Sunday, August 4, 2013

2013 CCCX CR #9 - P123

Race: CCCX CR #9 P12
Course: 90min on the original Fort Ord course, some of everything but not too much of anything. Just what I like (keeps my mind busy while legs are screaming).

Report: Only ~15 riders showed up today for the P123, but included Eamon (CalGiant) fresh of his BIG Win at SRT, Ranier & Nick from TMB, Randy B. (Leopard), Byron A. (DBC) and Logan Loader's roommate Thibault representing France Thibault plus a few riders that were on the podium in the E2/3 race. So I figured my best chances are from a break that does not include Randy or Rainer.
At the start I find a Cliff, Mario, and  Scott fresh of their podium in the race before. So bar was set high and they seemed in great spirits and simply told me to win. Thanks for the motivation guys. 

Attacks started flying from the gun: After several attacks from just all over the place Eamon goes solo establishes a gap n the false flat after the tailwind climb, I jump hard and bridge. On the main rollers into the headwind Thibault joins us. Great we have some major horsepower, but there is equal horsepower behind us and still 85minutes left in the race!!! By the front-side tailwind rollers we have a good gap but Chris Cain (hot off his E2/3 win) is bridging solo. We decide to wait since one more rider will really help our TTT effort and we assume he will not be there at the very end since he is on race #2. After a lap or two of Thibault really punching it on all the climbs, Eamon has had enough and decides to sit up since the pack is on our heals and the pace had been pretty surgey and unpleasant. At this time Chris is yo-yo-ing but I convince Thibault to take longer pulls rather than harder pulls and give Chis some time to recover. Chris hangs tough for another lap or two before giving us some encouragement and sitting up.

Two Man Break:The pack keeps coming in and out of sight, so Thinbault and I just try to keep the gas on as much as we can and make sure we hit all the climbs pretty hard. We had to do about half the race as a two-man break and for the last 2-3 laps we had a small chase group of about 2 or three trying to bridge that was pretty close at times. We worked well together and didn't play any games until half way through the last lap when we new the chasers were not going to catch. Thinbault made one big attack on the final rollers, but I was expecting it and he finally looked to be fading. I wanted him to be on the front for the descent and finale since that is where I lost the race last time against Eamon on this course, so I went to the front and guttered him for the final mile or so before the descent gave a flick of the elbow so hopefully he would out of courtesy take over after my long effort. Unfortunately he was content to sit on.

The Finale: So the games began. I hit the final descent at a tempo effort before swinging off to the right so he would have to come around into the wind. Again he just waits, as we get closer to the final corner I ease off the gas to loosen up the legs and stay right so I can see him out of the corner of my eye. Now it is almost like a match sprint. I watch to see how close I can get to the corner before he opens it up. He never jumps so I jump just before the corner and get the inside line and give it all I got. This was at lower speeds than normal so I make sure not to get too trigger happy with the shifting knowing the final kick before the line can really bog you down if your over-geared. Sure enough Thibault comes around slowly before the road kicks up. I just give it as much as I can to keep the gear from slowing. The tables turn again and Thinbault begins to fade slightly as I keep my gear spinning to the line and take the Win by about a wheel length. Chris C. snapped a video of the sprint It is not pretty but we had just done a 90min TTT effort.
Time: 1hr27min
Dist: 34.4mi
Elevation: 2887ft
Norm Power: 279w (254w Ave) setting new power PRs from 60min thru 90min

Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Little City Stage Race - Pro 1/2

Little City Stage Race (actually an Omnium)
Pro1/2 field of 25 rolling solo for SquadraSF. While many teammates were up North at an Epic stage race in Oregon, I chose to do a pretty low key event Stage Race and visit my Aunt/Uncle who live about 10min from all 3 stages. Despite the weather forecast it was an awesome 2-day event just a few hours from the Bay Area.

Stage 1: 10mile TT
Out and back course at an elevation of 5,500ft with a gradual decent on the way out and slight headwind and false flat on way back. I went off at 11:30am and it was already in the 90s. I did my best not to overdue it on the way out and try to pick it up a bit on the way back. I ended up gaining on the two ahead of me which was promising, and feel I paced it pretty well considering the altitude and heat. Clocked a 20:52 good enough for 15th and 3 omnium points.
Stage 2: 60min Crit
Pretty fun 6 corner crit. Our start was at 3pm and it was well over 100degrees for this race. They started the race off with 3 hot laps for $100, $75, then $50. Unfortunately, due to the dry heat my contacts completely dried out waiting at the start line so I had to sit off the back due to lack of vision and blink repeatedly for these "hot laps." The omnium scoring makes for interesting tactics. I played it pretty conservative and just sat in the bunch waiting for dangerous moves to form. About half way through the race two Chris & Nate (Marc-Pro), Pete (Cliff Bar), and Vincent Owens are up the road. The pack was clearly unsure if they should chase. All those guys are motors and Chuck was happy to let them go since Chris was 2nd on GC and Carling had missed the move. I was pretty confident this move would stick.

The gap stayed at 10-15 seconds for a few laps then Brite-Sport puts a few guys on the front, I get on the wheel of their last rider. I knew as soon as he was done the pack would loose it's organization and motivation once again, so as soon as pulls off I jump hard from the front and go all in to bridge across. It took almost a full lap, but I just barely made it. WOW the heat makes it hard to recover, I was on the limit for a few laps, but slowly began to come around and helped my break-mates. The 5 of us stay away until the finish, Chris H-D attacks after I take a pull with 1.5laps to go. I could not immediately respond, Nate waits, I try to jump across, but fear of getting swarmed by my companions limits my commitment and I swing off about half way across to Chris. Pete takes over and does one hell of a leadout almost shutting down the gap. Chris just holds off our group, I open up the sprint out of the last corner but Nate beats me by a wheel. Considering the heat and bridge effort I am pretty happy with 3rd Place, netting a bunch of omnium points and moving up to 8th on GC. Of course now it is so easy to look back and ask "what if I fully committed to jump across to Chris" but should-a, could-a, would-a.

Stage 3: 66mile Road Race
11mile loop with two short power climbs and long false flat drag w/ crosswinds towards finish. Again heat was the biggest challenge. The course is hard, but I was more worried about the heat. I started with ice in my jersey pockets and grabbed partially frozen bottles each lap which were a life saver. Again omnium tactics would dictate the race. At the end of Lap 2 attacks were coming hard and fast. I marked several dangerous ones but everything was coming back. Then when I decide to mark a few less to save some matches sure enough one goes that includes, Chuck (Marc-Pro), Trafton (TMB), and Pete (Cliff). I still remember being near the front when the gap was still bridgable (much smaller gap than in yesterday's crit), but for some reason I didn't commit. This was probably my biggest mistake of the entire weekend. Since Brite-Sport and a few other teams missed the move I thought it would be coming back, but I was wrong after our slow decent they already had 3minutes, it was clear the break with motors like that was gone.

For some reason I was marked extremely close and any attempts over the final laps to get away with a few others were shut down. On the last lap, the field was now racing for 5th since Dave Mesa was allowed to slip away on the previous lap. The last time up the climbs my legs started to lock up, the pace was nothing crazy, but the heat had finally gotten to me. Instead of pushing them until they completely locked up (that could have been the smartest or 2nd worst decision of the day) I backed off the gas and had to finish the last 5miles solo crossing the line in 16th just behind the "field" which had really slowed down and seemed to be doing match sprints and track stands near the finish.

