July 24, 2014

Cam's Post-Nationals Interview in Cyclingnews.com

Cam "Probably Had the 'Ride of the Day'" at the US National Championships


Cameron Dodge celebrates break-through performance at Nationals

Top-five finish for up and coming mountain bike and 'cross racer

Racing in his first year in the elite category, 22-year-old Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy Scott Mountain Bike Team) put in an impressive ride at the US Cross Country Mountain Bike Nationals last weekend to finish on the podium in fifth place. It was a break-through performance for the up and coming racer.

"It's been a bit different racing with the elites - the guys are stronger," said Dodge, who was third last year in the under 23 cross country race. "Obviously, the bigger guys are some heavy hitters, and the extra laps hurts. That sixth lap in the cross country race - I was pretty smoked!"

Elite racers tend to race one or sometimes two more laps on a typical course than the under 23s do.
Dodge lives in Hungtington Valley, Pennsylvania, a little over an hour from where the cross country nationals was held.

"I came up a couple of times to pre-ride the course, but I've raced here for years. It was definitely a home court advantage for me."

Dodge juggles working for his dad in general contracting with training. "I get home from work, eat some food, get a bit of rest and go out and train. I don't have a coach - I keep it pretty simple. I used to work for an electrical contractor last year, but I quit so I could race a little more. It's working out well."

He takes inspiration from other young riders who are about the same age, but also racing well with the elites. Dodge named Kerry Werner, who won the silver medal in the elite race and Russell Finsterwald, who was having a great race in the top three until he flatted.

Dodge plans to race next at both the Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham World Cups during the first half of August. Last year, Dodge finished in the top 20 in the U23 race at Mont-Sainte-Anne, and he's hoping for another good performance or two at the North American World Cups.

"Then I'll take a little time off and get ready for 'cross. I did more 'cross last year and I'll probably do more again this year, but I like both 'cross and mountain biking" he said. Last season, Dodge won the UCI C2 'cross race in Highland Park, New Jersey.

His 'cross season will begin with the Nittany Cross, then it's onto 'Cross Vegas and Charm City. Racing his second year among the elites in 'cross, Dodge said, "I'll do lots of big races and do the best I can." Since last year, he's been accumulating UCI points that should help him with better start positions.

July 19, 2014

2014 US National Championships Update - Cam 5th in Pro XC - Jay 3rd in 55+

In the XC, father/son duo of Jay and Cam Dodge both placed on the podium in their XC races at the 2014 Mountain Bike National Championships this past week -- Cam was 5th in the Pro race and Jay was 3rd in the 55+ event.  Wow!  What a weekend for our team and the Dodge family.

Cam in the Heckle Pit - Photo (c) Scott Kingsley

Here's Cam with 1 lap to go -- he had moved into 5th

And the finish (audio)

July 11, 2014

Wednesdays at Wakefield 2014 race series (round 4)

Conditions - Unlike the last few weeks, the final installation of the 2014 Wednesdays at Wakefield saw wet trails and cool(ish) temperatures.  The humidity was as high as ever.

The last round of the W@W series saw a stacked field take the start.  It wasn't clear whether the race was going to occur.  I ran straight into a large thunderstorm on my bike commute home from work prior to the race.  Somehow, there is a local weather pattern at Wakefield that diverts storms away from the park.  The storms parted and left us with just a sprinkle of rain and fast, tacky conditions.

Expert field start
Joe Dombroski's rumored return to Wakefield turned out to be correct. Joe's performances in the DC area are legend.  He missed the start of one cyclocross race by a few minutes, yet caught and passed the entire field to win by minutes.  He used to rule the Wakefield races - riding away from everyone before he turned to road racing and moved off to Europe to join Team Sky and take on the world's best road racers.  Jared Neiters, also a past W@W champion joined in, as did multi-time national champion, Wes Schempf, Ian Spivak, Chris Dobroth, Jed Prentice, and others.

2009 W@W Champions - Neiters 1st, Dombroski 2nd, Matt Bailey 3rd
At the start, Dylan got into a good position, entering the singletrack third behind teammates Schempf and Neiters.  He was patient until a slip on a wet off-camber root by Schempf gave Dylan an open trail and he was not seen from again.

Dylan with a good gap on 2nd
Dylan put in consistenly fast lap times - going almost 20-30 seconds per lap faster than the same time in 2013 - showing his great form going into next week's U-23 National Championships.

Keeping the power to the pedals
Dylan was one of the few riders to stay upright.  Possibly that was due to the extra low pressure he was able to maintain on his Stan's Race Gold wheelset (maybe 15psi) that let him stick to stuff where the rest of us crashed.

