Getting out of the door and into the freeezing cold can be the hardest part of the ride during the winter, at least for those of us in the most northern sectors of these lower 48 states…….It sure was for me last night, but in need of a serious biking fix prevailed and i headed to the closet to figure out the layers of clothes that i’d be needing for a short hour long ride.
Nov 23rd was the MT State Championship CX race and also the last race of the year……you know, i kinda fell in love with cyclocross this year. It’s just a blast to be shot of the line with a group full of fellas that all have the same interest of diving into that first piece of singletrack at 25+mph. That holeshot……worth an hours worth of agony to me. But it doesn’t stop there, after 2 or 3 short laps you’d eventually recover from that all out starting effort and settle into a good pace that made riding the track a bit more enjoyable. Hitting a nice piece of off-cambered singletrack on 700 X 32c tires is a fantastic experience. The slippin’ and sliddin’ when the ground has moisture and being able to keep that damn bike upright or in my case, sometimes not just brings a grin to my face that goes ear to ear.
The folks that put on the races this year all did a fantastic job. Every race was promoted well and ran smoothly and we’d like to give a shout out to John Coulthard and Geoff Proctor for putting together a nice series. Hopefully the Red Barn crew can host a race down here in Hamilton for 09′. Hamilton needs a local CX race…..it’s been years since Jeremy Oury hosted a few races out on his family’s ranch and i think we need to bring CX racing back. Whatchu folks think ?? I’ll be calling upon you locals for support.
But anyway……i suppose a 3rd place trinket isn’t too darn bad of a placing for a pop of three and a full timin’ bike shop fella that likes to ride but doesn’t like to train.
One of the nicer areas to ride the skinny tired cross bike in the bitterroot valley would have to be the slice of State Land located at the end of Hamilton Heights road called Calf Creek. The trails are numerous and have no official numbering sytem but you can easily put together a few nice loops. It’s elevation also allows cycling late into the fall and it’s south-west facing hillside typically dries out first, come springtime. One of the reasons it makes for such a nice cross ride is the fact that most trails are lacking much technical difficulty and the buff trails are perfect for the narrow tires which also makes it a perfect place for the beginner/intermediate mountain biker. Be cautious though as it is an area that is also well visited by our equestrian brethren…….if you see a parking lot full of horse trailers be wise on the decents….grab a little brake.
So the Kalispell events went well……we headed up north this past weekend to race CX on both saturday and sunday. The early morning wakeup on saturday was rough though and then the proceeding 3 and a half hour drive up to race at 10:30 am was even rougher. But it even gets worse when you have a young lad Karl Vanderwood from Helena and now racing for MT Velo kicking your arse in the mens B field. Allthough after a tough course that consisted of plenty of climbing and a bad start i managed to work my way up into a small group which was tailing Karl by 30 seconds. Eventually myself and another fella from Whitefish ended up riding together for the remaining race…..we stuck together tightly and on the last lap i managed to form a small gap and for a brief second i thought i was going to sneak into 2nd place. But i wasn’t the one sneaking as the cyclist from Whitefish managed to catch me within 30 yards of the finish and he eventually came around me nipping me at the line. Oh well……i’m just out there for the pain….right ?
On sunday and on a different course, cold weather, and with a smaller field …..Karl-less with his recent departure to race with the fast guys. I managed to get a good jump on the field and took off at a decent pace. It didn’t feel as painful as usual and my small gap got a little bit larger. I keep riding hard, enjoying the singletrack sections of the lap and then i noticed that my course flags dissapeared…..i looked around me just in time to see the rest of the field go buzzing by ! Yep…..i took a wrong turn. Maybe i should have prerode the course more than once : ) , so i turn around and ride like hell to catch the new leaders. It took about a 1/2 lap to catch back up and another 1/2 lap to catch my breathe from the effort but i eventually worked my way around and back into the lead taking one other cyclist with me. We worked together for the remainder of the race and then on the last lap on a small run up that i was able to ride, created a small gap on him that i held to the finish line. A win in the b’s is a win. But i’d eventually like to suffer in the back of the pack with the mens A group. Maybe soon, maybe in time for the MT state championships.
Matt Baldwins pics from Off the Grind
welp……i survived. I hurt like hell for an entire hour, thought about quitting the race about 15 minutes into it as my stomach felt like it was turning completely inside out. Yessir indeed, pure hell for those first minutes……so, instead of focusing on that damn pain i started to focus in on the fun sections of the course. And there were many as reminded to me by my three kiddo’s who were sitting course side with trident in hand. Actually trying to spear me in the arse. Okay kids…..i get the point. (and thanks for instigating the juvenilles Howie)
So, with that in mind i noticed the race beginning to be half enjoyable, and before i knew it the race was down to three very short but intense laps. I was sitting in 7th and just caught by a group of 4. Crap ! I tried hanging on but all four were much faster in the flat sections that required hard pedaling. I ended up satisfied with 11th place out of the forty or so starters. Chalk it up. This next weekend…..Kailspell MT for two back to back days of hellish pleasure. So kiddos……bring on the trident !! Link for this weekend
and thanks to the fellas and gals at Montana Cyclocross for the fantastic, well organised event. You’ve certainly put on one of the best cycling events in MT.
third stop on the Montana Cyclocross series is tonite and under the ballpark lights………racing begins at 4pm in Missoula at the American Legion Park. I’m signing up for the pain but am actually going for the good times and free beer. So wish me luck on all three.
Spent the past weekend in good company as our small group of 8 decided to ride an out and back along the peaceful Coeur d’Alene bike trail. Putting in at Mullan Idaho and pulling along our camp gear for an overnight trip using BOB trailers was the plan, so we pedaled along taking an entire day to pedal the 60 miles. Taking the opportunity of stopping at every small town and every good view along the route. It wasn’t very hard to find the views, plus there was also lots of wildlife abound (sand hill cranes, deer, snakes, turtles, birds)…. but nothing near as wild as what we encountered at the sleepy town of Harrison, which also happened to be our lake shore overnight destination. Mix together some cheap beer, some good pizza, and a sock hop and you have yourself the making for a damn good party in Harrison at a bar called ‘One Shot Charlie’. I’m still not exactly quite sure what a sock hop is…….but i’m guessing it involves beer, good music and an active dance floor. Good times followed and we stayed out late making the early a.m. wake up and 60 mile return trip a little more difficult.
Here’s a decent photo sequence of the entire route: Mullan To Harrison