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How do I do the Cyclocross: Early-Mid August Edition

On August 14, 2014 by Christian

No. 3 of several in a series hyping up the 2014-2015 FLCX Cyclocross series

Ok, we’ve already discussed getting a bike for a reasonable price, and then we talked about some best practices for CX race promoters. Let’s talk about getting into shape, and what exactly kind of shape you need to get into to race CX.

First of all, if you are the type of person who wants/needs/desires structure and planning in your workouts, there are some great coaches in FLCX. Off the top of my head, I can think of, in no particular order, Josh Thornton, Ben Smith, Zach Fout, Vitor Alexandre, Eric Stubbs, Drew Edsal Jeb Stewart, Zoltan Tisza, and Vincent Cook. If I’m forgetting anyone else, it’s purely unintentional and if you contact me I’ll be happy to add you to the list. There are a lot of current and previous state champions in this list. These guys will make you faster than you currently are, as long as you take their advice to heart and eat right. They can teach you how to eat, train, sleep, and ride like a champion bike racer, and help you with technique and even make sure your bike fits you properly. It’s a relatively small investment to gain a vast amount of knowledge, and if you take your cycling seriously, it makes sense to hire one of these guys.

For the rest of us, who are perfectly happy to finish in the latter half of the standings after we take multiple marshmallow and Fat Tire Amber Ale handups, here’s what you really need to do to get ready for CX season.

First of all, you need to build some base fitness. This requires little more than time and the determination to follow a general plan. It helps if you have at least a small amount of current fitness, like the ability to hang on to a group ride for 30 or 40 miles, but this isn’t an absolute requirement.

To build a base for CX, you should probably start today, if you haven’t started already. If you wait another week, it will probably be too late, and you’ll end up with a palmares like that of Tim Hayes circa 2013. (Yes, I KNOW you beat me the one time we raced head to head last year, TIM.) So, to build base fitness, you need a road bike, or road tires for your CX bike, and you need to ride for 2-4 hours at a time at least twice a week.

Currently, I have Thursday and Sundays off, so my weeks look like:

Monday: 1.5-2 hrs (25-30 miles) recovery ride, easy but steady pace.
Tuesday 1-1.5 hrs (15-20 miles) informal efforts ride- moderate pace with accelerations or CX Skills Practice.
Wednesday: Rest day or easy spin
Thursday: 3-4 hours (50-70 miles) steady pace at the edge of discomfort- look for 19-21 mph on your computer as much as possible
Friday: Rest day or easy spin
Saturday : Easy spin or group ride, 1-2 hours, (15-30 miles), or CX Skills Practice
Sunday: 3-4 hours (50-70 miles) steady pace at the edge of discomfort- look for 19-21 mph on your computer as much as possible.

This is just me, customize it to fit your schedule, and obviously with all the rain we’ve been having it won’t always work out. If you have to miss a day, that’s ok. If you’re tired, skip a day, or cut back the time/distance. You’re an adult, presumably, so listen to your body. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is probably more important than hitting a mileage goal, make sure you’re getting as much as you can. Recovery rides are equally important. Beat yourself up when you feel good. Give yourself a break when you’re exhausted. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Often, your brain (my brain) will feel like drinking beer and playing video games, and try to fool your body into feeling tired. You (I) should try to tell your (my) body that it can play all the video games it wants after the CX season ends.

I will follow this schedule through the end of August. Once we hit September, I’ll start to dial back the long days, and start to do a little more intensity, maybe even some intervals. Ugggh, intervals. They hurt, but they do so much good. But you need a fitness base before you can take advantage of the physiological benefits of intervals, so you have to put in the saddle time first.

So my weeks in September will look more like:

Monday: 1.5-2 hrs (25-30 miles) recovery ride, easy but steady pace, on pavement.
Tuesday: 1-1.5 hrs (10-15 miles) CX Skills Practice with shorter intense intervals, preferably on a CX bike on grass or dirt.
Wednesday: Rest day or easy spin on pavement.
Thursday: 2-2.5 hours (30-40 miles) fast-ish road ride. A group ride is fine, if you get out in the wind. Sitting in at 18mph does very little for your fitness.
Friday: Rest day or easy spin on pavement.
Saturday: 1-1.5 hours fast group ride, at the front, in the wind.
Sunday: CX Practice Race/ simulation. Find some local guys, and go out and beat on each other for 45 minutes, or two 20 minute sessions, or whatever you all agree on. Warm up properly before hand, and make sure to practice barriers and running steps both before and during the practice race.

CX intervals come in a wide variety. They range from the “sprint out of the saddle out of every corner interval” to the full on 20 minute “Oh my god I want to die because there’s 18 minutes to go interval”. One I’ve always “enjoyed” was finding a 1-2 mile circuit with regularly spaced street lights, and sprinting from one streetlight to the next, then resting til the next, then sprinting again, basically until you want to throw up. Hopefully, this will be after more than 3 sprints. Shoot for a whole lap of this misery, then take a lap off to recover. Then, if you feel like it, do another lap of intervals, or just call it a night. Longer intervals are necessarily less intense, but they hurt more because they last longer. You should rest longer after long intervals than you should after short ones. There’s a whole internet out there with opinions and advice on intervals, so if you want more detail, let me google that for you. Remember, CX is what you make it, and the harder you train now, the more you can slack off once the season starts and you can rely on races to keep you fit.

Some of you are saying, “Christian, surely you can’t be as slow as you have historically been if you are actually doing all of these workouts, and to those of you who are saying this, I can only say that you are very mean-spirited and unkind, and probably correct. But while I feel I corner and handle most of the technical sections as well as most people, I really struggle at the whole pedalling really hard parts of CX, and that’s where I watch people ride away from me.

Also, you should probably keep an eye on what you eat, cutting out a lot of the fat and junk sugar, and adding as many fruits and vegetables as you can stomach, but hey, you’re riding your bike a lot, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Remember, as long as you can zip up your skinsuit and/or jersey past your belly, then it still fits you fine.

Follow these most of these steps between now and the first races at the end of September, and I promise that you’ll be at least as mediocre as Tim and Rich Dybdahl and I.

The next volume in this series will contain advice on what a proper CX skills workout should consist of. Look for it this weekend!

How Do I Promote the Florida Cyclocross Event?

