Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013_12_29 Tacoma News Tribune Newspaper Article And Video Interview With Conor Collins

2013's notable people in the outdoors

Staff writersDecember 29, 2013 Updated 11 hours ago

Conor Collins, upcoming cyclist from Puyallup talks about his sport. THE NEWS TRIBUNE — Lui Kit Wong            
South Sound residents are as adept as anyone at turning the outdoors into a playground. And some manage to do some pretty amazing things once they step out their front doors.

Here’s a look back at some of those adventures enjoyed by South Sound residents in 2013:


Conor Collins, a Rogers High junior, entered his first bike race in August 2012 and within a year it was obvious he was born to ride.

He quickly ascended from a Category 5 classification (the first of five levels) to Cat 3. He won the 71-mile Baker City Classic in 2013 by dominating the hills.

He entered July’s Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, a non-race ride that takes two days for 80 percent of the 10,000 participants to finish. He needed less than 10 hours of bike time.

He biked as high as the roads would go on Mount Haleakala, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa during a trip to Hawaii.

And when he entered the grueling 149-mile Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day in July, he reached the top of Cayuse Pass (about the 110-mile mark) before the food station opened for the event.

“At first they didn’t believe we were in the ride,” Collins said. “We had to show them our (bib) numbers to prove it.”

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the summer for the 16-year-old was entering a brutal two-day stage race in Bishop, Calif. The Everest Challenge climbs roughly 29,035 feet, the summit elevation of Mount Everest.

“Everybody is going to bonk in a race like that, you just hope you’re the last one,” Collins said.

Even as a 16-year-old competing against older and more experience racers, Collins more than held his own. He finished the 159-mile ride in 12 hours, 7 minutes, 45 seconds to finish eighth in the Cat 4 race. His time would have been good enough for seventh in the Cat 1-2 race and fourth in the Cat 3 race.

Collins, 5-foot-11, 142 pounds, is built to climb and hopes to pursue racing in college and beyond.

But, for now, he’s focusing on academics (he has a 3.9 GPA and hopes to study biochemistry at Stanford) and racing with the Rogers swim team.


** Click on the following hyperlink to see the actual online article and video about Conor:

Read more here:

2013's notable people in the outdoors

Staff writersDecember 29, 2013 Updated 11 hours ago

Conor Collins, upcoming cyclist from Puyallup talks about his sport. THE NEWS TRIBUNE — Lui Kit Wong         

Here’s a look back at some of those adventures enjoyed by South Sound residents in 2013:


Conor Collins, a Rogers High junior, entered his first bike race in August 2012 and within a year it was obvious he was born to ride.

He quickly ascended from a Category 5 classification (the first of five levels) to Cat 3. He won the 71-mile Baker City Classic in 2013 by dominating the hills.

He entered July’s Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, a non-race ride that takes two days for 80 percent of the 10,000 participants to finish. He needed less than 10 hours of bike time.

He biked as high as the roads would go on Mount Haleakala, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa during a trip to Hawaii.

And when he entered the grueling 149-mile Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day in July, he reached the top of Cayuse Pass (about the 110-mile mark) before the food station opened for the event.

“At first they didn’t believe we were in the ride,” Collins said. “We had to show them our (bib) numbers to prove it.”

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the summer for the 16-year-old was entering a brutal two-day stage race in Bishop, Calif. The Everest Challenge climbs roughly 29,035 feet, the summit elevation of Mount Everest.

“Everybody is going to bonk in a race like that, you just hope you’re the last one,” Collins said.

Even as a 16-year-old competing against older and more experience racers, Collins more than held his own. He finished the 159-mile ride in 12 hours, 7 minutes, 45 seconds to finish eighth in the Cat 4 race. His time would have been good enough for seventh in the Cat 1-2 race and fourth in the Cat 3 race.

Collins, 5-foot-11, 142 pounds, is built to climb and hopes to pursue racing in college and beyond.

But, for now, he’s focusing on academics (he has a 3.9 GPA and hopes to study biochemistry at Stanford) and racing with the Rogers swim team.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Enumclaw Cycloclaws - Season Finale

Author: Dwaine Trummert

The Seattle Cyclocross event calendar ended in Enumclaw last weekend as did the author’s race season. The season as been a fun time for myself and the many folks I met along the way. It was also a time of learning.

Learning about the sport. And learning about myself.

The weather was awfully nice for Cyclocross racing in mid December. The temperature was in the mid 40’s and the rain stayed away. The course was also quite nice. It featured a good variety of terrain. Some fastish turns on the grass. Some really tight turns on the grass. A longish mud section. Some technical single track. A few hundred yards of pavement.

The toughest and longest run-up my tired legs had ever seen. And a short section through a covered equestrian arena.

Photo by Rod Hart
With the move to a midday start and less flexibility on pre riding, my pre race ritual has changed a bit. I was able to get in three laps of course recon after the 10:15 race. Instead of using these laps as warmup I used them to learn the course. There were a fair amount of technical sections and it took a while to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

Based on what I saw on the course and how strong the riders were at the last event  it seemed wise for me not to work hard to get to front like I did last time. My plan was to ride at a steady effort right from the start.

With a little spare time before I needed to warm up I meandered about and ran into Kristofer Koehn. I congratulated him on his win at Sprinker. It was interesting to hear him talk about his thoughts on strategy during the last lap at Sprinker as we approached our sprint finish. We also chatted about racing and training and I found out he is actually a triathlete who does some Cyclocross on the side.

