Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Bagging a Birthday win at the UCI World Marathon Series

Lucky in France again! We finished the 2014 season with a win at the UCI World Series Race, La Forestiere (FRA) in September. This year we started the 2015 season last weekend with another French victory at the UCI World Series Race, Roc Laissac. This marks my 14th UCI World Series Race win over the last few years :)

There were a couple of moments when I thought we were not going to make it to the start line though. First our flight from Manchester to London was delayed meaning we would miss our connection to Toulouse. That turned out to be irrelevant though because the London to Toulouse flight was cancelled due to the air traffic control strikes in France. We had an 8 hour delay in London before being booked on to another flight to Toulouse which was then also delayed. When we finally arrived in France the car hire company had closed for the night. C'est la vie! We finally arrived in Laissac 24 hours later than expected.

Roc Laissac has become known for it's cold, wet weather and muddy, technical trails. Although it lived up to its reputation as far as the trails are concerned, the weather certainly did not! Bright blue skies and 20+ degrees celsius was our reward.

The race on paper doesn't appear to be a toughie - 66km with 2200m of climbing - but the constant short, steep climbs start to take their toll, sapping energy and the technical descents mean there really is no recovery. It's the kind of course I like. Taking the lead early on in the race meant that I could focus on gradually extending the gap to France's Helene Marcouyre. After a little over 4 hours of racing I could celebrate another victory and my birthday at that the same time. Triple desserts and extra French cheese and wine for me.

We arrived home with only one delay. Spring is here now and that makes the Peak District in England a mighty fine place to be, especially because my cat lives here :)

Next stop: Scotland for the National Marathon Champs in a few weeks where we'll get to race on some of the finest trails in the Scottish Borders.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Filling in the blanks: November '14 to April '15

On more than one occasion I've promised to write an update and now it's finally here - I just hope it's not so long you fall asleep before the end. Thanks to each and everyone of you for continuing to follow this site even during my silent days. My silence is now broken ;)

I don't normally like to look back, looking forward is much more positive. Under the current circumstances however it is good for me to remember where I was 6 months ago. The decision to have invasive surgery to treat iliac endofibrosis wasn't really a 'decision' in the true sense of the word. I was trapped between a rock and a hard place; giving up cycling wasn't a realistic option, surgery was the only way forward. I was backed into a corner with no choice other than to have bovine patch angioplasty to repair my damaged artery. I've described the surgery earlier on this site so I'll skip that bit.

Scars by the Surgeon. Bikini by Maloja. 

Fast forward to Christmas Eve when I finally started real training again. What a great Christmas present: experiencing pain and suffering on the bike once again! After 13 weeks with no real training - I was restricted to walking with a maximum heart rate of 100bpm for the first 6 weeks and then gentle cycling with a maximum of 130bpm - I was really starting from the bottom, lower than I'd ever been before. I've trained with an SRM power meter for many years and seeing the data showed exactly where I was at. While training with power is a great tool, it was scary to see how much power I'd lost and where I had to get back to. At times I wondered whether I'd ever get back to the level I was pre-surgery. The first few weeks were really hard. I had to ride with 'blinkers' and ignore all of the (no disrespect intended) 'older-aged' and sometimes over-weight pleasure riders who passed me on their rusty commuter bikes complete with heavy bike chains, panniers and back packs carrying their pet dogs. I had a long way to go but on a positive note the improvements were much more obvious and rapid starting from the lowest level.

10 weeks post-op and finally allowed to climb albeit slowly. What a great day!

Although it was hard, physically and psychologically, now I know that it was actually very good for me. My body and mind had a complete rest for the first time in many years. I was able to strip everything back and start from the bottom, building up very slowly and more systematically than ever before.

I was a bit unlucky because I had some post-surgery complications: the incision in my groin damaged my femoral nerve causing me to lose all sensation in my thigh and a few days after surgery I developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my calf. The DVT resolved pretty quickly with anticoagulants but the nerve damage remains and I still have no feeling in my thigh. I'm hopeful the nerve will recover given more time - doctors believe it could take a year or more. For the first few months the neuropathic pain associated with the nerve damage was very uncomfortable and I had problems sleeping but it is getting better all the time and I feel it less and less now. When I was back on the bike and able to ride with increasing intensity I did get internal discomfort from the incisions in my abdomen and groin and I frequently got swelling especially when I started to increase the power. Even as recently as a couple of weeks ago I had significant swelling in my groin after riding as an 'outcast' rider at the Cape Epic. This is one of the reasons I decided not to continue with the remaining 2 stages, but more on this later.

