pro and have wicked style.  This is bad if you’re, well, re-read #3 “Barriers” and imagine the same barrier over and over again–with an audience.  Hinkel Yeung was at Trail Tours Cross capturing the day.  Hinkel is one heck of a photographer, and has an awesome eye for a great shot.  Check out his photos of the race. All action shots in this post are from Hinkel.  Thanks for sharing your craft Hinkel.  Awesome.
  • Vibe:  The vibe at a CX race is pretty cool.  Lots of people, lots of spectators, and a really cool atmosphere of good natured trash talk, supportive encouragement, and bike-minded people getting together.  And cowbells.  Cowbells everywhere.
  • Terrain:  Grass, gentle single track, hard double track, sand, gravel, rocks and roots, and everything in between.  CX course designers don’t look for the easy line.  They create the hardest line.
  • Water:  Apparently, it’s verboten to have a water bottle in your cage in a Cross race and if you have one, you’ll look like a newbie.  Well, I get thirsty, and I always have one.  Plus, what if I swallow a bug?  If real CXers think I look funny with a water bottle, don’t ask me what I think of them and that infernal bell…  I’m kidding.  I really dig the bells. They’re fun.
  • Course:  In all of the CX races I’ve raced (okay, in BOTH of them) the courses had similarities.  The similarities are as follows:  They look like they were created by you and your friends when you got new bikes and wanted to have a race around your front yard. Seriously, CX is old school, “lets ride our bikes around and over stuff”, high energy ripping.  I didn’t grow up on the North Shore, and my childhood neighbourhood forest was a mess of trees with a walking trail.  When my friends and I wanted a cool off-road bike experience, we made an obstacle course around my street and tried to ride around, over, and through everything in sight.  It seems to me that same spirit runs deep in CX.  I’m pretty sure the kid from “Family Circus” is now a CX course designer.

Honestly though, what do I know?  I did a few races (and I’ll do a bunch more), but MY experience is just that:  MINE.  Your experience may be totally different.

Which is why YOU need to try one.

If you’re a CX rider, I’ll see you out there.  If you’ve always wanted to be a CX rider, what are you waiting for?  And if you’re not interested in CX, you really need to rethink that position.

Look at me, making friends with Commissaire Brad.

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Oh wait, I almost forgot to write a Race Report.

Race Report.  SubstanX Cyclocross Series #1: Trail Tours Cross (presented by Substance Projects and Bateman’s Bicycle Co.).  September 10, 2017.

Sand, grass, a sweet berm, a fast and bumpy descent, some cornering, a bit of double track, a bit of singletrack, S-turns, a splash of mud, more sand, some farm track, some more grass, a barrier, another barrier, two jumps, a step, and some grass.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

End of Race Report.

…and a podium finish for Team Colin the single speed category (my second CX race).

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When there are only three people in a category, you’re kind of guaranteed a spot on the podium.  Single Speed love.

A report of the King Cross Weekly Series, is in the PS of this post.  Hint, it’s pretty much more of the same awesomeness.

CX.  It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s awesome.

Dinga linga linga ling.

Ride.

 

PS  The Next SubstanX Cyclocross race is this Sunday, September 17, at MTB Kingston. You can register for SubstanX Farm Cross here.  Thanks to Substance Projects, Bateman’s Bicycle Co., Danone, Pearl Izumi, Joyride 150, Amsterdam Brewery, Hinkel Yeung, and Trail Tours (for the awesome land use).team-colin-cx.jpg

And here, as promised, is the King Cross Weekly Series Race Report.

Race Report.  King Cross Tuesday Night Race.  Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Centennial Park, King City

Gravel driveway, grass, trees, more grass, across the driveway, more grass and trees, a neon orange barrier, some more grass, a zip around the port-a-potty (close your mouth), grass, some flowy singletrack, some grunty singletrack, some more flowy singletrack, some narrow and winding singletrack, grass, double track, some grass, and bask to the parking lot.

And repeat.

And repeat…

End of Race Report.

So much fun.  If you want to race King Cross, come to Centennial Park in King City (not the other Centennial Park–which also has a CX race) the next two Tuesday nights at 6:00. Get more information here:  Evolution Cycles.

Hey look, it’s me, Jamie, Ryan, and Tristan (dude is faaaaaaaaast on a bike).  10 minutes before this picture, the stuff in the concrete bunker behind us was a wicked CX race.

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And Take a look at my last blog post.  I’ve listed a few other CX races there.

