National Champ and Worlds Rider
A man told me today "Racing cross in Europe is like baptism by volcano." Well, congrats @ashley_zoerner on your baptism. An early race collision left Ashley on the verge of tears and barely able to limp around postrace, much less race a bike to her full potential. But, she showed perseverance and got some great experience that will come back in spades.
Nationals and Worlds CX Racer
Today's U23 race wasn't what dreams are made of for @gchecht, but it did once again prove that this young man is tougher and more driven than most. After crashing at last weekend's World Cup and not being able to finish, Gage had his hand immobilized in a cast with what was later diagnosed as a bone chip and ligament damage. In addition, sickness ran rampant through the team and left few of the guys racing at 100%. Gage managed a relatively clean 26th place, showed some his true colors by making the best of situation, and gained more experience that will one day help him reach his goal of being a World Champion. Kudos Sir! #ontothenextone #howwedo #cantstopwontstop
Better late than never. Gage Hecht recaps his first big UCI Under 23 weekend!
I always enjoy the time that I spend competing in bike races, and this weekend was no exception. Because this was my first big UCI weekend with a U23 category in it, I spent the week before imagining what the new racing would be like.
What better way to start a trip like this off, than a road trip? On Thursday we headed across the Great Plains. Road trips are always a good opportunity to bond with teammates. As boring as seventeen hours in a car may sound, its pretty fun with this group.
After our arrival into Cincinnati, we were able to go to each course and get familiar with the features they presented. These are the days that you go out and hit one section hundreds of times until you know that you have found the line that will be the fastest. For me, it’s one of my favorite parts of racing outside of the competition itself.
After a lap or two around the Devou Park course, I realized that because of the combination of speed and extremely technical sections, the Pan-American Championships would ultimately play out to be an elimination race. A group would form and throughout the race, riders would make mistakes and be dropped from that group. Knowing this, I set a goal to stay within the top three riders with the hopes of making the podium.
The day of the race hit and the excitement had built up. We arrived at the venue early so we could watch Katie race. After a day of watching others race, it was finally my turn.
I made it through the first lap unscathed, but I continually came close to others falls. After a few laps, the race had come down to Curtis White, Spencer Petrov, and I. The remainder of the race consisted of constant attacking. By the time three laps appeared on the lap counter, I was doing all I could to hang on to the group During the final lap, Curtis left Spencer and I. It came down to a sprint, and I was barely able to pull around Spencer at the end. I was so proud be able to stand on the podium of the U23 Pan-Ams.
On Sunday, Brannan and I woke up and rode to the course. It was nice to be in a house only miles away from the course. During Katie’s race, Brannan and I cheered from the enchanted forest. While there we got to observe how the different routes behaved. Later on in the day, Ashley, Brannan, and I hit the course for the last time together. We all agreed that the race would be very fast.
I ended up having a slow first lap. A combination of bad luck with accidents and mechanicals due to hitting the ground. After finally getting rolling, I began to find my way through the riders. I eventually made it into seventh place. This stands as one of my best finishes in an Elite UCI C1.
Looking back on things, I am very satisfied with the way all the racing turned out. The points and experience I gained will pay off throughout the season and my career. I cannot wait for the next trip with the Alpha Bicycle Co./ Vista Subaru!
When Duty Calls
Last Thursday evening we received a call from Nic while he was on his Tour Divide ride. It seems Nic met and rode with a gentlemen from Koksijde, Belgium named Stefan. Stefan had run into a bit of bad luck and suffered a broken frame somewhere on the other side of the Wyoming border. They managed to limp it along with some make shift trail repairs and get him to Steamboat where he found a hardware store to put a bolt in it to at minimum keep the bike rideable. Meanwhile, we had clicked a few “magic buttons” and KAPOW! a brand new Salsa El Mariachi frame was delivered overnight, on a Saturday!
Now, the fun part. You see Stefan’s English isn’t all that great (either is our Flemish) and he doesn’t have a reliable phone. But with the kindness of a couple of strangers he was able to make a call or two to us, the rest was done via Facebook messenger when he could get a WiFi connection.
