By Meredith Miller
Today I am watching the surf break along the beach in Santa Barbara, CA. It’s calm and serene. The white sand is smooth and glistening as the water does its little dance on top of it. Two weeks ago the sand I experienced was quite different. Two weeks ago I was trying to pedal my bike through sand that was ankle deep and sometimes deeper. Two weeks ago I was racing as part of the US National Team at the Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium.
There is no other course in the world quite like the one in Koksijde. Week in and week out I race in mud, dust, snow, ice, and sand but only once have I ever raced in sand that wants to consume me.
I had watched enough video coverage and talked to enough people who’d been on the course before to know that this course was ‘special’. It takes a certain kind of skill to be able to pedal your bike through the sand – you have to float across it. You have to let your bike go where it wants to go and trust that it will take you where you want to go. And at the exact moment when you start to lose speed, you have to dismount, run while pushing or shouldering your bike, remount and get back up to speed all in one fluid motion. If you try to take one pedal stroke too many, your bike abruptly stops and you lose precious time as you clumsily dismount and start running. Your timing has to be precise. Once you’re out of the sand, you ride to the next dune and do it all over again and again and again.
When you think you’ve finally got the right line dialed, the person in front of you puts a foot down and you lose your momentum, dismount and start running…and so on for each person behind you. The game isn’t always orchestrated by you but by the people around you. Keeping your head up is key to knowing what lies ahead.
Sometimes the course goes up, sometimes it goes down. Riding down a steep, deep section of sand requires no less confidence and skill than it does on the flat sections. If your wheel digs just a little too deep or turns the slightest bit, you end up eating a face full of sand after you embarrassingly flip right over your handlebars. The crowd loves it (all 60,000 of them!), of course, but all the bits and pieces of your bike that are now packed with sand are less functional and your confidence wanes. Next time you get to that section, you might opt to run right away instead of repeating said humiliating acrobatics.
The Belgians make riding in the sand look effortless. They ride with precision and confidence. They are ‘sand specialists’. It’s no surprise they went 1-7 in the men’s elite race. I, on the other hand, did less riding and more running because I don’t have the precision and confidence yet to ride my bike in deep sand.
Some of the courses here in the US incorporate sand pits, but they are typically no longer than a sand volleyball court. Riders hit the sand once a lap. The sand pit is one small section of the course, not the majority. Needless to say, I have little experience riding in sand like Koksijde. On race day I checked my expectations at the door and told myself that no matter what, as long as I raced with everything I had, I wouldn’t be too hard on myself if my result was less than stellar. On the other hand, I’d be ecstatic if my result was unexpectedly stellar.
I finished 20th, not stellar but not disappointingly awful. When I crossed the line, all I could say was that was the hardest race I have ever done and I gave it my all.
Here’s a link to some race footage for a real sideline view of the Worlds: http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/240302-European-Cyclocross-2011-2012/video/590132-Elite-Women-Cyclocross-World-Championships-Koksijde-2012
By Nate Bird
This town, Steamboat Springs is dependent on snow, for the joy it brings, for the economic benefits it brings based on our tourism-based economy – the city moniker after all is “Ski Town USA” (it’s trademarked actually). Yeah…not so much this year – we certainly still have snow, more than most are used to or want; but not here, there is never enough snow. This place craves the division of seasons, the amazing Colorado summers versus the deluge of the white stuff that piles up almost insurmountably all winter. But for us, that deluge also offers the same amount of fun outdoor adventures as summer, or perhaps more depending on who you are.
The place I work, Honey Stinger, like many places in this town (and other mountain towns all over) allows for the most beautiful concept of the “powder clause,” the adult opportunity to play ultimate hooky when it snows over a certain amount. Ours essentially dictates that with a head’s up the night before, you can ski to your lil heart’s desire until 11, noon, or even later depending on the permission granted (but if you can’t nuke your legs by 11, there’s a problem). This entire place, a whole city, is itching to use the powder clause this year. We want to be “pressing glass” – getting to the gondola so early the doors aren’t open as you wait in anxious anticipation pressed up against the glass doors. Alas, the opportunity has not arisen as it so frequently does in normal years.
This year, La Nina has been a total beeotch, and almost everywhere has been suffering from lack of snow. There are almost certainly alternatives to be had; you just have to find them. Find the places to play, to get fit, to get your fix and make your body feel good. I’ve been enjoying a class led by a couple of friends for some consistent indoor butt-kicking cross-training no matter what the weather.
