Posts written by Brian Hutchison

The Gates Carbon Drive cyclocross team battled mud, sloppy conditions and a large singlespeed field at the Cyclocross National Championships in Boulder, Colorado, emerging filthy and dirt-caked but happy about their performance against the best racers in the United States.

Mud?  What mud? - Photo courtesy of EddieClarkMedia.com

Mud? What mud?

The tough course was made even more difficult due to the eight inches of snow that fell just days before the race, turning the surface into a mess of deep off-line snow and slippery, bumpy lines and deep ruts. More than 100 riders lined up for the singlespeed race, and riders jockeyed for position in the large field, struggling to avoid any falls or mistakes.

Jesse Swift only knows how to have fun

Jesse Swift only knows how to have fun

Taylor Nye posted an impressive race against the country’s best singlespeeders, finishing in 10th place. The other five Gates riders were spread out through the field, with multiple finishers in the top 20. Mitch Westall grabbed 15th and Jesse Swift 17th. The best result, however, was joy of the riders following a long season of many victories.

Gates CDX Carbon Drive and TRP Hylex brakes just ignore the mud

Gates CDX Carbon Drive and TRP Hylex brakes just ignore the mud – Photo courtesy of EddieClarkMedia.com

The Spot Brand Rallye bikes performed flawlessly, and the Gates Carbon Drive belts and sprockets powered through the slop. The Hylex brakes from TRP were amazingly responsive in the tough conditions, while the Stan’s NoTubes wheels let all the riders run ideal tire pressures for the mud and off-camber sections of the course. Even caked in mud, it was impossible to miss the “Agassi Yellow” of the Spot Rallye frames.

Ryan McFarling on the 5280 Stairs

Ryan McFarling on the 5280 Stairs

The team’s Ryan McFarling was unable to make the mud-fest singlespeed race, so he lined up for the drier conditions on Friday for the 40-44 Master’s race, finishing an impressive 22nd against the geared competition.

With the season officially over, the team riders are already looking forward to mountain bike season. See you on the trail and on the race course in 2014!

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For the fourth consecutive year the Gates Carbon Drive Cyclocross Team has taken the overall victory in the Colorado Cross Cup’s Team Competition. Those blue skinsuits, bright bikes and belt drives have become a dominant fixture on the Colorado cross scene and will be evident this week when the National Championships come to Boulder.

Jesse Swift and Ryan McFarling battle to 4th and 5th at the Colorado State Championships - Photo credit Pedaldancer.com

Jesse Swift and Ryan McFarling battle to 4th and 5th at the Colorado State Championships – Photo credit Pedaldancer.com

After several weeks of bitter cold temperatures, the Colorado State Championships races saw temperatures rise into the 60s, melting the snow and creating some classic cyclocross course conditions. The race was held on a popular course in Castle Rock, Colorado, and the singlespeed category had nearly 50 racers lining up to do battle.

Taylor Nye staying fueled in the pancake and sausage feed zone - Photo credit Pedaldancer.com

Taylor Nye staying fueled in the pancake and sausage feed zone – Photo credit Pedaldancer.com

Last year’s champion Colby Pearce flew through the course and took the individual win again in style. While the Gates Carbon Drive Cyclocross Team is finding that individual rider State Championship jacket hard to snatch, the race did give them their 4th consecutive Colorado Cross Cup Team win. Most importantly, the team was all-smiles throughout the race, as everyone had a great time getting out to play in the mud with close friends.

The Gates Carbon Drive CDX system excels in muddy conditions - Photo credit Pedaldancer.com

The Gates Carbon Drive CDX system excels in muddy conditions – Photo credit Pedaldancer.com

The season isn’t quite over for the team, as Colorado is lucky to host the National Championships this year. But it has already been another very successful, and FUN, year for everyone involved with the team. Team Gates Carbon Drive will be racing in the SS races on Wednesday, with the Elite races on Sunday. The course has 10 inches of fresh snow sitting on it right now, with temps in the teens. You can check out a preview of the course here.

The team wants to thank its sponsors, who through their incredibly gracious support and phenomenal products make it possible for us to have all this fun!
Gates Carbon Drive – The drivetrain of choice for singlespeed racing.
Spot Brand Bikes – Their incredible and versatile Ralleye framesets.
Stans NoTubes – Their lust-worthy Iron Cross wheelsets and NoTubes sealant that kept us rolling.
TRP Brakes – Stopping was never easier with their Hylex full-hydraulic brakes.
Crank Brothers – Candy pedals are THE pedals for CX.
Full Speed Ahead – Cranks, seatposts, stems and handlebars.
Jinji Cycles – Awesome mechanical support.
Primal Wear – Kits that keep us warm, cool, protected and really, really good looking. Really.

