Mud and Cowbells. Gin & Trombones. Dump Trucks & Hay Bales? The first two are examples of cyclocross speak. Mud and Cowbells is one of my favorite cyclocross related blogs. Gin & Trombones has to be the best model name for a cross bike ever. The last example, doesn’t seem to fit. I can pretty much promise you this: if you show up to the venue of a cyclocross race, and there are as many dump trucks, backhoes and bucket loaders in the parking lot as there are cars, chances are you are are going to be racing at a construction site. This is what was going through my mind as I rolled in to the Raleigh Cross #2 event. Held at the “This Is The Place” park, my instinct told me it was going to suck. My instincts are pretty good, after having sucked at cyclocross many times before. The thing I have learned over the years is the first cross race of the season is a shock to your system. It’s not like any criterium, time trial, road race, or mountain bike race you have done in the last 9 months leading up to cyclocross season. It hurts way more, and no matter what sort of form you thought you had, after the gun goes off, you feel like the biggest pussy until you settle in and claw your way into the midway point of the race. Then it just plain sucks, because you are only half way done. I’m not going to bullshit anybody, this course was not very fun, but I needed to shock the monkey and get that first one under the belt. I teetered between 3rd and 4th, then moved up when the early leader had tire problems and had to stop for a wheel. I punched it as best I could and held on for 2nd place, not knowing who the guy was who beat me and not really caring. Just had to get that first one out of the way.

Raleigh Cyclocross Race, Salt Lake City, Utah

Dry, dusty, and not much fun.

As painful as it was to hear updates from Darth and Esteban while they were having THE epic moto adventure of the year, it was damn good to know they were shiny side up and not encountering any major issues. So I welcomed the occasional photos of their shenanigans, even though they were painful reminders that I was missing out on something grand. Last September, we all did a ride that took us over some of Colorado’s famed high passes. We knocked off Cinnamon Pass and Engineer’s Pass, and would have done Imogene had it not been for a mountain trail running race that closed Imogene to all motorized traffic. This caused us to change our plans and hit Engineer’s Pass instead. Coming down that pass in the dusk to dark was one of the most challenging rides I have ever done on a big bike, and when we finally hit pavement above the jeweled lights of Ouray below, all I could think about was a steak, a beer, a hot shower, and a warm bed. We had a surreal ride into a town that had not a single hotel room available because of the aforementioned running race. I vowed to return to Ouray on a moto trip someday under different circumstances; at a time when it was not so booked solid, and via a route that was not as white-knuckled. Darth and Esteban chose to up the ante and tackle Imogene, as well as Black Bear Pass. The beta on Black Bear is that it you screw up, you die. The rocky trail is exposed to the point where if you go off the side, you can forget it. Below is a photo of Darth’s encounter with the Orso Negro. No report on how or why this happened, only that it looked worse than it was. I’m hoping to get a few journal entries from the boys, because other than the photos below, we don’t have a narrative from the trip, other than they are back and the horses are safe in the barn.

Damage to headers on BMW F800 GS

Darth hit something with teeth on Black Bear Pass

Esteban Frito up high in the Rocky Mountains

Esteban aboard the big KTM 950 Adventure. Photo courtesy of Nathan Rafferty.

The top of Imogene Pass

Darth Nater on top of Imogene. Photo courtesy of Nathan Rafferty.

41 year old twat waffle Duane “Dewey” Dickey get s lifetime ban for popping EPO and other performance enhancing medicines, and for failing to cooperate with an out of competition test by USADA. Read all about it in the Velo News. Let’s just say, when you have been racing as long as I have, you hear rumors. And we’ve all heard the rumors.

Why is this significant, that a little known local legend from the midwest gets a lifetime ban? It’s significant to me, because when friends and family members ask me with disbelief “do you really think local guys are doping just to be top cat in the local race series, I always have a tough time being emphatic solely based on just hearsay and rumors. This is sad really, I don’t know this guy, but generally don’t give much credit to lifetime cheats. You cheat all your life (or most of it), you should get a lifetime ban. Scratch another name from the 40+ Masters Nationals start list in Bend next summer! It might just be me and you, Timmer.