Category Archives: race report

The virtues of cycling, 2017 UCI Worlds

I came home from Sunday’s ride and checked for the results of the world road race championships.  This year worlds were held in Bergen, Norway.  Cyclingnews shared a helicopter-view of the last 4 kilometers of the race. It’s incredible seeing the landscapes—ships in harbor, fields, and rooftops, colorful crowds and cyclists racing around.  No other sport or activity infuses the physical world we inhabit on a daily basis with the effervescent qualities of the human spirt like cycling.  Among all the things cycling can do, certainly its ability to introduce us to the geography of the world, and show us the beauty of humankind in nature, carry incredible value.  Racing highlights cycling’s amazingly diverse and broad impact around the world.  It lifts the human spirit.  It’s a source of fun, learning, creativity and pleasure.   Artful brilliance.

or watch direct on Youtube

And the view of the finishing sprint–

Or watch direct on Youtube

Coryn Rivera, the new American bike racer

I feel free and comfortable when I’m on my bike.  –Coryn Rivera, from Team Sunweb

A 24 year old from Tustin, California, Coryn Rivera became the first American to win the Tour of Flanders this year.  Her first ride was at age 8 on the back of her parent’s tandem bike.  She started cycling on her own at age 9, but didn’t get much experience riding on the road until she got her driver’s learning permit at age 15.  Turning Pro at age 16, she’s won 71 US National Championships.  That’s not a typo!  And now she is performing at the world’s highest level.  Coryn also won the RideLondon Classic this year with her phenomenal sprinting skills.  Check out her Road Bike Training Tips on Liv Cycling.  What an amazing journey.  What a cool sport.

Cycling: 14th Tour of Flanders 2017 / Women / RVV / © Tim De Waele

References and Photo Credits:

A Complete Ride

We’ve all heard how sports such as cycling can be more mental than physically challenging.  Virginia Commonwealth University embraced the UCI Road World Championships in 2015 in Richmond, VA with a cross-disciplinary campus-wide effort to engage faculty and students in experiential learning.  Their work became “part of the university’s intellectual and cultural heritage”.  Studying cycling helps you realize it transcends any fixed categories such as transportation, identity, or even sport.  It is an integral part of the fabric of our lives.

VCU English Professor Gardner Campbell explained:  “The project was not just the experience of a sporting event. It represented something more, having to do with the possibilities of human accomplishment and the commitment it takes to get to your goals. Our students saw around them, as they were pushing themselves in the context of their own intensive courses, world-class athletes who were committing their hearts and minds and bodies to excellence.”


The Great VCU Bike Race Book project gave students an opportunity to learn by doing and a chance to become “authors,” producing content curated into a virtual “book.” –photo from the article linked below

Read the full article here:  How a Bike Race Led to Experiential, Personalized Learning ,or,

This video of the final 5 kilometers of the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, VA shows an exhausted peloton.  The echo chamber of fans lining the cobbled streets, cheering in global tongues.  The winding course highlights city features, the 50 mile pedestrian trail to Williamsburg, Libby Hill, Governor Street, world culture shining in America, and Sagan’s all around cycling skills.  He only had a couple bike length’s lead over the last cobbled climb, but opened the gap zipping through the twisty turns, and extended it further with unrelenting commitment across the flats.  And the way his competitors great him after the race!

An incredible ride by Sagan, steadfastness, control and skill in the midst of seeming chaos.  The discipline of saving energy, then unleashing his heart’s desires at just the right moment.  Cycling is a global sport and a spiritual journey.  Sagan used the microphone after the race to call attention to the plight of refugees, and articulate a vision for shared prosperity for all humanity.  He won the road world championships again in 2016 to continue his reign.  We keep learning!

Virginia Commonwealth University is our Bike Org of the Month for November, 2016.

Detail on the course in Richmond here:
A previous blog post on Sagan’s Richmond victory:  Achieve World Peace Through Bicycling

Mt. Evans Hill Climb



2016 was the 50th anniversary of the Bob Cook Memorial Mt. Evans Hill Climb in Colorado.  You gain 6,630 vertical feet in 28 miles, starting at 7,500′ and finishing at 14,130′.  It’s the highest paved road in the northern hemisphere.  Half of the ride occurs above treeline.

