Thursday, December 29, 2011

Done Campin'

I've just finished packing my bikes and wheels, and as soon as the dryer is finished, I'll have my clothes packed as well. Today was my final race of this year's Belgian campaign, and my 3rd whoopin' (race) in 4 days. I'm heading to the airport tomorrow morning at 6:45am and will be back eating a pizza in Bloomington by probably 7pm, Indiana time. I'm ready to be home, but I'm also not really ready to be done here. I'm not sure where to start catching you up on the developments of the last few days, but I'll try.

The 3 races since my last post were: a World Cup in Zolder, a GVA in Loenhout, and just a regular old bike race in Bredene today, all 3 of which I did last year.

Zolder is one of my favorite courses and the fact that the race takes place on an F1 track makes for a generally awesome scene. Awesome like, garage bays that would normally house Formula 1 cars are now Frite shops. As you know, hard field, hard course, hard conditions, blah blah blah...

Strangely enough, I actually felt like I was participating in a bike race. I was in a decent sized group for most of the race, but one bad lap that included a few, maybe a bakers dozen, crashes. In the world in which I'm racing over here, there just isn't room to make many or any mistakes and expect a decent outcome. I did come away from the race feeling pretty ok about my technical skills, especially dealing with those massive drops where everyone congregates to laugh at your expense. My legs also started to feel a little recovered from the flu earlier in the week.

Loenhout was my worst race of the trip last year, and I would probably say the same for this year too. The course is just muddy and a total power course. It feels like doing leg-press at the gym for about an hour. This year we were treated to a 200m or so run on the flats, directly after long tractor pull like section. Torture. Time gaps were bigger at this course than most because of the difficulty. Huge crowds, but, no amount of encouragement could have gotten me on the lead lap on this day. I finished with a group of Americans and American types (Craig Ritchey). Agenda for next year: learn how to make watts.

Finally, today was a race by the coast in Bredene. Being near the coast, the soil is sandy and thus there's not too much mud to be found. Thank you, 8lb 6oz tiny infant Jesus. Since the race wasn't part of the GVA, Superprestige, or World Cup series, the field wasn't quite as big, but still had Stybar, Niels Albert, and a bunch of their meanest friends. (Editors note: my roommate Jake Wells just sent my a message on Twitter telling me to stop punching my keyboard. Good thing I'm moving out tomorrow, or Ryan Knapp might have to choke a bro.) With my semi-inflated status due to my American racing calendar, I got the very last call-up in the second row, right behind Niels Albert and Stybar. The guys with the cameras were trying to get some great photos of me, but those two a-holes were getting in all the shots... I decided to not say anything at the time and just lets my legs do the talking, or crying. Minus one minor detail of hitting a spectator with one lap to go, the race was a smashing success. But, since that did actually happen, I was denied my first official finish on the lead lap with a legitimate field, and instead rewarded with a smooth DNF next to my name. However, the guy that walked out in front of me was unbelievably nice and apologetic. He actually found me on Facebook and send me another apology message.

So now the trip is over and even though it was full of 5 course meals consisting of only Humble Pie, I'm glad that I decided to come back for another round, because there is really no limit to the number of things you can learn from dealing with the challenges of racing your bike here. Once again, thanks for following along and supporting me throughout the process. Luckily, I'm dumber than a box of rocks, because otherwise, trips like this could be a bit demoralizing...

BMC Service Course 

"SAMSONITE! I was WAY off!"

It wasn't even that nice on the inside...

Lots of not Zipp wheels. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Because I sure don't have any other plans...

Since I'm obviously not drinking Egg Nog and sitting around a fire place with my family, I figured I could probably squeak a blog entry into my schedule on a race-less Christmas day in Belgium. I really wanted to write an update right after Diegem on Friday, less to inform anyone who actually reads this blog, but more to vent for myself. However, the late start time and a few other things have put it on the back burner until now.

If you're a follower of my Facebook or Twitter account you may know that I got sick with some sort of bug and was dealing "flu like symptoms", as they say. This had me doing wind-sprints to the bathroom for the better part of an entire day. Openers? Not so much. I had to miss a race in Holland on Tuesday because of the sickness and was still too laid-up to muster much more than a light 45 minute spin on Wednesday. Fast forward to Friday and I was hoping to have the sickness banished and be ready to preform at Diegem. Anyone who's ever had the flu knows the exhausting feeling of walking up the stairs while in it's grasp. Although the major symptoms were gone, the effects like that were still around. 

I told Jake the morning of the race that I was still feeling pretty zapped, but wanted to give it a go because it was such a cool race, and my personal favorite. I did, what I feel, was a pretty good job staying optimistic about the prospects of racing well and blocking out any negative thinking. I absolutely loved the course during pre-ride and had no technical issues with any sections, and the mud was even manageable for someone like me. I did an appropriate warm-up and headed to the start line. 
Another American, Jeremy Durrin

Jake and I were kind of early, so we spun up and down the starting straight with Sven, Jeremy Durrin, Styby, Mitch Hoke, Niels... you know, the gang. The atmosphere was honestly, Superbowl-like. The fans we all jazzed up just to see us spinning our legs. That scene was as much as cyclocross racer can ever hope to feel like a legitimate professional athlete. We all took our spots on the line, with an American in almost every row of the grid. It was very cool to have so many of us at the start. My points got me a second to last row call up. Pretty much what I had expected, and I was ok with that.

