His legs are strong Mrs. Gump. As strong as I ever seen. But his Glutes are as crooked as a politician.

Do you have tendonitis? Well, it’s probably because you have weak glutes like me. Do you suffer from knee pain? Again, it’s likely due to weak glutes. Shin splints? You guessed it…it’s your weak-ass glutes.

Planter fasciitis? Glutes
Stress fracture? Glutes
Tenis elbow? Glutes
Head ache? Glutes.
Ingrown fingernail? Glutes
Flatulence? Glutes
Nearsighted? Glutes
Hard of hearing? Glutes
Low IQ? Glutes
Immoral? Glutes
Small penis? Glutes
Weak glutes? Glutes

With my last blog post, I left off with the depressing news that I had Achilles bursitis. I went back into Boulder Center for Sports Medicine and they downgraded me to just some minor tendonitis in the connective ligaments that attach the Achilles tendon to the heel bone.

The cause of this was from too much running of course, but the reason that too much running resulted in this injury was partially because my glutes are weak. Like I said above, if you have weak glutes, you’ve probably got some body part that’s injured or working improperly because of it. Cycling, like running actually, is a one-dimensional exercise and the smaller muscles in my general gluteal region that stabilize the pelvis and legs weren’t and most likely still aren’t strong enough. This caused my knees to buckle in when I ran, which put too much stress on my calves and Achilles, which pulled too hard on those connective ligaments attached to my heel. Or so the story goes.

As with just about any injury, time off always helps and the two weeks off that I took were needed, as they did the trick to reduce the swelling and repair those tendons. Something else seems to have helped the injury from reoccurring since I started running and hiking again. The glute exercises that the trainers at BCSM are likely a big part of it. I’ve been doing them twice a day now for about three weeks, as well as thinking about activating my glutes while I’m running. I may not have been a believer to begin with about the whole “Your glutes are weak and therefore you have an injury way the hell down in your heal,” but now I’m coming around. I guess you could say I’m like an evangelist. I don’t know what’s true so I keep my beliefs vague and go to church (glute exercises) just in case.

Aside from BCSM, there are a few others who have helped me get over the still-somewhat-present injury. I saw Brent Apgar of Synch Chiropractic immediately and had him dry needle the hell out of my legs and ankles. He put me on a treadmill right afterwards and, to my near disbelief, I noticed an instant reduction in pain when I ran. The guy is a god damn miracle worker. Seriously, it was weird how much of an improvement there was after just 90 minutes of therapy.

To speed my recovery and reduce the shock to my feet, pro triathlete Erich Wegscheider (a former roommate of mine) sent me a pair of Hoka Ones, which are extra-supportive running shoes. They weigh nothing and offer padding like none other. Thanks for being such a great ambassador for your sponsors Erich, and thanks for the shoes!

Paired with some Recofit compression calf sleeves to reduce muscle oscillation, my legs have never felt better or been adorned with quite as much steez. I’m lucky to have all this great gear at my disposal and so many people to offer support and motivation.

Dang, look at all that sponsor-shouting I just did! Good job Kennett!


Speaking of providing motivation, Adelaide just DEMOLISHED her first triathlon of the season, winning her age group and finishing 3rd overall in the women’s field of 150 starters. It was a lot of fun watching and yelling at her in the transition zones to “speed the hell up you’re in 2nd right now!!” The Harvest Moon half-ironman was her ‘practice’ race for the full iron-distance event this November in Las Vegas. This was her 2nd triathlon ever (the first was like five years ago on a Surly Long Haul Trucker so it hardly counts) and she’s been training for just two months. She’s a bit of a genetic freak for sure. A future Kona competitor? I think so.


She collapsed at the finish line with excruciating pain from the recent onslaught of tendonitis in her foot. The cause? You guessed it: weak glutes! The booty-crazed pirates at BCSM certainly think so anyways. She’s been doing physical therapy with them and has been prescribed many of the same glute exercises as me. Her tendonitis, aside from the last five miles of the race anyways, has been slowly dissipating, so the glute hypothesis continues to gain traction.

Now for a quick recap of my longest run yet. Maybellene, my running companion, is laying here beside me on the couch in a stupor, so drained that earlier she was too tired to eat her post-run dog bone treat. I, on the other hand, still had an appetite as per usual. I will neither confirm nor deny how that dog bone disappeared. Anyways…

I woke to rain this morning. The sky was a dreary gray, the streets saturated and so too the trails of Chataqua. Mud was on our forecast. Thick and slippery.

After breakfast, Maybellene and I walked over to Amante to catch the last few kilometers of the Vuelta, drink coffee, and lick crumbs off the floor. We returned home and got ready for the run. Maybellene worriedly paced back and forth through the apartment with me as I collected gear and chugged a liter of green tea, her most likely hoping that she wasn’t getting left behind. Yesterday, out of boredom, she destroyed the bed in her crate while I was at work. Since Adelaide is at Interbike this week, Maybellene has had to spend more time crated. I planned on making her too tired to care for the next few days.

The ride to the trailhead was wet and chilly. Maybellene was shivering in the Burly trailer by the time we pulled up to the bike rack at Chataqua.