Echo range

Mt. Evans solo

Mt. Evans mealtime

It’s you being challenged by the mountain.  Cycling Evans gives you an amazing sense of your surroundings.  There were nearly 1000 participants this year.  Over 400 racers, and almost 500 Gran Fondo riders, who are not officially racing, but are still taking on the challenge.  I think for everyone it is a kind of competition within yourself.  Can you make it to the top.   We all share the experience of suffering over the same course on one glorious mountain.


tapestry of tundra

It’s incredible what you see up there.  Surprising how life springs forward under trying circumstances.  The ancient bristecone pines are some of the oldest beings on earth.  It seems paradoxical under such dramatic conditions those trees endure for so long.  But they do.  Getting up there by bike and sharing the experience on the mountain is a cool accomplishment.


Marmot home

Mt. Evans Sundance Images 2016

Credit for the last photo (all others mine):
Visit the event site at
Thank you Team Evergreen for putting this event on!

Cycling Up America’s Mountain

“Within my first week riding, I found a local club (Big Orange) that taught me how to ride and encouraged me to start racing.” —Krista Doebel-Hickok, Women’s Hill Climb USA National Champion 2016, on how she made the transition from running to cycling

I raced the inaugural USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships August 13th on Pikes Peak west of Colorado Springs.  The course begins at 9,400′ and ends above 14,100′ over 12.4 miles.  It’s an incredible ride.  I raced up Pikes Peak in 2013.  That year we raced up Mt. Evans, Colorado’s other paved mountain road summiting above 14,000′, on Saturday, and we raced Pikes Peak the next day on Sunday.  That was hard!  Knowing the course helped me relax and enjoy all the rest and recovery I could get after the drive up from New Mexico.   We toured Garden of the Gods and saw Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep grazing,  A tranquil scene.

Co Springs garden

Colorado Springs garden of the gods

Garden of the Gods bighorns

Bicycle events are like conferences, festivals, and meetings all rolled into one.  It’s invigorating connecting with so many diverse people passionate about cycling, and inspiring to see people doing their thing.  This trip turned out to be full of serendipitous connections beginning with the hotel we stayed in.  The Buffalo Lodge at the base of Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs is in the process of repurposing the historic motor lodge into a cycling adventure base.  Great!

Buffalo Lodge banner

Buffalo Lodge hosted the 12th annual Roll Bike Art festival the night before the race so we were surrounded by a rolling party.  Leagues of cyclists pedaled in throughout Friday evening.  An absolutely stellar vibe.  Cycling is not just about pedaling circles.  The whole experience counts.

Buffalo Lodge neon

Buffalo Lodge when in doubt...

I was blown away by the culture, sports and art.  A creative and inclusive community, where people are comfortable and don’t feel like they have to act tough or prove themselves.  I was especially touched by this piece of art made from recycled bike parts including chains and sprockets.  I’ve never seen hard metal and sharp edges flow in such organic and riverine form.

Buffalo Lodge art show flow

Great Sand Dunes hotsprings sunflower echoes

On race day I was up early to eat and stretch.  My race started at 7:10am.  It was a joint event, coupling a USA Cycling sanctioned race with a citizen’s ride in the Italian gran fondo tradition.  Some of my favorite events are like this, Iron Horse for instance, because you get a wider range of participation and more people riding for different reasons.  They started riders in waves and my group, Masters Men 40-49, started in the 8th wave after all the gran fondo riders.  We had 30 some riders in my group and over the first mile of the course I worked my way to the front of the pack from the back.  One rider went off the front with clear enthusiasm.  I spooled up and followed.  We worked together for a half mile and when the road pitched up in earnest, I was alone.  I rode my fastest tempo and metered it out to hold on to the top.  With a time of 1:14:34 I won my race by over two minutes, and was faster than my time in 2013 which was 1:15:33.  I had the 8th fastest time on the day behind pro/amateur elite racers.  Next year I plan to go for the top overall, but this year I’m glad I raced Masters.   It was the right choice to keep a healthy balance and meet life’s demands.  Life is more than cycling, but cycling helps with everything.