On August 5, 2014 by Christian

For the 2014/2015 Florida Cyclocross (FLCX) Season, there is no longer an actual FLCX points series. There is the Florida Bike Racing Association (FBRA) FRS-CX points series, which will award points to racers at each CX race in the state. So anyone who wants to promote a USA Cycling Cyclocross race in the state is now part of the points series. As far as I’m aware, the final race of the season will be State Championships in Tampa around the second weekend in December, at which time I presume all FBRA Season Series prizes will be awarded.

We’d like to provide some simple guidelines for all promoters to use to make their events as successful as they can be, as well as to provide a certain level of quality for each event, to ensure a consistent level of excellence during the race day experience, to continue to move the sport forward, to increase participation, to make sure each event is first and foremost, fun, but also safe, profitable, and not a giant ball of suck for the promoter and his staff. You can use as much of our recommendations as you wish, or you can completely ignore us and do it the way you want to do it, there’s no one way to promote a CX race. We’re not setting out a mandate or demanding that you follow anything we say, specifically. These are simply the steps we learned through trial and error, to be the best, the easiest, the most profitable.

Do’s and Don’ts:

Do

beg, borrow, or steal a laptop. Download Cross Mgr. Practice using it, then find 2 or 3 volunteers to run it during your race. It is the same FREEEEEEEE timing software that Jason Guillen used in past seasons. It makes your entire race day experience go exponentially smoother than relying on a USA Cycling official to do the results by hand. We had USA Cycling officials doing results by hand at Tampa and at the State Championships in 2013, and results at both of these events were a complete mess, in the sense that it took the official 30-45 minutes between each race to tabulate the results by hand, before they could be announced after an event with 15 or 20 racers. I’m not saying this to insult anyone. I don’t think anyone could or would dispute this assessment. Don’t make your race a mess. Use the software, or pay a timing company to run timing at your event. Don’t trust the USA Cycling officials to do it themselves. They aren’t equipped for it, they’re there to make sure your event is run safely and disputes are handled fairly and no one is giving beer to juniors.

(Jason Guillen wants out of the timing business for next season, so he can actually focus on his own racing. You can ask him for advice, but as far as I know he won’t be running timing at many or even any events.)

Do

make the schedule of your race pretty close to the schedule of everyone else’s race, because you’re gonna get a better turnout if you do. We have several years of data that suggests that the best schedule is something pretty close to this:

Wave 1: Masters 35/45/55 – 45 minutes
Wave 2: Pro 1/2/3 Men – 60 minutes
Wave 3: Pro 1/2/3 Women/ Mens 3/4 – 45 Minutes
Wave 4: Men 4/5 – Women 4 – Juniors – 30 minutes
Wave 5: Kids race – 10 minutes (or so)
Wave 6: SS Open – 30 Minutes

Put 15 or so minutes between waves. Each wave technically ends when the last finisher crosses the line.

You can always do whatever schedule your little heart desires as promoter, but you should at least keep the wave structures intact, for FBRA points series purposes. As we get more and more racers in FLCX, we will have to add waves so we don’t have 200 people on the course at the same time, but we’re still several years away from this problem, so we won’t concern ourselves with it at the moment. A six wave schedule like the one above will take about 5 hours from start to finish, meaning if you start your first race at 10:00am, you’re last race is done by 3pm, so you can be heading home before 6pm, which is pretty good for a promoter.

Do

use pre-registration. Either use the USA Cycling system, or BikeReg, or FirstPlaceRacing, but definitely one of the three, and definitely not Active.com, because no one has time for all of the emails Active.com sends you. But use pre-reg, and encourage it’s use by charging a $5 day of registration fee. What should you charge for your race? $25-30 for a first race, and $10 for each additional race each day is pretty reasonable. If your venue is truly spectacular, or you really want to do an event t-shirt, then you can charge a little more, but if it’s more you better be certain that the event will be worth it.

Do

understand the economics involved. Last year, FLCX averaged roughly 60 racers on Saturdays, and 110 racers on Sundays for races in central Florida. 60 x $30 = 1800, 110 x $30 = $3300. $5100 is a lot of money, but almost $1000 of that is going back to USA Cycling, and another $500 to $1000 or so to rent the park and pay the permits. You should probably pay at least $249 to both the Pro men and the Pro women each day (The USA Cycling fees go up if your prizes are over $500). You might need porta potties, that’s $2-300. Prizes/Trophies are another consideration. You’ll need to make some barriers, and acquire some stakes, maybe dump a couple of truckloads of playground sand. Stakes are expensive, try to borrow or at least rent them- Jordan at Velo Champ has a bunch of wooden stakes, Dan Milstead at Little Everglades has even more plastic stakes, and I believe John Hovius at AAA Tri Camp has a bunch of them too. If you have to buy them, well, that’s going to cost a lot. You’ll need a generator and a PA system and a couple of ten x ten ez-up tents for registration and scoring to stand under. You’ll need a PA system for your announcer to talk on. Luckily, if you hire me to announce, I work for entry fees, so that at least won’t cost you much. You need a few tables and some chairs, pens and safety pins and race numbers and prizes for the kids race and water jugs and coffee and breakfast for your volunteers and it just never ends.

Notice, I still haven’t mentioned t shirts, pint glasses, or other promotional tchotchkes. Because they cost even more money, and unless you have a buddy that owns a tchotchkes company, you’re gonna have to pay for them, too. And that $5100 is getting pretty close to being spent.

Bottom line, you’re not going to get rich doing this. If you want to get rich, promote a color run.

Don’t

offer pay-outs to any fields other than P123 and W123, unless you have a bunch of sponsorship dollars burning a hole in your pocket. Otherwise, you won’t really draw too many extra riders, and you will lose money.

Get unique trophies/plaques/medals made. I still have trophies from industrial park criteriums I won back in the 90′s. I don’t have a dime of any of the prize money I won. People are buying memories out there, give them something to remember. Paying Master’s racers is almost as foolish as dropping $1500 on Tshirts for a first year event. Masters will show up either way, as long as they know they aren’t going to break a hip.