Team Gates Carbon Drive 2013 - Mitch Westall, Derek Strong, Jesse Swift, Ryan McFarling, Taylor Jung, Brian Hutchison (Missing: Taylor Nye)

Team Gates Carbon Drive 2013 – Mitch Westall, Derek Strong, Jesse Swift, Ryan McFarling, Taylor Jung, Brian Hutchison (Missing: Taylor Nye)

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Team Gates Carbon Drive flies to Philadelphia to represent Colorado in the 2013 Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships!

Gates Intergalactic Planetary Carbon Drive Cyclocross Team - Ryan McFarling, Jesse Swift and Derek Strong

Gates Intergalactic Planetary Carbon Drive Cyclocross Team – Ryan McFarling, Jesse Swift and Derek Strong

While part of the Team Gates Carbon Drive Cyclocross team were racing in the frigid Colorado temperatures this past weekend, team members Ryan McFarling, Derek Strong and Jesse Swift flew off for the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships. This year, the SSCXWC were held in beautiful Philadelphia, PA, and the guys were excited to do some team representing on the East Coast for a change. To qualify for the big race on Sunday, racers had to compete against other racers in six “Feats of Strength” spread throughout the city, designed to test a wide variety of riding skills, as well as your ability to adapt and of course, have a blast riding your bike with like-minded crazies! First, the iconic 72 step Rocky-run at the Art Museum. Then followed by a ride out to the Delaware River to complete a mini cross race, consisting of a sandy hill, log jump and ramps below and underpass. The third feat was a 90 second sprint up an extremely steep dirt climb.

When the racing gets serious - Track Stand Karaoke

When the racing gets serious – Track Stand Karaoke

The fourth feat took in some more Philadelphia scenery as racers sprinted for a single lap race around an abandoned reservoir. The penultimate feat had racers lining up for a 100-step run-up from the river into one of the nearby neighborhoods. And then another group ride heading back to town, where racers faced-off in the final feat; a track stand/karaoke competition. No doubt, the riders were judged not just on their track standing ability, but with an equal amount of the scoring considered for their ability to belt out the lyrics to Queen’s “We Are The Champions”. It was a long 5 hours and 35 miles of riding around the city, but the guys were committed. And that showed once the scores were tabulated and the guys all qualified for the “Big Day” on Sunday!

Sunday when it was time for the big race, the racers woke to cold but dry weather. That wasn’t going to last long though as the racers began to get warmed-up for the race, the first snowflakes of an unexpectedly strong snowstorm began to fall over the city. The start of the race was handled “Braveheart-style” as the racers were lined-up in a long straight wave.

I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of gearing! (SSCXWC start line)

The course was a ton of fun featuring optional routes, a steep hill, off-camber grass, fallen trees, mud puddles and even punching bags and Liberty Bells littering the course. All through the race the snow was piling up, making the racing tricky, but not dampening the fun or spirits of the 100+ racers. At the end, as the other racers cleared the course, the first two places were lined back up for a one lap battle to determine the new World Champion. Jesse Swift was crazy-close to that final battle, finishing an impressive 4th place, but you never would have guessed he was was “only” fourth, when you saw the smile on his frozen face.

Fourth place for Jesse Swift at SSCXWC '13!

Fourth place for Jesse Swift at SSCXWC ’13!

By the end of the day, that storm had dropped 8.5″ of fresh snow over the city.

The team's distinctive Spot Ralleye bikes making a snow-covered appearance in Philadelphia

The team’s distinctive Spot Ralleye bikes making a snow-covered appearance in Philadelphia

All of the guys agreed that SSCXWC’13 was a very fun, and also beautiful event. Getting to explore the city and see so many different historic areas, the stonework, cobble streets, bridges and architecture that this city showcases; and even the ghettos and the surprising number of trails scattered through the city, just blew away the guys!

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Mitch Westall of Team Gates Carbon Drive takes the top stop of the Shimano Cyclo X Series podium, while the team takes a total of six of the top 10 placings!

Mitch Westall and Taylor Jung take 1st and 3rd in the Shimano Cyclo X Series

Mitch Westall and Taylor Nye take 1st and 3rd in the Shimano Cyclo X Series

After seven races, the Shimano Cyclo X Series presented by Without Limits Productions, still had several possible winners as racers lined up for the eighth and final race! And it was sure to be an epic race, as single digit temperatures and and a shortened snow-covered course at the Boulder Reservoir greeted riders Saturday morning. And if the arctic temperatures weren’t enough, the snow made for an extremely technical course, offering up just a narrow lane of solid snow which turned to loose snow and sand just inches off-line. The battle was on from the start, and it didn’t take long before the leaders were into lapped traffic on the course, which made passing another technical aspect of the race. Without a doubt, Mitch was able to put his past years of mountain bike racing to the test, taking aggressive lines and maintaining traction, because of the superior traction of his low-pressure Stan’s No Tubes setup.

