When To Say When: a San Rafael Sunset Criterium Race Report (Women’s P123)

Words by: Ivy Audrain (LA Sweat)

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This Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Photo Credit: Dennis Crane

Imagine yourself at your typical family Italian restaurant. There is a waiter walking around with a parmesan grater, and they instruct you to ‘say when’ once you’ve had enough extra cheese on your dinner. There always seems to be some kid there that just….never seems to say ‘when’, and the mound of cheese just grows higher and higher over his macaroni, and you’re like, “SOMEBODY tell that kid to say ‘when!'”

Well, I was that kid in the week before the San Rafael Sunset Criterium, and someone really, really should have told me that at some point that I should just cut my losses, know when to say ‘when’, and maybe not start the race. Not me, though. There is never enough cheese.

This week adversity began with a crash on the track at Marymoor Velodrome in Redmond, Washington. The crash made a pelvic dysfunction that has been troubling me flare up again, so I was in all sorts of lower-back pain for the week following. Not ideal for bike racing.

Back injury? NO PROBLEM for the next few days where you move all of your belongings into a storage unit. The bike racer life is so luxurious, guys. Bummer levels: still relatively low. Until… My time in San Francisco was plagued with troubles. My car was broken-into; nothing stolen, but presented me with a ton of logistical challenges and a super late night before the race. If this wasn’t bad enough, this was quickly followed by the news that my beloved Cinelli Strato Faster (named ‘Gucci Mane’) had been totally lost in transit. There was some hope that he would show up Friday before the race, but no dice. (#GucciManecomehome). Stress levels: Off the charts bananas. I had everything in this bike bag. Literally, everything. I found myself the day before the race, with only a pair of running shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops, and a down vest. Hence: my new signature look is born.

EFF.

The day before the race is complete and utter chaos. My team is already all in San Francisco, so no chance of getting a team spare bike, without any quality sleep in days (what a GC rider thing to say!), having not been on a bike all week. I really wanted to cut my losses and not start. However, our ‘brother squad’, Team Clif Bar, was not going to allow such behavior.

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Photo Credit: Alex Chiu http://acaurora.smugmug.com/

My friends at Team Clif Bar got me set up on my pal, Michael Jasinski’s bike, only a few hours before the race, in his shoes that were at least 4 sizes too big, but still sponsor correct Giros I might add. The one caveat being that I would need to hustle to the SRAM neutral support pit immediately after finishing to turn them over to Michael (who was racing directly after me).

This is some seriously janky stuff, and I lined up feeling like the world was trying to send me some sort of message that I should not be racing.

After getting a call-up for being ranked 8th in the USA Crit series, I still was not mentally in it. The whistle went off and immediately the attacks ensued, beginning with Mary Maroon (Academy), who seemed super keen for a break to work. I found our guest rider, Libby Painter, who was towards the front, and decided to just mindlessly follow her around until I could get my head on straight.

Well, around five laps into the race, I woke up; naturally I should attack up this riser with 60 minutes of racing left, right? Obviously. The only person to come with me was Hanna Meugge (Team Mike’s Bikes pb Equator Coffees), thus: the break was born. Mary bridged to us only a few laps later, and we stayed away for the remainder of the 70 minute crit, and let me tell you, every minute was miserable.

WHAT was I thinking?!?. “*ERRORdeletedelete, I was kidding guys.”

We continued to race; winning was literally the last thing I had thought about, until my friend Daniel Holloway, who has ‘taken me under his wing’ so to speak, checked in with me with eight laps to go. My response was so indecisive, a derpy “eeeh I uuuuhh well… eh?”, so I spent the whole next lap critically thinking about how I actually felt, and what my chances were.

Hanna has this insane diesel engine that I couldn’t hold a flame to, and going toe-to-toe with Mary has shown to be unsuccessful for many. The next time up the riser, I gave Daniel the nod, meaning I would try. He told me to be second through the last corner, which I would not have known or done on my own, and he was totally right.

There was a headwind and the finish line wasn’t terrible close to the last corner. Fiddlesticks… now I knew how to win, and my team had worked so incredibly hard to control the field behind us, and I couldn’t let their efforts go to waste by not even putting myself in a position to try.

