Pan Ams 2016.

Pan Ams 2016.

Pan American Championships 2016. Catamarca, Argentina.

Some video clips from this past weekends trip down to Catamarca, Argentina for the Pan American Championships.SRAM MTBTroy Lee DesignsRockShoxClif BarSCOTT SportsSIDI shoesUSA Cycling

Posted by Russell Finsterwald on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bike racing is an excellent way to sample the world and visit places you might not visit on a typical tourist vacation, giving you a truer sense of the country and culture. It’s a bit of a tease, though, as most of these scenes are taken in by pedaling to and from the race venue. I like being able to get a taste for these areas as it gives me some ideas for trips way down the road when there is more time and freedom to do so. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some extremely wonderful spots, and this past weekend’s trip to Catamarca, Argentina, sits high on the list. In 2013, I raced Pan Ams about 2 hours farther north, in Tucuman, and thoroughly enjoyed that trip as well. The scenic landscapes, empanadas, laidback feel and kind people all come to mind as reasons to love Argentina.

The journey south began on Tuesday from Arizona. It was a busy morning, as I had to pack up my winter apartment and send all my stuff home with my brother — who generously agreed to do so. Team USA arrived Wednesday morning, 20 hours later, in Buenos Aires. We built our bikes up for a ride in the city, packed them up again, got some shuteye, woke at 4:00 a.m. on Thursday to fly to Catamarca, finally arriving there roughly 36 hours after leaving Tucson.

The area looked strikingly similar to the desert I had just left. The mountains looked similar and there were plenty of saguaro-esque cactus in the area. Only difference was that the humidity was 100 percent and the temperatures were approaching 100 degrees.

The course had two long climbs, a short climb and three main descents. The climbs and descents were steep and loose. By the end of the weekend, the descent was filled with hub-deep ruts from hard braking into the corners. The course, which circles a lake, had plenty of nice views, with the mountains to one side and Catamarca on the other. I liked the course and was excited to test myself on it.

Race day came around, and I was feeling ready to take on the day. Training has been going really well into this block of racing, so that gave me some added confidence. Into the singletrack, I was able to squeeze in right around 10th. I knew the heat would factor into the race big time, so I tried to just maintain position and not gas myself too far into the red by trying to move up too quickly. I knew it was going to be a race of attrition. 

On lap 3 of 6, I went into a pretty dark spot, and started to shut down. My head felt like it was boiling despite my best efforts to avoid this. I ate some Clif Bloks, pounded some water and began to come around on lap 4. I found myself out of the top 20 at this point, which is nowhere near where I wanted to be. Some clouds moved in, my body cooled down and, finally, my legs could do their job. I made it up to 14th at the end of the day. I finished 10th at Pan Ams last year, so I had high hopes of improving on that. Heat isn’t my forte, so I was happy that I was able to survive — and come around at the end. It’s hard to keep your head in the race when you aren’t doing well, so it’s a small victory when you’re able to do so. I scored some UCI points, but not as many as I had hoped. There are two more opportunities to score points before the first main event of the season, the World Cup in Cairns, Australia.

I often leave South America thinking how nice it would be to do a winter training camp somewhere here. There are some amazing areas I would love to further explore on two wheels. I’ve found the people to be super friendly and accommodating, plus some Spanish immersion would most likely help improve my mediocre attempt at speaking it. Thanks for a great time Catamarca!

A ride to remember.

A ride to remember.

A day of training on Mount Lemmon.

Yesterday I was able to explore some new and old favorites on Mount Lemmon! The ride gives you very diverse landscapes as you climb up to the densely wooded forests of Ponderosa & Arizona pine trees above 8,000 feet. You then descend all the way down to the Saguaros of the desert floor.

Posted by Russell Finster on Thursday, March 24, 2016

What makes a ride memorable in your eyes? For me, it normally involves a grueling pedal to the top of a mountain with unforgettable vistas. I live for that. After spiking your endorphin level on the climb up, a rewarding, adrenaline pumping descent is just icing on the cake.

The Catalina Highway offers the perfect road for getting your climbing fix in. Over the course of 27 miles you will climb over 6,000 feet.

The Catalina Highway offers the perfect road for getting your climbing fix in. Over the course of 27 miles you will climb over 6,000 feet.

The vista from the top of today's ride. To the west, 5,500 feet below, lays Tucson, Arizona. 

The vista from the top of today's ride. To the west, 5,500 feet below, lays Tucson, Arizona. 

The San Pedro River Valley sits on the east side.

The San Pedro River Valley sits on the east side.

My Scott Spark says "enough with the pics, it's time to shred!" Incinerator Ridge Trail.

My Scott Spark says "enough with the pics, it's time to shred!" Incinerator Ridge Trail.

Prime singletrack. Upper Bug Springs Trail.

Prime singletrack. Upper Bug Springs Trail.

Not a bad spot to enjoy a Clif Bar.

Not a bad spot to enjoy a Clif Bar.

Saguaros are a good sign the bottom is near. La Milagrosa Trail.

Saguaros are a good sign the bottom is near. La Milagrosa Trail.

4 and a half hours later I made it back to my car tired but thrilled after an amazing day exploring some new trails as well as others that I have put countless hours on in the past. I enjoy the intervals, or "work" side of being a professional athlete, I love racing, but nothing does it for me like a good old day in the hills on the knobby tires. 

Mud and Crashing at the Copa Internacioal

From the time Todd Wells and I headed over to breakfast on the morning of the Stage 1 time trial, the skies looked ominous. It wasn’t a matter of if it would rain, it was only a matter of when and how hard it would hit. 

Just two days prior to the start of the Copa Internacioal MTB race, we headed to Araxá, Brazil from Tucson, Arizona. The 24 hours of travel went as smooth as they possibly could have. Our flights were on time, the equipment arrived with us, and our shuttle driver greeted us as soon as we exited the Uberlandia Airport baggage claim.

Finsty_Brazil-8.jpg

Why go all the way to Brazil for a race? Well, for me, the race served as an important stop in securing additional UCI points needed to help improve my start spot at the first World Cup of the season. For Todd, the race was an opportunity to get some race intensity in his legs and see a new part of the world.

The race held SHC categorization, which only a handful of other races in the world share. (The others being Cape Epic and the Cyprus Sunshine Cups) This brought in plenty of heavy hitters from all over the world — most seeking UCI points for Olympic Qualification. 

Situated about 500 kilometers northwest of São Paulo, is the host city of Araxá. While Araxá is a relatively small town (pop 100,000) the race draws close to 30,000 racers and spectators, selling out all of the local hotels in the process.

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Stage 1 was a time trial encompassing one lap of the cross-country track. With a 2:11 start time, I began my warm-up around 1:30 under thunderheads looking to unleash at any moment. In general, “South American time” can be a bit unpredictable, and this held true with the time trial. The elite men flip-flopped times with the women, and I was told that our start time was, “in about 40 minutes, so between 2:30 and 3:00. But probably closer to 2:50.” Not exactly Swiss time. 

