Dec 6, 2011

Ciutat de Mataró

Mataró was the second race of the 2011-12 Copa Catalana de Ciclocross. The 2.5 km course was quite technical with views of the Mediterranean. I felt a lot more comfortable racing, but lost a minute on the second lap due to a mechanical. Approaching the first of two steep run-ups, I reached to pick up my bike from the downtube and my hand pushed my rear derailleur cable loose. I didn't think the bike was rideable so I walked off the course. Somehow, miraculously, the cable tightened back up and I was able to finish the race. I'm already looking forward to racing this course again next year. Photo ©2011 Chesco Alaman

Nov 24, 2011

Ciclocross Mataró

There will be mud.

Nov 13, 2011

IF Grassroots

Barcelona Metropolitan recently interviewed me for a story about cyclocross for their December issue. English photographer Lee Harris snapped this sweet shot in the woods behind Park Güell where I like to run. Photo ©2011 Lee Harris

Nov 7, 2011

Ciclocross Català

Yesterday was my first CX race in Les Franqueses del Vallès, about 30 mins by train from Barcelona. There were 104 riders.

The course was dominated by a stream bed that we rode into and ran out of three times per lap. The circuit featured mud, grass, puddles, pavement, sand, barriers, and a steep climb into the woods. It was raining but this was my baptism so I was expecting to get wet!

Just before lining up racer no. 86 noticed my number (98) was pinned upside down. I jumped right into the pain-cave on the first straightaway which was grass; by the second lap my mouth felt like cotton. My race rig is a work in progress: I'm riding a Surly Cross Check this season with plans to race an IF frame next year. My gearing (53x39; 12-28) is silly for 'cross. The Cross Check is neither heavy nor light; the geometry feels more attuned to urban riding or touring than racing.

One of my strengths was running with my bike. Although the Surly was uncomfortable to shoulder I decided to lose style points and push the bike ahead of me as I ran the run-ups. I noticed I was faster than stronger riders in these sections. Since my fitness is not there yet I assume my longish legs give me an advantage.

I finished third-from-last out of 29 in the Masters 30 category. Honestly I wouldn't have been disappointed with last. The field was strong and it was a victory crossing the finish line. I don't think I would have given chase had Oprah and Stedman passed me on a tandem. I was just trying to stay upright, but I will definitely take this as motivation to pedal harder at the next race in Mataró on November 27.

Nov 6, 2011

Les Franqueses

A Bicicletes Segú rider tests a tricky descent at Parc de Mil Pins in Les Franqueses del Vallès. The CX course was dominated by this stream which was featured three times per lap.

Oct 17, 2011

Surly Sketch

Build sketch for a 2011 Robin's Egg Blue Surly Cross Check. I actually struggled deciding between blue and black. What steered me this way was my grey Fi'zi:k Aliante saddle that got scuffed in a crash. I purchased a new saddle for my road rig and decided to sandpaper the grey one for my cross bike, which led to grey Hutchinson tires. Of course, orange Cinelli bar tape was the homerun.

Sep 14, 2011

Steel is Real

My steel Crown Jewel still rides as great as the day I picked it up at Rowlett's Bicycles in Richmond, Virginia in 1999. Twelve years later, she is still turning heads.

Jul 2, 2011

La Marmotte

La Marmotte (174km, 5,000m) is a mythical cycling race held in the French Alps. The epic route follows a 100-mile loop over three of the toughest mountain passes of the Tour de France — Cols Glandon (1,818m), Télégraphe (1,570m), and Galibier (2,642m) — before finishing up the legendary Alpe d’Huez (1,880m), for a total of nearly 50 miles (80 km) of climbing.

La Marmotte is a rite of passage for cyclists, especially those who religiously watch the Tour. I trained in earnest for 5 months, finishing in 8 hours 4 seconds (21.74kph) which earned a gold diploma for my age group; I was 1,384 out of 6,233 that finished, as 1,500 riders abandon the race.

Jun 25, 2011

Jun 18, 2011


Although the route is mostly through France, Quebrantahuesos (205km, 3500m) is Spain's premier cyclosportive. The level of organization, vibe, live tweeting, post-race carbs, free massages, and draft San Miguel, is so well done that the field should take note. A true celebration of Spanish cycling, the Bonebreaker is a must-ride (at least once) for roadies in Spain.

Starting from Sabiñánigo, the grueling route encompasses some of the most demanding mountain passes in The Pyrenees. Participation is by lottery and usually cuts off around 9,000 cyclists from more than 15,000 entrants. I finished in 7 hours 43 minutes (26.5kph), earning a gold diploma for my age group.