Monthly Archives: January 2012

Race Day 1 – Madison Wisconsin

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Okay. Like I posted yesterday, I’m not big at all with this early morning bike racing. Especially in the winter when it is cold and dark when you have to go to the course. But that is my life today. I race at 9 am for 45 minutes. So, I’m out of here on my bike at 7:30am.

Yesterday I did about the same thing. I rode 2 laps at 8:30 am and my bike was completely clean. The ground was frozen hard. When the sun hit the dark soil, it melted pretty quickly. The course is fairly treacherous now. A thin layer of mud on top of frozen ground. The next two laps I did at 10, it was a mess, with everything gumming up pretty quickly.

I spent way too much time on my feet yesterday. I was trying to make it a point not do that, but it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement. Catherine raced at 11:30 for 4 laps. Her start was pretty mediocre and she got into a 40 second deficit pretty early into the 2nd lap. But then she got her shit together and clawed back. Her last lap was one minute faster than her first and the fastest lap of the race by any rider. She caught the leader, Kris Walker with 1/4 lap to go and then it became sort of strange. They both dabbed a couple times, then both got caught up behind riders from the younger age group. Kris got a couple bike length lead coming onto the pavement and Catherine came close but ended up 2nd. I know she is disappointed, but she has a do over next weekend in Louisville for bigger rewards. It is fun to watch friends race.

It is so much fun I ended up going back to the hotel and then riding back to the course to watch the 55+ race. My friend, Paul Curley rode a pretty great race and won. It wasn’t for sure until the last lap, with the time gap under 10 seconds for most of the race. It is amazing how much the course changed and got worse throughout the day. The last group was having to dismount all the ride up hills.

Today, I have to assume that they are going to be unrideable too. The steep pitches have to be destroyed by foot prints and it didn’t freeze last night, so the course is going to be just as slick as yesterday afternoon, which made it seem like a crawl spectating. There are at least 3 long runs now, not counting the sand since they put a 90 degree turn in the sand pit in the afternoon.

Okay, I should be fine. I don’t really have a preference of types of courses, but in this case, I would have liked the course to be mostly rideable so I’m not so hurt for the Elite race on Sunday. But, that isn’t going to be the case today. Okay, better go get this over. I’ll update you later on the outcome.

Catherine playing catchup all day.

Catherine's podium, Kris Walker the National Champ.

Paul Curley turnig sharp on his way to another National Championship.

Paul having to run the sand after they moved the course half way through the day.

Suzette and I. She is the girl behind Fi’zi:k saddles.

Bromont spent all day at the race and made a ton o friends.

Everyone to bed early last night. The pre race check list I didn't really pay attention to.

Nationals Today/Video

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Race went about like I had hoped. I’ll write something later when I’m more toasty and rested. Something about not enough sleep and cold weather that makes one tired. Here’s a writeup for Cyclocross Magazine about the race this morning for now.

Here’s a short video of the race from CyclingDirt.com.

Watch more video of Steve Tilford on cyclingdirt.org


You can click twice to enlarge the photo.

Master’s Nationals Friday

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The Masters Nationals yesterday went pretty well. Pretty much like I had planned. The start was on pavement for the first 300 meters and I didn’t really have to go full out to hit the grass in the lead. The next minute or so is a slippery loop of a soccer field, then a U-turn and up the main climb of the race. I rode pretty easy around the field and up the start of the hill. The hill gets much steeper at the top and was greasy. So greasy that it was faster to run up a 20 meter section than stay on your bike. Out of the 5 laps, I rode it 3 times and jogged it twice.

Anyway, Kevin Hines passed me on the steep section, but over the top I put in a good surge and got a separation for the next downhill, which is pretty straight forward. That leads up to the rail road tie run up. I had a few seconds by then and used the next descent to rest up some. After going over the barriers and then by the pit, there is a tight section with a bunch of U-turns before a sand pit. There isn’t any place there to go fast, since it is so slick. There is one more short loop that goes by up the climb once again. I felt alright and knew I had a okay gap descending back to the pavement finishing the first lap.

I never really went full on and had a descent gap starting the climb the 2nd lap. I knew I was going to be able to put more time into Kevin again here. I looked back and 3rd was pretty much out of the picture already by this time. I think I might have run the steep pitch here, but anyway, when I went up the stair run up, the gap was much bigger.

The course was getting worse every lap, slicker and less predictable. The only thing that was going to cause me to loose a bunch of time was a huge error, crashing, ect. So I started riding a little more within myself. I was getting a ton of different times around the course. The time at the start/finish line seemed to be the least, but I gave it the most credibility for some reason, other than Trudi’s time on the other side of the course. So I thought the gap was growing and then shrinking the whole race, but it was really staying around 20-30 seconds. Whenever I heard a time under 20 seconds, I’d put in a hard effort to get back up to closer to 30. That was the reward for having the lead I guess.

