Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 in Review

Bob inspired me to take a look back at 2008. Like Bob, I diligently track all my rides and races and can tell you my total miles, hours, results, etc. The short version is I trained a lot and raced about 50 times. I had some good races and some not so good races. The highlight for me was having Tanner with me at nearly every race.

Best ski season ever - 2007/2008.

Best ski day - Powder Mountain Jan 29th.
Best ICUP races - St. George and Hurricane. I love the warm in the winter.

Best flat of the year - Tanner's dimple on a family ride in Ogden.

Best weekday race series - Solitude. Got to race head to head with Tanner. I beat T by 2 minutes the first week and 8 weeks later, he beat me by 2 minutes. Watching his progress this year was a Dad's dream. I'm now the slow guy in the house.

Best coming-out party - Tanner's dominate win in the first UT Cross race. He put the wood to the B's and put a big target on his back for the rest of the season.

Best non-race ride of the year - the PC perimeter ride with the Porculized crew. T and I only did about half of the epic, but it was a memorable day.

Most fun at Cross Nationals - watching T battle back to a top 20 finish.

Nearly the most fun at Cross Nationals - watching Ali, Sam and Eric finish 2nd, 4th and 13th.

Favorite ritual - weekly loading 4 bikes, a tent, chairs, 2 sets of spare wheels, a trainer and other gear into the Element during cross season.

My best race of the year - finally winning the 45+ State Championship.

My biggest regret of the cycling year was my lack of rides with my extended family. My heavy race schedule just didn't allow many Saturday rides just for fun.
I really do have a life outside of cycling, but mostly limit this blog to cycling topics. However, 2008 reinforced again who fortunate I have such great family and friends and a job that allows me to finance my play. Life is good.
Looking forward to 2009, I'm going to take a different approach to cycling. I've been riding for 20 years and did my first race 10 years ago. For 5 or 6 years, I just did a few MTB races each year. A few years ago, I got "serious" about racing and began training and racing on the road. I decided two years ago to train hard and see what I could do. I began working with Dave Harward and didn't miss a workout for 2 years. The results have been steady improvement and satisfying race results. I've confirmed to myself that I don't have the natural engine to win many races, but I can be competitive.
The downside of "training" is I lost some of the simple joy of riding for riding's sake. By the end of the year, I was getting to the point of "having" to ride rather than "wanting" to ride. At the same time, Tanner's desire to race more seriously has grown. Therefore, I'm passing the training baton to Tanner and going back to just riding. I'll still ride as much and probably race as much. However, I'm planning to lose some structure, ride how I feel and base my race schedule on Tanner's. I won't be chasing series points and hope to do some different events. The only structured training I plan to do is for the Cross season with the goals of defending my State Championship and having a good race at Nationals. In short, I plan to follow the Dr. Cross Negacoach method. My basic nature really likes structure and checking off daily tasks, so this change in philosophy is not a small thing for me. We'll see how I do.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

2008 Top Ten

Since we procrastinated the mailing of Christmas Cards and letters, I'd thought I'd post it here. Merry Christmas.

Cottle Top Ten:
The top ten reasons 2008 was a memorable year for the Cottles.

10. Erin received an internship to work in a Washington DC Senate office in 2009.

9. Daren and Tanner successfully avoided Saturday chores by races bikes on 33 Saturdays and skiing on 10 more.

8. JoAnn began teaching rowdy 5 year olds at church because they needed someone to keep them in line. She instituted the magical motivational power of multicolored star stickers. 5 year olds will be on their best behavior to get a blue star.

7. Ashley continued to amaze all with her artistic prowess as she entered her 3nd year of Graphic Design studies at USU.

6. Tanner won many bike races and became one of Utah’s best junior Mountain Bike and Cyclocross racers. He also is officially faster than his dad.

5. Daren managed to finally win a Cyclocross State Championship. He benefited from being a “young guy” in the Masters 45+ category.

4. The Cottles had no major accidents, illnesses, property damage or permanent marks from their many activities.

3. We found a new dentist. A big deal for us due to Daren’s brother Doug selling his dental practice so he could find new ways to break bones in his retirement.

2. After 25 blissful years of marriage, Daren and JoAnn finally had a proper honeymoon on a beautiful, secluded beach.

1. The Cottles were reunited as a much-improved Erin returned home from her mission in Uruguay.

In 2009, may we all strive to behave well enough to earn a star on our foreheads.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes there is a Santa

It's been a crazy few days in around our house. Tanner's ski theft woes have brought out the good in many people. His story was posted on TGR's forum by a good local and the offers of help came pouring in. It kind of took on a life of its own and became a little overwhelming to Tanner. He was uncomfortable being the center of so much attention from people he doesn't know, but he learned some great life lessons. He's learned some people are low-lifes but many, many more are caring, generous and empathetic to his plight. It is all going to work out for the best and some new powder skis are in his future.