Just as the last women started, a light sprinkle started coming down. It quickly progressed with each of the men heading out on course, and by the fifth or sixth guy, it was a full-on downpour. The storm that had been brewing all day was finally unleashing and holding back nothing. I set out on a course entirely different than the one we’d pre-ridden earlier.. Rivers flowing down the trail, mud everywhere and a constant downpour made things interesting, to say the least. Todd and I both felt a little timid in the sloppy conditions but still had descent times — 12th for me and 19th for him. Time to clean the bikes and do it all over again. There wasn’t a single part of the bikes or us not covered in mud. 

Stage 2 started bright and early with qualifying for the short track. I'm still not a hundred percent certain of how all of the logistics were sorted for that, but Todd and I finished 4th and 5th in our qualifying heat (28 minutes), which sent us to the finals. Men’s Short Track finals were held after the women’s event, which was to be held after all the men’s qualifying races were completed. So, with a time window of more than one hour, we pretty much just spun around to stay warmed up... By the time finals rolled around, I was feeling more ready for lunch and a naptime than actually racing. My race felt like an eternity of suffering for a mediocre result, but Todd rolled it in for a solid 10th. The “Short” Track finals were nearly 40 minutes for us. In the States they are normally around 25 minutes, so the added suffering was a good deposit of intensity in the fitness bank.

Finsty_Brazil-2.jpg

The early morning short track meant early to bed prior to the cross country. Luckily, we weren’t racing until 2:00 p.m. that day, which gave us plenty of time for some beauty sleep. A morning spin around the venue was a good insight into just how many people were there to spectate the race. There were cars lined up alongside the road into the venue for a few kilometers. Awesome to see, and we still didn’t race for more than four hours.

Stage 3 was the last stage, and both Todd and I had high hopes of getting ourselves into the top 10. Thirty seconds into the race, though, that hope was quickly washed away, as I was taken out by another rider in only the third corner of the race. Not ideal at all. 

By the time I got up, got my bike turned around — not an easy feat when 70 other racers are battling to get around you — and forced my stem back straight-ish, I was the last guy on course. The only people behind me were the follow motos watching the gringo get himself back together. I made my way to the tech zone, straightened my stem again, tightened the bolts and began the day’s mission of passing as many people as possible.

It’s never ideal to race from the back, but it does have a motivational twist when you are passing a lot of fellow competitors. On the penultimate lap, I saw Todd in the tech zone making a wheel change. He was riding in 8th when he flatted. I made it up to 23rd, by passing 70 people out there.

Todd and I finished 17th and 18th overall. That’s not how we’d hoped to complete the weekend, but there were still some positives to take away from it — I scored a fair amount of UCI points, we made some new friends along the way, and we got to see a new and beautiful part of the world. I’ve always loved visiting South America, and visiting Brazil for the first time just reconfirmed how unique and wonderful it is. The food, the people and the culture are all things that fascinate me. Hopefully, this year is filled with a couple more trips to South America. Pan Ams is in Argentina this April and the Olympic Games are in Rio de Janeiro this August. For now, it’s back to Tucson to get back to work. The season is underway and I couldn’t be more excited for the races ahead.

Photos by Russell Finsterwald, Alemao Silva, and Marcos Ferreira

Back to Bonelli.

Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California has quickly become a classic venue for early season racing. I think this was year 7 of racing there and fortunately also the best in terms of course conditions and temperatures; we’ve had some scorchers there over the years.

Todd, Myron and I did the 6.5 hour drive (well, ride for me. Thanks for driving guys!) Friday morning. Even with a the weather saying there was a 100% chance of rain at 2 we decided to roll the dice and make a Klatch stop prior to pre riding. First things first!

As we were pre riding, you could see a wall of rain making its way towards us. Each time around you could tell it was coming closer and closer. Finally on the final lap of our pre ride it hit, and came down pretty good. We still had some time to get in so we rode in the downpour, hurricane winds and “cold” weather back to the hotel. A warm shower was the first thing on my mind after that ride.

Saturday morning involved a spin along with a stop at Klatch.  Note to self: never look at my credit cards year end summary to figure out how much I’ve spent at coffee shops.

Race time finally came around and I was feeling pretty stoked that the weather was predicted spot on with the temperatures being in the upper 60’s.  Off the start, Todd, Stephen and I quickly became the front group. Stephen kept the pace high and by lap 3 he gapped Todd and I. That is when the SRAM | TLD time trial began. We traded off throughout the lap and took to the front on the parts of the course where we were strongest. I think we did a good job of riding a hard and steady but manageable pace.

Photo: Kenny Wehn

Photo: Kenny Wehn

With 2 laps to go, the chase group was closing in on us. Todd rode deep into the red to try and set me up for second. I was feeling a little to spunky after being able to recover on his wheel a bit and hit it too soon on the last lap. Luckily, Todd was able to come around me and hold onto second. I got passed by a charging Alex Grant and ended up 4th. While I would’ve liked to have held onto 2nd, I was happy with my performance. Normally I struggle to accelerate on the last lap but I was able to put up my second fastest lap of the day, despite blowing up with 1k to go or so.  Back on my Subaru-Trek days, I was never quite racing with my teammates JHK and Sam Schultz. For me, this was the first time really ever getting to use team tactics in a mountain bike race. Hopefully Todd and I can do so more often and help each other win some races.

Poppin' bottles. Photo: Kenny Wehn

Poppin' bottles.

Photo: Kenny Wehn

For now, it’s back to Tucson for 2 more weeks and then I am off to Argentina for the Pan Am games. You might have noticed Todd and I went to Brazil for race a week ago. More on that soon!

 

The final count down

Race season is finally on the not too distant horizon. In less than a week’s time, I will be heading south of the equator to a race in Araxa, Brazil with Todd. I originally found the race as an opportunity to try and score some valuable UCI points prior to the first roud of World Cups. It’s SHC categorization will surely bring plenty of heavy hitters so it will be a good test of the legs. I’m looking forward to the adventure that comes with travelling to South America.

Here’s a bit of a preview of the race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcJfME0q0vE

Time has been flying down in the desert. It seems like just yesterday Sofia and I were loading up the Element and heading south.  I’ve been kept busy working hard on the bike and in the gym but also on some fun media projects with SRAM in between. One piece was just launched yesterday; the new LEVEL brakes. Check out the video below. I started riding the brakes back in November as a part of SRAM’s test team and have been really enjoying them. There are two more pieces to unfold from the trip, which you will see later this spring! 



Having some fun in the dirt

I've been down in Tucson, Arizona for a little over two weeks now preparing for the 2016 season. It's great to be putting in quality days on the bikes under the desert sun. The miles come quite a bit easier than riding in a cold and wet Colorado.

Yesterday, I set out for a 5 hour ride on the Mountain Bike and filmed some clips of what I consider my favorite trails down here. Here is a little video I threw together from the ride, enjoy!