Great Sand Dunes chamisa and showers

On the way home we visited Salida and they were holding the inaugural Salida Water Festival.  There’s a growing movement in Colorado to conserve water and change public values and behaviors.  The strategy involves developing technologies to keep water pure and use it more efficiently, and incentivizing smarter behaviors.   Transportation innovation is happening similarly, coupling advances in technology with programs to shift behaviors and support values, attitudes and lifestyles that can make the legacy of our era more of a positive one, preserving our natural heritage so a healthful abundance flows downstream in time to future generations.

Salida water festival

Sand Dunes water

On the way home we stopped in the San Luis Valley at Great Sand Dunes Hot Springs.  We immersed our bodies in the waters on Sunday morning after camping out beneath the enormous sky and open space that is our heritage in the American West.   Cycling teaches me to be vulnerable, to be open, and reach out to something greater than myself.  The world of cycling is truly driven from the heart.  A cycling experience based in patience and love is just the beginning, not the end.  Poetry in motion.  Thanks to my team and sponsors for their support, all the club cyclists who teach me how to ride, and the greater community involved in cycling, who make it richer and make events like this possible.  Grateful we made the trip!

2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb / USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships

2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb / USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships, me finishing

Race home and Photos
list of participants
buffalo lodge bicycle resort in Manitou Springs
roll bike art festival in Colorado Springs
Ideas for the last paragraph are adapted from Weston Noble
cycling, like music, ‘allows us to have feelings we never knew we could have’

Great Cyclists from the Southwest

‘Cycling is freedom for me.  I can use the same thing I use as a mode of transportation as a form of exercise and as a form of competition.’  –Kyle Murphy, Professional Cyclist, Team Jamis

It amazes me how many great cyclists come from the U.S. Southwest.  Not all of them were born here, but the riding and lifestyle afforded by the Southwest is perfect for developing cycling potential.  Here are three notables with recent successes.

Brandon McNulty, 18 years of age, is having a stellar year winning top races.  In March he broke his own record on the South Mountain hillclimb above Phoenix by almost a minute.  Brandon said ‘the local race is special to him because he rode up South Mountain with his father when he was younger on Silent Sundays when the summit road is closed to traffic.’


Brandon McNulty breaking his own record up South Mountain in Phoenix, May 2016. Photo from

Travis McCabe improves every year.  After nearly winning the overall at the Redlands Classic two years ago, he’s focused his training on maximizing sprint victories, playing to his strengths.  Travis has won stages at the Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila, and Redlands this year.

Travis Mcabe wins the Sunset Roadrace at Redlands 2016. Photo Jonathan Devich/

Travis McCabe wins the Sunset Road Race at Redlands 2016. Photo from Jonathan Devich/

At age 36 when many pro athletes are retired and golfing, Eric Marcotte keeps winning and getting better.  He won the downtown criterium race at this year’s Tour of the Gila, and also won the road race in February at the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix.  Eric’s determination continues after winning U.S. National Championships in 2014 (road race) and 2015 (criterium).

Marcotte soars to victory at the Tour of Gila criterium,

Eric Marcotte soars to victory at the Tour of Gila downtown criterium.  Photo from

I received an email from USA Cycling with a few inspirational quotes on why we race .  Here are a few of my favorites.  For me, racing is a way of riding into health.
“The sense of community keeps me coming back.”
“I have found incredible friendships through bike racing and these friendships have endured.”
“It’s a rigorous mental exercise.”

McNulty Sets New South Mountain TT Record from AZclippedin

A Rock Star in Cycling

“To win Tour of Flanders with a rainbow jersey on your back must be a great feeling.”
“What a way he’s won it….he’s very much in the center of his career.”  —Eurosport announcers

Peter Sagan won the Tour of Flanders this past Sunday.  He rode away from the competition on a steep cobblestone climb.  Sagan has won many races including the World Championship and Tour of California but Flanders is his first Monument, one of the five oldest and hardest races.

Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media |

Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media |

Sagan is like a Michael Jordan of professional road cycling.  The flare and grace with which he performs is transforming cycling.  There’s a video clip below that shows Sagan’s poise and the constant drama of a cat and mouse chase at the end of a 255 kilometer (160 miles) race.