Do

Go out and get sponsors. Got a local brewery or brew-pub or bar? Yes, you probably do. Ask them for a few cases for the winners, or a keg for the after party. Food truck/Restaurants/bars near your venue? Don’t be scared to ask them for bar tabs or gift certificates. Then hit up local bike shops. All of them, even one’s you don’t normally shop at. At the one’s you do shop at, ask them if they can hit up any of their suppliers. Garneau, Cannondale, Specialized, SRAM, and Specialized have all contributed at the least course tape in the past, and will most likely do so in the future. Sponsorship takes effort, but it can literally pay for your race, making all the entry fees profit. Think about it. Be creative. Be professional, come up with a package you can email to people describing what you want their money and or product for. The package needs only a cover letter describing the race, the demographics of most cyclists (upscale, eat a lot, like beer), and the numbers you think you’ll attract (approx 100-150 racers, and an equal number of spectators, more if it’s a central location). Mention the comradery of CX, the fun, the disposable income in the parking lot of your event, the spectator friendliness of being able to walk right up to the tape and hand a racer a twizzler or a strip of bacon.

Do

follow these basic guidelines in choosing a location for your event.

1. Pay as little for it as you can get away with. Free is best. Cheap is almost as good. Parks in cities like Orlando, Tampa or Miami are expensive, unless you know someone. It’s good to know someone. Parks in towns like Winter Garden, Alachua, or Ocala are cheaper. Private land can be expensive or cheap. Remember, you’re going to have to send a big chunk of money back to USA Cycling. Spending much more than $500 or $600 on your venue and the associated permits to go with it will make your profits slim.

2. Your course needs to be 8-10 feet wide and roughly a mile and a half in length. There can be a couple of choke points, where the course narrows to one rider’s width, but they better be far from the start, and there better not be too many of them. This doesn’t mean that a section that narrows because one foot of it is solid ground and the other 9 feet are mud isn’t kosher, but you can’t make that your entire course, unless there is a weird weather rain for-three-days-beforehand-thing, but we rarely have those during the FLCX calender. The ideal lap time for the Men 4/5 wave is about eight to nine minutes. They are the slowest wave, and since they only race for 30 minutes, it’s nice to get them 3 to 4 laps. You don’t want your pro men doing 5 minute laps, however, because 12 laps (60 minute race) is a lot, so you have to find a balance. Watch videos of other CX races around the country to give you some ideas.

3. Use any elevation change you can find. Ditches, mole hills, sand dunes, stair cases, handicap ramps, and cliffs. Anything that goes up or down. Off-camber sections are excellent. Sand Volleyball courts are almost a must, if available- I can think of three or four courses last year that had vollyball courts we used off the top of my head.) There is a line between challenging and stupid, and by and large we’ve stayed on the challenging side of the line on our courses. Remember, we have 10 year old kids and 60 year old grandparents out there racing, and while we want to challenge the 33 year olds, we don’t want to kill anybody, or include course features that will damage equipment.

4. Don’t be scared to make people run. They will hate you for it on race day, but they’ll love you for it when they’re telling their friends about the race later. The run-up at Josh’s Dade City course was as perfect as it gets, as was the first run-up off the beach at Key Biscayne a couple of years ago, and the sand steps section at State’s right before the line was pretty perfect too. Force people to dismount at least once per race, and preferably more than that. Two or three times a lap really isn’t out of hand, especially on an otherwise non-technical course. CX isn’t supposed to be easy. The only races in Belgium that don’t force the PRO’s to dismount for barriers are so friggin’ technical that there are running sections anyway.

5. Get the fastest racer you know, and the slowest racer you know, and have them consult and advise you on your course design. Listen to both of them.

Don’t

put a damn pinwheel of death on your course. It’s so lazy, and so 2011.

Do

recruit as many people as you can to help you promote your event. Find a local graphics student to make your flyer and facebook page. Find a couple local go-getters to find local sponsors for you. This includes race day volunteers. You should have a couple people patrolling the course all day repairing course tape and broken stakes, a couple people doing registration, and at least a couple people scoring your event, as well. This is in addition to USAC officials.

Do

make your pits as close as you can to the start/finish area, and also make the pits with at least two entrances. This means your course has to be shaped something like an 8, with the start finish and pits near the intersection of the two circles. The pits have a lot of interest for spectators, but so does start/finish. Keep them within a few minutes walk of each other. Use Jordan at Velo Champ for neutral support, he works for beer and maybe dinner. Good dood.

Do

remember that CX is a spectator sport, too. Make as much of your course visible from start-finish as possible. The Ocala Race, Josh Thornton’s race in Dade City, and Dan’s State’s course, and Dybdhal’s brilliant Mt. Dora course were all fantastic examples of a spectator friendly course. Make sure your spectators are behaving themselves, as much as you can. As race promoter, you’re something of a den-mother to everyone out there, so you can growl at some naughty cub scouts if they get out of line.

Do

follow the Zach Fout promotional method and promote the shit out of your event. Take a flyer to every bike shop in town that will post it. Repost the event info 6 times a day. Rent out the side of a bus or two. I’m not busting balls here, Zach promotes his events as hard as you possibly can, and his high registration numbers are a reflection of that.

Do

Ask other promoters and racers and all of us at flcx.org for help if you need it. We all want to see the sport get bigger. We all want all the races to be awesome. We’re here for your assistance.

These are the basic ideas that we’ve found to be effective. There are certainly a lot more ideas out there, I’m sure people will contribute them on the facebook thread I will add when I publish this, and I can steal the best ones to add to this page. This is a living document, I want it to be of use to every promoter of a race in Florida.

I am not an FBRA or USACycling officer or official, these are not rules, they are guidelines. In case anyone feels that I am demanding you promote a race they way we’re prescribing, let me be the first to assure you that anything I say is completely unofficial. All that said, it is researched and considered. Use it or ignore it as you choose.

OMGWTFBBQOMFUG CYCLOCROSS

On July 23, 2014 by Christian

No. 1 of several in a series hyping up the 2014-2015 FLCX Cyclocross series

Yes, it’s almost August, and that means that there’s less than 30 days until the first date on the Florida Cyclocross Calender at Little Everglades in Dade City. Dan Milstead, promoter, is bound and determined that the entire United States is going to learn about Dade City hospitality, and has managed to get a race in Florida onto the US National Cyclocross Calender. This is exciting, and this is big news!

Hopefully, by now, you have figured out what you’re riding next season, but if not, I have some thoughts on the subject. Particularly if this is your first Cyclocross bike. If you are under the age of 30 and don’t have a job that allows you significant amounts of discretionary income, you are not out of luck- there are still deals to be found out there on the used market for a fancy bike for a flimsy price. We are dangerously close to the danger zone of it being too late to get a bike by the start of the CX season, but we’re not there yet.

