Conclusion – Owning It | 2018 – 2019 CX #11

Rain on the start line in Lille


Having missed an awful lot of quality training over the course of a season that spanned an antibiotic allergy, food poisoning stemming from subsiding on less than ideal nutrition while trapped on busses for 48 hours in one weeks time, five weeks of a displaced rib, and two months of intense knee pain stemming from a poorly thought out switch to my cross training, I finished up with the later developing into no less than a few weeks of severe back spasms which left me struggling to even walk.  

pre laps on a complex course

Being told “oops that training WAS a bad idea” by a new coach who muttered “trust me” more times than I was comfrotable with was likely as much of a confidence killer as my lack of fitness following all that had transcribed.  It’s not that I couldn’t have regrouped and done what I could to salvage some semblance of my previous years performances but generally that begins with recovery and with my calendar already set I had already been attempting in vain to get low quality rest in the place of good training.


fast is fun


Still I had come up with the idea to travel to Belgium to experience the real deal and I was determined to see it through, even if mere days before my flight out for three months of athletic endeavors I was crying in the emergency room seeking relief to my seized back.  After all how was I going to manage to haul two bike cases and luggage around an airport if I could barely walk?

setting up for corners in Lille

By the time I got to Europe I knew my fitness was waning but with the countdown to the end of the season and the accumulated fatigue I amass from constant racing I couldn’t really motivate and conger up the determination to throw down and really train.  Each race day was a fresh mystery of next level racing, picking the weekends to be tired from training didn’t seem so tangible as I knew nothing about any of the courses; what would suit me and where I would want to be fresh, much less if I was going to be comfortable enough with the new level of technical insanity served up in 50 minute sessions to compete rather than merely participate.

Racing through the edge of the lake with so many spectators

The semi constant state of shock I was in at the severity of what I was about to race my bike on each new venue was impressive.  I had been warned and I consider myself a reasonable bike handler but still it was nothing like I was familiar with on a race course.  In a rare and valuable weekend stateside there might be one obstacle on the full circuit that required added scrutiny and regard.  My usual pre-ride patterns involve memorizing anything that fits into that context peppered with little reminders throughout the rest of the loop to “shift after the rock” or “lean harder through that corner.”

making the watts

The European race courses render this technique near impossible.  In many circumstances every blind corner (which was generally every corner) harbored a technical feature.  Diegem and Loenout I could barely pick my jaw off the handlebar at the spectacle the fans presented.  In Middlekerke, Hulst, and Bredene the severity of the descents and transitions left me hyperventilating after each successful section instead of charging forward.  In Brussels, Baal, and Hoogstraaten I flat out ran things I was scared of…. And rode things that should have been run. Lille, Maldegem, and Oostmalle required hefty sand skills and flexibility with the lines changing as often as you rode them.  And this was just half the season and race courses. 

surprises around every corner

Belgians have a gift for determining the most severe angles that are indeed rideable, likely a product of a true spectator sport.  The berms and banks are built into the cow pastures and edges of the football (soccer) pitch. Stretches of tarmac start line can be spotted under grazing sheep the other 364 days of the year.  When the mud is present it forms nothing like any US mud I’ve been in except perhaps one event in Northampton Massachusetts, a climate featuring similarities to the damp, moss covered, never dry soil found in Belgium and the surrounding countries.

sand makes things interesting

The courses can get saturated on a wet day but the dirt remains malleable, the bikes tires carving an easy path through the natural soils as the lack of rapid transition from rain to intense sunshine we so often experience in the US an uncommon occurrence. The results of consistent high humidity and sporadic sunshine rarely results in the claylike peanut butter our rapidly polarized weather systems like to produce.

if they can build it we can race on it

Ruts are pervasive and terrifying when you are not familiar and deliciously fun when you are.   Just because you CAN ride something doesn’t mean that you should.  The brakes can be your worst enemy and your eye position and head angle can be your best friend. Traction is necessary but cloth covered metal grate flyover stairs render toe spikes probable tripping hindrances.  

