20 December 2011


15 February 2011

Winter Delights

Every winter, as the skiers are headed up to the mountains to get their fix of that all-so-holy white stuff and the people of the Denver Metro area shut down their schools and workplaces for a dusting of snow, I slump into a claustrophobic depression that I can only describe as snow-induced delirium.  I grew up in this white shit.  I love to ski.  I appreciate the beauty of snow, in all its white wonder.  However, I really can't stand is the daily numbing of toes and fingers and the painful showers that follow.  Pursuing a professional cycling career against the obstacle of snow is something we all go through, just in some places more than others.  

Some of the best training days of the year happen in the winter time, however.  Sometimes when the sun is just right and you leave sometime before 10 am (so that you can avoid the early sunset in the narrow valleys around Boulder), riding in the snow can be the most rewarding training of the year.  

There's really no pressure to base training, besides the pressure to ride as long and far as possible.  I do most of my riding alone, with some great musicians plugged into my ear for the road, and that good ol' XTR hub whirr and bottom bracket creak to keep me motivated off-road.  

Whereas most of my base in the past around Boulder was confined to the roads North to Ft. Collins and elsewhere, I no longer have a road bike--only mountain and cyclocross--most of my rides have been shorter distance and more vertical around the foothills West of Boulder.  

Several of my favorite loops cut through burn-country from the devastating 4-mile fire from last fall.  The beauty of regeneration, despite its drawbacks for the outskirted civilized people of Boulder and surrounding communities, never ceases to amaze.  

Despite Boulder's lack of singletrack trails, there is an incredible network of old mining and fire roads through the foothills that link up in a myriad of ways, including the famous rail-road grade known as the Switzerland Trail, which can be seen above winding through the bottom of the photo up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (standing point).

After several months, the smell of the fire is still fairly strong when you ride through the burn area, seen here from a vantage point on top of Sugarloaf.  

There has been a lot of controversy in Boulder lately over the rights cyclists (especially mountain bikers) have on the various trail networks surrounding the very hiker-friendly community.  I agree in many ways that cyclists are often some of the most obnoxious and uneducated trail-users out there, but to anyone who still stands by the conception that cycling is more destructive than hiking doesn't have very far to look to realize that this is blatantly false.  And to anyone who thinks the bike provides a disconnect between the athlete and nature, I have hiked and camped extensively, and I can attest fully to this statement's falsehood.  Just because the bike is a vehicle of more rapid transportation does not diminish my engagement with my surroundings--especially in a place like Boulder, where it is nearly impossible to remove oneself from the reaching fingers of civilization, the bike is merely a means to an end.  That end, be it the pure source waters of some mine-polluted and city-sapped river downstream or the top of some remote fire-road that ends in scree, is my justification for riding bikes, in general.  

As for engaging in such an unprofessional activity professionally, I really have no justification other than: I can, or at least I think I can.

10 January 2011

Nedward Bound

Recently resolved myself to discovering the infamous mountain bike route from Boulder to Nederland--unfortunately, it's winter, and my persistence only lasts as long as my hands and feet are somewhat warm... so, I took the warmest day in January and did with it what I could--the following is what ensued.

Hobbled my way up Flagstaff after over a month off the bike, feeling confident and happy to be back on two wheels in the sunshine.

It was a beautiful day--mid 40's with minimal wind out of the North-west.  Climbing required little more than knee-warmers and a vest.

After about an hour of riding, I had made it to Gross Reservoir--from here, I made the improper assumption that the rest of the route would be moderately easy--some climbing, but nothing too fancy, since my current elevation was above that of Nederland... I was wrong.

CR 63 from Lakeshore Neighborhood to Magnolia Road is overridden with "No Trespassing" signs--a recent development since my map was drawn in 2007... I decided to take the risk, however, and stick to the low-lying brush for cover from any rabid redneck dogs and their owners with shotguns. Needless to say, I made it through untouched, landing myself on some forgotten spur off Magnolia, not knowing how far I had to the road proper.

At this time, I could see the imminent storm peeking it's nasty head over the continental divide.  I was reaching what I supposed would be my time-wise halfway point, and so I didn't think much of the coming weather, since it would undoubtedly be stuck west-side of the divide for quite some time until it lightened up enough to dissipate or slide over and down into the Front Range.

In the Twin Sisters Peak area, I ran into some very interesting geologic formations from the Pleistocene Ice Age, including these very nice roche moutonnĂ©e.  

Time and time again, I get stuck out on these long rides with nothing but Welch's Fruit Snacks to keep me going... and trust me, they keep me going.