The start was hectic, but usual. No issues on my end as I exchanged elbows with my 50 closest Belgian buddies in search of the left turn off of the pavement. In general the start went well and I even surprised myself by hoisting my bike over my head to run through a tiny gap where all of the other rider had dismounted at an off camber turn. I've never actually used this move, but I'd seen the Belgi's use it previously. I snuck between a racer's bike and the barricades at the side of the course, nearly swiping the fans in the face as I wielded my steed above my head. Surprisingly effective actually.

Still running off the rush of adrenaline from the start I was able to turn the pedals at an acceptable rate for the first lap or so. Once I started to settle in, the totally zapped feeling was back in my legs and I was struggling to push the pedals over. I rode another lap, or maybe more, but it was painfully clear that I wasn't ready for this effort level just yet. Maybe stick to conquering stairs first instead of a Superprestige.

I pulled the plug the next time through the pits and thanked the guys for all their work on my bikes. It's really a shitty feeling pulling out of a race when you've got a whole crew there to support you. They were understanding and reassuring, and I tried to be for myself as well. It just wasn't very easy. 

See, Belgium has been on my radar for a while now. I have been planning my preparations around performing well here, not DNF'ing. I know that things out of your control do definitely happen, but that doesn't make it any easier to stomach my first illness in who knows how long.

Geoff told me that tomorrow is a new day, and I told him that saying should be the slogan for Euro Cross Camp... In these conditions and in this environment, there are a lot of things you've got to put behind you. I'm more than prepared and the disappointment from Diegem is definitely pushed in a rear-ward general direction. Tomorrow is my first World Cup of this trip, in Zolder. I'm really looking forward to having a good ride and finally posting a positive race report on this blog. Thanks for supporting me, and also for taking the time to read what I've written.

Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. I wish I could be at home celebrating with the family, but thanks for always supporting me. 

Muddy Pits...
Bikes straight to the shoulder in the pit


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Settling In

The stench of Belgian "mud" (read: cow poop) has officially infiltrated almost every room in the Euro Cross Camp house, my once bright yellow Mavic shoes are now looking quite mustard like, and the heating radiators in our rooms have turned into makeshift drying racks. Ahh, yes... the racing block here has begun. Before I catch everyone (mom and dad) up on the first race of the trip, I'll back up a bit and get you up to speed with the first few days in Belgium.

After my nightmare travel adventure from last year's trip, I was repaid with as painless of a Trans-Atlantic flight as one could have. Window seat, skinny row-neighbor, tolerable meals and everything was on schedule. Our old pal Josef from last year was waiting for us once we came through baggage claim and we were on our way to Izegem, with all of our bikes, luggage and optimism in tow. I had a weird home-like feeling as we got closer to the house. The awkward handshakes and introductions were replaced with hugs and updates on each other's lives over the year since we'd last spoken. I knew things would be easier the second time around, but I was surprised how much easier things felt just knowing what to expect from the situation. I've got the same corner room but a new roommate in Jake Wells of Colorado. We get along pretty well, I guess. If our rooming together were a first date, I'd say he's totally going to call.

We've only had one training day so far, but I went with my go-to route to Kortrik, plus showed a few of the new guys around "downtown" Izegem. We made a trip to the store to buy the necessities: Nutella, Speculoos, and rice cakes. The rice cakes aren't really my favorite, but they help us avoid the judgmental eye of the locals to some degree.

My sleep schedule hasn't been ideal over the first few nights, but that may have something to do with the 4 hour nap that I took in the middle of the first day here. Geoff warned us not to take a nap and to stay awake at all costs during the first day, but I couldn't help myself. I've been having these weird 4 hour blocks of sleep with 2 hour periods in the middle where I'm wide awake. Not ideal, but I feel like I'm getting closer to a normal schedule.

Contrary to popular Internet belief, I did not do the World Cup today in Namur. Thank God. It looked outrageous. I did however do a "National Race" in Maldegem, which is about 45 minutes up the road. Belgium has been getting some pretty intense rain over the last week and there's lots of flooding in West-Flanders. Our course had to be cut short because an ocean appeared in the field where our race was located. The truncated course consisted of a very narrow start straight (think cart path), with a right turn onto poop-covered cobbles, and then a lot of long straight sections, many of which it was faster to run. Everyone's favorite! Although, I'm pretty sure I had enough UCI points for a front row call-up, I got the standard American issue call-up, none at all. I tried to make some hand gestures and Flemish-like sounds to the official, but he just looked at me funny. How rude (90's kids better get that reference!). I moved up a bit from my last row starting spot on the road, but not much. There were absolutely no technical aspects of the course, just pick a rut and pedal feverishly. I pedaled and got pretty dirty doing it. I'm not sure of the result, or how to gauge the people that I finished amongst, but regardless, it was good to shake the travel out of my legs.

Tonight we were home by 6pm, and had dinner shortly after. By the time we got all of our dirty kit power-washed and into a washing machine, it was almost 9. A bit of social time and a blog post thrown in and it looks like bed time will be around 11:30. Racing in the mud definitely extends the time involved with the race, but it make you strong like bull.

Some of the guys unpacking and building bikes.

