Sub 5 Century 2017

9 05 2017

The 4th annual Sub 5 Spring Century went down last weekend.  Mike W. and the crew motored to a new record of 4:23:49.  Check out the Relive.  I joined for the last 40 miles and still got spit out the back by these thunder-thighed studs.

Enjoy these photos from the day.  Thanks also to Paul H. who leapfrogged the group in his super deluxe adventurmobile to capture some of these shots.

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Big crew for the Start!

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Mike S. moving back into the fast lane on his way back up for a pull.

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Heading back to the start point on the Diagonal

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Aloha, Busse!

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Mike W. cracked the whip to make sure everyone kept it smooth.

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Like a well-oiled and sunscreened machine. The pace line rotated clockwise to keep things fast and efficient.

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Arn leading the pace line and showing us his injured thumb.

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Beautiful weather!

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Backdrop ain’t bad either.

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Horse X-ing. Yes, a lot of horsepower in this group.

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Paul got some aerial shots from the top of his van.

 

 





Cape Epic Blog

23 03 2017

John and Joel finished stage 4 in 12.  They are hanging in at 11 in the GC.  https://www.cape-epic.com/teams/2017/9503/alchemist-mountain-flyer

 

Below is from the Mountain Flyer blog. Enjoy!

 

John Bliss Cape Epic Blog: Day 1 in Cape Town

Sparkplugs in their Mouths

The Morning – As Inspector Clousseau was fond of saying, “we have arrive –ed”. 19 hours of traveling from Denver through London’s Heathrow airport, a quick exit through Cape Town Customs, grab our bike boxes and we were met by a quiet middle aged woman with smiling, warm eyes, Leeny. She brought us to our driver, a GQ model like-looking young guy with rapid fire chatter, a tour guide’s monologue of what we were seeing, and into the traffic we plunged.

But this traffic was notably different – down the miles of cars inching along to work in the city, along the center divider, were hordes of black men in packs, meth heads, he said, slowly and methodically scanning each car. They walked with a swagger like they owned this highway. Our driver said they were looking for single woman with handbags in the front seat to rob. They do this in full view of the traveling masses, he said, in broad daylight, typically during rush hour when cars are moving slowly. “Too many of them and not enough police.”

“I tell my wife everyday to put her purse in the boot, but she won’t listen,” he says with a pained expression. “She says, I put it in the center console so they can’t reach it from the driver window.” He tells her, “But they break the front window and pull it right out.” He tells me to look closely at their mouths. “You will see a spark plug in their teeth.” I did. “That’s so when they jump on the hood, they press the spark plug to the window and it shatters.” We did not witness this, but he said he had. “Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore,” I thought.

On the other side of the highway were encampments, shanty towns. 20×20 ft. corrugated square boxes. No windows. District 9 without aliens.

The Afternoon – We walked around our hotel, the Southern Sun Waterfront, to get the jet lag out of our legs and found a bike shop, The Handle Bar, with an espresso bar. The bike owner, a skinny, narrow slope-shouldered dude that looked like a former pro roadie, said we could ride to the local mountain biking “tracks”, a national park called Table Mountain.  He said it’s a steep road climb and then you’ll hit “tar roads” and jeep trails. He wasn’t kidding on the steep road part. Thirty minutes of continuous climbing and 2500 feet of gain and we arrived at Table Mountain. A  breathtaking view of Cape Town harbor, a gentle warm breeze, 82 degrees.  It felt and looked like I was back in Hawaii where I grew up. Every rider we ran into was warm, helpful, smiling, interested in our story but quick to say they weren’t fit enough to do the Cape. Even a guy who dropped us on several of the climbs riding a single speed said he wasn’t up for it. Shit, I thought, what have we gotten ourselves into?

The descent back into downtown Cape Town at 4pm was in rush hour. It wasn’t for the faint of heart.  It required every ounce of street smarts. Cars coming at you from every direction and of course our instincts were wrongly tuned to driving on the right. When you need to make split second decisions, this isn’t helpful.