Also, you NEED to check out Bateman’s Bicycle Co..  Rob Bateman and I finally got to chat on Sunday.  Dude is super cool, an awesome supporter of CX, and I’m just going to say it, he’s as handsome as heck.  His shop also sponsors a Bateman’s Midweek Cyclocross until the snow flies.  Here’s a picture of me and Rob (he’s totally going to be a BFF) enjoying our podium cookies (courtesy of Dan’s mom).
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And here are a few other pictures from the day.  They are, in no particular order:  Dan’s awesome support crew (Jenn and Simon, Sherry, and Ron and Florence); the podium crowd (with bells); and some of the folks from Bateman’s enjoying a Team Colin popsicle. …oh, and maybe a shot of me.

 

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52. Why YOU Need to Race CX

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Enter a caption

Gotta be honest, I really don’t know why YOU need to race CX this year.  I don’t even know why I need to race CX this year.

Truthfully, I don’t know the first thing about CX.  Wait, that’s wrong.  I know that it’s a CROSS between road and MTB.  Well. sort of.  I think

Oh wait, I also know that a CX race has fences and barriers.  Or something like that.

And I know that CX races are on grass.  I mean, mostly grass.  And other types of terrain.

Okay, so maybe I’m not a CX resource, but the world wide web is.

The Googler dictionary defines CX as:

cross-country racing on bicycles

So thanks for that Google. Try not to be so precise next time.

How about the Wikipedia

Cyclo-cross (sometimes cyclocrossCXcyclo-X or cross) is a form of bicycle racing.

Um, okay.  Worse than the Googler.

I’m kidding, there’s more.

Races typically take place in the autumn and winter, and consist of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5  km or 1.5–2  mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.

Okay, that’s better.  Sounds kinda cool.

Check out the rest of Wikipedia’s post here. CX

So now I know, based on my extensive research (or two clicks on my computer) the following:

  • races last about an hour, and consist of multiple laps of a short course
  • course conditions are a mix of everything
  • CX bikes are a cross between road and MTB
  • you’re probably going to have to shoulder your bike at some point
  • drop bars (or not); 33mm tires (or not); disk brakes (or whatever)

I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty boss.  Boss indeed.

And once again, riders and racers in Southern Ontario are blessed with a horde of different CX races from which to choose.  There are a bunch of established CX races and series, and a bunch more one-offs.  If that’s not enough, there are some great new opportunities this year.  In fact, my Tuesday night races series, the King Weekly Series (presented by Evolution Cycles), is even extending the season to add three cross races: King Cross.  Awesome.

To make it easier, races like Substanx and King Cross are promoting their CX races as hybrids, and allowing (nay, encouraging) a variety of bikes and riders from different disciplines to come out:  Fatbike, SS, MTB, whatever.

I’ve never done a cross race, but with so much choice, I think it’s time.

So, for my first cross race, I’m going to try Substanx, Dan Marshall’s answer to cross, presented by Substance Projects (yeah, cool name, eh?).  Substanx is a three race series, starting this Sunday, at Millbrook (near-ish to Ganaraska Forest).  Aside from the proximity to the city, and the fact that I can actually make the date, the race is sure to be another Substance Projects wickedly fun and awesome rip.

Oh, and there’s a rumour floating about that there is a special emcee for Substanx Millbrook.  It may or may not be Team Colin.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone.  Who am I kidding, tell EVERYone.  I get to race AND talk about racing–with a microphone.  Bee double oh, em.

By the way, my second cross race will be a few days after, on Tuesday night, at King Cross.

Back to the title of this blog post.  Why do YOU need to race cross this year?  Well, Sunday is coming up, and there’s a bike race.  I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me.

Ride.

 

PS.  Here are some links to some pretty awesome CX rips:

Sunbstanx

Bateman’s Midweek CX

Evolution Cycles King Weekly Series: King Cross

Trek Cyclocross Series

Cookie Cross @ Christie Pits (CXTO)

Mad Cross, Baseball Cross, Dam Cross, CX O-Cup, Turkey Cross, Nordic Cats…Check out the OCA Events Calendar

 

Something to say about bikes, riding, racing, cross, or otherwise?  A race to add to the list of links above?  Comment on the link above, or send an email to: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

 

 

42. Why YOU Need to Race a Weekly Series.

Wohoo. It’s The Middle of the Week!

team-colin-King-Weekly-Series.jpgWait, what?

I know what you’re thinking:

Ugh, it’s the middle of the week.

Last weekend was so long ago, and next weekend is sooooo far away.  Hump Day…the day before Hump Day…the day after Hump Day…

Ugh.

That’s not what I’m thinking.  I’m thinking:

Wohoo, it’s the MIDDLE of the week.

Because whichever day it is in the middle of the week, it’s a weekly series race day–and that’s awesome.

So very very awesome.

I’m tired, I have work legs, I’m behind on every chore that ever existed, and my back and shoulders are still a mess of aching tightness, but for about an hour this evening, NONE OF THAT will matter.