I've laid claim to the sweetest mug in the house. Yes, that's Pocahontas. Boom.

My phone is in the middle of that bag of rice. 

Training. I wear all black so people know I mean business.
Our mechanic Dave with Belgian legend, Johan Museeuw. He parked right next to us!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Christmas (in Belgium) Story

I've been holding off writing a blog update about my Christmas/ Holiday Cyclocross campaign for a while now, mostly because so much of it has been up in the air. As of this last weekend, I finally nailed down all of the details. Sorry, Mom and Dad. I won't be home for Christmas, again.

Originally, I had planned to stay with the extended family of a few of my friends from IU, but it turned out that car rental/ transportation was going to be so expensive that it made that route a no-go. About the time that was falling through (last month), Craig Ritchey messaged me about an opening at The ChainStay in Oudenaarde. The ChainStay could offer housing, some meals and most importantly, transportation to all of the races I was looking to do. I spoke with Craig, and also Gregg Germer, the owner, about the opening and put down a deposit to secure my spot at the house. The opportunity to stay in Oudenaarde was pretty exciting because the riding in that area takes you over many of the famous "Bergs" of the Tour of Flanders and I was also looking forward to the opportunity to see a new city for a few weeks, but it was not to be.

The most recent (and final) development started unfolding in the last handful of days, and it has hinged around Ryan Trebon's knee injury. Geoff Proctor called me on Friday to see if I would be interested in filling Ryan's spot if he officially backed out, which he did on Saturday. I had always planned on doing the Belgium trip on my own, not because I didn't love the camp last year, but I just to leave a spot open for someone else to have the same awesome Belgian experience that I was able to have last year. Part of the reason behind my invite is that the only other Elite rider attending Camp this year is Jake Wells, and he is an awesome dude, but also a first timer (because I've obviously been, like, so many times), but Geoff wanted to have another Elite around the house with some experience as well as someone to keep the Juniors, and Zach McDonald in line. The support and whole experience that the Cross Camp can offer is unbeatable; so needless to say, it didn't take much convincing.

Now that the final details are in place, I'm able to stress a little bit less and focus more on the fact that I'm just excited to be going back for another crack at all of these races that slapped me around last year. It really is amazing the difference that a year makes. Last year I was watching videos of the Belgian races and nearly having heart attacks thinking about lining up with those guys. This year, I'm still nervous, but I know exactly what I'm getting into and feel much more confident about where I am with my training and mental state at this point in the season. No, I don't necessarily think I'm going to go over and finish on the lead lap of every race, but I'm excited to fight the Belgi's as hard as they plan on fighting me. Imma kick someone in the stomach! WATCHOUT!

My schedule for the trip will look something like this:

Dec. 17th- Lichtervelde (Local Race)
Dec. 18th- Balagem
Dec. 20th- Surhuisterveen (Way up north in Holland)
Dec. 23rd- Diegem Superprestige (Night race; Probs my favorite race EVER)
Dec. 26th- Zolder WC
Dec. 28th- Loenhout GVA
Dec. 29th- Bredene

So that's 7 races in 15 days, ranging from a World Cup, to a Superprestige, and even a couple midsized and smaller ones sprinkled in, too. 5 of the 7 I've done before, so I'm hoping that those experiences will count for something this time around.

As I'm sure you're aware, all of this ain't free. Traveling across the Atlantic and living for 2+ weeks is never a cheap proposition, but when you throw in the costs involved with air travel, equipment, mechanics, food, transportation, housing, and racing, this opportunity gets a bit spendy. I'm budgeting around $3,500 for the trip, and that's with me planning on stealing the airline peanuts as snacks. I would never expect to get all of this, or any where near all of this covered by anyone other than myself, but I do have a Paypal donation button set up on the side of the blog if you would like to help me defray some of the costs. If you're not into the Paypal thing, shoot me an email at and we can work something out. For the right price, I could be persuaded to get your name tattooed somewhere visible, or even drop your name Nascar style in an interview or my Cyclingnews blog entry. Seriously though, every little bit helps. Regardless if you donate or not, I appreciate you even checking out my blog.

Keep checking back in the weeks to come, because I plan on making it rain blog posts.

Here's a bit of media from the UCI race in North Carolina a few weeks ago...

Watch more video of North Carolina Grand Prix 2011 on

And just to refresh your memory on what exactly it is I'm getting into...


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cocky Block

You know, like struggling with your confidence? Let's face it, if you've got a blog, you must think you're pretty awesome. The whole basis of a blog is thinking what you're doing is interesting and cool enough for people do give a damn about it. Well, I've obviously got a blog, and apparently I think my cycling endeavors make me pretty awesome and that you would probably want to hear every detail about how I almost got a really great result. Well, recently I haven't been feeling (or racing) like myself, thus no blogging. Honestly, how can someone be expected concoct a lengthy story and put a cocky, self-important spin on things when they've got no recent events to back up their story? Well, good news, I'm back feeling really important and awesome.

To be quite honest, I've been racing like trash this cyclocross season. I've had a decent ride here and there, but it's been pathetic in general. The cause? A little bit of everything. I've been struggling a bit with motivation, mostly because I'd been racing poorly. And I'd been racing poorly because of my lack of motivation. It's a vicious cycle, you see. It basically all boils down to me needing to get my head out of my ass.