They had intermittent bike lanes, big green things, but they were effectively short term parking for many delivery trucks and cabs. Pulling around them in traffic was the gut check moment because it was one lane only in each direction. At one point, a car on my left and a car on my right wanted to switch in front of me, squeezing me down the middle with a foot on either side of my ergon grips separating me from their front car doors. At least one guy said he was sorry as he cut me off.  We managed to make it back to the hotel intact. I found myself pining for the safety of singletrack.

From shanties to Paradise, what a bookend of experiences.





Team Alchemist/Mountain Flyer are ROLLIN’ at Cape Epic

22 03 2017

John Bliss and Joel Davis are flying the American Flag and representing Team Alchemist/Mountain Flyer at the mother of all stage races, Cape Epic.  They are creeping up the leader board and on the verge of cracking the top 10. Check it out here: https://www.cape-epic.com/teams/2017/9503/alchemist-mountain-flyer

John is writing a blog on the race for Mountain Flyer. The following is his first post:

 

John Bliss Cape Epic Blog: Holy Shit It’s Almost Here

Why the Cape Epic you ask?

Ironically, it was this guy, Mike Hogan (behind the GoPro, screaming “I think I broke a rib! Fuck,” in this YouTube video avove) and his teammate, Thomas Dooley, both former teammates of mine on Boulder-based Justin’s Nut Butter, that got me interested in the Cape Epic. Even after Hogan had to DNF with a broken collarbone, he and Thomas promised to be back for another crack at the Cape.  (They returned and finished the following year.).  Hogan/Dooley: “They treat the amateurs like pros. The race is so well organized, the service so amazing, the people so nice, the food top notch. This will be the most amazing bike racing experience you will ever have. It was life changing.”

They’d both done TransAlps, BC Bike Race, Breck Epic, TransGermany and still put this tops on their list.  “Bliss, before you get too much older, you need to do this,” they told me. “If you race Grand Masters Coed, you and Michele (my wife) could do really well.” (Even though Michele was a big Endurance Racer on the Singlespeed, her reaction was “Hell no, I’m not interested in racing 8 days. Are you crazy??” So much for that.)

I’ve always liked big challenges and pushing just a little bit more each time. I’d done several BreckEpics http://breckepic.com, and, on a dare, raced one 6 day solo Breck after doing the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race http://www.leadvilleraceseries.com/mtb/leadvilletrail100mtb/.

So, I figured, I’ve essentially pulled off a 7 day stage race, can be that much harder to do 8?

Yeah, it sounds epic, but can I do it?

I started researching the race and talking to more people that had done it. It’s much bigger from a volume standpoint than the BreckEpic (all stages except prologue in years past have been 50+miles, and more elevation gain) but then again, the Cape is at sea level whereas Breck is at 10,000 ft to 12,500 feet, and there is no snow!

I was encouraged by the stats of the 10th place finishing team in the Grand Masters last year: They’d spent about 37 hours on the bike, averaging about 5 hours/day. I could wrap my head around that.  That seemed doable.

But the one nagging element of the Cape was I’d never (and to this day still haven’t) ridden any bike (cx, mountain or road) at race pace for eight days, nor had I ever ridden this many miles back to back at ANY pace. What would happen to me physically, emotionally, psychologically? I felt like the early seafaring explorers worried about Monsters at the edge of the Flat Earth! Can I do it? Or will I be devoured?

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I reached out to a friend and former bad ass pro mtb and xTerra racer, Melissa Thomas, who had done the race. Me: “Any tips?” Melissa: “Get really fit, and get ready for a lot of wind and road tactics.” Me: “I’ll be weighing in at 129 lbs and never raced road.” Melissa: “Then enjoy the sites!” And she posted on Facebook a pic of a guy on a cruiser…Smart ass. But that’s Melissa. And she never mentioned that she finished 3rd in the 2004 Mixed at Cape Epic!