punchy climbs in Hoogstraten

Other than my typical first race of the season I had never been so oblivious spotting the location and necessity of dismounting for barriers.  I swear a few of them just jump out of the ground at you leaving me to wonder why they were so monotone in color… only to see the other side later on in the race video and realize the cameras head on view was much more important to highlight that the racers approach. 

mud means running

Off cambers are something I truly enjoy but the speed needed to hold traction on the slick ones makes stepping off a less desirable choice unless you plan to drag yourself and bike through that section purely by using the course tape.  The poles are often a solid wood, 3 inches around, 6 feet tall and hammered into the ground with industrial grade equipment.  The metal gated fences all have feet that stick into the course. Curbs aren’t padded by rule, rather by exception and they can be at the most awkward angles and locations while often featuring a smoothed and polished stone finish (read: ice like when wet).  The scariest or most challenging sections of the track will likely have the most spectators. 

heavy corners can take their toll

Creativity is valued in course design, aside from the World Cup in Pontchâteau France, not a single race featured a course that was comfortable after a single lap. In fact, often my first lap was more successful than my second, with the adrenalin rush that comes from a new location cajoling you through the unknown, a consequent look had me expecting the worst, second guessing how I managed to survive it the first pass, and allowing the anticipation build for what I now knew was coming. Despite this often the courses were so busy or intensive that there wasn’t long to anticipate a feature.  Many times I would be facing an area on the course I knew something technical was in, only to get busy with five other challenges before hitting that spot. 

anything can be an off camber

These things make for fun exciting racing and my secondary goal to take it all in became primary.  I decided without a hard reset my fitness was a lost cause and I began to just enjoy myself, albeit with a tinge of disappointment as my finishing spots dropped further and further back in the field with each progressing weekend of racing.     

slop on slop

Through this lens of disappointment came a few strong realizations.  Chiefly that I had forgotten how to push myself and find enjoyment in that challenge.  I stopped checking my results, I stopped analyzing my lap times.  I became less concerned with how much air was or wasn’t in my tires and if the bike was still shifting reliably.  On days when the course features would intimidate me, I realized I was letting them.  When the mud was pervasive I left the course to chance rather than dial in another brake pad/bearings/cable crushing lap. Because I wasn’t there for the fight I became only there to survive and come out the other side in one piece.  I wasn’t racing the girls I was fighting the course, breathing relief on the far side of a particular drop I had just stayed rubber side down on instead of charging with every centimeter of available space.

good thing these poles hold a riders weight and the course tape is not stretchy

Racing obstacle to obstacle is considerable slower than looking for spots to make up time and consequently a small bobble somewhere over the course of the race inspires fear rather than drive to make up lost seconds.  The resulting impact of that bobble can lead to holding back more speed in consequent laps and the slowness snowballs until you are pulled from the race, withholding the reward of crossing under the finish line by a remaining lap or two.

happy to be through that section

Knowing my fitness was poor I was self-selecting.  Even though my handling was better than a significant percentage of the riders I was racing around I could never make gains stick and allowed myself the worst possible thought process in a contest of time; feeling as though I was in the way.  I wouldn’t be aggressive to make up the seconds cornering or by using my skill set because it was my own fault I was so obviously not fit.  This in itself was a contradiction.  I was here to learn to handle better and be more aggressive and I was blowing all the opportunities letting them slide by in a wave of guilt that I hadn’t prepared properly.  I was truly and properly ready for a reset. 

dramatic backgrounds in an epic Netherlands town turned island


So what were the takeaways? As always I should train more and race less.  As I believe I’ve reached the point where enough repeat participation in each US based weekend has proved to me which events I have the motivation to return to and which ones I may be less inclined to get excited about, I may actually be ready to embrace missing race weekends and training instead. 

around the far side before going through the windmill

Around seven years ago my focused switched from summer mountain bike racing to fall with cross.  As I like to race each weekend, I initially idealized cross as a way to extend the fun of the summer.  The main difference being that the summer racing keeps you at a higher degree of fitness with the need to race longer than 50 minutes.   With my main focus now being on cross I still finish off each winter season with my eye on how much I love the west and what fun trips to temperate climates the mountain bike will take me. 