I went to New Jersey 2 weeks ago and just got absolutely destroyed by sub-par fields in some of the nastiest conditions I've ever had the pleasure of racing my bike. You know how they say you've got to hit rock bottom? Well, New Jersey was my 'rock bottom". It was a good wake up call. I needed to stop expecting to see benefits for just being present. I wasn't doing the required work and it was painfully obvious. I've got no one to blame other than myself and no one can fix it other than me, either.

Since my self intervention, I've been sorry-for-myself sober for 2 weeks and counting. I've been training well, eating well (better), warming up, actually pre-riding the course, and not being a weak quitter on race day. Although the race results aren't exactly where I'd like them to be just yet, I feel like I'm finally taking the steps to get there. I know it's going to be a process, but I fully intend to take advantage of the second half of the season and race and train as hard as I can, every opportunity I get.

Seeing the way that Tim Johnson has taken his less-than-TJ start to his season has been a source of motivation for me. He's freaking Tim Johnson, and if he can handle getting 12th, I can sure as hell deal with the results that I've gotten.

Watch more video of USGP New Belgium Cup 2011 on

I'm making this public declaration so that I can be held accountable. If you see me this weekend in Louisville, don't be afraid to ask me, "Hey, Ryan! How's keeping your head out of your ass going?"

I'd really appreciate that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Disk Brakes for Life?

Do they make them? I'm feeling the need to slow everything down for a second or I may be treading dangerously close to premature heart failure. In the last few weeks I've closed the book on my road season and started on my next not-so-short story, Cyclocross Season.

The road season concluded with some racing in St. Louis at Gateway Cup. I went into these races only 5 weeks post collarbone break and knowing I needed to be careful not to have any mishaps and really derail my cyclocross season. I knew going in that this wasn't the most wise decision I could have made, but my desire for the training these crits would provide, as well as my general cabin fever was clouding my judgement too severely to see the right decision in this situation.

I went. I raced. I felt surprisingly decent. I crashed. I broke... my bike, but not my collarbone. Victory!

I was the recipient of some less than wholesome racing by one of my competitors on the last lap of one of the crits, but I did escape with mostly just a road rashed left side and a partially missing ass cheek.

The next goal became getting rid of the road rash before Cross Vegas, because nothing looks less pro than road rash. I failed to accomplish my goal. In fact, I was still sticking to the sheets in Vegas.

As a whole I had mixed feelings about my trip to Nevada. The racing aspect went fairly decent, all things considered, but that place is so damn stressful . It's just the whole culture and structure of that week that stresses me out, but I felt like I hadn't breathed for 2 days when I toe'd the line with Bartje Wellens, Lars Van Der Haar, TJ, Powers, Mr. Peters, and other assorted men.

One of the main causes of my stress immediately before the race was my tire selection. Las Vegas is in the desert, right? So, why wouldn't you bring file treads to the desert? Well, apparently, the desert is quite the moist environment where it behooves ones self to bring mud tires. I thought for sure I was going to crash and pulverize my barely mended collarbone, the only thing I really had in mind to NOT do. It turns out the Challenge Griffo XS is a fine mud tire, either that, or I've got Sven like handling skills. But if that were the case, I doubt I'd be nursing this whole collarbone thing.

Anywho, finished 23rd. Some things could have gone better, but I'm not about to complain, all things considered.

I stayed up all night Wednesday night, trying to get my flight bumped up so that I could get back home for a few minutes before I had to drive to Baltimore for Charm City. It worked, kinda. I got a 7:45 AM flight on Thursday, but after delays and "maintenance issues" (that never makes me feel all that comfortable when the pilot says that), I still ended up back home at 10:30 PM.

I needed badly to sleep in, but had too much to do to prepare for Baltimore. I got on the road around 1 PM and arrived at my friend Thom's around midnight. I had fairly grand ambitions for these races, based on the fields from previous years, but that was before they came. All the dang foreigners. The fields were much better as a result, but I also don't feel like I brought my "A" game either. I just didn't have the legs or anything really. Too many mistakes sent me home with much less than I came for. I ended up with a 6th and 9th place on the weekend, but as I said, not what I was looking for.

The drive home went fairly quickly and I was back in my bed by 2 AM. This week has been spent catching up on things that I've neglected, and paying the never-ending stream of bills from my hospital visit. I'll be back on the road this Friday for the USGP in Madison, WI. I've had some pretty good luck at these races the past 2 years, so I'm hoping for some more good rides.

Watch more video of Charm City Cyclocross 2011 on

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Coming Down

Literally and figuratively. The Colorado trip was an awesome experience and a great way for me to keep my mind (kind of) off of the fact that I'm missing races with my teammates. We woke up Saturday morning and hit the road around 8AM Colorado time. We drove straight through to Bloomington, getting in just after 2 AM. We probably could have made better time, but my brother got 2 speeding tickets last time he drove back from Colorado, so he wasn't pushing the pace quite like I was during my stints. Gotta take advantage of those 75mph speed limits out west.

The trip all together was pretty exhausting, since we were running non-stop most days, in an attempt to get maximum value. Needless to say, when I crawled into a bed for the first time a week, I was out. I hate to keep talking about elevation all the time, but maybe it's just because I'm sensitive to changes in elevation, but I really felt a big difference in quality of sleep at higher elevations. Last night was the first time I slept through the night since I left. I sound like an infant. Maybe I just needed fed or burped.