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Photo taken on a much warmer, sunnier day.

I replaced my cycling shoes with running shoes, we split an old banana nut muffin from Amante, and were off.

We took it easy up Mesa trail, just getting into the groove of things. I can’t go nearly as fast as my cardio system wants since my joints are still sickly weak compared to a real runner’s. As the trail narrowed down I saw two women coming towards us; they quickly leashed a large bernese mountain dog as we approached. Trouble.

Maybellene was behind me, out of my footsteps where she always runs, when the dog lunged forward, easily yanking the leash clean out of the woman’s hands. It growled savagely and went for Maybellene. I got in the way and kicked him in the ribs. He turned back to his owner and I got tangled in the leashes, tripped and came down for a split second. I got up fast and grabbed the dog’s collar, which was a pinch collar, and forced his head down to the ground. I pinned him with my knee, continuing to force his head to the ground with one hand as I raised the other in a fist to deliver the finishing blows to the head, which likely would have broken my hand since dogs’ skulls are like 7-inches thick.

The dog whimpered, the woman frantically yelled, “I’ve got the leash he’s under control, he’s under control!” and I let him go. I grabbed up Maybellene’s leash, cursed, and ran off thinking that I’d take a dog fight over a car-buzz any day.

The dog and I were equal on weight but I had a lot more anger on my side. Bernese mountain dogs are usually pretty tame and friendly. I’m sure if it had been a rottweiler, things would have turned out differently.

We ran on through the dripping forest, continuing south on the Mesa trail for an hour or so until we got to the base of Shadow Canyon, a real brute of a climb. I unleashed Maybellene for it since it’s very steep and you need your hands to scramble. Because of her age, Maybellene doesn’t own one of those coveted Green Dog Tags that allows her to be off leash for certain trails. I did make one but she tore it off and ate it. So I only unleash her on the steep stuff and hope the ranger who sees us can’t run more than 4.5 miles an hour.


There are those who make the rules, those who break them, and the sheep that blindly follow. Practice civil disobedience. #FreeTheBarrelDog

This past week or so I’ve been hiking the steep climbs and running everything else, to save my Achilles. In fact, I’ve really only done three runs since coming back from the injury. The other stuff has just been hikes. Anyways, Shadow Canyon is so steep that hiking is almost just as fast as running, at least at my pace. It climbs up a boulder-strewn creek bed and at times you’re basically scrambling up it, full red zone.

During one of the steeper sections, I paused at the top of a big boulder to scout for the trail. It’s difficult to know exactly where to go at points if your head is down and you don’t know the trail that well, especially if you’re well within threshold and concentrating hard about gluteal activation. As I stood on the boulder for just that extra half second, Maybellene jumped up behind me and ended up tangled between my legs (in her defense she was in the red too). I jumped to the right and Maybellene tumbled backwards off the boulder and landed on her back, sandwiched between two large rocks.

She rolled over and scrambled to catch up to me, limping slightly with her front right paw. I gave it a quick rub and told her it was fine, then we continued on at an equally relentless pace. Maybellene needs to learn that we keep going when we’re hurt and that around here we give our own compliments.

We ran through the blackened burn zone at the top, passed just under the rocky summit of Bear Mountain at 8,100 ft, picked our way down the steep, barren west side populated by jagged rocks, and upped the pace along the smooth ridge trail heading towards Green Mountain. The clouds had turned to white mist, blowing by quickly and equal to us in altitude. They momentarily revealed the city to the east, way down below, before we passed behind the next ridge. Wild flowers brushed our legs and stained us yellow and green with pollen. The trees thickened as the burn thinned. The sun beat down and I continued sweating, already drenched from the effort up Shadow Canyon. It was a good day to be out in nature. A very good day.

A little over two hours in and we stopped for a minute to eat some Cliff Bloks. Maybellene had one square, I had two. We would save the second serving for later. We were both thirsty but the single bottle of Osmo I’d been carrying was nearing its end. I didn’t give Maybellene any. She could lap up her fill at a creek if she wanted…though we never stopped so not really.

We summited Flagstaff, turned back and summited Green Mountain, carefully picked our way down Saddle, and made a left onto Ranger. The trees continued to thicken and grow tall around us as we lost elevation. From Ranger we headed down Gregory Canyon, took a wrong turn at the base and went part way up Amphitheater, backtracked, did a loop around Bluebell with aching knees, ankles, hips, feet, Achilles (whoops I was supposed to stop running when that happened), and finally limped down Chataqua trail to the parking lot. 18.2 miles, +5,000 ft of climbing, 3 hours, 50 minutes. It felt a lot longer than that.

The first thing Maybellene did when we slowed to a walk in the parking lot was pee, right on the cement with a large puddle forming under her feet. I didn’t care at all. I bent over and put my hands on my knees, not out of breath, I was just out of working skeletal support. My lower back was gone, actually everything lower than mid torso was ready for the grave. The ride home, pulling 75 pounds of trailer and dog, would likely be very slow.

But once I was on the bike I felt great. Fresh as a daisy. Go figure.



