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#GRDNTCXBBQ

Nicholas Kupiak

When I originally moved to Camp Whiskey Foxtrot last year my landlords immediately gave me permission to cut some trail on the property when I explained the style of bike racing that I do. With feverish excitement I set out into the backyard to see what was possible on the 40 acre property... 

Nothing.

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Brodie (Skeletor) Romax

Nicholas Kupiak

There are many nuances to a cyclocross bike that can make a huge impact on how you ride. Just like training though, it always comes down to what works best for you individually. Lessons that can only be learned through trial and error over the course of multiple seasons, equipment changes, and experiences.

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Cross on the Rock // Topaz Park

Nicholas Kupiak

September. The month that signals both the coming of cross and the going of summer. Warm, long days had all but faded and the last few months had seemed to inexplicably blown by. Dreams of grand adventure rides with friends, tough training days in the hills, and sunset cruises to the ice cream shop all found a way of escaping me over that period of time.

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BSC x Caste // Saved by the Bell Kit

Nicholas Kupiak

While most of us were prying ourselves from the warmth of our homes to accomplish those long, cold, wet winter training miles, Broad Street and Caste Projects were busy in the design shed sitting underneath heat lamps, sipping on Capri Sun while dreaming of the summer months. Reminiscing about simpler times, before the digital age consumed our imaginations, when acid wash jeans were a normality, and chairs were meant to be sat on backwards. They concluded that technology had made us a cold, calculated, and hardened society, and decided to do something about this unwarranted seriousness toward what is fundamentally a joyful habit. Riding our bikes and riding them for fun.

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Mid-Season Report

Nicholas Kupiak

If there's one recurring lesson this season, it's definitely the education of perseverance. That constant drive to continue moving forward despite the immediate setbacks you've faced. This season has already had its fair share of small obstacles while settling for results both up and down. Persevering through a multitude of things and applying that lesson to everything from individual laps, to entire race series, has become my theme in the Elite field. It's aided me beyond my original season goals of first a top ten and then a top five finish. With those checked off the list I still wasn't quite focused on riding for a win just yet but when I found myself in good position at Bear Mountain last weekend I acted accordingly.

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Brodie SSCXWC Edition Romax

Nicholas Kupiak

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and race CX then you're probably already aware of the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships taking place in Victoria this November. Thanks to some great work by the boys from Naked and their compatriots Drew and Andrew they managed to secure the event almost one calender year ago at the 2014 edition of the race. Slated to take place at one of my favourite COTR venues, I knew that looking into a SS build would finally be on the horizon for me. 

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Season Opener(s)

Nicholas Kupiak

Last year I was lucky enough to write about every COTR event, and not only did it allow me to share my own perspective of how my race unfolded but the post reflection opened my eyes to some major lessons that I'd be able to apply in the next race. This season I will be aiming for a similar format, but with each post I will be including two weekends instead of one. Thanks to some great scheduling, we as racers have the opportunity to compete in both Cross on the Rock and VCXC this year as every competition is on its own weekend.

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Cyclocross on Hornby Island

Nicholas Kupiak

Island hopping is a big reason why Gradient ever began, and somehow this is my first post about doing just that. Within a two-hour drive from my house are more than ten different islands waiting to be explored by any means. Some of these land masses are better than others for riding, and Hornby in particular is where the mountain bikes go.

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Cross on the Rock // Series Finale

Nicholas Kupiak

When the opportunity came up to volunteer at the final cyclocross race of the series I couldn't say no. The people behind the scenes for Cross on the Rock put in so much hard work and do an incredible job with every event. Handwritten statistics converted to digital results get online within a few hours of the last cyclist crossing the line, set-up and take down seems to be the work of CX wizards, as there's never any sign of course work being done the day of, and most importantly these superstars all find the energy to race, too. With all of that in mind, it was a no-brainer to get my hands dirty. One advantage we had over the other venues was the ability to set-up the day before rather than the morning of. Getting to see a concept turn into a physical course was a much more creative process than I had imagined as stakes were hammered, pulled back out, re-imagined, and hammered once again. One valuable lesson I walked away with is how weak my arms actually are after spending close to half an hour pounding metal rebar into the firm parking lot ground to create a start chute. Note to self: Improve Arm Watts.

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Cross on the Rock // Ronde Van Hogwarts

Nicholas Kupiak

It's difficult not looking forward to a race venue that brought you your best result in a previous season. Shawnigan Lake School played host to the series finale last year where double points were on the line, and after just three previous races I came through with my best finish of the season. Though the school wasn't chosen to close out the year this time around, the good memories tied to the event had me excited, albeit nervous since I was racing in Expert this year.

