Monday, December 1

Jingle Cross!

After our cold-ass week in New York, we were ready for anything. So we thought. On the way out to the next race, we ran into some snow, ice, and jack-knifing big rigs. The last time we were in the Poconos the truck bought the farm, so it's appropriate that we still have issues in them thar hills. We went 25mph for a couple hours until the storm blew through, and then continued on our merry way.

So we were heading to Iowa for the next races, but last Thursday was Thanksgiving. My family is really into getting together, and Turkey-Day is usually a huge affair. My cousin lives in Chicago and was missing the big get-togethers. So we detoured, hooked up with Colin and his new wife, and had a big old Thanksgiving dinner. We had to walk around the city for an hour just to let the food settle. Then we had dessert.

Once we made it to Iowa, we froze our asses off. It was damn cold, still. In California, it's 70 degrees. Here, it's half that for the high temp of the day. Actually, on Saturday it was just over 40, and that felt great. The race is put on by John Meehan, who's also the team doctor for my new road team, Team Bissell. It's a small world. John now lives in Seattle, but commutes back to Iowa to put on this race, he really did a great job. The course design was awesome, the crowds were rowdy, and the weather cooperated (with the spectators). It actually felt very similar to the Watsonville Fairgrounds, cause we were first rolling through barns and stables, and then nearly puking at the top of the damn steepest runup. Aaaah, right at home.

So, Saturday was dry and reasonably mild, which made for some road racing tactics. I flipped off my bike in the start, and had to clamber back up to the front of the race. By the time I was there, the Wells Brothers had checked out, and I was fighting for third. I wasn't going to chase them back solo, so that was that. I rode with Marko Lalonde and Brian Matter, and then attacked them for two straight laps to get 3rd. Ouch.

Saturday night it snowed a lot, and we woke up to 3 inches of snow. Perfect. The snow was slopping up the ground, so we would be racing on a nice slick layer of mud. And we would be going DOWN that steep-ass runup from the day before. In 4 inches of mud. Wow, neat. The whole day was slick and sloppy, and I was lucky to keep it smooth for the entire race. Really, no bobbles, no crashes, no technicals, nothing. Sweet. It was snowing for the whole race, too. On the start, I stomped the first off-camber and got a gap on everyone, Todd Wells bridged up and then took off. I rode my own pace as if no one else was in the race. Todd was 10 seconds up teh trail for a couple laps, but I didn't bother trying to bridge up. All it would take is one striaghtaway of going too hard, and you are guaranteed to piledrive your head into the mud. All it takes is one small mistake, and you lose tons of time. I kept it safe, and held onto a big gap behind me for second place. Two podiums on the weekend is always awesome!

In an astounding show of solidarity, JoJo matched my placings for the weekend. She's now yelling that I matched HER placings, since she raced first each day. I guess that's accurate. On Saturday she was in a three-way battle royale for the win, but another rider's bobble in the sand pit broke her off, and all three rode solo TTs for the last lap. They were all less than 5 seconds from each other, and were all out coming into the line. JoJo couldn't quite catch on and ended up 3rd, but it was the most exciting race of the weekend. I was running around trying to warmup and trying to follow the race and cheer JoJo on. It was awesome.

Sunday, JoJo's race was won on the first downhill. One girl CRUSHED the descent and pulled out a 20 second gap in a 100 meter off-camber. She did it again the next lap, and that was that, she won by 34 seconds at the line. Very impressive. JoJo out-rode everyone else, and looked quite comfy in the slimy corners where everyone else was freaking out. She's the champ, for sure.

From here we head to KC, stash the trailer and fly to Portland for the USGP finals. Then we're back to KC for Natz. Bring it on!

Cold in Long Island

Wow, what a difference a week makes! Last week was 67 degrees on Saturday, and muddy as hell. In New York, we were greeted by sub-freezing temps, but at least it was dry...

We started with a whole new bike-unrelated adventure, namely getting from New Jersey to Long Island! We were "just driving along" on the interstate through Staten Island, and a sign says "get the hell off the highway." Or, maybe it said "all trucks over 12'2" MUST exit here." Since we're 13'0" we got off.


No other instructions, just "don't take the highway." We start slaloming between double-parked UPS trucks and tourist busses, and eventually made it back to the freeway without running out of gas. It was mayhem. Sarah Kerlin was following us in her rental car, and cracking up at our absurd situation. Then she'd freak out if I made a light and she didn't. Like it's hard to lose a 40-ft trailer in Brooklyn. Yup, that was fun.