So if you don’t have a ton of money to spend, first look at the classifieds on Facebook or craigslist or ebay for someone’s used fancy race bike. You can often find a bike that’s a year or two old for a fraction of its original cost.


Used Empella. image from HERE

Then look at your favourite local shop- even if they don’t have anything in stock they may be able to grab a sweet deal for you. As the manager of a small shop, I encourage you to come to my shop, but I’m a realist, and I understand that you probably have a local shop that you frequent that usually gives you a deal and always helps yo out in a bind. Wait- you don’t have one of those? You buy everything you use online and you know how to work on your own bike already? Then why are you reading this? This is to help out newcomers and people too scared of giving their credit cards to internet retailers. Which isn’t totally irrational. Hackers suck.

If you don’t have one preferred local shop that you frequent, I encourage you to find one. Mine, preferably, but not everyone lives in Orlando, so pick one that’s close to you that’s open when you can get there, and make friends with the manager and/or owner and/or head mechanic. Shopping there consistently, bringing them beer/food/cookies/coffee, and do the shop rides; these are all a good way to start. This will benefit you for years, not just for right now, so choose wisely. Don’t be that guy who chases the best shop team deal to every shop in town every year, nobody likes that guy.

Every single major bike company is unveiling a new gravel-grinder bike for 2015. Yes, they will technically work for CX, but they have a longer wheelbase and more relaxed geometry than a true CX bike, so they will handle a bit sluggishly compared to a true CX race bike. As a beginner, you can certainly ride a gravel grinder bike, but I think you’ll find that as you get more serious about racing CX, you’ll be happiest on a true CX race bike. Particularly on a course that I design with a billion hairpin corners, but

Yes, they are the cheapest way to get a CX bike, but I discourage the $500 Motobecane/Scattante/BikesDirect.com CX bike, because it weighs a million pounds and by the end of your first race you hate CX so much you may never come back. We want you to keep coming back to our party, so do yourself a favor and get a decent bike to start with. Yes, before you accuse me, I admit that I’m a bit elitist in this argument, but I’ve raced a 26 pound CX bike, and a 16 pound CX bike, and the light one was WAY MORE FUN.


The 2014 Jamis Nova Race, MSRP $1300

So, what exactly should I be looking for for my first CX bike you ask. Well, generally, you want a bike that comes with the same number of gears as your road bike, so you can also use your existing wheels as spare wheels. Aluminum or carbon is optimal, steel is real but is heavier. Carbon is lightest, but most fragile and expensive in most cases. Aluminum is pretty light and pretty strong, and usually pretty cheap. As for brakes, disks are the new hotness but they are also heavier and require an entirely new collection of wheels. You should have at least two sets of wheels for CX- think of them as training (The heavier and more durable set, preferably with clinchers/tubeless) and racing (Lighter and tubular, optimally). Tubeless wheels are getting better, so you might want to use them instead for your race wheels, we’ll have that discussion later. If you’re racing, the upper end parts groups are probably best, at least from Shimano and Sram- Ultegra/105 from Shimano and Force/Rival from Sram are optimal froma durability and bang for the buck standpoint. Yes, Dura Ace and Red are both nice, but they aren’t cheap to replace when you tear a derailleur off in the muck of a September mudfest training session.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask, and we’ll see you back here in a few days for the second edition of this series!

FLCX 2014

NAHBS 2014

On March 17, 2014 by Christian

I look forward to Nahbs every year as one of the highlights of the spring- I’ve been to 4 of the past five of them. The brands/manufacturers/builders who show up are most of my favourites in the industry, and pretty much all the people who work for these brands are awesome too so it’s a great show to hang out at. It’s not a huge high pressure thing like the Vegas show, so it’s not 100% focused on deliverables and forecasted units and bullshit. The bikes are creative and beautiful and not stamped out of a Chinese mold.

That said, the builders are as subject to the whims of the component manufacturers and consumers alike, so there’s plenty of disc brake CX bikes. There was also a plethora of Titanium CX bikes, it appears to be making something of a comeback as a frame material. The rumour I was trying to get started all weekend concerned about half the bikes with the new Shimano DI2/Hydraulic brakes- they were assembled without fluid in them. The reason was probably just last minute builds and no time or spare parts to reseal the lines, but I like assuming the worst…

Now I’ll shut up and post some bike pics.

All pics are from my phone, I wasn’t trying for greatness in photography, and you can certainly see that in the results.

Peacock Groove Minneapolis Moline Cargo Bike

Peacock Groove Minneapolis Moline Cargo Bike

Hed Triple Crown Gravel Racer

Hed Triple Crown Gravel Racer

Boo Cycles Bamboo CX

Boo Cycles Bamboo CX

Avery County Cycles CX

Avery County Cycles CX. One of my favourites of the show.

Avery County Cycles CX. One of my favourites of the show.

More Angles

More Angles

Avery County Cycles CX

Geekhouse Mudville Disc- Pegged my WANT meter.

Geekhouse Mudville Disc- Pegged my WANT meter.

Schamrock Cycles made this for some Danish person. Probably not from Miami, however.

Schamrock Cycles made this for some Danish person. Probably not from Miami, however.

Hed Triple Crown Disc Gravel 2- with Grifo XS.

Hed Triple Crown Disc Gravel 2- with Grifo XS.

Challenge Chicane- so hot.

Challenge Chicane- so hot.

The Impeccable Moots CX bike.

The Impeccable Moots CX bike.

Super good beer list at a pizza place in NoDo.

Super good beer list at a pizza place in NoDo.

Very Angry Groundhog

Very Angry Groundhog

Hometown MFG CX. Hometown is an offshoot of sixeleven bikes.

Hometown MFG CX. Hometown is an offshoot of sixeleven bikes.

Richey Swiss Disc CX

Richey Swiss Disc CX

Shamrock Disc CX

Shamrock Disc CX

Snazzy dropout for Gates SSCX

Snazzy dropout for Gates SSCX

Appleman Disc CX

Appleman Disc CX

Wound Up fork on DiSalvo Gravel racer

Wound Up fork on DiSalvo Gravel racer

Suitcase of Courage.

