I had the luxury of riding with Chris about 3 weeks ago in Golden up Lookout and around roads I have no clue where we were but Chris could probably recite the route and alternative routes like rain man dropping numbers. I learned that studying maps is one of his many hobbies so that guy knows every route! Above all Chris is a funny guy who likes to talk to you, about anything, especially football if you happen to be a Steelers fan.
Below is a bio I got from Chris, because I could never get it together and do a interview of him... darn day job keeps getting in the way. Thanks Chris for sharing
1985 started riding and racing at 14 in Pennsylvania. We couldn't drive, so created our own stage race "The Tour of Visette". Don't really know where that name came from. We made leaders jerseys out of white t-shirts from JC Penney.
We found somebody who could drive, and got to the Tour of Somerville, where I got crushed by the 7-11 junior team with Jonas Carney. Wow - a serious eye-opener.
Started working at Klein Bikes in Chehalis WA in 1987, did my first mountain bike race in Ashland Oregon - The Revenge of the Siskiyous. Then went to Crystal Mtn, WA - the Specialized Rockhopper series. Greg Herbold was racing XC at the time. Got 7th in juniors, and got beer poured on my head by the Klein family. Was 16. Worked at Klein after high school and summers in college until 1992. Did my first century at Seattle to Portland with Gary Klein.
I raced both mountain and collegiate road while I lived in Pittsburgh - talk about awful racing conditions. We did a lot of 3 stage omniums: tt, crit, rr. One tt we still call "the Blizzard time trial" because it was snowing so badly that nobody warmed up, we just sat in the cars with the heat on. Then we got out and raced, and everyone fell down at the turnaround - it was so slushy. We raced the Month of Mud cyclocross series in western PA. One race had a creek crossing, and at registration they would always post the water temperature so you'd know what to expect. 38 degree water is cold on racing legs!
By 1994 was consistently placing top ten in Pro-Expert in Pennsylvania and West Virginia mountain bike and cross races. Did my only ultra race then, the Wilderness 101 in Coburn PA. My teammate Johnny Pacilla and I finished in 7:27 after taking 15 minutes to fix a broken chain. We were 11th and 12th - I've still got the shirt to prove it. Jon Stamsted won in 7:07 - racing with a shoulder that he separated at mile 30 - some people are just tougher than the rest of us!
Did the 1994 24 Hours of Canaan at Timberline in WV, racing for Dirty Harry's out of Pittsburgh. My dad was a huge jinx for me - every race that he showed up, I had a mechanical. So for 24 Hours, he didn't tell me he was coming. It didn't work: I broke 2 rear derailleurs, a chain, a stem, and a rear wheel. Did my last lap on a borrowed bike and we finished 17th. 'Team Rich Kids with Snazzy Bikes won, the team was Floyd, Willie Goehegan, John Stamsted and some other freak. Crazy fast.
June 1994, moved to Macon, Georgia to start Thomson's Bicycle Division. Very intense year of work. We must have broken 300 seatposts to see their mode of failure. I helped develop the Thomson Elite Seatpost and was part of the team that presented our product at the 1995 Interbike. Probably my finest career moment to date. I worked for Thomson until 1999.
July 1995, moved to Boulder. I raced Chris Grealish's Boulder Cross Series in 1995 and finished about 8th overall on my mountain bike. Lots of great racers, like Jimi Killen and Eddy Gragus. Lots of mud. In the whole series, I think I had two perfect dismounts. The rest of the time I floundered about the course.
In 1996 I was at my fastest. Raced Grealish's Sugar Mill series in Longmont, got 5th one day with Travis B, Peter Webber, John Weisenrider, and Travis Baugh. Chris wrote me a letter of recommendation, and I upgraded to Semi Pro. Did my first pro race at the Iron Horse, holy sh%t what a field. John T, Ned, Weins, Rishi, Tinker. We went up Chapman Hill about a million miles an hour. I went straight backwards and got caught by John Weisenrider, who had missed the start. I jumped on his wheel and we were going waaaaay too fast for me. I crashed into pile of dead branches and ripped my shorts wide open. My friend Lou was watching, and later in the race overheard two women talking, "Do you want to go down to the start finish," "No, let's wait for the guy with no shorts to come by again."