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Photo Credit: Alex Chiu http://acaurora.smugmug.com/

Boy oh boy did I try… that sprint came.

Thanks to this amazing community for making sure I had everything I needed to race, Ashley of USA Crits for being the biggest boss there is, and Mike’s Bikes for putting on such an incredible event. You better believe I’ll be back, sans jank.

Ivy Audrain lives in Seattle, WA.

Results: Cascade Cycling Classic Stage 5

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – BYR GC

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – BYR

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – GC

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – QOM

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – RESULTS

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – SPRINT

2015 CCC_Women Pro-1-2_Stage 5 – TEAM 2015CCCheader 2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – BYR

2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – BYR GC

2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – GC

2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – KOM

2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – RESULTS

2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – SPRINT

2015 CCC_Men Pro-1_Stage 5 – TEAM

Results: Cascade Cycling Classic Stage Four

 

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 3 KOM

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 BYR GC

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 BYR

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 GC

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 RESULTS – revised v2

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 RESULTS

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 SPRINT

2015 CCC Men Pro1 – STAGE 4 TEAM

2015 CCC Women Pro12 – STAGE 4 GC-revised

2015 CCC Women Pro12 – STAGE 4 RESULTS-revised

Tetrick Surges to Solo Win at BeNe Ladies Tour

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Tetrick Surges to Solo Win at BeNe Ladies Tour
Jasmin Glaesser Wins Track Bronze at Pan-Am Games
July 20th | Minneapolis, MN
Alison Tetrick employed savvy late-race tactics to capture a solo victory in the third and final stage of the BeNe Ladies Tour, a 115 km circuit race in Zelzate, Belgium. After a well-timed attack, Tetrick held a gap to the finish line, crossing just 12 seconds ahead of the charging peloton.
The team was solid in all phases of the BeNe tour, the first race of their month-long summer Euro campaign. Leah Kirchmann finished on the podium in the stage 2A time trial after finishing 7th in stage one, and the team stayed poised in the hunt for time bonuses and breakaway opportunities during two days of road racing. Tetrick and 2014 BeNe champion Brianna Walle finished fourth and fifth on general classification, :47 and :53 behind overall winner Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle Honda). Kirchmann did not start the final stage due to a crash near the end of stage 2B. She sustained no serious injuries, and now focuses on recovering for Sunday’s La Course be Le Tour de France.

“Today was all about weighing the team’s strengths and options and racing accordingly,” said Tetrick. ”I had complete faith in the team and our race plan. When I was off the front alone, I knew any one of my teammates could have been in my position, and I knew I needed to keep riding hard to keep the pressure on the field. At one point, one of the race motorcycles came up to me to tell me how hard the team was working and how well they were controlling the race. Knowing they believed in me helped me dump every last ounce of energy into my effort.”
The third course of the BeNe tour, skirting the border of Belgium and Netherlands, covered classic terrain – cobblestones, crosswinds, and everything else that comes with the Flanders region’s unique brand of racing.
“The racing in Belgium is much different than what we see in North America,” said Tetrick. “What it lacks in elevation gain, it makes up for in chaos – cobbles, wind, huge fields, and tiny roads. I think this style of racing suits our team because everyone is so strong, and the harder the racing, the better we seem to finish. We proved that again today.”
Tetrick launched with 36 km to go, snaking her way to the front of the peloton after a lull in the pace. With 15 km remaining and her teammates controlling from the main field, her gap hovered at one minute. After she showed no signs of slowing, the rest of the teams organized a chase to close the gap, and close it they did – with 5 km to go, it was 20 seconds. With 1 km to go, it was ten. The recent Northern California state time trial champion drained every bit of energy to hold off the peloton, crossing the line alone for her second UCI victory of the year.
“It was very close. We weren’t sure she would win until they announced it on the radio,” said Performance Director Patrick McCarty. “She used a combination of smart racing and metered efforts to hold a very tight gap to the line. It was textbook bike racing.”
McCarty was happy with the team’s performance at BeNe, and saw it as an important sign of progress with three world-class races in La Course, Sparkassen Giro, and Route de France, on the horizon.
“I think everyone is a little more relaxed after adjusting to the racing abroad after a bit of system shock at the Women’s Tour of Britain,” said McCarty. “They are more comfortable with the tough competition and conditions and are starting to ride to their full potential. It will be an exciting month.”
Glaesser, Team Canada Speed to Gold on Pan-Am Track
Jasmin Glaesser continued to build on her contributions to Canada’s world-class track racing program at the Pan Am Games, helping her team to the gold medal in women’s team pursuit at Milton, Ontario’s Cisco Pan Am Velodrome. Glaesser and her teammates Laura Brown of Beveridge, Vancouver and Kirsti Lay of Medicine Hat, Alberta finished the race in a Pan Am record time of 4:19.664, edging out the U.S. for gold by less than seven seconds. Glaesser adds Pan Am gold to her impressive list of track palmares, which includes a bronze medal in team pursuit at the 2012 London Olympics. Look for Glaesser and Team Canada to make waves on the track at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Race Report: San Luis Rey Road Race (Women’s 123)