So we made it out to Long Island, posted up at an RV Park for the week, and then headed out to the race venue. Because the races were both Cat 1, and the finals of the new NACT series, all the major players were there. But it was also out in the middle of nowhere, and damn cold, so there weren't so many others there besides us racers.

Also, the big news of the weekend was the un-retirement of Lynn Bessette, followed by her prompt re-retirement. She showed up, had been training a bit for the race, and placed second both days. Studly.

I had a great race on Saturday, ending up about 10 feet behind 2nd place. But I was one step off the podium, ending up in 4th. Still, I was able to battle for the whole race and gave it my best. I ended up riding a few levels higher than my usual effort. At the start it was 34 degrees, and 32 degrees by the finish. And it was blowing about 30mph. Damn cold, for sure.

The next day I paid for those efforts, and my legs really refused to push very hard. I ended up 6th, and I'm pretty content with that since I could easily have been 36th. I just rode my own pace the whole day and played it steady, it worked out pretty well.

JoJo caught a cold over the past week, and stayed inside and warm for the weekend.

Thursday, November 20

USGP Weekend...

...or, we finally get to play in the mud!

Hot damn, we got some real 'cross conditions two weekends in a row! And did we ever! In NJ, the rain had been pouring down for several days, and we were in for it. This was a weekend that started out poorly, but ended on a high note:

We arrived in NJ just in time to ride the course a couple times, and we were confronted with lots of soggy, soggy grass. Because there were only 20-30 people out on the course, only a few ruts were getting laid down, but the writing was on the wall: a mudbath would be coming! The first few classes on the course shredded what grass was left, and the course turned into 3-6" deep mud, with no place between the tape unchurned. Depending on how wet it was, you could choose on whether running or riding was faster, which is really what CX is all about. The wetter stuff was very rideable, since you just splashed through it, but it also gummed up the bike pretty bad and left your drivetrain screeching in despair. The drier parts of the course were turning into peanut butter, and were impossible to manuveur through, on your bike or not. Also, it had stopped raining, so the course was gradually becoming drier, meaning that by the time I raced, we were running almost 1/4 of the lap! ...Of the 15-minute lap!!

An entire section of the course was eliminated on race day, I think just to preserve enough course tape to allow for fixes later on... We started on an uphill pavement section that went under the finish banner and promptly turned left into the bog. Everyone went from 30+mph to 6mph in about 10ft, and the slog commenced. I am usually a good runner, but something was off on Saturday. I would run well, but it would gas me for the next section (the next "section" being the rideable portion of the next straightaway). I would be gasping for breath, only to have to pedal as hard as I could to keep up the momentum through the muck. I was changing bikes twice per lap, and still the mud piled on heavy and clogged up everything. Shifting? Nope. Braking? Not really needed, but still didn't work. Breaking? Oh yeah, plenty of that. It was rough, to say the least.

Usually, I excell in these conditions, but again something was not quite right... Then the lights went out. I've had similar experiences, most recently at Nationals in Portland, when I couldn't keep the bike moving AT ALL. All power was gone, no fight left, it was pure torture to keep the pedals turning. At that race at Natz, I stuck it out and dropped 3 spots in the last lap, but was dead to the world for hours afterwards. At this race, I did the smartest thing I could, and pulled myself out of the race with 1/2 lap to go. I was in 11th, and had about 8 minutes of racing left. I took a lot of shit for yanking myself out, but I wanted to cut my losses, keep the effort manageable (so I could recover better), and come back better the next day. Plus, I would have been 30th by the time I got around to the finish. I might have walked the rest of the lap, I was that bad. I rode the trainer to cool down, ate a ton of food, and rested up, hoping that the next day would go better.

Well, the gamble paid off. My recovery is pretty good from all the stage races I do over the summer, and I'm usually better than everyone else on the second day of a weekend. I'm usually good in the mud, too, and that didn't play out so well, but I had to keep thinking positive and play to my strengths. I started Sunday's race and instantly knew I would be good. I felt the same as when I started the day before, but everyone else seemed to be going in slo-mo. I could punch it up the straights, and I lost no momentum grinding through the mud. EVERYONE complained after the race about how Sunday was harder than Saturday, but I found it much, dare I say it, easier on Sunday. It wasn't easy, but it just wasn't like getting your teeth pulled. I ended up 5th, which ties my best USGP result EVER, so I can't complain one bit about the day.

JoJo charged through the mud on both days, and on Sunday she had her best USGP result ever, coming in 7th! At this event last year, she was 21st, so that's quite an improvement! In a show of team solidarity, we both are ranked 10th overall in the USGP series, with one weekend left to go. We both were feeling good about the momentum we've got going the past couple weekends, with good results piling on during this late-season stretch. We're going to keep it going through until Nationals in a few weekends, watch for everyone else to wither at the end of a long season while we're breathing down their necks!

