Yesterday I raced in what I think was my 15th Mudslinger Mountain Bike Race. There have been 23 and there were a few years when I wasn't racing mountain bikes. It is not my best race. I am not good on pure climbs and some of the descents are steep and muddy with roots, something I don't have a lot of practice with. So why keep coming back. Well it is because it is the best run race in the state. Mike Rlpley is a professional and his races reflect that. He is low key and always has a kind word for everyone. His races start on time and the results are immediate and usually accurate. I have won at Mudslinger once, and been on the podium various times. So not bad for a race that doesn't suit me. Yesterday I was third and it was maybe the best race I have done in quite a few years. I had a terrible start. Do to no ones fault but my own I didn't understand how the start was going to work. I got behind a small crash and decided to stay in the back. It turns out we were racing pretty much from the gun and the neutral start I thought was happening was really just a rolling closure. No wonder everyone was going so fast. I was dead last when we hit the first single track. I had to walk a bit because it was so crowded others were walking in front of me. I got on the first climb and decided what the hell I had nothing to loose so I would just beast every climb and push myself harder than I normally would. I caught my first 55+ in about 10 minutes, sweet I wasn't last anymore. I kept going hard and then in one of my favorite sections called the Panama Canal I was flying some of the only mud of the day. I came out to a road and just killed my self on a small climb and then I could see four more 55+ers. They weren't as close as they appeared because road goes up these 20% stair steps. I got the first one, then the second, the third and then the forth. I was really hurting but I knew the climb kept going through a clear cut where one could see for quite a distance and what I wanted them to see was me disappearing up the hill. I never look back so I don't know what my gap was but again I was really pushing myself.. I managed to get to top and then I cleaned a really difficult single track descent. I felt really good about that. I am going to give most of the credit to my Fisher Superfly 29er though. It is amazing through roots and steep slippery trails. I never caught 1st or 2nd and I am not sure I would have even if I had had a great start. Both of those guys are stronger than me on climbs. So I was quite happy with that 3rd place. I really pushed myself and my body reacted well. I did fade a little at the end but not enough to loose any places. So even though I was unhappy with my bad start it maybe turned out for the best. I tested new waters in going hard and I now have the confidence to try that again. Thanks to Mike Ripley for putting on such a class event and thanks to the racers in my group who always go hard and never make it easy to get on the podium.
Well not really, whining never improves things and complaining about the weather is one of the most useless energy drains I know of. So instead I will give observations. This is the coldest and wettest Spring I can remember in Central Oregon, that would be the last 37 years. One thing that is different now is the weather forecasts are much more accurate than even 10 years ago. It seems when it says it is going to rain or be cold it does it. In a practical sense what this does is make us more miserable because people not only complain about today's weather they complain about the weather to come. We have always had cold springs but we also had hope for warmer days ahead. Today we can see on our phones, our Ipads, our computers and the newspaper that the weather will continue to be cold and wet for the next 10 days (actually on the day I am writing this it will be cool but dry). No hope in other words. Here is the good news. It should have been colder and wetter this year. Most people know about La Nina and El Nino. This is when the Pacific is either warmer or colder than average. As a side I wonder if the Pacific is ever average? This year was La Nina and that means cool and wet. However it was a very strong La Nina and most climatologists were predicting wetter than it has been. So we got off easy. La Nina has pretty much gone away so in a a few weeks the weather should improve. Most of us complain about the weather because they can't do the things they want to do. Sunbathe, ski, ride bikes, play golf and in Kathy's case garden. I happen to be in the bike riding school of whining. I don't whine though. Instead I ride my mountain bike. In Central Oregon Mountain Bike riding is enhanced by wet. The snow seems to be melting so I go out and enjoy what we have. Nice sticky wet trails. I raced in the thick mud last week and happened to win my race. This was because I love the mud. So the weather was my friend. One disclaimer. I go to Spain every Spring for a real taste of Spring, flowers blooming, ripe oranges hanging on trees and days of sunshine. I know when I come back it will be cool and wet but at least I have tasted what most Central Oregonians are missing. Instead of whining go out and do the things that our weather is good for, Spring skiing, Mountain Biking and maybe a trip to someplace warmer would be a good thing. Don
Ok I admit it I didn't pick him to win, I always pick Juan Antonio Flecha. Juan is Spanish and always in the thick of things. Is it a surprise that Van Summeren won, well not to me. When he attacked out of the Arenberg and the favorites let him go I told Kathy that is a mistake as he has done very well here before (5th and 8th to be exact). Anyone who has finished in the top 10 has to be considered a favorite. He is from Belgium, he is strong. Back when Carlos Sastre won the Tour and Evans was second remember all the talk about the Lotto team being too weak to help Cadel. Who took Cadel to the bottom of the Alpe it was Johann Van Summeren. Over the Alps over the Croix de Fer. Johann was there when needed. No it was not a surprise but it was special. I think Garmin, after a poor tour of Flanders, knew more than we did. Thor was on all he needed was a team mate capable of winning in the break. That way he didn't need to work. I think Garmin felt Cancellara would bridge and Thor would win, but Cancellara is human and Van Summeren came through. Cancellara did prove he was the strongest human after dropping his group riding up to the chase and then out sprinting all of them. With that showing you can see why Garmin was sure he would bridge. Fabio Cancellara has to come to terms with himself though. He is so strong he can drop almost any rider at will. There is no incentive to work with him on long breaks. It is not about honor but about suicide. Drafting is usually the great equalizer but Cancellara has proven he can drop the strongest of the strong by just accelerating. We all know that so the only defense is to stay on his wheel and do no work, and in Garmin's case have a card up your sleeve like Johann Van Summeren. The photo is from when he was fifth in the Paris Roubaix in 2009. Thanks for reading. don