Can’t stand still but can’t really stand

I got back from Cascade fairly motivated to train hard for Steamboat and Bucks County, the final two races I’d planned for the 2014 season. After a week-long bout of the sickness, I started doing some moderate rides. Like a virgin in a whore house, my motivation didn’t last long.

I did an easier five hours one day then went out the day after to do another five, only to find that my brain was having none of it. I turned back after 15 minutes, pissed off and depressed, knowing that I’d reached my limit this year. I didn’t have the motivation to ride, which scared me because it was only August. It was too early to hang everything up, yet I didn’t have the drive needed to perform well.

Not knowing quite what to do, I went on a run. The next day I rode for a bit, still wondering what to do with the next three months of off season besides drink white Russians and eat gelato. I needed something to occupy my body and mend my stressed-out mind. The run had been fun, albeit slow and a bit painful on the old joints and ligaments and things that normally just sit there doing nothing at all during bike rides. So I decided to go on another run two days later with Galen and Maybellene.

Right when we got back, I signed up for a trail race when since there wasn’t anyone around with the wherewithal to stop me (Galen was sitting right there). Here’s the race I found on the gOOgle: Indian Creek Fifties. Quite stupidly, I opted for the 50-mile version instead of the 50km. The longest I’d ever run was 11 or 12 miles, and that was on pavement back in high school. The total number of miles I’d ran in the past five years was probably like 20. Maybe less. To make things worse (or better), the race has a total elevation gain of just under 12,000 feet. Most 50-milers seem to have somewhere around 6,000.

As usual, everyone and their brother (mine included) told me to take things slow and easy as I got started or else I’d get hurt. But fuck that shit. I was up to 2.5 hour runs by the end of my second week. Over the weeks, the pain in my left knee had receded from stabbing, to sharp, to dull, to grinding, then to just a faint ache (I’m talking about the middle of my runs. By the end, everything always hurt at a constant pounding throb). 

If you didn’t know, the trail system we have here in Boulder, just like the mountain roads, is awesome. Just mile after mile of steep switch back boulder-hopping fun. It feels great to be out in the real wilderness without cars. It’s incredibly peacful to just slog away for hours in the mountains with no equipment other than shoes and a Cambelback.

With running, I could feel my brain getting healed from all the shit that’s happened this year. I would daydream about all the normal things like what a frog’s field of vision must look like, plus I’d think about the running race and even quite a bit about next year’s bike racing season. Already, running seemed to help my motivation to ride again.

The convenience factor of trail running is pretty appealing too. There’s a trail a half mile from our house that climbs almost a thousand feet round trip, though that’s nothing compared to the stuff down south near Chautauqua. I stuck mainly to those trails, riding 20 minutes there and stashing my bike and backpack in the bushes. The trails that go up Flagstaff, Green Mountain, and the ones meandering up and down the Flatirons are my favorite. My joints couldn’t take the downhills before the jolting pain consumed me, so I pretty much just stuck to going hard uphill and super easy downhill. I ran with my shirt off, letting the hot August sun bake away the cycling tan lines. It was a lot of fun. Notice how all this is in the past tense.

That’s because I’m stupid.

At the beginning of my third week, I did a 2.5 hour run at a good pace (for me): 11:37 minutes per miles sounds slow, and for a good trail runner I think it is, but when you add in 3,300 feet of climbing on technical terrain, it’s a little better. I was happy with the run as it was my longest yet, and I’d taken 2 minutes per mile off my time from a few days before. I decided to celebrate with another 2-3 hour run the next day. 

I woke up feeling very stiff. Good. Nothing unusual. I began running and everything below my knees felt like absolute shit. Good, still nothing unusual. Except for a tight Achilles. Extra tight. It had hurt a bit the day before, but keeping track of everything that hurt would have been a full time job. 

I should have called it quits on that run immediately, because I knew that if I went for another couple minutes the pain would quickly dull and I’d assume everything was fine. I kept running. The more I ran the better I felt of course. But I did keep it real easy and even walked parts of the downhill. After 2 hours and 15 minutes I was back to my bike in the bushes, happy to have done the workout without having anything catastrophic happen in my knees or ankles (the second week of running was hampered by that sort of thing about 45-60 minutes into my runs and I’d have to limp for a few minutes before the pain subsided). I vowed to take the next two days off to let things heal properly and give my joints some catchup time, hold the mustard. 

That evening I went on a fast, 20-minute flat pavement run with Adelaide.

It’s been five days now with zero running. I limped for two days and decided that I needed more time off. Even going for a two-hour ride a few days later caused more inflammation in my heel/Achilles tendon region. I did some research and decided that I had Achilles tendenosis. Yesterday I went into Boulder Center for Sports Medicine to hear about the damage and how I’d need to take lots of time off and probably get my foot amputated. 

The prognosis was Retrocalcaneal bursitis. I’m not exactly sure what that is but I was given some ultra sound treatment, an anit-inflammatory, a few strengthening exercises, and I’m scheduled for another appointment tomorrow. The point being, now it’s someone else’s problem and I can go run again!