What will matter will be my legs and my lungs, the trail, and the trees, and an hour or so of white knuckle, kick-ass, fast-paced shredding, with a bunch of awesome bike minded people.

Weekly race series.  Boom.

A few weeks ago, I gave a complete list of other alternatives to a weekly series race.  They included

  • Laundry
  • Cutting the lawn
  • Washing the dishes
  • Doing homework (what, I’m a teacher, I call it homework too)
  • Watching tv
  • Cleaning your bike after racing the Epic 8 Hour or or other big boss awesome race (the only REAL acceptable option on this list)
  • Any other mundane daily task that flesh is heir to

To be clear, I just quoted part of a line from Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.  He didn’t have a bike, but if he did, I’m pretty sure he would have said “To ride, or not to ride” instead of sulking about his castle wearing his little tights and taunting poor Ophelia.

For me, a weeknight ride is a stolen ride.  It’s stolen from all those things listed above. But all those things can wait.  It’s true.

Riding can not wait.  It’s more true.

The dishes will either grow legs and walk away, or somehow they’ll get done.  The grass will get longer, but you can cut it tomorrow.  The laundry isn’t an issue because we’ve all got something else in our closet to wear, and if we really want to wear last week’s dirty pants, we can just take them out of the hamper and put them on (really, they were okay when they hit the pile, and they’ll be okay if we put ’em back on for another day.

But a missed riding experience is something we can never get back.  The trail will never be the same as it is today…it could rain tomorrow…my bike might get stolen..there could be a zombie apocalypse…

Really, with those options, I think we’d all be fools if we DIDN’T race in the middle of the week.

It’s odd.  Riding has kind of (but not really) taken a back seat for me lately.  In the past month and a half, I did 4 big races, two weekly series races, a few little rides here and there, and 5 blog posts, but I  feel like I have to spend weekdays recovering from a weekend haul, and haven’t been riding as much as I should.

And that’s the great thing about a weekly series race.  I’m registered for a season, so the details (and even the decision) have already been established.  Having a definite date and time planned for a weekly ride is a great thing indeed.  Oh, and I get to play bikes with friends.

What?  You’re not a racer?

You feel intimidated?

You don’t think you can do it.

Well…

Yes you are a racer–everyone is a racer.

There’s no need to feel intimidated because weekly races are ALWAYS chill, casual, and relaxed.

And yes you can.  If I can race, ANYONE can race.

Here are five reasons why a weekly series is awesome:

  1. They’re less than an hour long
  2. The organizers will answer any email questions that you have, and help you through the whole process
  3. The people who race weekly series are the people you want to know (just trust me on this)
  4. They’re a great way to introduce yourself to a big race experience, and they’re not as tough as you’d think.
  5. While there are riders who are there to COMPETE, most are there just to ride hard. So, if you’re really worried about riding with a big mean group, seed yourself at the back of the pack, and within a few minutes, you’ll probably be riding alone.

Oh, and here are three simple rules to doing a weekly race:

  1. If you need to pass someone, ask, wait for a good spot, and announce which side you’re passing on.
  2. If someone asks to pass, pull aside when you can, and tell them to pass.
  3. Stick around after the race to chat with other riders.

By the way, I usually race the King Weekly series on Tuesday nights, but I’ve raced Durham too, and I plan to take a stab at each of the following this summer: Kelso; Coulson Hill; Durham; Hardwood Hills; and Albion Hills.  I’ve got links to each race after this post.

With all of the great weekly race series to choose from, and the now discredited list of alternatives, it isn’t a tough choice. Honestly, there is no better way to experience some great racing, some great camaraderie, and some of Southern Ontario’s awesomest trails.

And if you choose not to ride in the middle of the week, just remember Hamlet.  He didn’t ride, and look at what happened to him.  It involved a sword, some poison, and a bit of agony…

Ride.

PS

A few lines that didn’t make the blog:

Hey Laertes, instead of a duel, let’s go for a rip?

Shall we ride a lap, lady?

Frailty, thy name is a cracked frame.

Neither a non-rider or a non-racer be…

This above all: to the ride be true.

Something is rotten in the state of my cycling shoes.  Methinks tis my socks.

Links to weekly series sites.  Click and race!

And here’s a link to a Race Calendar blog that I wrote a while back.  It’s got bigger races, bigger awesomeness, and a summer full of great riding!

39. King Race Series ’17

King-weekly-series-team-colin.jpgWhat are you doing when you get home from work on Tuesday night?

If you’re a rider, you have four choices:

  1. Go for a ride.
  2. Relax and watch tv.  Here’s Tuesday’s television schedule.  If you just clicked that link, you suck.
  3. Cut the lawn, do the laundry, or otherwise occupy yourself with household non-bike drudgery.
  4. Race!