One of things I love about working in the outdoor industry is it's filled with really good people. This fact has been reinforced the last couple of days. Next time you're looking for skis, please consider Bluehouse and K2. Both companies have some quality folks working for them.

On another topic, I made it back on the bike today. 10 days off is a long time for me and I was ready for some exercise. The trainer was almost fun, but not quite. I'm working hard to find ways to keep fit and avoid massive trainer time this year. I'm pretty sure snowshoeing, XC skiing and running are in my future this year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I don't get it

Tanner worked this summer to earn money to buy new powder skis. He put in a good effort and obsessed for weeks over which skis to purchase. He finally settled on K2 Pontoons and diligently shopped around for the best deal. The skis were purchased in the early fall and have been prominently displayed in his room ever since. Many hours have been spent admiring the mammoth skis as the excitement to use them built.

At long last, Alta had enough snow to break out the new boards Saturday. The conditions were not the greatest, but the skis were outstanding. Tanner couldn't stop smiling. I succumbed to the cold before noon and headed home but Tanner stayed on the mountain with a friend. In the early afternoon, they ducked into the upper lodge for a quick break and when they returned, the new skis were gone. Some lowlife had stolen them. While I know skis get stolen all the time, I still can't believe it happened to Tanner on the first day with his new skis.

After the initial sock and feelings of anger toward the thief wore off, I've had a sense of confusion and disappointment. I've tried to imagine how someone convinces themselves that walking off with someones expensive equipment is OK. I just can't understand it. Did someone steal them to sell them or to use them? Was he a bored, wealthy teenager looking for a thrill or a poor ski bum desperate for new equipment? Did he worry about getting caught or just knew how easy it would be? Does he feel any remorse? Does our culture of entitlement help people justify they deserve what others have? I don't know. All I do know is I have a really bummed out 16 year old.

Adding to my melancholy is the effects of 9 days of no exercise. I know a break is good for you, but I just feel worse each day. During this period, I've been very busy at work and have over-eaten at numerous holiday lunches and parties. I'm ready to get active again. That's probably the biggest benefit of a break. It makes me appreciate being active.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nationals Wrap

It's been kind of a blur since leaving KC Sunday afternoon. The drive was very windy and cold Sunday, but much better Monday. We made it home OK, but it was LONG. I've been swamped at work since my return and I just want to get caught up on sleep.

I have a ton of pictures, but I'm not up to posting any today. Maybe later. Here's some random thoughts about Nationals now that it's in the past.

  • I saw my first true fight during a cross race. During the first lap of the Elite race, a bunch of guys went down in a tight corner and got all tangled. Meyerson and Baker came up from the ground swinging. One good punch was landed. I also heard two guys went after Page's mechanic in the pits at the end of the race. Punches were landed there as well.
  • I've never seen the temperature drop faster in my life. In about 10 minutes, it went from 60 to 30. An hour later, it was in the low 20's. By the end of the Elite race, it was VERY cold. The big drop happened during the College Women's race. Most of the riders had no arm or knee warmers on. Many had no gloves. Lots of very cold girls.
  • Speaking of cold, we stopped in North Platte Nebraska Sunday night. When we got up Monday morning, it was -13 with a wind chill of -32. Not sure why anyone would live on the Great Plains.
  • Trebon is ridiculously fast when it's not muddy. He crushed the field. Not sure what Page was thinking. He waited way too long to make a move. Just like last year, Page looked like he was carrying the weight of the world.
  • Katie Compton just destroyed the women's field on a course that didn't really suit her. She, Gould and Loyld were about a half lap a head of 4th. All three were impressive on the downhill and clearly faster than the others.
  • Bart and Sam battled to the finish. While Trebon finished up his interview, Bart was attacking Sam into the final corner. Good to see them fight to the finish when they were not having great days.
  • Ali was rocking it again before he rolled a tire and broke his bar. He nursed it back to the pit, but lost a ton of time. The man knows how to peak for big races. He was on pace for another top 15 finish.
  • Mitchell recovered from Friday's off day and finished 4th in the College race.

All in all, a good trip and a memorable time. Sounds like Nationals will be in Oregon next year. Should like a better drive. Rico's retired from driving, but I think we'll try to be the team Utah transport again. Having a compound was worth all the effort.