Words by: Joy McCulloch (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo)

Oh San Luis Rey. I believe I have raced this event 4 or 5 times, and it has always been a thorn in my side. At 75 miles, it is the longest SoCal road race for the women’s field and with under 4K of climbing, one would think a group could get away on the flats or in the crosswinds before we climb back up the stair steps to the finish. This has never, ever, been the case. No matter how much I have tried to inflict my will on the peloton and get a non-climber break-away rolling before the climb, this has never happened. And I have been exceptionally frustrated by this.

Going into this years edition, coach Paul Abrahams and I took some time to look at the previous years race files and see where I could have played my cards more effectively. We came up with a game plan that would be inline, historically, with how this race has unfolded: wait until the climb, go bananas.

It’s one thing to draw up a plan. It is an entirely different beast to clip-in and take off down the road amongst the jittery racers. I was super motivated to stick to the plan because I have executed so poorly at this race in the past. Plus, Coach Paul was there in the feed zone/finish line so it would be pretty obvious if I went rouge.

Once the racers were assembled, I took mental roll-call of the players who chose to fight the wind and the heat over the 5 laps of the boom-a-rang course. This quick tally solidified my race-plan and I hunkered down at the back of the pack, waiting for the climbers to unleash their legs on the steepest grades heading to the switchbacks.

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Knowing that the group would naturally begin to splinter, due to the elements and duration of the race, I was not too concerned with any early moves. As we made our way through the first 2 laps, my focus was to sit in and wait for the climbs. Exiting the feed zone on lap 2, the break sifted out, to leave 7 of us in the front pod of racers.

Within the break, we were all single riders except for Tracy Tilton and Holly Breck from InCycle. I knew Tracy and Holly would be the ones to animated the race, and being the team with numbers, it was their race to lose. The follow 2.5 laps carried on quite uneventful, with the breakaway riders content rolling through, realizing that attempting to ride away solo or in a pair would be futile in the wind. The pace was not challenging enough to shed riders either, keeping 6 of us intact to the final climb up to the finish.

Again, I assessed the group and mentally tallied my opponents. I felt confident that I could fight my hardest for the win, yet knowing that Tracy is a proven climber and she would be very strong up the climb.

As expected, with under 10 minutes of racing left in the day, Tracy jumped hard at the base of the steepest pitch on the climb. I had anticipated this move and made sure I was on her wheel so that I could follow the attack. Follow I did, yet the gap grew to a length I couldn’t quite bridge. After a minute or two, I looked over my shoulder and could see Pam Schuster (who has won this race in the 1990’s – how cool is that!) about 200 meters behind me.

This was a tough spot to be in because I knew I couldn’t catch Tracy, yet I knew Pam was far enough behind me with the handful of minutes remaining, that she wouldn’t catch me either. So I had to decide – do I tempo it into the finish? This isn’t a stage race, I won’t be losing seconds on the GC! Or do I hunker down and get as close as I possibly can to Tracy and really test the limits of my body, bike, and brain?

Test I did! I know it wasn’t a win, but I was very happy with my 2nd place finish at the San Luis Rey Road Race. I was happy because I methodically checked over previous years race data and feedback and came up with an alternate plan that would lend me to the best result possible if I committed to it. I was happy that I raced all the way to the finish line, even sprinting across the final meters to ensure I used every calorie I had ingest during the 3.5hr race.