Suitcase of Courage.

Moots Travel CX

Moots Travel CX

Better known for their tandems, but some sweet singles as well.

Better known for their tandems, but some sweet singles as well.

Co Motion

Fancy Ti CX Disc

Fancy Ti CX Disc

Kish Fabrication

Cielo Disc CX was just bonkers. So nice.

Cielo Disc CX was just bonkers. So nice.

Cielo CX

Cielo CX

Cielo CX

My editorial view of the show:

So apparently it’s not cool anymore to show up at Nahbs. There was certainly a lack of pre-event internet hype, and once I got to the show, I was struck by just how small the show has become. I don’t have the list in front of me, but my suspicion is that you could count the number of Oregon builders in attendance with less than one hand- and even most of the New England builders, stuck in a particularly nasty winter, couldn’t be bothered to spend a weekend in the warmish North Carolina hills. I don’t know if it’s a matter of not needing the additions to their already long work ques that kept show stalwarts like Vanilla and Richard Sachs from attending, or if Charlotte was just too expensive, or if there’s some conflict with the organizers, or it just isn’t worth the money, I don’t spend much time on Vsalon, and by much time I mean virtually no time. So I don’t know if it’s drama or dollars that kept builders from showing up, but in any case, planely stated, the show is not what it once was. Virtually everyone who did show up, including Shimano and Chris King, had smaller, simpler booths this year, with really only Mosiac beginning to approach the attention to detail in booth design that Vanilla/Speedvagen (and others) used to trot out every year.

Charlotte, in retrospect, seems like an odd city to host a (once?) major-ish bicycle show, as it’s not really known for it’s cycling culture. It’s rated 49 out of 50 in US major cities in walkability, and while it has a very, very strong variety of good local breweries, the downtown area was a complete ghost-town on Sunday, with most businesses not even bothering to open. This is pretty common in many cities in the car-centric South, but it doesn’t contribute to cycling all that much, and it doesn’t make it all that attractive to local cyclists to attend the show. I would wager that many if not most of the attendees were from out of town. That doesn’t seem very logical to me- put the show where people who want to see it already live. If you can also do it where there won’t be a blizzard, well, home run. Next year’s show is going to be in Louisville, which drew a collective “(huh?)” from many people in the crowd after the announcement. It will be great for the foam party crowd on Saturday night, but again, it’s not a huge hotbed of local cyclists, it’s not particularly warm there on the first weekend in March, and ice storms are a real concern. And it’s pretty far (and pretty complicated to travel to) from both New England and Portland.

Speaking to a cycling journalist friend of mine who has provided extensive coverage of NAHBS in the past but didn’t even show up this year, the show just isn’t worth it these days. There is a general feeling of “meh” from twitter and elsewhere regarding the bikes, which was probably inevitable, as there’s only so many ways you can build a custom made steel(?) frame and let a painter take 3 weeks to do an eleven colour fade on it.

My feeling on the show is a mixed one- I’m sorry it looks like it’s on a downswing, because I loved this show since I attended my first one in Richmond in 2010, when it seemed to my idealist eye like the future of bicycle trade shows. I suppose the simple impracticability of high end small volume bicycle manufacturing doomed it- there just isn’t a large enough pool of customers to make the investment by a framebuilder in attending the show worth it, particularly a small framebuilder who doesn’t have a trust fund bank-rolling him. The already well known builders don’t need more time away from their workshops- they have bikes to get done, and maybe they aren’t the most social people in the world anyway. It’s at least a $2000 investment to rent a booth and a hotel room and pay the union to assemble your booth (which you also have to design and construct, or at least pay someone else to do it) and plug in your extension cords and then you still have to travel and eat and drink and of course make a couple of extra fancy bikes so Johnny Hipster doesn’t see your bike on Prolly is not Probably and say “Meh.” So really, consider it at least a $5000 investment including your time, and then it really becomes a question of are you going to see a return on it. I think it’s pretty obvious that most builders these days are answering that question with a no, which is a shame.

What NAHBS always meant to me was a party with all of my best bike friends (many of whom I haven’t met yet), with a bunch of stupidly, profoundly. beautiful bicycles. The bikes are still beautiful, but a lot of my friends went missing this year. Hopefully they can find a reason to find their way back for the next one.

Crosscopter Video Coverage!

On January 29, 2014 by Super Rookie

Many of you know about The Crosscopter.

Did you know it has a website?

Better yet, here are all the Cross Copter videos for the 2013-14 season!

http://vimeopro.com/crosscopter/florida-cyclocross-series-2013-2014

Get some!

FLCX Series: 2014 and Beyond

On January 21, 2014 by Super Rookie

flcxlogo3250

Gainesville, FL- The 2013/14 FLCX Season was the most successful year in the history of Florida cyclocross. Overall attendance was up 15% over the previous season and the racing was better than ever with numerous categories featuring several riders battling it out for the top step on race day. As the Florida cyclocross community has continued to grow the Florida Bike Racing Association (FBRA) has developed a keen interest in helping to take the sport further utilizing their own resources and expertise. Therefore, it has been decided that that FLCX Points Series will be discontinued for 2014 and beyond.

The FLCX Series started in earnest in 2007 when cyclocross aficionados and promoters decided to band together to help grow the sport in the state of Florida. The early days of Florida cyclocross are a distant memory to some and unknown to most. State Championships races were held at Camp Murphy and Tallahassee. Promoters would be thrilled if 60 racers took to the road for race day and the series was a footnote to the Florida Road Cycling Association (FRCA). Times have changed considerably and with the introduction of the FBRA-CX Series this past season the FLCX Series became a redundancy and is no longer needed.

From this point forward the FLCX website, facebook page/group and Twitter account will feature news and information about Florida Cyclocross, but the FLCX Promoters and member races will no longer be an organized series under the FLCX banner.

The FLCX organizers, member races and promoters would like to thank all of the racers, officials, and past promoters that helped raise the level of cyclocross in Florida to the point that the FBRA is willing to shepherd it into the future utilizing their own resources and know-how.

States Photos 2

On January 21, 2014 by Christian

Timothy Hunt published a ton of great photos on his website. Additionally, there’s some great photos from Michelle Blake on her website.

