Monday, January 19, 2009

Times, they are a Changing.

Each year, the bitter wind chills of winter end the old and begins each year anew. Spring is the beginnings and summer is fun in the sun, and so the fall is, and was, the season of change. Fall is my favorite of all the seasons. It lets us look back upon all those things that once were and will never be again. All the opportunities seized and all the chances we let slip through our fingers.

It’s interesting to watch as the people-scape of cycling change in this relatively small enclave of the country. Once upon a time I was the young, “up and coming” rider. Cycling has the intrigue and mystique to attract talented individuals from all walks of life. I’ve seen kids racing on bikes older than they are, and I’ve seen kids who are fully supported by their parents and/ or team, riding bikes that surpass the quality of even the best supported riders. Many of these sorts of kids show talent that I envy, as I was probably the slowest Junior in all the country (it’s true, ask some of the veteran guys).

The honor of being "young, up and coming" has been passed down to the new “kids.” The talented youngsters in this area are many and the ability of them is tremendous. They've already done things on junior gears that some riders hope to do someday. In order to keep these kids in the sport they must be encouraged and supported by the community. I was that wide eyed kid watching as the elite men went blazing around a criterium course with reckless abandon. I know they dream of going that fast, and I know that many of them will never make it. But some of them will. And the ones in the Kansas City area that can make it, have the chance to be something special; if not interesting.

Fall Ride: October- ish....

It’s a tradition that myself and Bill Marshall ride a “million miles” every fall. This is a ride that I’ve been especially fond of and I’ll continue to do as long as possible. Basically, it’s a couple of guys that spend that “perfect” fall day, when the leaves change to different shades of gold, reds and oranges, the wind is non-existent, and the temperatures start a bit chilly only to warm to that perfect bike riding temperature, riding as far as we can before we either fall apart or the sun goes down. If we work it just right, both happen at the same time.

The interesting part is that over the years different people have accompanied us on this ride. But not once, to date, has anyone ever been invited to this ride more than once. Reasons change; moods change; people change, but the ride always stays the same. It’s our ride. My only rule is that we have to take a route I’ve never been on each time. So far, so good.

This year was no different, yet it was. 6.5 hours. Myself, Bill and Joe Schmalz. I believe by the time it was over, there were 3 water stops, and one Goodcents stop at the end of a 118 mile day. Perfect weather, as always.


Usually I start the CX season slow and end it going fairly fast. Well, until the brutal temperatures derail any ability I have to go fast. Some riders thrive on horrific conditions to get good results. I can ride well when it's bad, but I'm a bit hit or miss. I need it to be “sort of warm.” This means that by the time CX Nationals rolls around, the temperatures are so cold I can’t even really get warm, nonetheless get warmed up for a race, as was the case this year. Such has been the case for years.

This year the CX scenery has changed dramatically with the introduction of a few riders. Some have been around for years, others just haven’t raced CX, and still others just haven’t been. I think that CX in the Kansas City area has a few riders that really cause a stir most anywhere in the country. Perhaps not in the professional ranks, but definitely could score some UCI points here and there. Indeed, the winds of change are blowing in the KS.

Joe Schmalz and Chris Wallace (1 and 3 from left to right): Two kids new to riding at the elite level. They have the ability and skills to ride fast, and ride fast they do! Chris is off to Jr. Worlds after some awesome riding this season at the local, regional and national level. Meanwhile, Joe is preparing for the 2009 road season. What'll happen? Who knows where these two are going? I only hope to be able to help, or at least have a good seat while I watch.

Brian Jensen (2nd from left): Brian is now an engineer working for TradeWind Energy. Which, I'm guessing, removes him from the list of full time professional bike racer. While that's a great career move for Brian, it definitely raises the bar for regional and local races. No more easy wins. Ever. Of course this means that Brian has brought to bear his abilities on the CX scene. All I have to say is, "Ouch!" Get a strong road rider with some off-road skill and you have a fast CX rider.

Cameron Chambers: Same sort of deal as Brian. Now races mostly local and regional events. Also riding CX and fast!

These CX new comers are putting pressure on the "standard" CX results regionally. Sure Steve Tilford still wins when he's around and not notching UCI points. Hell, that may never change. Otherwise, it used to be that a rider as formidable as Shadd Smith would simply need to show up and not have a mechanical to win the local races. Those days are gone and while I'm sure Shadd enjoyed them, he is now pushed to the limit every CX race he does. I can only recall one race where Shadd was able to ride away and enjoy a comfortable win this year. I think it's good for everyone when the races are undecided on the start line. And it definitely elevates the level of performance needed to win races, which is good for the sport in general.


It’s not that America wanted change. Change is inherently “scary” and therefore "bad." But let’s face it. In a time where the majority of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track many people didn’t think they had any choice but to pick change. After all, look where the current trajectory has us.......

So now we have a new president, new beginning and a new outlook on how to deal with the problems facing us. My only concern is that we're in such a hole it may not be recoverable (is that a word?) in four years. Obama certainly has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Although, I think we may all be expecting too much from him. He may change the world, but he won't work miracles.

Career Change: Maybe not so much of a career change as a career beginning. I'm now a full time consultant for Source Endurance. We do consulting/ coaching/ guidance for anyone athletically inclined. Especially anyone involved in endurance sports. It's a great move for me. A job I like doing and a full time position. The KC area is woefully under-served in this respect so hopefully, I'll be able to help people reach performance or fitness goals they never thought were possible. I don't like hearing the, "I'm just missing that little bit." or " I wish I could have just hung on a little bit longer." or anything of the sort. Truth be told, that "little bit" is very hard to find. But that's what I'm trained to do and it's what I'm very talented at doing. Click here for the newsletter.

And one last word about the coming of spring and the new beginning. it's just a poem, but I liked it for some reason..

Clockwork. The clock infinitely repeats itself. Although the clock may look now as it once has, time has never been here before and never will return again. Time is never duplicated. The clock is always revolving, constantly repeating, yet never the same.