I was happy to get another podium for my team and teammates, especially Coach Paul and super support staff Oren Mitz who spent the day out in the sun feeding us. But most of all, I was happy to be reminded that even after competing on the exact same course for 5 years, I can learn new tricks, new methods, and reach new heights.

Thank you to my teammates, Coach Paul, husband Brian, and fantastic sponsors for helping to make all of this a reality.

Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.

Follow the team on social media –

Facebook: KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo

Twitter: @iPA_Sports

Instagram: @ipasports

Joy McCulloch lives in Yucaipa, CA.

Women’s One-Day Cycling Race to Finish on the Famed Champs-Élysées

Universal Sports Network Presents Exclusive LIVE Coverage of La Course by Le Tour de France on Sunday, July 26

 

Women’s One-Day Cycling Race to Finish on the Famed Champs-Élysées

 

Broadcast to Feature Interview with American Women’s Cycling Legend Marianne Martin

 

LOS ANGELES (July 14, 2015) – Universal Sports Network presents exclusive LIVE coverage of La Course by Le Tour de France on Sunday, July 26, at 8 a.m. ET. The one-day, elite women’s cycling race will finish on the famed Champs-Elysées prior to the finale of this year’s final stage of the Tour de France.

 

Twenty top women’s teams featuring 120 athletes from 12 countries will compete in the second edition of La Course by Le Tour de France. With reigning champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-liv) skipping this year’s race, a new winner will be crowned. Riders scheduled to compete include Americans Shelly Olds (Ale Cipollini), who finished third in 2014, and Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans), and England’s Lizzie Armistead (Boels Dolmans).

 

The Universal Sports broadcast team will feature veteran play-by-play announcer Craig Hummer alongside analysts Todd Gogulski, who spent more than a decade racing professionally, and Dotsie Bausch, a 2012 Olympic medalist in track cycling.

 

“With the thrill, speed and power of women’s cycling on display at last year’s inaugural La Course, I am so excited to be back for what is sure to be another nail-biting race at a time when the attention on women’s sports is at an all-time high,” said Bausch whose commentary will provide perspective on women’s professional cycling. “Thanks to Universal Sports Network, we will once again showcase the intensity and fierce competitiveness of the top women cyclists in the world as they fight for the top prize on the Champs-Élysées.”

 

In addition to LIVE race coverage, the broadcast will feature an exclusive sit-down interview with American women’s cycling legend Marianne Martin who won the very first Tour de France for women in 1984 which was then an 18-stage road race. Martin relives her win and talks about how women’s cycling has changed over the years and also looks toward its future.

 

“Women’s racing still isn’t equal to men. I think that’s something that hopefully will change as they [women] are now in the Tour de France,” said Martin. “I hope that women can have a strong presence and that more women will get into the sport and see it as a wonderful sport whether they want to race or just ride their bikes… Cycling is such a great sport and such a great way to maintain fitness.”

 

With more than 185 hours of exclusive coverage this year, Universal Sports Network is firmly established as the leader in cycling coverage on American television. In addition to La Course by Le Tour de France, marquee events in Universal Sports’ 2015 Cycling Series include the Vuelta a España, Volta a Cataluyna, Tour of Belgium, Tour of Britain, Three Days of De Panne, Four Days of Dunkerque, Tour de Suisse, Tour de Wallonie, Eneco Tour and the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Va.
Universal Sports Network is available on DIRECTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Google Fiber, and numerous regional cable and IPTV operators in markets across the country. To find Universal Sports by zip code, please visit UniversalSports.com.

 

Race Recap: Saint Francis Tulsa Tough (Women’s P12)

Words by: Sam and Skylar Schneider (ISCorp Cycling p/b SmartChoice MRI)

Introduction: Friday night in Tulsa was hot and hectic. Our sock sponsor, Ten Speed Hero, came down from Chicago to experience the race with us, first hand. Our team, ISCorp p/b Smart Choice MRI started Tulsa Tough with six girls (of about 70 total starters) and went into the weekend looking for podiums and pandas. (Sam)

Friday Night: The race was fast, with lots of attacks coming from Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good. The hour crit had eight corners in the shape of a figure 8, which made it technical and single file for most of the night. We were represented in the breakaways, but nothing was going to stay away the first night. In the closing laps, there were multiple crashes and unfortunately three of our girls got taken out. Although we were together safe on the front (or so we thought), it didn’t stop a rider from cutting across the front of our wheel and instantly take down the front of the field (ouch!).

