Team Giant Report, World Cup finals from AustriaTuesday,
September 16, 2008
By Olympian & DRHS graduate Adam Craig: World Cup FINALS!
How is it that ten days of staying up late, kayaking, dirt jumping and riding singletrack whenever I wasn't too tired from the
aforementioned activities produced 110% better sensations than "focusing" for a good solid month for that Race in China? I'll tell
you how, MORALE! Nothing ups the M like getting on a plane all haggard from a (rad) weekend in Hood River to fly across the
Pond for WC Finals in Austria and not really caring in the least bit about the outcome of the race. I guess that's what being
"burned out" (a state of mind I've always looked down upon for those in this "not exactly rocket science" line of work) is all
about. And what relaxing and riding your friggin' bike FAST is all about.
Let's talk about the old adage that what goes around comes around. As this world of bike riding and riders turns, my original
Teammate, Walker Ferguson rolled through the Pacific Northwest last week. He was doing a bit of a western road trip to ride
bikes, pick up a surfboard and drop by some local bike shops (been to yours lately with a six-pack?) so they could check out his
new clothing line project. Verde Goods. Nice, casual bike clothes made in Washington for people who like to ride. I'd spent a
couple summers couch surfing with Walker on the Uncompaghre Plateau in Colorado where he'd shown me all kinds of trails,
opening my eyes to big hills in the process. Unfortunately, Walker had never made it (been tricked) to Maine for a proper
reciprocation (minus the hills). I finally got him back on Tuesday. We set out into the Cascades and did "The" loop, with a few
scenic extensions for good measure. It was great to show him a new zone just as he had me nine years ago. I think riding with a
guy who was a consummate focus master and has a Rainbow Jersey in his closet to show for it, but has decided that life is too
diverse to focus solely on riding bikes all the time, was good for my perspective. It got a bit of (fairly light) weight off my
shoulders at the perfect time. Thanks, Walker.
While we're saying thanks, here's one to Southeastern refugee Bo Wallace for being down for leaving Bend at Noon on
Saturday on a 36 hour jaunt to Hood River where we ran into old buddies, relaxed in the sunshine, ran awesome rivers and
capped things off by him showing me just how fast to roll into the dozens of perfect doubles at Post Canyon. Dual Slalom
Challenge fall training has begun! Here's a photo Bo snapped as I was paddling my kayak of a perfectly perfect waterfall at about
24 hours in!
These pleasantries, coupled with knowing who was behind a Particle of Me, produced the definition of ENERGY LEGS at
World Cup #9 in Schladming, Austria. Usual fall weather (cold and damp) had my mind sharp enough to actually attach my spare
foot to my pedal off the line and I immediately, comfortably, settled into the lead group up the first climb. Sweet. Jose Antonio
Hermida and I were separated by a few points for fifth and sixth in the World Cup Series at the start, so whoever bested the other
got on the Overall Box. I figured, on lap two, that if I attacked him and Christoph Sauser he'd be on the ropes, I'd win and get
the overall podium prize. Good plan. Totally worked until the end of lap three, when I was still winning (towing those two
around) and starting to feel the effects of world cup leading pace. No matter, only five more to go. I was at an equipment
disadvantage though. I'd been nervous about the high-speed section through the village plaza so Tom had swapped me out to the
old-fashioned "double chainring" setup for the first time since I committed to the Single Ring in Scotland. This was a good call,
except I was clearly having a good day, and you know what good days mean, right? BIG RING CHALLENGE! Oh yeah, I was
totally in THE MEAT while Hermida and Sauser were calmly spinning 30rpm faster in a reasonable gear. Sissies. Smart too!
This, and the fact that there seems to be a limit to the power of Morale and screwing around, is why those guys rolled and smoked
me on the fourth lap. No Man's land for a few, then the inevitable slide began. I didn't really crack, just stayed steady. 4th, then
5th. Time for an ice cold Coca Cola or three. Good thing Elke was ready with the obvious refreshment. Once it hits your lips!
It still takes a lap or two to kick in though. I was back to 11th by the time that happened! Good thing I got on the sugar and
caffeine horse early though, energy legs came back in time to get back around Todd Wells and a few Swiss guys for 8th place.
Pretty sweet that in a year where everyone was looking at the Olympics (where we sucked, hilarious) Todd and I quietly
snuck into the top ten in the World Cup with 6th and 10th, respectively. It's been quite a while since two gringos finished in the
money for the season. I think that says a lot about us stepping up gradually, healthily, onto the international stage. The announcer
said it best "This can't be right, it looks like the US Champion, Adam Craig, with the lead on the descent". And "Now another
American, Todd Wells, is moving into podium contention". That's right, buddy, we're here to stay!
The flip side of the "here to stay" coin is the best Soignieur The Circuit has ever known, Elke Brutsaert. She's throwing in the
(massage?) towel. The Queenpin has been going to bike races since her college days racing on the Road for the University of
Maine and reckons she's had enough. All the World Cup DH wins, trans-oceanic flights and evenings spent tailgating in the pits
have filled up that part of her fun bin and she's ready to balance it out with other stuff, like going on camping trips with Peanut in
her '70s Dodge Van. Thanks for all the help, and good times, Elke, there are lots of people who will miss you!
Up next, Twilight Cylocross, Dual Slalom "training" and DH racing. Maybe motorcycles and kayaks. Sleeping in. Not riding
unless it's going to be proper fun. Oh yeah, Carl and I are giving the Wheels of Teal a huge engine and four wheel drive. It's
gonna be awesome. Right after it ends up a pain in the ass and expensive!
An old buddy from riding and racing in Maine lives in Czech now. He came down with his girlfriend to watch the race. They
took photos. I told him about the new Quarry Trail in Maine. He's pumped. Good to see you, John VanVranken.
High Wheeler in Austria