Palmares. You may be thinking that if this aging “Fred” can do it, so can I. And you’d be right. My palmares? They are virtually none. I’m at best a decent rider in Boulder.

I’ve had a few podiums in each cat in both MTB and Cross. I’ve had a few top ten finishes at Nats and one top 20 in CX Worlds.  So, I’m essentially upper mid pack fodder. But hey I’m committed! I’m the “A for effort” guy, or, in baseball parlance, Johnny Hustle.  And I can suffer…

Will You Be My Partner? Once I’d kind of come to the realization that yes, I could spend the time to train and could make the case to myself and others that I could probably finish it, I had to find a partner. (Cape is two person teams only, divided simply into five categories: Men, Women, Mixed, Masters and Grand Masters.) It turns out finding a partner for something like this isn’t easy. You must find someone that is in the right decade, has the money, the time, the commitment and the right culture fit. Many were initially interested but when push came to shove (i.e., registration deadline looming, and big cash deposit necessary), all backed off for one reason or another. Some reasons were legit, some sounded manufactured – “I think I’ll be experiencing problems getting away from work around then,” said several candidate’s months in advance.

I first looked for someone local that I knew and had raced with, figuring it would be easier and cheaper to arrange training rides and check off the culture fit box. They all declined. I found one guy that was willing to race up in age, but then he thought the better of it. Then it dawned on me, why not reach out to the very people that got me racing in the first place? There seemed to be a bit of poetic justice in the idea, particularly as I mulled over whether this could be my last big “bucket list” race of my racing career. You never know when work (or, worse, deteriorating health) might make it impossible.

I reached out to Joel Davis in early October 2016. Joel was one of several riders in the Blue Diamond/Las Vegas area that encouraged me over 15 years ago to race MTB’s as a Beginner in the Big Bear MTB Race Circuit. I still remember those first bike race conversations, “John, come race with us.” “Nah, I just like to ride for fun.” “John, racing IS fun”. Ultimately, while intrigued by their response, I still had to be dragged to my first Big Bear race. I can remember pre riding one lap of the course, and Joel who was racing Expert even back then, was coaching me on belly breathing. He doesn’t remember this but my belly does.  As I crossed the finish line, I vividly remember thinking, “When is the next one?” Mountain bike racing was a drug, that was my first “hit” and I’ve been addicted ever since. I don’t think I’ve missed a racing season.

Joel and I sealed the deal after many Facebook Messenger chats and discussions with our wives and his boss, and when we both learned in March that our applications were accepted.  We were now a Grand Masters team: Team Alchemist/Mountain Flyer! Holy fuck. It’s real.

The Cape Epic is more than a 2-man Team Race!

It sounds so cliché but it’s true. You can’t pull this off alone. If I succeed, and I may not, it will be due to a very large cast of characters in a dramatic comedy, starring, in addition to my partner, at least the following:

The Coach. When I moved to Boulder in 2005 I’d just cat’d up to a Cat 1/Expert in MTB.  That was a slap in the face transition from California Sport.  I reached out to Colby Pearce for a bike fit and coaching http://www.colbypearce.com.  Colby is

a former Olympian on the track, hour record holder and just all around bike racing stud in any discipline. Colby’s approach is very holistic: it’s as much about what you’re doing when you’re not on the bike than when you are: nutrition, rest, strength and conditioning, stretching, proper bike fit and, of course, because I live in Boulder, meditation. It’s also very practical: no, I’m not ever going to be a pro, nor do I have time to even train like one, so let’s fit this into a real life scenario: sudden trips, aging body, changes of weather, injuries, etc.  Joel quickly became a client too and it’s been great to commiserate on our training schedules and routines. Our goal with Colby has been pretty simple: get us to the point where we have a strong chance of finishing the race as a team. And call it good.

I realize that’s kind of an odd goal and may seem kind of low bar, but if you read the Cape Epic results it is indeed quite an accomplishment just to finish as a team.  For example, last year in Grand Masters, 43 teams finished the Prologue, but only 25 teams completed Stage 7. There are a helluva lot of racers that either DNF or have their partners DNF and then are forced to try to complete the race as “Individual Finishers”.

