Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cup Check - A Weekend of Cross In Boulder

For many outside the cycling community, Compton is a city located in South Central Los Angeles, known primarily as the birthplace of "Gangsta Rap" and Trebon is the name of a small tourist town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.

But for those of us in the know, Compton and Trebon are also the names of the best U.S. cyclocross racers as well. And they proved that fact beyond question this past weekend in Boulder.

One of the first things that I noticed at the Redline Cup, held at the blustery Boulder Reservoir, was that Katie Compton was rocking an all-blue kit and not the customary stars and stripes. Dave Towle was working the microphone and soon clued me in to the fact that she was wearing the UCI points leader colors. I suppose she was probably tired of the same old National Champion's jerseys anyway and plus, it gave the other women a chance to see a different colored blur for the first half of the first lap until she rode away from them all.

I am actually saving most of my Katie Compton material for the piece that I will write after she wins the World Championships this year. It should be good though.

Ryan Trebon had a rough start on Saturday but slowly worked his way back up to the usual suspects of Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers, Joachim Parbo and teammate Barry Wicks after a few laps. He mingled with the others for a moment but then went all Turbo and immediately put about 30 seconds into everyone. Treefarm has an interesting demeanor when he's racing and sometimes it's hard to tell if he's even trying but when he does finally get to the front and hits the gas...it can be pretty impressive. Both of the courses this weekend favored power and speed so it was natural that Trebon and Compton murdered everyone.

I would like to take this time to address the above photo of Joachim Parbo, the Danish National Champion. He seems like a nice enough guy and I've only heard good things about him but after watching him race a half dozen times over the past two years, I just simply cannot get past one thing. Or, well I guess two things. His hairy legs.

And not just normal hairy legs but, like, Tonkin Caveman style shaggy legs. You can't really see them too well in the above photo but they are kind of out of hand. I mean...it's sort of cool with Tonkin because he's just unshaven everywhere and he's from the Pacific Northwest where hairyness is the norm. But how does a Danish cyclist not shave his legs? Does Bjarne Riis know about this? I feel like it's almost disrespectful somehow.

Anyway, Sunday's Boulder Cup was held in the shadow of the Flatirons and under the watchful eyes of Len Pettyjohn, Michael Aisner and Scott Moninger (above) among many others. Being a typical Boulder event, there were current and former pros all over the place in the crowd but it was particularly cool to see Chris Baldwin and course marshall Tyler Hamilton moving barriers before the Cat. 4 event. How many other sports would ever have a scenario like that? Maybe Carmelo Anthony or Allen Iverson will rebound for me next time I go shoot hoops.

Since Compton and Trebon basically crushed everyone, the best drama of the weekend actually surrounded Geoff Kabush trying in vain to hold off Chris Horner for 5th place behind Johnson, Powers and Wicks. The heavily side-burned Canadian was able to maintain his lead in the technical sand sections for a number of laps but Happy Face Horner was visibly faster on the grass and asphalt. After steadily closing the gap Horner finally caught and passed Kabush on the long paved run through the finish, shown in the picture above.

How Chris Horner doesn't have a job right now is beyond me. The guy is one of the best race animators I have ever witnessed. I've seen him do a ton of road events including a first-hand view of his win at the SF Grand Prix a few years back but I think Sunday's 5th place may have been the most impressive. He doesn't have many UCI points so he had to start mid-pack and he would lose ground on most of the guys ahead of him on the technical sections. So...he basically rode ridiculously fast to get up to 5th place, ahead of both the Danish and former Canadian National Champions.

I was at the final Crank Brothers event at the Polo Grounds in Golden Gate Park a few years ago for what was, I believe, Horner's second cyclocross race ever. He showed up to registration about 10 minues before the race in the full yellow Saunier-Duval kit, proceeded to stack it a few times and still finished in the top 15. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that he is now getting podiums in year three considering he was top 10 at Lombardy a few weeks ago.

The above photo is blurry because my camera was set wrong, but you should be able to see that Trebon is holding a giant sword above his head. There were these crazy Lion-Heart guys running around with wigs and a huge Flanders flag who gave Treefarm this huge metal sword in the final straight. Big time props to Trebon for handling it because that thing did not look light at all. I think everyone had that initial nightmare flash of him decking it and committing hara-kiri as he crossed the finish line. Realistically though, that sword gave him a tougher time than any of the other competitiors.

It's always good to see the fans come out and uh, support the riders. These young ladies were Kona fans and had plenty to cheer about at the podium presentation. The term groupie may be too harsh, perhaps they are old friends, but regardless, scenes like this speak to the growth of cyclocross in the States. Although we still have a long way to go before there is a Kona dance squad, great events like the Redline and Boulder Cup will certainly help the growth of this crazy sport. Cheerleaders or not.

And finally, we have the Man, the Myth, the Legend...the pink vest. I've seen this guy marshalling a bunch of events and he always sports the pink Pearl vest. Awesome.

Are you tough enough to rock the pink vest? I didn't think so.


Ron said...

That'll be one of the most rarest sights in cycling finishes! Nice blog, I just began reading.

CaliRado Cyclist said...

Thanks Ron.

Yeah, I think everyone was kind of surprised that Treefarm took the sword.

I've seen people grab flags and stuff before they cross the line but this was some massive hardware.

Maybe if he did the entire race with it, the rest of them may have had a chance.

JoachimParbo.dk said...

Thanks for putting so much effort into trying to figure out why I don't shave my legs...

I started racing at 24. I have felt the peer pressure, but I still see no point in shaving my legs. I know it won't make me faster.

Dopers Shave !

Disrespecting Bjarne Riis? The guy cheeted and only frowned when he was forced to admit.

Where is the ligitimacy? Can he rightfully claim to have any truthful solution to the doping in top international cycling, when he is conducting a program which is not open to scrutiny. He is NOT collaborating with the Anti Doping authorities about the current program - and NOT telling them how he was able to cheat for years himself ...

What other than his own words tell us to believe it is not just research in doping - or at best just a media stunt?

Ciao / Joa