I spent a lot of time this winter climbing around the mountains, peering into pleasing ski lines...  Love.

Seven Things from Winter 12-13

Winter is a long, pleasant time, in my eyes.  It’s that time of year when a person who has a decently busy summer can take a slight load off and appreciate some other aspects of life.  Like working in the garage, socializing, or being busy doing other fun stuff… This winter has been especially pleasant, because, for the first time, I’m not training in earnest for the first World Cup race of the season, and, ultimately, through ranking maintainence, an future Olympic opportunity.  So, let’s catch up…

  1. I’m BACK!  After a summer and fall of exploring future bike career opportunities, such as running a privateer program or changing things completely, it became apparent (not that it was ever a question) that the Giant Factory Off-Road team is the place for me.  It’ll just change a bit, with my focus being on Enduro racing during the summer with The Frother, Josh Carlson and I hitting the Enduro World Series, NAET events and Trans Provence!   Then fall will see a proper cyclocross season, when Carl and I will finally be able to go to a bunch of races together and have a good, fast time.  It’s going to be sweet to work closely with folks like Frank Trotter and Joe Staub again, thanks for running such a tight, fun ship, fellas.  Even if that new mechanic, Sparky, tries to mess it up…  Welcome to the team, buddy.
  2. Cyclocross – Well, it IS a winter cycling pursuit after all.  I’d initially intended for ‘cross season to end in early December at the Bend USGP, but that went quite well, with a pair of podium finishes.  Exactly the kind of performances I’d said it would take for me to continue through Nationals and, hopefully, Worlds.  Turns out winning the singlespeed race at Nationals in on January 9 and finishing a distant, frustrating 16th in the legit race in Madison wouldn’t quite cut it for Worlds.  So, Cross season over.  Thanks for the fun times, skinny tires and curly bars.  ‘Till next year…

    This does't look like good bike riding conditions to my brain...

    This does’t look like good bike riding conditions to my brain…

  3. The garage is done!  I’d planned to have my dad come out for the holidays, and to be put to work, as he prefers.  So, we took advantage of the fact that it snowed pretty much the rest of December and finished off the garage.  Having a good time in the process.  Although the labor/snow combo wasn’t ideal for ‘Cross Nats prep, evidently…
  4. Consumerism.  I’ve always led a decently austere life, trying to be frugal and plan for the future.  It’s not always sustainable though.  So, when my roomate’s Dad rolled through town, shopping for a pickup on his way to Alaska, I picked up one he passed over.  Welcome to the garage, White Lightning (1993 Ford F-150…) And, when a buddy from Hood River offered to buy my trusty snowmobile, I figured an upgrade was in order.   Another buddy was parting with Mysti, a cartoon-liveried Polaris Pro, so, upgrade complete. Ed. Note- in three weeks of ownership of the snazzy new RMK, it’s had a blown motor and been left to ride itself down a mountain, alone, into a tree.  I saw this coming…

    The gang of shiny new bits all together, WL, Mysti and the Spoons.  Which will last?

    The gang of shiny new bits all together, WL, Mysti and the Spoons. Which will last?

  5. Oh, skiing.  How I love the feeling of flying over the snow and through the air that you provide.  Even more so with another touch of consumerism, in the form of some Spoons from DPS Skis .  I took these huge waterski looking things up to the Icefall Lodge in the Canadian Rockies for a week and giggled my way around some of the most beautiful mountains covered in the most perfect snow with a great crew of people from the Northwest, and Maui, and Brooklyn…

    Must be time to leave utopia, if the thunder of the incoming Bell 212 is any indication...  I want to stay forever.

    Must be time to leave utopia, if the thunder of the incoming Bell 212 is any indication… I want to stay forever.

  6. Filming.  As part of trying to do different things this year on bikes and gain some new perspective, I’ve set out a goal to participate in some film trips.  The first of which happened in Southern California two days after I took a helicopter down from the Icefall Lodge.  Talk about culture shock…  Giro has some new shoe projects in the works and brought three team members out to film a Web Edit and some promo material.  We rendezvoused in Aaron Gwin’s hometown of Temecula with Grahm Agassiz and proceeded to have a sunny, dusty good time for a couple of days.  Those guys are fun to ride with.  Stay tuned for the fruits of our, and the Root One film crew’s labor…

    Aggy was fun to watch for this little sunset session.  Skills.

    Aggy was fun to watch for this little sunset session. Skills.