Overall I ended up 11th in Omnium, not exactly what I had hoped but glad I grabbed 3rd in the Crit. The road race built some character for sure and gives me a upper limit of what kind of temperatures I can handle. The omnium scoring does suit me much better than a normal stage race and the courses were great so if the weather is in the 80s next year I will be there for sure.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Foothill College Circuit Race - pro 1/2

Race: Foothill College Circuit Race P12
Course: 60min and description per promoters webpage, "Course is a clock-wise 1.09 mi. loop around Foothill College campus, on good, clean pavement. 60 feet of climbing per lap. Start/Finish on top of hill at the pedestrian bridge."this will be relevant later ;)
Teammates: Tim L., Sean S., Carmi, Matt A., Lee P, Jesse C., Pablo E. and myself. Awesome crew!
2nd - James, 7th - Leetop 15 for Matt (forgot to get a photo of the results)

How it went down: Over 40 riders showed up at the start line, Lots of solo heavy hitters, and several squads such as Leopard-Sapporo & Lombardi having a handful of riders. Our plan was to be active, we better be we had a lot of guys in this race! Pretty open ended plan of marking moves and making sure we have someone in every move, with Matt & myself (if my legs had any snap in them today) being our sprinters if it came down to a field sprint.

Early: Riders took a lap or two to get the lay of the land and then it was pretty much attack after attack. SquadraSF was simply in every move that mattered. If we somehow missed it which was race someone would either bridge to it or tighten the screws at the front and let the pack real them in. This was a great display of our strength, Natalie (my wife) was on the sidelines watching and said the announcer was always mentioning SquadraSF and that we ALWAYS had someone in the move! Having so many teammates being active was great, I could follow an attack that made sense based on my location in the pack relative to my teammates and how gassed I was at the time. I honestly can say every single rider on our crew was up the road at some point. Made my racing less nervous and tactics much easier.

All the early moves were brought back quickly since the race was pretty much full gas, but after the mid-point you could tell that people were getting tired the pace would let up more often, This couldn't have happened at a better time because all of my early moves were brought back pretty quick and I would be immediately sent to the back of the pack to lick my wounds. A little demoralized I decided to continue simply marking moves and told Matt he is our guy for the Sprint.

Final Break: With about 7 to go, Rob S. (Fremont Bank) and another rider are given a bit of a leash on the first hill, I move up knowing they have some firepower and bridge across over the finish hill. Next time up the hill the other rider gets popped and I give some encouraging words to Rob saying we got a pretty big gap lets go for it. After a lap or two the gap is about the same but Rob Evans (BearDev) bridged solo. The three of us work together pretty well, we can hear time checks over the loudspeaker, ranging from 10-20seconds, about one turn ahead of the pack. My teammates did a amazing job patrolling the front, Natalie recalls seeing Lee & Carmi on the front clearly holding thier ground up there but riding a false tempo. Word on the street is Pat Briggs brought it back almost within reach on the final lap then handed it over to anyone else and everyone just looked at each-other for that split second.
Finale: About that same time, I had just done a final hard pull up the main climb and try to get Rob or Rob to take the final decent. They hesitate, I give some more encouragement that they are right on our tail and gonna catch us if we mess around. So Rob takes the decent and I jump on his wheel, Evans on mine. I jump hard at the bottom of the decent and start the long sprint to the "start/finish on top of hill at the pedestrian bridge", I have the inside line and legs have some pop left in them and am able to spin it up pretty good... fly under the pedestrian bridge where the finish was in 2011 & 2012 with Evans still behind me, I stop pedaling after passing the pedestrian bridge thinking the race is over, sit straight up, and throw an arm up. Announcer even calls it that I won, then I realize Evans is still going full gas and his front wheel just passes mine at the 2nd tent which happened to be the one with the finish line and camera 50m past the initial tent and pedestrian bridge. OHH NO I DID NOT JUST DO THAT.....YES I DID, luckily it wasn't much farther than the old finish line so my momentum carried me fast enough to still only miss the win by less than one wheel, but SHIT that is one hard lesson. Happy with 2nd Place for sure but it definitely not a WIN that was almost in my pocket. Don't assume anything and pay attention to important details such as where the finish line tape it.
Anyways the pack was literally on our heels, Tim was leading out Matt and got boxed in. Lee freelanced his way to 4th in the field good enough for 7th Place with Matt just a little farther back somewhere in the top 10 or so in the field sprint. Again SquadraSF was by far the most active team and was mentioned more than any other team during the race. Despite my finish line location F-up I think it was a victory for the team as a whole. Natalie watched the whole thing and was really impressed by the entire SquadraSF crew!

Amateur Tip: Primes are a great way to open up the legs, test the final sprint, and practice your line for the final sprint. Going for a prime earlier would have been a perfect place to make my mistake.

Data Geek Info: Strava File -
Time: ~60min
Distance: ~26mi
Elevation Gain: 1840ft
Power: 285w NP w/ 235w Ave.
Final Break was ~15min w/ 308w NP & 296w Ave

Saturday, July 13, 2013

2013 Watsonville Crit - Pro 1/2

Race: Watsonville Crit P12
Course: 58 lap = 35miles on Technical course! Almost always setting up for a turn, the one long straight was into a headwind. Discription per VeloPromo, "0.75 mile loop of smooth pavement, with many turns, dips at the corners and a small hill to the finish line."
Teammates: Tim & Sean.
2nd - James, 8th - Sean, 10th - Tim
NOTE these guys sacrificed their result to ensure I was guaranteed 2nd and I could focus on going for the W.

How it went down: About 20 riders showed up at the start line, Cal Giant had Tobin & Eamon, Brandon Trafton was solo for TMB, Zipz had three but were on the 2nd race of the day. So it was clear Cal Giant and SquadraSF would be dictating the race.

Early: Sean and Tim were active early marking moves as I got the hang of the course. I had heard how technical it was so kinda eased my way into the course to dial it in. Brandon, Tobin, and Jan (Zipz) and a few other riders were anxious to get things started off fast so the first few laps were pretty damn hard and actually dropped a few riders. After things settled down a bit I moved my way up and it was clear that Brandon was either going to be in a break or he would be the first to bring it back. After many different combinations, finally I the pack letting Jan, Tobin, Brandon, Chris (Don Chapin), & myself get a gap. So with Cal Giant, Zipz, & Squadra represented I was pretty confident we could stay away if we wanted. Everyone worked hard to establish a gap, but we never got into a really good rhythm, one guy would attack, someone skip a pull due to the attack, or then someone would be upset about how much work others we doing.

Break: After dealing with the dysfunctional break for sometime, Chris was gone, Tobin hits it hard, I jump hard out of one of the corners to close it and Jan and Brandon look at each other. Jan was riding like a machine and just won the 35+ race a few hours earlier, and Brandon, I guess wanted to take Jan out of the break and jump back across. So I give Tobin and I just ride our limit and soon the two behind disappear. With about 10 to go we catch the pack, Tobin had attacked me when the pack was in a bridgeable distance. I was not about to let the race get away from me so I dug as hard as I could to get the the field. Eamon went to the front to try to make that junction a little tougher and Sean and Tim drop back a bit motivation and make sure I make contact and get out of that wind!
I anticipated this race being about 70min, but we were 70min in and still had 10 laps to go! I had been on the verge of cramping in my left calf. Tim & Sean keep me protected and let me recover a bit as Tobin and Eamon go off the front again! Tim and Sean rotate hitting the front to keep the Cal Giants in check and make sure Brandon & Jan don't catch onto the field.

Finale: Eamon takes it from 3 laps to go, Tobin 2nd me 3rd wheel. Unfortunately my legs were on their limit and anytime we really punched it my legs would start to seize. Tim and Sean on my wheel keeping others from swarming making the finale of the race the least stressful part of the whole event. The sprint opens up exiting the final corner and up the hill, all I could do was sit in Tobin's slipstream and cross 3rd or 4th in the field good enough for 2nd Place. Sean gets 3rd or 4th in the field after taking care of me all day which is good enough for 8th, Tim just behind in 10th.
I gotta say having strong, savvy teammates, really makes tactics and racing less stressful. When I needed a breather early, they would be marking the moves, when I was up the road, they were on the front patrolling, then in the finale the shepherded me to Tobin's wheel, hoping I would have the legs to jump him in the corner and take the Win, kinda bummed I couldn't finish it off for them, but really happy with the result. When I crossed the line and got off the bike my back seized up. So I think it is safe to say I left it all out there.

Sorry for the long report, but wanted to share how great it was having a small yet organized team out there kicking ass.