On the last lap, I looked over and was heading up to the pit when Kevin was still riding around the field, so I knew I could ride pretty easy and still win the race. And that is pretty much what I did. I didn’t make any big mistakes all day, a lot of little ones though, and had an okay day riding.

I’d have to say the conditions didn’t really suit my riding abilities. Not that any course is really bad, but I’ve never been big on frozen mud with a layer of melted mud on top. I’d rather just be riding on frozen ground/ice or mud. I don’t really like the mixture.

Kevin rode a pretty good race I think. I didn’t talk to him afterwards, but he kept riding hard all the way to the finish. Since the gap to 3rd place was close to 4 minutes, I’m glad that we got to entertain the crowd there.

I’m kind of surprised how tired I was yesterday after the race. All afternoon I felt out of sorts. I have no idea what that was all about. Probably just being on my feet for so many hours on Thursday and then getting up early and out the door at the crack of dawn. Whatever the case, I felt much better after eating dinner last night.

The Lees-Mcrae Cycling team were eating at the Italian restaurant we were at. It was fun listening to their anticipation and conversations of their thoughts about their upcoming races. Refreshing. The sun sets so early here, 4:30, that it seems really late when it is only 8 pm.

Bill is racing at 10 am this morning, then he and Catherine are driving back to Kansas. I’m going to ride today and then go back to Delavan and get my clothes and bikes clean and working. I’m going to wait to see how I feel before deciding about racing tomorrow. I can’t decide whether I’d be more wasted racing or watching the Elite race. It’s hard getting motivated for that race right now, but maybe that will change soon. I’m looking to be going fast next weekend in Louisville and have to make a good decision here on Sunday. Hopefully that answer will become apparent on it’s own.

At the start with Kevin Hines.

Riding through the sandpit on the first lap.

It was so greasy that you had to get way back over your rear wheel even on the slightest uphills.

With USAC's CEO Steve Johnson after the awards ceremony.

Watch more video of Steve Tilford on cyclingdirt.org

Elite Cyclocross Nationals Today – Live Video

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I’ve weighed in all the facts and have decided not to race today. I just don’t see enough upside to it. The way the course was changing up yesterday lap to lap, I can’t imagine having a good enough result to offset potential downside consequences. Actually, I can’t see having a good enough result to be happy about it at all. I was getting called up on the 6th row, which isn’t that bad really, but I have only 3 days to rest before the first race in Louisville. And during that 3 days I have a 7 hour drive day. It is going to kill me watching the race, but I can’t not watch.

I stood around for over 4 hours again yesterday morning watching the 45+ race, which my friend, Don Myrah won over Jon Cariveau, of Moots. Then Bill was next up racing the 40+ race, along with a ton of other friends. Bill started back in the smoking section in the 6th row, but got up to the top 15 in the first minute because he dismounted and ran as soon as the group hit the frozen ruts in the soccer field. He ended up finishing somewhere in the top 25, with a potential broken rib from a fall in training the day before. Mark Savery, local from Omaha, finished an awesome 5th behind Brandon Dwight, Peter Webber and Adam Myerson. Shadd Smith, from KC, was 12th, which was great too, considering his start and how many days he has been sick the past month. It was a very good race to watch.

I was pretty frozen by the time Bill was done racing, feeling pretty beat. We left Madison and drove the hour down to Delavan to Trudi’s mom’s condo. It was nice getting out of a cramped hotel room. We went for an hour and a half ride later in the afternoon with the temperatures in the lower 30’s. I felt horrible at the start, but pretty okay by the time I was done. I’m just going to rest up the next couple days. I’ve had a pretty busy last week and don’t see much upside to getting any more tired. I have good form right now, so I’m only going to ride hard only once before Thursday’s qualifying race in Louisville.

This race today is going to be pretty epic. It depends on what the course condition is at 2:15 for me to make a good pick. I’d be picking Todd Wells for the win if he was racing. Super fit plus, great bike handling is the key in these conditions. If it is super sunny and melts a bunch, then it’s Trebon by a smear. If not, then it’s probably going to be between Paige or Powers I’d guess. I can’t pick Tim Johnson to be in the mix because of his recent sickness and season in general. I hope I’m wrong in that. I’d love it if somebody else got into the mix. On big, one day events, that is the time that athletes do incredible things. This is one of those days. It’s going to be super interesting.

You can watch the events live here. The live coverage begins at 12 noon CST with the women’s race first at 12 and the men’s race starts at 2:15.

The course was pretty much frozen ruts most of the morning yesterday. Pretty treacherous.