2 weeks in an Element.

Back in Spetember, Sofia and I loaded up my Honda Element and pointed the car West towards the mountains beginning a two week road trip throughout Colorado. When we set out, we had the goal of going someplace we had never been, everyday. We put together a loose itinerary of must do stops in order to have some sort of plan.


The Setup

I'm pretty proud of the setup that I put together for my Element. I built a lofted sleeping pad that goes almost the full length of the car. To install it, the rear seats are removed and then the sleeping pad replaces them. The bed is a little more than a foot off the ground so there is plenty of storage underneath. Up top is a memory foam mattress ensuring sweet dreams and comfort no matter where you are! Once you arrive at your destination the driver and passenger seats are folded down and then the bed unfolds over them using piano hinges. It's a pretty sweet setup. The best part? The overhead storage fits an iPad mini perfectly for watching movies!

Behind the car is a 3 place motorcycle trailer. Surprisingly the Element actually tows the trailer pretty well. We had a total of 4 bikes, one moto and some gear on the trailer. The Element towed it well and I actually got better gas mileage because I was driving a little slower than normal.


The adventure unfolds

For those of you who have read my blogs in the past, you probably know that writing isn't my specialty. While I am far from a good photographer, I think the images I take tell the story from my experiences better than I can by writing. Therefore, I decided I would post more of a photo epic then a rambling story of events.

Go big or go home right? Went straight to work on day 1 by riding (well, more like hiking) my bike up Colorado's tallest mountain; Mount Elbert. The views at the top where incredible and the descent back to the car had me grinning from ear to ear.

Go big or go home right? Went straight to work on day 1 by riding (well, more like hiking) my bike up Colorado's tallest mountain; Mount Elbert. The views at the top where incredible and the descent back to the car had me grinning from ear to ear.

Day 1 ended at Twin Lakes where we caught an amazing sunset, enjoyed some fresh curry and gazed at the stars overhead.

Day 1 ended at Twin Lakes where we caught an amazing sunset, enjoyed some fresh curry and gazed at the stars overhead.

Not a bad place to sip some morning coffee right?

Not a bad place to sip some morning coffee right?

Hidden treasures off of Independence Pass

Hidden treasures off of Independence Pass

After a morning spin with Sofia, Day 2 gave me the first time to bust out my new KTM 250! While I prefer to ride my dirt bike on trails, it was fun dual sporting around Twin Lakes.

After a morning spin with Sofia, Day 2 gave me the first time to bust out my new KTM 250! While I prefer to ride my dirt bike on trails, it was fun dual sporting around Twin Lakes.

Up above Twin Lakes.

Up above Twin Lakes.

Too many moto pics? Sorry, I can't help it. I found an old mining road and took it until I reached this point above treeline. Such an incredible ride! Across the valley you can see the first 14ers I ever hiked. Missouri Mountain, Mount Oxford and Mount Belford. 

Too many moto pics? Sorry, I can't help it. I found an old mining road and took it until I reached this point above treeline. Such an incredible ride! Across the valley you can see the first 14ers I ever hiked. Missouri Mountain, Mount Oxford and Mount Belford. 

Day 4 brought us to Vail, Colorado for the Vail Outlier festival. This was the view from the top of the course. Prior to the event, I had never raced my bike up a hill that long. And I'd be ok if that was the last time!

Day 4 brought us to Vail, Colorado for the Vail Outlier festival. This was the view from the top of the course. Prior to the event, I had never raced my bike up a hill that long. And I'd be ok if that was the last time!

I suffered my brains out there barely making it over the top of the climb with Fernando and Josiah. Luckily I had enough energy to pin the descent. I was able to grab the win by a mere 40 seconds. Photo: Eddie Clark

I suffered my brains out there barely making it over the top of the climb with Fernando and Josiah. Luckily I had enough energy to pin the descent. I was able to grab the win by a mere 40 seconds. Photo: Eddie Clark

Day 6; our "restday." This day ended up being one of my most memorable from the trip. Sofia and I hiked out to Lost Lake a few hours before sunset.  

Day 6; our "restday." This day ended up being one of my most memorable from the trip. Sofia and I hiked out to Lost Lake a few hours before sunset.  

We set my hammock up next to the lake and had a nice relaxing afternoon before cooking dinner.

We set my hammock up next to the lake and had a nice relaxing afternoon before cooking dinner.

 As we were enjoying our meals we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. 

 As we were enjoying our meals we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. 

As if that wasn't enough, the Supermoon Eclipse was happening that night so we got to watch the full moon rise and then disappear. 

As if that wasn't enough, the Supermoon Eclipse was happening that night so we got to watch the full moon rise and then disappear. 

As the moon's brightness faded out, the Milkyway and whole night sky shinned brighter than ever. 

As the moon's brightness faded out, the Milkyway and whole night sky shinned brighter than ever. 

Day 7 took us on a journey to the top Mount Yale. Who needs college when you have the collegiate peaks to explore?

Day 7 took us on a journey to the top Mount Yale. Who needs college when you have the collegiate peaks to explore?

The final push to the summit. Surrounded in beauty!

The final push to the summit. Surrounded in beauty!

Crested Butte welcomed us with a pretty amazing sunset

Crested Butte welcomed us with a pretty amazing sunset

Hotel Elemente! 

Hotel Elemente! 

Day 8. Did some exploring around Crested Butte and rode some of the best trails I have ever done. Epic views + sick single track = super stoked me. 

Day 8. Did some exploring around Crested Butte and rode some of the best trails I have ever done. Epic views + sick single track = super stoked me. 

Day 9. Mountain Biking in Crested Butte with Sofia! She's a natural!

Day 9. Mountain Biking in Crested Butte with Sofia! She's a natural!

All the stages of the leaves in one picture.

All the stages of the leaves in one picture.

Day 10. Visited one of Colorado's lesser known National Parks; The Black Canyon. Pictures just don't do this canyon justice. The depth and narrow walls are something unparalleled by any other canyon I've seen. I look forward to exploring this place some more.

Day 10. Visited one of Colorado's lesser known National Parks; The Black Canyon. Pictures just don't do this canyon justice. The depth and narrow walls are something unparalleled by any other canyon I've seen. I look forward to exploring this place some more.

Soaking it all in.

Soaking it all in.

Day 11. Back on the moto. We headed to Lake City and met up with some friends for some throttle twisting and hiking.

Day 11. Back on the moto. We headed to Lake City and met up with some friends for some throttle twisting and hiking.

We did over 100 miles of motoing this day. We rode some trails around Lake City and did a quick rip on the Alpine Loop which goes over two mountain passes through the San Juan's. This is from the top of Engineer Pass. Luckily we avoid the storm in the distance.

We did over 100 miles of motoing this day. We rode some trails around Lake City and did a quick rip on the Alpine Loop which goes over two mountain passes through the San Juan's. This is from the top of Engineer Pass. Luckily we avoid the storm in the distance.