The only mountain bike race I won in Colorado was the Buffalo Pass Hill Climb in Steamboat. I felt great and broke Brian Hludzinski's record - he got a speeding ticket driving up to the Boat and didn't compete that year!
In 1996 I did 24 Hours of Moab, and we got 2nd in 4-man Expert. JHK was racing with the Rock Shox Devo kids, and we could already tell how fast he was going to be, even at 18. He and I started our last laps together at 11:00 am on Sunday, and were really going hard. I got a gap on him on a sandy run up, and cruised away, out of sight. I couldn't believe it, I was thinking "Man I am so fast!" Then on the last long grinding uphill, he caught me and left me for dead. Doh.
Kept working for Thomson as their liason to the bicycle world. Attended trade shows, distributor open houses, then started the Thomson Mountain Bike Racing Team for 1997 and 1998. We had Brian Fuentes, Brian Ellis, Brian Hludzinski, Cristina Begy, Sandy Fee from Durango, Ted Graumann & Miranda Briggs (Oregon racers), and super fast guys in Boise. For two seasons, we drove to every NORBA National in the Toyota Rocket Van - max speed about 58 miles per hour. Our clothes and shoes were so stinky that we tied them to the roof rack.
Fuentes kept showing up for races without his shit. Forgot shoes, helmets, everything. Literally came to a race with no cranks on his bike. At the Vail World Cup, he left his kit at the condo. 10 minutes before his race, he thought he'd just jog the 2 miles to get dressed. Seriously. I rushed him to get his clothes and get to the start. Then he won the Expert 19-24. Ellis wore a hunter safety orange "I am the NRA" mesh ball cap and always wiped his boogers on the steering wheel.
I missed a few years with sickness, worked a summer in Alaska for Outward Bound, and moved back to Colorado from Oregon. In 2000 I got back into road racing with Bobby on Rocky Mounts. Had a few good results and re-upgraded to 2. Then we started the Jamba Juice project, and that great team lasted about 5 years. I ended up as the team manager and captain. We had an amazing team - we travelled, rode, and raced like a family. Our best day was when Ryan Starr won the Colorado State Road Race in the P-1-2, beating Burke Swindlehurst and Eddy Gragus from a 5 man break. Our whole team had contributed, even the guys who didn't race drove out to GJ to help with feeds and support. After the race, Burke wanted to lodge a complaint against one of our teammates for the sprint. He came over to our team, expressing his anger, as we were laughing and taking photos, and this didn't go over well with our guys. Alex "El Guapo" Nunez, our sprinter, got right in Burke's face and told him to 'get the hell out of there.' It worked. My best results came at Cherry Creek - I finished 3rd twice in the Series. I almost won one. It was sleeting and raining so hard that most guys stayed home, but I couldn't go better than Blake Caldwell.
I've raced in 20 states, but never got enough points to be a Cat 1. I turn 40 this year (Sweet God) and now I race in the masters. These guys are so damn fast! It's so fun, though, because I just enjoy racing so much - being outside, pushing myself, laughing with teammates and friends, and being surrounded by such a great community of people. I'll do a few races this year, and really look forward to cross, which I haven't raced since 1998.
I want to see the ACA grow as a grassroots cycling organization. We are operating from a very strong position: solid membership, great promoters and events, dedicated officials, a strong and positive Board of Directors, and a great tradition of racing. We are strong financially and have experienced staff who handle so much stuff, it's just amazing. The work done by Jon Tarkington and the Board is like the Eighth Wonder of the World.
We offer a great platform for advertisers and sponsors. Our junior programs are solid and can grow to help more kids enjoy our great sport. I want to see more programs for women and new racers. Our membership has changed in the last 10 years - no longer are we dominated by twenty-something Cat 1s who live out of their Subarus. More than 50% of our members are between 35-55, racing in the 3s or 4s, with disposable income and many sports from which to choose. We need to respond to the needs of our changing membership and also reach out to other cycling groups, such as triathlon, big-ride (like Copper or Triple) riders, and mountain bike riders to increase our membership. We are an integral part of the Colorado cycling community, along with Bicycle Colorado, Bikes Belong, collegiate racing, high school racing, USAC, IMBA, and many others. How we work together is very important and is a big part of how we improve the racer experience and cycling in the state.