At the finish line, Mitch stayed upright to take second place, with just five seconds covering the top three places. That was just enough points to ensure he maintained first place in the series to take the win! I’m sure much of the other racers were jealous of the Carbon Belt Drive and TRP Helix full-hydraulic disc brakes both of which were completely unaffected by the ice and cold temperatures. Overall in the series, Team Gates Carbon Drive took a commanding six, of the top ten placings in the series. Congrats to Mitch Westall in 1st, Taylor Nye in 3rd, Ryan McFarling in 6th, Taylor Jung in 7th, Derek Strong in 9th and Jesse Swift in 10th!

Sunday’s race was less dramatic, but no less miserable, as Taylor Jung and I lined up in Morrison, Colorado in more single-digit temperatures. Another tricky, icy, yet very fun course laid out by the RLW crew, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society. I can tell you, the race was all about survival, even as we waited for the signal to race. But in the end, Taylor did an awesome job learning from a crash on Saturday, and took an impressive 4th place on the day.

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Mitch Westall kicked off the season for Team Gates Carbon Drive Cyclocross Team with a win in the Wheeler and Dealers race at CrossVegas! And just to make sure no one missed the team, Taylor Jung and Taylor Nye secured second and third places, to make it a clean sweep for the team.

Mitch Westall and other class-winners on the CrossVegas podium.

Mitch Westall and other class-winners on the CrossVegas podium.

Though the entire team was raring to get the Colorado cyclocross season started, Team Gates Carbon Drive had a smaller presence at the CrossVegas race under the lights on Sept 18th. But only smaller in numbers, because no one was going to miss the vibrant new Spot Rallye team bikes, especially once the lights came on and the usual furious start of the Wheelers and Dealers race warmed up the crowd for the bigger races later on!
Starting from almost mid-pack, Mitch was off like a shot right from the start, quickly moving up through the field. Taylor Jung was even a bit further back, but he wasn’t going to let Mitch get out of sight. As the race settled in, Mitch found himself in a group of favorites chasing a small changing couple leaders off the front. CrossVegas is always a race of survival against the thick grass and dry hot desert air, where battling the geared bikes can be tough for single speed racers. But Mitch fought through to the end and secured 8th overall, and 1st in the singlespeed category. Taylor Jung finished just behind in another group of geared racers, who he wasn’t letting go either, to take 2nd in the singlespeed category. Taylor Nye is just getting started on what is sure to be another strong season, and nonetheless still put in an impressive ride to secure the last step of the podium, making it a clean sweep for the team.

The new Spot Rallye is hard to miss in signature "Agassi Yellow"

The new Spot Rallye is hard to miss in signature “Agassi Yellow”

The CrossVegas momentum quickly carried over to the weekend races just a couple days later as Jesse Swift, Ryan McFarling, Taylor Jung and Derek Strong raced at the impressive Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, Colorado. The first Colorado race on the calendar didn’t disappoint as a quality field took the start. Jesse and Ryan rode together most the race, working together against a group consisting of 3 other top Colorado racers. Going into the final lap, Ryan threw down a vicious attack that the group was able to shut down, which setup Jesse for a sprint out of the last corner where he had to settle for third place. Ryan recovered from his attack to take 4th, while Derek and Taylor finished close behind in 12th and 13th spots.
After getting warmed-up with his 3rd place finish on Saturday, Jesse Swift was back again on Sunday for the Body Sync Cyclocross race in Golden, Colorado. He said the race was for “training”, especially since it was nice and close to home, but tell that to his fellow competitors! Even after a second row start, Jesse blitzed the rest of the field, pushing his way to the front of the field and finding himself in a group with one other rider, Drew Christopher. Jesse and the other rider were able to put a safe gap on the rest of the field, and though I know Jesse would have preferred to battle to the line, he found himself alone at the finish as Drew suffered a flat. That’s what happens when you’re not sporting the sweet new Stan’s NoTubes IronCross wheels and tubeless setup that Team Gates Carbon Drive is psyched to be sporting this year. I’m sure Drew will be back to challenge the team again.

This season, keep tabs on your favorite belted-cyclocross team directly at http://www.teamcarbondrive.com/ as well!

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