E4 Race Report by Adam Stansbury
Having done this race last year, I anticipated a small group and little room for upgrade points. At the last minute, our race got combined with the 35+ and 45+ cat 4s. Though we were still picked separately and this didn’t help the points situation, our group went from 24 to about 50 which gave me a chance to sit-in comfortably before the climb.
The pace was slow in the first 20 or so miles up to the big climb and I was worried I wasn’t burning off the pizza I ate the night before. Not to worry, though, since the young skinny dudes hit the climb hard as expected and split up the pack quickly. A few of us managed to keep the lead group of 8 or so skinny dudes in sight on the climb and made it to the top still having a chance to chase them down over the next 35 miles. 3 master’s guys rolled over the top with me and somehow I found the energy to do a “Morris special”: down in the drops, diesel power at 30mph for the last 5 miles before the turnaround. About 1/4mi before the turnaround the lead group passed us going the other way — not bad. The 4 of us took turns pulling back over the climb and regrouped at the bottom of the descent to put in a chase-group effort; despite us working together well and pushing hard, we never caught the lead pack.
At around 15mi to go, we started picking up stragglers from the lead pack and the moto informed us that we were racing for 4th in the E4s, 1st and 2nd in 35+s, and 2nd and 3rd in the 45+s. I expected the master’s guys to keep things rolling but it took the moto telling us about the chase group 2 minutes behind us for everyone to work together and pick the pace back up. Cut to the 3mi mark and we have a big group rolling into the finish with 3 other E4s with whom I’d be battling for 4th (Velo Reno, Rio, and BP). Velo Reno took a couple bike lengths off the front; I wasn’t sure if he was pulling away or just blowing his nose but I made my move. I broke off and came cruising up behind him, yelling for him to take my wheel. He looked around like “WTF?” and jumped on my wheel while I put in a little more diesel power to get us a good gap. Rio managed to bridge and we pulled farther away from the pack. “Okay,” I thought, “we dropped only one E4 and things aren’t much better, but this is good practice for me.” With about 1.5mi to go and only me working, I turned to Reno and Rio and asked them if they wanted to sprint, wherein I’d stop pulling, or if they’d agree to roll in 4-5-6, giving me 4th, and I’ll continue doing the work. They agreed to 4-5-6 and I kept pulling toward the finish. With about 150m to go, I hear yelling from behind as Reno informs me Rio is sprinting around me. By the time I reacted and pulled out my sprint the race was over and Rio had 4th, I had 5th, and Reno 6th. All said, I got an extra 3 upgrade points I wasn’t expecting, a lesson in trust, and a brutally fun race. Oh, and pretty sure I burned off the rest of that pizza.
35+ 1/2/3 Race Report by John Novikoff
80+ Miles 9th Place
I swore Leesville off my calendar after the abusive jarring I subjected myself to last time I did the race but with a changed course, removing the bumpy road (worse than Copperopolis in my opinion) I wanted to check it out.
We rolled with a small group of 15 I believe, and I officially was the only “sprinter” type in the field. Things got active right at the start as Mike’s Bikes had four guys in the field. They continued to attack, one after the other and I had made a couple moves with them but nothing stuck and I was not committing as I had no idea how I would fare on the climb. Two guys did eventually roll off (MB +1) and were away till the climb. With three MB players in the group, they covered every move and attempt to bridge. So I figured I would roll with momentum and fake attacking to burn their legs a bit multiple times. Well, I think they figured it out. The pace was pretty slow as I “soft” pedaled the flats off the front for a few miles.
The climb starts after a few rollers and I settled. The whole group started to ride away. I knew it would be a long day, so I decided not to go into the red at this point hoping to have some gas for the return trip. I picked up a BP rider near the top and we joked about the long day ahead. I quickly dropped him on the decent, then kept eyeing for the leaders as I got closer to the turn around. The fields were so scattered and I was moving pretty good that it was hard to make out who was who. It appeared when I made the turn around that who I felt were the leaders, had about 3-5mins. I put my big gear pants on and started back. I picked up 3 guys 2 of which were MB’s. We made the climb together, had a fun decent, and I did the majority of the work as we picked up guys and rode past others. Our chase group was down to 4 and with 3K left, one of the Mikes Bikes riders asked if I wanted to sprint it out as and if so, he would lead me out because his teammate took zero pulls, was smoked, he didn’t want the SJBC rider to finish in front of us and I did the lion’s share of work coming back. I took him up on the offer and with 1K to go, he drilled it. We dumped the SJBC rider, then his teammate found his legs and tried to make a go of it. I put some power down and kept him a few bike lengths behind.