  7. Fresh bikes and body.  Since my bikes have a different (yet strangely familiar from the Devo days) feel on account of switching to SRAM and Rock Shox (stoked), I figured this is a good time to update my position as well.  We’re fortunate in Bend to have a constant influx of talented Physiologists, and the latest arrival is Jay DIchary, formerly of the University of Virginia and now working at my beloved Rebound PT.  He has good ideas about muscle recruitment and position that really resonate with me.  Basically, I feel like a kid in Maine again; lower seat, cleats farther back, putting down the power and trying to ruin corners.  It’s really fun.  And will be even more fun next winter on the Cyclocross bike with real brakes…

    I wonder if my shiny new Reign is faster around the bends than this space-trike?

    I wonder if my shiny new Reign is faster around the bends than this space-trike?

Winter is also a time for slacking, hence this partially written race report from December 1-2…  Take a step back in time if you’d like.   It’s a good story.

 

Cross After Dark and SSCXWC, Los Angeles style.
Carl and I have been wanking on about going on a road trip to Moab and bringing dirt bikes for years now.  We finally had the catalyst, in the form of some friends spending Thanksgiving there, to load up my roomate’s F-150 and drive 14 hours across the desert to, well, the desert.  It was worth the wait.  Four days of amazing riding in a unique and thought-provoking landscape made for a perfect intermission to the ‘Cross season.  Bonus was two days of riding with Ross Schnell around greater Fruita.  On motorbikes, of course…  And I got to do a run on The Whole Enchilada while Carl took a nap.  Sweet bike trails there in Moab, if a bit rocky…

 

Carl and Ross enjoying a moment of rest somewhere on the CO/UT border. All-time trails.

Carl and Ross enjoying a moment of rest somewhere on the CO/UT border. All-time trails.

The following weekend found me on a plane to Los Angeles, eventually.   For some reason (convenience and efficiency) the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Champs gang had made an eleventh-hour decision to hold their junkshow event in conjunction with a perfectly legitimate event, put on by a perfectly legitimate promoter, Dorothy Wong.  That being the SoCal Cross UCI weekend starting with Cross After Dark on Saturday evening at the LA State Historic Park and followed by another UCI C2 race on Sunday afternoon.  I liked the idea of balancing hooliganism with actual racing over the course of the weekend and made it a point to get down there decently rested in anticipation of putting forth a serious effort on both fronts…

Stage one of quadruple header weekend was the SSCXWC qualifier race on Saturday morning.  Riders were presented with a paper plate with a number on it.  You found the other folks with the same number, about twenty of ‘em, and raced them for a lap.  The top two advanced to the final.  I cleaned up, while talking kind of a lot of smack.  These singlespeed racer types are kind of chumps.  Especially Ryan, who staged a “dropped chain” early in round one and went back to bed.  I told you not to run that chain tensioner doohickey, Trebron, this is what happens to people who don’t spend an hour, a couple beers and Metallica’s Black album finding a magic gear combo…

The legit front was LEGIT.  The word is out that SoCal Cross  UCI races are fun events on good courses in a pretty cool setting, that being Downtown LA.  And the weather is always good, making for good training too.  Until this year.  It rained.  A lot.  Which made it all the more awesome.  Saturday night’s race was a total mess.  Heavy rain on clay covered in woodchips.  Perfect.  I started things off in the lead group of eight, tailgunning with Jamie Driscoll, both of us figuring we might as well watch and see what mistakes would befall others.  Mine was smashing into the flyover bridge in hopes of doing a sweet jump but instead ruining a perfectly good Dugast Tubular.  And removing myself from the lead group.  Jamie would keep us his study and end up riding away with the win at about 9pm on a dark, wet night.

I finished eighth and immediately transitioned into hooligan mode, telling the dickhead singlespeed posse to not leave without me for the group night ride through some of the Hollywood Hills’ lesser-known routes…  I must’ve been bent over, rinsing my nasty gear in the nastier gutter when they trundled by.  An hour of solo riding on Glendale Ave failed to cut them off at the pass, but I heard they had lots of fun.  Thanks for waiting, jerks.  I’m gonna leave you in the woods someday…

Riding around LA at night was actually pretty scenic, in a harsh way...