We already had planned on getting a ride in on Sunday with Nic (who happened to be in Breckenridge). At this point Nic and him had separated along the route and we were tracking Stefan’s progress via his Spot tracker. While we were hoping that he could get to Frisco or Breckenridge, the stars didn’t align that way and we met him in Kremmling. Ah, what’s another hour drive each way among friends.
So, the picnic table outside the Kremmling Mercantile became a home away from home for a few hours and we got to work. A frame swap, new King headset, new Shimano bottom bracket, and a new Revelate Ranger frame bag to fit.
The “Alpha Fix”
After an hour and a half or so, Stefan was all ready packed up, super stoked, and ready to go. Yeah, it was a long day for all of us. But, the important thing was that he was happy and able to continue his dream of completing the Tour Divide. Bonus: We made a good friend in the process!
Keep on ridin’, Stefan!
Spring Bikepacking Trip
This last weekend Nic Handy led a group on a bikepacking trip on the Colorado Trail. For a few of the riders it was their first time loading up their bikes to go camping. Five of us started at the base of Waterton Canyon Friday late afternoon.
We pedaled and pushed up the switchbacks and rocky climbs, challenging each other to pedal farther and farther over each difficult section. We made it to just below the high point of Seg.1 and set up camp for the night just in time to see the
clouds change color before light faded. Once everyone found their spot for the night we broke out our stoves and/or bags of food and had a meal. A couple turned in early for the night and the rest of us chatted into the night while looking through the trees at the city lights.
After a very windy night we woke up to the light of the early morning sun. Once everyone was awake and wandering around we gathered for some breakfast and coffee. We loaded our bikes up and two of the five rode back to Waterton Canyon. The rest of us rode down to Platte River to meet up with a couple that couldn’t make it up for the first night. It was chilly down by the river so they rode up and met us halfway down. We regrouped at the river and chatted a bit before started the climb up Seg.2. The weather was perfect for long climb to Wellington Lake. Do to time constraints, one from the group split off and rode ahead up to Buffalo Creek to meet his ride home. We got the FS Rd 543 and Colorado Trail intersection and sat down for some lunch and water. Another one from the group couldn’t camp the second night so he turned around and rode the whole way back to Castle Pines from there. The three of us then headed up FS RD 543 to Wellington Lake to meet up with everyone else from the shop that drove up Saturday morning.
The three of us arrived to Wellington Lake while everyone else was out on a day ride. Our Salsa Cycles rep brought a couple Salsa Horsethiefs for us to ride. So we rode those around for a bit till everyone else returned from their ride. We got the campfire going and cooked up some dinner. The wind was blowing very hard and in every direction. Which meant you couldn’t really relax by the fire because the wind was doing 360s around the fire pit. Throughout the night the wind kept howling through the trees and the temp dropped to 28 degree with rain and corn snow bouncing off the tents.
We woke up to a chilly morning with frost on the ground and trees. So we huddled into the green Alpha Bicycle tent with three walls on it and had a warm breakfast out of the wind. The three of us that rode up the day before started riding back the same way we came. Starting off with a 3 mile downhill in 35 degree temps made it difficult to get warmed up. As the climbs started then the layers started coming off. We made great time flowing through Seg.2 with the cooler temps and cloud cover. The sun came out off and on while we made our way down to the Platte River where their vehicle was parked. Nic then rode solo over Seg.1 back to Waterton Canyon.
Overall it was great trip and fun was had by all. No injuries and nobody got lost. It was an awesome experience to share the joy of bikepacking with some that had never done it before and some that are well versed in it.
24 Hours of Old Pueblo
This last weekend brought us 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo down in Tuscon, AZ. We loaded up 2 rigs, 1 trailer, 10 bikes, 3 tents, food, tools, beer, and enough lights to land 747 in the middle of the desert. This year brought something different for many of the 9 riders. For some it was an annual pilgrimage that marks the start of the mountain bike season, for some first timers in was a baptism by fire in 24 hours racing, and for Nic it was to be a solo effort and that most of us will never have the ability, drive, or maybe stupidity to attempt.
