The Rapha Jacket been won by one lucky lady and as a result many slipped into an immediate depression.
Well, I have a reason for all those losers to lift their heads up high once again.
Before I get to that, though, I want to share this: During the Ride on Washington, I rode 430 miles in 4 days.
Before the ride, ride “leader” Pete Webber sent out an email DEMANDING that everyone buy the biggest, strongest tires they could find.
“Bring 25mm tires,” he shouted over email, “Maybe even 28s!”
Being the natural born leader that I am, I chose to stick with the black on black 23mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pros already mounted on my all black Cannondale Caad9 with black Zipp 101s.
Much to Mr. Webber’s dismay, I did not get a flat tire on this year’s ride.
He, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. At least he chose the right wheels…
As soon as I was back on the grid, I sent a note to Vittoria to share my accolades for this tire. The roads we rode were far from perfect (worst I’ve ridden in many areas), and still, not one flat tire.
Well, the fine folks of Vittoria have decided to show their support for the cycling community (beyond opening a new office in Boston recently) by adding a pair of ridiculously awesome tires to my TJROW fundraising pot.
Meet the Vittoria Diamante Pro 25 mm racing tire with its super-supple 220 TPI Nylon casing.
This tire rides like a tubular, but being a clincher, it spares you the hassle of gluing your fingers to your face by accident (or on purpose).
It won’t take much for you to have a chance at winning a pair of these tires…just donate $5 or more and your name is in the “hat.” No need for quotes there, really, because your name will actually go in a hat.
So, here’s a chance to support the advocacy we need to help make roads safer for us all paired with a chance at winning an amazing pair of tires.
I have a ways to go to meet my Ride on Washington fund raising goal…so I am going to sweeten the pot.
You pick the size. You pick the color. And you be happy in many weather conditions.
As riders from Tim Johnson’s Ride on Washington make their way from Boston to Washington, DC generous companies and people are hosting public receptions. All receptions are open to the public, except the reception in New York City.
Please join us in a city near you. Please share this invitation with your friends, family and colleagues.
Tuesday, April 23, 8 p.m.
The Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA
Wednesday, April 24, 7 p.m.
The Bicycle Studio, 89 Arch Street, Hartford, CT
Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.
Private reception, New York, NY
Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.
The Manayunk Brewery, 4120 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, April 27, 7 p.m.
Rocket to Venus, 3360 Chestnut Ave., Baltimore, MD
Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m.
Boloco, 1028 19th St. NW, Washington, DC
Thank you for your support!
Tim racing at the 2013 U.S. National Cyclocross Championships in Verona, WI
The Tim Johnson Mud Fund is proud to announce scholarship recipients for the following deserving junior and U23 racers:
- Josh Johnson
- Manny Goguen
- Peter Goguen
- Josey Weik
- Spencer Petrov
- Maghalie Rochette
- Michael van den Ham
- Turner Ramsey
The Mud Fund received 27 fantastic applications from boys & girls from across the United States & Canada, ranging in ages from 10 years old to 22 years old, who race & love cyclocross. Deciding who to award scholarships to was tough, but these 8 stood out for various reasons.
“It’s great that the Mud Fund class of ‘13 had so many applications. It shows there are some great young athletes out there. Sometimes a talented rider may take some time to show — the Mud Fund keeps young riders in the game while school, life or circumstances continue on,” said Tim Johnson.
“These kids are super talented, love racing cx and love the fun of cyclocross. Being able to support them and the future of cx is what I Cowbell Cyclocross and the Tim Johnson Mud Fund is all about,” said Patricia Dowd.
The Mud Fund will continue to raise funds for the Class of 2014 scholarships through sales of I Cowbell Cyclocross t-shirts and Tim Johnson, Chandler Delinks & Todd Prekaski’s Das Pro Und The Rookie Cyclocross DVD. Funds raised during the Louisville Foam Party will also support class of 2014 athletes. We look forward to continuing to support boys & girls and the next generation of cyclocross racers.
Mud Fund athlete, Josh Johnson (USA) competing at 2013 Worlds, Louisville, KY:
Michael Van Den Ham (Canada), competing at 2013 Worlds, Louisville, KY:
Follow us on the web:
$5 from the sale of each I Cowbell Cyclocross t-shirt goes directly into the Tim Johnson Mud Fund. T-shirts are printed using environmentally friendly inks on U.S. made American Apparel 100% cotton t-shirts and are screened by hand at RiverzEdge Arts Project in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Sales from Das Pro und the Rookie, “The Greatest Cyclocross Film Ever Made,” go to the Tim Johnson Mud Fund, a Junior and U23 Cyclocross Scholarship Fund aimed at keeping kids in the sport we all love so much. Buy yours today.
The Tim Johnson Mud Fund will be a 501(c) 3 charitable organization that offers scholarships to deserving high school and college student athletes for domestic and international cyclocross competition.
