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

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.

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** Click on the following hyperlink to see the actual online article and video about Conor:  http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/29/2968987/notable-people-in-the-outdoors.html

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/29/2968987/notable-people-in-the-outdoors.html#storylink=cpy

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

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

DOING “THE CLIMB” IN DECEMBER

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
video


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.