The beauty this year has been in those alternatives. In come the substitutes, other things to occupy that fun fix besides schussing. Mind you, we are for sure skiing; it’s just not quite as enthralling as normal, we’re hardly shredding the gnar this winter. Folks here love all forms of skiing – alpine, snowboard, skinning, touring, cross country, skate, etc – just sliding on snow. My alternative, however, has been mountain biking – yep, mountain biking, legit style. One can always find a place to ride in the winter if they’re diligent enough, but, well, it’s been extra fun here this year. Our normal summer mountain biking pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Emerald Mountain, has yielded its bounty this winter as well.
Due to the lack of the usual exorbitant amounts of snow, the trails have been hiked, ran, snowshoed, skied, dog walked, and ridden into summer form – packed single-track. Well, except that we’re trading dirt for packed snow here. Full on, awesome, pure funsnow single-track is up there right now, something I’ve never seen in my bike career let alone my time here in Steamboat. Mid-winter lunch rides with Dave (the dog) are happening twice a week, it’s novel and it’s awesome. The riding is fun, just really fun, and keeping it all interesting. No dissin’ on skiing or anything winter related, we just added bikes to the mix this year in a real way.
Make lemonade outta lemons right? Yup. Skinning up the mountain helps too – a quick post-work jaunt when the lifts aren’t carrying you up fixes the needed fix. There are always a few people scooting up and not sliding backwards on their skins after work. And if you’re lucky, you catch the fresh groom for the way down – super soft before it sets up overnight. Add a Seca and it’s game on – crazy fun and fast on the down, like daylight, or riding your bike at night with one.
I also had the pleasure of going on a sanctioned company hut trip last week with work– something I’ve never done. Something I really need to do again with friends soon. Winter backpacking with a remote cabin and some basic creature comforts (like warmth) to enjoy in between – really recommend that one, you won’t be let down.
I’m still hoping to use my powder clause, and more than once at that. I’d still like to be buried in snow and not even considering riding a bike. But I’m pretty satisfied right now; it’s been fun to find new fun in the winter. My dog is stoked because I’m not ditching him to go get in the lift line, he gets to chase or lead my bike instead this year. Up next is the snowbike crit at the first annual Teva Winter Games on Saturday. Should be an interesting one – it starts at 5 PM with lightsrequired, the Seca 1400 will be ready!
Nate Bird rides for Team Honey Stinger and is a Light & Motion sponsored athlete.
Heading to the 24HOP race? We’ll have lights. Want to ride Dual Seca 1400s? Get your reservation in early! Contact Tori email@example.com to order up your lights for some Sonoran Desert night-riding fun!
Team Tecnu Extreme/Kailash battled it out against other top-ranked athletes from around the world to clinch the 12th place spot at the 2011 version of the Adventure Racing World Championships. This was no small feat considering the epic nature of Australia’s biggest expedition race.
“It was one of the most beautiful and diverse races of my life” quotes team captain and lead navigator Kyle Peter. For the Tassie World Champs race, Peter put together an international team made up of Tecnu veteran and Brazilian Marco Amselem, seasoned adventure racer Ryan VanGorder, and Canadian Liza Pye. The team battled sand dunes, freezing temperatures, exciting white water paddling, and knee deep mud all while navigating their way to the finish line on Tasmania’s Northwest coast. “We had a great race,” says Peter “and it has only made us more excited for the upcoming 2012 season where we hope to keep on moving up the ranking board.”
You can follow more of the team’s adventures at: Tecnu Extreme Adventure Racing
by Chad Denning
In 2005 the Stone Cat 50 was my second 50 miler ever…. It was kind of a bitter sweet experience in that I did actually win the race that day only to hear a few minutes after crossing the finish line that one of my best friends had fallen and broken her leg. To this day I still have that “what if” scenario in my head about sticking to my stated goal and following thru? That day in 2005 my goal was to start and finish with my friend and see how well we could push and pull throughout.. but never really any stated time or aspirations as far as a finish. Well I did not stick to my goal that day and I had not been back to SC since….
Fast forward to 2011, it’s been a pretty good year thus far on the ultra circuit for me and I really wanted to end the season on a high note. That said I did set a goal of sub 7 hours for myself at this years Stone Cat 50. Leading up to the race I put in some good training with the Colby Sawyer XC team and a bunch of long runs with my friend Brandon Baker. In the end I felt like I had indeed trained appropriately for this race… only to get the flu the weekend before. I hate it when that happens!!
I decided that sleeping in my own bed the night before and getting up super early would be better for my body than staying in a hotel before the race. My Saturday morning started @ 2:30am… jumped in the car for a 2 hour drive. Great traveling that early in the morning as NO one is out! Got to the school where the race begins in Ipswich about 4:45am after a brief stop for a few breakfast items.