Positively I have had no vascular symptoms following surgery and after the hardest test at the Cape Epic I'm pleased to say that my new artery is great! Now I have two fully functioning legs (the nerve damage has no affect on my power) and that's pretty cool! I do sometimes get a tired left vastus medialis (inner thigh muscle) but I put that down to the fact that it is still significantly smaller than the right one. After a few years of limited blood flow to my left leg, the muscles started to deteriorate and my right leg compensated. Perhaps this also explains why I experienced right knee pain for a few years too - compensating for the left leg put more strain through the right one.

Working on the imbalance. Strengthening my weaker left leg. 

My rehabilitation was spent in Gran Canaria, a place I love to train in the winter because of the warm climate and perfect roads, there are some fun technical MTB trails too. We timed my surgery for the end of the 2014 race season. This gave me maximum recovery and rehab time ahead of the 2015 season. We set the Cape Epic as my first 'come-back' race - just a little over 5 months after surgery. When we discussed this with my surgeon we came away thinking we were perhaps being a bit too ambitious - it is one of the hardest 8 day MTB stages races in the world - but in my mind it was a good target. I wasn't planning on going there just to make up the numbers though. I had a great partner, MTB Cross Country ace Blaza Klemencic, and a supportive sponsor SELLARONDA HERO. The pressure was on but motivation was high!

Beautiful Gran Canaria. Therapy for body and mind.

My last training sessions before we left for South Africa were bang on target. I was back in shape - hooray!!! - but at the same time a little anxious about giving my new artery the hardest test to date. Arriving in South Africa we were greeted pretty much immediately with the sad news that my team mate, Blaza, would not be flying out to meet us. A knee injury left her with no choice other than to withdraw from the race, leaving me with very little time to find a replacement, but her health was foremost. We were soon hopeful that we'd found the perfect partner. After a few days however this also fell through because her trade team were unable to temporarily release her from her sponsor obligations. In simple terms, the Cape Epic rules stipulate that all teams must wear identical clothing. I've gone into more detail on my facebook page about this so I'll be brief here. Fortunately, my team Topeak Ergon permit me to wear non-trade team clothes for the duration of the Cape Epic. This opens up the possibility for me to race with women from other pro trade teams so long as they too are permitted to race for a different, neutral sponsor. In this case, I was lucky to find the support of SELLARONDA HERO to whom I am extremely grateful! We found ourselves back in a familiar and difficult situation: the perfect partner but no possibility of teaming up together under the current rules of the Cape Epic. With one week to go brave Christina Kollmann stepped forward and flew from snowy Austria to scorching South Africa three days before the start of the race. We were totally relaxed about our goals, her winter training had been good and she felt in good shape, she knew the demands of the race and we were ready to give it 100%.

The start of our Cape Epic journey

The Prologue saw us finish in 6th position, a little further back than we had hoped but we were looking forward to the longer stages to come. Frustratingly, 6th position meant that we had to start Stage 1 in Block B - some 200 people separating us from the leading 5 women's teams!!! Neither optimal nor fair. Before dawn we lined up at the very front of B block and set up our ergo trainers ready for our warmup - this fast thinking from our Team Manager meant that we could get as 'close' as possible to the leading women's teams but still not close enough! This is another Cape Epic rule that must be addressed in order to promote fair and equal racing for pro women. In 2016 we hope to see for the first time ever a separate start for the women. Fingers crossed!

Despite Christina suffering from stomach cramps and back pain during Stage 1 we managed to move up to 5th position in the GC so Stage 2 saw us start alongside the other leading women's teams. Oddly, because there was a women's hotspot on Stage 2 all of the top 10 women's teams were permitted to start in Block A - this clearly demonstrates an awareness of the fact that separating the women's teams between blocks creates an unfair advantage/disadvantage depending upon GC position, though it begs the question why starting position is deemed unimportant on stages when there is no women's hotspot!