Tuesday, November 11

New UCI Rankings

New UCI World Rankings are out, and Team Specialized/KMC is in the mix!

AJM is ranked 35th in the world, and is currently the 6th American ranked in the world.

JoJo is 46th in the world, and is the 14th American in the ranking.

Think about that women's ranking for a second... Women's cyclocross in the USA: the depth of the field is just stellar, and 2/3 of the podium at the last World Cup will be racing in NJ next weekend! Wow.


for all the details.

Oh Canada

Most of the CXers in the country are taking an off weekend to rest up for the upcoming USGP races in NJ. We also decided to not race in the US, and so we left the country and went to Toronto instead! The races featured the first Cat. 1 double weekend in North America, meaning tons of points and money on offer. It's a hard opportunity to pass up.

Some other racers had the same notion as us, and JoJo actually faced a pretty tough field: Natasha Elliott, Rebecca Wellons, Anna Milkowski, and Dawn Anderson all showed up and made it a great race. JoJo ended up 4th the first day and 5th the second day, which was killer! Double podium in our only international race of the season is always good.

I had to face the likes of Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers, Dan Timmerman, Matt White, and Matt Shriver. We battled it out on some tough courses, including our first mudbath of the year. Saturday, JoJo's race was super fast and clean: she never needed a bike during her race. In contrast, the skies opened up while we were on the start line, and it all turned to soup. I was swapping bikes every lap, and even twice a lap at the end. The course was mostly flat, with lots of off-camber features and tricky run/rides to break things up. The mud got VERY heavy towards the end, and we'd pack on several pounds of mud onto the bikes within three straightaways after taking a clean bike. I had a disastrous start, where the guy next to me basically swerved into me as the gun fired, and I ran staright into the staring arch. As I finally got going, the fourth row was screaming by me. I hit the trottle and was tearing down the first straight, and my brakes didn't do anything coming into the first corner. I almost hit the barriers instead of turning left! There was a lot of mayhem with crashes and I couldn't keep track of it all, it was pure war. I do remember Timmerman doing this long slow slide while going 30+mph in the mud, and he hit the ground hard and kept sliding for a whole straightaway. Gnarly.

Once everything sorted out, Timmy and Jeremy checked out, and I was battling Shriver for 4th place. Matt's got a lot of punch, and his accelerations were pretty wicked. On my side, I had tires that actually let me turn in the mud, so I wasn't CONSTANTLY in the dirt. I was there a lot, but a little less than others, so I ended up getting a gap on Matt and holding it to the line. In 3rd was Nick Weighall, an U23 kid from Seattle. I guess the mud was right up his alley, and he was riding STRONG. He's never podiumed at any UCI race, and so he kills a Cat 1! An awesome ride, and good indications for the future from this strong kid. I'm proud of him for breaking through, wicked!

Sunday, the race was on SKI HILL that used to be a garbage dump. The course basically went up one ski run, and back down another. I've never climbed that much in a 'cross race! It felt much more like a MTB race, except that nobody had a granny gear! And we needed them...

So my start was much better, and I was in front of the first split. I knew that the race would be to nail the hill time and again, and so I chilled a lot during the rest of the lap and saved it to attack the hell out of the climb. This tactic worked, because I was riding in 2nd for much of the race. Late in the race, JPow was whittling away at my lead, and eventually rode me back. On the last lap, I attacked the hill again but it wasn't enough to shake him loose. He raged on the descent, got a tiny gap, and the race was over for me. 2nd would have been nice, but I'm happy to get 3rd at a Cat 1 race and claim a huge chunk of points.

I just finished a rest week leading up to these races, and I'm back to square one on base fitness and form. It's a relief that my slowest race is worth podium spots at some big races, so I'm lookign forward to the ramp up to Nationals. I'm going to be going faster and faster over the next couple of weekends, and I'm looking forward to flying on the race course!

Also, JoJo and I have a huge thanks to give to John and Erika David, our host family in Toronto. They gave us an ideal home base to rest, relax, eat, and enjoy company. It turned "just another race" into a memorable and special weekend. Thanks to them and their family for making us a part of the household.

Friday, November 7


After our disaster on the road in New York, it was good to finally get to the race venue. I've raced the Cycle-Smart twice before, once on the old course at Amherst College, and the other time at the current venue. This time, we raced in a little corner on the other end of the park, kind of hidden away from everyone else in the park. It's weird, having huge expanses of grass, but we're off in the weeds and trees tucked away in the corner.

