The Europeans were onto something when they decided to place the sport of cyclocross at the far end of the cycling calendar. Just before the legs and mind have had enough for the year, ‘cross comes around and riders give it one more push before throwing in the towel. Luckily, the races are of short duration and the terrain often favors technical ability over raw power. This means that riders can usually stay competitive well into November, and for a select few, all the way through to national championships.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t make the “full pull” to mid-December. After a successful cross weekend here in November, the abrupt arrival of winter, and the realization that I’d been racing since early April, I decided to say uncle! I was however even more excited to spectate my first bike race of 2010 and support our good friend Miles Frank at his first national championship in the junior 15-16 category.
Bradley and I flew to Seattle well before the event to pick up our faithful Big Rig and took our chances driving over a mountain pass to get to Bend, Oregon, for the biggest mud-fest on two wheels. Arriving at the expo area, I felt as if our road program had finally come full circle; our rig was sandwiched in next to Shimano, Cannondale, and the perennial big guns of cycling in the U.S. A few of our neighbors even cruised over to check out the coach, and all I could say was, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool!”
Our friendly Northwest rep, Keith Seed, joined us along with Brian and Miles Frank for a week of expoing (featuring samples of our new Endurolyte Fizz and Perpetuem Solids), racing, and fun to close out the 2010 cycling season in style. We were very excited to see plenty of Hammer teams and athletes around the race course, and even more pumped to see them pull one more trick from their hat.
Junior racers took to the stage early in the weekend, and I must say, I couldn’t believe what America has been developing lately! I recognized several kids who jump up and race elite at Northwest weekend—level cross races. Miles raced very well, mixing it up with a generation of kids who have been doing this since they could pedal. Landen Beckner, a junior out of Helena, MT showed his mud skills and rode to 17th. I’d also like to give congrats to the newly Hammer—sponsored Rad Racing ‘Cross program out of Seattle; they have been turning out all kinds of talented, well-mannered youth for quite some time. We’re very happy to be working with this program for years to come.
A strong Montana contingent also made the trek out to Bend, and as always, surprised everyone who didn’t know that we can ride bikes “way out in Montana.” John and Lisa Curry had an amazing weekend, racing both in their age group and courageously taking on the elite’s. John placed 5th in the highly competitive 30-34 race, an age group in which almost all the top guys also race elite. Lisa rode strong to a 9th place finish in her race. These two humble folks from the Gallatin are starting to gain quite the following—with hardly a word ever spoken about themselves! Also of note was a hard—charging Mike Longmire. He almost made the podium in the 50-54 race, placing 6th. Mike seemed a little disappointed, but the guys he lost to were of a very high caliber.
One last shout out of the week has to go to Amanda Carey. We’ve mentioned her name quite a few times this year, almost always in reference to her skill as a 100-mile mountain biker. Apparently, Amanda can do it all, racing to 2nd place in the 30-34 race and 9th in the elite women’s event. I was very surprised with this result, as I’ve seen the patience required to win a 100-mile mountain bike race and I know that the same amount of pain is compressed into one hour by the top racers. It is rare to see a rider that can do both.
The week was capped off by one of the most memorable races in quite some time in the elite men’s event. Over 6,000 fans were reported on course as the immortals battled in the mud. We had an amazing view of the all-out war from atop the Big Rig. As we packed up our show for one last time in 2010, the only thought in my head—besides a little nostalgia-was how pumped we are for next year! Many thanks to all the promoters, racers, and Hammer Fans we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with this season. Hammer Road Crew is over and out…see you next spring!