Close up of the soccer field. It is not conducive for skinny tired cross bikes.

Brandon Dwight riding smoothly on his way to a National Title.

Bill had a great start, faded a little, but made the best of the situation.

This is my friend, Kelly Fisher-Goodwin, riding on Friday, getting cheered on by Mr. Ed.

Riding back yesterday afternoon, there were geese flying over for nearly 30 minutes straight. WIth the moon being nearly full, it was very impressive. A very good sign for the Indian side of my brain.

Cross Nationals Wrap

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Yesterday’s races at the Cyclo-X Nationals were excellent. Both the men’s and women’s races were great, even though they were complete opposites. Katie Compton dominated from start to finish. She is just that much stronger. The men’s race might of been the best cyclo-x race I’ve watched in person. The course was the best it was the whole weekend, with parts of the course matching each rider in the front group skills.

I learned a ton from watching even though I’m still regretting not starting. I’m not sure I’m doing all this for the right reasons. I race bicycles for new life experiences and challenges, not for the results or notoriety. The course yesterday was more of a hard circuit race, with two climbs, than a normal cyclocross event. I liked it a lot, especially when it hardened up some. I probably wouldn’t of had one of those days, but you never know unless you race. I didn’t.

There are lots of reasons Jeremy Powers won. But when it came down to it, he just was more powerful at the right time. Jonathan Page made some huge tactical errors with his pitting routine. That pretty much disconnected him from Trebon and Powers, thus lost him the opportunity to race for 1st. Trebon was loosing too much time, in micro amounts, cornering in the technical sections, thus not having the energy when he needed it. Tim Johnson just was a notch below the other 3. Lots of people will express their opinions, but there is no question that Powers dropped Trebon on the hardest part of the climb, the section of the course that should of been Trebon’s forte’.

The ride of the day in the men’s race was by Zach McDonald. He came back from the dead after the first lap and reconnected with the front group after chasing the first half of the race. He should take some credit for dislodging Tim Johnson and Jonathan Page from the front two. I’m not sure the results would have been different, but he definitely played the loyal team mate card when the smack came down.

The ride of the day in the women’s race was by local Midwest rider Kaitlin Antonneau. She is going to be very good at the sport. She already is. The main reason she finished 2nd is that she is so smooth and rode within herself. Her lines were better than most of the top men. And she never stops pedaling. That is a key in conditions like this. So, good ride Kaitlin.

The guys at Madison promoted an excellent event. Anytime there was a problem, it was addressed quickly and corrected. They got super lucky with the weather. Near record highs for some of the days, no precipitation at all. I’m not sure this course would have been raceable if there was a ton of snow on it. There was way to much elevation change to be able to negotiate it pedaling most of the time. I guess we’ll see again next year. USAC got the results out super quick and all the races started pretty much exactly on time. It was great officiating. I think a ton of people were scared off by lots of different reasons, mainly the weather I’d guess. But, none of that too much.

It is very hard to try not to compare lap times between the different races. I realize that it is completely irrelevant because the course was so much different depending on the time of each day. Plus, they changed the course throughout the day each and each and every day. The sand pit for Sunday’s race was nothing. That was probably 15 seconds shorter right there. But even though I know it is like comparing apples to oranges, I find it hard to ignore. I do know that Katie Compton was riding incredible fast and would have loved to see her ride the men’s Elite race. She is that good.

We’ll cross season is over for most everyone now, except those going down to Louisville for Master’s Worlds next week and those going over to Europe for real Worlds. I’m not as against this after Christmas Cross Nationals as I was last week. I’m going to have to think about it for a little bit before I take a solid stance.

Katie Compton had a few mishaps, even though she destroyed the rest of the field.

She got up quickly and got back to business.

Kaitlin Antonneau (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale Cyclocrossworld), showing the correct line in the very same corner. 98% of the men were getting this wrong too.

Jonathan Page doing another bike change. Trebon didn't change once. I don't think McDonald did either.

Zack McDonald watching himself race the elite race after he won the U23 race on Saturday.

Warming up out of the wind.

Erik Tonkin (Kona), Mr. bluecollar cross man, doing his thing, riding to another top 20 finish at Nationals.

Wow. This is not Good at all.

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Lance Armstrong Photographer: Ben Watts/Corbis

Outside Magazine’s writer Bill Gifford did this article on the LiveStrong Foundation. This is really bad for the Foundation, Cancer Research and even cycling.

It’s Not About the Lab Rats

If Lance Armstrong went to jail and Livestrong went away, that would be a huge setback in our war against cancer, right? Not exactly, because the ­famous nonprofit donates almost ­nothing to scientific research. BILL GIFFORD looks at where the money goes and finds a mix of fine ideas, millions of dollars aimed at “awareness,” and a few very blurry lines.

