I’ll tell you, it’s an odd thing to ride Guardsman Pass, go zipping in and around Park City, and use the Salt Lake City airport in early August, yet do so while not affiliated with the Tour of Utah which kicks off today. I think I did every edition of the race outside of one, so I keep a fond place in my heart for ToUT. And yet, lo and behold, here I am practicing my finest Utah’an living from blistering hot Utah.
Admittedly, it’s been ages since my last post and I feel awful. Please, dear reader, accept my apologies. I’ve been juggling a lot, which will mostly come across as sweet trips, fun projects, and slightly zany rides. In large part that’s true, but there’s also work to be done, so let’s get down to business.
My trip to Utah right now stems from the Cannondale North American Sales Meeting, which took place in Ogden the middle of last week. Unveiling 2017 bikes and making the best of face-to-face time among Cannondale’s leaders, I had all sorts of tasks through the week, not least of which was take over the Cannondale Snapchat feed with Tim, Phil, and Alberto. At first this seemed a daunting job since I don’t know how to snap. Correction, didn’t. We crushed it.
Better yet, though, was that other jobs included test riding bikes such as the Moterra, which puts the “ridiculously, entertainingly fun” in eMTBs. Tim puts down an astonishing 73 watts up a 12% gradient to maintain this wheelie.
After wrapping that up, we witnessed the frying and ample basting of 9 pounds of bacon in a half gallon of maple syrup…
…with a trip to Park City. Among other friends throughout the weekend, I met up with my buddy Adam from POC and we tore across the sky.
While not actually in Aspen, the aspens are pretty dang stunning in Utah too.
You may notice that I’m spending more and more time lately on mountain bikes in an effort to get ready for Leadville which is just shy of two weeks from now. If you’ve missed my social media blasts, I need to up my game. I first garnered my spot at Leadville when I teamed up with the awesome people at World Bicycle Relief. But not just content with purely raising money to earn my spot, I recently raced Tahoe Trail 100(km) to officially earn my spot. The best news of this hodgepodge podium is that my award reads 3rd Place 80-and-Over. Levi and I are discussing just how old I am.
Prior to this discussion, I was found ripping around Northstar at Tahoe, which I highly recommend for putting a smile on your face (and not just because your friend’s little kiddos handmade a super sweet custom sign) and riding fat tires.
And see that stylie kit directly above? That’s the mashup jersey that we made with the design genius of Brad at Velocio. It’s a timeless jersey highlighting the best of World Bicycle Relief with a very subtle relief map of Leadville. It looks sweet. Oh, want one? We have you covered there too. I’ll be racing that at Leadville and I’m thrilled with how it came out.
Fundraising is not an easy task. So in addition to the jersey, we have received the generous support of another one of my sponsors in Cannondale, and I worked with Chris Leavell to make this brilliant piece of donut cinematography. Want a free bike and benefit World Bicycle Relief, then check out that link. And if that’s too much free stuff for you, there’s always simply this.
And if you’re curious about any of this — WBR, Leadville, even back to Dirty Kanza, UnTapped, my time in Utah, how I plan to make Laurens Ten Dam and Joe Dombrowski my domestiques — I encourage you to listen to me sit down and chat with the Fat Cyclist on his FattyCast which was another accomplishment tackled in Utah.
Ayeyeyeye, what else? So so much, please stick with me.
That podium in my first mountain bike in years was a highlight of the weekend. On the less upbeat side of things was Laura taking a loose gravely corner hot enough to lose traction, see her enormous lead and virtually guaranteed win on the day disappear, and worst yet having her hand smack against something hard enough to break bones. She’s as driven a person as I’ve ever met and the only thing bigger than her motivation is her er smile. Even right here as she’s moments from having cheered me across the line and maybe an hour after having broken her hand, she’s upbeat without a pain killer in her. I would be frowning in her shoes but she’s known for her smile, not her frown.
I don’t often delve deep into my personal life in this blog, but trust me when I say I’m now and again a sentimental guy. It was a tough week realizing that Leadville is no longer a possibility for her this year, but watch out, she’ll be able and she’ll be flying.
Along that emotional train, my world was put into the blender this spring when a friend of mine, an inGamba co-worker, next door desk neighbor in the office, and issuer of constant hilarious banter Jim Merithew had what a doctor would call a cardiac infarction, or what everyone else calls a heart attack. In fact, he died thrice. But fret not, because he too is on the comeback trail! And now that he’s alive again, I’ve noticed that his motivation ebbs and wanes, so given that I have a few tidbits of coaching insight in addition to hundreds of thousands of intervals to my name, I should start coaching him. So I did. Check in periodically here and on element.ly because I trust you’ll find his insight into my coaching methods entertaining, even if they’re closer to genius.
Soon before coming to Utah, I put together some fantastic bike rides. One of my favorites was the Tam Slam. A monthly mass start assault on the behemoth of Marin, Mount Tam, the Tam Slam is an abruptly intense way to see your heart rate approach 200bpm all before 7am. Better yet, it’s among friends, there are very few rules, plus the winner goes home with the Tam Slam Clam, a priceless trophy known in high acclaim throughout the Bay area. Here are the men’s and women’s victors, both New Englanders Caitlin and I, whoot whoot! (Yes, I’m tall.)
That was a nice feather in the cap since you cannot mimic that kind of suffering and taking a KOM on what’s considered Marin’s most difficult climb is a high-five to my non-ProTour fitness before going into Leadville. Another long and amazing day on the bike was the #AppellationRide. I’ve taken some guff for not explaining what the Appellation Ride is sufficiently. To which I kindly reply that you likely saw it on twitter or instagram and if you followed the appropriate hashtags, you would have stumbled upon this very simple explanation. Namely, a single ride that touches each of the 16 Appellations of Napa County. A good friend of mine Chris lives in Napa and knows those roads like the back of his hand. The shortest route he could muster was 200km and well over 3,000meters of climbing. Which translates into statue measurements as, “a freaking long ride” and “with a TON of climbing”. We brought out another former formidable teammate of mine, Andrew Talansky who is in the middle of pre-Tour of Utah and pre-Vuelta a Espana training. And he’s flying. So despite the near 100 degree heat that sapped us especially late into the day, it was a tremendously memorable — and hard — ride.
Aaaaand other such excellence like this ride you see below in, around, and all over Mt Tam on the jack-of-all-trades Cannondale Slate with my brother from another mother Nate King. Pretty breathtaking from start to finish. It’s nice to have a bunch of compatriots in in and bike rides.
So where to now, you ask? I’m at SLC airport en route to Denver where I have orchestrated the most convoluted bike build I’ve ever been part of. Suffice it to say, two of the best sponsors in the business, Cannondale and SRAM, made it rain bike parts, components, frames, and forks (well singular Lefty fork) to Studio Velo in my hometown Mill Valley, CA all throughout the past week I’ve been in Utah, the kindly people at SV have been building the bike and shipping it to Telluride, CO where I’m due tomorrow evening. At which point I’ll team up with my buddies Timmy Duggan, Justin of Justin’s, and begin the Telluride to Gateway mountain bike hut trip. I figure there’s no better way to prep for Leadville than jamming on mountain bikes across southwest, altitude rich, and oxygen poor Colorado with some great friends.
And that, friends is called “all caught up”. Or mostly anyway. I’ll be more on it next time, promise.