Cascade Classic 2014

This may have been the longest I’ve waited to write a race report. Because of that I’ve forgotten most of the memorable events and jokes that took place that week. Since my return home I’ve been busy being sick while in the midst of settling into our new apartment, my new job at Amante, our new puppy Maybellene, and a fresh new outlook on life. Ha. Just kidding I’m still just as dead inside as I was before. There’s nothing like an NRC stage race to crush your spirits and erase all hope of future happiness. Luckily the fix is easy: Dairy Queen.

Once again I was fortunate enough to guest ride with Horizon Organic/Einstein Bagels. The team:

Emerson Oronte
Kit Recca
Fabio Calabria
Mac Cassin
Chris Winn
Jackson Long
Josh Yeaton
with Nick Traggis directing


Photo: Cheryl Howard


Photo: Cheryl Howard

The Prologue:

After a huge amount of preparation and stress, the 4 and a half minute effort was over in roughly 4 and a half minutes. I paced myself well and saved it for the last two minutes of “uphill” to finish 32nd out of the huge field of 212. I wasn’t ecstatic about my performance but given how I’ve felt during the training leading up to this race, I wasn’t upset either. Mac was 29th and the rest of the guys were somewhere really far back, like 5 seconds or so. It’s good to remember that prologues don’t mean shit in terms of the overall GC.


Photo provided by Whit Bazemore Photography

Stage 1:

We missed the breakaway that went on the short climb heading up towards Bachelor. Despite the uncomfortable pace at which we rolled out of the parking lot, it would have been the easiest stage to make the break. By mile 2 it was gone. I spent the rest of the day fetching water and positioning the guys in the scrum line behind the leader’s and other important teams’ trains. None of our guys crashed in the many dumb pile ups, which were mostly caused by large motor homes and other cars that were only partially-pulled off the road on the left side.

I was just a few guys too far back to make the lead group of 40 the second time up Bachelor and I got gapped and popped with a little over 3K to go. So close, yet so close. I was gobbled up by a large chase group and came in 50th something.

Fabio and Emerson had been in the lead group and were therefore still in GC contention, making the team’s day a success.

Stage 2:

Another time trial. Moving on…

Stage 3:

Stage 3 was similar to stage 1 but the opposite direction and started down in Bend. Mac broke his collar bone and Jackson broke his bike in the crashes that marred the beginning of the stage. We were neutralized for a few minutes so the officials could make it look like someone gave a damn about our safety, then we were released. Who are they trying to fool? We don’t even give a damn about our safety!

Man I sucked after that. I got dropped before the plateau near the top of the climb, meaning I had the fitness equivalent to what I had in 2010. I was pretty pissed off about how shitty I was riding and contemplated just veering off into the ditch, or better yet a cliff. No cliffs could be found.

A large chase group of 50 guys formed around me. I was annoyed with the urgency at which they rode, as if we could actually catch back on. The peloton was out of sight and I was ready to just pack it in with the broom wagon. Instead, we caught on shortly after the descent.

I was more than content with being a team helper again for the rest of the day and set about getting water, making fun of Tim Rugg, and positioning the faster guys on our team near the front, using my bulk to block the wind and knock over any BMC devo bitches that dared take the wheel. Actually there are quite a few bigguns’es on that team as well.

In a similar fashion to the other Mt. Bachelor stage, I got dropped with 3K to go. The climb was easier today since it was more stair stepped and gradual with a head wind, but it hurt just the same. Fabio and Emerson both made the front group, but we still didn’t have a stage result to facebook about. Would tomorrow’s downtown crit be the day??  **Dun dun duuuuunnnnnnnnn!!!!!**

No. It would not.

Stage 4:

Downtown crit, same as usual except counterclockwise. None of us did much except sit in. Kit attempted to finish in the top 20 (and did), but the officials decided to bump him back to 170th after he took too long in the pit when his chain broke earlier in the race. Note to Kit: don’t pedal so hard. Who are you trying to impress anyways?

Stage 5:

This was it. The last stage to make something of ourselves. Either get in the move or get dropped. I was off the front in some promising attacks, and felt fairly good finally, but nothing stuck until the 4th lap on the feed zone climb. I was too far back to be in the mix on this occasion. A lap later (the final lap) I was once again too far back on the same climb to make the front split of 15 guys with the yellow jersey. Classic being too far back and having shitty legs.

The break stuck and I came in 30th, 46th on GC. Emerson and Josh made the front split but we didn’t have anyone in the move. The team’s weekend was somewhat salvaged by Emerson’s 20th on GC, but we’d wanted more than that. A stage win, a top 5 GC, or one of the jerseys. At least some time in a break. Instead we broke bones (Mac), bikes (Jackson), hearts (Jackson again most likely), and finished mid pack. Such is the life of a bike racer. You must be a master of failure to succeed.

That’s all for now. Once I’m over this cold I’ll be back to training like a mad man. This year’s not over yet damn it!

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Pictures of camping and stuff

The last two weeks have been great. After North Star I got sick, took a week of rest, then went to Steamboat to camp, hike, and ride with Adelaide. My brother Galen and his girlfriend Joslynn moved to Boulder that weekend as well, and we’ll be moving into a new apartment with them in mid July. Meanwhile, they’re sleeping in the living room. I did a bunch of great training last week then we all went up to the Estes Park area for climbing, hiking, and more camping.