Data Geek Info: Strava File -
Time: ~90min
Distance: ~38mi
Elevation Gain: 750ft
Power: 273w NP w/ 247w Ave.....OUCH which set a new power PR for 60-90min

Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013 CCCX #7 - P123

Race: CCCX #7 - Fort Ord Circuit Race
Field: P123 w/ ~15 starters.
Teammates: None, but they killed it in the E2/3 race taking 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 6th!!! Can't wait to read that report!
Result: 2nd Place
Strava File

After missing a few races due to stress, traffic, burnout & hectic schedule I was excited to try to get back at my favorite Low Key event in the NCNCA....but then I somehow remembered I forgot my shoes after getting on the 280!!! So my long warmup and stress free Sunday was no more, but there were plenty of teammates around when I arrived to help me get my life back together and get ready to race (despite no warm up)!!!

Lap 1: Everyone (even Eamon) said they wanted to take it easy for the first half the race but Eamon off his European campaign had other plans. Metro-Mint had several riders, BearDev had 2 and we were off, but after only 3min we were already hitting the first climb pretty good to test how everyone is feeling.

Lap 2: BearDev sprinter Matt sneaks away clearly setting up his teammate Sam to get a free ride. On the tailwind climb Lucas brings it back and hits it as we pass Matt. I keep it going on the false flat to drop the biggest threat in a sprint out of the race. On the backside rollers Sam puts in a good attack while I am at the back, I wait, but then see Eamon putting the hammer down over the top of Sam. I had no choice but to go the long way around into the wind, but this at least kept anyone from getting onto my wheel. When Eamon checks the damage, I hit the front and add some more. Sam fades on the false flat and the group behind is splitting up.

Lap 3-7: So with 75min left to race we are more than happy to share the workload. It actually works out great, I have a great draft & motor do less work on the flats and I hit most of the climbs keeping the pace up. After about 30min into our effort we ease up a bit and ride tempo since the chasers were not in sight, some riders had pulled out and were now watching and we lapped a handful of riders who had thrown in the towel.

Final Lap: David Mesa (Chica Sexy) was one persistent MFer. He takes advantage of our confidence and catches us as we come into the bell lap. Props Dave! Now the games started. On the steep section of the tailwind climb I hit it as hard as I can. This pops Dave, but Eamon sits on. I end up playing the odds game vs going purely for the win. Having Dave in the finale would have bettered my chances for the Win, but could cost me 2nd. Eamon's Dad was watching and he wanted revenge from CCCX #3 when I got him in the sprint. So Eamon makes me take us ALL the way through the rollers and decent. Cat and mouse ensues before the final turn, we are basically track standing. In the match sprint I have the inside line, but Eamon has the better jump and gets the Win for his dad. After a weird month or so of riding/racing I am happy with 2nd, but if there is a re-match before the end of the season I will be aiming for the Win.

Podium Shot

Data Geek Info:

Time: 90min Dist: 8laps = 34.4mi Norm Power 267w ( w/ 233w ave)
Almost identical to CCCX #3 when I was in the lead group w/ Eamon, Bryan Duke, and Chris Cain except this time I was the bridesmaid.
CCCX #3 Time: 88min Dist: 34.4mi Norm Power: 265w (w/ 229w ave)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

2013 Panoche Valley RR - Pro 1/2

Similar to last year, SquadraSF sent a few riders out to this somewhat local road-race with terrain for everyone. This year we were hoping to turn our luck around.
Race: Panoche Valley RR
Course/Strava File:
Crew: Lee P., Jesse C., Giuseppe E., Jason T, an myself all came out for the P1/2 race.
Result: 1st Place!

Weather: Perfect temps but extreme winds (blowing in the opposite direction than usual) headwind out, cross tailwind back, with the 5 mile stretch on either side of the turnaround having the usual crazy crosswinds.
Report: The notable guys to watch were Eric Wohlberg (DS of Optum, 3 time Olympian, ?x Canadian national champ....), Shawn R (TMB), and about 6 Marc-Pro Stava guys. So about 25 starters rolled out into an insane headwind, it was actually kinda sketchy due to everyone trying to avoid the wind yet stay near the front and do no work.  The first portion of the early main climb was mellow, but as the climb got steeper it became more isolated and the attackes started coming, a few early ones no one paid any attention to then Marc Pro hits it and the pace goes from moderate to hard as hell. A selection was made here, I had to jump across a gap after someone a few wheels in front of me lost contact. Things looked good with Lee and I making the selection but towards the top Lee's knee started acting up and he had to cool the jets. Jason, Giuseppe, and Jesse, were farther back when this split happened so I was alone in a group of about 8 or so. Since the odds were not in Squadra's favor at this point I tried to balance not doing any work and keeping my break-mates happy.
When we hit the 90deg left into the cross wind, I hit the front hard knowing this is where the race got torn to pieces last year. Eventually Eric put in a big dig that I immediately jumped on. Eric basically did a HUGE 3-5min effort with me doing everything I could to ride the edge of the gutter and try stay in his draft. We (or more like he) opened a pretty big gap and I though this may stick, but it eventually came back closer to the top of the false flat just with a few less riders in tow. At the turnaround, the main field was actually coming back to our group, probably less than 30sec behind, From what I later found out, Jason, Giuseppe, and Jesse who were caught out in second group on the main climb expected the chase group to have no problem bring our group back, but it appeared everyone was either faking it or tired in their group and they had to do most the work to close it to a bridgeable distance.

Just after the turnaround Mark, Eric again puts everyone in the gutter and only Art and I stay with him. Over the top Evan Rudd (Freemont Bank) latches on. So now Teeter (MPS) and Taylor (MPS) are together up the road with about a 1minute gap and only a small gap to group behind. Teeter flats, but our group is clearly tired now, the odds are much better so I put my head down with Eric and Evan, Art is just sitting on since he has 1 teammate up the road. Eric and I doing most the work bring the gap down before the main climb. I hit the climb pretty hard in a few spots and Evan fades, but Taylor pushes on solo. Finally on the final few rollers we bring back Taylor, Eric hits it really hard over the top of me to make sure we punch Taylor's ticket and don't have to deal with (2) MPS guys in the finale.
Success, with just over 15mi to go it is just the (3) of us racing for the win. Honestly I was content waiting for the 3 up sprint, but since Art had been sitting on ALL DAY as he should have, it was time for Eric and I to work him over a bit. Eric put in a bit attack, Art closes it as expected, the pace slows, I counter, this time Art looks at Eric and Eric just looks right back. I open up a pretty big gap quickly, and think I might have a chance, a few miles into this effort, the moto comes up yelling 20seconds, then I see the 10km to go sign, this almost took the legs out from under me, I honestly thought there was like a mile or two left. But I just keep saying to myself, its a tailwind, they will be unorganized, its a tailwind, I can do this, this is my chance at a solo win (I HAVE NEVER WON SOLO BEFORE). Next thing I know the ref says 30second but I still have about 5mi left. At 5km to go I see some riders in the distance, so I give it everything I got over the last roller to look like I have fresh legs and to try to get out of sight again. Finally I see the 1km to go sign, still kind of in shock that this might actually happen. Sure enough I cross the line for the Win with no one in sight, unfortunately it was too windy to do a no hand salute like Dr. Wolfgang, but eh I'll take it!
Prize money was actually pretty good so I took the SquadraSF crew (P1/2 and E3) to some Mexican food in Tres Pinos. Service was not the best, food was good, and great to hand with everyone after the race.

1st - James (me) Podium Shot
14th - Jason T (fitness is clearly coming back after his broken ankle, nice ride Jason, gonna be dangerous in a week or two!)
16th - Jesse C (he said this was the longest ride he has done in 2 months so nice work buddy!)
Lee, suffered some knee pain flare up which I hope is nothing serious, but glad he didn't push through too much and will go get it looked at in the next week or two.
Giuseppe, unfortunately was taken out by some crazy situation on the decent prior to the turnaround, but looked strong out there, and was in that second group before the decent fiasco.