I had a tougher time of it than Dylan.  I started a bit slower and eventually made my way through the field into second place toward the middle of the first of four laps.

But, going into the second lap, I crashed heavily on one of the newly constructed bridges.  I'm not sure why they were built this way, but the new bridges require either turning when entering the bridge or a mid-way turn to cross it properly.  My rear wheel slid out when turning off the final bridge, I fell on my side and slid off the bridge and down ont a pile of broken concrete, landing on my shoulder and ribs.  I had a 30 second lead on 3rd place at that time and I gave all of it up while laying stunned in the ditch.

Eventually, I got up, having conceded 8-9 places.  I got back into a rhythm and started picking riders off. Finally, I got around the 4th and 5th placed riders with a lap left to go and could see Joe and Jared off in the distance.

I worked my way up to them at the top of the climb (helped by lapped traffic that slowed them down a bit) and got a pass on Jared after a stream crossing (he also flatted).

In the last climb following the final stream crossing, Joe took the high line and I took the low line.  I got around him to finish 2nd (though I think at that point, he was just riding easy into the finish -- he's got bigger things to think about than a local mtb race!).

A day later, and I can't get my wedding ring on my left hand because my fingers are 3x their normal size and I can't take a deep breath without stabbing pain; either bruised or cracked ribs.  Ouch.

But, it was a very fun way to end the season.
Dylan also took the overall series win - he took 3 convincing wins in the four race series this year.

Testing the winning gold medal
2014 Series Podium - Dylan 1st, Chris Dobroth 2nd, Kevin Carter 3rd
A fine end to a fun season at Wakefield - though, it felt like we were riding through a swamp it was so humid!
 Next up, the national championships at Bear Creek, PA, July 17-20.  Hope to see you there to cheer Dylan in the U-23 event, and Cam in the Pro field, and Adam in the Cat 1 19-24 race.

- Jeff

July 09, 2014

Mid-Season 2014 Genius 700 Impressions

Wow. That pretty much sums up my experience thus far with my 2014 Genius 710.

The best way I could describe how I feel about riding this bike is to analogize to my ski racing days.  I was an alpine ski racer for about 18 years and worked for years and years to carve turns on my 200mm+ length straight skis.  Even with years of work, I could only get a perfect turn some of the time, and not usually in bad conditions.

I eventually gave up ski racing (burnout after multiple years of 7 hour training days) to focus on bike racing, but returned to skiing for fun after the shape ski revolution was in full swing.  My first time out on shape skis was a revelation - I could carve a perfect turn every time, with little effort. I couldn't stop laughing at how easy it was. And skiing became fun again.

That's the feeling I've gotten with the Genius.

I took a long ride in the Frederick Watershed this past weekend; a place notorious for its unforgiving rocks.  Usually, I need to pick my lines carefully through the rocks and, even riding carefully, I end up getting beat up after a 4 hour ride.  That all changed on the Genius.

On the first descent through rock gardens that I'd usually dab, or have to walk, I dropped the seatpost and blasted a straight line through.  I let the 150mm travel and 2.4 width tires soak up everything in the way.  I should have crashed.  I should have been stopped in my tracks. The bike opened up lines of travel through/over rocks that I didn't realize existed.

I laughed the whole way.  Just like my first time on shape skis.  I couldn't wait for the next rock strewn descent.

It's going to be hard to go back to my Spark 900. Don't get me wrong, I love to ride my Spark.  It's fast, light, comfortable and predictable and I've been riding a Spark since 2007.  But, the Genius 700 is just damned fun.

If you have a chance to test ride a Genius, do so.  You won't regret it.

- Jeff

*I did make a few changes to the stock bike that might change how it rides.  I swapped out the stock wheels for a set of wide Stan's NoTubes Flow EX wheels and swapped the relatively narrow stock Nobby Nic tires for a set of 2.4 width tires with more grip.  The wider tires combined with the wide profile Stan's rims made a ton of difference in grip and bump compliance.

July 03, 2014

Wednesdays at Wakefield 2014 race series (round 3)

Conditions - like the past two weeks, temps in the mid-90s, high humidity and a threat of thunderstorms

Dylan put in a blistering first lap of the 4 lap race and didn't let up, eventually winning by about 3 minutes.  Zack, riding in 3-5th most of the race, had a mechanical on the last lap, dropping him back to 8th overall.

Dylan now has the lead in the 4 race series after last week's co-series leader, Kevin, had a mechanical, forcing him to DNF.

The last race of the series is coming up on July 9th.

Dylan on the top step - dust caked to everything during the race (especially sweat)

Resuts and lap times