The Trainer.

Probably one of the best self assessments I’ve made in my racing career was to admit that I’d become less than durable as an athlete. So I set out with Jed Glass at Rally Sport http://www.rallysportboulder.com to change that.  It’s simple physics, if you have a malleable and strong core, when you crash, you’re less likely to get seriously injured. I’m not where I want to be yet, but it’s not due to Jed’s lack of trying!

The PT/Nutritionist/Wife.

My amazing wife Michele, aka Lil Ant, is a manual physical therapist who owns her own PT business — http://www.blissworkspt.com. She is a long time road, mtn and cx racer and for the 10 years I’ve been fortunate enough to be married to her and she has calmly put me back together after all my crashes and overuse injuries. These have ranged from a thumb busted in 3 places on an icy corner in a 9 degree CX race, to a crazy artery bleed-out caused by a road crash on my hip, to a separated shoulder in the 5th stage of the 6 stage BreckEpic (I finished w/fancy duct tape around my shoulder), to a nasty gouge across a forearm that the ER doc stuck his entire finger into, to the normal run of the mill crap we all endure.

The Masseuse. Michele works with some really good massage therapists that I see typically when it’s too late. I never knew the IT band was actually NOT supposed to feel like rebar. They always say, “you really ought to schedule something more regular.” I never do.

The Wrench. Since my first BreckEpic in 2010, it was “Daimo” Shanks/Service Course, but he had the audacity recently to close shop to become a lawyer. He put up with my incredible stupidity when it comes to bike mechanic shit. I like to race bikes; I don’t know how they work and I don’t care to.  Now, I’m working with an equally gracious, polite and skilled team of Jeff Wilbur and Mike Gavagan https://www.houseofspin.bike. They share space with Colby, who shares space with Panache who shares space with the Cycling Universe.  And House of Spin offers a great cycling cocktail: one part wrench, one part conversation and one part espresso.  Visit them and tell them I sent you.

The Team and Clothier. Alchemist. My Team. My Homies.

The ring leader, Jeff Wu incredibly as it may seem, has in his “spare time” launched a cycling clothing company when not doing multiple all nighters as an ER doc! The clothing is awesome, and we’re fortunate to be sporting it.

Thanks Jeff! We hope we’ll do you proud. Check out their cool stuff! http://teamalchemist.com

The Media. MountainFlyer. Without a doubt the coolest, best pic cycling magazine out there. It really is a coffee table-browse over your favorite beer or espresso- delight. And its Owner Brian Riepe couldn’t be cooler (or faster on the bike). Take time to savor their mag http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com. Thanks, Riepe, for allowing me to freelance for you…

Nutrition.

They say most endurance races are eating and drinking competitions. Apparently, this is particularly true with the Cape Epic.  I’m a big fan of bacon, particularly in the later stages of a race (i.e., 40-50 miles in). It’s like desert to me. When not eating bacon, I try to drink a shit load (but typically fail, and cramp my ass off).  Recently, Joel and I have been very happy with Fluid as an energy drink. Thank you, Fluid http://livefluid.com, for your support! And for those who know the problem, let’s just say there is no gastric distress with their product. It’s become a great addition to the nutrition tool kit.

All of you.

But honestly, the “Team” is really so much larger: it’s all the people you run into on a ride that offer encouragement, the casual conversations over coffee, the Facebook posts.  And encouragement also comes from non-riders, who utter comments like “That’s fucking ridiculous. Why would you do that?”

In answering that question, I guess I come back to where I started and why on Mar. 12 I’m headed to South Africa with Joel and Michele: “Because I’m not sure I can.”

Stay tuned. I’ll try to blog once more before we go, and if I can muster the energy, during the race as well. You can also follow me on the Twitter @boulderbliss or look for me on Facebook Live.

Thanks for reading.  And thanks for your support.