Adelaide and I before a hike in Steamboat.


Strawberry hot springs.


Bike to work day spoils.


Galen cooking dinner up in Highway 7 near Estes Park.


Adelaide and I getting to camp after riding up from Boulder, eager for that dinner.


Galen warming up on the first boulder the next day.


Jos climbing. Galen spotting.


Galen resting while attempting a V9.




Adelaide and I did an even longer hike than the previous week. I got tired and grumpy after twisting my ankle and had to be fed apples and nuts like a 5-year-old.


Dinner that night was the best in a long time. Beans, rice, avocado, lettuce, salsa, peppers, mango, cilantro, and chips.


Jos making easy work of a 5.10.


Adelaide being proud.


Adelaide belaying with Joslynn shouting directions to me (climbing).



Last but not least, I just got a job at Amante!


I used to wonder why so many guys would quit the sport after a season of making it onto a pro team. This would inevitably happen after getting booted from that team back to the amateur ranks. I would think, “Why give it all up? You’ve obviously got what it takes to reach that level so why not continue and get back there? You’re throwing it all away!” I thought it was a shame when my friends would drop out of the sport like this.

But now I understand why. Year after year we have this goal in our mind: to be a professional and get paid to ride our bikes. And when that goal is attained, if you’re lucky, talented, hard working, and smart enough to get there, you feel like you’ve finally made it. Your life mission has been accomplished and all your struggles were suddenly made worthwhile. Of course this isn’t true at all. The sport (and life in general) is only worthwhile if you’re enjoying the moment, not some pie in the sky end goal. And I knew that, but still the deep down thing I wanted and thought I needed was to earn a pro contract in order to validate all the years and miles.

When I signed with Firefighters Upsala CK after 8 years of dreaming about this single goal, I felt like my cycling career had been a success. Now I could focus on the next goal, which was…well I guess still really the same: train hard and try to win races. But at least I had accomplished part of my dream. It was a milestone, something concrete I could look at and say, “I accomplished this. And damn does it feel good!”

That feeling of elation and satisfaction that I had last November quickly began to crumble as the fall suddenly slammed into the back of winter. This team, with the supposed multi-million dollar budget, didn’t quite have everything in line like they said it did. In fact, as the racing season approached and bikes went undelivered, salaries went unpaid, and team training camps were cancelled without the slightest bit of communication from the management, a doubt grew within me and I took my first unveiled glance up at the impending shit storm. As I stared up into the sky wondering what was raining down upon me, I was still so much in awe of being on a “pro” team that my gaping mouth quickly filled with excrement without me even realizing it.

After swallowing more than my fair share of said bullshit by mid April, Adelaide bailed me out of the hole I was living in, which was possibly the only disheveled place in all of Sweden. She bought me a ticket home in an attempt to save my mental and physical health and salvage the rest of my season. Luckily Team Horizon Organic/Einstein Bagels stepped in and offered me a spot to guest ride at some later season races in order to fill in for a couple of their injured riders. If it weren’t for those two things happening—Adelaide getting me home and Horizon giving me a chance to race—I would have quit the sport.

I was on the edge. I was so depressed, crushed, and let down from being ignored and lied to over and over again that I didn’t feel like continuing. Everyone has moments like these, though for me they’re never that serious. It was the first real time I’ve contemplated moving on and never looking back. To give up a dream I’ve had for almost a third of my life would have been devastating. Cycling was almost ruined for me, my way of life almost snubbed out. There are others on the team who will almost certainly quit at the end of the year.

I’ll have to give up bike racing someday, or at least be less downsize the amount of time and energy I invest in it, but I want that day to come on my own terms. I want to say when to stop. I hope that all future team owners, managers, sponsors, and anyone up at the top realizes that this is not just a hobby or a game to play for their temporary entertainment. This is our livelihood. More than that, it’s what we wake up for in the morning and what we dream about as we go to sleep at night. I’m all for someone having big ambitions. We need them in the sport because they’re just like us riders: full of self-confidence and certainly a bit delusional, otherwise they’d never take the chance. But please, be honest about it during the process. Truthful communication, and a lot of it, will go farther than the biggest team budget or best equipment sponsor.

I decided to leave the team last week.


And now it’s back to square one.

(Not really)

North Star Grand Prix Stages 4-6

As social animals, we’re hard-wired to take pride in group efforts. While personal results are what many of us strive for in cycling and life in general, it’s always heart warming to be part of a team effort, especially when it ends in a huge success.

Stage 4 Friday:

The Uptown Minneapolis crit was packed with spectators. It’s usually the rowdiest event I compete in and this year was no different, with somewhere between 30,000 and 300,000,000 people in attendance. A bad crash in the women’s race delayed our start to 8:20 PM and also shortened the race from 40 to 35 laps. I expected a dark finish.

I got off to a perfect start with a line up at the very back, which meant I had no chance of getting in the early breakaway that won. Wait. That’s the exact opposite of a perfect start. Man I’m so dumb sometimes!

The rest of my race unfolded as follows:

1) I slowly made my way to like 60th wheel 20 minutes in.