Another from Engineer.

Another from Engineer.

Day 12. Bagging Peaks! Conquered the Wetterhorn. Love the San Juans!

Day 12. Bagging Peaks! Conquered the Wetterhorn. Love the San Juans!

The final pitch to the summit is pretty steep, a little exposed but a good scramble.

The final pitch to the summit is pretty steep, a little exposed but a good scramble.

What goes up, most come down. 

What goes up, most come down. 

Day 13. Back to Crested Butte because it was too good! Those are all Lily pads in the pond.

Day 13. Back to Crested Butte because it was too good! Those are all Lily pads in the pond.

The final day was another moto ride but I did it as a point to point. I didn't take any pictures because I was trying to outrun the first winter storm. Sofia picked me up at our meeting spot as the rain started coming down hardcore. Perfect timing to end the ride and a perfect time to end the road trip and head back home.


For me, this road trip was a dream come true. When I first bought my Element last summer this is exactly what I wanted to do with it. Colorado is truly an amazing place and I am very fortunate I was able to explore it. By the end of the trip, Sofia and I had the system pretty dialed. We both knew what we needed to do when we arrived at our campsite and we got really good and resourceful with our meals. Throughout the whole trip we only ate out 3 times! I can't wait for the next adventure!

It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.





 QUENCHING MY THIRST FOR ADVENTURE

QUENCHING MY THIRST FOR ADVENTURE

Around the age of 12 or 13 I started riding bikes as a means to explore new areas. It was fun, fast and relatively easy to cover a large amount of ground quickly. My family would go camping nearly every weekend and I'd wake up early to get my ride in on the trails around the lake. At home, I was able to see new areas of my city that I had never seen before, and that still holds true today. I imagine only a handful of people have seen more of our cities hidden jems than I. Being an old mining town, there are endless amounts of mining roads, pipelines and ghost towns hidden in the mountains. Just when I think I've discovered all the trails and treasures, I find something new. I love the feeling exploration and discovery give you, even if it is something small and insignificant.

I was later introduced to racing and was instantly hooked even though I finished in the back third of that race. It was a way to test myself against others but most of all it was fun pinning trails as fast as I could. When I was a junior, Colorado had a very strong XC race scene that took me all over the state. Being able to see these new places and ride new trails is what really kept me hungry for the next race. 

10 years later, I'm still getting the opportunity to see new places and, to me, that is one of the best perks to being a mountain bike racer. I've been able to see a lot of the world on my bike that I otherwise wouldn't have. I enjoy the quite mountain towns and villages we visit as you really get to see the country more so than if you visit the tourist areas. 4 years ago I raced in the U.K. in a very small town a few hours north of London. To me, this was getting to see the true U.K. On that same trip, we had a free day to tour London on a double decker bus which was neat, but not the true cultural experience I like to try and get while visiting a new country. 

My racing season recently came to an end after World Champs in Andorra. The race itself didn't go as well as I would've liked, but I'm looking forward to the offseason to see how I can better myself for the 2016. It's going to be a long and important season with the Olympics on the horizon. For now, the first step to gearing up for a successful 2016 is unwinding a bit and quenching my thirst for adventure. Fall is here, my bike needs to see some new trails, I have some peaks to bag, the Moto needs to burn some fuel and I have Sofia around for awhile! It's shaping up to be a good off season. I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by such a strong support system that includes my team and sponsors, friends, family and governing body. Thanks for following along this Mountain Bike season! 

 WISCONSIN PRO XCT

WISCONSIN PRO XCT

After Nationals, I had three days at home before hitting the road for a couple of weeks. This gave me enough time to squeak in one ride in the high country.  Colorado is just perfect this time of year so it was really hard to leave!

I’ve attended the WORS Cup race for quite a few years now and look forward to returning each year. The promoter, Donn, puts on an excellent race on great courses. The WORS Series is alive and well so there are always quite a few people out and about at the venue.

This year, we returned to Cascade Mountain for the second time but we were treated with a new course. Always a pleasant surprise! There was a fair amount of climbing each lap but the descents were long and twisty singletrack giving you ample time to recover before heading out and climbing again the next lap.

Saturday was race day and the weather was calling for some heat and humidity. We really haven’t raced in those kind of conditions thus far this year. I’m not a huge fan of the heat but I think it will better prepare me for Mont Sainte Anne and Windham as both those races can be hot. I had a good start and made the first selection after lap one. McConell made his move on lap two and no one could match his pace. Stephen, Fernando and I came off his pace almost immediately. 

My race started going downhill soon after. I wasn’t riding the descents smooth at all. I was just kind of ping ponging my way down the mountain and flew over the bars once. The gaps were pretty tight for a majority of the race up until the last lap. Sonntag came charging through the field and I was doing the inverse, finishing the day in 6th. Not my best day.. just a little off but I felt strong on the climbs which is good. I’m confident I’ll be riding better next weekend in MSA.

For the 3rd night in a row,  Joe and I hit an Indian restaurant in Madison but we brought in a few others this time and enjoyed a nice post race meal. Love me some Indian! Short Track was a really fast loop with no selection which made it a tactical race. I did a good job of always staying in the top 3 in order to stay out of trouble. On the last lap I went on the longest, open climb hoping I could hold everyone off on the only remaining climb since it was pretty tight and harder to pass. This didn't work as Dan and Cole were able to sneak by me here so I came across in 3rd.

Now it’s off to MSA to kick off my last two World Cups of the year. I’m looking forward to them! It’s also official that I will now be racing Worlds in Andorra this September! Read the press release here.

WORS Cup Pro XCT Results
Men
Women

WORS Cup Short Track Results
Men
Women

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS

After the Colorado Springs Pro XCT I was able to stay at home and train focusing 100% on National Championships. It's been a long time since I've been home for almost all of June and half of July. I was able to get in some quality training and enjoyed my first few days of riding in the high county this year. I elected not to participate in the Pan Am Games as they were the weekend before Nationals and I didn't want to travel down to sea level for the race. Same with the Boston Pro XCT. It sounded like a great event and hopefully the opportunity to race there comes again. 
Mammoth isn't exactly the easiest place to fly into since there is only one flight per day in and out. This was made even more challenging after that the one flight was cancelled. That meant either staying in LA for 24 hours or renting a car and driving the 6 hours up. I was eager to get to Mammoth and choose the rental car option. Kerry and his in-laws were also on the flight so we loaded up and headed north. It was a shame driving in the dark through the southern Sierra's and past Mount Whitney as I'm sure the views would've made the drive go by quite a bit faster. 

The next morning I slept in pretty late missing the only scheduled pre ride time of 7-8 AM. These were the only times we were able to pre ride throughout the whole week. Luckily, once racing for the other categories ended I was able to get on but not until around 5:30 PM. Hopefully in the future USA Cycling can work in better times to get on course. 