John Bliss





Alchemist Updates

25 11 2016

Been an long time, Alchemistas.  Hope everyone had a fantastic summer and fall and Thanksgiving.  As per my usual M.O., blog posts are written on night shifts, and this is no exception.  See below for all the updates and happenings in the world of Team Alchemist.

 

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Kathleen and Team on top of the Podium at Dawn til Dusk in AZ. Way to go, Kathleen!

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steve Tim and Steph G. and the fam went to Cambodia for an 8 week medical mission. They sent me this photo of one of the local bike rental shop signs. In Cambodia, every night is Ladies’ night.

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Steven P. showing off his fine figure after Rose accidentally ran his Alchemist Merino Jersey through the dryer. Sexy time!

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FLR on a snowy Chapman. Stuart all smiles as he leads the pack.

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Jenn D. completing the Minnie Mouse outfit with her nephews back in South Dakota. Nothing like pink compression socks to scare trick or treaters.

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Sun Young’s Bro, Willard, knocking out the last leg of a triathlon. Representing Alchemist in the Pacific NW. Looking sharp, Willard!

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Rob’s pop, Ron Sharp, showing Timmy Duggan some pointers on a Juniper Wealth Advisors sponsored Wednesday Morning Velo. One of the pointers was to keep your hands on your handlebars when descending.

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Here’s the Juniper Partners without Spandex. They clean up nice, eh?

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Mindy is riding across the country in an Alchemist-made jersey. We were the official jersey sponsor for this monumental effort. You can read about her adventure here: https://lowcarboncrossings.wordpress.com/

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Amy D. saves lives and trains falcons. All while sporting Alchemist gear. She is like the poster child for awesomeness.

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Shield 616 guys on their Epic ride in Alchemist kits. They ride in support of Officers in Active Shooter and Crowd Control situations. Very cool.

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Steven P. knocking out another top podium spot at the Ridgeline Rampage. Single speed machine!

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In fact, we had an Alchemist sweep of the podiums. From left to right: Ken topped out the Clydesdale Podium. Max took the under 19 boys title. Elliote took the under 19 girls title. Steven won single speed. Way to go, Team!

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Co-branded Flatwater tent. The badasses of Lincoln, Nebraska have been partners of Alchemist since the early days. We are proud to outfit this first-class group of riders.

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Nice turnouts for FLR this past summer and fall

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Great to have Pavlik and Beaudry on this one.  New FLR regulars, Jason and Mike F., have been great additions to the crew.

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Regulators, mount up.





How to Save a Life

26 06 2016

Once again a great year for the Stone Temple MTB Camp.  But this year was special in another very important way.  Amy D. saved a life.  Literally.

Amy was volunteering for a couple of days at the camp, and thank goodness she did.  As she was heading back to help with an injured rider, she came across one of the camper’s father, who was also volunteering.  He was having chest pain while riding and feeling very sick.  Amy stopped to check on him, and before long he became unconscious.  Amy is a nurse, and I’ve worked with her for years in the ER.  She checked for a pulse, and found none, so she started CPR while another volunteer called 911.  They continued CPR for 20 minutes before a helicopter finally arrived with a defibrillator.  After shocks and medications, they were miraculously able to get a pulse back.  A coronary stent and ICU stay later, and I’m happy to say that Amy’s patient is doing great.  He is back with his family and back to his previous self.  Considering he was dead for 20 minutes, I’d say that’s a pretty good outcome.  If not for Amy’s quick actions and good timing, the story would have been tragic.

Amy, you are a hero.  Thank you for all that you do.

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Stone Temple MTB Camp. Amy is sitting at the bottom right of the photo.  





Alchemist Team Updates

2 06 2016

Alchemistas, it’s been too long.  Night shift, while painful, has it’s benefits.  That being forced sleep-deprivation and occasional downtime, which leaves a few spare moments to update the blog.  Loads of updates below.  Cheggitout.