I sure was glad to get off the bike. The final 20 miles of this race is just mentally abusive. Its dead flat, no landmarks and I just wanted off the bike. Glad to have gone and I will be back again. This race has many different possibilities and can shake out many different ways. Sure it’s a climbers race, but I go just for the chance that I may make the climb, or have enough of a chase group to bring it all together.
Heading up to Reno I was feeling pretty good coming off my win at Lodi. With John Novikoff and Marty Cunningham joining there were 3 of us in the 35+ race. Marty had just raced the 45+ category so he came in a little tired.
This was one of the bigger races of the year, with 48 riders and many big names showing up to try to win the Mighty Tour de Nez “Headstone” they give to the winner. 7 minutes into the race I was thinking that the headstone was an appropriate trophy.
I spoke with Justin Rossi before the race and he said he was going to “warm up” in our race before he raced the pro 1/2 field later that day. Basically what he meant was, (to quote Larry Bird), “Who among you is going to get second?”
Anyway the race started hard and the 4500′ elevation started to take its toll on my lungs rather quickly. I started having serious thoughts of pulling out of the race. Knowing I had good fitness I was wondering why there was a pack of 20 riders in front of me that started to get a gap. This can’t be right?!?! However, with Rossi and Buckley being hometown favorites and used to the thin air, Mike Sayers and Chris Phipps (who is a known freak on a bike) pushing the pace it started to make sense. About 15-20 minutes into our 50 min race Novikoff gave one last effort to bring our second pack back to the group, and it was then that I knew pulling out was no option. I went deep for a half a lap and bridged up, and spent the next 20 minutes trying not to get spit out the back again. Buckley kept attacking and trying to split the field and the field was cut down to the eventual 18 that managed to finish the race.
It was encouraging to know John was having a good time after he popped off the back:Inline image 1
With 3 laps to go, Rossi decided he was done riding tempo and needed a proper warm up. He turned on the style and rode away from the group, taking the win and leaving the rest of us to watch what a “real” bike racer can do.
With 2 laps to go I mentally “girded my loins” and forced myself into a top 5 position, knowing that once again, position is key to a good placing. Final lap, 2 turns to go and I have 3rd wheel, right behind Sayers. My Dad always told me,” He who hesitates, loses”. And I proved him right by waiting for someone else to attack. Jan Weissenburger jumped and I followed Sayers for 3rd wheel into the last turn. I hit something in the last corner that caused my rear wheel to rise about what felt like 3 feet, and I did everything I could to not go over the bars. I lost all momentum, and lost a place to the hard charging Dean LaBerge, leaving me with 5th place and the last podium spot. Thanks for reading!
Riders: Jake Hensley, Marty Cunningham and myself
The Lodi Cyclefest is one of my favorite races of the year. It’s a sweet downtown Crit that has 8 turns, great layout for spectating, fantastic crowds, and solid prize money!
I really came into this race thinking I had a good chance of a podium. I’ve been riding well recently, I scored a good result at my last race, so I had a good amount of confidence. However, I knew it would be tough because with it being a bigger race on the Nor Cal calendar, a lot of heavy hitters showed up with hopes of the win, and a giant bottle of 7 Deadly Zins that looks like this:
The race started off quite nicely, I was able to slot in a top 10 position easily and monitor the front for anything that looked dangerous. About 20 minutes into the race a group of 6 got off the front with Dean La Berge being one of them. With him being one of the top sprinters in Nor Cal I jumped with one other to bridge across. He was happy to do the work so I let him, but we were brought back quickly as no other team was wanting Dean to get away. The rest of the race kept together as everyone was anxious to be in it for the field sprint.
Fast forward to 5 laps to go, I decided that was the time to move up from the middle of the pack to a top 5 position as I knew in this race, position into the final 2 corners is critical. Good thing for me, because as the stress of the race heightened there were multiple crashes in the final 2 laps. No one team took control, but Mikes Bikes and Chronos took turns trying to keep it fast. I was still keeping 3rd wheel on whoever came around to do the work, and with half a lap to go John Fairbanks came to the front to work for Dean. I grabbed John’s wheel uncontested, so going into the final 2 turns I was second wheel. I was kind of surprised how easy it was to grab the perfect position. I heard more carbon hitting the pavement right behind me, and was thankful I was on the business end of the race, and not donating skin to the cobbles of downtown Lodi. I jumped on Fairbanks left before the final right hand turn, and Dean jumped to his right and I had Dean leading me down the final 300 meters.