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Adventure Week

Nicholas Kupiak

When plans fell through for a road trip to Nationals, my adventure wheels started turning. The local race scene took a break on the same weekend in case any usual entrants might be making the trip to Winnipeg, so there was no need to prep for an impending race. Training intervals were stuffed into the black duffel that contains my race lycra, and baggier casual shorts were pulled out with a head full of anticipation. 

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Cross on the Rock // Bear Crossing

Nicholas Kupiak

Two things come to mind when you hear "Bear Mountain", and neither of them have anything to do with cycling. Most people will tell you of the world class golf course, or five star resorts that reside in this scenic area of Victoria. A location that tends to draw in a very specific type of human, and I don't think any of us quite fit the description. With back to back weekends of cycling events being held in the hills of the driving range, there's a hint of change in the air and hopefully another reason for the prestigious mountain to be brought into conversation.

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Cross on the Rock // Coal Cross

Nicholas Kupiak

Last weekend marked the first race of the COTR (Cross on the Rock) Series, and like past years it was held in one of my favourite little towns, Cumberland. One year ago the riders were treated to some horrific, but perfect cyclocross weather as nearly all day it poured on the competitors and really showcased what cross was about. A perfect introduction for someone thinking about taking up the sport. Needless to say, I purchased a pair of Challenger Limus tyres three weeks prior to the event with the anticipation of mud, only to be greeted by what most would classify as summer.

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Hurricane Ridge

Nicholas Kupiak

Sitting on the beach in Victoria it's not a strange sight to see the looming mountains of the Olympic National Park in the distance. From this vantage point the mountain range resembles something of a forested wall, visually creating a disconnect between two countries, as if America put their binder on its side in class to hide the contents of its school desk from neighboring eyes.

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Brodie Ti Romax

Nicholas Kupiak

Utilitarian. I've touched on this topic in a previous post and how form must always follow function for something to be worth its weight. Yet here I am, looking at and writing about a frame that brings both together in the best way. 

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Riding Fool Hostel

Nicholas Kupiak

After sitting down to plan a few spring adventure rides, I started to notice a resounding fact about each trip. They almost all involved taking a ferry to either the mainland, or one of the many surrounding islands. This got me thinking about how often cyclists must do the opposite of me and take the ferry to ride on Vancouver Island. With the next long weekend on it's way, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to set out on a route that could potentially inspire these sea-faring riders to new locations and roads.

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ACRE Hauser TrailPack

Nicholas Kupiak

Lightweight, well balanced, comfortable, aero (can't believe I'm bringing this up about a backpack), waterproof, and perfectly functional. Most roll-top bags I've used in the past kept my items entirely dry, but they always came with the inherent wings sitting just behind the tops of my shoulders. Hooking on branches or small trees, scooping up headwinds like two large pterodactyl arms, and leaving me constantly uneasy of my immediate surroundings.

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Tofino Brew Co. Gran Fondo

Nicholas Kupiak

Plans for this ride have been bouncing around in my head for a little over a year, but I realistically never thought it would take place. With Graeme living in Ucluelet, I had daydreamed of doing the trip on my bike every time I travelled west for a visit. To some, it's the distance that seems insurmountable, but to me it was the inherent dangers of the roadway itself that left hesitance in my mind. Then everything just kind of fell into place. In an attempt to reimburse me for a favour involving sixteen hours, four cities and two letter presses, Blair offered to drive my FJ Cruiser as a pseudo support vehicle to become the final piece to the puzzle.

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2013 CX Nationals

Nicholas Kupiak

Up at 5:20AM to catch the first ferry, we cruised through a sleepy downtown Vancouver, and arrived with barely enough time to register the two racers I had been sharing a ride with. Cutting it so close meant both cyclists competed without seeing or pre-riding the course. It's just the Nationals, who needs to be prepared?

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Mt. Arrowsmith

Nicholas Kupiak

The wind was howling through the bottom of my front door, and it acted as a better alarm clock than I could have hoped for. Waking up with a sense of doubt seems to render you far more aware than rising with a clear mind. For a moment I pretended that the blankets had me trapped, and every time the wind voiced itself, the blankets grasp would cinch a little tighter. Still wide awake, the second alarm went off and I've never noticed how irritating the sound is when you're entirely coherent. All right, I was up. Breakfast was quick, the coffee was made, and I was out the door.

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