The Portland Short Track Series is coming to an end with just two more races to go. Meanwhile it's really starting to feel like summer out here in Portland, Oregon and cyclocross season is just around the corner. As much as I love coming out to PIR for racing on Monday nights it's kinda messed up that we have to pedal all the way out to North Portland to enjoy riding bikes on dirt. Will Portland ever give Mountain Bikers trail access? I shot some video of my Cat 2 race which will hopefully be up in the next day or two. Josh Kelly found his legs in the Elite race holding off a super fast field for the win. There was finally beer for sale at the venue and post race peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the bomb.
P.S. I won't be mad if you just head on over to Yung Pine's photo gallery right now because his documentation of the race is just insane!
It’s warm out as I cross the recently opened Tilikum Bridge. I am on my way to compete in the Rapha Portland Tropy Cup at the Portland International Raceway. It’s the last race of the series and I am feeling a little anxious. [portfolio_slideshow id=4810 width=1300]
The venue feels empty and I guess I imagined that there would be more people. Even the taco cart decided to not show up.
I took it easy over the weekend and my legs are free of any lactic acid. I am feeling good. Fresh. I am sitting in the 2nd row. Three minutes to go. Waiting is the worst. The whistle blows and the bunch is off. Theres a crash before the first turn and I make my way around it. Soon after I am forced into the tape. He apologizes but rubbing is racing and theres definitely no hard feelings.
I am back in the race and my efforts are sustainable. I feel strong and I am playing it smart. Two laps to go and I am on the wheel of 13 year old Nathanael Hart. He beat me last week and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to cross the line ahead of him. Its Nathanael and I on the last lap and we’re racing for 8th place. I make my move over the last set of barriers. It would have been over right then and there if it weren’t for lapped traffic. As we make our way onto the last straight away, the checkered flag in the distance, I watch Nathanael sprint by. I cross the finish line with a smile on my face and give Nathanael a huge high five.
What an amazing way to wrap up such an incredible series. Huge shout out to everyone that made the Portland Trophy Cup happen. I had a blast, my wife had a blast and I know everyone else has a blast. I am already looking forward to next year!
I spent the weekend on the McKenzie River biking in the remote mountains in the Willamette National Forest. My legs are hardened with lactic acid, bruised from miles of single track and bloody from the unforgiving earth. I am on my way to the Portland International Raceway to race the Rapha Portland Trophy Cup. It’s my first race back since getting injured. My legs are dead but my spirits are high. [portfolio_slideshow id=4776 width=1300]
Cyclocross is kinda like going back to school after being on a vacation break. Everyone is grouped up and eyeing the new kids that roll up. One of the major differences though is how warm and inviting the cyclocross community is. I’ve always been an outsider and I imagine that will never change. But I’ve met a lot of cool people through cycling and it’s one of things that brings me back every week.
The B’s are called up and I am sitting in the second row. The race hasn’t even started yet and I am already being pushed around. At this moment I realize what my strategy will be. Ride a manageable pace, make no mistakes and try to see how many people I can pick off.
A whistle is blown and we’re off. I fade to the back of the pack. My breathing is good and I find my rhythm. The race strings out and I can see the lead pack far off in the distance. I am fighting for last place but I am ok with it. I am smiling and it shows in my riding. I am making solid line choices, my hands off the brakes, the barrier mounts and dismounts become fluid. I work my way into 17th place. I am smiling and honestly thats all that really matters.
It’s the last lap and I find myself on the the wheel of a 13 year old. He’s killing it. A rider off the back makes his way up and I witness him bully the younger rider. I wish I had the strength to chase him down. What a fucking asshole.
I cross the finish line with a smile on my face and It’s the first time I’ve consciously enjoyed a cyclocross race.
[two_first] [/two_first][two_second] [/two_second]
[portfolio_slideshow id=4691 width=1200] I bought the series pass. No excuses now; I have to race.
I am at work, the race is at 6:30 and I look at the clock in hopes that it strikes five. I kit up in the work bathroom, my hands are sweating and I haven’t even left the office. It’s roughly nine miles to the race and there is a bike path that takes me all the way there. Portland is fucking amazing that way.
Russ has a tent set up and kind enough to let me crash the party. I am super thankful for all the amazing friends I’ve made through cycling.
It’s 6:30 and the bunch is at the starting line. The ref calls up the B’s and everything suddenly gets real. Why didn’t I just sign up for C’s? It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I signed up. Yet as I pull up to the front as a B all that nervousness simply falls away. This has been happening a lot lately and I embrace it every opportunity I get.
A whistle blows or maybe it’s a bell that rings. Doesn’t matter because we’re off. My goal for the race is to ride conservatively, to survive and not get lapped. All that shit goes right out the window and I am racing. The barriers are approaching in the distance, I dismount and everything goes smoothly. I hear my wife cheering me on in the distance and I push forward. Racing is hard.
I make a lot of mistakes. Everyone is making a lot of mistakes. The last lap is the hardest and I am looking forward to just finishing the damn race. I am with one other rider and we’re fighting for a mid pack finish. We sprint to the finish but my legs feel strong and I drop him before the line. Never had to work so hard for 12th place in my life.
Racing is hard.