The End of Cyclocross (until next year!)

Via: http://cyclingbran.blogspot.com/

The end of the season came unceremoniously. No interviews, no photos, no podiums, and a sense incompleteness.

Not that incompleteness is a bad thing, but something that could be avoided. A chord progression in music sounds incomplete without a return to a dominant chord tone, a meal is incomplete when you don't spice it up before serving it, and a season feels incomplete without accomplishing goals.

Brannan FixThe season was full of ups and downs, but the results don't tell the true story about the ups and downs. In the long run, the season was a huge up, and I got to do so many amazing things which I am beyond grateful for. Louisville was a low point in the season, and led to a uncompleted goal.

The beginning of the season started at home, in Boulder, where I took the win at the Boulder Resivour and learned that I really love riding sand and the skills involved with that.

From Boulder we went to Cincinnati, where the food was great, and the racing was even better. Racing at the front of a UCI race was the experience of my lifetime, throwing attacks and reacting to them. I got my first taste of what its like to race at the top, and wanted that for the rest of the season, only to show up in Kentucky to be no where close.

Kentucky was a taste of failure and taught me about the essence of persevering. No matter how hard it gets, you only go harder, and faster and keep piling it on until you get to what you want. The results I got there didn't reflect what I wanted them to reflect but I pressed on, wanting it more than ever.

Los Angeles was awesome, without a doubt one of the coolest trips I've done. The food was killer, the race was nice, and the city was cool to be there for a bike race. I finally got to race at the front of a UCI race again and be drilling it in a breakaway. If not for a dropped chain, I would have gotten the best result of the season, but I was finally back to the top where I knew I could ride.

After Los Angeles things stayed local and I got to race some fun races in the snow, and then State Championships. All the Boulder kids going to Europe were there and I got the chance to race them one last time to prove myself before Nationals. It was a great course and super fun conditions, which meant I was able to apply the lessons and skills from the rest of the season and put them into practice to walk away with the second win of the season.

Going into National Championships I had lofty goals, I wanted a top 5 more than anything. It was going to be hard against kids who had been racing against the best in the world, but I was ready. I lined up for the race in the 3rd row, but by the top of the first climb I was sitting in 6th place. Perfect.

Throughout the race I slowly faded until I was in a group of 3 battling for 9th place. It was still a great race and I got to duke it out with kids that I truly enjoy on and off the bike. Nationals felt like a homecoming and to ride top 10 was acceptable for me. I wanted better, but to feel the excitement of the crowd, the support of the Fort Collins community and my loving family was worth it. The race is mostly a blur, of wind and bumpy corners, but I feel that I proved something and showed people that even though I may not have gone to europe, or finished top 3 in any major race, I have it to wrestle at the top, and I still have next year in Juniors! Regardless of how the rest of the season had gone, I rolled into the finish line with a top 10, and into next year.

Thank you to Boo Bicycles: Nick, Adam, Jacob, James, et al at Boo, you guys rock and I have loved working with you guys and riding the wonderful bikes you guys create. Your support has kept me rolling forward this year, and towards results on the National Circuit. Keep BOOing!

TrainingPeaks, Braaap Nutrition and Challenge Tires have provided support throughout the whole season. From Gear Fisher, CFO of TrainingPeaks, yelling at me from the side of the course and encouraging me all season, and having TrainingPeaks supporting such a great local company, I'm honored to work with the brand. Braaap is another amazing nutrition company from my hometown, who's support on the bike and off the bike has been indispensable, thank you so much Todd and Shauna. Challenge Tires has provided the basis for any CX bike and kept our tires refreshed all season long.

And of course the support of my family, friends, and acquaintances. Thank you to my mom Carol, my dad Matt, my sister Campbell, and my girlfriend Fiona. Your guys support mean so much and it is great to have you guys behind me all the time. Thank you to all my friends on CYF and pals, my coach Andy Clark who has been more than a coach, but a reality check too. Thank you to everyone else that has supported me this season, it means so much, and I hope I can give everyone someone to cheer about next year.

Until next year CX. Keep muddy.