But the course was fun, with some real runups, and some tricky root sections. 'Cross bikes are not very compatible with roots, and you really had to watch out for damaging your rims/tires/nose while riding through these sections. I do much better at courses with longer straightaways, where I can ramp my speed up and leave it there for a long time. This one was ALL corners, so it didn't really suit me. Strike one.

I was not feeling killer after a week of stressing out about the drive and the truck, and I think the USGP was the beginning of a little downturn for me. Strike two. It's OK, I need a little rest time anyway, and I had scheduled the following week for some real recovery. All I had to do was hang on for this weekend, and it should all be good.

The race was scheduled at the same time as the NACT races in Boulder, which meant a much easier field: no ringers! But this also meant that everyone thought they could win, so the racing would be really intense and hairy. I knew the races would be good for me, even if I wasn't at my best.

So the races started off just the way I like it:  holeshot.  I nailed the start, and settled in for a tactical race.  Jamey Driscoll was definitely the class of the field for both days, and took the wins.  The course was so tight and close that he never got more than 15 seconds out, but that was an insurmountable gap.  There were only 2 spots on the course that you could really open up the throttle, and so few opportunities to really bring back any time.  Plus, everyone just sat on me until the end, when I rode away and ended up second. Sweet!  Best result so far this year!

The second race was even twistier, and even harder to get away...  It was a real battle line to line, and it got pretty gnarly at the end!  Dan Timmerman set out from the start and wanted to ride away from everyone.  He got a good gap, because he was nailing it!  Eventually he came back and it was a four-man group at the front.  Each of us took our turns trying to kill each other, but no gap was formed until Timmerman dropped himself onto the ground in second wheel.  I think he almost broke he nose, I guess he hit it on his bike.

Anyway, the gap opened up behind Driscoll and he hit the gas.  We chased our tails off, but even a 8-second gap was too much.  With one lap to go, it was obvious that JD wasn't going to get caught, and we all got coy trying to go for second.  The ENTIRE last lap was one big attack, we railed it all the way in to the line.  It wasn't that anyone had any more to give tan anyone else, we were all at our limit.  It was only a matter of how bad you wanted it.  I went up the steep ride-up with Matt White leaning HARD on me, the crowd was going nuts.  I chopped him hard a few corners later, and led out the sprint.  Matt White came by me in the last 25 meters, so I ended up 3rd on the day.  At least I held onto the podium, Timmerman has out-sprinted me a couple times, so I'm glad to not lose more spots.

Wednesday, November 5

Dead Truck

It's a three-day drive from Kentucky to Mass, where our next race is being held. While we were in KY (I love calling it that), a snow storm hit the New England area. We enjoyed 70-degree weather, but saw some aftermath of the storm.

Late Thursday the truck started to overheat, which is odd when you're coasting downhill and it's 25 degrees out. And the truck's new. So we stopped and checked the fluids. There was no anti-freeze in the tank, I guess that would lead to all the idiot lights flashing. We filled it back up, drove the 10 miles to our scheduled stop, and hit the hay. The next morning, we found the fluid level down again, and once we turned on the motor HUGE white clouds were billowing out the tailpipe. We drove it straight to the dealer, where they told us it would take at least 10 days to fix the radiator, EGR (whatever that is), and do some regualr maintenance. This is not good news when you are one day and three states away from your next race!!

We left the truck with the dealer, stashed the trailer at a local RV dealer with some extra space in his lot, and rented a cargo van to haul our bikes and stuff up to Northampton. Bye bye New York, and thanks for nothing!


I went out to the garage to get my bike so I could ride the trainer and loosen up my legs. I got the bike, down, put the front wheel on, and set it up on the turbo. I went to put my chammy on, came back and my bike had been claimed by a small alien. Really, it was just sitting there, I have no idea where it came from. I backed slowly away and closed the door behind me. I guess some days you're just not meant to ride your bike. I watched TV and ate BonBons instead.

Horses, Golf, Sarah Palin, Oh yeah and some 'cross

If you're confused, all these things happened in Kentucky:

The Kentucky Derby is obviously happening in, where else?, Kentucky, but they are so into it that they feature horse racing NIGHTLY on the local news, along with the World Series, NFL, etc.
JoJo made some friends while out on the road:

Also, the Ryder Cup just happened in Louisville. I don't follow golf much, but after seeing JoJo's dad get all riled up for it, I figured it was a big deal. He was CHEERING for golf: "Go! Go! Aw shit! No, more to the left!"

Sarah Palin had a rally a few blocks down from the KOA that we stayed at. It was at 7pm, so we got the hell out of Dodge by noon.