Oostmalle and short sleeves for the final race of the season

For a few years now it had been suggested and I had been accepting that racing the full year was detrimental to my fitness and ability to race fast in the fall. Indeed mid-season when the novelty of spring and fatter tires wears off, I tend to fall into a lull of fatigue and low drive to improve.  Somehow though this had mutated into a concept that I wasn’t fully aware of ….until I was…. that I had stopped trying to go hard ever.  Subconsciously I was equating pushing hard in the summer to a reduction of ability for the fall and I spend an entire summer in avoidance of suffering. 

tired panda

So the conclusion of 47 cyclocross races in six months, ten states, five countries, and three continents was that the 2019-2020 season starts now with time off and a warrior mentality.  I have it, there’s no doubt but I know what puts me in that mental space better than anyone else.  While that doesn’t mean I need to race to find it I will not enter races without the intent to really throw down and leave it all out there, I will seek out and embrace more challenge regardless of the stigma of being dropped off the back time and time again, and I will not shy away from my own self-inflicted fears. After all what self-improvement are we making if we don’t insist that failure is the turning point.  

Still always happy to be here





Adam Roberge is Prepared for 2019

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Canadian Adam Roberge traveled to Southern California so that he was able to have a solid winter training block ahead of the 2019 season. As a new addition to the Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling Team, Adam is motivated to make an impact with break through performances and being an integral member of the squad.

You just completed your first team camp with the team – how did it go and what is your impression for the 2019 season and the team?

It was great to meet the team, and it is always a wonderful time getting to know people who share the same passion as you. It went pretty well, I was especially surprised and happy when I realized how close the staff and riders were. It feels like a big family and I’m super excited to improve as a rider and person with all of them.

After camp, you and 3 teammates raced a local event, the Victorville Road Race, where you finished 2nd. How was the course and conditions?

Really hard, it was 12 laps of a 10km circuit. What made the course so challenging was the extreme wind conditions. My Elevate-KHS teammates and I stayed together as long as we could so we were able to work together in an echelon formation to waste the least amount of energy

Teammate Alfredo Rodriguez won the race with you 2nd – how did the race play out?

Alfredo was in a break of 4 guys off the front. I was in the group behind with my to other teammates Ulises and Brian. We worked together to keep the break at seeing distance because we were not happy with only first place – we wanted at least two guys on the podium. At about mid race, Ulises attacked in the most technical section on the course with me on his wheel and we dropped everyone else in the group. Together we bridged up to the break. At this point, we had 3 KHS riders out of a group of 5 in front with 4 laps to go. We attacked one after the other, forcing the 2 other guys to cover and get tired. With 2 laps to go, I attacked on the climb and only Alfredo was able to stay on my wheel. We rode together for the last 2 laps and cross the line with the same time sharing the victory.

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

You have spent quite a bit of time training in Southern California preparing for the season. How has that been going and how is the training compared to Canada right now?

I have been staying in Beaumont for the last month or so, going up and down some amazing roads and enjoying breathtaking scenery in the San Bernardino national forest. On top of that, I stay with the most loving hosts I can possibly have. For us Canadians, we have to travel during the winter to train. Right now it’s impossible to ride the road bike outside with all the snow. When I’m at home I either train inside on the trainer of outside on the fat bike.

This is your first season on the team – what events are you looking forward to the most?

For sure, the Tour of Utah is the biggest race for us during the season so I will be making sure to arrive fully ready. Winston Salem is also a race that I look forward, I really loved the experience of one day races at the GP Quebec & Montreal and I’m excited for the team to defend Sam Bassetti’s title. Other than that, I’m anticipating pretty much all races during the season, preparing and racing at my best so my teammates and I can win the most races we can!