Christina's back had become increasingly painful and she was unable to complete her warm up before Stage 2. She had treatment from our team physiotherapist minutes before leaving for the start line. We agreed that the objective of the day was to try to get through the first 20 minutes of the stage. We started slowly and gradually moved up to 2nd position after the first water point. Within the last few kilometres  we were caught and moved back to 3rd position. Drama unfolded at the finish line as we were informed that the leading team, RECM, had inadvertently taken a short-cut slicing 5kms off the stage. Under normal race rules this would have resulted in disqualification because the stage was not completed but it was a genuine mistake (they were well in the lead in the GC) and the team were given a 1 hour time penalty. This pushed us up to 2nd position on the stage and 3rd in the GC.

Stage 3 started well for us. We were able to start near the front line (providing a huge advantage relative to the teams starting further back) allowing us to keep out of trouble and ride with the faster men's teams. This highlights the importance of either allowing all of the women's teams to start together or, best case, to have a separate women's start. Up until the second water point we were racing in 2nd position but that's when things started to go very wrong. The temperature rapidly soared from 24 degrees celsius to a whopping 39 degrees. Christina started to slow and become incoherent. Every time she sat down I had to encourage her to continue; there was nothing I could do to help her out on the track, we had to make it to the next water point. With lots of coercion and some pushing we made it to the final water point where I stuffed her pockets with sugary sweets and bananas and filled her bottles with energy drinks. The medics gave her a quick check and we were on our way again. Slowly. Within 3kms it was clear we weren't going anywhere fast. Christina could not move any further. I tried to encourage her to carry on until we could find some shade from the sun but she was at her limit and she lay down in the middle of the dirt track in the blazing sun. I took off my jersey and used it to shelter her head from the sun. All teams carry a tracker with an emergency button. I pressed it and kept her talking and conscious while we waited. It took a long time but eventually a car came and took Christina to get medical attention. Reluctantly I continued alone.

Without our partners we continued as 'Outcast' riders 

The next two days saw me race as an 'outcast' rider starting 10 minutes behind the A and B block riders. This was unbelievably great fun! There were several other elite male riders who'd also lost their partners for a variety of reasons and I was able to 'race' with the fast boys :) Each day it didn't take long until we caught and started to pass B and then A block riders. On the first day we raced hard - well it was harder for me than the guys - between water points but stopping and spending time enjoying the services and great food at each one. It was interesting for me to compare my times with the leading women's teams. On the first day I was about 5 minutes slower than the winning duo, though I spent at least that amount of time having pee pee stops and munching on sweeties, bananas and peanut brittle at the aid stations while service guys cleaned my glasses and lubed my chain. On the second day I stopped for less time at the water points and finished more than 5 minutes faster than the winning women's team.

I had every intention of completing the next two stages and riding to the finish at Meerendal but inflammation in my groin and a sore achilles tendon meant a battle ensued between my 'think of the rest of the season' rationale and my passionate 'never-give up' attitude. Given that my race was already over when Christina was forced to retire and also bearing in mind that I had just been requested by the race office not to over-take the leading women's teams, we decided that finishing at the risk of further injury would have been foolhardy.

Dirt is highly nutritious. 

Any stage race but especially the Cape Epic is a huge journey and so much happens both good and bad throughout the 8 days. This blog has been a quick summary (haha, yes it might seem long but it could've been longer. Much longer) and doesn't really show the emotional roller coaster we all went on. The most emotive way to tell our story is through images and here are a great set taken of our whole team throughout the race - follow this link to a really cool site that tells our story.

Big thanks to SELLARONDA HERO for sponsoring our women's team - be sure to check out their race in the spectacular Dolomites on June 27th - this is the date and location of the UCI World Marathon Championships where amateur riders can test themselves against the best riders in the World while they compete for the coveted rainbow stripes.

As always a huge thanks to our amazing Topeak Ergon Racing Team and all of our sponsors. Congratulations to our men's duo of Alban Lakata and Kristina Hyneck on their Silver medal who were finely supported by our male support team comprising of Robert Mennen and Jeremiah Bishop. As riders we are grateful to all of our staff who work super hard behind the scenes: Dirk Juckwer (Team Manager), David Padfield (Assistant Team Manager), Graig Gerber and Torsten Walter (Massage and Physiotherapists), Maureen Muller (Chef Extraordinaire) and Peter Felber and Robert AKA 'Giovanni' Novotny (Mechanical Wizzards).