Date Geek Info:
Time: 3:01
Dist: 67.5mi
Norm Power: 248w
Race winning effort: last 20min of race at 272w Norm power, good thing I had a tailwind and there was some lack of companionship behind!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 Copperopolis RR - Pro 1/2

Race: Copperopolis one of the true NorCal classics!

Result: 10th (good enough for a coveted teeshirt), 22nd or so for Lee and Kurt/Matt sacrificing themselves early.

Course: 21+mile loop x 5 yes 5 so that makes about 110miles and almost 9000ft of climbing on fair to bad pavement.

Report: You can find the general NorCalCyclingNews coverage here.

But here is how it went down from a SquadraSF perspective. We had Kurt, Lee, Matt & myself. Tim Larkin has won this beast of a race so we asked him for some advice and team strategy for our small but strong squad. The plan was pretty simple Matt and Lee would cover early moves just to take off the pressure a bit for Kurt and I to save our energy for the later selections. Kurt came down with the stomach flu early in the week and was on the mend by late in the week but he wasn't sure how the legs/stomach would be race day so we had to play that one by ear.

The field was stacked. ~6 from CalGaint, ~8 from TMB, ~8 from Marc-Pro,~5 from Bicycles Plus, and several other big names such as Kirk Carlsen (ex Garmin pro-tour rider), Phil Mooney (pro/local legend), Eric Wohlberg (ex Pro & Optum team manager), Logan Loader, and so on. Our goal was a top 5 which in this field would be a big task (but we gotta aim high) and we would be happy with a top 10.

Lap 1: Almost immediately a Yannick (CalGiant) jumped. Matt and I were near the front so Mat jumps with it before we even reach mile 1. This group swelled to include several heavy hitters including Kirk Carlsen, Chuck, 1 MPS, Riggs (TMB), Tim (BearDev). Kurt and Lee were monitoring the front.

Lap 2: Starting the first climb lap most of Matt's group was brought back, shortly after a counter went towards the top of the first main which shot some more big guns up the road, but the pack was still fired up as it seemed most teams didn't like the odds yet.
Lap 3: At the start of lap 3 Kurt attacks and is joined by Adrian Costa, Keith (MPS), Riggs (TMB), and a CalGiant rider. Lee turns to me soon after and says that is a "Money Break."  As we were cresting the main climb, Kurt get re-absorbed. There was a little bunch up on the undulating first climb, Kurt and Matt had to unclip right as the grade got pretty steep and pace quickened. I had been riding near Kirk Carlesn and Logan Loader with a plan to wait it out a bit assuming they would bridge and jump on that train of pain, but soon after they disappeared apparently both having flats. The odds were now against us, we just had to hope that more riders would pop since we still had like 60miles to race. TMB and Marc-Pro now like the odds and start riding false tempo at the front Plan changed to simply pay attention to any bridge efforts and keep the momentum in our group going without wasting too much energy. Between the two main climbs Lee and Matt kept me protected near the front and tried to keep the pace going just a bit. We were not pulling everyone around but at least we would come through when the pace slowed to keep the miles ticking away.
Lap 4: Lee tries to get some life back into our group and attacks across the finish line, a group of 5 or so go clear with another 20 behind. The group includes Teeter (MPS), Eric W., Cal Giant, and maybe Bicycles Plus. TMB misses the move and seems that only Roman is left in the break as Steve Palez yells at our group this time up the climb trying to instigate a chase. Steve O'Mara (TMB) hits the climb pretty good our group shrinks and riders continue to hit it along the reservoir. Before the 2nd climb Lee and a few others from his break were brought back. The pace was pretty aggressive on the climb prior to the decent and we lose a few more riders.
Lap 5: There were at least 10 riders ahead of the "field" of about 20. We started to catch another field on the main climb and re-absorbed all the riders in no mans land so Phil Mooney convinced the group to ride it easy on the climb then take a pee break at the top. After our little tea break Phil called game on and now that we were on the flat/rolling sections he started attacking. From here until the finish line attacks were flying all over the place. Half way through the final lap a group of 7 or 8 separated ourselves from the remaining 15 or so in the "field" if you can even call it that at this point. On the final climb there was some cat and mouse, CalGiant attacked, then I attacked over the top of the climb, shrinking our group down to 5, 2 CalGaint, Joe (MPS), & Josh (Bycles Plus).

The Finale: At the bottom of the descent, Phil had caught our group and it was now going to be a sprint of 6 for 8th on the day. I opened up the sprint first, but the 2 known sprinters in the group Joe and Josh came around me. I held on for 3rd in our group which was good enough for 10th Place and the coveted VeloPromo Copperopolis T shirt. 8th would have been nice, but I gave it all I had at 110miles and 5hrs of racing.

Summary/Lessons Learned: In the end I think we rode the race well with the small but strong crew. Personally it was really fun racing with a team in a race like this, makes everyone a little less nervous but also makes you dig deep since others are counting on you. The field was stacked and this race is one hell of a race so I am happy with our 10th place, yes double digits but good enough for a T shirt. This was our first real race as a team after some bad luck at Snelling. When Kurt went with the big move on lap 3, it was clearly the move to be in, so it was prefect that we were represented in that move. If I were to race this again next week I would be more careful about my position on the climbs and being in a good spot to mark the attacks from the big names that got away on lap 2 on the main climb this was the only significant move we missed. That could have worked out OR it could have burned up all our matches and we would come home with nothing. So we played it a little conservative based on the quality of the field and how hard/long this race is. It was clearly a day for CalGiant (2 in top 5) and MPS (3 in top ten) while TMB, Bicycles Plus, SquadraSF put 1 rider in the top ten.

Strava File:
Battered and beaten but we got a TeeShirt, now we just need to split it 4 ways. And yes there is tar/black asphalt everywhere including our teeth and it even penetrates jersey + base-layer to reach Lee's chest hair!
Data Geek Info:
kJ = 3439
Norm Power = 225w
Time = 5hrs 10min
Distance = 110mi
5sec Power = 893w in final sprint

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Regalado RR - Pro 1/2

Since I was already out in Oakdale for Wards Ferry why not make it a solid block of training in prep for some of the bigger road races to come. Plus riding in dirt/gravel in a race is always fun.

Race: Regalado Road Race P12

Course: 72mi w/ long promenade then an almost totally flat 17mile loop with a 2mile gravel section (some hard pack near center of road and loose and deep  towards the shoulder) then a series of small roller leading into the finish which is on top of the last roller. Not exactly my ideal course, but what the hell the gravel always breaks stuff up in races.

Result: 4th Place

Report: The lack of hills attracted a few more riders, but the gravel probably turned others away. But that didn't stop Chuck (MarcPro) & 6 Team Mikes Bikes guys (Roman, Dana, Rainier, Steve O., Marcus, and Jacob) from showing up. A few other teams had minor representation but it was clearly a team practice for TMB. I heard through the grapevine the TMB was planning on rolling deep so I had a quick chat with Tim the night before and again had a loose but effective plan. Stay near the front, and just play the odds game, only committing to a break when TMB has good enough odds that they will pull too, since they have the firepower to bring back just about any move in the ~25 person field..

Lap 1: Not that eventful until the gravel, a few riders were up the road by odds were not in TMB favor so it was not a real threat. Pace slows before the narrow left into the gravel. I kept some momentum on the outside and hit the corner fast, but didn't realize it turned to gravel just after the turn and hit some loose stiff but kept it upright the rider from Japan behind me was lost all momentum into the gravel just keeping it upright. I powered along able to pick my clean line through the gravel and eventually made it to the back of that small group. The There were a few loose turns that caught riders off guard. The front group and bridging riders from the field were really going for it here. As you exit the gravel it is a gradual climb and some rollers begin. Roman, Dana, Rainier, Chuck and a few others attacked during this stretch. I focused on following any move that had odds in favor of TMB and not worrying about the other attacks. After several minutes of attacks and Chuck sneaking off the front solo, I have enough time to look behind and it is clear the pack is split in half with only Roman and Dana from TMB making the move.