That is bike racing, but lucky for us we still had our teammate, Nicolle Bruderer, represent us on the podium for 2nd place; which was her very first NCC podium! Tulsa on Friday night had fireworks and the whole shebang. (Sam)

Saturday: Six corner course with a little hill that had a tremendous party and loud music kept things interesting. Lot of attacking, again, and eventually a move with about six riders including me gave it a go. The move lasted five laps and counter attacks came full force. Luckily for me, my team was ready and I could recover for the next move, the finish.

With about four laps to go, a storm was fast approaching, strong winds and dark skies filled Tulsa and all I could do was hope there were no tornadoes (Fun fact: I am seriously afraid of tornadoes). Last lap was chaotic, but I had a lot of confidence in my team that we could make the top step this time around. Coming around the last corner there was no time for hesitation; I sprinted for the win. There was lots of happiness all around with such an amazing amount of teamwork being paid off with champagne and a big Tulsa panda bear. (Sam)Brady-District-70

Sunday: Two days of racing done and the iconic Cry Baby Hill awaited us. We pre-rode a lap as a team and as soon as our wheels hit the hill, we could hear the electrifying base and cheers of all the party-goers. With so much craziness going on it was impossible not to just laugh and soak it all in. The race started with a promising sunny sky and 70 women ready to race their hearts out, after all #TakeMondayOff.

The race was fast and furious- girls were dropping chains on the hill, attempting to take beer handouts, and all sorts of mayhem proved that Cry Baby Hill would live up to its name yet again. With 10 laps to go the skies opened up on the back side of the course and it was pouring so hard you could hardly see the wheel in front of you. Then, rounding back to Cry Baby Hill and no rain. It was as if the hill had its very own umbrella to protect its partiers from getting rained on (lucky them!).

The race was delayed for 30 minutes and the clouds left just as fast as they had come. With nerves high and the pressure on, it was clear everyone wanted the race to stay fast. On the last lap every team had at least one rider towards the front trying to escape for one last time. Coming down to the last turn- Sam was first with Friday night’s winner Erica Allar (Colavita/Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking) right behind her.

The sprint was a nail bitter to the end, and Erica won by half an inch. (Skylar)10980729_627752377371306_6335938578341683812_n

Conclusion: Tulsa Tough is hands-down one of the best-run races in the world. Walking around Tulsa people of all sorts were asking us “are you here for that bike race?” That is an example of the impeccable job the Tulsa Tough crew did at spreading the word.

A huge THANK YOU to the Tulsa AWE group for raising money to give a travel stipend to the professional women’s teams which made it that much more possible to attend these incredible races. ISCorp p/b Smart Choice MRI made lots of memories at this race and we definitely plan to be back next year. (Skylar)

Sam Schneider lives in Milwaukee, WI. Skylay Schneider lives in West Allis, WI.

Race Recap: Saint Francis Tulsa Tough (Women’s P12)