Given our feedback to the Cape Epic, who are big advocates of women's cycling, we are hopeful that the 2016 edition will bring some exciting changes and see a mammoth step forward for professional women. I believe we can expect to see some exciting, tight and tactical racing amongst the top women's teams. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Sellaronda Hero at the ABSA Cape Epic

I've been quiet on this site for far too long! I promise an update soon - we've done so much since my last post! In the meantime though, here is a little taster of our first 2015 season goal:

We'll be lining up at the ABSA Cape Epic together with Blaza Klemencic and flying the flag for Sellaronda Hero. Follow this link for a press release.

Friday, 7 November 2014

HERO 2015: Video of the two HERO race routes with Leo Paez and Sally Bigham

Next year the title of World Marathon Champion will be decided in the Dolomites on a truly stunning, but very challenging race track. Have a look at this course preview and sign up to race, there are categories for everyone including children! Hope to see you there :)

Friday, 31 October 2014

Not quite the end of season holiday we're used to: Surgery for iliac endofibrosis

A little over 3 weeks ago I had surgery to treat a condition called iliac endofibrosis. It's a condition that affects amateur as well as professional cyclists. In simple terms and as I understand it, repetitive hip flexion combined with high pressure blood flow causes the lining of the arterial wall to thicken, this in turn limits blood flow to the leg(s). In my case only the left iliac artery (located in the lower abdomen) was affected, but some people have the condition in both the left and the right arteries.

My symptoms started 3 years ago when I noticed that my left leg simply fatigued more quickly than my right, specifically I noticed the muscles in the left thigh (particularly the vastus medialis) felt empty with a 'lactic type acid' sensation. December last year the symptoms had become difficult to ignore; the whole of my thigh became heavy and painful during/after intervals and if I continued then the leg would lose all power and collapse underneath me. Dave had heard about the condition and he was pretty sure that's what I had. Throughout the year the condition deteriorated. It was highly disruptive from a training perspective - I often had to quit interval sessions - and during racing I would often have to back off several minutes after the start or if I rode near or above threshold. It was incredibly frustrating to be riding at an intensity lower than I wanted and mentally it was very difficult not to be able to complete training sessions.

We decided to wait until the end of the 2014 race season before we got it investigated because, although the problem was getting noticeably worse, I was still able to race and win. On September 21st I won the La Forestiere UCI Marathon. Three days later Mr Robert Hinchliffe at St George's Vascular Institute diagnosed iliac endofibrosis using blood pressure testing in my ankle before and after cycling. I cycled for 6 minutes in total, with only 2 minutes above threshold. There was a 50% drop in the blood pressure index at my left ankle compared to a small increase in that of my right ankle. Duplex ultrasound scanning showed thickening and angulation of the iliac artery. This was pretty conclusive so an angiogram was performed to look closely at my arteries.

Last race in 2014: first place at La Forestiere UCI Marathon
With a positive diagnosis it was time for us to think very carefully about my options. We reasoned that I had three options: do nothing and carry on cycling; stop cycling; have surgery. The first option wasn't dealing with the issue and we were aware that the condition can deteriorate, ultimately causing the artery to become completely blocked leading to emergency surgery to save life and limb. This left me with two choices: stop cycling or have surgery. Neither was particularly appealing but stopping cycling simply wasn't something I was prepared to do. Riding with - and almost being dropped by - my 65 year old father after the diagnosis made me certain that I had to have the operation; after pro-cycling I want to enjoy my bike for many years to come.

Waiting to go to theatre was the worse part of the whole experience!
The thought of surgery quite frankly terrified me and the days before my operation on October 6th were  spent anxiously preparing. It's so hard to find night dresses these days, well at least ones that didn't make me look like Little Red Riding Hood's Grandma! Mr Hinchliffe explained the procedure to me: I would have a 4-5inch incision in my abdomen to access and repair the artery. During the operation it was discovered that the area of damage was greater than first expected and another incision was made in my groin to extend the repair to the femoral artery. The damaged area was removed and the artery was patched. The porters wheeled me to theatre at 1pm and returned me to the ward at almost 9pm. The operation I believe took around 4 hours with the rest of the time spent in recovery. I remember very little until the next morning.

Post-op recovery: if only I could stay awake to watch The Great British Bake Off!
Room with a view, just a shame I couldn't see the Helipad

There was no pain; I had a morphine drip with a push button control. The nurses got me out of bed and in a chair the next day, which I spent dozing. The drain in my leg and the catheter were removed. Progress became about 'first's': first time I could go to the toilet, first time I could have a shower, first time I walked and tried a few stairs (30 hours after surgery), first time I went to the hospital's M&S cafe ;)

As a coffee lover it was great when my appetite for it returned after 4 days! 