I was presently surprised with the course this year. Being at a ski resort, I've began to expect steep, fire road climbs as the norm but not this year. The climb was fast and went by pretty quick. There was then a fairly long flat section across the top that would suite riders who aren't necessarily climbers. The descent back to the venue followed and that did not disappoint. Fast and flowy with some beat up braking bumps. Being that the climb wasn't to steep and the downhill so rough I opted for the full suspension hoping it would deliver me to the bottom of the mountain fresher for the climb. 

Time for some racing! Friday evening rolled around and it was time for the first race of the weekend, short track. I had a good clean start and was feeling good. Quickly Todd and I separated from the rest of the field. Throughout the whole race, we took turns at the front. Sometimes one of us would turn the screws but couldn't create any separation. Knowing that we had XC the next day, neither of us really wanted to go 100% in the red I think. Stephan would bridge across a couple times and hit the front immediately, great race for him. Unfortunately with 2 laps to go, Todd flatted while leading me on the descent. This left me out front solo meaning I just needed to have a clean lap and I would take the W. It's a shame we couldn't battle it to the end properly. It's hard to say who was riding stronger, I felt comfortable when he flatted and was planning to attack the last hill but I'm sure he was too. While I wish it would've come different, I'm excited to be the new Short Track National Champion and winning in front of my parents made it even better. 

Next up was the Cross Country. Keegan led the start out and threw down a furious pace. This quickly separated the field into 6 of us; Todd, Keegan, Stephen, Alex, Howie and I. The pace sent me a bit into the red but I didn't want to loose the group as there was a descent amount of drafting. Todd led into the descent followed by Hardtail Howie. Howie wasn't descending as quick on the hardtail, setting Todd up with a gap that he held for a majority of the race. The next lap up Stephen tried to pass Alex in a corner and ended up sending himself into some deeper gravel. Howie capitalized on Stephen's mistake, attacked our group and bridged up to Todd. It was pretty clear to me at this point Howie was the strongest guy today. We were in the box and he attacked as if we had just started the race. 

The chase then began to intensify and I couldn't match the pace. I was in a bit of a bad spot the 3rd and 4th laps and started going backwards. I threw down a gel and Enduro Bite and started to come back to life. The gaps were still fairly tight at this point so I still had hopes of a podium finish. I could see the Cannondale trio ahead and really wanted to be up there getting some draft instead of being in no mans land. Having them close kept me motivated though. I rode better the last 2 laps passing Todd and nearly catching Stephen ending up 5th on the day. I'm content with the the result, but was really hoping for a podium finish. My bike was running flawless out there so a big thanks goes out to Joe and the whole SRAM crew.

Earlier in the day Luca grabbed a 3rd place in the elite Downhill race. Not a bad weekend for SRAM TLD! Sunday was a free day which meant exploring Mammoth a bit. I rode the lift to the very top of the mountain and descended all the way back into town! The trails were amazing and the views of the surrounding mountains were even better. Joe took me to the airport later that day with a little pit stop at Convict Lake to throw some line. I'm still a fly fishing noob, so most my time was spent untangling line but Joe caught one little guy pretty quick! I hope to come back to Mammoth one day to properly explore the area. 

A quick 3 1/2 days at home, then it's off to Wisconsin and the 2 North American World a Cups!

COLORADO SPRINGS US CUP

COLORADO SPRINGS US CUP

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated the ol’ blog here. Once you accidentally forget to right a report for one race it’s pretty easy to get behind and next thing you know you’ve left out 3 months of racing. Opps. I’ll try to stay on top of it for the remainder of the season.

This past weekend was the hometown Pro XCT. I haven’t had the best of races leading up to the weekend but I was excited to have the opportunity to race in front of my friends and family and get some good momentum rolling for the rest of the season. The race took place in Pulpit Park which has plenty of fun and technical trails but unfortunately the course did not utilize most of them. I do think the course is a fun one to race because it has a little bit of everything. Tactics play into it more than normal, there is some slow technical riding and a run up that puts you in the hurt locker.

After a casual morning sipping coffee and spinning the legs on the road bike with Sofia, it was time to head over to the venue to get ready for some racing. The 2:30pm start came much quicker than the 7pm start in Missoula the weekend prior, a warm welcome. I had a front row start which allowed me to have a good start. I was sitting in the top 5 the first lap which I thought was good positioning but Todd decided to nail it early and got a descent gap on the only real technical sections. The Scott 3-Rox boys were on hard tails and couldn’t ride this section as fast as those of us on full suspension bikes so I knew this is where I needed to make my move on the next lap to bridge across to Todd if I had the legs.

I conserved energy by sitting in and on the next lap, moved to the front right before the run up and nailed it hoping I could make it across to Todd before heading out for the last half of the lap. There was a stiff headwind here so I knew if I could get across I’d be able to recover a bit and then begin helping drive the pace later on. I was able to make contact just before the feed zone, mission accomplished! Gagne also came across and for the remainder of the race it was the 3 of us trying to stay away from a group of 4; the Sho-Air boys and Scott 3-Rox boys. According to Velonews, I apparently just sat on the whole time but I thought I did my fair share of work. 

                                                           Having a little fun out there

                                                           Having a little fun out there

I decided I would make my move on the final fire road section just before a long singeltrack section. I nailed it hard and was able to get to the single track section first. I thought as long as I kept the pace high on the short sections of double track left, I had it in the bag. I thought wrong and Gagne was able to make a somewhat sketchy pass around me. I didn’t think it was worth crashing both of us over so I didn’t shut the door on him. I ended up 2nd on the day which I was really happy with, but still a bit disappointed to be so close to grabbing a win in my home town. It was a dramatic finish as Todd and several others thought he may have nipped me on the line. I honestly don’t know as I had my head down but the officials gave 2nd to me. Sort of a dramatic finish to an XC race. Ha!

                                                                     A battle to the end.

                                                                     A battle to the end.

                                                                Champagne Showers

                                                                Champagne Showers

The next day was short track and I was hoping I could move up one step over yesterday. The short track was another tactical race with no one really wanting to commit to an attack and no one wanting to pull through too hard. This kept the group fairly large but I made sure to always stay positioned well and try to conserve energy. Finally on the last lap, we were still a group of 5 and I hit it on the asphalt climb. I got a bit of gap but couldn’t hold the pace allowing Keegan then Todd to make contact and jump around me. From this point on there wasn’t any passing so I just tried to hold Keegan’s wheel and came across in 3rd. Short Tracks are always a fun hard effort so it was nice to get that in the legs, and get a descent result out of it.

This race was also the final round of the US Cup series. I was able to move into 6th after the weekends result. Big thanks to Scott Tedro for putting on an amazing series, I already can’t wait for a an even bigger 2016!

Next up for me is the US National Championships in Mammoth, California! I’m looking forward to it! 