Note the punctuation in the list above.  While “Ride” is a viable option, “Race!”, is the clear choice.

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King Weekly Series!

The Spring Season is in full bloom, and it’s time to start riding, racing, and riding some more, because even though the winter just ended, there are only 7 more months of guaranteed riding awesomeness before the Spring/Summer/Fall season is over and the snow starts to fall.

And there is no better way to enjoy a spring ride than to race the King Weekly Series. It’s happening every Tuesday night of the season, and here’s the thing:  It’s a race, but not really.  Sure, if you’re hungry and want to win, you can go out and give it your best shot–although be warned that some choice riders are going to be doing the same thing–but if you just want to get on your bike with a bunch of other bike minded people (I am so using this term more often), and push yourself harder than you do on a regular ride, a weekly series race is the way to go.

The course is different each week, the vibe is relaxed and communal, and Jamie and crew will walk you through whatever hesitations you have.

Here are the Top Eleven reasons why the King Weekly Series is for YOU.  Yeah, eleven reasons…because Team Colin goes to eleven.

  1. The series is a well kept secret, and that means small crowds.  Small crowds mean a better chance of snagging a door prize, and if you’ve got the lungs for it, fewer racers means a possible spot on the podium (Of course, there is no podium at the weekly races–just an announcement–but if you win the series, there is a podium ceremony at the end of the season).  Oh, and sometimes Team Colin Hats are a door prize.  Yeah, boom.
  2. Treats!  When it’s warm, someone usually brings frozen treats (HINT:  it’s Team Colin). FYI, watching a bunch of gnarly MTBers trying to look gnarly while eating a popsicle is awesome.  Spoiler alert:  they look the opposite of gnarly.  There is also a free pizza night, a free BBQ night, and sometimes even home baked goods!
  3. Jamie Davies.  I love this guy.  Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the boss MTB vibe, maybe it’s the AWESOME courses he creates.  Whatever it is, I just love him.  (Don’t worry Ryan and Tristan, I love you two too!).  By the way, if you haven’t seen Jamie grace a bike seat, you HAVE TO.  This guy is FAST.  Like, smoking fast.  Dude can ride.
  4. Centennial Park. It may not be big, but it’s filled with some great technical features, some grunty climbs, a few hairy descents, and lots of new stuff each year.  It’s a tiny mecca of MTB nirvana.
  5. 15/20.  It only costs 15 bucks to race (or $175 for the season), and there are 20 races. between April 25th and September somethingth.
  6. Here’s another name:  Tyler Clark.  Tyler is the 2016 U17 Canadian National MTB champ!  Two days after a winning run in Baie-Saint-Paul, he clocked a blistering time at the King Series.  How did he win a Canadian National Championship?  Surely, it was his time spent doing the King Weekly Series…  By the way, his siblings are pretty awesome too.  ALL of the Clarks race the King Series.
  7. The King Weekly Series has a Facebook page!
  8. Two words.  Drew.  Bezanson.  Drew and I are totally BFFs.  It’s true.  Here’s what I wrote about my bestie (he loves it when I call him that) after he raced the King Series last year.  Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson.
  9. The Bateman’s Bicycle Company team riders.  A bunch of them race the series.  Want to watch some hardcore MTB riders do their thing–these guys are awesome. Store owner, Robert Bateman sometimes rides too, and he just books it.  If you ride as slow as me, you can watch them shred the trail as they skim past you in the last lap.
  10. Laps.  Yeah, laps.  It’s usually a 3k to 4k lap.  That means you can easily book through a practice lap before the race starts and try to master some of the fun stuff. Also, with short laps, you can experiment with pacing and pretty much ride full out.
  11. Kids.  The course and vibe of a King Race is totally kid friendly.  It’s not Kid-Easy, because, you know, MTB, but it’s Kid-Doable.  Jamie has a kid, many racers bring their kids. There’s even a reduced kid price.  You should bring your kids. If you don’t have any, please think about your MTB responsibility.  The fruit of your loins is the next wave of MTBers.  Now get out there and make a kid!

Here’s a bonus.  If you’ve read to the bottom of this list, and if you comment on this blog, YOU are entered into a draw to race for free one Tuesday this summer.  Jamie Davies has authorized Team Colin to grant the awardment (totally a real word) of one race each month.  That’s one draw in April, one draw in May, one draw in June, one draw in July, one draw in August, and one draw in September.  The best thing is that if you win, you don’t have to race in that month.  Contest Rules:  1.) If you haven’t raced in the series before, I’m going to put your name in twice.  2.) There are no other rules.