When it came to get warmed up I rode around in circles (almost
literally) on the paved paths between the various barns scattered about the Enumclaw Expo Center. I waited until just 10 minutes before the start before ending my warmup. There was not much point in arriving early as the first two rows would get called up and I would be starting from the back regardless of where I staged.

As the smallish field assembled, only 18 riders in my class, I caught up with Dimitri who I met at the Fort Steilacoom event. Dimitri told me about the winner of that race (who won by 1.5 minutes) and that he is a former champion in another discipline. But our conversation was cut short when, much to my surprise, I heard my name in the list of riders called up to the front row.

At first this seemed like an error. But I then remembered that the promoter allows some riders who upgrade mid season to take eighty percent of their season points total with them to their new class. I thought I had missed the deadline for that transfer so my callup was definitely a surprise. It also called for a change in race plan.

There is lots of value in avoiding bottlenecks on the racecourse and being in the front is the best way to miss them. The new plan was to start at the front and stay at the front until the field strung out a bit. Then hang on as best I could.

As usual my recon work included lots of attention on the first few corners. This paid handsomely as I was in fourth coming out of corner number two. By about the 6th corner I had moved up to 2nd which I held onto until we approached the giant run up.

I couldn’t hold the leader’s wheel any longer and began the inevitable process of letting fitter riders go by. As the race went on I found that I
Photo by Woodinville Bicycle
could get some of them back in the technical sections, but overall, I was slowly going backwards. My highlight in this process was losing Dimitri (who is definitely fitter than me) on the run up but then working hard to repass him two minutes later in the tight grassy zig-zags. I managed to hold him off for six more minutes before he passed me (for good) at the run up.

As the race went on I found a pace that delivered respectable speed and suffering. The exception was the run-up. The soil was a little loose.

The hill was steep. And long. It kicked my backside every lap.

On the positive side I heard my name and ‘Go Cyclopaths’ emanating from the crowd as I concentrated on not falling at the barriers. As my lone fan shouted my name I did my best to hide my suffering.

One of the lessons I’ve been slow to learn is the best time on the last

Photo by Woodinville Bicycle

lap to push into the red zone. At only one of my races have I crossed the line having used everything up. At Enumclaw I again started pushing too late. I was able to dispatch one rider in the final third of the course and was quickly reeling in another before running out race course.

After the race my fan introduced himself. Fellow cyclopath Rod Hart had been cheering for me at the barriers. We talked cycling and Cyclopaths and Cyclocross while I regained my breath and composure. He also shared some photos of me staying upright over the barriers. It was nice to finally meet Rod and put a face to the name.

In the parking lot I saw Kristofer and asked him about his race. It was only after our race that he admitted that he hadn’t trained in weeks and wasn’t taking this race too seriously. Turns out he has already shifted into training for an early Spring half Marathon.

When I checked the results I found that Dimitri had finished 2nd.  My front row start and perseverance paid off with a 5th. Kristofer finished 9th.

On the drive home I replayed the race season in my head. My season featured at least the following: A number of podium finishes. Graduating to play with the big boys. Getting to the front of the pack, even if only temporarily, while swimming in the deep end of the pool. And stepping off zero times while racing was under way. (Wood should be touched when this is said.) In addition to the racing I met a bunch of cool cyclists who, like me, just happen to like racing bicycles in the mud.

Thanks for reading. See you at The Climb.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Author:   Mike Hassur

For anyone new to this blog, The Climb is our name for a nearby climb that gains about 1000 feet in five miles.  The road is a rural dead end and has little to no traffic most of the time.

I picked up Conor at 6:50 this morning and headed toward The Climb.  The drive out was fun with Conor telling me about his AP Biology Class which he really seems to enjoy and which he sounds like he could teach next year if given the chance!!  We arrived at the base of The Climb by 7:30 with Leon pulling in right behind us.  We unloaded our bikes and were heading uphill by 7:45.  When we left home the temperature was around 44 degrees, but the temp at The Climb was more like 37 degrees.  The road was damp which made me concerned about possible icy patches.  I kept hitting my rear brake at various spots on the way up to see if the road surface was slick, but it was fine.

About half-way up, Conor spotted two elk on the road about 100-150 yards ahead of us.  They quickly moved off into the woods.  Every time we see elk, I say the same thing “I always forget how big they are”.  The ride up was noteworthy for the scenery.  It was cloudy; but the air was crystal clear, the Olympic Mountains were in view, and some of the distant valleys were filled with ground fog.  Even though it was cold, we were dressed warmly; and the views made it great to be there.

We did repeats on the top 2 kilometers until we got to about 3200 feet of climbing.  As we were descending near the top, we were pleased to see Scott Larson heading up toward us.  We turned around and accompanied Scott to the top; and, then, decided to head all the way to the bottom before heading back up.  We were about 1.5 miles from the bottom when Martin Katzberg showed up with his bike on the bike rack behind his SUV.  He turned around and said he would meet us at the bottom.

When we got to the bottom, Martin was ready to go; so we turned around and headed back up.  We “visited” our way all the way to the top which made the ascent pretty easy in spite of me starting to be a little tired.

Scott, Conor, and I had to leave; so we headed all the way to the bottom once again.  On the way down, Martin asked Leon how much more climbing he planned on doing.  Instead of saying a specific number of feet or number of repeats, Leon simply said “until I get too tired to go up any longer”.  It was so “LEON”.