Dave was amazing. Each morning I looked forward to him arriving at 8am, he stayed with me and helped the nurses until 8pm. The nurses and staff were so nice and made my time there more pleasant. After 5 days in hospital I was discharged.

Recovery and rehabilitation blog to follow…now it's time for my daily walk :)  

First long walk (5 miles) around Virgina Waters with a borrowed dog  (15 days post-op)

Two factors have been incredibly helpful throughout this whole process: being able to talk to other cyclists who've already had the operation - thank you for replying to my never ending barrage of questions! - and the availability, time and input from my surgeon and consultant Mr Hinchliffe, thank you a million times over.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Euro road trip

Leaving Colorado is always a bit sad, we have such a good time there but with a long road trip in Europe to look forward to it was a little easier. With a stop-over of only a couple of days our transition in England was always going to be a bit hectic, add a broken bike frame (damaged by the airline) to the mix and things were crazy busy - well for Dave at least!

First stop was Freiburg, a place familiar to many cyclists because of its sunny, warm weather - the best in Germany apparently. Two weeks gave us time to explore road and off road riding as well as the best places for coffee and cake, our favourite was the Biosk - a hub for cyclists. It's a great place to train and there's always someone to ride with. Thanks to Betty Uhlig, Tom Janas and all the other people who went out of their way to make sure we had a great time.

Great times in Freiburg 
On the road again we drove to Italy for the Val di Sole marathon, a new race but with great potential to become a key one. It makes the most of the many forest trails, including lots of varied singletrack from steep and technical (up and down!) to flowing singletrails traversing the mountain. Packing in 2500m of climbing over 65km gives an indication how steep it is. Male is quaint town with nice restaurants and cafes, a particular favourite was Caminetto La Piccolo Cucina where we ate everyday!

First place at Val di Sole marathon
A few hours drive north east and we arrived back in Selva val Gardena in South Tirol, one of our favourite places and home of the Sellaronda Hero. The mountains there really are special, troubles and worries fade away, leaving body and mind energised :)

Relax. Very important! 

The UCI World Series race Val di Fassa was in the neighbouring valley last weekend. The first climb is certainly one to remember: 900m of climbing (max gradient 34%) over 6km was a rude wake up call, and the rest of the race didn't get any easier! Together with teammate Kristian Hyneck we had a double victory for Topeak Ergon Racing team! We really recommend Hotel Patrizia not least because of the nice location, rooms and spa but also because the food is superb - and they prepared home made gluten free stuff for me including gnocchi, spaghetti and bread!  

After a couple of days back in Selva we're now packing and driving to France for La Forestiere, another UCI World Series race.

Wherever your riding takes you, enjoy it!
Sal  :)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Off the radar

Well, the National Marathon Champs in May was my last blog and then all went quiet from me. It was at that time I got ill with a viral infection which took a long time to recover from. At first we had no idea what the problem was but the symptoms kept me off the bike: gastrointestinal pains, whole body aches, nausea and terrible lethargy. After a couple of weeks I had some blood tests and later an ECG because my heart beat became abnormal too. As any athlete knows it's hard not to train and compete, and with one of my big season goals looming, I decided to race the European Marathon Championships in Ireland as a test in early June. This was, in hindsight, a mistake and I should've thought more carefully about the decision. During the race I really suffered and some of my symptoms returned. I managed to coerce myself to the finish line and got within 10 seconds of the eventual race winner Theresa Huricova during the last km's. A Silver medal at the Euros isn't a bad result but it's no secret that I wanted to win, not least because I already have 3 Silver medals from 2011, 2012 and 2013! Now I have 4 consecutive Silver medals….will I ever break that cycle for the better!?

Ballyhoura Mountains, Ireland. The year I wanted to end my run of Silver European medals!

After the Euros we were due to fly directly to South Africa for the World Marathon Champs. Following much discussion we decided that I shouldn't go. This was very difficult and I spent many weeks thinking 'what if' but in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. I spent my time in the Peak District, UK recovering and slowly building up my training, meanwhile Dave was with the other guys from the team in South Africa.