Sagan deep in the tank

The video clip begins on the climb where Sagan powers away 240 kilometers and six hours into the race.  He rockets down the back side on narrow roads and then finds a rhythm in an aerodynamic tuck to meter out his effort to the finish.  Narration for the story comes from colorful bicycling personalities [“Vanmarcke is going backwards.  He’s falling into the clutches of Cancellera”]  and there’s intimate footage of Flanders’ small towns and settled countryside.

Sagan tuck Flanders

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium.  On the run into the race finish we get a look at some Dutch style bicycle facilities with the road.  What really stands out is the fluidity with which Peter Sagan moves with the bike, expressing the bicycle’s enormous capabilities.

Watch on Youtube

Photo Credits:
Photos 1,2–
Photo 3–

Cycling World Championships with Tilford

Road World Championships are happening this week in Richmond, Virginia, USA.  Road Worlds were last on US soil 29 years ago in Colorado Springs in 1986.  US cycling was breaking onto the world scene then.  Greg Lemond was the first non-European to win the Tour de France in 1986 in its 73rd annual running.  He was phenomenal.  Lemond grew up in Reno, NV, and that is where I began cycling in earnest.  Western roads nurture climbing ability and make for exciting bicycling.   Since 1986 cycling has grown in equity and inclusiveness, spreading around the world.  Now there are teams from Asia, Africa, South America, all over.  And the upcoming generation of North American riders race stupendously and with honor, a la Lemond.  Cycling is a true global sport, much bigger than soccer.  Cycling’s usefulness for promoting health, social connectedness, efficiency and sustainability make it stand out above all.

Brandon McNulty wins bronze at Road Worlds, Junior Time Trial. Brandon is an alumnus of the Landis/Trek team

Brandon McNulty wins bronze at Road Worlds, Junior Time Trial. Brandon is a graduate of the Landis/Trek team.  An Arizonan.  The places cycling takes you!  Photo from Tilford’s blog

Steve Tilford is at Richmond covering worlds.  His blog opens up cycling in a unique way, giving access to an insider’s view with great depth.  He is a practicing racer, and highly accomplished.  Cyclesport is closely intertwined with culture and civic life where it is thriving in America, in places like Durango.  “Durango probably has the best trail system of any town in the United States.  The city itself is so supportive of cycling it should be the city that every other one in the country tries to emulate.” (Durango Dirty Fondo).   In the last few weeks Steve’s been to Cross Vegas where Governor John Hickenlooper announced 100 million to make Colorado the best bicycle State ever.  And Steve’s covered himself with mud at a mountain bike race in Wisconsin called Chequamegon.  He also raced with the pros at St. Louis doing four criteriums, and reported from the US Pro Challenge in Colorado.  Steve will roll you into the world of cycling with a humble, expansive perspective.   We get tips on developing technologies and enduring traditions.  He introduces us to great people, and has a genius for relating the mundane routines that lead up to peak cycling experiences.  He lights up the landscape of cycling for all of us.  Steve’s worlds coverage illuminates the biggest one day race of the year.


For July 2015 Steve Tilford’s blog is my bicycle org of the month.  I’m a couple months behind on designating my bicycle org of the month, but I’ll catch up.  The world of cycling is composed of so many diverse champions.  Steve has been wheeling for decades and is getting stronger.

flower greet and bike parking

Las Campanas: Drawing Strength from the Land and People

I didn’t set out to be a bicycle racer.  I started riding when I was 22 after selling my car.  It was an economic choice.  It turns out the useful bicycle ride, the commute and doing daily errands, is good exercise.  The best kind because it happens automatically.  I gradually started riding more on the weekends, riding with friends, and new dimensions in cycling opened up.  I’m just saying this because you may not consider yourself a competitive cyclist, but if you leave open the possibility you never know what may happen.  You may find yourself doing an organized ride, loving the challenge, and doing things you have not imagined.  It is happening to me.