It was great to be out with the guys.  While the temperature started out pretty chilly, it ended up being about right for climbing (you just didn’t want to sit still for very long).  Can’t wait until next time!! 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nebraska Cornhusker Cycling  10/25/2013.... by Brent Moody

Been a while since I posted, this is a little behind. Been a tough few months for riding as not that I mind cold, its the WIND that's been so tough. Started in Nebraska and has followed me thru Kansas and into New Mexico.

I was happy to be home in Nebraska, great time of year, my family, friends, some bird hunting, cycling/running, and of course Nebraska Football! First stop was in Lexington, Nebraska. A small farm city in Nebraska, located along the Platte River and Interstate 80. My wife and I decided to stay here first, as this was central to a lot of activities we had planned the first 10 days in Nebraska. We are "Vegabonds" as Mike put in, traveling in our RV thru-out the U.S.

 First thing arriving in Lexington, time for a run with my dog, hes a German Shorthair, named Sausage... haha, goes back to when Seahawks went to Super Bowl, Bud Light commercial, look it up. We, dog and I,  went out to check the local gravel roads; scared up some pheasants, saw some deer, really enjoyed the local quiet prairie.
We had many great runs in Nebraska, as running is my dogs favorite pastime. We ran all over the state, sometimes feeling like Forrest Gump, even running in some of my old stomping grounds in high school, Ansley ,NE. Very middle of the state.

Next day, decided to take my XC Bike out, and hit the dirt and gravel roads. Lots of wind, started this day, and I took off riding thru the farmland, deciding to get in about 40 miles. I would imagine most of the farmers out there are not used to seeing cyclist in Oct/Nov, as I did get a few interesting looks. I took a big loop, riding gravel roads 33 of those 40 miles, which were tough roads, a lot of washouts. I really enjoyed my time and was really surprised by what seemed like a monster creeping up on me so fast... Check out the video! LOL

Next Stop, was Lincoln, NE. one of my favorite places! We found a great place on the north end of Lincoln, great spot for heading out running our cycling. Weather was great, just windy... not many cyclist or runners out, so I must have been one of the few crazy ones. I think the week I was there I got a bike ride or run in everyday. Been really feeling good on the run, as I had taken a lot of the year off running, concentrating on cycling. I had a really enjoyable ride within the City of Lincoln, about 30 miles.  If you ever get a chance to visit, check out the cycling paths. They have dedicated paths that you can about cycle thru out the entire city of Lincoln. Some of my favorite pics.

To cap off a great 3 weeks in Nebraska, whether your a Cornhusker fan or not, you have to go to a Big Red Football Game. First time of my wife Jen, to attend a Cornhusker Football game in Lincoln, nothing like it anywhere. Nebraska was playing Northwestern, which, if you follow football, Nebraska won in the final seconds with a Hail Mary pass to the end zone.

What an incredible time! I have cycled Nebraska many times, so if you ever want to get away, there are many great places to cycle in Nebraska, the myth is not true about being flat and nothing to see. Usually June has a great cycling event, BRAN (Bike Ride Across Nebraska), 6 days and roughly 450 miles of fun!

I will post again later this week or next, as off to Southern New Mexico for a month, trying to escape the artic temps and get some Mountain Riding in!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Seattle CX at Fort Steilacoom Park

Author:  Dwaine Trummert

As the crow flies Fort Steilacoom Park is just two miles from my home.

It is the venue of the first CX race I attended as a spectator. It is the first venue I attended as a competitor. For these reasons and more it is my favorite stop on the Seattle Cyclocross schedule.

My results this season have earned a points upgrade from Category 4 to Category 3. Although the upgrade was mandatory there is a USAC waiver that allows riders to finish a points series in the same class in certain circumstances. My situation met the requirements of that waiver.

After substantial deliberation I decided there was more value in testing the Cat 3 waters for the remaining 2013 events then there was in maintaining my existing Cat 4 points position. So Fort Steilacoom was my first Cat 3 race.

Being my first experience in Cat 3 I had one idea that I might start the race conservatively and then gauge myself by how far I could move up.
But I chose a bolder strategy. A podium finish did not seem likely. Yet I wanted to get to the front and experience the lead group’s pace firsthand. That would require moving past a fair number of riders. Based on points, high finishing riders are invited or ‘called up’ to start in the first and second rows. With exactly zero points in this class that benefit would not fall my way.

My Fort Steilacoom strategy was to ‘study the early corners of the course to know where to make passes so I could get in touch with the lead group’. But when I started my first lap of recon I realized that plan was junk. The majority of the technical corners would come near the end of the lap. So my strategy was revised to be more like ‘work really hard in hopes of getting a sight of the lead group’.

The course sighting laps also showed that this Fort Steilacoom course layout was unlike previous courses. It was easily broken down into three sections. The first third was single and double track trail that included a fair bit of climbing. This first third was finished off with a wicked descent.
This descent was probably only 15 seconds and it played out like this; the single track leading to the descent ended at a hump that lifted and then dumped riders onto the double track that turned 90 degrees to the right. It was kinda steep and bumpy. Then it got steeper and bumpier.

The left side was smoother than the right but the tires were only hitting the tops of the bumps anyway. Then it bent slightly to the left (which became a blind corner at race speed) flattened for fifteen feet, and then dropped away again. After the second drop the course flattened and quickly turned 115 degrees to the right. Yee Haw!
The 115 degree righty was located in the Northwest corner of the park.

The middle third brought riders back towards the middle of the part and was altogether different. The dirt road that lead us due East was flat, smooth, straight, and long. On race day a Westerly was blowing in off Puget Sound which made this section even faster.

