2017 Mountain Bike Season – It’s a Wrap!

And just like that, Spring has turned into late Autumn, and my mountain bike season is over for another year. I raced 34 days in 2017, my most ever. The season didn’t go to plan in every aspect, but the process of looking back has been really helpful. I improved on the competitive side, and saw some amazing sights while traveling, too!

My biggest accomplishment was getting on the podium twice in the National ProXCT series. I’ve been working towards short-course UCI style races for a couple of years, so to see that success pay off was fantastic. The validation of a national level podium cannot be underestimated

The low points

My biggest disappointment was not capitalising on that early season form in July, when I travelled over to race the World Cups. The form dipped, and the beating I got during those races was hard to recover from. I came back from Europe with a terrible cold that hung around for the rest of the year. It wasn’t until after Breck Epic in August that I finally went to the doctor and got diagnosed with a sinus infection!

Marathon Racing

My “long form” racing came on quite well. I finished 13th at the Whiskey Offroad and 8th in Grand Junction. These were the strongest domestic fields I raced in all year. These events are the target for next year, and I have a good idea of what I need to do in 2018 to be even stronger. I love the 3-4 hour length races, and I can be a better all-round rider with this focus in 2018.

The Local Stuff

Racing in Colorado is hard to beat. I love where I’ve chosen to live. I relished the late season events in Colorado. Without doubt, the highlight of the season was my 8-day block of racing in August: The Steamboat Stinger, into the Breck Epic, into the King of the Rockies (aka #KingoftheHoneyEpic, thanks Evelyn). That block started well with a win in Steamboat. I struggled through the Breck Epic, but came out the other side having a new appreciation for multi-day racing. As day 8, I went over to Winter Park for the King of the Rockies, and had a great battle with Taylor Shelden, coming in 2nd. That was the start of the best season in Colorado: the late season races. I got on the podium at the last of the MTB races, coming 2nd at the Fall Classic and 5th at the Outlier.

The Support Network

Christa has been there for everything. She dealt with my incessant hunger during the Spring when I did nothing but long hours on the bike. She traveled to Europe to watch me at the World Cups, and she’s there now when all I want to do is sit on the sofa!

I have an amazing support network. I’ve stayed with family and friends across the US and further afield; people going out of their way to help me pursue my single minded drive to succeed. It’s humbling to see. There are two companies in particular that have stuck by my side. Boulder Cycle Sport lives and dies by its local community. Their support this year is the biggest component of my success; Wes Webber has rebuilt my bikes more times than he or I can count, and Justin Hoese has fielded my emails and questions at all times of the day.

At Scott Bicycles, I’ve had the pleasure of working with really good people, too; Wade Gasperson and Zack Vestal – thanks for your help. Your bikes are undoubtedly the best on the market, but your culture and willingness to help are even better!

Jasen Thorpe – you’re a bigger part of the last couple years than I’d ever tell you in person.

What’s up in 2018?

I’m changing up the schedule next year: no World Cups, and very few short course XC races. I’ll be starting my season later, giving time for a proper break through the winter. I’ll focus on a couple big stage races, in addition to the Epic Rides series, and also some bigger races in Colorado.

No guarantees just yet, but it’s going to go something like this:
Moab Rocks, Moab Utah
Whiskey 50, Prescott Arizona
Grand Junction Offroad, Grand Junction Colorado
Trans-Sylvania Epic, Pennsylvania
GoPro Games, Vail Colorado
Carson City Offroad, Carson City Nevada
Crested Butte Fat Tire 40, Crested Butte Colorado
Firecracker 50, Breckenridge Colorado
Singletrack6, British Columbia, Canada
Steamboat Stinger, Steamboat Springs Colorado
Breck Epic, Breckenridge Colorado
King of the Rockies, Winter Park Colorado
Fall Classic, Breckenridge Colorado
Chequamegon 40, Cable Wisconsin
Outlier XC, Vail Colorado
OZ Trails Offroad, Bentonville Arkansas
Iceman Cometh, Traverse City Michegan

A Year in (more than) 12 photos: 2014

Twelve Months, Twelve Photos

January

It all started with Dad and I driving across the UK, into France, through Belgium and Germany and ending up in a snow covered Tirolean valley. Innsbruck was now home, and we celebrated with a couple of days skiing just above the city. I couldn’t think of a better way to start living in the capital of the Alps.

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Continue reading Twelve Months, Twelve Photos

Year in review

My twenty-third to twenty-fourth year on the planet. Here’s the review you’ve all  no one has waited for!