Saturday Pics


Rich and Dino, pic by Karyn Dybdahl


W123 Podium – Parsons, Apotsos, Plotkin pic by Karyn Dybdahl


John Hovius in a sea of red tape. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Harrison and Clayton Knight sandwich Jackson Mehr. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Women’s 4 podium, Rebecca Laborde, Erica Richards, Nicole Carson pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Obvious camper joke. Sorry for so much Dybdahl coverage, but there are very few people who love FLCX as much as he and his family do, and they makes me smile. Pic by Apotsos.


The elusive Michael Davis on the steps pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Robert Marion and Ryan Woodall on the horse track pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Addison Zawada on the pavement pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Master’s 35 podium Darien Angelier (1st), Tim Shank (2nd) and Graham Partain 3rd) pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Master’s 45 podium Vitor Alexandre (1st) Scott Atkins (2nd) and Kelby Roberts (3rd) pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Masters 55 podium Brian Davis (1st) Mike Szabo (2nd) Dan Sullivan (3rd) pic by Karyn Dybdahl


My “daughter” and the Kung Fu Panda pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Pete Hill and Jordan Miller from Velo Champ worked the pit all weekend. On behalf of every single person who raced, THANK YOU GUYS. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Robert Marion takes the win in P12. pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Kelby Rogers charges out at the front of the combined MTB/Men’s 4-5/Women’s 4 start pic by Karyn Dybdahl


Robert Marion made a bunch of new fans this weekend. He even brought his mom up on the podium with him! Thornton and Woodall round out the lower steps. pic by Karyn Dybdahl

Sunday Pics


pic by Kristin Apotsos


pic by Dan Milstead


pic by Steve Sykes


pic by Kristin Apotsos


Graham Partain pic by Michael Toth.


Kristin Apotsos takes the bacon by Timothy J Hunt


Tent Village pic by Kristin Apotsos


Rolly Weaver takes the bacon from Michael Ploch while Jody Alexander shows the way. Pic by Timothy J Hunt

States Photos

On January 20, 2014 by Christian

There will be several posts recapping all the action this weekend at states, but to start with here’s what I’ve managed to pull off of facebook. All images belong to the respective photographer, please do not re-use them without permission.


Unicorn Sass by Erica Richards.


Marion duels with Thornton on the steps by Adam Wiggall.


Diane Blake takes the bacon by Timothy J Hunt.


Josh THornton’s haul for the weekend by Josh Thornton.


Sunday Morning at Little Everglades Ranch by Zach Fout.


WUT. Robert Marion rides the tallest barriers in Florida by Jay Fratello.


Cat 4 Women overall FLCX Points series by Nicole Carson.


Cat 4 Women State Champion by Rebecca Laborde.


Keith Richards on the steps by Jo An Weaver.


Masters Race Start on Sunday by Karen Dybdahl.


Tic Bowen and Andy Mills two man pain train in M35. Andy would prevail after a late final lap attack. Pic by https://www.facebook.com/karyn.dybdahl”> Karen Dybdahl.


Thornton, Marion, and Eric Stubbs hit the steps off the horse track early in the Pro 1-2 race. Pic by Karen Dybdahl.


lil kids race podium by Karen Dybdahl.


Men’s 4/5 race start by Karen Dybdahl.


by Karen Dybdahl.


Justin Deleo and John Kingham battle on the steps. by Karen Dybdahl.


Nicole Carson and Michael Ploch on the steps by Karen Dybdahl.


Masters 45 State Champion Vitor Alexandre by Karen Dybdahl.


Masters 55 State Champion podium by Karen Dybdahl.


The mis-spelled Dirk Hofmann banner lives on by Karen Dybdahl.


I had to have at least one pic of me in here. by Karen Dybdahl.


Laura Parsons on the steps by Karen Dybdahl.


These guys. Rich Dybdahl and Greg Politz by Karen Dybdahl.


These ladies. Melissa Isenmen and Kristin Apotsos by Karen Dybdahl.


Men’s Pro123 FLCX Points Podium with Addison Zawada (2nd), Josh Thornton (1st) and Ryan Woodall (3rd) by Karen Dybdahl.


Orange State sweeps the Men’s 3 Podium FLCX Points Series by Karen Dybdahl.


Juniors FLCX Points Series by Karen Dybdahl.


Men’s cat 3 State Championship by

OFFICIAL FLCX POWER RANKINGS™ – Florida State CX Championships

On January 17, 2014 by Christian

The final weekend of the Florida Cyclocross season is upon us, and it promises to be a fitting ending to what has been our best season of racing CX bikes in the sun and warmth of Florida yet. Saturday is the final event in the FLCX points series, where there are multiple battles to be fought for the final podiums. Sunday is the the actual Florida State Cyclocross Championships, where you win the right to wear the flag on your jersey for the following year. The races will be held at the beautiful Little Everglades Ranch, which is just a bit north of Dade City on 301, which has hosted the last 5 editions of States, and the course has gotten better and better every year. This year promises even more excitement with food trucks and the same announcer that worked the US CX Nationals out in Boulder last week, Dave Towle. Promoter Dan Milstead has been hard at work on the course, enlisting Josh Thornton and John Hovius to add some technical challenges, and judging by the picture Dan posted a couple hours ago, there will be mud.

Well, then again, there’s still one day of dry air and no precipitation chance, so the mud could very well be dry come Saturday. We also know there’s a longish run up with some railroad tie barriers, some soul-sucking slow grass, and we can assume we’ll go through the horse barn because riding through the barn is something of an awesome LER tradition.

As we have done over the past few years the OFFICIAL FLCX POWER RANKINGS™ for the Florida State Cyclocross Championships are divided up by category and who we, the experts, know is going to win the coveted jersey. As usual, we are never wrong and none of this can be contended.

Men 1/2:

Winner: Josh Thornton (Pioneer Mortgage)
We See You: Robert Marion (American Classic), Ryan Woodall (Top Gear Bicycles), Andy Mills (Backdraft)

This race is Josh’s to lose, much like the rest of the series has been. Woodall’s form is only known to the Ocala locals, and indeed, we aren’t even certain of his attendance. Andy Mills has been filming in an episode of Rehab Addict on the DIY network (check your local listings for air date) so who knows how he’s riding, but he has been faster than a lot of people, plus mentioning him gives us the chance to work in cabinetry jokes. Addison Zawada should be in the thick of things as well, but with one to go, it should be Josh off the front with a good minute back to his nearest competitor.