The final third was the typical zig-zag turns laid out with yellow tape on a flattish grass field. At Fort Steilacoom Park there happen to be a few barns and silos in that grass field and just like previous years we zigged and zagged around those as well. This year the course designers put in a few decreasing radius corners and a couple double apex corners.

This years grass section was far superior to last years grass section where many of the corners were nearly identical 180 degree turns.

Having done all this course research there wasn’t much left to do but race. I showed up to the staging area early and ended up meeting a racer with a familiar name. Dmitri Keating owns some of the Strava KOMs in my neck of the woods and a bike shop as well. I didn’t figure I’d see much of him after the start.

While waiting I also noticed David Cook lining up. David’s description of Cross racing a few years back is probably what lit the fire that has pushed me this far into the sport. We talked about our seasons so far.
And his conviction of racing a Single Speed Cross bike which he would be racing against the rest of us on geared bikes.

When the whistle blew no racers took it easy off the start line. I passed a handful in the first lefty by taking the way wide line. Every other pass for the next 2/3 lap was done the hard way. When we reached the grassy section of the course I was able to get my breathing under control and still pick off a rider or two.

We were just part way through lap two when I shifted to plan ‘B’. I had seen the front. I had ridden up to the back of the lead group. And stayed with them for a short while.  Although I didn’t keep a close eye on the riders in front of me I believe I worked my way up to seventh or maybe sixth. Then I faced the reality that I would not be able to sustain the lead group’s pace.

My plan ‘B’ was to ride my own race as a Cross time trial. I kept my energy output steady and at a level that would last the remaining thirty minutes. I liked this pace and it gave me confidence. On every lap I lost a rider or two up the climb. I usually lost another rider on the long straight. To my credit I passed a rider down the descent almost every lap. This often took place when they braked for the second drop and I didn’t thereby letting my bike literally fly past. I also regained a position or two in the grassy zig zags.

For the first time this year my family was able to attend one of my races. It was pretty special to hear my daughter screaming ‘Go Daddy’ as I went past. For the few seconds I could hear her encouragements my usual racing grimace was replaced with a smile.

Yet another first occurred sometime after the first lap. My bike kinda stopped shifting.

At the beginning of the season I went the ‘Shimergo’ route with a single
38 tooth chainring and modified SRAM 12-28 8 speed cassette. A right side Campagnolo Mirage Ergo 9 speed brake/shifter controls the Shimano XT rear derailleur and is paired with a Tektro left brake lever. Despite the apparent disfunctionality of this setup the shifting problem was later traced to mud and grit getting into the lower rear shift cable housing. I was surprised that my luck lasted through five full races before the wisdom of sealed cable systems was demonstrated during the sixth.

It was some time during the second lap I found that sometimes shifting up had no effect but I could push the shifter with extra effort to shift down. This poor behavior got worse as the race progressed. But by the end of the race I had worked out a system that allowed me to have pretty good gear choices for the sections at hand. On the climb I used lowest gear and would shift up two or three clicks before the slope began to level. Nothing would happen until the next bumpy section when the bike would spontaneously shift up a gear or two. That randomly timed gear change got me to the descent where I’d dump all the clicks, bounce down the descent, and have to grind through the 115 degree righty in top gear. Then I’d shift down one or two gears which was about right for the straight. Going into the grassy zig zags I’d shift down to a lowish gear and then not shift again until the climb. I was surprised at how little my compromised gearing choices affected my speed.

Category 3 races last 45 minutes which allowed us to go five laps. I stuck with my time trial style plan, finished the race with no further drama, and was quickly congratulated by my wife and daughter. The winner of my class had a huge margin of one minute 28 seconds over Dmitri who finished second. David did well against the geared bikes in 8th. My position was 12th in a field of 29. Not too shabby.

My first taste of the competition at the Cat 3 level was pretty much what I expected. Everyone was fit. Most were fitter me. Everyone knew their bike handling. There were no marshmallows.

The final Seattle Cyclocross race on the calendar is in Enumclaw in December. I expect it will be bitterly cold and utterly miserable. I can’t wait.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Seattle Cyclocross Racing at Sprinker (Tacoma)

Author: Dwaine Trummert

The Seattle Cyclocross season has finished its Northern swing and moved into the South Sound venues starting at Sprinker Park in Spanaway.

Sunday November 17th was wet and chilly. Fortunately the temperatures were nowhere near freezing and the rain was only falling intermittently.

Having honed my pre race ritual by this point in the season I arrived at exactly 7:15 and commenced with the steps needed to keep my nerves calm and get my muscles warm. During my pre ride laps I discovered the course was mostly flat with a fair number of flattish and fastish sections. The portion of the course that ran through the finish line had a fair amount
Photo by Erik Barrett (Puyallup Cyclopath)
of pavement and fast sweeping corners. On the other side of the park, which fell about halfway through a lap, was 'the pit'. This feature looked like a sinkhole with a number of undulations through it. The Seattle Cyclocross folks ran the tapes in and out of the pit. Up, over, and through a number of the hills and ditches. This section was decidedly not fast. And the corners were tight and tricky.

The soil at Sprinker had a fair number of round rocks. Most of the course I was happy with my 28/30 psi pressure choice. But I felt my rear tire bottom out a couple times and upped my pressures to 28/32. This helped protect my rear rim but did not help my comfort or traction.

The start, 8 riders wide and many rows deep, had the field funnel between two yellow concrete posts just 100 feet into the race. I liked the right side due to the first corner being a right hander. But I chose a center start position to help me get safely past the posts.