Lap 2, 3 & 4: The group of about 8 or 9 works pretty evenly and well together with the odds not exactly in favor of TMB yet so they are kinda soft pedaling. Chuck is off the front but within sight never more that 60seconds or so ahead of us. The pack is within sight behind, but not gaining either so all good just pull through and eat/drink up. Eventually Rainier bridges up with a Davis rider so the odds just turned in the favor of TMB, they take to the front and get everyone else to pitch in as well, but I try to cool the jets a bit knowing they will not play nice forever. Chuck stays on a shorter leash now and eventually we catch him on the 3rd lap. Now the group is up to about 10 or 11 and the real fun begins. So for about 2 full laps TMB just rotates attacking while Chuck, myself and maybe one or two other riders in the group mark their moves. Chuck did most the marking I was 2nd and then the rest of the riders filled in the gaps. It was clear that they didn't want to drag Chuck to the finish and we could always muster up enough riders to help bring a solo TMB guy back if anyone missed marking one of their attacks. So this translates to doing a 1hr + long sprint workout, riders jumping all over the road from either side, drilling it in the gutter then realizing they are not going anywhere and sitting up just in time for another rider to go. Everyone was stubborn enough to not let anything go but also stubborn enough to allow each rider to just kick them in the balls kind is this what Fight Club is like?

The Finale: By this time we were down to 8 in the break. Before the final time through the gravel a Davis rider snuck off, and everyone looked to TMB bring it back. Roman gave the order for Rainier to drive it through the dirt and keep the pressure on. The Davis rider was persistent and Rainer remained on the front until ~2km to go and it was pretty clear the Davis guy would get adsorbed in the last 1km. Roman took off with 1KM or less to go everyone looked at each other, I didn't have much snap in the legs so I let it go and watched Dana and Chuck, the cat and mouse began. At about 150m (uphill) Dana actually opened it up first with Chuck and I jumping immediately, Chuck was able to grab the Win, Dana 2nd, but I had no real pop left and was in too big a gear when the last ramp hit my legs. I faded at the top and was not able to catch Roman before the line. Everyone's legs in the break were shot so I was able to hold on to 4th Place despite a bad sprint. Really wanted that podium today, but still happy considering the odds I was up against and slotting in behind Chuck, Dana, and Roman is pretty good in my book. Overall one exciting, fun, and HARD race.

Strava File:

Data Geek Info:
Time: 2hr 50m
Speed: 23.6mph
Norm Power: 232w
Intensity Factor: 0.86

Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 Wards Ferry RR - Pro 1/2

So I have heard great things about this course and at 60mi (or under) why not give it a go. I was just coming off 5 days totally off the bike due to a stomach flu, finally got out for a spin towards the end of the week started to feel better. What the hell at least I'll be fresh ;) and get some training in this weekend.

Race: Wards Ferry RR P12

2nd & 14th

Sanora, CA at the foothills of Yosemite. ~56mi over 5 laps constantly up or down totaling over 6k ft of climbing, some steep pitches, some narrow fast descents, but nothing is the same for more than a few minutes. This translates to NO REST and making 56miles feel much longer.

Report: Since SDSR is going on and it is a bit of a drive, only Tim and I represented SquadraSF in the P12 field of about 20. Our plan was pretty simple, since field was likely to be small watch for any splits, but in general try to save energy for the first half, then initiate moves/splits in the 2nd half if we are feeling good. There were a few notables despite the small field. Paul Mach (ExPro w/ Bissel & Kenda/5hrEnergy), Craig Fellers (Red Peleton) and a few local climbers. The only team with any real representation was Red Peleton with 3 riders.

Lap 1 was reasonably tame with a few attacks thrown in, Will R. (Olympic Club) away after the 1st lap. As expected everyone was looking at Paul, but he made it clear that he would not simply pull us around and bring riders back for us. Will was out of sight pretty quick, but it was still a long way. At the start of lap 2 or 3 (gets fussy here) in an effort to keep the pace us a bit and not let Win get away from us I did a halfhearted attack (just to test field and keep pace moving), was brought back, then when the next hesitation came Tim keeps the momentum up and attacks, everyone looks around and I am at the front and ride false tempo. Tim is off the front for several minutes, but starts to come back before the climbs leading up to the feedzone. When he comes back I counter as the pace slows once again and keep it going. Tim and my attacks thinned the pack considerably, (maybe 11 left in the field), but unfortunately I misread how committed Tim's attack was and my counter before and thru the climb which caused Tim to fade as the leaders powered through the false flat. On a positive note, Will was back in sight..

Another lap went by and Craig Fellers attacked with 2.5 laps to go as we caught Will who had been off the front solo. Again everyone looked at Paul, I kept rolling through on the descents and whenever the pace really dropped, but was conscious not to waste any matches since the race was only going to get harder.

The Break:
Before the decent on lap 4, I had lot of momentum as the pack slowed to a snails pace (again) at the base of a roller and decided to come thru at speed and keep the pressure on...... I look back and they are giving me a leash. I keep the moderate pressure on as though I am just going to float out there and waste energy, but as the road turns I really hit it over the top and the final rollers before the decent. By the 180deg turn on the decent they were out of sight, so I take the decent as fast as I can and by the bottom, Craig is in sight, on the first climb after the decent I am closer but he slips out if sight as the road bends. Then all of a sudden I am right on him as he is trying to fix his dropped chain. I pass him and ease since wind is not a friend, he is back soon enough and is also clearly happy to have some help. For 1.5 laps we just keep the pressure on trading good strong pulls. I think both of us were having nightmares of Paul Mach catching us and riding right through us with one or two riders in tow.

Last Lap: We were still way out of sight coming through the feedzone then passed a field before the sharp descent and nailed it, surely increasing our lead, but then...the wheels started to fall off with about 1/2 lap to go. I think it was a combination of just one hell of a race and not eating/drinking enough do to the no rest and constant action. The first few climbs after the decent nearly killed me, but I hung in there knowing I needed to be on a wheel for a few more miles, but with about 1.5km to go I just started to fade big time, Craig simply road away without even picking up the pace, I was cracked, dizzy, out of water (it was too late anyways), and putting out tempo watts felt like the hardest thing in the world. The 1KM to go sign was a great sight, then the 200m sign was even better, except for the fact that it really kicks up there and I was out of gears, barely moving. Dropped riders from other fields started to pass me, but still I could not see anyone from the P12 field. I made it across in 2nd Place with plenty of daylight between me and the next P12 rider. It was not a pretty finish, but I am really pleased with the result and making the move when I did. For the record I cannot remember the last time I cracked that hard, Tim fought on catching some dropped riders and finished in 14th.

It was great to have a loose plan at the start of the race, we may have got a bit anxious early (my doing), but I really had a fun reading off Tim throughout the first half of the race, we marked moves well and put in some of our own attacks splitting the field. Having teammates in the race makes racing a little more relaxed and saves a few needed matches. Looking forward to the next race as a team. 

Podium Shot:

Strava File:

Data Geek Info:
Time: ~2:40 forgot to press start at the line
Norm Power: 246w
Intensity Factor: 0.91 !!! Yea NO REST!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 CCCX CR #2 & #3 - P123

So after Lee, Carmi, and I tested the new CCCX course 2 weeks ago, I was glad to be back on a real circuit with closed roads, endless rollers, and guttering crosswinds.

That being said, CCCX #2 was fun despite the very small field and out and back course, Lee won the P123 from a 2man break that went on lap 1 SOLID, I was 3rd after attacking the chasers after they were worn down a bit, Carmi was 6th after attacking the 2nd chase group. So I would say we rode the race just about as good as we could have. In the earlier and larger E2/3 field Carmi rode the entire race off the front but was caught by  a solo rider (or maybe he started in front of Carmi, I forget) and 2 other riders in the last 200m or so but hung tough for 4th. Lee was the rider that got a free tow from a rider bridging the gap on the final la[p, but was able to out-sprint his companion for 2nd!!! Nice work guys.
CCCX #2 Results:
P123 Results: 1st - Lee, 3rd - James, 6th - Carmi
E2/3 Results: 2nd - Lee, 4th - Carmi

Back to the original course meant bigger fields and longer races YEA!!!. Carmi did the E2/3 race which came down to a field sprint. He manages 5th in good sized field, nice more upgrade/BAR/BAT points!