I made the move to come around Dean, and I was making up ground, but slower than I wanted. Dean tried to grab more gear, but his bike gave him the finger and was skipping gears. That increased the rate at which I was overtaking him, and I took the win by a full bike length!!
So stoked to put Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s on the top step of the podium at one of the bigger races of the year!
Riders: Jake Hensley, Scott Kingston, Steve McCaw, Kevin Tufts and myself.
I started the day with the intention of only doing the 35+123 race as I was racing Mt. Hamilton the next day, but I got there early and Kevin talked me into doing the 2/3 race as well. Our plan was to not do anything and use it as a warm up for the 35+ race.
Well, that escalated quickly! Kevin immediately jumps and starts the first break of the day. Jake rolls up next to me and asks if we need to pull the break back, but was happy to hear Kevin was up there. As soon as the break got caught a couple laps later, Kevin attacks again, and that’s when I knew he was done holding back.
I stayed rested, knowing I’m not a breakaway rider, wanting the race race to be about 30 minutes in before I started to work. I was at the very back, and I heard a crash happening and it was Evan from victory velo. I braked hard, stayed upright, but since I was stopped checked on Evan. He was ok but donated a lot of skin to the pavement. I took the free lap, Kevin checked to make sure I was ok and the race was on.
Evan seemed to be feeling fine as he jumped hard to bridge to 7 or so riders that got about 20 seconds to up the road. A group of 3 looked to bridge led by Eric Brickler from Data Driven Athlete. I jumped on but nobody wanted to work so I jumped and bridged up to Evan. He was smoked so I kept going but was hurting. Tyler Janke from DDA came around me hard and proceeded to rip my legs off for the next 2 laps.
I then decided to go back to the main field and rest for the next race. However the break was still up the road and I could see Kevin rotating in the front with 5 guys from DDA to pull the break back and I knew I had to give it my best shot so Kevin’s hard work would mean something for our team. With 3 to go I found Jake trying to find Kevin’s wheel and I jumped in front of him, told Kevin that Jake and I were there, let’s do this! I figured Jake has the best sprint so I liked our chances. Amain cycling had a 5 man leadout and Kevin had their sprinters wheel, but they were going way too slow. We got swarmed, Jake lost my wheel, and I bullied my way through the swarm to be about 8 guys back. I was yelling at Corey from Amain to get his train moving faster. He yelled Go! but they just didn’t have it. Chris Espy figured it out and jumped with about 500 to go, I looked back to make sure I wasn’t going to take anyone out, jumped and was able to pass everyone but Espy going into the final turn. My speedometer said I hit 38 mph right before the turn, and at that speed no one was able to catch me. I was coming up on Espy, but ran out of pavement.
2nd place! Not bad considering I wasn’t even planning on racing!!
Needless to say, I pulled out of the 35+ race with spent legs. Save it for tomorrow! Thanks for reading!
Day 1 Criterium
This race always has been a good adventure for us in the past. We have had much success on this course throughout the years and I was excited to race it again as I missed last year. Rio Strada always puts on a good show. We had a good group of guys, and I knew a break was possible on this course, and so I planned form the beggining expecting something to materialize and I was willing to work should we get away. The attacks came, Specialized was very active but the break was not meant to be and so I settled in near the front anticipating the blue train. I looked up with 2 to go and there was a 4 strong Folsom Bike train at the front driving the pace. I blew up the right side and slotted in right behind Matt Tufts. We came through with 1 to go and Brian Choi gave a great last effort. When we hit the back stretch and Matt gave it all until halfway on the back stretch. Chronos was organized on the left side and brought their train up to the front. I swung over, slotted in behind Chris Baker and I went into the turns sitting 6th. This was great position and I was eagerly anticipating the sprint. Coming into the final turn, I had great position with tons of gas in the tank when Dean had to make a avoidance move from his lead-out guy cutting the corner which resulted in everyone breaking and running for open space. Chris Baker and I braked and swung far left, sighed in relief then hit the gas. I was making up ground, had to come around a few guys, but ended up 3rd just closing in on the top two.