I wrote about the King Series a few times last summer.  If you want to get a feel for the course, click one of these:

Can I talk about Evolution Cycles for a sec?  They run the series.  They are awesome. Like any great bike shop, they are everything bikes! Whether you are a beginner or a pro, road, fatbike, or MTB, or anything in between, they will nurture and support you.  If your current bike shop doesn’t make you feel like a pro, find a new bike shop.  If you’re close to Yonge and Major Mackenzie, it should be Evolution Cycles.   When you walk out of Evolution Cycles, you feel like a team rider.  If you can’t find parking right in front of the store on Yonge Street, park in the back and use the back door.  There’s a sign.

When I get home from work on Tuesdays this summer, I’m going to have a few choices. I will be tired.  I may want to have a dirt nap.  I may want to just bake my brain in front of the TV.  There will be buckets of laundry.  There will be grass that needs to be cut.  There will be chores and homework and errands and all sorts of life that need tending.

There will also be the King Weekly Series.  Everything else will just have to wait.

Ride.

 

PS.  Hey, do you have a question about the series? Do you want to try a race, but think it may not be for you, or have questions?  Comment below, or send an email to me at: teamcolinblog@yahoo.com

By the way, if you want to try a weekly series, they are all awesome.  I like King on Tuesdays, but check out these other races too.  You won’t regret it.

 

News: It’s A Fundemic!

UPDATE:  April 10, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS TO CASS K., WINNER OF THE GRAND PRIZE (XCM RACE REGISTRATION, JOYRIDE 150 PASS, RYDERS SUNGLASSES–COURTESY OF CYCLE SOLUTIONS–FREE REGISTRATION TO A KING WEEKLY SERIES RACE, 2 PASSES TO THE DMBA DEMO FESTIVAL–ON MAY 6th–AND A TEAM COLIN HAT.  BOOM.

CONGRATULATIONS ALSO TO JEFF S., WINNER OF A KING SERIES RACE REGISTRATION, AND 2 PASSES TO THE DMBA DEMO FESTIVAL.  SMALLER BOOM.

Thanks to Dan Marshall and Substance Projects, Cycle Solutions, Joyride 150, Evolution Cycles, and DMBA.  So fun.

The Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic

Yep, a Mountain Bike Fundemic!  AND IT JUST GOT BIGGER!!!

Once again, mountain biking is about to get a wee bit awesomer, with the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic (not to be confused with last Fall’s Team Colin Epic Boom Giveaway Spectacular).

What exactly is the Team Colin Epic Prize Boom Fundemic?  It’s a boatload of prizes, that’s what.

UPDATE    Not only is it all of the cool stuff listed below, but it now includes a PAIR of passes to the Durham Mountain Bike Demo Festival on May 6.  Wickedly rad.  

Dan Marshall from Substance Projects has authorized the Team Colin Blog to give away a free registration to one of his XC Marathon races this season.  Sweet.

The good folks at Joyride 150 want to help you get in shape for the race season–or maybe just have some fun going for a sweet rip on their new FLOW TRAIL–and have authorized Team Colin to include a day pass to the park.  Boom.

But wait, there’s more.  Evolution Cycles run the King Weekly Race Series every Tuesday night, from May to September, and Jamie Davies doesn’t want you to feel left out, so he is giving away a free registration to one of their weekly rips.  Pick a Tuesday night from May to September, bring your A-Game, and bust a lung at Centennial Park.  Kapow!

And there’s even more!  Matt Morrish and Cycle Solutions  have Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, and the want you to look cool.  Bam!

And to top it all off–literally–how about a Team Colin hat?  Team Colin hats are the perfect way to celebrate the Team Colin Experience.  Kaboom.

To recap:

  • Free registration for an XCM race this season.
  • Free Joyride 150 day pass
  • Free pair of sweet Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, courtesy of Cycle Solutions
  • Free registration to a King Weekly Series race
  • 2 passes to the DMBA Demo Festival on May 6
  • Free special edition, artisanal cotton, blue camo Team Colin hat

It’s a Fundemic!

Entering is easy.  If you already follow the Team Colin blog, or if you already follow the Team Colin Facebook page, just type a sentence with the word “Fundemic” on the blog or the Team Colin Facebook page (yeah, it’s that easy).  However, if you aren’t part of the team, all you have to do is one of the following things:

OPTION 1:  Follow the Team Colin Blog.  It’s not as bad as it seems, and you can unfollow it at any time after the draw.

OPTION 2:  Follow the Team Colin Facebook Page.  Once again, it’s not as bad as it seems, and you can unfollow it any time after the draw.

The draw will be held live on Facebook, on April 10, at 5:57 PM.  Yes, Team Colin’s kids can’t eat supper until they make the draw.