For some reason when Chandler has a bad idea, I can’t say no. So when he suggested that I go to The National Cyclocross Championships in Madison, Wisconsin, I knew I was in trouble. First, maintaining race weight and fitness during the holidays. Second, who wants to freeze to-death in Wisconsin in January? And finally, I couldn’t get time off of work so I would have to race in the championship Saturday race against people like those fast, talented guys from Boulder Cycle Sport who’ve been racing bikes forever.
10 minutes later I was logged into the USA Cycling website, registering for the inevitable beat down in January. Dumb. Idea. Todd.
Training through the holidays was easier than expected as the workouts required only short time commitments; riding a lot of VO2max intervals on trainer as Haaaaaard as you can go, and filling in some mountain biking here and there. Be skinny, be happy, was the motto I taped to my door. And I somehow managed to squeeze into the New Year at a reasonable weight, i.e. at a weight I haven’t seen since the day before my 21st birthday. I was as ready for Nationals as I could be.
I prepped my bike, and by “I” I mean Dave Wilcox, our awesome team mechanic. As it turned out, racing two races at Ice Weasels destroyed my drive train, so a lot of bike stuff had to get fixed (I won’t bore you with the catalog of parts because I didn’t really know what things like pulley-bobs and chain-dingbats and cable-gimcracks and such are).
Here’s dave working hard to keep our bikes rolling:
The last time I followed weather reports so frequently as I did for the Madison suburb of Verona, WI was during the winter of 1995 when I was living in Squaw Valley, CA as a skier, eagerly followed the Pineapple Express and the inevitable amount of snow that was going to fall and make me happy. I now watched weather in Wisconsin for the necessity of self-preservation. Photos of two feet of fresh snow started to appear on the Internet and I was questioning my decision-making process. One would have thought I’d have learned my lessons after the whole “let’s make the movie Das Pro decision.” Just say “No.” Not to mention Vermont was getting decent snow and powder skiing at Christmas should trump sweating it out on the trainer at home.
Chandler and I arrived in Chicago smoothly. We got the rental car and then proceeded to break as many traffic violations as necessary to make it to the race venue to see Emma White’s race.
We arrived at the finish line just in time to get this photo:
Emma White moments after becoming a national champion, again.
I can, at least, now say that I lost my 2012 #necx #cxclash to a national champion! Way to go, Emma!
Next up was pre-riding the course. We were checking Twitter for course condition updates during the drive in from Chicago and we read the unfortunate blog entry of Steve Tilford where he described totally wrecking his shoulder during his race on the sketchy course. There were reports of many people opting for the DNS rather than risk injury. This. Scared. Me. A lot. But after some denigrating vulgarities by Chandler, I was kitted up on and my bike.
The course didn’t disappoint. I S@# MYSELF a few times during warm-up laps trying to follow Brian Wilichoski (last year’s 35+ National Champion) and Chandler, but like my high school prom date, they ditched me at the first sign of elevation gain. I felt marginally better when I came around a corner and saw Chandler on the ground. It was the toughest riding I’ve ever done on my CX bike. The surface conditions were a couple inches of mud frosting on top of an ice layer cake. It was real and it was intense and I questioned my sanity, again.
The second lap went better than the first and I sort of figured out that the faster you go…well, it was still sketchy. I had to get comfortable with the bike slipping side-to-side at a noticeable ratio compared with distance traveled forward on the course. The bike just wanted to dance under you. The descents with turns were just scary and hairy and then there were a lot of cameras around to capture the humiliation. Based on what I saw at Hoogerheide and Sankt Wendel in 2011 when we were filming Das Pro und The Rookie, the course in Verona, WI, was a legitimate, euro-style course. After two laps, course inspection closed and I returned my destroyed bike to The Wilcox to tend to and I went to the portapotty to clean out my chamois.
Later that night, good intentions of keeping the proper pre-race habits of spinning on the trainer were superseded by eating TexMex slathered in cheese. At least I abstained from beer, so I was pretty dialed in to get a sleepless night with nerves and wild imagination.
Not to mention our sleeping conditions? The hotel gave our double room away (or Stu Thorne took it) and so Chandler built The Great Wall of Pillow and Comforter. I had a brief flashback to our lodging conditions in Germany.
A photo of our sleeping situation at this year’s nationals:
Our time in Lebach, Germany for CX Worlds back in 2011:
Since we had arrived in Verona, the weather had been getting warmer and by the next morning the course was muddy and it had lost the ice layer. It was just sandy, slippery mud. Speaking of Mud, you should check out The Mudfund, Tim Johnson’s charity to promote Junior and Under-23 bike racers which gave out 8 sponsorships this year. You can support it by buying a copy of Das Pro und The Rookie.
