This aggression will not stand, man.
Sagan gave us the first bike throw of the 2014 season yesterday. It’s extra cringe-inducing because that’s his title sponsor he’s hucking into the barricades.
Sagan Throws a Bike
Look closely and tell me that isn’t genius. #bikehack by arsbars on Flickr.
Seat raised twice!
Snow Bike GIF
Nearly 80K views on our pump-hopping video! Thee peoples they want to pump hop.
USA National Championships Report – Ending the season with a sigh
The 2013/4 cyclocross season is over for me. On the whole it was a great year for me and I am really happy with how things went for the most part. I was able to bring my fitness up to a new level, I had some great results nationally and a really fantastic weekend at state championships and the Midwest Regional Championship race and have another solid year of racing and training in the bank to build on for next year. I had hoped to cap things off with a great race at the National Championships but things did not work out that way.
In past years I would have been writing that conditions were a challenge for me, as they have historically been at nationals. Snow had fallen in Boulder earlier in the week and while it was in the process of going away (evaporating more than melting) the temperatures kept the ground really hard in the morning of my race. With the races that had already taken place in the week the course was pretty rutted out and it made the riding really rough. This would have knocked me off my game in past years but it was not bothering me at all during my warm up laps. The only thing that I was a bit nervous about was the fast off camber descents and I knew that I was going to have a maximum speed on those downhill sections that was probably going to be slower than some of the other riders. I looked for other sections of the course where I could make up any time lost on the descents.
The start was going to be critical for success in the race. Talking things over with my coach it was clear that if I was going to be able to stay with the leaders I was going to need to have a really good start and not lose any time or distance before we hit any technical sections of the course. My point status allowed me to be called up to the line in 7th position which was in the front row. As long as I didn’t make any mistakes I should be able to get myself into good position right away.
I had been worrying about this race for a couple of weeks but on the starting line I felt calm and confident and ready to get underway. When the starting whistle blew I was instantly in my pedals and moving forward. The initial surge moved me ahead of the riders I was right next to on the line, a second surge brought me forward to those riders already moving off the front of the group and a third surge moved me into the top three riders as we made the first sweeping turn and climbed the hill for the first time. I was in great place and right where I needed to be as we crested the hill and started towards the technical descents.
The confidence and obvious experience of some of these guys in descending never ceases to amaze me and not only were the two guys in front of me able to start to pull away on the downhill but I was passed by three or four my guys that were able to be much more aggressive in this section. Never-the-less, once we were down the hill and moving towards the pit on the first lap I had only moved back to 8th place and would only improve my position in the race from this point on. Until my race ended that is.
The race settled in during the second lap with the leaders continuing to squeeze out and advantage on the downhill sections while I was focusing on the sections where I could ride as hard as possible to try and bring riders back. By the end of the third lap I had moved into 6th place with the 5th place rider slightly down the course in front of my and 4th place not too much farther from him. I was feeling better each lap and was fully committed to make as hard an effort as I could for the next two laps.
With 1.5 laps to go I was riding the transition between the hill section and the flatter section of the course when everything went wrong. I had ridden this part of the course without any problems in the race three times already but on the fourth time my tire must have hit some ice and the front of the bike just washed out from underneath me. I went from race speed to zero almost instantly and I can say that it was one of the biggest hits I have taken while riding either road or off-road. I hit my head multiple times, both hands were damaged and my left knee and hip were beat up. It took me a moment to shake off what had just happened but the knee pain arrived almost instantly. I quickly got up with every intention to get going again but found that I could barely stand on my left leg. Still, I got my bike up, put that chain back on the ring and remounted but within a few pedal stroked I knew my day was done. I was quickly to the pit and the guys had my spare bike ready to go but my day was done.
Crashing while in 6th place, quitting the race, standing there in the pit in a fair amount of pain and thinking about all the money, time and energy that I had invested to get to this point was pretty overwhelming and I am not ashamed to admit that I spent a few minutes pretty emotional about it. Honestly I would question anyone’s real commitment to their sport if they can just shrug off a situation like that. It was extremely frustrating and in no way how I wanted to end my season.
Once back to the tent my frustration and anger only grew as I listened to the announcers call the race, listing racers that I knew I was ahead of on the course only minutes earlier and feeling the pain increase around my body. My knee was throbbing, my left palm getting sore and a knuckle on my right hand already starting to swell up. I got on the trainer and spun for a half an hour in the hopes that it would help get blood moving in my knee and start the recovery process.
I spend the next couple of hours down about it and I am still feeling the effects of the crash now. But looking back I am not sure what I could have done to avoid that crash. I was driving the bike fine around the rest of the course and I understand there were other riders that had problems in the same section that I did. In the end, it’s really just bike racing and if you are going for it and pushing the limits then it really is inevitable that sometimes you are going to end up hitting the deck. I would rather have to put up with getting beat to hell at the end of the season rather than now be dealing with these injuries with the entire racing season ahead of me.
There is one thing that I would change if I could and that is to get more test laps in on the course before the race. I don’t think it would have made any difference to avoid the crash but it would have given me more confidence on those technical descents. I was worried about the effects of altitude so I flew in the night before my race and did not have enough time for more than two test laps before the start. More test laps would have been better.
So the season ends with me looking back at what I might have changed and what the outcome may have been if things worked out differently. I certainly wasn’t the only one who left Boulder today feeling let down but as Jonathan Page said numerous times today, that’s bike racing.
Take it or leave it.
Thanks to Larry, Sophie and Lev at The Fix Studio for the incredible support this season. The success that I had would not have been possible without it. Thanks to my friends and my family for all their support this week and this season, it means everything. And thanks to my beautiful wife and her infinite patience in letting me spend so much time tilting at these windmills.
Corey Coogan Cisek racing in Belgium last week.
Photo credit: Prenen
Reason number 1 why I never try to bunny hop the barriers, not enough #svenness
An assistant carries your bike around the course while you sip free beer handed up to you, now THAT’S party racing!
For another set of wings, and this set is black, see this post…
Angels of Ice Weasels
Photo: Geoff Martin on G+.