My year in racing

This was the first year in which I really dedicated myself to training. Since finishing as a runner, I haven’t had a coach, and never followed a training plan from start to finish. It has been refreshing, but this year I found the focus was also refreshing, and rejuvenating. I lost enough weight to make the miles pay off, and the season started really well with some major results and a positive outlook. As with most things, it’s hard to follow success with success, and the later season was a combination of missed opportunities and lack of funding. Being self-supported is a difficult one, as mountain bike racing is expensive. I managed to rescue my season by focussing on the Winter Park races, and came away with a series overall win. I missed a few big goals; the podium at the steamboat stinger being the biggest, but there will be plenty more opportunities for things like that. 2012 has been a year in which I’ve seen a number of friends shift focus away from racing, either to pursue new goals outside of bikes, or through disillusionment within racing. I’ve noticed that those people who stick with these things for the long run are the ones who gain most at the end too. Although I’m shifting focus a little, I can’t think of any better way to fill all my free time than racing mountain bikes . Goals for 2013: Train more on my Mountain Bike. Ride much more technical trails. Race some Enduro’s. Race less XC, but more cyclocross. Spend August getting really fit and fast by riding in the high country, and then using that fitness in cyclocross season. Organise less, worry less, and ride more. Spend less money racing, but make go further.

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My year in riding

Riding for fun got a bit neglected this year. Intentionally so, but it’s still a disappointment. Racing was my priority and I stuck with it; racing well at the whiskey 50 was certainly fun; organising and racing short track in Boulder every week was rewarding; seeing lots of friends at Winter Park races renewed my belief in grassroots racing. But I still missed out on some ‘bucket list’ type rides. I didn’t ride Monarch Crest this year; the famous 40 miles shuttle ride that I’ve done every other year I’ve been in Colorado. I didn’t explore any new trails in far-flung places. I didn’t get lost in the snow on top of a mountain at dusk, with not enough clothing or food. I’ll make sure I remedy that one. The highlight of my riding: Kenosha pass with Jamie Emerson, just as the leaves were changing at the end of September. A classic ride that lived up to its hype; really pleased to check that off the list. Goals for 2013: Do a multi-day hut trip or camping trip on bikes. Ride less in Lycra. Ride somewhere completely new. Get lost and come back with a smile on my face and new trails under my tyres.

Curt Gowdy WY (17)

My year in work

With my job ending in September, I spent a lot of time worried about the future, and trying to plug the gap in employment. I ultimately failed. And the world didn’t end, but it changed a lot. The experience has given me some insight into where I’m going though. Through trawling the employment market in Boulder, I met some interesting people and came across opportunities I didn’t know existed. I came very close to being a full-time writer; perhaps the single opportunity that I really resent not getting. But it focussed me; I know that writing is a passion I need to take further, and I know that I can’t live without studying. Without the mental process of research, discovery and documentation, the rest of my life has less perspective. I’ve spent the last few months regaining that perspective, and I’m surer than ever that the path is towards a PhD. I’ve spent a couple of years in CO constantly weighing whether it was the right choice, but I’m now 100% certain. Ideally, this is going to happen in Boulder, but with time of the essence, it’s likely that I will have to see Boulder as a long-term goal, rather than the immediate one. Goals for 2013: find a situation that allows me to think for a living, once again. Find it in a place I call home, and find it soon!

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My year in friendship

I have a lot of friends. Many of them close, who are now a long way away. It takes upheaval to really identify them, and it takes persistence to keep them close. In 2012, I found the girl of my dreams, and kept her. I found friends who will help you out with no need to repay the favour, and friends who, at the drop of the hat, will go for a much-needed ride with you even though its 18 Fahrenheit outside.  Goals for 2013 are pretty straightforward: keep the girl of my dreams. Repay those friends who asked nothing in return when helping me out. Find some new friends, but not many!

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My year in Adventures

I did some more adventuring off the bike this year. Walking up mountains made resurgence, after a couple of years where I was entirely wheel-centric. It made a difference to the end of my year to go really high, where bikes couldn’t take me. I also realised that mountain biking isn’t the social activity I think it is; hiking brings about a new level of conversation that bikes do not. I’m not sure of the numbers, but I can say that hiking is equally as exhausting riding, too. The highlight is my attempt at ‘Super Longs Peak’ with Bryan and Andy. We failed in getting to the top due to our lack of technical climbing equipment, but we successfully spent 12 hours out in the open, from sunrise to sunset, doing what we love to do. And we sprinted for the town line at the end too! Goals for 2013: Summit some peaks on foot. Find the most breath taking and awe-inspiring mountains to climb – not the highest, but the greatest.

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Happy New Year!