In light of new information, need to revise things. Robert Marion is a legitimate threat to Josh, as he has been racing the national caliber events all season. While he isn’t a Florida resident, he and Josh are going to have a battle royale, and this race just became a can’t miss instant classic.

There’s virtually no chance (2%) There is now a 25% chance of an un-named rider registering on the day of the race and upsetting Josh’s applecart.

Women 1/2/3:

Winner: Laura Parsons (Rose Bandits)
We See You: Kristin Apostsosososos (Infinity)

Laura was last year’s state champ, and there’s almost nothing that will stop her from repeating, except for a super-motivated Kristin Apotsos. Maybe. Good thing we have one of those. Kristin will have to ride out of her damn mind to make it happen, but she’s done it once already on Saturday at Swamp CX, so there is a chance.

Again, there’s virtually no chance of someone registering day of who can beat these two, however- I’ll rate it at 4%, in case Laura Van Gilder shows up. You never know.

Men 3:

Winner: Michael Cedeno (AG – Guttenplan)
We See You: Robert Croslin (Orange State), Taylor Norton (Orange State), Joel Gorman (Flying Fish Bicycles), Vitor Alexandre (Colavita)

Cedeno is fully capable of absolutely riding away with this race, as long as he can clip into his pedals consistently. An elite rider on the road and the track, his only weakness may be the running, of which there is rumoured to be a lot more of this year. Norton and Croslin will have their hands full, and must get off to a good start so Cedeno doesn’t disappear. Gorman is a super fast starter with some elite skills, and we all know about Vitor.

Of course, there’s no telling who will sign up to race day of, so I’ll predict a 43% chance of someone coming out of nowhere to win it.

Men 4/5:

Winner: Rolly Weaver (Pioneer Mortgage)
We See You: Justin DeLeo (352 Racing), John Kingham (Swift Racing), Michael Hernandez (Hot Tubes)

Rolly is (as best we can figure) a cat 3 on the road who has only entered two CX races, the Cat 4 Saturday race and the Cat 3 Sunday race in Lacoochee two weeks ago. He won both of them. I’m not sure how that works, but it does mean he a pretty strong favourite to win this Sunday. Hernandez is ludicrously fast on the road but hasn’t touched a CX bike all season, and has never been noted for his off-pavement technical ability. That being said, he will probably challenge and could possibly beat Rolly. DeLeo and Kingham have dueled all season, and are legit cat 4 riders, so they will contest the non-sandbagger Cat 4 crown.

Of all the races, this one has the highest chance of day-of registration dood showing up and dominating- I’ll rate it at 84% that a mystery sandbagger happens.

Women 4:

Winner: Nicole Carson (Pinnacle Wheelworks)
We See You: Emily Richards (Orange State), Rebecca Laborde (UA)

Erica and Nicole have dueled at the front of the race all year, but Rebecca won both days in Lacoochee, so this race is really a toss up.

Then again there is a 73.8% chance of a day-of-race-registration ringer showing up and throwing this entire category’s prediction into chaos, so it’s pretty hard to hazard a guess here. I mean a lead pipe lock prediction. Whatever.

Single Speed:

Winner: Keith Richards (Swift Racing)
We See You: Taylor Norton (Orange State), Zach Fout (Gear Link), Josh Thornton (Pioneer Mortgage), Ryan Woodall (Top Gear Bicycles)

This one is a real crap-shoot. It comes down to what is accepted at the start line. Will the officials allow for the status-quo of racers being able to line up with zip-ties and removed batteries, or are they going to be “the man” and look down at the little community we have built and tell you that you must rock a one-cog because the suits in Colorado Springs wrote a rule that applies to Portland, Chicago, New England and places that have 50+ fields of single speed cross rigs.

Because of that we are thinking there’s a 67% chance that “the man” is going to show up and take away all the fun. There’s a 71% chance of an as yet un-named mystery day-of rider taking the jersey as well.

Masters 35+:

Winner: Tic Bowen (The Fit Lab/Winter Park Bikes)
We See You: Ed Dunne (Cycle Logic), Andy Mills (Firefighters Union)

You have to feel bad for Ed Dunne. He barnstorms the state looking for victory in all the right places and puts the hammer down day in and day out to get the credit he deserves and then Tic Bowen and Andy Mills show up to ruin the party. If we were Ed Dunne (and clearly we are not because we are not International Playboys) we would request a hard copy of Bowen and Mills’ birth certificates.

Another category that could easily be taken by someone we haven’t even mentioned- we’ll give it a 52% chance of that happening.

Masters 45+:

Winner: Tim Shank (U/A)
We See You: Vitor Alexandre (Colavita), Joel Rierson (Garneau Florida)

The 45+ race is going to be the best on the day. Vitor Alexandre has been throwing down all year and is not going to give up easily and hopes to own that jersey, but the likes of Shank, who has been racing 35+ during the season, and Rierson, who’s been doing the 60 minute race, are going to be tough to beat. One thinks Vitor is going to go all out for the title, but Tim and Joel have the youth in the age group on their side.

I don’t think there’s many mystery 45 plus day of reg guys, so I’ll rate the likelihood of a mystery winner at only 33%

Masters 55+:

Winner: Dan Sullivan (West Coast Cycling)
We See You: Biron Keefer (Infinity) Brian Davis (Treasure Coast) Ted Hollander (Florida Masters)

Dan Sullivan won the jersey last year, and he’s rounding into form quite nicely to win it again this year. This will be Keefer’s first time contesting the 55 plus crown, so he will have youth on his side. Ted is lightning fast when he’s on form. It should be a pretty great race.

Pretty much every heavy hitter in the category is pre-reged, so the likelyhood of someone other than these guys winning is pretty low- 27%

Juniors 9-14:

Winner: Michael Mace (Whole Athlete)
We See You: Harrison Knight (First Place Racing), all the Hovius kids (AAA)

The Junior 10-14 category has been a mixed bag over the past year with lots of different riders showing up and the consistency of Jackson Mehr in the FLCX Series would show that this field is up for grabs, but 14 year old Michael Mace is still in the category, to no fault of his own, ya know, since he’s 14, and should be able to run away with the victory. However, it should be noted that Harrison Knight is quickly becoming a force out on the bike and he should show very well on the weekend.

There’s a 1% chance that someone other than the riders mentioned wins this thing.