Louisville, KY (debatable pronunciation, see below) was also the first stop of three on the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross. We would be racing at an old golf course down by the river, no elevation gain to be seen anywhere. JoJo raced this venue last year, but I missed it due to a fresh break on my collarbone. Plus I've never been to Kentucky before. New state, new venue, new courses, new series, I was excited!

As it was on a golf course, the race course featured a lot of grass, some narrow (golf cart width) paved paths, and plenty of sand pits (old sand traps). The crowd was surprisingly loud, and they were particularly raucous out near the biggest sand trap. Pretty wicked to have some rabid fans where you least expect.

Of course, EVERYONE was there, so the fields were stacked in both the mens and womens races. We also had some Cal Giant teammates out there with us: Rachel Lloyd and Meredith Miller. When we all went to get dinner, I felt like I was at Ladies Night. No complaints. JoJo and Meredith were very evenly matched: Meredith is super-strong on the road, but is trying out CX for the first time and thought the course rated as "very gnarly." JoJo is super experienced at this whole cyclocross thing, but really shines in knee-deep mud and the most extreme conditions. She thought the course was super tame. It's all a matter of perspective, I guess. They ended up in about the same places both days: 12th (MM) and 13th (JJM) on Saturday, and 13th (JJM) and 14th (MM) on Sunday. Rachel beamed down from some other planet and went on the WARPATH, taking home 2nd and 3rd over the weekend. She had to battle the bruisers from Luna Chix, and took it to them both days. Killer!

I didn't fare too well, since the course was so tactical and played out like a road race. Except there's a draft on the road. Here, it felt like you were climbing a steep hill the whole time, and then you hit another sand pit. I was trying to go with big moves, but just didn't have the legs. While everyone else is super-peaked for this weekend, it was just one in a long line of races for me. The back half of the season is what I'm shooting for, so I'm OK with getting 10th and 8th. On the plus side, I did (finally!) get a front row callup, and hole-shot the field both days at the start. Eveyone gets a moment of glory right?? Mine was for 250 meters, but I put a couple bike lengths into everyone else.

After the racing, we (the whole Cal Giant contingent) went out with the Brothers Anthony (Silas and Jesse) and got some dinner on and some party on. Rebecca Wellons had a JRA crash while warming up on Saturday, and was trying to kill the pain with 150-year-old bourbon. Seemed to do the trick. We had some good times, went to bed late, and called it good.


So after Gloucester, we packed up and headed for the Mid-Atlantic, specifically Pennsylvania. I've been to Philly Week a number of times, and so I've spent plenty of rides in/around this area. I was stoked to be in a somewhat familiar area, although I had never been to Ludwig's Corner before. LC is exactly like it sounds: a crossroads between two county roads, and there's a gas station and a couple stores that have sprouted up there. It's pretty, quiet, and a nice place to spend some time on yer bike. Oh yeah, there is NO FLAT GROUND there. At all. It's a constant up/down left/right roller coaster on these back roads, which can be pretty fun to ride. But if you want to just spin the legs out, good luck! For instance, every ride we did either started or ended with a 15% hill. Not exactly an easy spin.

But the riding was killer! I saw clouds that looked just like jelly fish, with a little cap for the hood and some rain trickling down for the tentacles. We rode to Valley Forge and touristed around a little:

Oh yeah, there were some races.

On Saturday we raced just over the Delaware border at the Dupont family estate: Granogue. This race has long been a mainstay in the US CX scene, and this year it's a Category 1 UCI event. I did this race five years ago, and frankly I hated it. I think it had more to do with my form, and I suffered on the hilly course. The course was largely the same as I remember, but I felt and raced much better and enjoyed myself a lot. I was lined up 3rd row because the UCI officials missed me in the rankings, I was very "whatever" about it and just did my job. I guess that was the right mindset, since I ended up almost with the hole-shot from the 3rd row! I was second off the pavement, sat comfy for a while, but ended up making simple mistakes that took me off the wheel. I dumped it in an UPHILL corner and had to chase, and then stuffed my front wheel in a switchback one lap later... I guess I was going fast, since I was obviously fuzzy-headed. Anyway, I consolidated my position and rode with a group coming up from behind that had Barry Wicks and Matt Shriver. The three of us started going fast and we got to battle for the first spot out of the top 5. I positioned myself well in the last lap, sneaking by Matt through a tricky turn, and then hung on for dear life on Barry's wheel as the finish line approached. I was able to sprint by to nab that 6th spot that I always seem to get. JoJo sneaked a pic of the action:

JoJo had her best start yet at Granogue, popping out of the woods in 3rd spot and then driving hard from there. A bobble ahead of her let a group of 3 get away, and then an exceptional Rebecca Wellons flew by after a poor start (she was back in 20th on the first lap!). Towards the end, JoJo seemed to just want to get it over with and Barb Howe snuck by for 5th, so we both were 6th on the day. JoJo said that the hills were just a little too much, so she packed it in to save something for the next day. That's the thing with our racing schedule: If you don't like how your legs feel, just wait until tomorrow!