I had my cyclocross bike in Colorado with me and have been riding it most of the time over the last few weeks, but I got the road bike back out today, and it was glorious. I think it was a combination of the adaptation to altitude I made over the last week, then coming back home, but the gear was turning over nicely today. I definitely didn't have a single day in CO where I felt decent. This very well could just be a coincidence, but if it turns out to gave me the benefits of a mini altitude camp, I might be making some return trip to the mountains before some key event in the future. I guess well just have to see.

It's been tough to watch all the racing going on around me over the last few weeks and not be a part of it, but I think I'm going to be change that this coming weekend. There are 4 crits in St. Louis over Labor Day weekend that would be good training and a chance to race with the team some more before cross season. The collarbone is doing awesome and I have no problem executing all the necessary moves, including sprinting, so I think it's a go. I'll probably throw some Rock Tape on it again for some extra support (and sympathy) just as a precaution. I just feel like it would be pretty tough to replicate the training that I'll get from this weekend and it should go a long way toward helping get me back up to speed after the time off.

I'm off to bed. I hope my legs feel as good tomorrow as they did today.

Here's a quick video I shot from our ride up Cottonwood Pass last week.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Insert Dumb & Dumber Quote Here

Because of my broken collarbone, I've obviously had some time away from racing and therefore a pretty clear schedule. The collarbone is doing well, the Tour of Colorado is going on, I needed to get some training in, and it always a good time for camping, soo my brother and I decided to take a trip to Colorado to see how much awesomeness we could cram into 9 days.

We drove through the night last friday and got to Boulder (we both have friends here) at about 9 AM local time. We alternated driving full tanks of gas while the other rested, so we were able to roll it pretty good and make great time. When we got here we went to a coffee shop to watch the crit nats live feed. We went to a place on Pearl St. called The Cup. Great people-watching down there. Since it was delayed, we left the shop to go to our friends house and watch the last few laps once they restarted. Eric freaking won that SHIT! I'm no psychic, but I texted him 2 days before the race and told him that he was going to win. I don't really know why, but I literally could just feel it. When it happend I freaked out a little bit. It was probably a good thing we left the coffee shop because I would have caused quite the ruckus, and probably been arrested. The kid's got some game. And I know I referenced it in my last post, but no matter how much he achieves, I'll make sure the crit champ never forgets that he had to be picked up by mommy on our big ride a few weeks ago. Hey, I've gotta have something to hang onto, right? Congratulations, dog!

Back to Colorado.

We've been doing some awesome riding here is Boulder. It's not really that hard to figure out why everyone moves out here. Sure, there are some people with douchie tendencies, but every city has people like that. The first few days I wasn't doing very well with the elevation. It felt like I was back to having mono, because you're just so restricted and can't go anerobic at all without blowing up. Also, why didn't anyone tell me to bring an easier cassette? My 39-25 is too damn hard for the steep stuff out here. You can muscle just about any gear over a climb in the midwest for a few minutes, but not out here for 2 HOURS! Honestly, it's been fine for most of the stuff, but I have been tempted to "stop for a picture" at a few key moments on some of these steep climbs.

So we went down to watch some of the stage race that's going on in CO at the moment. We went to to ride the dirt road climb up to Cottonwood Pass on Tuesday and then watch the Stage 1 finish in Crested Butte. It was an uphill sprint from a pretty select group. If Phil Gilbert had been here I think it would have been right up his alley. Cottonwood was sweet, but not really that hard to just ride, but it was pretty damn scenic. We also descended back down the dirt side, and that was a good test for the stability of my collarbone on some of the washboard sections. It was strong like bull.

The paved side of Cottonwood

Dirt Cottonwood

Crested Butte Finish

After Crested Butte we drove to Twin Lakes, which is basically where the race turns onto the road that goes into Aspen and over Independence Pass, and we had planned to camp there, at about 10,000 feet, but decided to go camp at the top with all the other bike race watching hooligans. The pass is 12,100 feet and it looks and feels every inch of that. Camping up there was crazy. Cars lining the road, with lots of little car parties going on. My sleeping pad died in the middle of the night, so I was sleeping on the lumpy top of a mountain with no oxygen to breathe and it was a balmy 30 degrees. Can't they just bulldoze some of this untouched mountainside for a nice Hilton? I mean, there are, like, plenty of mountains in Colorado.

My brother is getting some camera skills. Independence Pass at night.

Party cars at sunrise.

Upon getting out of the tent at 6:00, (I didn't wake at 6:00, because that would imply that I actually was asleep. False.) my brother and I decided to hike up to the top of a neighboring mountain for some pictures of the scene at the top of Independence Pass. We didn't think it would take very long, but real summit was behind what we could see from camp, and we weren't about to not summit that shit. America. It ended up being a nice 2 hour hike up to just shy of 14,000. I was wrecked and we hadn't even gotten on out bikes.

Putting out the vibe at around 13,000 feet.

We decided to coast down the mountain to Aspen for some very reasonably priced breakfast... On the way, our friend Graham lost his crank bolt, and therefore, his drive side crank was falling off. This could quite possibly be the best stretch in the world for this to happen, a 19 mile descent into a town with certain bike shops. We only had to push him over a few rollers near town.