2) Got stuck behind a large crash and went to the pit.

3) Did four or five more laps before I jammed my brakes on again in corner three to avoid another pile up. Went to the pit and in the process jumped ahead 20 spots from where I’d been before the crash. I hate it when people do this when those people aren’t myself.

4) Karma came back to get me a couple laps later. I managed to keep upright again through the second to last corner when the guy in front of me rolled his tubular. I thought the danger was over as I clipped back in and slowly started rolling forward, but someone came from behind and crashed into me, bending my derailleur hanger. I went to the pit for the third time that night.

5) I finished 8 or 9 laps later in 38th place with the same time as the main group. Got to bed well after midnight once Nick, our host Chad, and I were done doing bike repairs. Faith made sure we had plenty of burritos for the van ride home.

Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant) won.

Stage 5 Saturday:

As the second and last road stage, I intended on making my mark on the race today whether it liked it or not. Of course I failed and was pretty much just pack foder. The course was 100 miles with some steep but short climbs. I had good intel that the break would go away early (as did everyone else), so I made sure to attack early and often in the opening miles (as did everyone else). The goal the team had set out for ourselves was to get in the move and scoop up the KOM points, since there were 30 on offer today and whoever won the majority of them today would likely win the overall by the end of the week.

I followed the first move that went. I don’t remember how many I went with afterwards, but my normalized power for the first 40 minutes of the race was 370 and the max was 1,568, which is a lot for me since I’m a pretty lousy sprinter. The entire team covered move after move and attacked non stop. We had a guy in every attempt for the first 30K until Fabio ended up finding the successful one. He would go on to take all the remaining KOM points, the KOM jersey, and second place on the stage behind Tom Devriendt (3M) since the breakaway held off the field by a half minute.

The rest of us back in the peloton helped each other stay close to the front and Mac grabbed plenty of bottles from the car to disperse among us. After that first hour of attacks, the middle two-thirds of the race were tame and boring, though I was definitely feeling it in my legs. I thought I came here in good shape, but I was currently learning the hard way that by June, there’s no substitute for race days, of which I’ve had few this year.

As we entered the final hour and a half of racing, the clouds opened up. The rain was heavy and cold and I immediately began shivering. Everyone’s moral took a turn for the worse and we talked about how they might (hopefully) cancel the finishing circuits. I knew they wouldn’t. We all did.

I quickly ate the rest of my food to help stave off the cold, but within 20 minutes I was shivering uncontrollably. The rolling hills approaching the finishing circuits shed more riders and finally a couple guys crashed at the bottom of a hill. It was incredibly hard to see with the dark skies and thick wheel spray, but I kept my sunglasses on since it was impossible to see anything without them. There were still 20 miles left to race.

I was way too far back by the time we entered the technical finishing circuits, and was on the verge of giving up and letting the gaps go unclosed once I’d completed the first of four, 2-mile laps.

Each lap had 19 corners, I could hardly see from all the wheel spray, my brakes were barely functional, my legs completely and utterly zapped of strength, and my motivation for a stage placing was gone since the breakaway was going to stick. But everyone was in the same shitty situation as I. We were all cold and tired and didn’t want to crash on the slick pavement as the rain continued pissing down. I decided to harden up a bit on lap two and did everything in my power to stay in contact, including some risky chops that I later realized weren’t worth taking.


Wet corners and chilled bones. Photo: Velonews

Sprinting out of those corners the final two laps and closing down gaps to finish 55th was, at the very least, character building. I was the last rider to come across the line with the same time as the main group. Looking at my power back home after the race showed that I am indeed not as strong as I thought, and the last 30 minutes of racing weren’t even that hard. Hard being a completely subjective term.

We were all ecstatic to hear that Fabio was in the KOM jersey and took 2nd on the stage. Faith and Nick rewarded us with a round of hot chocolates before the long drive home.



Photos: Velonews

Sunday Stage 6:

At 26th on GC and not currently enjoying great form for such a demanding crit, I knew my personal race was going to take a backseat to Fabio’s and Chris’. Stillwater is 23 laps (which is also roughly the average gradient of the first part of the climb) and 70 minutes of pure anaerobic blood lust. If you want to see pain, there are few places better than standing near the top of Chilkooht hill. The crowd was big, loud, ambitiously drunk, and ready to see some grown men crack! (Not to be confused with grown mens’ cracks).

Our primary goal was to keep Fabio’s KOM jersey. All that we needed to do was make sure neither the 2nd nor 3rd placed KOM guy won all the sprints. Also, if Fabio scored just four points, he would seal it up. The easiest and quickest way to get the jersey was to have a break up the road early on that soaked up the first KOM sprint points.

Our secondary goal was to position Chris for the final lap so that he could take a shot at the win the last time up the climb. He’s been top 10 and top 5 there for five or six years now, so we knew the finish was good for him. Normally this sort of finish and race would be great for me as well, but I knew that I was lacking the form needed for this sort of effort, and even lasting to the finish with the lead group of 20 guys would be a tall task for me.