Reaching Magnolia Rd, I took the left-route, hoping to come across the singletrack system that would take me into Ned--upon reaching the trailhead, I discovered that the snow was starting to become more prevalent...

I was undeterred, however, and continued to snake my way through the many trails and jeep-roads that lead into Nederland along the South Side of Boulder Canyon.  I was ignorant (purposefully, perhaps) to the fact that the trail was becoming snowier and snowier, as it was shaded more and more on the North-facing slope, and to the fact that it was nearly four and I was quickly running out of daylight.

The Single-track allure kept me thinking that ignorance was bliss.

The route along the Blue-dot trail was a success--it landed me right in my half-way destination, Nederland, and though it was unrideable in a lot of areas due to snow, I was happy to finally find a plausible route between Boulder and Ned.  

The aforementioned storm dropped about 10 inches on the Front Range, and so it looks like freezing my ass off down the 17-mile Boulder Canyon was definitely worth it, since I won't be riding singletrack again until mid-May it looks like.  The temperature difference is evident--that Gross reservoir was still flowing and blowing, and Barker Res in Nederland is frozen stiff... welcome to the high country, I guess.

Ride On, 
the ponderous k

05 January 2011

Welcome to 2011

Here we go--it's 2011!  And you know what that means... the cycle starts all over.  New Year resolutions are really no different than 2010: ride bikes, have fun, win races (in that order).  Unfortunately, though the ideas remain the same, a lot of things have to be recycled before the 2011 season can officially begin. 

First, it's time to get those wheels rollin' again.  After a much-needed stay-cation in beautiful, snowy Summit County, I'm ready to commence my 4th semester at CU Boulder and begin riding in the sunshine again.  It was nice to experience the real world for a while--working in my local ski shop over break, as I've done the past three years--and to brave the -35 (with windchill) degree temps of home for a couple weeks.  

Everything is starting to take shape for the new season.. sponsors are lined up, schedules are being written in calendars, and world traveling is being organized.  

Speaking of schedules... here is the much anticipated (yet still tentative) race schedule for 2011:

March 12: US Cup Triple Crown Bonelli Park – San Dimas, Calif.

March 26: US Cup Triple Crown Fontana City National – Fontana, Calif.

April 8: MSC #1 - Colorado Springs, Colo.

April 16: Sea Otter Classic – Monterey, Calif.

April 29: MSC #2 - Fruita, Colo.
orApril 30: Mellow Johnny’s Classic – Dripping Springs, Texas

May 20: MSC #3 - Salida, Colo.

June 3: MSC #4 - Angelfire, NM

June 18: Sand Creek Intl. – Colorado Springs, Colo.

June 25: Subaru Cup – Mt. Morris, Wisc.

July 4: Firecracker 50 - Breckenridge, Colo.

July 14: USAC National XC Championships - Sun Valley, Idaho

July 22: MSC # 6 - Keystone, CO
July 24: Missoula, Montana XC – Missoula, Mt.

August 5: MSC #7 - Snowmass, Colo.

September 2: MSC #8 - Sol Vista, Colo.

FALL 2011:: COMPLETE USAC Collegiate XC Mountain Bike Series

Those are, at least, the planned national level races I will be attempting to attend this summer.  Of course, there are more: The Summit Mountain Challenge, Front Range Series, Steamboat Town Challenge Series, and Winter Park Series will all have their race days, most of which I will attend.  Furthermore, many of these races may be forgotten due to the International Race Circuit, of which my attendance depends on Marc Gullickson's approval from USA Cycling.  These events include, but are not limited to:  the 2011 UCI World Cup Series, the 2011 XC U23 World Championships, the UCI Pan-American Championships, the Swiss Racer Bikes Cup Series, and the German Bundisliga National Series.  If I am selected to represent the U23 National team as I have been in past years, you, my fellow bloggers and esteemed sponsors, will surely be the first to know.  

I realize I've mentioned this in about every blog update over the past 3 months, but it's the off-season, and these are the details that keep me motivated... SPONSORS!  New ones, old ones!  Projects with companies, product testing, prototypes, new gear, schwag... this is the kind of stuff that keeps me excited about cycling when it's -35 degrees Fahrenheit and blizzarding and I'm stuck inside instructing a group of 26 tourists from Tennessee how a ski boot fits.  The 2011 line-up is more finalized than the last time we talked, so here it is... Your Monthly Sponsor Plug~~~~~~~~~{

Rocky Mountain Bicycles

Kids excitement about bicycles on Christmas compares very little to my excitement about riding the new Rocky Mountain Element RSL this year.  Just waiting for this baby to arrive!  The new element is, simply put, the best bike Rocky Mountain has ever designed and manufactured.  Get ready for a rock-and-roll season on the Team Element RSL!