Sunday's race was awesome!

The promoter, Kelly Cline, has done a phenomenal job to make the course and race top-notch. The course included a spiral-in/spiral-out course feature that has been used by Velo Bella in their Halloween Surf City races over the past few years. The Bellas call it the Blair Witch Swirly, which is much more descriptive than the "Spiral of Doom" that the PA folk called it. You felt like you were turning for about a mile straight, leading to some dizziness on the race course. Otherwise, the course had lots of slow, tricky grass corners that tested a racer's focus and ability. Too bad it didn't work out for me, since I was riding in 3rd, got chased down then got out-sprinted and ended up... 6th AGAIN!! I was banging my bars with frustration, since I rode much stronger than my placing, and I felt like I missed a good chance to podium. Oh well, like I said: don't like the race, wait 'til the next one!

JoJo had a nice race, and ended up drilling it for two laps to stay away from Barb Howe. I was so amped up from watching the solo-TT battle that I missed some warmup time. JoJo did great and stuck it out all the way until the end, and ended up 6th for her efforts. One of these days, we'll break the streak and finish NOT 6TH. I promise.

Tuesday, October 28

Glow Chester

After a huge drive across 11 states, we finally made it to the Atlantic Ocean. I've been to Gloucester 5 times for races, it was really nice to get to someplace that I recognized after being on the road for 10 days straight. Finally, we weren't lost! We arrived at the course and settled in for the weekend. The benefits of having the trailer really started to shine through, since we had hot food and comfy seats within 100yds of the finish line. Yeahh!

Gloucester is always a fast course, and I figured it would be more like a road race with some dirt. I was not disappointed. The races were blazing fast, and were actually pretty tactical. The lead group just rode me off the wheel both days, but it was embarassingly early on Saturday. The trip really took it out of me, and I felt like I was starting my first race of the year (which hurts like hell). I still have some room for improvement, obviously, and I'm still easing myself into the season. I'm not too worried. The next day I was much better, helped in part by a new runup that broke up one of the high-speed sections. I loved the change, but if you know I cut my teeth on giant runups in Watsonville Fairgrounds and Aptos High Schoool, you'd know why. I was much more in contention on Sunday, and felt like I had something to go for. I ended up 6th both days, but got there in two very different ways, so I was happy with the improvement.

In a show of solidarity, JoJo placed 6th on Sunday as well. On Saturday, however, she killed it and rode like the champ she is. We were just out of the car, and normally the course doesn't suit her, but she said she felt great and really rode well, ending up 4th. Killer!

After the races, we moved to a campground and chilled out on Cape Ann. I have an aunt that lives down the way in Manchester, so we got some visiting in also. We attended the local CX practice on Wednesday night, and then split the next morning for Philly. Next up: Granogue and Wissahickon CX Races.

A Couple Wins, The We Hit The Road

After Vegas, JoJo was feeling under the weather, so I ventured solo around NorCal to get some races under my belt. The first few races of the season always hurt way too much, so it's better just to get them out of the way.

I attended the Lion of Fairfax race, which was a benefit for the school that hosted the event. I did the race last year, and figured it would be good to go help them out again. Plus, they have a nice prize list. Last year, I was not-so-thrilled about the course, but this year they made some subtle improvements that really made it a lot safer and more fun to race.

I drove up with my teammate Justin Robinson, and we lined up for the first race of the morning. JRob, Josh Snead, and myself showed ourselves out the front door, and never looked back. At four laps to go I pounced and tried to ride away solo, Justin got to sit on Josh for a bit and relax. The course wound back on itself a few times, so you could keep track of where others were behind you... On the last lap, all of a sudden Justin wasn't there anymore, and it was just Josh riding by himself. I thought that some calamity had struck, but actually Justin just turned on the rocket boosters and killed a whole lap. I was starting to worry that he would catch me, he was going so fast! I dug in for a half lap and cruised across the line for my first win of the season, Big And Burly hot on my heels. We did the whole podium thing, but had to split straight away since Justin had kid duty in the afternoon and I had to go check out fire engines and AstroJumps at my nephew's 3rd birthday party.

The next morning, I was up and out the door to make it to the Central Coast CX race in Ft. Ord. Now this is more like it: local race, killer course, close to home. Nice! The race yesterday was great, but it still was 5 hours in the car vs. 1 hour of racing... Not much sense to that!