 

RACE MEDIA:

Here are some links to different articles and results from the weekend:

Cross Country coverage and Photo Gallery from The Gazette
Cross Country coverage and Photo Gallery from Pro Velo Passion
Coverage from the US Cup
Short Track coverage from The Gazette

Pro Men XC Results
Pro Women XC Results
 

BONELLI HC

BONELLI HC

It may only be half way through the month of April, but we are already in the thick of cross-country racing here in the US. After a short and sweet 10 days in Colorado Springs it was back to California for round 3 of the US Cup in Bonelli Park. This was our second time racing at the park so far this year, but this time it was categorized as a HC level UCI race; one below a World Cup. This meant plenty of international heavy hitters would be attending and a large amount of UCI points were on the line. Scott Tedro put together what I thought was the best course we have raced thus far in Bonelli. As always, there was plenty of punchy climbing but this time the course transitioned better from uphill to downhill. 

I may have only been home for 10 days, but it was still enough for mother nature to deliver some snow.

I may have only been home for 10 days, but it was still enough for mother nature to deliver some snow.

                                                    I sure am glad to have her back :)

                                                    I sure am glad to have her back :)

Last time in Bonelli, I was coming off a stint with Bronchitis and struggled in the 90+ degree heat. I was looking for a little redemption this weekend and had everything on my side to do so. Temperatures were calling for mid 70’s, I had some good altitude training in me and my Superfly 100 was in tip-top shape thanks to the man Joe Devera. I scored some solid points at Pan Ams in Colombia which moved me up to the second row here but I still managed to have a less than ideal start. I found myself in around 20th after the start lap so I went all in on lap number one to get myself further up. I was able to make it into the top 10, sitting in a group of 5. As the race went on, I moved up some and found myself battling it out for 6th place amongst the other Trek guys. I ended up fading a bit the last 1.5 laps but held it together and rode in for a 10th place finish, which was my goal for the day. 17 of the top 50 guys in the UCI rankings were in attendance making this one of the most competitive races we’ve had in the US, with the exception of the World Cup in Windham.

                                                                 Photo: Todd Booth

                                                                 Photo: Todd Booth

I’m happy with how my fitness is coming along. Each race I feel better than the last so I am hoping to keep that momentum rolling through Sea Otter this weekend and into the first World Cups come May! I arrived in Monterey yesterday and am looking forward to getting back to racing Friday in the short track! This will be the first time having the whole SRAM | TLD crew together in awhile so it should be fun!

On another note, huge shout out goes to my teammate Luca Shaw for finishing up 11th in his first Elite World Cup! Photo: Adrian Marcoux

On another note, huge shout out goes to my teammate Luca Shaw for finishing up 11th in his first Elite World Cup! Photo: Adrian Marcoux

PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015

PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015

South America in General is perhaps my favorite location to travel to because it is unlike anywhere else in the world I've ever visited. From the outside, everything seems very unorganized and laid back, but I've learned that's just how it works down here. 

There is plenty of poverty and questionable looking living quarters, but you meet a local to the area and they are happier and friendlier than can be. They don't get frustrated with my "gringo espanol" but instead try to help you understand them and help you out if they can. In America, I feel that foreigners aren't treated with this same kind of companionship. Instead, most would get frustrated with said foreigner and insist they speak English.

Navigating traffic. A motorcycle or bicycle is for sure the fastest way to get around here.

Navigating traffic. A motorcycle or bicycle is for sure the fastest way to get around here.

On day one in Cota, Colombia, Spencer, Howard and I came across several youngins who insisted we come over and try their dirt jumps. It was a great experience trying to communicate with them. We had a descent conversation and some jokes were cracked. They thought Spencer had a big nose and brought it to his attention! I could see how being immersed in a county that speaks another language would force you to pick up that language very quickly. I felt in our 15 minutes with these kids, my vocabulary grew quite a bit. One kid even pointed that out by saying my Spanish is getting better.

                               Dirt jumps! They were actually impressed with our skills..

                               Dirt jumps! They were actually impressed with our skills..

As we left the dirt jumps, the kids rode with us for a bit. One sprinted by yelling Nairo Quintana as he passed! I thought that was quite funny!

As we left the dirt jumps, the kids rode with us for a bit. One sprinted by yelling Nairo Quintana as he passed! I thought that was quite funny!

The main reason for coming to Colombia was the 2015 Pan American Championships; a competition open to any North or South American. This was my 5th time competing in the event but my second time returning to Colombia. While the course was a different venue, I had a good idea of what to expect.

The race started at 8,500 feet and after not being at altitude since way back in Decemeber, I knew I needed to race a smart race and ride within my limits. The course was very demanding; tons of climbing with little recovery. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was happy I brought my full suspension down. The elite men had 7 laps on tap which was going to take it's toll on you. I believe it came out to almost 4,000 feet of climbing in just 15 miles.

                The view from the top of the course looking down on the town of Cota.

                The view from the top of the course looking down on the town of Cota.

              Howard (your new U23 Pan Am Champion!) in his element.. steep climbing!

              Howard (your new U23 Pan Am Champion!) in his element.. steep climbing!

I had a good start and found myself sitting in 3rd after lap one. I rode my pace which meant forcing others to pass me, but I stayed within my limits. I fell back as far as 15th, but was knocking out consistent lap times. The last 3 laps I started picking guys off and finished the day in 9th. Perhaps I could've pushed it more but I was nervous about potentially blowing up. Some valuable UCI points were accumulated which will help out immensely at the first World Cup come May

                Post race Merengones (a type of cake!) were a nice treat after a hard race!

                Post race Merengones (a type of cake!) were a nice treat after a hard race!

I got out of Colombia pretty quick, catching the 12:14 AM flight out of Bogota. I'm back in Tucson for a day and then I'll begin the drive back to Colorado. I'm already looking forward to riding Capatin Jacks later this week!

A huge thank goes out to Marc (National Team director), Tom Neb (mechanic) and Bernard Condevaux (soigneur) for all their hard work. They are the behind the scene operation that keeps team USA rolling. Thanks a ton guys! As a whole, I think this was one of team USA's best Pan Ams in recent years. 8 podiums and 3 wins!

FONTANA US CUP

FONTANA US CUP

This weekend the US Cup headed to Fontana, California for round #2 of the series. I opted to stay in California the week in between which was nice and relaxing. I was staying really close to a Coffee Klatch which meant plenty of Nitro Brew to keep me going :)

I’ve raced in Fontana plenty of times over the last few years and really enjoy the “old school” feel of the course. In the early season, I find I don’t quite have the punch that the courses with the shorter climbs demand. The Fontana course has a longer sustained climb where you can get into a rhythm, followed up by a fun descent that gives you a chance to recover before heading out for another lap. This weekends field was just as stacked as Bonelli with Olympic medallists and plenty of current or former national champions toeing the line. It’s awesome having World Cup level races here in the States. I think it will help all of us North American guys by racing these more competitive fields without having to travel across the pond to Europe.