We got breakfast at some corner cafe and sat outside and got race faced by all of the Aspen dwellers. They weren't even on bikes, they were just life race facing us. They needed to make sure we knew that based on our scruffy faces and bikes instead of Land Rovers, be were obviously worse at life than they. AYHSMB.

Once we were back climbing the 19 miles to the car and our spot for spectating, everyone decided to go their own pace. I was starting to feel better and wanted to do some efforts, so just started riding a good tempo. I was smashing all the people on mountain bikes and multi-sport bikes, even blowing the doors off the masters racers with the carbon wheels. After about 30 min of climbing, and having not been passed yet, I checked my side view mirror on my helmet, and found a bogey on my six. Some dude was coming up fast. Phhhh, like I'm gonna let some fred blow my doors off. Well this "fred" happened to be none other than former bad ass pro, national champ, Olympian, Little 500 Legend, Shimano Big Wig, Wayne Freaking Stetina.

I've ridden with Wayne before at Little 500 related events, so I knew that he could motor. So when he caught me it was clear he wanted me to ride with him and wasn't going to just blow my doors off. He immediately started chatting and I was locked into "his pace" for the remainder (1;15) of the climb. My semi comfortable tempo ride turned into an hour at threshold. He was riding threshold too, because I could hear him breathing pretty hard when he wasn't telling my stories of wearing the yellow jersey in the old Coors Classic. We we're both pushing it, and stopped chit chatting all together for the last 30 minutes or so.

Once over the top, he was nice enough to claim I had him on the ropes... Thanks Wayne. Legend.

This blog post is reaching an unbelievable length. If you're still with me, sorry.

Some dudes racing.

So, anyway, we watched the race come over them climb, and it was pretty cool. Some say just as crazy as a real euro climb. Definitely a fun experience, but I prefer to be on the bike racing instead of spectating. We came back to Boulder on Wednesday night because I had a ride scheduled with Boulder cyclocross heads of state, Greg Keller and Brandon Dwight. Today imma do a big ride up to the Peak to Peak highway and try to smash myself real good before we head back to all that oxygen on Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ryan's Health Blog

I know this blog used to be about bike racing, but it seems it's turning into a place to update everyone about my health, or lack of health. I would imagine that most of you who have made your way to my blog, probably have checked my Twitter account at some point, but in the event that you don't or haven't in the last few days, I've got an announcement to make: Like an idiot, I broke my collarbone, again. Not ideal.

I was out riding one of my shiny new Stevens cyclocross bikes on Friday, and was doing a bit of practicing bunny hopping barriers. I'm always practicing my bunny hops, even on my road bike, so this isn't out of the ordinary, however, this was my first time wearing my cross shoes since I came back from Belgium in the winter. They actually still smell like the Belgian cow shit/mud. Apparently, the cleats were pretty worn and I didn't notice until my foot came out of the pedal, mid barrier hop. If you've ever come unclipped unexpectedly, you know that it can be a pretty violent experience. In my case, my left foot came out and I sprang from my bike as if it were a diving board, landing on my right side pretty heavily. Stupid.

This is my 3rd broken collarbone and second time I've broken my right collarbone, however this is a new location for the break. I knew it was broken right away, so I was naturally pretty pissed off. I spent the afternoon in the ER getting xrays and being treated like an infant. Quite annoying. I think my spine/ pelvis are pretty out of whack as well because I have some serious nerve pinching going on when I walk. I'll be making a trip to the chiro tomorrow to get that sorted.

This fracture is the least painful of the 3 I've had and it's also the widest range of motion I've had immediately after the break. I'm sure the doctors would advise my differently, but I don't think I'll be taking much time off the bike. Like, none. The most annoying part of this is that I was just getting ready to hit a nice block of crit racing to help tune me up for the cross season. I did however just finish my first cyclocross based training block on Thursday, so I guess it could have been worse had I missed that.I'm just bummed that this effectively ends my road season. It started late and ended early, not what I would have hoped for.

Outside of breaking bones, life has been good around these parts. Last week, me, Mike Sherer, Eric Young and Erik Hamilton decided to do a solid day on the bike. We did a 90 mile loop in the afternoon, known here as "The 90", and then followed it up with the Wednesday Worlds training race, which tacked on another 40 miles. 130 miles in any conditions is a tough task, but that distance in the 95* heat was shattering. I drank 14 bottles and didn't pee once. DEEEEHYDRATED. I was bonking so badly the last 10 miles that I could barely hold the weight of my head. Great fun. At least I didn't call my mommy to pick me up like BISSELL PRO Eric Young. He did destroy us in every sign sprint throughout the day though.

Erik Hamilton's wedding was last night, and that was a great time with a lot, a lot, of bike dorks drinking and dancing. Congrats to he and Caitlin. Now, I'd appreciate it if no one would get married for a while, because I feel like it sets me back a month on my fitness every time I go to a wedding or wedding related event.

The pre-wedding ride yesterday. I started with my sling on, but it was too restrictive, so I stashed it in my pocket.

The bull that bucked me off.

Alright, I'm going to have a glass of chocolate milk.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Madeira/ Hyde Park/ Grandview

I decided to skip out on heading to Georgia for the Nationals Road Race, in favor of staying semi-local and doing the USA Crit Series weekend in Ohio with pretty good prize money, as opposed to driving 12 hours each way and racing for some funny looking frock and zero dollars. Frocks don't feed all my babies and baby momma's. J/K LOL.