In the P123 race it was just Matt and myself. Although Madera took some of the usual suspects away the P123 still had about 20 starters. CliffBar had a few guys, BearDev, Leopard-Soporo, Olympic club had a few local Cat1s, but most other riders were racing solo. Local Eamon van Lucas of Cal Giant and the U23 National Team prepping for departure to race most the season in Europe with the National Team was clearly "the guy" to watch with a few climber types and mostly sprinter types in the field Matt and I figured out best chance was just to follow Eamon and any if the other TT/climber types that can split the field and possibly get away. With a small field and breaks often being more if splits that breaks in this course we decide to go with 1 of 3 odds or 2 of any 4+ rider break. So plan was simple.

Lap 1: basically warm-up
Lap 2: Eamon drills it up the first gradual climb and everyone is in the gutter scrambling. He eases everyone sits up and a counter attack goes. Eamon waits then jumps across and picks up the pace from the group up the road. I was boxed in, but Matt jumped just after Eamon did, perfect. Then a Leopard rider jumps across (which would make the group now ~5) so I follow. At the top of the first climb (the one where everyone is guttered on the left of the road), Matt just loses contact as I make contact, I don't pull through hoping Matt can close the gap before the group gets organized. But Eamon piles on the pressure on the flat section before the decent. A few others bridge across as the break initiates. About 7 riders in total.
Lap 3-5: The break was bigger than I wanted, but as the laps ticked down and Eamon convinced everyone to pull through and a few things were clear 1) a few riders would not last and 2) this was "the move." I was not happy since the odds did not match our original plan so I was that enoying guy in the break taking short pulls on the flats and longer hard pulls on the rollers in the gutter hoping to wear out the group a bit. The good news was the sprinters from Cliff and a few other teams were not present. Eventually after it was really clear this group was staying away people started putting in some attacks. All the attacks that happened on the rollers before the finishing straight were unsuccessful but since those roller had a cross headwind they did tire out the group.
Lap ~5: So on lap 5 Eamon hit it again near the bottom of the first climb (which typically has a cross/tail wind) then pulls off to see what damage he caused, I immediately hit it hard over the top and kept drilling it until the 1st descent. Success group explodes and we are down to 4 from 7 or 8.
Laps 6-7?: 4 was still more than I wanted and it was clear due to the explosion behind the dropped riders were gone for good so I take it easier on the flats but start throwing in some attacks on the rollers and the tailwind climb hoping to get Eamon to go with me. Eamon and the BearDev kid were buddies and started chatting now and then when Chris or I could not hear. So I decide to watch what kind of games they may play and took an easy lap to rest up for finale

Last Lap: I was still nervous about the games they might play so I hit the first climb past the start finish hard to see if I could pop anyone, nope could not split Brain & Eamon and I didn't want to attempt a solo move, so I waited for the sprint. Coming into the sprint I just keep repeating in my head "1st into last corner, 1st into last corner" sometime I lose focus in the finale so this helps me :). They made me lead it out on the decent I kept my speed but shifted way to the right waiting... And waiting.... And finally BearDev comes flying by still 200m from the last turn I jump on his wheel, Eamon on mine, then Brian eases. Again too early so we wait and wait as the corner gets closer and closer and we start slowing down again. I wait as long as I can but was afraid we would slow too much or Eamon would jump first, so I jump hard at about 20m before the turn (earlier than I wanted, better too early than too late) I make it thru the turn at full speed use all the road and sprint along the cones on the left side of the road, spin my gear up and hold on for dear life as the road tilts up trying to keep the cadence up as high as I can. YES! My first win of the USCF season in the bag and extremely happy I was able to hold off Eamon. As expected the riders who were popped from the break were absorbed by the field, Matt took a last lap all-or-nothing attack at the start of final roller section, but was drought back on the decent, and rolled in with the pack.

Video of sprint for the Win:

Podium Shot:

CCCX #3 Results:
P123 Results: 1st - James, 11th Matt
E2/3 Results: 5th - Carmi

Data Geek Info:
Time: 1hr28m Dist: 34.4mi Norm Power: 265w (w/ 229w ave)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Pine Flat - Pro 1/2

After flatting out of Cantua Creek (yes 2nd flat in 3 weeks of racing with tires in good condition... WTF) I was hoping my bad luck streak would turnaround for my inaugural attempt at racing Pine "Flat".

Course: 62 mile near-loop with a gently rolling 22mile start out & back section, then ~30mi mostly flat with a few rollers before the real climbing begins. 2 main climbs in the last 10miles, the first one comes after a false flat with rollers and is about 3+miles long, then a fast relatively non-technical decent followed by gentle rollers and a final steep 1km climb.

Result: 6th good enough for the coveted VeloPromo T-shirt!!!

Report: The 5am wake-up for a 7:30am start was a bit of the shock but was able to get to the start to check out the competition. The notables and marked riders were the Garmin development riders Adrian and Zeke, Chris H-D (MarcPro), plus a handful of climbers types I recognize from the NCNCA and my days racing in SoCal. Then there were a few unknowns which included 5 riders from Japan and 3 riders from Oregon. Total field size was only 25 or so.

At about mile 2 a group of 5 took off on a rolling decent. The pack was not too concerned since it appeared all the watched riders were still in the field. The pack continued along with slightly more urgency with about half the riders pulling through to lift the pace and keep the leaders in range. By the turnaround the group had 45s and included 1 Japanese rider, 1 Oregon rider, Travis (Mikes Bikes), Don Chapin, and Vincent (Dayka-Hackett). By the halfway point Travis had dropped from the break and the gap was now up to 2:30. The pack's pace stayed relatively high, but with no team with more than 1 or 2 riders, it was basically up to each individual to decide how they were going to play their card. I took some pulls throughout the whole race since I was pretty worried it was going to stick, a few other riders did about as much work as me, with a few doing much more work. Matt Gordon (Fusion) did a ton of work, but despite our efforts when we hit the first climb the leaders were still ~2min ahead.

On the rollers leading up to the main climb there were a flurry of attacks. At one point it looked like the main pack was splitting and I decided to jump across, I bridged fast so no one would go with me, but eventually the entire field came back together so turned out to be a pretty big waste of energy. Later Zeke and another rider were given a small leash on the last few rollers, followed by Adrian rolling off just as the main climb began. Don and the Japanese rider from the break were caught so now there were 2 from the original break and 3 others scattered up the road. It was clear it was game on, Chris H-D and myself hit the main climb with some intention hoping to slowly bring back the riders ahead. Chris and I traded steady hard pulls at 5.0 - 5.5 watts/kg for portion of the climb, but the pack had no intention of going this hard on the first climb. After a few pulls only one of the Japanese riders was with us. Halfway up the main climb Chris was doing the pulling and the Japanese rider was fading with significant daylight between us and the pack. We passed the Bicycles Plus rider during this effort, so now Chris and I were racing for 5th.

At about 1km from the peak I started to fade and I regretfully I didn't dig enough for the last few minutes to get some help on the descent and valley (always seems so much easier/simpler in hindsight). As Chris crested the top he caught the Oregon rider from the original break. I hit the top ~15s behind Chris and the next rider behind has about the same gap. Driving this part of the course at 6am was extremely helpful for the decent, knowing there were no surprise corners I was able to descend about as fast as any 57kg rider can, but still it seemed Chris and his new companion were slowly drifting away. I tried to keep my motivation up as much as possible since the somewhat windy gently rolling valley solo TT I was now embarking on is not my forte. Coming into the final climb the two riders ahead were now out of sight and I had increased my gap only slightly on the rider behind with no idea how far back the main chase group was.