Las Campanas Masters Men Start

The Las Campanas (“the bells”) is a residential community on the perimeter of Santa Fe in the beautiful high desert of New Mexico.  This year Las Campanas hosted the New Mexico State Championship Road Race on the undulating nine mile loop road encircling the community.  My race did 6 1/2 laps for 61 miles.  It was fast from the start line.

Las Campanas Bicyclists in the Landscape

The best thing about bicycle racing is there are so many unbelievable things.  When we ride we imbue the everyday road with new stories.  Last year I drove over from Flagstaff, AZ to race here but this year since I’ve moved to Albuquerque, Las Campanas is much closer to home.  That makes a big difference.  When I’m cycling I feel like I’m drawing up strength from the landscape and this year I had a stronger sense of being well situated.  The road remained open to regular traffic so we shared the road with many locals who were out on a Sunday morning bicycle ride.  The enjoyment of cycling here goes together with people’s desire to feel at home on the land, even fall a little bit in love with it.  People ride for many reasons.  It’s all good.

Las Campanas Peloton

The dry desert heat was coming on quickly Sunday morning and after the first few laps I was steaming hot.  I didn’t have great legs or total energy but sometimes this makes me race smarter.  Plus the pace was so hot I couldn’t do much but follow.  The Zia Velo team had four riders and Nero Veloce had five.  Plus guys with big engines that like to race hard including Daniel and Bryan were present, as was a visitor from Louisiana named Mathew who was constantly attacking.  Mathew was not eligible for the State title and there was no prize money since this was a State Championship event, so he was purely interested in racing hard.  He’s probably on his way out to Amateur Nationals or gearing up for some other race by training at altitude.  We zoomed around the course without let ups, air rifling in and out from our chests.

Las Campanas Flying Uphill

During the third lap my front tire went flat.  I pulled over and the follow car with spare wheels was right behind and stopped to help me.  I got a new wheel and was back on the road in under a minute, but the pack was long gone.  I spent an entire lap chasing.  This was a hard time in the race because mathematically you realize if a few people in the main pack cooperate taking turns going fast on the front, you may never catch  back on.  When you’re soloing out there in the wind you can’t get any rest.  The riders in the pack can tuck into the slipstream of the lead riders and save 30 to 40% by being in the draft, and on the downhills even stop pedaling and get pulled along in the wind break.  Even though I felt tired I just time trialed as long as I could determined to catch back on.  Otherwise my race was finished.  First I saw just empty road in front of me, then after half a lap I could see the follow car up the road, and finally on the stair step climb I could see the tail end of the peloton.  That’s when it becomes most painful because you are almost there but with any changes in pace you may never make it.  I was lucky there was a lull in the action and after a lap of chasing I rejoined the group, half wilted in the sun.

Las Campanas Cool Women Riding

Ryan from Zia looked over and saw I was back, and noticed I was riding his spare wheel.  The follow car had given me a random one for a quick change.  The irony made us laugh, but I was all gratitude because it was a very nice wheel.   I was just hoping the action wouldn’t heat up again too fast because I was hot and tired.  I ate and drank and tried to rest.  My basic strategy was to conserve energy and only spend energy when I had to.  For the rest of the race I stayed tucked in and calm, saving it for when it counted.  Most of the attacks that went were missing a Zia Velo rider, so their team would chase.  On one occasion Mathew rode off the front with a Nero Veloce rider and Marcel from Zia bridged up, so I had to chase.  But I didn’t close the gap entirely because I realized the Zia team was actually trying to set up another one of their riders, so they didn’t really want that break to remain clear.  It is tough psychologically because you want to prove you’re strong and capable, but the best way to show respect is by playing the tactics that the situation demands.  Always remember the competition is top notch.

Las Campanas Everyday Bicyclists

I did this course last year so I knew the climbing portion past the golf course maintenance area was not sustained enough to make the decisive selection.  I had this image in my head that the successful move would have to come on a well timed counter attack on one of the rolling hills past the steepest climbs.  Ideally I could get a gap then and solo the last few miles to the finish.  Otherwise it would come down to a sprint and my chances are reduced then.  I was fighting my head all day.  You always have doubts and the best thing you can push back with is discipline.  I’ve had my most productive work days when I’m half way tired, and I think this is because it forces me to focus energy and value every ounce as sacred.  Sensing scarcity, we wisely conserve.  In this race I just conserved as much energy as I could and didn’t do any work I didn’t have to.  It is difficult to hold back sometimes when you know you have an answer.  But timing is everything, and having the confidence to trust yourself to perform when your part comes up is the course you must follow, however subtle the inkling may be.  Listen to it.