THE SMALL PRINT:
Total value of “The Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic” is, like a billion dollars*
The draw will be held LIVE ON FACEBOOK, on April 7, 2017, at 8PM.  Enter before that date to be eligible.
A full list of contest rules can be found at: http://www.there_are_no_rules.com
Unfortunately, if you can’t meet Team Colin at one of the XCM races, the hat and sunglasses cannot be mailed–but you still get your free registration to the races, the DMBA Demo Festival passes, and the Joyride 150 park pass,
Finally, the terms, conditions, and prizes in the Team Colin Epic Boom Prize Fundemic may change because you know, Team Colin makes mistakes and forgets lots of things.
*estimated value

22. Drew Bezanson

Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson.

Yup, THAT Drew Bezanson.  THE Drew Bezanson.

I went riding with my pal Drew Bezanson, and my pal Mark Summers, and my pal Noah Summers, and my pal John (and his pal from work), and my pal Ty, and my pal Erin, and all my pals from Joyride 150.

Team Colin rode in Durham Forest yesterday morning, with the Joyride 150 staff ride. Everyone from Joyride 150 was there (except Leslie and Matt, who stayed at the park): 18 riders in total. Sweet.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

I’d like to paint a picture of this. In the lead, there was Mark Summers, a cycling legend: strong, powerful, agile, and graceful. Close behind Mark was either his son, Noah, or Drew Bezanson. Noah is like a power jack rabbit. Strong pedal strokes, sailing over every feature with ease and grace. Drew is, well, he’s a pro BMX rider, and rides like it’s an X-Games session. Pro athletes bring an A-game that is hard to describe. Then came Ty, who is a cross between Mark and Noah. Strong, graceful, and super jumpy. And then the rest of the group—a bunch of BMXers, riding a bunch of borrowed bikes, on awesome XC trails, like they were back at Joyride. If you rode at the back of the pack and looked toward the lead, you would have seen a head or two bopping up every second to jump something. 18 riders, but there were never more than 14 sets of wheels on the ground. Somewhere in that mix was me, smiling from ear to ear, whooping every time I hit a sweet feature, sometimes getting hung up (so embarrassing, so deeply embarrassing—especially in front of the guys…) wearing a full spandex kit in a sea of Fox baggies and general coolness, but fitting in nonetheless, because part of their coolness was the fact that they knew they were in riding in my world (and still accepting me, even when there were better than me).

If I sound like a fanboy, it’s because I am. Watching these athletes do what they do best was humbling, awe inspiring, and just plain fun.

Fun to be part of a group. Fun to ride with friends. Fun to watch a bunch of BMXers, who were way out of their element (even though an observer would have never guessed). There was a great rivalry and camaraderie, and they just wanted to rip. One of the younger guys rode so hard that he barfed, and it was awesome. It’s never cool to yak on a trail, but he did it, waited for a minute, wiped his chin, and got right back on his bike to let it fly. Actually, it was my bike that he was riding—I have to remember to clean my grips… It was just like the Blog #3 (JOYride 150) that I wrote earlier this year, after a school trip to Joyride. He was riding for the joy if it, and loving every adrenaline filled, barf spewing, sweet single track, minute of it. All of us were.

20160830_115305(0)

Joy. Ride. It’s no coincidence that this was a Joyride 150 staff ride. Mark and Leslie have built cycling nirvana, and their staff embody everything that’s great about the sport. It’s hard to imagine they knew what they were creating a few years ago, or that they ever guessed it would become such a draw for cyclists in the area, but Tuesday was the direct offspring of the magic seeds they sowed—the owner, with his staff and one of his boys, the pro that trains at the park, and the middle aged guy who found his passion for riding at the park, all riding together.

Ride Report: Joyride 150 Staff Ride at Durham Forest. August 30, 2016.
The trails at Durham are so much fin, and were that much better with such an awesome crew. There was lots of good natured hassling and equal amounts of encouragement, but this report is going to focus on my pal Drew. Why? For the same reason that I titled this post “Riding With My Pal Drew Bezanson (Full Disclosure: I’m not really Drew’s pal, unless the fact that he knows my name and I love him counts as pals). You see, Drew thought it would be fun to spend the day chirping me and teasing me. “Mark, Drew’s bugging me again” was my soundtrack for the day. He chirped me for standing on my bike to grind up a big climb (while he sailed past me, sitting, like he was actually descending). He ripped past me, doing a little tail whip that placed the perfect amount of sand, in the perfect location, directly on my shoes. He just kept razzing me. Well, who has the last laugh now Mr. Drew Bezanson Pro BMX, Red Bull guy? Yup, for the rest of eternity, whenever someone Googles “Drew Bezanson”, somewhere under the X-Games championship videos, the “Uncontainable” videos, the Red Bull videos, the Joyride 150, Crankworx, and “Learning Curve” videos, there’ll be the Team Colin Blog, and a big picture of Drew and his pal, me.