The race started with a searing effort from the base of the climb. Like all the other crits, I was near the back for the start but today wasted little time moving up into position. By the third lap I was where I needed to be, and attacked near the top of the climb. I made contact with the lone leader (Team 3M) a lap later at the base of the climb and we powered up it under a thunder of cheers and screams. At the top of the course we were bridged to by Ben Jaques-Maynes (Jamis) and one other guy. The 3M guy let a gap open to them a minute afterwards on the descent and I didn’t have the legs to close it. I cursed at him, we sat up, and the pack consumed us shortly afterwards. I was completely gassed by the effort and got shelled two laps later. I pulled out of the race after coasting for a lap and spent the rest of the hour in the parking lot sitting in a chair by myself, incredibly depressed but somewhat content to have done something of at least a little value for the team to help retain the KOM jersey.


Travis McCabe (Smart Stop) won the stage and Ryan Anderson (Optum) took the overall. Photo: Velonews.

Fabio kept the jersey and ended up 12th on GC, Chris was 5th on the stage, Mac had a great ride for 31st, surprising himself but not the rest of us, and Emerson stuck in to the bitter end. Kit, who’s eye had swelled shut the previous night from either a scratch or bacterial infection, held in as long as he could and made sure to squirt eye juice at anyone who got in his way. We also finished 4th out of 24 squads in the team classification, which doesn’t earn money or bragging rights per-say, but shows depth. This week was a huge success for the team and I’m looking forward to the next race I get to do with them.


Fabio in the Sports Beans King of the Hills Jersey on the final podium with the rest of the jersey winners.

As for my own North Star GP, I was pretty let down. Last year I was one of the strongest in the race (until I got sick and DNFed, LOL!). This year I was only “okay.” It might take me the rest of the season to get back to where I was in 2013, or I might not get back there until next year. Who knows. The stress of being a part of the fiasco that is Firefighters “pro” Cycling, the lack of racing, the lack of knowing my future, and just the constant let down and battle with the management has destroyed my legs and my season to date. There will be more news about this in the next few days.

To end things on a high note, I’m back in Boulder, it’s sunny and warm out, I’m eager to go train, and I’m sick! Oh wait, that’s not a high note! Silly Kennett!

North Star Grand Prix Stages 1-3

I’m racing with Horizon Organic/Einstein Bagels here at the North Star Grand Prix, formerly known as that race where you can make off with 1 billion Nature Valley bars. I forget what the name used to be.

Racing this weekend:
Fabio Calabria
Chris Winn
Kit Recca
Mac Cassin
Emerson Oronte

Nick Traggis
Faith Clauson

Wednesday: Stages 1 and 2. It all has to start with a damn time trial for some reason. Why? WHY??? For the love of humanity why does it always start with a time trial?!?! At least it was short and we were on road bikes. I was 42nd, which was two places worse than last year and like 32 places worse than I’d hoped for. I chalk that up to me not being fast enough. Mac had the best result for the team with 15th, and just four seconds shy of the best amateur jersey. So close yet…so close.

Tom Zirbel (Optum) won (by a lot). And no one was surprised.

The second stage of the day is the dreaded downtown St. Paul crit. It’s dreaded because there are generally quite a few crashes and it’s lined with Rastafarian spectators (get it?). Personally I didn’t have any close calls, mainly cause I rode like a wimp, took the corners like a bulldozer (wide and slow) and never factored into the race. I did a terrific job chopping 300 cars on the highway during the drive to the race when I snuck up the exit lane and cut back into the long line of stopped cars to the left (that was an accident by the way). But that was the extent of my nastiness for the evening. And crits are all about being nasty and chopping the shit out of your close friends competition.

I got a solid warm up on the trainer while watching the women’s field crash, I mean race, through corner Two. Every other lap had a pile up. It was great for my nerves.



Photo: Velonews

It took me half an hour to move up from near the back where I’d lined up and into 30th position with Chris and Fabio. I lasted there until seven or eight laps to go and drifted backwards again to finish 48th, thankfully without a time gap. None of us crashed but Kit did flat with two to go and was docked some serious time. My crit skills are lacking from lack of crit racing, and my top end is still lagging quite a bit. I’m happy with how my form has come along since coming home but I’m continuing to see that I still have a ways to go, which is frustrating. Usually I’m at my peak this time of year.

Ian Crane (Jamis) won! He’s on fire this year.


Photo: Velonews

Faith brought us Chipotle afterwards and we sat in the dark parking lot and argued about who’s burrito was who’s. I quickly ate mine and hoped that someone might not want theirs and give it to me. I was not in luck.

Thursday: Stage 3. The Cannon Falls road race goes one of two ways: it’s cancelled because of T-storms or tornadoes, or it’s not cancelled and is one of the best races of the year. This year was the latter. It was “off of the hook,” as the kids say. While a flatter rolling course doesn’t typically cause much drama, last year’s race, as well as this year’s, had some major action right from the start.

With a complete course change from last year, the dirt section began at mile 4. It was false flat downhill and thankfully there was a freshly laid, thick and loose layer of gravel. Eric Marcotte of SmartStop drilled it at the front, which caused mayhem behind. I was close enough to the front to avoid the crashes, but behind guys were dropping like it’s hot. Thick dust made it hard to see and huge chunks of gravel barraged bikes, shins, and faces. I got all drifty numerous times but kept upright just fine and dandy. I countered an attack by Emerson once we got onto the pavement and right then the officials neutralized the race, which pissed off all of us in the front and caused joyous celebration for those behind.