I've learned who has been running up front lately and Kristofer Koehn was the only name I recognized as a previous podium finisher.  By the third turn I was cleanly in third. By the tenth corner I was happily in second and having no trouble staying with the leader. But looking over my shoulder entering 'the pit' I could see that the leader's pace was no trouble for much of the field. After getting a little tire rub from behind I decided to take charge and set a higher pace.

Photo by Erik Barrett (Puyallup Cyclopath)
My higher pace started to string the lead group out a bit. I was pretty happy with the way the race was playing out, though I wasn't totally happy with my tire pressure choice. My rear tire wasn't hooking up all that well and I found myself going 'slideways' through a few corners.

Part way through the second lap I saw Koehn in second place and my lead over him was just 5 seconds. I kept my pace up but also guarded against getting excited and pushing too hard too early. At the end of the second lap I watched Kristofer close the gap as we traversed the three paved 'S' turns that led to the sidewalk and through the final fast sweeper that put us onto the paved finish straight.

At the next slow section I asked him to set the pace a while. He did so.

I guessed I was stronger on the technical sections and he was stronger on the straights. I followed him until 'the pit' and then attempted to move past. The pass took four turns longer than I had hoped and as we exited 'the pit' I hadn't gained much gap. At this point I chose 'plan B'. If we were going to decide this thing at the very end I wanted to be as fresh as possible. I slowed to a pace that I knew would allow him to catch me before the finish and would also let me rest. He caught and passed me on a long flat stretch of dirt path that lead us to the final paved bits.

Although I hadn't closed the deal in the technical sections of the course I did have a plan. It was my intention to accelerate hard through the 'S' turns, make the pass on the sidewalk (which was 15 feet wide), lead through the final righty, and force Kristopher, who I guessed was a better sprinter, to try to power past in the final 200 yards to the line.

Just before the course changed to pavement I heard him change to the large chainring. He checked over his shoulder. He saw me tight on his wheel. We bent left into the first 'S' turn and we both accelerated smoothly. I was still on his wheel and still cranking as we bent into the second 'S' turn. This is when I found out the limits of off-road tires on wet pavement. As I felt the front start to push I eased off the pedals long enough to regain my line going into the third 'S' turn. I was back on the power quickly but the pass would not happen on the sidewalk.

While scouting the course these paved sections seemed wide and their corners seemed gradual. At final lap race pace I was finding the course treacherously narrow. The final righty was through an open gate and around some metal barriers that, at these speeds, required single file and no stray thoughts. Kristofer played it well and my sprint to the finish was not superior to his.

The RFID scoring system showed that Kristofer took the win and that the delta was zero seconds.

As I took my cool down lap and replayed the race in my head I feel that I made a pretty big mistake. Having a plan 'B' was a good thing.

Resorting to it was not. It is easy for me to get excited in the moment and push too hard while racing. My thoughts are constantly on my pace and my respiration rate. In retrospect I'm pretty sure I took it too easy on the final lap. I've slowly built my cycling engine over the course of this year. I've also seen just how deep I can push it while Cross racing. If I could do it again I would have passed the leader _before_ getting to 'the pit', used my technical skills through the pit, and then metered out everything I had left for that last half lap.

Kristopher may have had enough to still come past me. I don't know. But I do think resting on the last lap played to his strengths and hammering from 'the pit' to the finish would have played to mine.
The next event is at what I consider my home venue. Fort Steilacoom Park was my introduction to Cyclocross and I hope to see you there.
Editor's Note:  fellow Puyallup Cyclopath, Erik Barrett, happened to be watching this race and got pictures of Dwaine during the race (a couple of which are shown above).  To see all of the photos, click on the following link:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Silver Lake Sand Cross 2013

Author:  Dwaine Trummert
A number of Cyclocross events are staged at Thorton A. Sullivan Park each year. This park is on the edge of Silver Lake and has hills at each end with a flat section between them. This provides plenty of variety for the course designers and plenty of challenges for the racers.

The day started chilly but without rain and warmed enough to be raced in short sleeves. As I scouted the course I discovered the variety of terrain we would race over. The sand sections were obviously going to challenge everyone. As were some of the climbs. But two types of technical sections stood out to me. First were the three short steeps. Each was through a corner that prevented much speed to be carried and all three were difficult to ride without dismounting. The second feature I noticed were the number of technical downhill corners. One in particular was at the end of a paved straight that then bent to the right and descended before tightening up and then dumping the rider into a really tight lefty. During my practice laps I experimented on how best to get through these technical sections and also observed other riders to see what else was working.

At the start line I chatted with Damon but did not see the other riders I met at Tall Chief. When the whistle blew I was pretty surprised to see how hard the first three rider were going. I entered the first turn in fifth or so. The pace was high and I was back into seventh within the first minute. At this early point in the race I was concerned that I might blow up if I tried to sustain this pace.

By the middle of the first lap the action cooled a bit. I was back to fifth with a group of three directly in front of me. The leader had earned a gap but was still within sight. It was also in this middle section where my comfort with the technical sections allowed me to rest a tiny bit and still hold the wheel in front of me.

Photo by Woodinville Bicycle
By the end of the first lap the lead group was down to three and tightly bunched. I held third and it was around this time that I took stock of the race and liked what I was seeing. My heart rate was out of the red and it appeared I was struggling less getting up the steeps and down the tricky corners than the guys I was with. Over the next lap or so I would follow the wheel in front of me. Then, just before one of the fast descents I'd slip by, let it hang out a bit down the hill, and see if the other rider wanted to counter. This worked well and at about the two laps point I was leading the race.