Friday was a twilight crit in a nice little area of Cincinnati call Madeira. Good crowds, good course (unless you're scurred of the dark and 180* turns), and it's conveniently located next to our sponsor's, family's home. Which is more like a hotel. I had good legs coming off Nature Valley, so that racing was fun for me. The 3 of us Panthers were aggressive and we had Paul in a solo move for the middle 30 minutes of the race, which let Kirk and I relax for a bit. Jamey Driscoll of Jamis slowly, bus surely pulled it back together and the remaining 20 laps or so were very aggressive as we tried to get a break to go. No break went, but we did whittle the front group to 25 guys or so. I got bumped off Kirk's wheel by Clayton Barrows in the final 180 and tried to fight him for it, but he is a large man. I had to settle for 6th with Jamis stacking the top, but Clay Murfet got the win.

Got you tix to the gun show?

Saturday we hung out by the pool, went for a little spin and I took a 2 hour nap, all before heading down to the course for the Hyde Park Blast at 8:30. For some reason the course is always pretty brutal. Lots of attrition again and it wasn't even that hot. Clayton Barrows was away solo for a looong time, Paul (our Paul) and Jamey Driscoll, Clay Murfet, and 2 others bridged up and lapped the field. Once It was all back together Greg, Kirk and I took the front with 4 to go to hopefully shepherd Paul to the W. Greg did what he does best and smashed out a few strong laps, all the way down to 1/2 lap to go when a Jamis guy jumped and then I followed with Kirk and Paul on my wheel. We came out of the last corner sitting pretty well and Kirk opened up the sprint from a long way out for Paul. It was probably 350 meters to the line and Paul drag raced his breakaway companions to a 2nd place on the day and a nice chunk of the 10,000 bucks. Kirk and I rolled in in 9th and 11th to collect a bit of change for the team as well.

Greg, Me, Kirk, Paul in hiding.

I headed up to my regular host house for Ohio racing, the Chartier's, after the race and we ate some delicious Wendy's Dollar Menu items and tried to get rid of our late night racing buzz so we could sleep. That happened around 2AM... We had breakfast over a live feed of the Belgian Champs and I was on my way to Columbus for the Tour de Grandview, one of my favorites. 40 trips up the hill always seems to soften the legs and it's an uphill sprint that I tell myself is good for me.

The race was aggressive early, but nothing was really going anywhere until I unleashed the mother of all attacks. Not actually, but I did attack on the hill and dragged 3 others with me. We had a nice gap immediately and had some critical teams represented, so we worked our gap up to a minute inside the last 3 laps and then started thinking about how to sort things out from there. One of the guys in the move was none other than recently upgraded cat 2 Jon Atwell from Bloomington. He's much stronger than his category would suggest. I knew this and tried to make sure he didn't try any funny business and ride away from all of us Fabian style. Since he is a bit of a newb, he got stuck on the front leading it into the uphill sprint. From here I can let the photos do the talking:

So Jon lead the sprint out and still got me. Piss. None of us had any clue at the time who'd won. But if I had to lose that though, I'm glad it was to another Bloomington racer. Some consolation was that my 2nd place moved me up to second in the Omnium for the weekend and netted me and my baby momma's some mo' money. Hollerrr!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oh, Hey There!

That's right, your favorite comma splice-laden blog is showing signs of life! Just what you always wanted!!! As you can imagine, lots has happened since I last wrote an update, but most of it is hardly news worthy. But you're gettin' it anyway.

So just a quick re-visit of my last post about being past a knee injury... I wasn't. I ended up being off the bike until the 8th of April and spending approximately $72382198u27.03 (yes, I know there's a "u" in there) dollars on treatments and voodoo of different types. But since that date I've been able to train with no knee issues and gradually been trying to acquire some fitness. It's been a somewhat slow process, and I'm just now into my 12th week of training, which some (including my new coach) would still consider the period where one should be working on "Base". I'm still a bit behind where my power numbers would be normally in the middle of a race reason, but considering my start to the year I feel ok about things.

I've been training more/more specifically/longer hours than I have in previous seasons, and it seems to be bringing results along more quickly. I know, imagine that?!? I have been doing some races for a little over a month now and just got back from the first real test of the year at Nature Valley. Things weren't fantastic, but it was definitely good to raise the racing level a bit and get some harder miles in my legs. Thanks, United Healthcare! The rest of the team raced pretty well and our little Canadian was 3rd in the Best Young Rider Competition, with a great ride (12th) in the Stillwater crit on the final day.

I was also planning on going through this whole post without mentioning cyclocross, but I just can't. It's coming! Schedules are being made, emails are being sent, and supplies are being supplied. #cantwait. Hoping this new approach for the road season will also be convenient for my legs at the end of the season, too.

Don't look now, but the 4th of July is just around the corner, and around here, that means Trucker hats (of the SRAM variety), cut off t-shirts, Budweiser and a trip to the local dirt race car track for some racin' watchin' and the longest fireworks show you've ever done seen. 'Merica.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Hurt Locker of a Different Kind

If I can't muster up a blog entry in my current state, I'll never write one again. I'm currently in my 4th day of being completely leveled by some kind of virus. Lauren had it last week and she was TKO'd for 5 or 6 days and now I've been down since Sunday afternoon. I think I've only been off the couch for a handful of minutes since I fell I'll, so I figured I should be able to find the time to compose an entry. However, since I wrote my last blog entry, it wasn't time that was keeping me from updating, it was motivation.