Follow Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling On Our Social Media Outlets for the latest race day updates!



Instagram: @elevatekhsprocycling

Thank you to our 2019 Partners:


Q & A with Kyle Swanson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Hailing from Texas, Kyle Swanson is a new addition to the Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling Team for the 2019 season. A talented sprinter, we sat down with him after team camp with a few questions:

Welcome to the team! What was your experience at team camp, and impression of the team and the season ahead?

Thank you, Elevate-KHS was my top target last year and I couldn’t be any happier to be on the team ! I was actually pretty nervous heading into team camp. I didn’t know really know what to expect and didn’t know anybody on the team. That went away very quickly! Everyone was really cool and welcomed me onto the team with open arms.

The 1st few days I struggled a bit, but I felt like I continually got better physically and mentally as each day passed and was able to finish the camp on a strong note.

I think this season will be really special. I’ve been lucky to be on the teams I’ve been on so far but nothing like this one! It almost feels like I was welcomed into the family.

Sunday of team camp you got the opportunity for your first race with the team at the Roger Millikan Criterium. You landed in the winning move with Ulises Castillo, who ultimately won the race. How did the race pan out?

The plan was to attack until the casket drops. The race started and we did just that. Maybe even too much! About 40 minutes into the race Ulises was up the road in the break. I saw teammate Brian McCulloch and he said we didn’t have the numbers we wanted and told me to go. So I launched an attack and was able to make it up to the group without dragging the peloton with me. From then on it was full gas. I thought the sprint was better fit for Ulises so I was constantly telling him take it easy and let me do the hard work. In the final laps the peloton was closing in on us. With 1 lap to go we still had enough of a gap so I went to the front and did an all-out pull to the bottom of the hill with 1 corner to go. Somebody attacked from there and Ulises finished it off!

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

That’s a solid start to the season for you – what were your expectations going into the race?

I set myself some high expectations. My Grandpa and Aunt were there and it was there 1st time to watch me race. I felt like had something to prove not only to myself but my teammates as well. So I was gonna make sure I had something to do with the team victory!

With the season just about to fully get underway, what are you looking forward to the most?

I’m looking most forward to having such awesome support at the races. I got to experience what it was like at the Roger Millikan Criterium and it was great. I remember being at Nationals last year and didn’t have anyone but a friend that drove up with me in the feed zone. I missed my feed and cramped out of the race I had been targeting all year. So I’m super excited to have the awesome support that we have!

Any words of advice for a rider looking to make the jump up in the ranks?

My word of advice would be to listen and absorb what the experienced riders tell you. I was able to learn a lot from the people around me and it made me the racer I am today!

Follow Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling On Our Social Media Outlets for the latest race day updates!



Instagram: @elevatekhsprocycling

Thank you to our 2019 Partners:


Follow the Plan

The Elevate KHS pro cycling team kicked off their 2019 race season with the Roger Millikan Memorial Crit in Brea California.

Things Heat up at a Frozen Bootleg Canyon

This past weekend at Bootleg Canyon in Bolder City, NV had some epic weather. You had strong winds, rain, hail and even snow! But that did not stop the KHS Factory Racing team from coming up big.

Nik Nestoroff took the win again at he DVO Winter series, with teammates Steven Walton, taking 2nd and Logan Binggeli with 3rd place on the day. “Super good time out at the second round of the Bootleg Gravity Series. The whole team was out there flying and brought home some great results. The KHS was working awesome and we swept the podium!” -Nik Nestoroff

Also newest team member, Bryce Helbling, took 5th place on the day.

“Great weekend out with team in Bootleg for the second round of the series! I was plagued by many flat tires all weekend allowing me to only get two practice runs in before race time, so I’m stoked with a 2nd place finish between Nik and Logan. The team atmosphere was the perfect recipe for success.” -Steven Walton