I've raced the Ft Ord courses so many times that I know every turn. I put it in cruise control and bided my time to attack the hill like crazy. Finally the elastic broke and I soloed in for the win. The form is coming around, and I'm glad to be riding strong all the way until the end of the race.

The day after we started our drive to the East Coast. Next up, I'll get some race reports in about races more recent than last month.

First Things First

Before we took off for the East Coast, JoJo and I went to Seattle and Las Vegas for our season openers: Star-Crossed, GP Rad Racing, and Cross Vegas. That's TWO night-time cross races in half a week!

Star-Crossed is easily the best race in the country, given the crowds, course, the quality of the field, and the amount of FUN that everyone has. Two years ago I won the race, and last year I was on the podium in my first comeback race of the year. This race has treated me well over the years, I was stoked to get back up to Marymoor. This year was not so lucky, though, since I broke my chain before the first corner. I had to run to the first pit, and started riding my bike about 3 minutes off the back. I started riding steady, just hoping for a workout, and ended up passing about 85 guys. I finished 13th at the end of the night, and I'll be reaping the benefits from the workout I got in a couple weeks.

JoJo had a killer race, starting really well and staying out of trouble. She was riding in 3rd for a while, grouped up with a couple others, and scorched them to finish 5th. She's a rock star, and claimed our team's first UCI podium of the season.

The conditions were pretty intimidating for the first big race of the year, since it was raining for a couple days ahead of time. It was a little slimy, and I figured the start was going to be total mayhem, which it was. Knowing that going into the race creates a little apprehension, but we dealt with it, rode it out (literally), and got past it fine.

The next day was GP Rad Racing, which benefits the top junior development program in the country. Jim Brown and his crew have their hands full, but they do a great job bringing more and more kids into the race scene each year. They have one of the best venues around, with THE BIGGEST RUNUP that we'll see all season. It's an awesome race!

I really like to run, so I was not so intimidated by the course. Everyone else was, waiting and riding relatively easy so that they wouldn't blow up at the top of the course. I rode easy in the draft and then relaxed on the run while everyone else stressed out. Eventually, I made some mistakes in the corners and started cramping in the straights, so I let them go and went on to fight another day. My muscles were in bad shape from the efforts of the night before, so I lost the sprint for 4th and ended up 5th on the day. Still, my first (of many, hopefully) UCI podiums of the year.

JoJo's race wasn't a good as last night, and she ended up 10th. The hill took it out of her, and the high speeds on the flats were a little too much. Plus, she claims she's getting old.

We made it to Vegas just fine, and hung out for a couple days to recover from the races. On Wednesday, the rest of the Cal Giant team came into town, and we went racing again. The Cross Vegas course was similar to last year, in that is was really hard to go fast: the grass was so thick and heavy that you felt like you were climbing a steep hill the whole time. I rarely used my brakes, since all you had to do to slow down was to stop pedaling your ass off.

Oh yeah, and the field was STACKED. MTB World Champ, Lance Armstrong, and every domestic crosser was there. This field was harder than Nationals! I got tailed off of the giant lead group, and was the first guy to come in after. I still had to battle, since my little group of four consisted of the Danish national champ, two current US National Champs (me and JDriscoll), and Barry Wicks. I ended up turning the screws on them and rode two off the wheel, and then sprinted Parbo for 14th place. A little redemption, since he beat me the previous Sunday in a two-up sprint.

JoJo just wanted the workout for the night, and she ended up 3 spots better than last year. No complaints, plus she made some money grabbing dollars off the ground.

After the race, all I wanted was my prize money, a beer, and a steak. I spent much of the night getting my share of beer, but I didn't get my steak until we got back to the hotel at 5:30am the next morning.

Tuesday, October 21

Hitting the Road

We left California Oct 1. We traveled through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachuesetts to arrive in time for the race in Gloucester, MA. Ten days in the car was pretty rough, but here's a hodge-podge of images from our trip for you to peruse:

Just to prove that we made it to the East Coast.

This is singletrack for road bikes. The rumble strip on my left is very rough to ride on, while the gravel to my left drops off sharply. I was dreading having to ride for 70 miles on this 18" wide strip of asphalt, until I realized that there were no cars for 20 miles in either direction. We rode the center line for over an hour after that.

Big rocks in Utah. Note the brake smoke from the truck ahead.

MTBing in Fruita. Pretty awesome.

Our life in the car. For ten days straight.

Niagara Falls are behind us. I've never seen them before, and they were impressive! We rode through 40 miles of pretty countryside (block headwind) to get there.