As I exited the car to go and check in I realized that it was a tid bit nipply outside. Yikes this race always starts out cold. but no worries I think the stated high for the day was to be 49 degrees and sunny. It does not get better than that when it comes to running and ultra all day.
I knew that there were going to be some fast people there so I really just planned on running with the clock rather than worrying about what was going on in the race. If you get too wrapped up in what is going on around you the race can get away from you pretty quickly. I had hoped to run with Aliza Lapierre for some of the race but that never actually happened although judging by the finish times she was only right around the corner for most of the race.
This is what I wore and ate during the event. Knowing that our feet would be wet the entire run I lathered my feet with Sportslick before putting on my Darn Tough socks (DT’s Rock!) and decided to go with my Inov-8 295’s rather than my Hoka One One Mafate’s… reason (water) There was a pretty hefty water section that had our feet wet from start to finish. I have not tried my Mafate’s in heavy water yet so I was gun shy in that regard. I wore my OR swift wick top with arm sleeves and my EMS shorts. As far as my food I had about 12 gu’s, 4 snack cliff mojo’s, and 4 ensures over the race course. Writing it down that seems like a lot of food but hey I am 170 lbs…. Read More
By Meredith Miller
Cyclocross season is in full swing now. The road season seems like a distant past. I’m eight races into the ‘cross season in just a little over a month, and I’ve already got a trip to Europe stamped in my passport.
Several days after racing right in my backyard in Ft Collins at the USGP New Belgium Cup, I boarded a plane for the Czech Republic where the first two rounds of the World Cup series were held. Round one was in Plzen, home of the Pilsner Urquell brewery. Round two was in Tabor, home of the 2010 Cyclocross World Championships.
My Cal Giant/Specialized team mechanic, Jordi, and I flew into Prague a couple days ahead of the race to get acclimatized to the new time zone, get the bikes unpacked, built and running smooth and to pre-ride the course. Flying through London Heathrow can always be a little ‘iffy’ when it comes to delays and getting all your luggage, but lo and behold everything arrived in Prague on time and without a scratch. The only hitch to the trip was finding a non-smoking restaurant, of which there are very few, for dinner. Otherwise, we were very happy to be in such a beautiful city ready to embark on a week of cycling adventures.
Our first full day in Czech was low key – I slept until 10 (and missed breakfast, of course), went for a spin along the Vltava River, had a delicious dinner in a less smoky restaurant, and fell asleep sometime around 1am. Easy.
We had a rather leisurely Saturday morning in Prague before packing up the van and heading to Plzen for a pre-race ride. At the race venue in Plzen team managers and mechanics were staking out their spots in the team parking area, setting up camp and getting the riders ready to roll. Unlike the Europeans who roll in style in their big camper vans/RV’s that have the rider’s or team’s name, picture and accolades plastered to the side, we travel in a rental van and work out of the back. It’s not “luxurious”, but it gets the job done. Read More
By Cary Smith
This year is the first that I have heard of World Carfree Day. As a bike racer, Light & Motion athlete and devoted bike commuter I think it is a great idea. Plus, it seems only fitting that it is on my birthday.
I have not driven to work more than a handful of times in the 11 years that I have been a dentist. It is such a great feeling to leave my car in the garage and grab my bike. Sure, some days it’s more difficult than others to get suited up for rain, snow or -20 degree inversions but I’m always glad that I did. The morning ride gives me time to look around, get the blood flowing and, oftentimes, greet fellow commuters. The evening ride home allows time to reflect on the day, smile as I pass cars backed up at stop signs and also serves as a short warm-up before I change bikes and head out on a training ride.
My birthday commute will forevermore be energized knowing that I am not only doing what I love but taking part in the World Carfree movement.
Teams from all over the world came to battle at the 1st Annual Expedition Idaho, Thule from the UK and Seagate from New Zealand were the two international professional teams and the remainder of the field was made up of teams from around the US. Team Light & Motion hailed from all over the States. Eric Grimm the team captain is from Rochester, NY, Dave Lamb is from Jackson, NH, Melissa Coombes resides in Spokane, WA and Chad Denning is from Hanover, NH. Team Light and Motion has been racing together for the past six years under various team names but mostly as Team Granite AR and Team Untamed New England. We were extremely excited and honored to race as Team Light and Motion.