Juniors 15-18:

Winner: Michael Hernandez (Hot Tubes)
We See You: Eric Meucci (u/a)

Eric Meucci has been showing up to a lot of races over the year and we love his enthusiasm and know that he has a future in the sport. Like his brother he is a beast in the Junior categories and will be a force on the mountain bike for a long time to come. Sadly, he isn’t on the older age of the category like road super-star Michael Hernandez who is making his first cyclocross appearance of the season at the State Championships.

Again, there’s almost no chance of anyone beating these guys. 2%.

And that’s it, the final pre-race Power Rankings of the 2013-14 Florida Cyclocross season. We hope to see you out there tomorrow- bring all your friends!

OFFICIAL FLCX POWER RANKINGS™ – FLCX Points Series Roundup

On January 17, 2014 by Christian

We’re going to give you two sets of Power Rankings this week, one for Saturday’s Point Series Finale, and another for Sunday’s Championship Showdown. I’ve listed the categories from the least dramatic to the most dramatic, in my opinion. As always, these rankings are 100% officially unofficial, infallible, unquestionably questionable, and obviously 1000% accurate. If you disagree, you’re probably wrong. As always, please, no wagering.

2013/14 OFFICIAL FLCX Power Rankings™: FLCX Points Series Final

MASTERS 35


Pic by Jo An Weaver

Ed Dunne (Cycle Logic) has a lock on the FLCX points series in Masters 35. It’s not even close at this point. Three wins and a second and a third and a fourth are nearly twice as many points as the next nearest competitor (Graham Partain, Swift Cycle/Crosscopter.com). Chris Kyle (Team Top Gear) is a surprising third, with nearly a 20 point lead over Tim Shank in fourth. I don’t foresee much movement here.

Junior 10-14


Pic by Cathy Bester

Jackson Mehr (Swift Cycles) has a similar grip on the points series in the Junior fields, a lead so large that he doesn’t even have to race if he doesn’t want to, but he probably will because he’s a fierce little mongoose of a competitor. Don’t bring your pet cobra to the race, if the cold weather doesn’t get it, then Jackson will. Scott Atkins (Gear Link) and Harrison Knight round out the podium.

Men’s Category 3


Pic by Emily “Erica” Gerrity / hatingonbikepolo.com/

Maybe this should be called the Orange State Cycling Podium Party. Taylor Norton (Orange State) is leading the series by a lot of points over me, Christian Carlqvist (Orange State). A mere 6 points back is Graham Gillis, who has but two race starts (Tally CX and Swamp CX) but has two wins. He’s not pre-reged, meaning that if Drew Smith shows up for the rare Saturday race and scores 9 points, he could take over third. As far as dark horses go, a win by Bob Croslin (Orange State) would propel him into second place for the series, and complete the Orange State sweep. I think. I’m not certain, math is hard.

Masters 45


Pic by Rotiv Xela

One of the more dramatic categories of the season week to week has been Masters 45. Vitor Alexandre (Colavita) moved to South Florida from Chicago and has quite simply raised the stakes in M45, often finishing in the top 5 in the entire master’s wave, beating a huge swath of M35 youngsters. He holds a 15 point lead over Steve Noble (Infinity), who was second to Vitor in pretty much every race except Tampa Riverfront CX, where they swapped positions. Noble will pounce if Vitor makes the slightest mistake, but Vitor’s going to have to make a big mistake for Steve to overtake him in the overall. Scott Atkins (Gearlink) sits solidly in third, in no danger of losing his position.

Single Speed

Pic by Karyn Dybdahl

Now we get into the races that are still in doubt. Ryan Woodall (Team Top Gear/Biemme/Felt) is still leading in spite of not racing since November 24th AND getting married. Keith Richards (Swift Cycles) is in second position, and is actually pre-registered for Saturday, so he will certainly take over the lead if Woodall’s honeymoon continues. Josh Thornton (Pioneer Mortgage/Yourkey.com/Giant) is sitting in third, but is only 20 points back from Keith, so he is in striking distance as well. Taylor Norton is sitting in fourth, a point ahead of Michael Toth, but I don’t beleive that Taylor is racing on Saturday, enabling Toth to enter the discussion concerning who came in fourth for the season.

Pro 1, 2, Open


Pic by Giant Regional On-Road Team

The Pro 1,2 Open race this year has pretty much been the Josh Thornton Show. He’s been simply untouchable over the course of a 60 minute event in Florida. Ryan Woodall kept the points series exciting by racking up a bunch of points early in the season, but we haven’t seen him since Ocala. Addison Zawada (FWD->Set), with the assistance of the points he gathered in the 3′s is leading Woodall in the overall by a slight margin, and actually has a pretty good chance of maintaining his second place in the overall, as he is wicked fast in his own right. Imagine how fast he will be after a few more seasons of elite CX racing. (HINT: REALLY FRIGGIN FAST.)

Women 123


Pic by Karyn Dybdahl

Our elite ladies races have been pretty spectacular this season, with the dominating Laura Parsons (Rose Bandits/The Breakfast Club) winning all of the FLCX races she’s attended. Coming into the last race, however, she finds herself trailing Kristin Apotsos (Infinity) by a slim 5 point margin. Kristin hasn’t beaten Laura on a Sunday FLCX event, although Kristin was the winner on Saturday at Swamp CX, so there is precedent for an upset. The spoiler to all of this is the delightfully witty Jennifer Kraatz, who accumulated a bunch of points in the Cat 4′s before she was kicked upstairs to the big girls race. She trails Kristin by only two points by my math, which isn’t official but hey, you can trust me, right?

Masters 55

Pic by Ted Hollander

The race to watch on Saturday? It’s probably the closest race in all the categories, and it will certainly contain the loudest heavy breathing. We have a 5 old man pig pile on the top of the standings in M55. 19 points separate Dan Sullivan (West Coast Cycling) at the top from Mark McBroom (352 Racing) at the bottom, and both of them are pre-reged for Saturday. John Torrey trails Dan by only two points, with Brad Scott (RND Racing presented by VICC) a further 5 points back. Brian Davis (Treasure Coast Racing) sits in 4th position. Brad is the only rider of the four who is not pre-registered, but he’s generally been pretty good attendence wise, so we’ll just make the obvious old guys is skurred of the internet joke and leave it at that. Oh look, I already did.

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