Riding for Life

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Yesterday I did a long version of a lap around Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. It was in the lower 40’s and the wind was blowing, around 30 mph. I was wearing headphones and kind of struggling with the wind and layers of clothing I was wearing. I over dressed so badly that I had to stop after 5 miles or so and strip a couple layers off. The sun was out, making it much warmer than it seemed when I left. I really liked the ride. Wisconsin is so much different than Kansas in the winter. In the summer too. Everything is so tidy. The farms are all cleaned up for the winter and everything seems in its place. In Kansas, the winter exposes stuff you can’t see the rest of the year because of the leaves on the trees and bushes. The desert has this same issue. I noticed this in Albuquerque N.M. when I was training there. When there is junk, it is exposed junk. In the Midwest, it is usually hidden most of the year behind vegetation. Not so much in Wisconsin, there isn’t much junk around.

Anyway, I was thinking about riding around the Lake and this is the first time I’ve done it in the winter. During Superweek, we ride over to the town of Geneva virtually everyday for a pre race ride, but I haven’t been here in the winter. I like it. The barren starkness of the lake and fields seems to fit the time of year. The wind just complimented the whole scene. It made me think of riding around Lake Geneva in Switzerland back in the winter of 1986-87.

I went over to Switzerland to race cross in the winter of 1986. I was staying in Aigle, in the French section of Switzerland. It is a little ways off the lake, maybe 20 kms. I had won the US Cross Nationals a couple times already, but was completely out of my league racing in Switzerland. The Swiss were then what the Belgians are now. The first couple races in Zurich, I was getting lapped by Albert Zweifel and Co. They would go by me like I was on a tricycle and they were riding motorcycles. I got better by the week and eventually started finishing in the top ten sometimes. The existence was bleak and lonely. There was only one other person that I met in Aigle that spoke English, a British woman that worked at the bakery. I was riding with the local guys from Aigle, who eventually turned out to be some of the best cyclists in the world. Pascal Richard was the guy I rode with consistently. He won the World Cyclocross Championships the next year and then the Olympic Road Race in Atlanta later on. My pit kid was Laurent Dufaux, then 16, who went on to win stages and finish top 5 in the Tour de France and then got caught up in the Festina Drug Scandal later on.

Most Wednesdays I would take off by myself and ride a lap of Lake Geneva. It took close to 6 hours to do the whole thing. It was crummy training for cyclo-x, but I liked riding my bike, especially in Europe and really didn’t have anything better to do than ride and check out the scenery. I would stop over on the other side for coffee and a pastry and then keep going around. 1/2 of Lake Geneva is in France and the other half in Switzerland. Maybe closer to 1/3 in France and 2/3’s in Switzerland. Anyway, it wasn’t that much different than riding here yesterday. On the Swiss side, most of the houses that were on the road along the lake were closed up for the winter. Their shutters closed, covering the windows, and no humans to be seen. Everything was pristine though. It is Switzerland, where everything has to be exactly perfect. The French part was more like Kansas. A little disorganized and a little run down. I liked the Swiss riding better, I wonder if I still would?

It always amused me when I got home, my landlord guy would always come into my apartment and turn the heat completely off when I left to ride. I’d come back from a 6 hour ride, freezing, and the inside temperature would be around 40 degrees. I was living in a huge, modern apartment, on top of a saw mill that rough cut lumber. Every morning at 7 am, they would start the saws. It scared the shit out of me the first morning I woke, being jet lagged and all. I had no idea what the noise and movement was. Eventually I didn’t even notice and would sleep right through it.

Last night I watched the Woody Allen movie, Midnight in Paris. It was great. The thing that struck me is the theme of the movie, about not being happy with the current time you’re in. I’ve dealt with that some over the years, but after watching the film, I realize that I don’t really want to be in any other time other than the current. Life did seem simpler living over that lumber mill, only having to ride my bike. But I know that I’m in a better space now. I think the key to life is to try not to let things that really aren’t important draw too much energy or attention from things that you really want and must do to be happy and secure. That is very hard to accomplish now, compared to 25 years ago. Life is more complex now. There are many reasons. The media plays a big part. But other things too. All I know is that when I get on my bicycle, all dressed for the elements, and go out for a winter ride, life doesn’t seem that complicated really. Cycling does that for me. My wish for everyone is that they can find something they can rely on as much.

Everything is in their little rows and dormant in the winter. Makes riding just that much more special.


Aigle is just below the castle on the east side of the lake. It is where the headquarters of the UCI is now. You can click twice to expand.

This castle was just up the road. It is incredible inside with ceramic fireplaces and ornate woodwork.