Medicinal Mountains: Selva Val Gardena

Once Dave returned from South Africa we headed straight off to the mountains, our first time this year and it was well overdue! We raced Dolomiti Superbike - a nostalgic race because it was my first ever international race in 2008 - and although I really suffered after the illness and lack of training I managed to take another victory making it a hat trick :)

Stunning Dolomites :)

Next stop was the 7 day Transalp and unlike previous years when I've raced the women's category, this year we decided I would race the mixed category with Ben Thomas (GBR). There are a couple of interviews (here and here) on so I won't go in to any detail now other than it was a great decision, Ben and I worked well together and it was brilliant training and preparation for my next goal: Leadville 100, USA.

Winning the Transalp in the mixed category (self-powered) has been one of my aims, achieving it was cool :)

Along with the Euros and the Worlds, Leadville was a pretty big season goal for me. Before the illness my aim was not only to win but also to knock some time off the current course record I set last year (7:17). Pleased with my form in the Transalp, I went to Colorado feeling that a new course record was possible.

A free upgrade to business meant things were really starting well! Now I always want champagne and bed when I fly ;)

We arrived in Breckenridge later than last year due to the timing of the Transalp, which was one week later. This was less than ideal preparation because it takes a long time to try to acclimatise to the altitude (3000+metres) where it's not only difficult to train but sleeping and even just breathing is laboured. After a few days riding awesome trails, eating great food and relaxing in one of the best coffee and cake cultures, we moved to Leadville to start our final preparations. We have such a great team of riders and staff, and I genuinely feel honoured to be part of it. We're all very professional in what we do but we have a lot of fun together and that's important. Spending time with guys is cool, I love it!

Mechanic Pete fooling around and playing the air guitar outside our Leadville house :)

Leadville 100 is a tough race for so many reasons but especially because of the altitude and length of the race, pacing is critical as is correct nutrition. If you get these two wrong then you will pay dearly in the latter half of the race. The 6:30am start is also something I find pretty challenging! At that time in the morning it's really cold, just a few degrees celsius. The start is fast and downhill and with the windchill really cold, so it's important to try to maintain muscle warmth because after the descent the first climb begins.

On the first climb it was important for me to stay at the pace I'd decided not to exceed so I let Alison Powers (National US road, crit and time trial champion) take a small lead. She had to stop to receive mechanical assistance from one of her team supporters at the bottom of Powerline - one of the fast, washed out descents. All was going well for me, I was eating and drinking according to my race plan and at the splits I was on schedule for a good time. It also seemed that teammate Kristian Hyneck was on for a new course record as he whooped passed me on his descent down columbine -  he was much further down than Alban was last year - and he had a good lead so I was really excited for him. That's one of the nice things about Leadville 100, you get to see the other riders descending and climbing Columbine and it's great to be able to shout and receive encouragement.

At the top of the longest and highest climb - Columbine is just below 4000m - I had between 2 and 3 minutes lead over Alison. I was feeling really good, and a million times better that at the same point last year. Descending Columbine is a test of nerve and skill - and it's also a little crazy! - because it's at this point that you are meeting oncoming traffic, all of whom are riding the best line up the mountain. Consequently the riders coming down have to take the less favourable lines on loose, off camber and at times rocky, steep tracks. This was where, unbeknown to me, Alison crashed and retired from the race, which was a great pity.

At 60 miles I was on for a good time and it was looking like I could shave some time off my course record, but on the inbound journey the wind picked up and I spent a long time riding in the wind alone. This put an end to my quest for a new record, as it did for the men too. The winning times were considerably slower in the men's (6:16) and the women's (7:23) race this year. So now it looks like I'll have to return again next year ;) Unfortunately Kristian ran out of gas and had to settle for 3rd place. Alban punctured early in the race and finished in 4th. Not so much good luck for our boys, so they too have to make the journey state side again in 2015!

Our team of supporters are as much a part of our success as we are and I'm truly grateful for all that they do for us: Leadville success goes also to Pete Felber, Dave Padfield, Dave Weins and Jeff Kerkove. Thanks a million guys! Angel King took all of the awesome Leadville photos, thanks Angel :) 

Big thanks also to our team sponsors: Ergon, Topeak, Canyon, SRM, Sram, Magura, DT Swiss, Rockshox, Continental, Northwave, Limar, Ritchey carbon and Look pedals. 

Also especially important are my personal sponsors: TORQ nutrition, Elete Electrolytes, Maloja, Compressport and Solestar