Words by Marissa Axell (Metromint Cycling pb The Freewheel)
6/11/15 – Travel to Tulsa, OK Axell4
After a 4am wake up call, and two short flights on Southwest Airlines, my husband Anthony and I arrived in Tulsa, OK with our bikes in tow. This was the first travel for my new steed, and I admit to a bit of separation anxiety until we were reunited. We arrived at our amazing host’s house in the Maple Park district, near downtown Tulsa.
 One of the reasons I love Tulsa Tough is the close proximity of each race, logistics are a breeze. I look forward to settle in with our host housing, and ride my bike along one of the dozens of miles of bike paths around Tulsa. The midlands bike paths take you within a few blocks of each of the three criterium race sites. After reassembling my bike (nary a scratch on her), we take off for an hour spin to clear out the travel cobwebs. We trace the bike paths toward the Arkansas river, stopping first for some extra air in our tires at Lee’s Bicycles before back tracking down and across the 21st street bridge to follow the Midland pathways south toward Turkey Mountain Urban Park. The air is so humid, we are practically swimming in sweat. It’s warm and lovely afternoon without another person on the paths.
 6/12/15 – Blue Dome Criterium
The next day, we head out for an early morning spin, this time ready to shake out any nerves and warm up ahead of the Friday afternoon race. The rest of the day was spent on the porch or in the air conditioning, relaxing and focusing on the Blue Dome Criterium, race time 7:55pm. The entire town of Tulsa begins to show up with friends and brews, and line the course to cheer. With the multitudes of bars in the area, everyone is loud and having fun, with minimal impact between crowd and racers, thanks to the AMAZING volunteers working their stations along the course on Friday evening. After a minimal “warm up” (are you kidding, it’s 90degrees and 100% humidity – who needs to warm up?) we toe the line and get going. The speeds were very fast, the course is extremely technical figure 8 with a very mild hill in the middle, making for some leg burning uphill and eyeball screaming downhills. I managed to muscle into the first real breakaway of the day, but after we were caught I focused on staying as forward as possible. Unfortunately a few very late crashes occurred, but I stayed clear and went on to sprint in for 16th of 72 starters, a great result for me at this National Criterium Calendar (NCC) race.
After a slow cool down lap, I found Anthony and celebrated my finish with some hugs and high fives with our host family before rolling slowly back home via bike pathways.
6/13/15 – Brady Arts District Criterium
Saturday morning, we woke to steamy weather again, and after a short spin, we got dressed and visited Tulsa’s Woody Guthrie Museum, home to Guthrie’s instruments, recordings, manuscripts, journals, and photos of Woody Guthrie, who got his “this land is your land, this land is my land” start in Oklahoma. This is a solid museum and a nice way to gain some culture at your bike race (just $8 and almost worth it for the air conditioning alone)! Race time at 6:50pm, temps hovering around 90-95 with 100% humidity again. The course features a longer incline, traversing directly of the famous SoundPony bar and Cains Ballroom, both are Tulsa institutions, and worth a visit.
The racing was extremely fast, with many racers shelled  within the first lap. Occasionally, when my legs were screaming, I would deign to look at our speed (going up hill), and think ralize “OH, 25mph, that’s why it hurts!” Towards the top of the hill, nearest Soundpony, saw crowds 6-10 people deep on either side of the road, all shouting and ringing cowbells or vuvuzelas, nearly sounding like “crybaby hill” of River Parks Crit fame. As the laps wore on during the hour long crit, the primes were hotly contested, and everyone tried to move up and into a better position for the finish. With 15 minutes to go, the blackish purple clouds were descending upon us very fast, sending gales of wind into the peloton, skittering some of us sideways with abandon. I hoped the clouds would hold back their rain until we were done! Within 10 minutes after the finish, the heavens opened up and sheets of rain dumped down, sending the men’s field for cover as they would have to wait 30 minutes for their rain delay. On the ride back home, we witness a spectacular array of rainbows and sunsets, like straight out of “the Wizard of Oz!”
6/14/15 – Cry Baby Hill aka The River Parks Criterium
Sunday weather fared no better than Saturday. By the time 3pm rolled around, several rain bands had passed over the course, but the roads were mostly dry. In my four year career at Tulsa Tough, I’ve never lasted more than 4 or 6 laps of this very tough crit course. I planned to ride each lap as if it were my last and give it my all.
We take off up the first part of the hill, make the right turn onto “Cry Baby Hill” and into the loudest and deepest wall of noise, it nearly takes your breath away. The feeling is indescribable, only to say there is no. other. race. like it (in the US anyway). With the peloton down the hill and around to the straightaway again, and I’m still with the peloton! In fact, 5 laps later, I’m still with the peloton when about 10 women went down like dominoes just in front of me, and to the pit we go. We get our free lap, and we’re back into the race. Soon, I heard the “worlds largest crowd prime” announced, and we are racing for $2,500! Another cool Tulsa tidbit: this prime was collected by the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough Divas, a group of ultra tough Tulsa cyclists who band together to get more women on bikes! These fantastic women comb the crowds for the prior two days to put together the largest “crowd prime” of all time. The speed of that lap was my fastest lap of the day, and the CBH crowds were even louder; the drum beats thumping, the bands playing, the beer and water everywhere, and what crazy fun to watch a Colombian racer win that prime!
Not 10 minutes later, again, the heavens dumped hail/rain and torrential wind upon the peloton and the race was stopped for 30 minutes. Loud booming thunder and scary snakes of lightening all around us as we sought “cover.” After 30 minutes, and completely cooling down, we were once again on the start line, and off for the final 10 laps. Unfortunately 30 minutes was too much for my legs, they quit pushing me up that hill, and my day was done 3 laps later. Gut crushing efforts up and into that roaring crowd every lap is the stuff memories are made of. After being pulled from the race, it’s almost required to head up to the hill one more time, to say thank you to the crowd, hand out high fives, and take a cheap and cold beer hand up. This is the stuff Tulsa Tough is made of. After 3 races, I landed in 28th in the Omnium (of 72 starters), and created lasting memories of another epic Cry Baby Hill.  Until next year, Tulsa!
Marissa Axell is a Personal Trainer and Endurance Athletics Coach.
She lives in Oakland, CA.