Riding around LA at night was actually pretty scenic, in a harsh way…

Back to the legitimate world on Sunday morning, it was another installment of actual racing.  I must’ve been tired from not getting killed riding around LA at midnight and ended up fading out of the lead group to finish eighth again.  This time around Tim Johnson used continual slipperiness to punch Ryan Trebron’s ticket on the last lap while I watched from a minute back.  Good work softening him up for the SS race, Timmy.

The most exhausting thing about the balance between counter culture and day job is the continual wardrobe changes.  I wonder how desperate housewives or superheroes deal with it.  Maybe they all had a private screening of Holy Motors (watch this film now) to figure out how to balance their personas…  Fortunately, there was time, and ample rainfall, to get into Mr. Rob Landauer’s Mad Max ensemble while the ladies were racing for Tattoos and sludge.  I even had time for a refreshing adult beverage before my bike got hidden and it was time to start racing.

Kind of a motley crew...  I wish I could recall what music was playing...

Kind of a motley crew… I wish I could recall what music was playing…

The standard formalities of some kind of running backwards to a pile of bikes then proceeding around a racetrack with some goofy obstacles added, all complimented by a boozy shortcut of some type were all met.  As they should be, it makes for a solidly entertaining race.  By lap two Ryan and I had sorted through the mayhem and distanced the chasers, mostly the highly skilled, ever-dangerous Aaron Bradford.  Watch out for that guy.  Ryan was doing all the work, because he’s faster than me, but made an unexpected defensive move by turning into a nice Swiss Couple’s recently vacated Chevy minivan, which happened to be filled with Tequila shots.  I thought for sure Ryan would take the long way around, maintaining his upstanding reputation.  From there, it was on.  He was really pressuring me, at one point opening a small gap, which I attempted to close by throwing Toepher’s Sixers-Edition basketball into his front wheel.  I missed.  And had to resort to skipping the run-up to close the gap.  What a relief.

We both knew it was going to come down to a sprint, or Ryan was going to drop me and I would to cheat to catch up again, re-staging the inevitable sprint finish.  Fortunately, the shots kept us close, Ryan is a lightweight and Tequila makes me faster.  And, for once, a smarter, better sprinter.  Finally!  Wait, crap, does me winning mean I have to get a tattoo?

Brief aside-
The whole “Do you get the tattoo or not” thing is complete, utter BS.  In the REAL singlespeed worlds, that being the one that takes place on REAL (mountain) bikes on REAL trails and has annually since It’s inception in SoCal the year I graduated High School, there is one rule.  If you don’t want the Tattoo, don’t f**king win.  Simple enough.   That said, my boy Matthew Slaven and his partner, Dani Dance, decided that since this SS(cyclocross)WC version that they created in Estacada Timber Park circa 2007 would also have a compulsory tat for the winner.  The inaugural winner, Barry Wicks, declined to accept his prize.  They said “um, OK.”  The next year some guy from Canada was pumped on some free ink and got it.  The next year, someone declined.  I reckon it’s at about 50% acceptance for the last few years.  Meh.  But, I respect Matthew and Dani’s vision, mostly because they let me stay in their basement in Portland on Sunday nights when Dani makes pizza.

So, when the promoters meekly inquired as to whether or not I’d be amendable to getting the tattoo, I volunteered to take over both sides of the conversation, for educational purposes.

Promoter (me acting out their part)-

“Nice work winning this stupid race, jerkoff, you have five minutes to hose out your butt-crack and get in the back of this pickup.  It’s sailing for Martlett’s Tattoo on Hollywood Boulevard and you better not keep the artist waiting, or be late to our party at Jumbo’s Clown Room!”

Lucky Winner-

“Whatever, you sissies better have a sweet skull tat planned, none of this namby-pamby teddy bear BS they always try to pawn off.”

And that was that…

Brice checks out his handiwork.  Wonder if I should've gotten something from on the wall...

Brice checks out his handiwork. Wonder if I should’ve gotten something from on the wall…

 

Addendum
Scott Chapin won the after party, as he does any graced with his presence.

Addendum #2
Toepher and the Philly derelict posse spent the weekend winning any an all subjective events (parties, night rides, costumes, hilarity) and proudly laid claim to hosting rights for SSCXWC2013.  Don’t come to Philadelphia unless you’re good and ready for some shenanigans and a tattoo…  High five, fellas, and thanks for the Champagne Corner time at Jumbo’s…

Like I said, the Philly crew won the party, all weekend.

Like I said, the Philly crew won the party, all weekend. 

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