Now, it's off the bike for awhile. I'm looking forward to skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and avoiding the indoor trainer for at least a few weeks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nationals Day 3

Today made for some outstanding spectating at the bikes races. I love watching racers giving their all, regardless of what place they hold. The weather took a turn for warm and winding resulting in a tacky, fast course. The Utah/Idaho crew put on a great show.

I'll start with the ride of the day. Ali was officially 2nd in the 30 - 34 but won the Non-Full-Time-Pro national championship. He rode a really smart race working with another rider to stay away from Sam K, then attacked on the last lap to score the Silver. Very cool.

Here's Ali, Eric and Sam at the start.

Sam was a solid 4th and just missed the initial split of the front 3. He rode solo the rest of the race and almost closed to Ali.

Eric also had a nice ride to finish 13th. The course wasn't ideal for him, but he put in a great effort. I was proud of him.

Jon G had lousy start position, but worked his way up to finish 17th in the 40 - 45. He looked stronger as the race went on.

Art had an even worse start position, nearly the back row, and worked his way through the huge field to finish 22nd. Impressive.

Mitchell was feeling under the weather, but still managed 20th in the U23 race.

Richard Feldman from Idaho was a very close 2nd in the 40 - 45 group.
The hard-guy award goes to Bob Walker. He broke his chain just past the pit about half way through the race and ran the entire hill and decent to get another bike just in time to get passed by Ned Overand. That's bad luck.

I always have to stop and gawk at Trebon's mutant bike. No human should be able to ride this thing. If it stays dry (the big storm is forecast to hit sometime tomorrow afternoon), the big guy is the favorite. The course is all about power when dry. If it gets wet, I'll go with Johnson or Page. Bart's hoping for the storm to make things difficult. I think he'll do well either way.
I won't be able to post any more updates until we make it home. That could be Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday............ Only the big winter storm knows.
Oh and I have some "explanations" for my poor performance yesterday (I'd never make excuses). The first corner altercation did more damage to me than I thought. Last night I was really sore in my neck and back and I had a big headache from getting nailed in the head. The impact also knocked my rear wheel out of true so my brakes were rubbing the entire race. Add empty legs to the list and you get a finish of 55 out of 95 starters. I was considering giving up serious racing last night, but 24 hours has pulled me back from the ledge.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nationals Day 2

Well, day 2 is in the books and my cycling season is offically over. It ends with mixed feelings.

First, some great news. Chris Walker dominated the womens 45 - 49 race to the National Championship. She was impressive.

Second, some good news. Tanner road very strong to finish 18th in what the annoucers and cyclingnews called the best junior field in US cyclocross history. He struggled a bit with the speed of the start, but fought all race to work his way back to the top 20. I was a proud papa.

Finally, the not so good news. I had great legs yesterday and the worst legs of the year today. I got a great start off the line and was in the top ten into the first corner. That was the highlight. I was then taken out in the first corner and lost about 30 places before I got up and going. I quickly got back to the top 25 but then my legs stopped working. I spent the next 45 minutes watching countless guys pass my each time up the hill and couldn't do anything about it. At that point, my only goal was to avoid getting lapped by Tilford. I made it, but just barely. It's amazing the difference 24 hours can make.

However, all things considered, I'm not too disappointed. Yesterday was the most fun I had in a race this year and today I gave it all I had. It was cool just to be in the race. Also, the 45 - 49 group is crazy fast.

The hotel internet connection is very slow, so I only have the patience to post a few pictures.

The course was very muddy for Tanner's race. It rained over night and the track was like abode, mud with grass. It completely clogged bikes and made some of the hills unridable. The downhill sections were very slick. Kevin did a great job in the pit to give T a clean bike every lap. If you didn't change bikes, you could not finish. Your bike would just stopped working and weight about 35 pounds.

Tanner rode the slick stuff really well.

Here's Tanner's bikes at the finish waiting to get strayed off. Each has the mud of only one lap. Dugas Rihnos are really expensive tires but pretty much required today. You could tell watching the racers who had them and who didn't just by how much they were spinning out or not.

Dr. X made a showing and was going good until his heart rate problems resurfaced. Kind of a bummer. The course changed completely in the 3 hours from the end of Tanner's race to the start of the 45 - 49. It dried out and was soft but not muddy. My bike was pretty clean at the finish and no bike changes were required. However, the climb was very difficult due to the soft turf. There was no hiding. Either you had the power or you didn't. I didn't.