We loaded up Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the 15 hour twilight haul to the outskirts of Tuscon. Not only is this a good opportunity for a few laughs, fish stories, and past race experiences, it’s your first of many nights of sleep deprivation. You see by the picture above that “24 Hour Town” as it’s called fills up really quickly with 2500 racers, support staff, vendors, volunteers and more RV’s that a NASCAR race. So it’s pedal to the floor through the night to get there early enough for a prime spot. 1st goal of the weekend achieved: We secured a great tent space on course, right at the top with a prime view. This not only provides constant entertainment, but also is key so solo racers can refuel and rest a bit without having to ride as much as a mile in each direction off course to get to your new home away from home.
The rest of Thursday is usually pretty uneventful. Try and get settled in, a lap or two around the race course to stretch the legs, one last trip into to town for some mexican food, beers, and a free birthday dessert. (even though it’s not your birthday. Thanks Patt!)
Come Friday everyone’s starting to get a bit excited. Heck, Jeff couldn’t even keep his breakfast down he was so excited! (read hungover). A full day of charging lights, dialing in equipment, a bit more riding capped off with the Drunkcyclist.com Beer Crit and a “Last Supper” of beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and a couple more beers put everyone in their happy place. A good night’s sleep (only interrupted by Jordan getting lost and arriving at 2am and a random guy crashing his bike into Donald’s tent) had us all ready for the challenge ahead.
Saturday at high Noon brings the shotgun style LeMans style start (see above) with a 1/2 mile mad scramble to find your bike and get out quickly to avoid all the inevitable traffic. Jeff got out well inside the the top 10% to give our team a great chance, while Nic came through solo right on target in an hour ten minutes, then Donald came through about 15 or 20 minutes later with his best effort to screw everything up for his teammates and put them well back in the standings. (Just kidding, Donald!) Record high temps, while a welcome change from the previous week’s sub-zero readings here in CO, took their toll on many racers early in the lap count. Dehydration was a real concern and definitely made more than one racer push their body into an unexpected red zone. Some backed off their efforts til the sun went down, some fell to the effects of Mother Nature, and for some it brought on an unforeseen result. Our own super human Nic Handy was one of those. Nic had cramps develop in his kidneys and move along the entire side of his body making riding impossible. After a stop by the massage table and some serious contemplation, Nic’s race was over after 50 miles. Better to fight again another day than do serious and permanent damage. In true Nic Handy fashion, he still had a smile on his face enjoying the experience as much as he could by playing support crew, mentor, mechanic, and jester for the rest of us. When life hands you lemons…
As the sun came up Sunday team #1 found themselves sitting just out side the top 20 (which was the goal) with about 6 hours of racing remaining. Knowing we’d get faster in the daylight and that we had our two fastest guys Jeff and Steve coming up, we felt good about our chances. 20 minutes into Jordan’s 4th lap that all changed when he broke a chain. Broken chain on a singlespeed means replacement with a field repair all but impossible. By the time Jordan got sag support back to start/finish, handed off the baton and made his way back to the tent, we had lost almost an hour and 15 minutes. Goals be damned, now it’s time to just ride. In the end we finished somewhere outside the top 30 with only 18 laps on the 16+ mile loop.
But, we made it home safe after a sleep deprived drive and managed to keep Steve’s truck under 5000 rpm (except once, Ha! Steve, you can laugh now). A bit tired, full of a few cactus holes, and smelling of campfire. Well worth it since you can’t just fabricate experiences, memories and friends like this. Kudos to all of you that participated. Can’t wait til next year!
The Mythical Farrhoots
We are excited to announce a joint Alpha/Moots Project Bike for the upcoming North American Handmade Bicycle Show that is taking place right here in Denver on Feb 22-24th.
“Farrhoots” as it has come to be known, was the brainchild of our own Nic Handy and with a input from all of us in the shop as well as a huge effort from the crew at Moots, we promise to deliver a showstopper to be unveiled at NAHBS.
After NAHBS, Nic will pilot and guide the Farrhoots on some amazing adventures, all of which will be updated on the Farrhoots Facebook Page.
Keep checking in for more happenings regarding Alpha and NAHBS!