Cyclocross

We're so into Cyclocross that we made this special page for it. Also publish a Tumblr about Suffer Faces.

Cody Kaiser Pump Hops the Stairs


Got to come up with a name for this technique, the stair pump hop perhaps? Been around this sport for a long time, seen barriers hopped and stairs ridden, but not like this without pedaling at CX Natz.

Nalini Team Kit


Mark’s Green Steel

When our new team kit arrived, Mark V liked it so much, he pranced around like Zoolander. Mark is very particular about how his kit fits and I’ve got Italian Kitarexia. Nalini didn’t send Italian tailors to Hugga HQ to measure us, so they’ve got the sizing down in how they cut it for the smaller and bigger guys.

I wear a large on my thinnest days and XL when I’m layering for the cold or want a more relaxed fit. Nalini made this kit for us in Castel d’Ario, that’s 30km south of Verona with Salinas fabric for the jersey and Lycra Sport for the shorts.

Nalini

In Nalini

As we told Albabici who distributes Nalini in the US and handles the custom kit orders, we race and ride in all seasons on the road, dirt, and mud. So our kit needs to perform across temperatures and the Manto Dry treatment the Salinas fabric receives wicks very well. Lyrca Sport does the same with muscle support and flexibility for dismounts and remounts (it stays in place). The Nalini Fabric page reads like a buffet menu and that’s how custom you can have your kits made, choosing the fabric technology for your riding and racing. For the shorts, we chose a thermotaped TPU gripper, with a microfiber pad.

Nalini sent us their best, we highly recommend their custom team kits, and I’m wearing it here in the Maui sun after the cold rain at the Seattle CX races.

On a barrier Conquest

Last CX race of the regular season

The Making Of

On G+, see photos of the Nalini factory, where our kit was made.

Kit Machine

Kit-making machine

Parked It

Parked It

Rode hard and put away muddy

After the last cross race of the regular season in Seattle, Mahan brought his bike home, parked it in the hallway, and left it there. He’ll deal with it after the holidays. That’s where we’re at too with the blog, on Xmas eve, and a vacation next.

We wish you and your family well and Happy New Year.

Finding the Lines with Russel Stevenson

Russie Wins

Russie on his way to winning Seattle CX at Enumclaw

As the regular CX season ended in Seattle, I said to Russ, “If you’re judging how fast you are by the time it takes you to lap me, then that was the fastest!” I had a lap one mechanical, but still that was impressive. “Well,” Russ said…

It starts with good fitness. If you’re feeling good, fit and fresh you’ll usually have a good race on any course. Enumclaw for me was just one of those days where the pain wasn’t registering. When that’s out of the way you’re just out there riding having fun. And when that’s going on you’re fully aware, making fast lines happen and 100% checked into the task on hand, the perfect marriage!

Finding speed is simply not riding in the muck. That course wasn’t muddy by my standards but I saw a lot of covered bikes. It’s easy to get out of rhythm and tossed into bad slow lines. I think that’s the case with many of us. When your not suffering you can usually put more into where and how you’re putting your power down. A lot of this line selection happens in pre-ride. If you can see it there you can usually see it racing, but not always. In these sort of courses I prefer to go out on my own controlling my own destiny and no, I don’t always have this luxury. Often the course, your fitness level or your competitors force you places you don’t want to be.

I’ll also point to the course design itself. That really was an excellent layout. It reminded me of old school SCX courses at Sea Tac where you’re legs hurt after the runs and you had to focus 100% of the time on your lines. No spacing out or drifting! The course was hard and that to me is what CX should be. It demanded of course good fitness but also bike skills, agility and creativity. The on-off punchy style suited me and my strengths. I’m not surprised I did so well, I usually do when I’m enjoying myself.

And he’s right, form and fitness are so elusive as you get older, celebrate those times you’re in it, as Russie did. For me, this season had no measurable results, except for being out there, finishing every race, and at the end I fit into some fine Italian kit from Nalini. Props to Matt Hill, cause without his encouragement, I’d have ended the season after CrossVegas. He insisted I start AND finish the races.