Normally, I'm motivated to write blog entries when things are going well or I have positive news on which to report, but recently, around these parts, things have been the exact opposite. After my Belgium trip I scheduled a couple weeks completely off the bike to let my body and mind fully recover from the season. Once my 2 weeks was up, the motivation was flowing, so I jumped back into it. I made the stupid mistake of moving straight back over from my cyclocross bike/pedal/shoe set up to my road bike/pedal/shoe set up and did 4 hours and 3.5 hours the first 2 days back. Idiot. I wanted to catch up with everyone I hadn't seen or talked to in a while, and turning around an hour into a weekend group ride isn't very cool, but neither are knee injuries, as I found out.

I was having a knee cap tracking issue due to some muscle imbalance in my right quad. I had a tough time getting the inflammation to go away completely, so I ended up taking lots of time off the bike, 4 weeks on top of my initial 2 week scheduled break. Well, I guess they weren't all completely off, I did ride probably half of the days on average at about 90 watts to try to re-educate the muscles as I was rehabbing my knee.

This whole ordeal was pretty tough on me mentally. 6 weeks off is by far my longest break since I started riding competitively and it was even harder listening to all my friends talk about their great 5 hour rides and training camps. Oh yeah, well I did 194 kj's in an hour yesterday... Anywho, I think the knee issues are behind me now and I'm trying to stay optimistic that this slower start to the training season will have a positive impact on the longevity of my season.

I'm also excited to report that I started working with the Cycle-Smart coaching family this season. Being a numbers dork myself, I'm particularly excited to work with these guys because they seem to enjoy power-dorking as much as I do.

I hoping to be back on the bike by the weekend, just in time to watch Het Volk and Kurne-Brussels-Kurne and then go out and hammer down the gravel roads around here with my hands on the tops of the bars, my favorite thing to do.

Keep you fingers crossed for a pair of Lars Boom victories this weekend!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The People That Make It Possible

Now that I've been home for a while, I'm settled into my routine again and have had some time to process the trip, rehash the experiences over and over with friends and family and just generally reflect. The conclusion that I've come to is that I'm very lucky to have a life situation and support system that allows me to do the things that I do. My training and effort that I personally put into cycling is only a small part of the equation and would almost be for nothing if I didn't have all of these people going out of their way to help me.

Even before I made the trip to Belgium, I had been overwhelmed with the level of support and general good will I had received this season. Then on top of that, the level of support and supporters that came forward to make the Belgian adventure a reality absolutely blew my mind. My usual support crew stepped up as they always do and produced in a big way. I had lots of unexpected contributions, as well as a number of donations from guys that I'm directly competitive with on the road and cross bikes. I'm not sure if the donors want to stay anonymous or not, so I won't name names for the most part, but I just want to thank all of you who contributed in one way or another, with moral support, product, monetarily, or with just a "hey, good luck not getting your ass kicked in Belgium". I really appreciate every bit of support and feel quite lucky to have so many great people and great companies in my life.

I do want to give out a few shout outs though:

My family- They all bend over backwards to make my life and schedule flexible enough that I can be away more than I'm home. And sometimes they're the ones taking on extra responsibilities so that I can go race bikes. Thanks!

Lauren- She has had to make numerous airport runs at 3 AM and then come back and go straight to work on no sleep. Dealt with my bad attitude numerous time after a poor race. And she's been the number one positive influence in my cycling over the last few years and has helped me learn to have confidence and be a more positive person in all facets of my life. Thanks for keeping my head in the right place!

Stu Kaplan- The man behind all my plane tickets. I obviously couldn't do it without his contributions, but now he's as much of a friend as a sponsor. He's taken a genuine interest in my racing and always has some great words of wisdom and support when we see each other.

Toby Cole- My do it all sponsor, life coach, friend. Always makes it happen. Always believes in me and keeps focused on my goals. Thanks for another great year, TC!

Steve Roszko/ Unbelievable support. Always coming through and giving me more than the necessary resources to travel the world and race my bike. Treats me like a member of the family 

Andy Clarke/ Panther Expedite- The sponsor of my road team and just a huge supporter of the sport. Came through so huge for the Euro trip. Absolutely wouldn't have happened without him.

ZIPP Speed Weaponry- I was one of their first cross riders a few years ago, and you may have noticed that they've signed a few other "decent" guys since then, but they still treat me like they did when I was one of the only guys. I feel so lucky to be involved with the best company in the biz. "BOOM! Hit em with a Freeze Pop!"

Spooky Bikes- Mickey always takes care of business and works hard to keep his riders happy and dialed. Whether it's dealing with my annoying emails and calls or overnighting some derailleur hangers to Portland, he always makes it happen. I've never had as many inquiries about a bike as I've gotten with these Spookys."Pssst... There's that guy with the sick Spookys!"

Sorry if this all sounds a bit sappy, but this season is about so many more people than just me. I owe all of my opportunities to the contributions of these people. Thanks for another great year!