Maxxis Tires

The 2011 lineup from Maxxis stays true to Maxxis's tradition of originality and functionality while maintaining a XC race platform that is light and durable--check out the new IKON (pictured), a combination of durability/traction and lightness/low rolling resistance.  My favorite tires: the classic CrossMark, the resilient Larsen TT, and the 2010 new Aspen.  I'm sure the IKON will join that list.

Mountain Racing Products

MRP makes some of the most specialized and lightest chain guides in the business, including this recently released 1x cross country chain guide that I will be riding this year on all my bikes.  1x10 is the way to go, people.  There are only two speeds on a 1x spec: fast and bonk.

You might think that MRP only manufactures chain guides, but think again!  MRP owns several different companies, including Kreitler Rollers (the best rollers in the business) and a new fork company that has very exciting prospects, White Brothers (pictured).  

One Industries //  SixSixOne

These guys are one of my favorite sponsor groups--mostly because I have a glove fetish.  SixSixOne and One Industries both specialize in MotoX components and gear, but both have branched out to mountain biking, and they create some of the best gloves in the business.  The new One Drako (pictured) is one that I'm very excited about!  MotoX durability mixed with XC breathability and lightness.

Extreme Endurance
There's not much to say about this excellent product--it's incredibly effective.  STOP THE BURN!  Extreme Endurance is my new favorite XC weapon, and it's USADA safe, so no worries when the officials show up at your door at 6 am.


If you haven't heard... Mavic makes some pretty yellow shoes.
Podium Sports

My local connection, along with Summit Velocity--the two companies that keep me riding strong when I'm at home in the mountains.  Podium offers a selection of the top winter and summer equipment for all your sporting needs--located underneath the Backcountry Brewery on the corner of Frisco Main Street and Highway 9.


As sentimental as this is getting, I was recently going through lots of pictures on my computer, and thought I'd post a big ol' egotistical flashback into how far we've come since my first mountain bike race in 2001. And so commences the photo-memorandum-flashback-slideshow:

First season racing the Summit Mountain Challenge--2001

A handful of professional racers, including Garmin Slipstream rider Taylor Sheldon, former U23 National Team Rider Kevin Soller and myself owe all our success as cyclists to the Mountain Bike Little (now Junior) League of Summit County Colorado--the brain child of local legends Jeff Westcott and Mike McCormack.

First Firecracker 50 with my dad at age 12.

First mountain states cup race in Moab, Utah at age 13.

The Summit Jr. Cycling years -- local junior racers train and race together, here pictured at a Spring Training camp in Moab.

Things started to take off when my sister and I were selected to go to the Olympic Training Center with the 2005 Junior National ID Camp with USACycling.

From there, USA Cycling became a more and more important force in my development as an up-and-coming Junior and U23 racer, and in 2009, I attended my first U23 Camp in Germany.

Before that, however, I spent 5 months in Switzerland with the Swiss National Coach, Beat Stirnemann, and his family, the 2010 European U23 Vice-Champion Kathrin Stirnemann and Swiss U23 phenom Matthias Stirnemann.  While there, I got to race in my first two World Cup events in Offenburg, Germany and Houffalize, Belgium.

Spring Training in Switzerland can be similar to training in Colorado.

Around this time, I was transitioning between the Sobe/Cannondale Professional Team and the Cannondale Factory Team.

In Europe, I represented the U23 National Team and the Cannondale Factory Team, but had a hard time developing a niche in the ultra-competitive European Professional XC scene.

Upon returning state-side, however, I realized that I was racing faster than ever.

At the end of 2009, I moved to Boulder to begin studying at the University of Colorado, whose cycling team got second at the Collegiate National Championships in California.

Collegiate Racing was more fun... than regular racing... for... many....... reasons.

2010 held a lot of changes... most significantly, the Cannondale Factory Racing Team of previous years all but disintegrated (to be later re-structured with new racers) in the early months of 2010, leaving me and my fellow racers at a loss for sponsorship.  After a fervent Spring spent searching for new sponsorship, several companies and individuals pulled through for 2010, and I was set with an incredibly lucky program considering the short notice.

In 2011, we're not pressed for time, and there is no short notice--of that I've made sure.  I'm happy to be working with some of the best companies in the industry, and riding for a team that has been known for producing some of the best racers in North America and in the world.

Happy 2011 Everyone!

Ride On,
Kanger Danger

11 November 2010

Great Shot!

Great shot from Linard Cimermann this weekend.  Ended up top 15 out of 45 starters.  Not bad for being sick, injured, and bogged down with midterms.