Sho-Air/Cannondale’s Evelyn Dong Wins GoPro Games XC!

Sho-Air/Cannondale’s Evelyn Dong Wins GoPro Games XC!

 

Huntington Beach, Calif.—May 8, 2015—

 

Sho-Air/Cannondale’s Evelyn Dong won the women’s The GoPro Games Cross Country Mtb Race this past weekend in Vail, Colorado. Teammates Keegan Swenson (second, men’s pro), Alex Grant (third, men’s pro) and Larissa Connors (fourth, women’s pro) ensured Ridebiker and Sho-Air/Cannondale athletes were hard to miss on the podium!

 

A light drizzle greeted the field prior to the race but when it came time for the call up, it had cleared up to a near-perfect day for a race.

 

“When Larry Grossman sent the pro women off with a countdown, I started cautiously,” said Dong. “Not wanting to blow up on a course that topped out at 8700 feet, I sat behind either Erin (Huck, Scott 3 Rox) or Georgia (Gould, Luna Pro Team) for most of the first lap. I put in a little dig at the top, getting a small gap going into the descent, which I promptly blew by sliding out on some greasy mud.” She recovered and caught up to Huck. “Lap three was go time. I knew I had to get a gap on Erin before the descent, and I was still feeling pretty good. I just gradually picked up the pace. My [Cannondale] F29 hardtail feels great climbing and Vail’s long climb lends itself well to steady, out of the saddle efforts, so I had no excuses. By that time, the descent had dried out so I rallied back down. No crashes, no mechanicals and magic legs – it made for a fairytale day!”

 

Teammate Larissa Connors had a rougher time of it, bringing a head cold into a wet warmup prior to the race. “The first climb hurt my lungs and throat so much I wanted to drop out after the first lap. But then the descent happened! Bermed turns, some jumps, tacky dirt and aspen tree slaloms was all the convincing I needed to suffer through that climb two more times. It hurt like heck, my lungs and throat are killing me, but finishing fourth was pretty sweet!”

 

In the men’s race, Keegan Swenson put in a strong performance to finish second behind winner Howard Grotts (Specialized Factory Racing). “After the first lap, Howard was off the front by a little ways and I was trying to bring him back on the down. I eventually caught him about half way down, only to get popped off again at the bottom of the climb going into the second lap. I sat up and waited for Todd [Wells, Specialized Factory Racing] and Fernando [Paez, Raleigh-Clement] who were back just a few seconds and rode the second lap with them. By then, the course had gotten quite dry and was ripping fast! Going into the last lap I could see Alex coming from a ways back so I decided to give it a little gas on the beginning of the climb to try and drop Fernanado and Todd, as well as try and hold off Alex. I was able to shake Todd and Fernanado but Alex was able to diesel his way back up to me near the top of the climb. On the last short climb before the finish, I gave it a good dig and was able to make a small gap between Alex and I. Luckily, I was able to hold him off till the finish! Pretty awesome to have us two Utah boys up on the podium!”