You bigger guys like me, know what I’m saying about Italian Kitarexia. It was a long season too, with Worlds in January, where I think I had one of my best rides from the back of the starting grid.

Russ is a racer to watch next month in Colorado at CX Natz. He’ll have on his World Championship jersey and Hugga cap.

Up next, big miles in Maui and then more dirt in 14.

Photo: DBC Photography who is shooting in Belgium next with the EuroCrossCamp.

Brown M&Ms

DBC Photo

That’s four barriers in a row and not the usual two

Before the start of the race, Matthew Hill says to Richard McClung, “It’s like Brown M&Ms, man.” 40 seconds later, we were off. Matt told me the rest of the story, about reading the freaking rider at a race, and I’m sharing it here. I clipped the 3rd and 4th barrier a few times, until I got the rhythm right…

Way back when, in a previous life before bike racing, I made my bones in the music business. One of the things I did to pay the bills was work with touring rock bands, at the tail end of the Heavy Metal Hair Band days.

You see a lot of s**t working that side of the scene, and – as you would expect - I’ve got stories to tell. You can fill in the blanks on most of them, of course. Groupies, drugs, debauchery… you’ve heard it all before.

That’s all just daily distraction type stuff, though.
The stories you don’t hear are the ones that aren’t nearly as flashy, or vile, or… well, they’re the actual nuts & bolts, down-low of what is, ultimately, a business.

Stuff like the legend of the Van Halen M&Ms.

When a band goes on tour, they send out a list of promoter & venue requirements in advance of their arrival. It’s called “The Rider”, and it’s purpose is to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and that the infrastructure is in place to support the band & their production staff at the gig.

Most of the stuff on The Rider is pretty straight forward; “There will be x number of 15 amp electrical sockets placed at y foot intervals evenly surrounding the stage area”.

Some Rider requirements can seem pretty bizarre, unless you know the band in question: “Promoter shall provide 6 new pairs of athletic sweat socks in sealed, plastic packaging” (cough – RHCP)

And then there’s brilliant.

Van Halen toured with a Rider that looked like a novel written for electrical engineers. When you’re hauling 9 trucks worth of production gear to every gig, there’s a long list of shit that can go wrong, and if you don’t want to see things blow up, trusses fall down, and people get electrocuted, you need to make sure that the “I’s” are dotted & the “T’s” are crossed.

Which ain’t easy.

‘Cause lots of the time, people flat-out just don’t care. Or pay attention.
Or something.

People will figure out a way to miss something that really matters, even though you spelled it out in exquisite detail, and it’s going to make the evening a nightmare for someone on the crew.

So, what do you do?
If you’re Van Halen, in the middle of your book-length Rider, you insert a line requiring that the promoter provide – along with a deli tray, and enough booze to intoxicate a fairly large fraternity – a bowl of M&Ms. With all the brown M&Ms removed.
Brown M&Ms in the bowl?
No show.
Van Halen still gets full payment.

There’s one word for this, and it’s brilliant. If you’ve heard this story before, odds are it was in the context of “…and then they trashed the green room in a petulant rock star frenzy after finding their obscene demands weren’t adhered to.”
That completely misses the point.
Brown M&Ms in the bowl?

It’s the perfect “Don’t give a shit” litmus test.

If they’re gonna’ miss something this simple - and this obvious – what the hell else are they ‘gonna miss, and what are the odds it’ll be something important?
Brown M&Ms in the bowl?
Get out the microscope & check everything ‘cause you know they either weren’t paying attention, or they just don’t care.

So, OK… great.
What the hell does all this have to do with bike racing?

It’s pretty simple.
When I show up for a USCF/UCI Cyclocross race, and the first thing I see is a neat group of four barriers proudly taking center stage, it’s like a big-ass bowl of g-damned brown M&Ms.

Read the freaking Rider.

Photo: DBC Photography who is shooting in Belgium next with the EuroCrossCamp.

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