Photo by Woodinville Bicycle
After taking the lead I needed some self talk. Talk to keep myself calm as I hadn't expected to be setting the pace. Talk to remind me not to make a race changing mistake. So I watched over my shoulder to monitor my lead, rode the technical sections as smooth as possible, and kept my heart rate out of the red. At the end of the fourth lap I finished first with a healthy gap between me and second.

After the race I chatted with Damon about the course. We agreed that it was pretty technical especially the descent I described previously. He mentioned that other races at this park have been designed to be less technical. This matched with other rumors I had heard earlier in the day.

In retrospect this course was probably designed to maximize my strengths. I could (barely) ride all the steeps during the race while some others gave up seconds dismounting. My descents were fast which also allowed me to gain a second or two at zero energy cost. And the climbs, while certainly not of Cyclopath length, were not slowing me much.

Two images above (the ones showing a Cyclopath jersey) were taken by Woodinville Bicycle .

See you at the next event.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013_10_26 The Climb To Paradise

Author:  Nick Iverson

Saturday morning October 26, I felt tired and a bit stiff from doing a few local hills to augment my ride home the night before.  The weather was dreary, but not foggy.  Listening to the local news the weather report claimed that the place to be was in the mountains, as we were experiencing a prolonged temperature inversion.  After finishing some chores, the day was slipping away, but I decided to check out the Webcam at Mt. Rainier.  Sure enough the sky was blue, the mountain was out, and even at Longmire the weather was clear.  In a frenzy, I put all my biking gear into my Volvo, and headed out.  The leaves are beautiful at our place with many vine maples, and bright red foliage on the flowering plum trees near the road.  Heading down the driveway, a deer, on a suicide mission, jumped out from the back of the house crossing right in front of me, then again as I rounded the corner of our long driveway, the doe made another attempt to get whacked as I left.  On the way out Shaw Road, then eventually Meridian, the beauty of the autumn foliage began to show its full glory.

Reaching the cut off to Mountain Highway in Eatonville, the sun was beginning to peek through the low clouds.  As I descended down to Mountain Highway, and drove along Alder Lake, the sky was a deep blue, and the shiny surface of the lake reflected the colors of the sky and the trees on the other side.  The water had a hint of green color.  No boats on the lake could be seen.  One lone biker, clad cleverly in black… black shoes, leggings, jersey and helmet and no lights, was moving along near Elbe like a Ninja.  I thought a Cyclopath Jersey would be helpful.

There was no line at the Park entrance, and once inside, the October sun was lower in the sky than I was used to seeing, and streams of light shone between the trees, and the ferns and moss were brighter than I remembered.  I considered riding from Kautz Creek, but had left so late, I mainly wanted to make the climb from Longmire.  After getting my bike ready, I found that the auto stop on my Garmin was not turned on, and after about 5 minutes of trying every screen, gave up and just started the climb, planning to hit the lap button at Paradise.  The ride up the hill was in mid forty degree weather all the way to the top, but a bit warmer at the very top.  By this time I know pretty much every turn and viewpoints, but the beauty of the ride in the still air, surrounded by silence, seemed to enhance the awesome climb that I have enjoyed so many times.  The last stretch to the top seemed rather effortless, as I was enjoying the peace and
beauty of the green valleys and periodic views of Tahoma.  At the top, there was no snow at all in the meadows above the Paradise Lodge, and I found a camera person with a fancy SLR to take a couple pictures for me on my iPhone.  Determined to make some effort to have this be a Cyclopath worthy ride, I went down the one way road, then circled back up to the Lodge, then descended again and bade the mountain farewell. 

The temperatures had dropped significantly, and several places the sun was very low, making a few stretches of the descent downright scary as I was also competing with the cars all leaving at the same time.  With all my layers now on, I did begin to feel downright cold even when pedaling as much as I could.  The ride down seemed longer than the ride up the hill. 

Reaching my car in the Longmire parking lot gave me time to ponder the many times that the hills of Mount Rainier have tried to discourage me.  Sadly, I put my gear away and felt that this could be the last trip up the climbs of Mount Rainier for 2013.  I think that this trip was number eleven.  But there is next year…..

Monday, October 28, 2013

2013_10_26 "On The Road With Brent Moody": Fort Collins, CO

Colorado 2 times in 1 year! This is the first cycling on my vagabond adventure. I met up with some of my buddies in Ft. Collins, Co that i originally met at BRAN (Bike Ride Across Nebraska). Since mid, couple of buddies were happy to play hooky from work, as temps were forecast at sunny and 65 degrees! 4 of us, Jim, Jack Wendy and myself were able to group together and took off out of Ft. Collins, heading south to Loveland along the foothills to meet up with 2 more buddies, Anita and Greg. What a beautiful day, specially in October! After meeting up in Loveland, we cut across some roads to climb onto Hwy 34, which is the main highway to Estes Park, CO. This is the Big Thompson Canyon, where all the severe floods took place in September of this year. The destruction caused by the water was truly mind boggling; the amount of silt, movement of trees and rocks is hard to imagine. We rode about 6 or so miles up Hwy 34 to The Dam Store, which the road was closed at that point. Was hoping to cut through some of the back roads, but all the bridges were washed out. We decided to take a ride up thru Horsetooth Reservoir, following the route taken on the Pro Tour this year. My buddies were laughing as they wanted to get my opinion on the "rolling hills" that Phil Ligget commented on. The route along the dam, breathtaking and for sure, I didn't think they were rolling hills, as I was huffing and puffing up those. I'm a little out of shape from this summer, and maybe try to blame it on the altitude as well. :) Once we arrived at the reservoir, we had headed in different directions. I was staying north of town and Wendy was kind enough to escort me home so I didn't get lost. Beautiful Ride, 60 miles in and I believe about 4000 ft climbing in. My Garmin ended up not saving the ride, so didn't get to log the route in. Will for sure coming back in Spring to ride some more along Ft. Collins and Boulder.
Waterfall where River Blew above Longmont, CO