When I hit the 1km sign it was a huge relief, it was clear that my legs could keep me from getting caught by the pack and I should have 6th locked up so I simply set a steady threshold-ish tempo, but the rider behind started to close on me. So about half way up I hit the gas to finish strong, then with 200m to go I see the Oregon rider who has clearly blown. I dig deeper hoping there is enough road left to grab 5th, but unfortunately I ran out of real estate and crossed the line in 6th just a few seconds behind 5th. Adrian timed it perfect and caught the last rider from the break on the final climb, Vince 2nd, Chris H-D 3rd, Zeke 4th.

Takaways: Happy with my riding and result, didn't ride a perfect race but had fun, loved the course, and hopefully learned a thing or two about my riding and fitness coming into the 2013 season. Again always easier when looking back on it, but going way into the red during the last 1km of the main climb to get the "free" ride for the decent and valley would have saved me a ton of energy even if I had to use one big match to stay with Chris over the top, worst case I still would have gotten 6th. Also be aware of non-typical race scenarios, since no team had any real representation and with huge efforts coming towards the end of the race, means the race would not have a typical dynamic.

Data Geek info:
Strava Link: (includes warmup & ride to car)
Race Weight ~57.5kg
Work - 1942kJ
Norm Power: 234w (race only)
5sec Pwr - 948w (stupid for me to attack/bridge this hard in a race like this before a sustained climb)
2min Pwe - 334w (final 500m of the race)
5min Pwr - 294w (main climb)
10min Pwr - 288w (main climb)
20min Pwr - 262w (main climb + decent)

I had a blast racing this weekend Saturday and Sunday and it was great to give and receive support form ALL categories out there this weekend. SquadraSF really showed our strength and class this weekend at Cantua, PineFlat, and Coppertown!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Petaluma Criterium - Pro/1/2/3

Course: Flat 4 corner wide open course, but with pretty bad pavement my hands were pretty tired/sore by the end of 90min of fun.

Coming off Mt. Whitney Stage Race (no tactics since all climbing so not sure if anyone wants to hear the report) my legs seemed to be coming around, but I decided to opt for the much closer and much shorter race this Saturday, Petaluma Crit instead of ChallengeRR.

We're Off: With a bigger than expected field of ~35 starters, there were several guys to watch. I drove up w/ Rainer S. & Steve P. (Mikes Bikes), but at the start line several other teams had representation. Most notably were (2) Cal Giant, several Stage17, several Ritte Dev., (2) Cliff Bar, (2) Specialized Masters and a few other teams with 2-3 riders. Rolling solo today, I basically planned to stay near the front and simply follow any move with 3 or more riders containing any of the bike guns. As expected the first 15min had some attacks but ALL were marked quickly, I focused on staying in good position, but not making any big efforts since many other were eager to chase the attacks down. But as usual the chasers lost their steam and attacks were given longer leashes. About 20min in to the 90min race, Jared B. (Cal Giant) way off the front solo and a dangerous move started to establish behind. I jumped across to it and added some hard pulls at the front to increase the gap. The small gap held with Steve (MikesBikes), Blake (Cliff), Pat Briggs, Ben (Stage17), a SJBC rider, and one more rider.

Break: The break rode well together, everyone pulled through with only a few surges and a few skipped pulls. Eventually we caught Jared (CalGiant) and our gap was up to 40seconds. At this point it was clear we were not getting caught, but everyone kept on chugging along. After 45min or so we caught the field. Jared now had Rand to help him out. So Jared could either attack the group again or assume position on Rands wheel for the field sprint. I stayed near the front as the first counters started flying and I attempted to lure Jared into some moves as well but it seemed the others in the break were willing to chase, but not really go for another break attempt.

The Finale: With ~10 laps to go Rand set tempo for Jared and I fought my way onto Jared's wheel. On the bell lap just before the 2nd to last turn, Rand didn't have it fast enough to keep the attacks from coming so Ben (Stage17) attacked on the outside and I followed Jared. I made it through the 2nd to last corner in 6th or so, then there was a bit of who has the racing line debate between Jared & Pat into the last corner so a few of us had to hit the brake. I made it through in 5th, comfortably in the draft for 100m as everyone opened up the sprint. I gave it a go with 50-75m to go, dropping it a gear or two and went out into the wind to try overtake, but grabbed a little too much gear forgetting that I am enduro trackie sprinter and need to spin up a gear rather than just mash away. So I only moved up (or held) to 4th Place by the line about a wheel from 3rd and a half a bike from 2nd. The sprint was pretty wide open and had a long straight, so I was happy to just hold my own in a P12 field sprint.

Result: 4th Place

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cat 1 Upgrade Approved!

It is official, my Cat 1 upgrade was approved by USAC this week. After a slow start to the season I started gaining more and more confidence and racing smarter. Looks like all the hard-work this winter paid off. Never really thought getting the Cat 1 upgrade was possibly until the last month or so. My original goals for the season were to be fit enough to have fun racing in the NCNCA Pro/1/2 field. Focusing on technical/challenging crits and circuit races and also testing my legs in Pro/1/2 level road races which I steered clear of in 2011 due to their length. So far the season has been great. I raced a few collegiate races with SFSU, my fitness was good but admittedly I was not racing smart or racing for the win. I gained confidence in my fitness throughout the early season and slowly began to race smarter and the results slowly edged their way into the top 10. After just missing the podium at the  Chico Stage Race Crit, my head was back in the game for the first time since early 2011 when I got my Cat 2 upgrade. After Chico I stayed focused while training and on game day.
Cat 1 Upgrade/Top Ten Results:
5/27/12 Mt. Hamilton Classic RR E2 - 1st Place
6/3/12  Central Coast Circuit Race #3 Pro/1/2/3  - 1st Place
5/19/12 County Center Crit #2 E2- 1st Place
5/12/12 County Center Crit #2 P1/2/3 - 2nd Place
5/12/12 Team Swift Crit E2/3 - 2nd Place
4/14/12 Chico Stage Race Pro/1/2: GC - 8th, Crit - 4th
9/3/11 Central Coast Circuit Race #8 Pro/1/2/3 - 5th
7/24/11 SOMO 2 Wheel Crit Pro/1/2 - 8th
9/3/11 Central Coast Circuit Race #8 Pro/1/2/3 - 5th
5/13/12 Berkeley Hills RR Pro/1/2 - 15th (1st of Cat 2s)
2011 Tuscon Bicycle Classic E2: GC - 8th, Circuit Race - 7th

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Central Coast Circuit Race #3 - Pro/1/2/3

Kurt, Scott, Mike (off a long solo effort for the win in 35+), and myself rolled up to the startline for the P123 which ended up having 37 starters. Weather was perfect, 60s, and a strong onshore wind.

The race began pretty mellow. I did not recognized too many riders except for Ethan (Metromint) and Art (Marc-Pro), but there were several other Metromint riders and a half-dozen Ritte Dev. JRs. After a lap or two we hit the front side climb pretty hard. After Art did the damage he pulled off and I came through to keep the momentum but find everyone was simply marking him, but fine to let me waste energy off the front. 
Break of two-1: I decide to just keep cruising at a tempo pace and let them catch back up or have some riders bridge, but they shut down and my gap grows. So I pick it up to a hard tempo, but still being careful to not go over threshold for any extended period of time. One Metromint rider bridges and we work together for a lap or two. I paced it pretty conservative hoping more would bridge, not wanting to do a 2-man TT for 1hr. Rob (McGuire) bridges, but the pack decides 3 is too many and reels us back in.
Break of two-2: As expected there is counter attack. Ethan (Metromint) jumps, Kurt anticipated this (perfect play Kurt) and hops right on and a new break of two forms. Their gap holds steady for a lap and then they disappear growing to over 1min, then shrinks as the laps tick by 50sec, 45sec, and finally 30seconds. With 2 laps to go the gap was close-able but the pack seemed to have lost motivation once again. When we hit the bell lap Kurt decides to leave his break companion and go on alone. Ethan throws in the towel and the atatcks start coming again, nothing sticking but shedding riders every so often.