I am home after three weeks of cycling, visiting friends and having another cycling moment of my life. One of the best things about living in Bend is I get to come home to my favorite place in the world. I do like to travel and I do love road riding in Mallorca, Mountain biking in Scotland and of course watching and participating in Tour of Flanders will be a highlight of my cycling life forever. Bend is still the best, and being back with my best friend and sweetheart of 40 years is wonderful. Watching The Tour of Flanders of live was very special. I have to thank the great folks at Quality Bike Parts and Lazer Helmets for hosting me and the other USA dealers. Rebecca did a great job of keeping track of us and making sure we all had food, bikes, and entertainment, a special thanks to my roommate Adam. When you find yourself in Belgium in a typical hotel (small rooms) and you have an unknown roomy it is a pleasure to get along as well as we did. It turns out we both love cycling, and we both have a sense of humor. Those two things go along way. He also has an awesome camera and with that camera he got some great shots. Thanks Adam. I would also like to thank Todd Cravens from Quality. In the first hour of the Cyclo sportiv version of the Tour we hooked up together, and though he was stronger than me he waited at every hill top and allowed me to "suck his wheel" for many a kilo. Though I am a Europe veteran it was great to have someone to share the experience with. That made a big difference for me. Thanks Todd. The photos show more than I can explain about watching the race. We were in 4 places, the staging area, two spots on the road and the decisive "Muur". The Kammelmuur is where Cancellara dropped Booned last year and this year it was when after getting a minute lead he an Chavenel were caught. We got to see the moment when the group came together. That was special. We were sitting in a VIP tent having a gourmet meal while the race was going on. They had at least eight big screens with the race. Between our first course and main course we ran outside and watched the race go by and then back to the tent for desert and the end of the race. This was special. Being in a tent full of Belgians watching a Belgian win was very cool. It was also satisfying to see my favorite Juan Antonio Fletcha animate the race early on and of course see the BMC team real back Cancellara. I was disappointed with the Garmin team and I am sure they were. They had no one in the break at the end and though they had some of the strongest they did not play a role in the race. I am sure they are going to rethink their strategy for Paris Roubaix. The last thing are the bike lanes in Belgium everywhere. There is no debate in Belgium about bikes. They are used for transportation period and there is a place for them to be. They don't have as many rules over there about safety though. They figure people can take care of themselves. I included that photo with the bike lane to show how much they care about bikes. That road is not wide enough for a bike lane in our world. Over there they put the bike lane and expect the cars to respect the bikes in the road. The cars have to pass the bikes when it is safe. One bit of irony. We went over as the guests of Lazer Helmet. Their headquarters is in Antwerp. In Antwerp there are thousands of bike commuters every day using designated bike lanes and paths throughout the city. I did not see one commuter using a helmet. If Lazer could get that market they wouldn't have to export a helmet to any other country. Another point of interest was the helmet use in Cyclosportif version of the Tour of Flanders. I would say over 90% had helmets. I was surprised with that many. It was a great trip which ended with Adam Craig sitting in the seat next to me from Denver to Bend. He was in Colombia racing in the Pan/Colombian mountain bike races. We got to catch up, share some photos and thoughts. So once again it is amazing to come home to Bend after seeing some of the greatest the road riders in the world and sit and chat with one of the best mountain bikers in the world who just happens to live in Bend, my home town. Thanks for reading. Don
I was at the the Tour of Flanders yesterday. We saw the staging area, and managed to be at three spots on the course. The first two it was more of the atmosphere and feeling the racers go by and seeing all the pageantry . The entourage, the helicopters flying by and of course the wind of the peleton. The last stop we were on the Muur. This was where Cancellara and Chavenal were caught after a long breakaway. They were the two strongest riders out there. I am getting ready to catch a flight so enjoy the photos and I will have a follow up blog soon. See you at home. Don
Today was on of the most amazing riding experiences I have had. I rode the tourist version of the Tour of Flanders. Flanders is the Flemish speaking part of Belgium. I was joined by 19,000 other cyclists. Basically rode with more cyclists today then all of my lifes rides combined. Lazer Helmets USA along with Lazer in Belgium is hosting 10 dealers from the USA to ride today and watch the Tour of Flanders tomorrow. By the way I am picking Juan Antonio Flecha to win. Then photo is of the Kammelmuur. I hoped that is the spelling. That is the most famous of the famous climbs. It is where Cancellara left Boonen last year. While I was going up I was visualizing the races I have watched. I felt like I had been on this climb before. Tomorrow I get to see if he can do it again. This is going to be a short blog as I have to get up at 5 tomorrow and go to the start in Bruge. I will fill you in with all the great friends I have made and more stories from Flanders. Don
Hi, I am Don Leet an owner of Sunnyside Sports. I love cyclo cross racing, mountain and road riding and Nordic Skiing. I also love my sweetheart for over 35 years, Kathy. I started doing a blog because Susan (one of my business partners) told me to. Now I do it because I like to. Please enjoy.