Back to the race. I lined up on the 3rd row and when the gun went off, I held my spot until we hit the open asphalt climb. There, I nailed it as hard as I could to get myself closer to the front group. I found myself sitting around 10th going into the descent on lap one. The group kind of split on the descent and that was the last time I’d see the front group. For the rest of the race I found myself hovering around 11th-15th. I ended up finishing the day in 13th which I was content with and being that the race was an HC category I got some good UCI points! I felt much better out there this weekend compared to the last, so hopefully that trend continues this weekend down in Colombia.

                                Keepin' er pinned in Fontucky! Photo: Matt DeLorme

                                Keepin' er pinned in Fontucky! Photo: Matt DeLorme

Big thanks to Evan and Angie for the awesome support out there this weekend! Feeds were dialed and my bike was running like a dream.

Big thanks to Evan and Angie for the awesome support out there this weekend! Feeds were dialed and my bike was running like a dream.

Once the race season starts, it’s hard to get good solid blocks of training in because you are either racing or recovering. That makes it hard to build form as the season goes on but I’ve been using the mornings before short track to get some time in and then getting solid intensity from the race. 3pm came pretty quick and it was time for some short track! I was able to line up on the front row. I had a good start and settled into 3rd position after lap one. Someone crashed right behind me giving Todd, Kohei and I a bit of a gap. The three of us capitalized on this and hit it pretty hard. I eventually got yo-yo’ed off the group thanks to a strong and snappy Yo T Wells. I went backwards after this until I found a group to settle in with. Todd’s attack sticked, I ended up 9th. Some good intensity in the legs for sure!
 

                                                           Short Track = suffering!

                                                           Short Track = suffering!

As soon as the race was over Stage B started: the drive from Fontana to Tucson. The highway from LA to Phoenix was pretty packed with cars but luckily we were moving a good speed. It was just super stressful! There was an accident just before an alternate route you could take back to Tucson. I opted to go that route which was much more enjoyable and way less stressful. I put the trusty Element on cruise control and rolled back into the Dirty T just after 10pm that night. 

This morning I hit probably my last group ride down here in Tucson for the year. I’ll miss the Tuesday and Saturday rides down here.. they are some of the best group training you can get in my opnion. Thursday I am off to Cota, Colombia where I’ll be flying the red, white and blue at the Pan Am Champs! I visited Colombia in 2010 for Pan Ams and am really looking forward to heading back!

                                      This was race registration down in Colombia last time!

                                      This was race registration down in Colombia last time!

                                                     Some of the crew from the 2010 team

                                                     Some of the crew from the 2010 team

BACK ON THE START LINE

BACK ON THE START LINE

September comes around and the off season begins. By the end of a long and tiring summer filled with racing, I am ready for some downtime and a break from racing. But by the time December rolls around, I am fired up to get back into a training routine and start racing. This year I headed south to Tucson to ensure I was able to get consistent time in the saddle and train in a warmer climate compared to Colorado in order prepare for the first California races. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Tucson over the years but have always stayed on the east side of town. This year I have been living with the Well’s on the west side. It’s been nice exploring new roads and trails. Each side has it’s perks and I’m still undecided which one I prefer. Todd’s house is much closer to the most amazing Mexican restaurant ever, Seis, as well as the Mexican Bakery (.55 cent donuts!) so that may give the west side the win.

Crested Saguaro! It is believed to be a rare genetic mutation that causes this to happen. Brian Matter has found almost 30. I've seen 2.

Crested Saguaro! It is believed to be a rare genetic mutation that causes this to happen. Brian Matter has found almost 30. I've seen 2.

                                                                          Desert singletrack! 

                                                                          Desert singletrack! 

                            Everything is out to get you! Cactus, rocks, snakes. You name it!

                            Everything is out to get you! Cactus, rocks, snakes. You name it!

                                         The man, the myth, the legend.. Mr. Cooper Wells!

                                         The man, the myth, the legend.. Mr. Cooper Wells!

                                             Desert sunsets are some of the best I've seen!

                                             Desert sunsets are some of the best I've seen!

anuary treated me really well! I got plenty of solid base rides in, and the first block of intervals was looking encouraging. When I looked back at a field test from 2013 in Tucson, I was doing my 3 x 20 minute efforts this year at a higher power than my max 20 minute max effort then. It’s pretty neat to see how you progress over time. Unfortunately, just after finishing this block of intervals I caught a cold which would hang with me for the next 5 weeks. It took me down pretty hard at first but after a few days I was able to ease back into riding my bike. I was feeling better just in time for our team camp. I had an awesome time catching up with everyone and am looking forwarded to sharing some of the work we did there in the next couple weeks. Once I returned to Tucson, I was excited to get back to some steady training and the final prep for the first races. I wasn’t feeling like myself on the bike and just couldn’t kick the lingering cough so I headed to the doctor. Turns out I had picked up Bronchitis and was put on medication to help knock it out. I finished the 10 day cycle the Wednesday before Bonelli and after being on the fence about racing or not, I decided to head to California.

           A Le Buzz cookie.. the perfect reward for a hard, but successful day of intervals!

           A Le Buzz cookie.. the perfect reward for a hard, but successful day of intervals!

             The PG trail in Laguna Beach is not very fun on the hard tail. Lot's of gnarly stuff!

             The PG trail in Laguna Beach is not very fun on the hard tail. Lot's of gnarly stuff!

                                  A stormy sunset from the patio of our house at team camp

                                  A stormy sunset from the patio of our house at team camp

Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much out of myself after a lackluster February of training but decided to give it a go anyways. I felt I was on the rebound going into the race. I figured a race effort would be good for me. I was happily surprised with how I rode the first 2/3rds of the race, sitting in the top 20, but then I flatted with about 3/4ths of a lap to go. Going into the season, a top 10 was the goal out here so I'm hoping to find myself up there this weekend in Fontana. The way I look at it, I am getting all my bad luck out of the way early this season! Each day I am feeling more like myself on the bike, which is encouraging going into the next couple of races. After Fontana I am heading to Colombia for the Pan Am Championships, a good opportunity to score some UCI points. 

Back on the start line! Check out my hand painted lid from the guys at TLD. They did an amazing job with it!

Back on the start line! Check out my hand painted lid from the guys at TLD. They did an amazing job with it!

It is so awesome to have such high quality racing in the States now. Scott Tedro has done an amazing job creating a premier race series and it showed this weekend. If you didn’t catch the replay from Bonelli, head to uscup.net and check it out. This weekends race in Fontana will also be tape delayed and played a couple hours after. That means you can get in a few hours yourself, then catch the race while laying on the couch! 

Mid week intervals in Cucamonga Canyon. My bike takes me to some unique and beautiful spots!

Mid week intervals in Cucamonga Canyon. My bike takes me to some unique and beautiful spots!

'TIS THE SEASON

'TIS THE SEASON

After the World Championships in Norway, the mountain bike racing season has pretty much come to an end. There were still a few races on the calendar, but those races were more for fun and to use as a test to make sure the fitness hasn't dipped too low. 