Finish: As we hit the final rollers several riders attacked, but were quickly marked, this caused the gap to close down almost all the way then again the pack sat up, Kurt continued on and the gap grew. I thought this might be it, "he's gonna do it." About that time a Cal Poly rider and a Ritte rider put in a solid attack/flyer attempt over the last roller. I jump on it, they look back asking for help, see my jersey and continue on realizing I my teammate is still up the road. Halfway down the decent the majority of the pack is with us and Kurt is not too far off.  I am on the outside near the bad section of road at the bottom of the decent and see Art (Marc-Pro) drill it on the inside gutter, I accelerate into the wind to get over to the inside and muscle my way onto 3rd wheel. Art continues to drill pulling off just before the corner. I was expecting him to just go for the line since he didn't have any teammates today, but maybe he just wanted to bring back Kurt and not mess with the sprint? Kurt is making the turn and we are right behind coming at full speed. I sense some hesitation by the rider in front of me and the swarm behind so I jump to take the hole shot on the corner passing around the outside of Kurt and open up the sprint. That little rise just gets steeper and steeper ouch the last 30m almost killed me but luckily I got a solid gap at the corner and was able to take the WIN with room to spare. 
Strava File
1st - James (me)
17th - Kurt swarmed at the final turn. Mike and Scott were a little taxed from earlier races.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 Mt. Hamilton Classic - E2

Matt and I from SquadraSF headed down for the Cat2 race which had about 40 starters, plenty of strong guys to watch including about 6 Metromint riders.

CourseProfile: A true nor-cal classic attracts SoCal cyclists as well, starts with a 18mile climb from the gun with 4000ft elevation gain in basically 3 even sections. Then a sharp decent followed by 40miles flat/rolling terrain with about 3 5min climbs sprinkled throughout.

The Plan: I knew there would be plenty of climbers showing up so my strategy was simple. SIT IN and follow the big moves or splits! In the valley/middle section of the race focus on recovery and nutrition. Then attack or make final selections on the last 2 climbs with 20miles to the finish.

To the Observatory and KOM: As planned I sat in the top 5-15 riders staying in the draft about 98% of the climb. Metromint decided to set the pace from the start. They had 5 or 6 riders with a few strong climbers including Keith Wong who has some crazy time OLH, so they were obviously trying to set it up for him. Fine by me, so they set the pace on the first two sections, Keith attacking at the beginning of the 3rd section. I expected this and again focused on saving energy letting the others chase. The pace picks up a lot due to Keith's move. The group catches Keith about the time you start to see the observatory. With about 10min to the KOM, there are only about 15 guys left. With a few KM to the KOM some accelerations start happening but no all out attacks. When we make the last hairpin there are about 5 of us up front and a JR obviously going for the KOM puts in a real attack. After some hesitation a Helens rider and myself start to bridge up to him. There is actually more climbing after the KOM so I am careful not to bridge it too fast. We catch him 100m before the KOM. The JR attacks again, the Helens guy throws in the towel and I decide to not burn a match here but continue to  motor over through the KOM as the JR sits up after getting the KOM. I hit the decent first with a solid gap and conservatively descend. At the bottom I am at the back of a lead group of about 7.

The Valley: The lead group keeps the pace relatively high, since the Helens rider is off solo after a impressive decent. But the cross-headwind causes the group to swell to about 20 by 2nd feed zone. The climbs after the feedzone split the group again. At the top of the last climb of the race It was just me and 4 others. We were all committed to working and staying away, but again it was not to be after about 5miles we were caught by a group of ~10.

Finish: The finish comes about 1 mile after a long fast decent. We hit the base with about 12 riders. Everyone was anxious, there was a strong headwind, roads very narrow, and the finish is hard to see since it it after a little rise. At the 1KM sign everyone was stacking up near the centerline or gutter trying to find an open lane. I was kinda stuck in the middle but only a rider or two back from the guys in on the front, so I figured it was better than fighting for a spot on the outside which was in the wind. I waited patiently. One rider jumped from the front near the 200m sign and the rider to my left hestiated. Seeing the lane open I jumped immediately sneaking through and claiming my 1/3 of the road up against the centerline. I couldn't see the line over the small rise and just tried to keep my gear spinning up and over the hump. I gained ground on the rise and crossed the line first with enough room to throw an arm up, but still in shock that that gap opened up for me and that I just Won Mt. Hamilton Classic! 
Strava File

Placing: 1st 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

County Center Crit #2 - Pro/1/2

At just over 30 starters, it wasn't the largest field ever, but Mike's Bikes, Metromint, and SquadraSF were well represented. 

About 30min into the 90 minute crit, the field was effectively cut in half. One minute the pace was all cool with the occasional attack and then all of a sudden it seemed like the attacks were coming non stop. When the pace finally slowed, the pack was cut in half. Soon after my teammate Kurt goes up the road. Pablo and I try to recover and just sit in since Kurt was in a promising break. 

After 20min, Pablo sees Kurt is coming back and we look at each other like what the **** are we going to do. Pablo takes initiative goes straight to the front and drills it, I jump on his wheel as Pablo pegs it at about 30mph. Pablo pulls off and I hit the front, giving it some more gas, I look behind shortly after to see what kind of help we will get in the chase effort. Answer...none, the group lets me ride off the front. I look up the road and can see the two leaders 200-300m up the road and the remaining pack back to their coffee ride pace. 
I decide it is now or never and somehow bridge the ~16second gap. It took a little less than 2 laps at 29mph vs. the break's speed of about ~26mph. Probably the hardest 3min effort I can remember on the bike, if the gap was 5m further I probably would not have made it. After getting a full lap of recovery it was pretty standard break effort. Dana from Mike's Bikes owes us some good karma since we let him jump ahead and swap bikes with 5 laps to go after realizing he had a soft rear wheel. Dana jumped first with about 1/3 of a lap left, I remain on Ethan's (Metromint) wheel as he attempts to close the gap, he doesn't quite make it as we hit the last turn, at the exit of the turn I give it all I got sealing 2nd, but still a ways off the win. Kurt proceeds to ride off the front of the chase group with several laps to go grabbing a impressive 4th.
2nd - James
4th - Kurt

Santa Rosa County Center Crit #2 - Cat 2

Red Peleton was the only other team with significant numbers. SquadraSF had several riders representing the team, Jesse, Neil, Brian , Daniel, JR, Kurt, Angelo, Emory, and myself. So yes I admit we were a force to be dealt with making up 1/3 of the field. After about 10min of attacks, the pack starts giving some moves a longer leash. Emory gets up the road with a Red Peloton guy and another rider. They get a small gap, but it holds for some time. The pack continues to soft pedal not worried about the early break so I decide to jump across. I jump hard to ensure I don't bring anyone with me. After a few rotations Emory is feeling the effects of initiating the break and falls off the pace.

Break of 3: So now 3 of us have a small gap that is holding. I decide to hit it for a few laps then reevaluate the situation. The gap grows to ~20seconds so I start taking shorter/easier pulls to see what happens to the gap. It stays constant so obviously my teammates are doing a great job covering any bridge attempts and making an organized chase almost impossible. So I decide the odds are likely in our favor, break companions are still pulling hard, and my teammates will have an armchair ride while all other riders get worn out chasing or trying to bridge. Since we had a very strong E2 team in this race, the pressure on since two in the top 5 is not the same as two in the top 5, one being the WIN. So I am careful to monitor my effort.
Bell Lap: Everyone is anxious, the finish looks deceivingly long because there is a slight bend which blocks the officials tent and finish line from sight when you exit turn 4, but I looked at my Power Data from the Team Swift Crit (same course) and it only takes 20sec to hit the line from the last corner. I move up into pole position in turn three and jump first after exiting the corner, take the shortest possible line to the finish and take the win comfortably.
Field Finish: The team took control the front last few laps. In the end Kurt drilled it to the last corner, Neil jumping off his wheel winning the field sprint with room to spare.
1st - James
4th - Neil