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013_10_26 "Off Road" Riding With Scott, John and Kurt

Author:  Mike Hassur


Fun ride yesterday with Scott, John, and Kurt.  We met in Wilkeson, unloaded our

cyclocross/mountain bikes, and headed up the trail to Carbonado and beyond.  Scott and I had done this ride last year, and it had been one mud hole after another.  Since we haven’t had much rain of late, Scott theorized that we wouldn’t encounter nearly as many of those obstacles.  He was right.  I believe that we made it from Wilkeson to Cabonado (on the trail) without having any problems. 
After Carbonado, things got more interesting.  I was lagging behind when I heard Kurt yell and saw some feet up in the air.  He was passing through a small mud hole, hit a submerged rock, and went over his handlebars into the mire – no injuries, just wet gloves.  We pressed on stopping here and there to climb over big logs in the trail or to detour around some of the bigger mud holes that must make a permanent home on this trail.  Before long we had made our way to the Fairfax Bridge.  We passed under the bridge and headed toward the ghost town of Fairfax.  On the way to Fairfax, we passed the old stone structure that was used for dynamite storage during the region’s coal mining heyday (approximately 100 years ago).  After a brief stop, we continued on the trail to its conclusion about a mile or two past Fairfax.


On the "outward bound" portion of our ride, I managed to fall twice (couldn’t get my foot out of the cleat when things got squirrely – I’ve got to get some mountain biking cleats and pedals.  Luckily, the landing was soft on both occasions.  John fell a time or two as well – again no serious damage to body or bike.

After reaching the end of the trail, we headed back.  Going back always seems easier for some reason.  Kurt was bombing along somewhere ahead of us; while Scott, John, and I just cruised along.  It was beautiful and fun.  Then, on one of the smooth sections of the trail between The Fairfax Bridge and Carbonado, I managed to find a rough spot which jerked my wheel to the right.  The next thing I knew, I was laying in the bushes on the right side of the trail on top of my bike.  When I raised my left leg to disentangle myself from the bike and get up, the bike sort of rose up with my leg, and I realized that the left pedal had impaled my leg and stuck in it.  The pedal came out of the wound as I continued to raise my leg and so did a fair amount of blood – great!  Scott and John were both right there offering any support that I might need; but the wound didn’t seem to interfere with my ability to stand or ride my bike.  Surprisingly, the wound – which was pretty impressive looking – didn’t really hurt much (the same cannot be said for the stinging that I experience in both legs (from the nettles that I fell in when I crashed).  I got back on my bike, and we took off.  Since I was wounded, we went out to the main road (where we found Kurt waiting for us) and took it from Carbonado down to Wilkeson to our cars. 

This was a really fun ride.  Great guys, the sun came out during the ride, the sky was blue, and the trail was beautiful.  As for my leg; I went home, took a quick shower, and went to the Group Health Urgent Care in Tacoma where a PA friend of mine (George) sewed me up.  I was worried that this mishap might interfere with a planned surfing trip to Santa Cruz week after next, but George thought I would probably be pretty well healed by then.  Keep your fingers crossed – cowabunga!!
To see all of the photos associated with this ride click on the following link: .

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adobe Cross at Tall Chief Golf Course 2013