Epic boom.

By the way, if I wasn’t being clear, ITWASAWESOME to be teased by Drew. He’s not just one of the best BMXers in the world, he has the good looks of an entire boy band, charm to match, and an honest niceness about him that is disarming, welcoming, and genuinely cool.

Oh yeah, the ride report. It was a sweet ride, and after the ride, I joined the staff back at the bike park for pizza. When my face was fully stuffed, they rode at the park, and I went home to nap. I think Drew went back to Olympus…

End of ride report.

And even though some of us have a family to think about, or a bike park to run, or sponsors to maintain, or a heavy weight on their shoulders (a burden that each of us would have gladly shared if it would have made the load a bit lighter); and even though we were a middle aged XC racer, or a slightly older bike park owner, or a Red Bull pro, a 20 something guy who’s about to start college next week, or an almost 30 something who is about to start a corporate job the week after, or a millwright, or just a guy who likes to thrash on his BMX (who brought his younger brother), for a few hours on a late summer day, we played on our bikes.

We were out for a rip, and nothing else mattered. You can’t beat that.

Ride.

 

PS

Tuesday morning was awesome. But then, by some the grace of the Cycling Gods, the day got better. A whole lott better. The final King Weekly Series race of the season.

Here’s my Facebook post that night:

WHAT A GREAT DAY OF PLAYING BIKES! First, I got to rip the trails at Durham Forest with these happy riders (even though Drew kept making fun of me) at the Joyride150 Indoor Bike Park staff ride. Then, I got to race the final King Weekly Series of the summer with this guy. Note: I’m pretty sure Drew Bezanson and I are now best friends. It’s totally true.

Under the post was the sweet shot of me and Drew.

Yeah, my pal Drew came to the King Weekly Series. In the last lap, he passed me (and let me tell you, it took him long enough to finally lap me—honestly Drew, I expected more from you…), and let me tell you, if the events of the day were awesome, the moment that he sailed past me was the highlight. It was like I was in “BMX: The Movie”. He RIPPED a berm that wasn’t even there, cornering like the BMX pro that he is. He was an absolute boss; low to the ground, bars counter steering, dirt flying. It was like watching an artist create a masterpiece. IT WAS THE COOLEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!

My family was there too, and they got to see their dad casually chatting with a pro athlete after the race. Pretty sweet.

After the race, the organizers from Evolution Cycles, and some of the racers, went to a pub for wings and talk. Jamie Davies, the owner of Evolution Cycles, and organizer fo the race said “How’d you get Drew to come?”. That’s the magic of Team Colin, baby. Plus, Drew’s totally my BFF.

Tuesday was everything I love about the word of bikes.  I’m not sure if it was wise to ride twice on Tuesday, especially with the Substance Poojects XC Marathon Championship coming up this Saturday, but a chance to ride is a chance to ride.  Two chances are just awesome.

 

 

14. Angry Face Bike

My Revolver has been pretty angry with me these days.

After a lousy performance at the Single Track Classic a few weeks ago due to a worn cassette (yeah, that was the ONLY problem), I needed a repair. So, I replaced the rear cassette and chain. Unfortunately, I also needed the chain rings replaced, which I didn’t do, so I went to Tuesday night’s race a few weeks ago without working gears, and lacking the ability to crank the one gear that I had.

It’s okay bike, I forgive you. Because I learned something.

I learned that if I can’t book it at a race pace, I can just ride. And that’s okay. It was nice to just get out and pedal through the forest. No burning lungs. No wobbly legs afterwards. No cramps. No sore wrists and throbbing back. Good lesson.

And my placing wasn’t horrible either. Really, I was just a few spots behind my usual standing. It made me think. If I can just ride at a normal pace in races, I’ll still do okay, and I might not be so zonked after the race. So there really isn’t a need to give 200% of myself in a race. Not just a good lesson; a good lesson with a handy outcome.

Thankfully, that half-baked, idiot-moron-dumbass reasoning lasted about as long as a tub of my hair product. Which is to say, it didn’t last long. What? Don’t touch my hair.

If I’m not riding in a race at race pace, it’s not a race.  Race pace shouldn’t be easy. Or fun. Or relaxing. It should be nasty and gritty, and involve lots of aching, cramping, and wobbliness.

I feel alive when my lungs are on fire. My body likes wobbly legs (because it makes me appreciate when they aren’t). And when I’m not cramping, it’s because I’m not moving, which is a giant waste of time.

And even though racing isn’t fun, and it comes with lots and lots of cussing, mixed with copious bouts of “Why am I putting myself through this?” the feeling afterward is always worth it.