 

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Ryan K. went down to the Growler this past weekend and went Chernobyl. Conditions were ideal (as opposed to last year’s mechanical-sh*tshow mudfest), and Ryan took off an hour from his time last year, finishing in the top 15 in the category in a packed field. Here he is leading a pack of wheel suckers.

 

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The Growler is known for being one of the toughest races in the business. Ryan makes it look easy.

 

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Punchy climbs, technical (sometimes scary) descents, and beautiful views.

 

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Ryan descending one of the sketchy rock formations in style. Droppers are for sissies!

 

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Easy like a Sunday morning. Way to represent, Ryan!

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Heath B. rocking the Team kit in Moab. Sexy time!

 

Brett T., you need a selfie stick, sir. Brett is a world-class X-terra athlete and mtb'er. Look out for him at X-terra Worlds and Leadville. He is a contender.

Brett T., you need a selfie stick, sir.
Brett is a world-class X-terra athlete and mtb’er. Look out for him at X-terra Worlds and Leadville. He is a top contender, especially at Worlds, where he is looking for a shot at the Title.  Go get em, Brett!

 

Lindsey went into beast mode at the

Lindsey was in beast mode at the Santa Fe Century last weekend.  Podium shot with the other fast ladies on the Gran Fondo.  Big ups, Lindsey!

 

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Sporting her freshly minted Wasatch Touring Enduro Jersey. Alchemist hexacool blend and 3/4 sleeves. Wesley has World Champion pedigree (she is Drew’s daughter), and she is blowing up the Enduro scene.

 

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Josh W. testing out the new Team outwear at Buff Creek. The Ether Lite jacket is windproof and water-resistant. Extra rear coverage and sleeve length for 2016 to accommodate you knuckle-draggers out there.

 

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Tara L. killin’ it at Battle the Bear.

 

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This was her first mountain bike race, and she blazed through the fast course like a seasoned racer. Great job out there Tara!

 

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FLR. Flatulence-Loving Rebels? Friday Lunch Ride! Ken, Todd, Herb, and I rolling up the Boulder Creek path to Betasso/Benjamin.

 

 

 

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There’s a new Sheriff in Town. Beckett patrolling the mean streets of Crested Butte.

 

 

 

 

 





2016 Team Kit

1 03 2016

Wow.  It’s been a long time since the last update.  Many things to tell.  But, I’ll have to get to all that later.  2016 Team Kits will be here in a couple of weeks.  If you want in, and you haven’t already emailed me, we’ll have extras on hand.  So just shoot me an email.  jeff@teamalchemist.com. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch up on all the great things that have been going on soon.

Without further blabbing, here is the 2016 Alchemist Team Kit:

2016 Pro Crema Jersey. Circle Dry main body. Wings mesh contored side panels. Powerband arm cuffs, powerband rear gripper.

2016 Pro Crema Jersey. Circle Dry main body. Wings mesh contored side panels. Powerband arm cuffs, powerband rear gripper.  Yes, those are pink accents.  Rick and Hunter, maybe I’ll do a special version for you two with more manly colors.

New, anatomic panels. Swiss Eschler Cold Black inners. Italian MITI sublimated panels, Italian EIT Carbon Performance Chamois, POwerband leg grippers

New, anatomic panels. Swiss Eschler Cold Black inners. Italian MITI sublimated panels, Italian EIT Carbon Performance Chamois, Powerband leg grippers

 

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Fluoco Midweight Thermal Fleece. Also available in white.

 

Race Fit.  It fits like a race jersey.   Extra arm length.  Fluoco Thermal Fleece.  3 rear zip pockets.

Race Fit. It fits like a race jersey. Extra arm length. Fluoco Thermal Fleece. 3 rear zip pockets.

 

Fluoco Tech Hoodie.  Full Zip.  Casual fit.  I suggest ordering a size down if you like it more fitted.  I wear a large kit, but medium hoodie.

Fluoco Tech Hoodie. Full Zip. Casual fit. I suggest ordering a size down if you like it more fitted. I wear a large kit, but prefer medium hoodie.

 

 








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