One of the two run-ups. While the course kicked my butt, it's the best cross venue I've been to. The course is challenging, fun and fair. Only a complete rider will win. The course is great for spectating with about 80% visiable from many vantage points. In addition, the facility nicely accomodates all the vehicles, team areas, etc. It's just too bad it is a 1,000 drive from home.
Tomorrow I get to watch the racing and work the pits. A bunch of Utah guys are racing so it should be fun. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nationals Day 1

We made it to KC in one piece. Other than the high winds of Wyoming, the biggest challenge was boredom. The winds were kind of crazy for the RV and trailer. I think Eric lost 10 years off his life expectancy.

The Utah compound at the race is a big improvement from last year. Having a place to change, warm up and hang out is a big advantage. There's also a bunch of cool bikes to look at.

It feels about 30 degrees warmer this year. No ice, snow or cutting wind. There was some snow on the ground a few days ago, so there's some moisture in the ground. The result is frozen and slick in the morning, get muddy as it gets warmer and drier a little late in the day. The course has some big elevation change and only a couple tricky spots. I like it.

Tanner was really good today in the under 30 B race. He went hard the first half of the race and was in 10th or 11th. He backed off the last two laps to save his legs for tomorrow but still finished 13th in a field of about 60. Kevin wasn't feeling too great and had to change bikes twice but managed 21st. I was debating how hard to go today but found myself in the top ten early in the race so I put in a good effort. I ended up 9th out of 102 and had a great time. I may pay for it tomorrow, but it was a lot of fun.

Tanner and I looked at this for 2 days.

I'm not sure Embassy Suites knew what they signed up for when they become the host hotel for a National Cross race.

We all took turns in the pits today.

I managed to race near the front the whole race.

Tanner at the start of his race.

Lou Rollins put in a strong defense of his 60 - 64 National Title from last year. His field was much bigger and faster than last year and he finished on the podium in 5th. Not bad for a guy who's only raced for 3 years.
Tomorrow should be fun racing with the big boys. Maybe I'll take out Tilford in the first corner.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dry in Draper

The dry Utah Cross series came to an end yesterday. I had exactly one race in the wet and cold. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The old guy in me kind of liked not being cold and no bike cleanup (I haven't washed my cross bikes in more than 3 weeks). However, the cross racer in me missed the technical and mental challenge of adverse conditions. We'll see what Mother Nature has to offer in Kansas next week. It could be anything.

Pretty good day at the races for us yesterday. My race was typical for this season. I was off to a good start, hung in the lead group of 4 for the first lap, got gaped and couldn't get back, then hang on for 5th. I went hard and was satisfied with the result. Our group was much faster this year. It was good to see Bo Pitkin and Rich move up from the B's. Bo put the hurt on me and finished just ahead of me, while Rich was coming up to me on the last few laps and made me dig deeper than I wanted.

Tanner animated the B race again but got worked over by 3 Cyclesmith guys, again. Tanner was in a no win situation. If he didn't set the pace, one attacked and he would have to chase. So, he decided to dictate the pace for nearly the entire race in an attempt to get rid of them. Unfortunately, they hung on and all three got around him on the finishing hill. That's racing.

Here's a couple pictures of T on the front.

This is evidence that I was actually ahead of Matt on the first lap.

The run-up completely blew me up every lap. (A quick aside. Craig Kidd, ahead of me in this picture, from Idaho can go downhill REALLY fast on a cross bike. I was on his wheel a couple of times on the technical descent and he was impressive.)
I finally got around to downloading pictures from last week's race at Wheeler. Here's some of Tanner.

Tanner getting ready to head out for a Thanksgiving ride.
Our Kansas grand adventure starts Tuesday. Rico was collecting bikes yesterday. There's a lot to do before we leave, but I'm excited to go. I'm much healthier this year and looking forward to mixing it up in a big field. I'll post some updates through out the week.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Not much time to blog this week. My company's year end is November 30, so us finance / accounting types are cranking away on year end. I have a long list to complete before we leave for KC next Tuesday. Fortunately, I've still been able to squeeze in the necessary training rides. Last year, I got sick the week before Nationals and never recovered. This year is looking much better.

It is also the season for Christmas dinners and parties. I have one every night the next 4 days. It's going to get a little stressful getting everything ready to Nationals. Eric's handling all the hard work and we're ready to roll with the RV. Looks like we'll have most of the bikes for the UT contingent. If we crash, there will be lots of unhappy campers. The weather forecast looks pretty good for travel at this point. Keep your fingers crossed.

A quick reminder about garage security. My sister's garage was broken into in the middle of the night while they slept. The slimeballs broke into a car parked outside and used the opener to get in. Many bikes and all the Christmas presents purchased so far were taken. The insurance will be a pain because they want receipts or pictures. Get out in your garage and take pictures or video. It's moved up my to do list.

Only 3 races and the season's over.............