Day 2 Circuit Race
Knowing how things shook out the day before, the play was for a shot at an overall win. My plan was to get a break established, isolating the top finishers in the peloton from the day before. I knew full well that Chronos would be looking for such a move and would not allow it to happen and would chase everything down. They had numbers, but I knew the Specialized crew would want to establish a break as well, and I was down to give it a go. I stayed attentive up front, followed a few moves, but saw the right mix ramp it up early in the race. Buckley and Espy shot up the right side with a counter attack and I followed from the left side and we met at the front, put a small gap on, and applied the gas. Our group seemed to be eight strong once we established the break, but only Espy, Buckley, Newton and I were pulling through. Hammer had two guys, and sat at the back I guess to sight see. I believe we got close to a 20sec gap. With 5 to go, Specialized wanted to dump the dead weight from our break, rallied Newton and I and hit the gas. At this point Chornos went to the front and began drilling it. Word from the peloton was that it was stretched out for 3 laps full gas trying to reel us in. The rested dead weight all of a sudden found their legs and chased us down and the break regrouped which slowed our effort and allowed the Chornos effort to begin closing on us. We rested for a half lap, and then started again, but the group was close, and the catch was made shortly after. I pulled the plug and went in recovery mode knowing that I blew my legs with that long break effort. I started to feel fresh again and started filtering up to the front. I saw Kevin Tufts and the crew up front and I began moving forward. Al of a sudden our team was around me blocking wind, escorting me up towards the front. Judd came through and I latched onto his wheel as I could not see where the blue train had gone. Judd made a solid effort on the headwind section to the left hander to bring me up front. We hit the corner on the outside, Chronos occupied the left and hit the gas. Judd and I split around some traffic and he drilled it getting me almost to the front. I moved left to latch onto the Chronos train and found fourth wheel behind Padilla. Knowing I needed to be first through the chicane, I knew I was out of position. The top five went through the final corner and we placed in that order at the finish. Jake Hensley and I rounded it out finishing 4th and 5th. Chris Baker from Specialized finished with a 2nd place, bumping me down in the overall due to a tie to 4th.
Being in the break all day, I heard of the guys blocking and trying to help our break stay away. Great attentiveness by all in the final laps. I heard lots of communication. I am proud of our team and the results. Great job guys!
On day 1, Kevin and myself made the trip to Copperopolis for the Topsport Stage Race this weekend. Our field was 6 strong. Yes, you read that correctly, only 6. However, with Dean LaBerge being one of them there was some legit competition going on. The road race started us off on Saturday, and our group raced with the E3’s and the 45 1/2/3’s, for a field of about 40. On lap 2 Kevin flatted out, twice. He ended up tying his tube in a knot after discovering that his patch kit dried up, and he was given a 10 minute time penalty, effectively ending his chances in the overall.
The 6 in our field were very attentive to each other, and after spending a little time trying to get in a break it was clear none of us were going to let anyone get away. This made for a 75 mile crit, and with a group of 5 that got away containing 3 Cat 3’s and 2 45’s it was a matter of staying sheltered and conserving. The wind did take its toll, and whittled our group down to about 20 riders to contest the final sprint. Coming into the last 3K, we were fighting a headwind and I managed to put myself 5th wheel as we turned towards the hill and the finishing sprint. I knew Dean would be right up there, and he was on my wheel as we crested the hill. He came around me with 300 meters to go, and I jumped on his wheel, clicked down a gear and gave a hard push towards the line, just coming around him to take the win!
The circuit race was 2 hours later and the officials grouped us with the Pro 1/2 field. Again, no one was getting away in our field and it was all about a stage win. Kevin continued his weekend of bad luck and flatted within the first 2 laps. If you’re counting, that’s 3 flats in 2 days. Which is a bummer because Kevin is riding really strong.
In the last lap of the circuit race, there was a crash that Dean and I just got by, and then things got hairy as we were overtaking the cat 3 field within the last 800 meters. A Cliff Bar rider ended up cutting across the whole group, and went through the center divide and into the oncoming lane. I don’t know how he didn’t crash anyone out, but it sure screwed up my position coming into the last 500 meters. Dean was marking me and he jumped around at 200 to go, and i couldn’t make up the bike length difference. He won the stage, and I placed 2nd, but it secured my 3rd place overall.
A bigger field would’ve been nice, but it was a successful weekend for Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s!!