In preparation for Expedition Idaho we made a checklist of the things that we thought would be the major factors in an event like this. Obviously we all did quite a bit of training to make sure that our bodies would perform at a peak level.. In the end, everyone performed above all expectations (no injuries!!) whew! Maps and navigation were going to be the biggest hurdle, staying found assures that you are traveling in the right direction. Team Light and Motion is blessed to have several amazing navigators which really allows for team decisions rather than just one individual taking that on their shoulders the entire race. Dave Lamb is our head navigator and has been perfecting his craft for years and it shows. We would all follow him to the ends of the earth! Food preparation would play a HUGE role in that we would be burning over 5000 calories a day.. We would need to pack six days worth of food that allow us to perform at a peak level and not be to overly heavy on our backs. Lastly, our lighting at night is a piece of the puzzle that many teams take for granted. The ability to travel at daylight speeds during the night while biking or trekking gave us the ability to have great confidence while traveling at high speeds. Our team featured the Light and Motion Stella 300, the Solite 150 and one Seca 1400 to use to find the infamous CP’s. All I can say is that the combination of any L & M light and the new adventure sport strap is match made in heaven when it comes to adventure racing!
I also want to give high fives and kudos to the teams that were right around us the whole entire race. Team Bones and the Yogaslackers were our compadres for the week and each and every one of them are just amazing people with a huge appetite for adventure. Thanks for FUN and the Humor!! I can’t remember ever laughing harder on a 30 mph descent in the middle of the night!
So lets get down to it: Here is a race snapshot segment by segment. If you look at a race course like this as a whole it will seem a little daunting, so we will break it down. Read More
Light & Motion sponsored team Team DART-Nuun-Sport-Multi is rocking it this week at Raid the North Extreme Race, and they’re looking good to place among the top three teams. The crew is made up of elite athletes who each have an extensive list of participation in long-distance events including triathlons and expedition-style adventure races like Atmosphere Raid the North Extreme. This year’s team will be comprised of Mari Chandler, Matt Hayes, Aaron Rinn, and Cyril Jay-Rayon.
“We have a competitor field with lots of depth and experience this year,” says Race Director Geoff Langford. “In adventure racing there are many game-changing variables that can alter the outcome of the race. Nevertheless, I think we can safely say that WildernessTraverse.com, WEDALI and Dart-Nuun-SportMulti will figure among the strongest teams.”
On the map above Team DART is #10 and currently in 3rd place! Thanks to Facebook we’ve been able to stay up to date with them:
Wednesday July 27:
Team 10 dart-nuun FTM arrived our location(boundry of valhalla provincial park 17k from cp10) at 3:40AM and trek through to cp10. they look great and were in goods psirits. Greatt to see the team in their element. rmember that they have a 1.5hr time credit for late bin and will get a sizable credit for last part of trek. most likely nott enough to over come wilderness traverse’s lead.
The USA Cycling National Cross-Country Championships were held on Baldy Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho last weekend. These races were the culmination of a week-long celebration of cycling in the bike friendly Wood River Valley. Bikes were everywhere about town all week, but they all converged to one place on Saturday: the starting line.
The 7:30 a.m. start time for the Category 1/singlespeed men seemed mighty early, but with hundreds of eager racers toeing the line the energy level was sky-high. Every racer knew that the start would be very important on this course as the first lap began with a short dirt road climb which immediately dove into a singletrack descent, leaving no room for passing until the course exited the woods onto the only flat section of the loop. Even this flat section had been doctored by the course designer to include a wooden “overpass” over the pedestrian tunnel and a “rock garden” filled with boulders that was only about 100 meters, but seemed like an eternity as we bounced and weaved our way through, trying to stay upright and out of harm’s way.
Shortly after the rock garden, the racers funneled onto the meat of the course: a 1,000-foot singletrack climb with plenty of roots and rocks, forcing multiple mounts and dismounts. Again, there was very little room for passing until the trail opened up a bit and finally onto a very steep doubletrack.
From the top of the doubletrack, it was all grins as we descended the 1,100 feet down the River Run Trail, finishing with the intimidating “rock drop,” a very steep, boulder-strewn 30-foot drop to the lawn in front of River Run Lodge. Passing under the Start/Finish banner we sprinted around the maintenance building to start the second lap, which would bring us to the finish.
The Saturday morning races were kind to two Light and Motion athletes as Cary Smith won the Men’s Singlespeed race and the Women’s Singlespeed victory went to Rebecca Rusch, in her first foray into the world of singlespeed racing! We were both excited to be part of such a wonderful event and Sun Valley did a wonderful job of rolling out the red carpet for all the cyclists.
Cary Smith is a Light & Motion sponsored athlete who rides for Hammer Nutrition.