Las Campanas Peloton Going By

On the last lap Mathew’s relentless attacking garnered a break with Nick from Nero Veloce.  Zia held it in check but the pace was absolutely blistering.  On the last climbs before the finish I moved up and pulled a couple riders, Bryan and Ryan, free from the peloton.  After we crested the rise of the last hill we could see Mathew and Nick and I took a healthy pull to reduce the gap.  The leaders must have been tired having ridden that last lap at high speeds off the front.  At this critical stage in the race your efforts are intense but still measured.  I pulled off the front to see if Bryan and Ryan were motivated to finish bridging the gap up to the leaders.  I had enough energy left to stick on the wheels as they pulled through.  They both contributed and by the time we got up to Mathew and Nick to form a group of five everyone was gassed.

Las Campanas Final Lap

At this point you are surviving on instincts.  The beautiful thing about bicycle racing is it sublimates our desires and allows us to channel our powers in circumstances that tests us.  The experience of having failed helps me.  No matter how hard it is I know these opportunities don’t present themselves automatically.  They are a true gift.  Racers can go a year or more without having a situation to turn to their advantage.  So even though I was very tired, without thinking I rested up as much as I could and then accelerated away before anyone could catch their breath.  This is hard because I was already close to all out, and by attacking off the front I was compromised and showing.  I didn’t know if I could make it.  That’s what makes it exciting.

Las Campanas Fire Inside

Once I acted on my senses and committed to the moment I emptied the tank.  It’s a delicate act, feathering what is left.  In a fantasy world you would feel incredible out there.  But freshness is a distant memory 60 miles into a race (once in a while there are great days).  You have to search for grace and form, hold it, and struggle trying to make it home.  It is a hard psychologically to sustain the effort and push the limits.  Racing with excellent competition lifts your game.

Las Campanas Passion Heart Effort

This is how racing goes.  The freedom of just being a player.  It doesn’t mean that you are tougher or stronger, but sometimes things line up, even things beyond your control.  Submitting to that, following your instinct and reason, preparing and doing your part, and channeling your enthusiasm for one brief expressive moment can be a very satisfying thing.  Set yourself up for discovery.  I find it in every circumstance even when someone plays it better than me that day.  To be a witness as a race participant is something.  I always learn.  Today I was happy because I applied my learning, and honored the people and circumstances that made this possible.  I’m especially grateful to my wife Mai for her encouragement, trust and support.  Drew for advising me to start off in a big gear then click it down one notch, because when your adrenaline wears off, that’s where you’ll want to be.  That’s time trial advice but I use it every race now to remind me to relax and be calm.  He’s a master cyclist.  For Jim, who teaches respect for every rider, and how to read a race.  A master of reasoned passion.  For Hernando, who is a cycling mentor to many a cyclist including me.  He teaches the art, science and magic of bicycling, and braids together bicycling and community better than anyone.   He rides with joy and never stops learning, and has a mind, heart and legs that are well connected.  Through the people and land, it is good to be a part of this community in the American Southwest.

Las Campanas Classic 2015 Photos

Sansai Studios has the New Mexico Road Race State Championship photos available:

Sansai Studios

Thank you to everyone who made this race possible.  The winding, scenic course was challenging and beautiful, and the host community was kind and welcoming.  The RA Racing Apparel / Trek team are elevating the level of bicycle racing in New Mexico.   They donate proceeds from the race to the Las Campanas Community Fund/Santa Fe Community Foundation, which raises money to support local non-profits serving the Santa Fe Community.   May the tradition of bicycling in New Mexico keep flourishing.  Good effort everyone.  I’ll be posting a race report here in the coming days.

Big Thanks to our Fathers

Big Thanks to our Fathers

Dad recommends Bach and it may go nicely with the Sansai Studio photos.