I rode from the hotel to the race venue. Chandler, sacrificing some comfort, offered to ride the course with me to talk me off my ledge of not wanting to race. His race wasn’t until 2:30 that afternoon. Mine was scheduled to start at 9:30. We made about half a lap together before I lost him. I crashed about three times on my first warmup lap. By the time the second lap came around, I started to figure out some parts of the course, and I was hitting the mud as fast as I could in some sections, letting my bike judiciously zig-zag below me as I fought to maintain forward momentum and grip. It was a pretty humbling experience.
After two warm-up laps, I handed my pit bike off to the pit to crew (Hi Dave) and grabbed my race bike and ventured into the athlete warm-up tent where Chandler pinned me up and gave me some advice: “DON’T BLOW YOURSELF UP on that first climb.” I rode the trainer for only 5 minutes as I was already a little behind schedule. All that cheese from the night before was doing weird things in my stomach. So that was pretty Pro.
I meandered down to the starting box, scoped out the legs and small waists of everyone who was going to soon be spitting dirt on me (for the first few hundred meters anyway). I was really self-conscious about racing the championship race because I thought people would be judging me saying “what’s with that guy’s ego, thinking he belongs in this race,” instead of “well at least he’s here today since he couldn’t get Wednesday off of work.”
I was soon called up in the back row with some cheery guys who were all in the same boat as myself. While we were going to be racing against each other, it was really the course we were going to be battling.
There was even a guy (Charles McDonald) back there with one-arm. Thom Parsons interviewed him. Check out his bike setup and his post-race interview, as it’s very inspiring.
We were locked-and-loaded in the starting grid with the super-muddy, slick surface conditions, big hills looming ahead, and my belly full of cheese.
The whistle blew and the front row all disappeared over the horizon while I started taking my life-lumps. There was a crash as we departed the pavement for the holeshot and then we were into the mud. I’m pretty sure I could have run the entire course faster than I could ride it. Sloggy. Slow. Mud. I fought to stay upright, despite riding a Cannondale Super-X bull whose only goal was to see my face in the dirt. Soon, though, I was passing some people and it felt like racing.
One the first big climb I skipped from ice patch to mud to the next ice patch because the ice was hard and at 20psi on my Dugast Rhinos, I had surprising grip. This was short-lived though and I was soon off my bike, running up a little punchy hill that I had been able to ride the day before.
The racing was actually fun. At any given moment a guy in front of me would get tossed off his bike, I’d roll by and then I’d get tossed off my bike. And then back on and soon and so on.
Towards the end of the first lap, I started to figure out how to ride the mud better, detaching my upper body from the lower body, and at 40 rpms I finessed the bike as best I could, eventually rolling away from my back row pals, feeling a little like a bike racer.
I originally planned to go a whole lap before pitting, however, once I saw Dave in there holding my clean bike, I bee-lined for the bike swap. Can I tell you how amazing it is to have someone working the pits for you? I’m not a religious person, but when the Wilcox transitioned a clean Super X to me that didn’t have 10 pounds of mud on it, I did take a quick glance up at the sky. I accelerated out of the pits with what felt like fresh legs and a fresh outlook on life. 100 meters later, my bike was back to being dunked in mud.
Here’s a photo of Dave Wilcox working in the pits with Kurt Johnson managing the pressure washer:
Line selection was tricky. On my second lap, I noticed the course had been widened a bit since my warm-up laps and there were frozen islands of grass to be ridden. I took advantage as much as possible, but that mud in the middle had a tractor beam and I seemed to bob and dab my way back into the slop.
Something amazing happened though: no crashes during the race, despite my more aggressive riding. And just as I really started to figure stuff out, I heard the whistle of shame as the 80 percent rule kicked in and the US Cycling Official pointed me off the course along with 21 other “lucky” guys.
It was the hardest 30 minutes I’ve ever spent on a bike. My back had seized up like it had in no other race this year, and my hands were sore from death-grip-hanging-on for dear life. After I was done, I was happy, or is the word I’m looking for “relieved,” because it wasn’t easy to suck at a Championship-Level National Bike Race. My biggest disappointment, though, was that I didn’t get to ride more laps. It was really fun riding a challenging course like that.
Me racing, close to the tape:
Photo by Pete Smith of Mad Alchemy
Later in the day was the M35+ race with Brian and Chandler. I won’t go into too many details, but Brian finished 5th (I know he’s disappointed with that and will hopefully get some redemption at Worlds down in Louisville), and Chandler? Well, I’ll sum up Chandler’s race with his post-race quote:
You know what’s awesome? Being lighter, stronger, faster, more prepared….and finishing 5 places worse than last year.
Here’s Brian on his way to 5th place. It’s a podium, but he’s disappointed:
And those are some thoughts from the back row at the 2013 U.S. Cyclocross National Championships in Verona, Wisconsin.