On the other hand though, it would be nice to get a bit better.

So, after the moronic notion to “just ride” in races dissipated, I started thinking about a nagging idea I’ve had for a while: Pace. Pace? It’s been dogging me for some time, but I can’t seem to nail it down. I start a race and give it everything I have for every second until I have nothing left to give, and then I keep giving a very diminished everything until the finish.

But I have to reexamine that approach, because I am a mess at the end of a race. I don’t want to start lollygagging in a race like I’m in a parade. I’m talking about a calculated pace that will enable me to perform better, and ride across the finish line instead of scamper across it. In his blog “Riot On Racing”, Michael Tourond calls us zombies.

But I don’t want to be a zombie… What’s the emoji for petulance?

Pacing. I know it sounds pretty obvious to experienced riders, but it’s a huge challenge for those of us just starting—yes I still feel like I’m just starting even though I’ve been racing for four years—and when race starts, I immediately struggle to keep up with the pace because I don’t want to be stuck behind a slower rider. Survival takes over, and pace takes a backseat. And that’s stupid, because I’m not racing them.

I’m racing me.

So I’ve been investigating on the Google.

And on the Google I found a few things.  Unfortunately, my investigation raised a bunch of new questions. First, what on earth is Functional Threshold Power? Second, VO2? Seriously? Third, J-Shaped what now? Finally, huh? Just plain huh?

And to make matters worse, everything seems to be written for elite racers, and riders with a normal body type. However, when you’re like me–anything but average–the game is entirely different. I get it, we all have different body types and physiologies, and a multitude of other challenges, but I just can’t believe that the pacing and output considerations for a 150 pound rider are the same for a 250 pound rider. If they were, and I could match my power-to-weight ratio to other riders, I’d melt the rubber off my wheels.

Sonic Boom.

So if pacing and output are very precise considerations, and small changes make a huge difference for everyone else, where does that leave me, the husky rider–Hey, that would have been a great name for this blog: The Husky Rider.

And while I was thinking about all of this, I realized that it was Tuesday again, and Tuesday means King Weekly Series. Why think about pacing in a race, when I can actually pace in a race. So I experimented with pacing on Tuesday night.

Race Report:  King Weekly Series (June 14, 2016)  

Pacing For The Husky Rider (Hey, I knew that term would come in handy):

First, I did half of a warm-up lap, and it felt great. Ding. One point for my pacing experiment.

Then, because I was out on the trail warming up, I got to the starting line a bit late. No worries. I was two minutes behind the pack, and that meant I wouldn’t be relying on their pace. So I rode hard, at my pace. Not a killer race pace, but a very strong pace (which felt great because of the warm up). Ding. Another point for my pacing experiment.

After the first lap, I felt strong, so I rode a bit harder. And the funny thing is that I had matches to burn. Usually it takes me a long time to warm up in a race, but by the time I’m warmed up, I’m spent because I burned through all of my matches.

But I hadn’t burned any matches, so I still had a full pack. Ding.  A third point for my pacing experiment.

It all worked. My body was primed for a ride, I felt power as I rode, not struggle, and by the third lap (and the fourth lap that I did just because) I was able to amp-up my output a bit–because I could. I started a bit slower, I attacked the climbs, and reassessed my output as I rode (instead of my usual coping with my lack of power).

So I rode.

And my results for the night? Crap. None of it worked. If I had booked it at race pace, I probably would have been about a minute (or even two) faster per lap.

End of Race Report.

But thanks to my moody bike, I at least have a benchmark. I’m going to look into four areas:

  1. Warming-Up. This one is obvious.
  2. Neutral Starting. But I’m going to call it “Team Colin Starting” and try to ride my pace at the beginning. My races are long. If I get stuck behind someone, I’ll find time to pass them, which leads me to the next point.
  3. Power to Attack: If I have matches to burn, I’ll burn them when I need to pass, or when I need to climb.
  4. Reevaluating My Output: If I have more to give during a race, I’ll give a bit more. If I don’t, I’ll pull back a little.

And I’ll have plenty of time to put these things into practice this weekend at Dan Marshall’s “Northumberland Humbler” (A Substance Projects race), which is one of my favourite races of the year (although I think they’re all my favourites). I pre-rode much of the course twice on the weekend: Saturday and Sunday. It was a killer both days. I saw another single speed racer, Bob Ramsey, on both days. He’s awesome. He smokes me. How on earth am I supposed to beat a guy like him when he’s already way better than me, and training at least as much as me—and probably more? The answer is easy. I’m not. Because I’m not racing Bob. Or anyone else. I never was, and I likely never will be. I’m racing me.

And I’ve won every race I’ve ever done.

Ride.

 

PS.  It’s all better with my bike now.  We had a talk and worked things out.