Thanks to our Sponsors!!

I am pleased to announce that we've been picked up by Specialized and KMC to represent them at the races. Specialized is an obvious fit for us, since I used to work for them and I helped design the bikes that we'll race on. KMC came through in a big way for us and offered their support with the lightest chains on the market. It's awesome having the best equipment when you line up against the best racers.

Here's our official team press release:

Team Specialized/KMC pb Cal Giant Ready for 2008 Cyclocross Season
Team Features Husband-Wife National Champions
Watsonville, CA
Specialized, KMC, and California Giant Berry Farms are pleased to announce the newest cyclocross racing team for the upcoming 2008 season. The team’s official name will be Team Specialized/KMC presented by California Giant Berry Farms. The focus will be to garner excellent individual results through the season, amassing enough UCI points to place in the top 25 in the UCI World Ranking. With a top-tier schedule of 23 UCI Cyclocross events throughout the USA, the team will go full-gas around the country, with stops in almost 15 states: the team will attend all US Grand Prix of Cyclocross races, as well as select New England CCS, Mid-Atlantic CCS, and North American Cyclocross Trophy Series races.
The team will consist of husband-wife National Champions, Andy and Josie Jacques-Maynes. Andy has been to the World Championships three times, with seven National Podium appearances. He has three UCI wins to date. Josie has attended one Cyclocross World Championships, and has two UCI wins to her credit. Both Andy and JoJo are the current 30-34 National Champs, making the rare feat of being concurrent husband-wife National Champions. With extensive experience racing cyclocross in the US and in Europe, Andy and JoJo are ready and excited to meet the upcoming season head-on. They will be travelling in their RV from race to race, making the season one 3-month-long road trip!
The team will ride race bikes and equipment from Specialized, including S-Works Tricross carbon bikes, superlight Roval Alpiniste SL tubular carbon wheels, as well as industry-leading shoes, helmets, optics, and gloves. “Being a Specialized Factory-supported team means we get to race on the best equipment, hands down,” said Andy. “In fact, I had a hand in developing much of the gear on our race machines, so I know they will perform perfect no matter the conditions!” Andy and Josie will make appearances at local Specialized dealers throughout the season, so look for them as the cyclocross season swings through your area.
California Giant Berry Farms has supported the racing pair for 5 years and is excited for them as they take this next step in their cycling career. “Andy and Josie have always served as excellent spokespersons for the company and our berries”, says Anthony Gallino, VP of Sales. California Giant looks forward to providing continuing support for the cycling duo and appreciates all they have done for Cal Giant racing over the years.
The team would like to thank their sponsors for their generous support: Specialized, KMC , California Giant Berry Farms, TRP, SRAM, Clif Bar, First Endurance, and Crank Brothers.

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Big Rig!

So you've seen our truck, here's what we'll pull with it:

It's got a garage in the back for all our bikes, a shower, stove, fridge, TWO high-def TVs, and plenty of room for the two of us... It'll be pretty comfy, I think. It took me over a week, but I engineered a rack system for the back of the trailer, so now we can bring along all our bikes:

If you're out East at the races, you'll get a chance to see this thing up close and personal. It's kinda hard to miss...


Big Truck!

So once we decided to head out East, we needed a place to stay and a way to get there. I had always assumed we would go the traditional way: fly out, live in an apartment, drive to each race from one base of operations.

Lo and behold, another plan has presented itself to us: DRIVE across the country, and stay in an RV at each race. We worked out the options and price differences, and the RV method was more cost-effective! Soooooo, we went shopping:

That's a big truck! F450 from Ford will pull yer house down. Don't ask about the gas mileage.

We're gonna use that huge thing to pull our new 40ft toy-hauler (pics coming soon). Because the truck and trailer are so big, we need to upgrade our driver's licenses... Class A License required from this point forward.

The Plan

Welcome to the first post of our blog! JoJo and I will try to keep this updated as often as possible so it's easy to follow our exploits.

A while back, I had a thought: We race every weekend (usually both days) during the 'Cross season, with CCCX, BASP, Surf City, Livermore, and some Sacto races thrown in there. We're pretty busy racing during the winter in California. But when it's time to go to Nationals, we get killed because of poor call-ups and a lack of high-end conditioning. So I thought we should race every weekend, but go to the races that matter: UCI cross events.

Since these are clustered on the East Coast, that meant moving out East. So I started planning a move to New England for the Winter. I was planning it out as early as July: I would move to Northampton, MA, drive to all the races, and campaign the UCI cross circuit.

JoJo decided she had enough of her job, so she quit and signed up too. Here we go!