Author:  Dwaine Trummert
Cyclocross is a mixture of chilly fall weather, bicycle racing, mud, and sometimes beer. Seattle Cyclocross's first event at Tall Chief Golf Course also included a new ingredient. Grass. Not the kind of grass making up the well kept lawn in the neighbor's front yard. Instead the course was littered with long, stringy, and surprisingly tenacious grass clippings. These grass clippings became the theme of the day for many racers.
As is becoming normal for me, I arrived early to have time to 'get right' with the event. I walked some of the course, bugged the folks working the pre-registration booth before it was open, set tire pressures at 28 front and 30 rear, and got myself suited up in plenty of time to get a few warm up laps under my belt.
Tall Chief Golf Course has been unused for a few years which is probably why a bunch of bicycle racers were allowed entry. As I took my first warm up lap it immediately became apparent that this (cyclocross) course was like nothing I'd seen before. The first third traversed a hillside. The ground was soft without standing water and quite bumpy in places. This upper third also contained an exciting descent featuring a slightly tricky left hand turn at the bottom and and a short climb up what once a gravel path. Then it transitioned to a flat series of straights and turns where a lawn mower (probably industrial strength) had been used to carve a course out of the tall grass. This section, being flat, was still slow due to the grass and even softer soil.
By the time I reached this middle section during my first lap I realized the importance of these grass clippings. These grass clippings were finding their way around the wheels and clogging up the areas between the brakes and tires. At first they were easy to clear. As the course became muddier they started to show just how much trouble they would become. I could always tell when they were packing in as I could hear them rubbing against the sidewalls of my tires.
The third section of the course was tough. It started with a fifty foot section of marsh that was quickly turning into a mud pit. Then three short slippery climbs that traversed the hillside that looked over the bottom third of the course. Then two more shorter sections of flat mud pit. This really got the heart rate up right before a set of barriers and up the paved road to the finish line. This last third of the course was a real test.
After my warm up laps I was pretty happy with my tire pressures (not ever having run pressures this low) but was not happy with how much friction was being created by the grass clippings. Lots of grass and mud was wrapped up into the brakes and bottom bracket and rear cassette and derailleur jockey pulleys and pedal spindles. Just about any part that was spinning became a nest of mud and grass. These areas were cleared and then it was off for the start area.
My good result at McCullugh park earned me a call up for this race and I would get a chance to start on the front row. On my right was Rick Birdsey. After he introduced himself as 'Birdsey' we chatted about the previous race at McCullogh Park and relived my 'lead them through the woods' strategy and his 'power past for the win' finish. On my left I met Damon Gjording and further down the line I saw the distinctive helmet of Matthew Sweet who also finished in the lead group at McCullugh Park.
During our wait for the start we chatted with the USA Cycling official, were reminded of the beer garden, and then were informed that Hammer Nutrition was sponsoring today's event and that the top 3 finishers should pick up a prize bag after the race. Neat.
Off the start and for the first one and two thirds laps the pace was reasonable and the leaders were tightly bunched. I pushed up to second and then just followed Damon who was setting a strong yet sustainable pace. Damon rode smooth and his conservative style led me to believe he was just waiting until the end before dropping the hammer. Whenever I got a chance to look over my shoulder I saw a fair number of riders hanging on with the lead group. And I felt that I could hang on until the finish - then the wheels fell off.  For me. Not the bike.
Two thirds of the way through that second lap the course beat me to a pulp. The mud sections were getting difficult to ride. Some riders were dismounting and running through all of them. Some riders were powering through. I made a couple poor run vs ride choices and lost three positions in short order. That had me starting the third and final lap in fifth position, no longer in the lead group, and really gasping for air.
Having not completely blown up but not being far from it I made the choice to slow to a pace I knew I could sustain to the finish. That first third of the course turned out to be a good place to recover and I found myself on Damon's wheel as we started the flat middle third. He bobbled in a corner and I dropped him to fifth. With 2/3 of a lap to go. (This detail becomes interesting later on...).
My pacing was perfect. I was hurting good and keeping the pedals turning. By the end of the middle section I had every so slowly reeled in Birdsey. The final third of the course was now lined with spectators and I heard shouts of 'Go Birdsey, Go Birdsey, Go!' at each turn. As I tried to stay with him up and down the short climbs I also heard 'Keep at it number 424'. (I thought to myself "I have a fan!! A fan that doesn't know my name?") I stayed on Birdsey's wheel until the final two mud pits. I gave it a little bit extra, got lucky on my choice of lines, and put twenty feet between us. We were both hurting and I gave it everything I had over the next thirty or forty seconds to get to the finish five seconds ahead of Birdsey and on the podium in third.
My finish celebration consisted of coasting fifty feet past the finish line, stepping off my bike, rolling onto the ground, and wheezing. This area was soon full of other racers (most of whom stayed on their feet) who celebrated similarly. When I could talk again I congratulated Birdsey on a job well done and we talked about how treacherous those mud pits had become. Lots of riders were commiserating about the mud/grass and then Damon showed us his derailleur. It was labelled 'Ultegra'. And it was attached only by the derailleur cable.
On my slow mosey to my vehicle I continued to witness acts of bicycle cruelty. Wheels and brakes packed with sticky mud/grass, clipless pedals that didn't clip, chains that just skated over the teeth of their seized jockey pulleys. And at least one broken derailleur hanger...
After getting myself sorted I wandered around and shot some photos. Cyclocross is a family friendly event with lots of spouses and kids in attendance. Many of those same spouses and kids take to the racing too. I tried to get some photos that reflect the atmosphere and scene of these Cyclocross events. And I just enjoyed my time watching the racing and chatting with other racers.
During this time I caught up with Matthew. He had a good race and finished ahead of Kristofer Koehn (who I didn't get to chat with) for the win. Our chat was cut short as he needed to cheer his girlfriend on during her race.
When I picked up my prize bag I found 'CX' socks, a George Hincapie DVD, and a big jug of Hammer Nutrition's Strawberry 'Recoverite' powder. Thank you Hammer.
Eventually I caught up with Damon whom I had followed for the first half of the race. We chatted for a good while and he told me has a background racing mountain bikes and that, like me, he is relatively new to Cyclocross. We shared that we are both driven to race (which I admitted is one of my character flaws). We also chatted a little bit about training. Training for racing the bike. And in the past when he was doing some running. I complimented him on his smoothness and told him that from my saddle he looked poised to take the win. His response was that he didn't feel he could sustain the necessary power level for the entire race and that maybe he might let someone else set the pace next time. He said when I went past him on that last lap he felt like he was fading and he was pleased to hang onto fifth. Fifth?  I asked him about the broken derailleur. "Yeah, I just ran the bike in for the last half lap."
Let's put that in perspective. He felt burnt up. I slipped past. Then his derailleur broke off and he ran the bike the rest of the way. Without losing any positions. Amazing!!
It was a great day. The course was crazy tough. The folks I met were great. I got to ride my bike.
What else could you ask for on an overcast October Sunday?
(The photo directy above is Courtesy Woodenville Bicycle All other photos copyright Dwaine Trummert.)
Oh, did I mention the beer garden was free?  See you at the next event.