I really enjoy the fall months not only because of the beautiful Colorado scenery but also the opportunity to step away from the day in and day out training that racing demands. I like to refer to these months as the adventure season. My coach, Jim Lehman, still lays out a loose training program but if I wake up feeling like twisting the throttle of the moto or lacing up my hiking shoes you can guarantee that's what I'm going to do.

Every adventure season, I find myself seeking out more challenging and unique trips. Colorado has so much to offer and fall is perfect time to discover these gems. I thought the best way to share some of these experiences was through pictures: 

First up on the agenda was knocking out the Ring the Peak trail system. The ride circles Pikes Peak over the course of 67 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing. I thought this would be a good idea after 6 days off the bike.. ouch!

First up on the agenda was knocking out the Ring the Peak trail system. The ride circles Pikes Peak over the course of 67 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing. I thought this would be a good idea after 6 days off the bike.. ouch!

A trip down south was in order to check out the San Juan mountains. The KTM is a good way to cover a lot of ground quickly.

A trip down south was in order to check out the San Juan mountains. The KTM is a good way to cover a lot of ground quickly.

It's easy to see way the moto riding in Rico, Colorado is my favorite place to ride. Phenomenal trails and even better views.

It's easy to see way the moto riding in Rico, Colorado is my favorite place to ride. Phenomenal trails and even better views.

Two full days of motoing will put you in the hurt locker so a nice spin on the road bikes with Sofia was just what my body needed. Knighthorse lake in Durango, Colorado.

Two full days of motoing will put you in the hurt locker so a nice spin on the road bikes with Sofia was just what my body needed. Knighthorse lake in Durango, Colorado.

A transition day to Ouray via the Million Dollar Highway was filled with, well.. Million Dollar views.

A transition day to Ouray via the Million Dollar Highway was filled with, well.. Million Dollar views.

The night before we were planning to hike Mount Sneffels, it rained all night. There was a storm moving in the day we planned to hike to the top of the 14er, but luckily it held off and we had a pristine day of hiking.

The night before we were planning to hike Mount Sneffels, it rained all night. There was a storm moving in the day we planned to hike to the top of the 14er, but luckily it held off and we had a pristine day of hiking.

Sofia and I took the non-standard route to the summit which involved scrambling some tougher class 2 rock formations. We decided to take the standard route down. It was extremely steep and filled with many loose rocks.

Sofia and I took the non-standard route to the summit which involved scrambling some tougher class 2 rock formations. We decided to take the standard route down. It was extremely steep and filled with many loose rocks.

Looking down the Yankee Boy Basin towards Ouray, Colorado. It's easy to see why this region is called the Switzerland of America. Looking forward to getting back!

Looking down the Yankee Boy Basin towards Ouray, Colorado. It's easy to see why this region is called the Switzerland of America. Looking forward to getting back!

I used the occasional Cyclo-cross race to gauge my fitness and keep in shape for the Iceman Cometh.

I used the occasional Cyclo-cross race to gauge my fitness and keep in shape for the Iceman Cometh.

                                                         More moto'ing. Because brapppp

                                                         More moto'ing. Because brapppp

I began to explore the Sangre de Cristo mountains for the first time and fell in love with them. 3 full days of hiking and didn't see one other person. Serenity.

I began to explore the Sangre de Cristo mountains for the first time and fell in love with them. 3 full days of hiking and didn't see one other person. Serenity.

The fun and challenging thing about climbing 13ers versus 14ers is that there is no defined trail to the top as well as limited information on routes. I saw this couloir on my topo map and decided to take what should be called the express route. Over 2,300 feet of climbing in just under 1 miles.

The fun and challenging thing about climbing 13ers versus 14ers is that there is no defined trail to the top as well as limited information on routes. I saw this couloir on my topo map and decided to take what should be called the express route. Over 2,300 feet of climbing in just under 1 miles.

After some admittedly sketchy and exposed rock scrambling I made it to my second summit of the day and ultimate goal, Mount Adams.

After some admittedly sketchy and exposed rock scrambling I made it to my second summit of the day and ultimate goal, Mount Adams.

           "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirt." - Edward Abbey

           "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirt." - Edward Abbey

On the approach to Humboldt Peak, I was able to watch the moon set behind The Crestone Needle.

On the approach to Humboldt Peak, I was able to watch the moon set behind The Crestone Needle.

                                                        No hang gliders in the wilderness.

                                                        No hang gliders in the wilderness.

Summit Selfie on top of Humboldt Peak (14,065 ft.) with the Crestone's in the background. The bluebird skies may make it look warm out but I would estimate wind gusts were around 60mph and the temperature with the windchill was well below 0 degrees.

Summit Selfie on top of Humboldt Peak (14,065 ft.) with the Crestone's in the background. The bluebird skies may make it look warm out but I would estimate wind gusts were around 60mph and the temperature with the windchill was well below 0 degrees.

My last two races of the season were over; Iceman and the Palo Duro Marathon. It was time to step away from the bike for my offseason break, and no better place to do that than in the desert sun!

My last two races of the season were over; Iceman and the Palo Duro Marathon. It was time to step away from the bike for my offseason break, and no better place to do that than in the desert sun!

Straight from Amarillo, I headed to Moab (with a layover in Durango for some hiking and Bread!) to meet up with Schultz and DJ Brooks. We were all there for different reasons, but the mutual objective was just getting out there and relaxing.

Straight from Amarillo, I headed to Moab (with a layover in Durango for some hiking and Bread!) to meet up with Schultz and DJ Brooks. We were all there for different reasons, but the mutual objective was just getting out there and relaxing.

Most of our time was spent in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park.

Most of our time was spent in the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park.

I've never gone to Moab just to hike. Known as a paradise to most mountain bikers, it was strange not getting out on two wheels at all.

I've never gone to Moab just to hike. Known as a paradise to most mountain bikers, it was strange not getting out on two wheels at all.

Druid Arch. Supposedly it was formed through the freeze and thaw effects of water as well as erosion, but I think aliens placing it there is more likely.

Druid Arch. Supposedly it was formed through the freeze and thaw effects of water as well as erosion, but I think aliens placing it there is more likely.

                                                                     Just hanging out.

                                                                     Just hanging out.

                                                        Delicate Arch. Again, Aliens?

                                                        Delicate Arch. Again, Aliens?

How's that for a picture dump? That pretty much sums up my fall, or adventure season, for the most part. A goal of mine for 2015 is to stay more "rounded" as an athlete. I'm guilty of getting into the routine of training, racing and recovering. I want to stay active by getting out and doing some hikes at least a couple times a month and checking out places in Colorado I have yet to visit.

2014 treated me really well on the race course. I'm so grateful for all the support from my friends, family and generous sponsors for allowing me to pursue my goals and dreams.  Just a few more days off the bike and it's time to start putting the miles in for 2015. Thanks for reading!