Brannan Fix is a Junior at Rocky Mountain High School, races for the high school mtb team and the Boo TrainingPeaks cyclocross team. With one race remaining, he's leading the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League series.  Here's his recap of the Elbert race from last week.  Read more blog posts from Brannan at: http://bit.ly/1eejLKo

Sometimes believing in yourself and your skills is more than enough to do the best you can.

This weekend in Elbert was a regular race weekend. Pre-ride in the afternoon on Saturday, dinner at 6:30 that night, and bed time at 10. But even though it was the same, it was completely new and different.
 
This weekend was the first time that the Varsity boys would race first, instead of last. A 9:30 race start at 7500' was gonna be cold! And the strangest thing about the weekend was the seemingly normal approach to such a big race. The 3rd race of the series was in Elbert, Colorado at the Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Ranch.
 
Since my 2011, and my Freshman year of the High School series, there has been a race at the Scout Ranch. In 2011, I had been 16th place, and the next year I was 10th. Going into the weekend, the previous years were always in the back of my mind; a course that should have been good for me, but ended up not being. So, as I woke up at 6:30 to pre-ride the course and warm up, my mind wandered to the previous years, where the haunting failure of the years came back to put my mind in a bad place before the race.
 
The gun went off and the Varsity boys were off for 4 laps of one of the most demanding courses all year. The course had it all, sustained climbs, short descents, windy double track, and a technical descent down to the final climb, where the race would be won or lost.
 
With my teammate, Zack Jensen, at the front we developed a front group, less than half a lap in. With Zack, Grant, Michael, Kyle, Chris, and Me, we slowly rode away from the field. Going into the final climb, Kyle rode away from the field and would slowly extend his gap out to 4 minutes, where he'd easily take the win throughout the 4 laps. I attached myself to Michael's wheel and we rode through towards the end of the first lap together.
 
On the descent before the finish, Michael went down, hard. He crashed so hard that he got a concussion and had to go to the hospital. Michael was down for the count, and I went on the ride most of the second lap by myself. Halfway through the lap, my teammate Zack bridged back up to me and we rode together for a while until Grant and Chris caught us, they then proceeded to ride right through us right as Zack blew up from his earlier efforts, and I was left chasing as yet another kid came past me. 
 
All this had happened before the end of the second lap and I couldn't help but keep flashing back to previous years. I just remember slipping backwards through the field, and I definitely didn't want that to happen again. I tried to keep pace on the 3rd lap, until a group behind me caught me, and then towards the end of the third lap I knew it was time to go. Going up the last climb I went as hard, knowing that I had another lap to go. I caught the 4th place kid and blew right past him. I pushed hard through the rest of the course, and on the descent before the final climb, I caught Chris. 
 
I passed him right before the technical section and once I was around him, I gave it all that I had. I rode as smooth as I could, and then going up the final climb I just gunned it. I don't remember that climb, nothing about it can be recalled. Just that I went hard, so hard that I tunnel-visioned and lost feeling in my fingers. By the top of the climb I had a sizable gap, and I remember someone yelling at me that Grant was just ahead of me. I looked up and sure enough, there he was. I pushed even harder, but as we went on to the final descent I knew I wouldn't catch him. So I played it smart and came in for 3rd place on the day.
 
I gave it all I had and ended up placing well. But the icing on the cake was that I had ridden well enough to take the Overall Leaders jersey with only one race left. Standing on that podium as the first Junior ever to be the Overall Leader, I realized what opportunity I had in front of me. At the next, and final High School race, there are only two people that can take 1st place overall from me. 
 
I'm looking forward to the State Championships in Eagle, Colorado. Even more than that I'm looking forward to the epic battle that I'll be having with Grant and Garrett. And even better than that, is that Me and Zack are 1st and 2nd overall. A fantastic achievement with someone that I love riding, and racing with more than anyone else. I can't wait until the next race and ending the High School season on a high note.
 
Congratulations to Kyle on winning the race, Grant for taking second place, Chris for taking 4th, and Christian on his breakout ride by placing 5th! Thanks to everyone who helped me this weekend, Jason Trujillo, Andy Clark, Matthew Fix, Mickey Ruff and the tons of other Ciclismo people. Also, thanks to Matthew and Michael Roberts for the photos!
 
I look forward to final MTB race of the season and racing everyone again soon.