North Star Grand Prix Stage 3

Marcotte in the gravel. Photo: Velonews

Crashes and flats had caused a large split in the field, with only 50-60 making it through unscathed. After 10 minutes of being stopped in the middle of the road, we began again.

Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly) smartly slipped off the front a mile from the first KOM and got full points. I had my eye on the jersey so I was kicking myself for not attempting the same maneuver. I jumped across to an attack at the top and rotated through a few times before we were caught. That was the first taste of the cross winds for the day and it was obvious that the race was going to be heavily influenced by wind. I attacked again a short while later when things calmed down but I went nowhere. I followed another four or five moves in the course of the next several miles, hoping and praying to get away without too much effort. It was not to be, so I decided to wait until the next KOM to make another attempt. I didn’t have to wait long, as it was coming up in just two short miles.

My positioning going into the ‘climb’ wasn’t great and I had to come from way back out in the wind to latch onto the move as five guys attacked part way up the climb. Steve was there again and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to sprint for any points with 250 meters to go. I’d used up too much to just be there and was quickly dying. Three of the guys vied for the points while me and another guy got dropped, though we powered along and made contact a few hundred meters later.

The wind at the top was strong and blowing fiercely from the right. We worked together and our group turned into an echelon as guys behind began bridging up. Within a few minutes it swelled to 15 riders. Things behind were chaotic as the field blew up in the wind.

I fell out of the rotation and was guttered for a few minutes, wishing I’d stayed up front and somewhat protected from the wind. I decided to move up and came around Marcotte just as he crashed hard in front of me. If I’d stayed on his wheel for a quarter second longer there’s no way I wouldn’t have gone down. I got back into the rotation.

By now I’d been in and out of the red for quite some time, and the front group of 40 was getting too big to find shelter from the crosswinds unless you were up front, which I no longer was. I’d been guttered off and on and had to close gaps, so my legs were building with more and more acid. I was on my limit and all it took was a few more sprints in the gutter to dislodge me from the front. By then the group was blowing up everywhere. 20 or so guys formed the front echelon, while a few smaller groups chased. Myself, Luis Lemus (Jelly Belly) and Benny Swedberg (Cal Giant) rotated for a few minutes and were soon reinforced.

With a large number of riders coming up from behind, we eventually caught the leaders 15 minutes later. I wasted no time, taking advantage of the momentary lull, and attacked with three others, once again including Steve. It only lasted for a mile or so and I wasn’t a huge help since my legs were already trashed from chasing and my pulls were weak.

The group was back up to 70 or more riders at this point and I continued following moves off the front until the first feed zone at mile 39 ( yes all this took place in the first 39 miles). I noticed the wind was strong from the left as we went up the short but exposed climb and I had a hunch that whoever was at the front might be dickish enough to attack in the feed zone. I started to move up as we climbed and decided I didn’t need water after all, but it wasn’t in time. Sure enough, Optum attacked and the race blew apart once again with Jamis’ help (I would have done the same had I been up there I guess). The race situation was now 14 off the front including many of the GC contenders and the strongest guys, a group of 8 chasing, my group of 30, and 90 guys behind in various groups. We caught the group of 8 and continued drilling it for miles afterwards, keeping the gap to the leaders at one minute for well over an hour but never getting closer than 55 seconds.


Race blowing up in the wind. Photo: Velonews.

Fabio and Emerson were with me in that large chase group and Emerson did way more than his fair share of work. The Belgian 3M squad kept the momentum high with five of their guys all angrily pulling, as well as guttering at times. I pulled off and on, doing more work than I needed to but less than Emerson. I was on the verge of telling him to ease up and save himself but decided to keep my mouth shut since it was actually safer to be near the front and in the rotation since even our chase group would attack itself when the wind really picked up. When the gap went up to 1:35 I stopped pulling altogether, figuring that guys would begin attacking out of frustration and split the group.

It didn’t take long. I made it over the roller that spurred that attack and I went cross eyed, suffering in the gutter for the millionth time that day before a series of corners lead us to the first head wind of the stage. Everything else had been cross wind or cross tail. Peace at last! Our group was down to 25 by then and  I just sat on for the most part. The gap was over 2 minutes now and the chance of catching the leaders in the final 20 miles was slim. I’d done enough work and attacking anyways.

Fabio was my last teammate in the group and he took 3rd in our group’s sad sprint, which was for 16th place. I came in 22nd after 97 miles of balls to the wall racing. No one from our team crashed and everyone made the time cut. It was a very hard day. That’s all I have to say about that.

Ryan Anderson won and took the leader’s jersey. He was my pre-race pick for the overall so I’m feeling pretty smart about that prediction.

We ate burritos during the car ride home. I have to say that Faith’s cooking and Nick’s and our team’s general stage race preparedness is pretty fantastic. Tonight we have another crit. Tomorrow a road race. And Sunday a circuit race.