 

Ridebiker Alliance’s Alex Grant was coming off of a major win the prior weekend in Grand Junction. “I thought I might not be totally fresh but at the same time, my form must be pretty good, so I was ready to go. This is my fourth time at this race and it’s always a great event. Lucky for us the rain stopped, but I don’t think anyone was ready for the grease we found on sections of the upper trail. Once it hit downhill it was like ice in spots! It took me down while I was in fifth just behind Wells and I spent the next lap and a half chasing back on. By that time, Howard was long gone. Keegan and I locked up in a battle for second, which he took by five seconds.”

 

——-Additional information———

GoPro Games Mountain Bike XC Results:

Women:

1.     Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air/Cannondale)                                               1:59:41.4

2.     Erin Huck (Scott-3 Rox)                                                                           2:01:04.4

3.     Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team)                                                                        2:02:36.0

4.     Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance)                                          2:04:10.1

5.     Amy Beisel (Liv / Giant)                                                       2:05:19.4

Men:

1.     Howard Grotts (Specialized Factory Racing)                          1:40:21.0

2.     Keegan Swenson (Sho-Air/Cannondale)                                                      1:42:03.4

3.     Alex Grant (Ridebiker Alliance)                                                       1:42:08.2

4.     Hector Fernando (Raleigh-Clement)                                            1:43:45.3

5.     Ben Sonntag (Team Clif Bar)                                                               1:44:27:0

 

TORRENCE CRITERIUM: MCCULLOCH WINS WOMEN’S EVENT!

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Photo Credit: Angel Castillo

By Joy McCulloch (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo)

The Torrence Criterium is tough! The wind whips around the 6-turn course and makes the final sprint one that torpedoes straight into the block-headwind. Another factor that makes this event so challenging is the smaller field size. With literally nowhere to hide, the racers are on the pedals for the duration of the race, making a breakaway inevitable in our field.

As we lined up, I was excited to see several strong solo competitors from Jet Cycling and Professional teams BMW Happy Tooth and Tibco, as well as a talented assortment of LaGrange, SBW and other local athletes. I knew the race would be aggressive from the start, so I chose to hang back ever so slightly and take notes on who was going to animate the race and try and make things exciting.

Within the first 15 minutes, the field had broken into two pieces, and I had placed myself in the front group of 6 that would ultimately take it to the line for a sprint finish. Having won on this course in 2013 and finishing 3rd in 2014, I had a list of mental notes on what to do. And more importantly, what NOT to do. As the break was nearing the finishing laps, riders began attacking. I knew that if a strong rider or two got a gap going into the long tailwind section on the backside, they could easily gain enough traction to stay away to the finish. I did not want that to happen, so I committed to either being on the wheel of the attack or pulling the move back and waiting for the next attack.

The breakaway was comprised of very strong riders and I knew that some of them were crafty enough to launch an attack in the last lap in an attempt to get away solo into the headwind finish.
Luckily for me, the attack went at the start finish and I was able to jump on Michelle from BMW/Happy Tooth through the quick left hander before she got too far. As the pace picked up, I wanted to be 3rd wheel and 2nd position would be even better. I knew I would need to be patient coming into the last two turns and that holding my spot was imperative to solidifying the win.

With 2 turns to go, we whipped through the wind from the tailwind section directly into the wind in the short section before the final turn. I hunkered down as much as I could, knowing we were about to turn right on the long finishing straight. As we made the turn, the wind came even stronger across my left shoulder and I knew that the path to victory was up the right gutter, slightly buffered from severity of the wind.
My coach and team director Paul Abrahams was on the final turn and I heard him yelling, so I just went for it! That was one LONG sprint! But he didn’t actually say “GO”. Things do get lost in translation, especially with howling wind. Initiating the move was better than waiting and being on the defensive, so it all worked out. Thankfully, I was able to get a gap on the breakaway with my initial jump and hold it to the finish line with a bike throw.

I am always thankful for a chance to race my bike, to practice tactics and have the opportunity to be mindful about how I race my bicycle. Thank you to the Peninsula Cycling Club for putting on the Torrence Criterium, and especially thank you for offering junior women’s races, a women’s 3/4 event as well as the women’s 1/2/3. And thank you for the solid prize purse as well!

 

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©Danny Munson

Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.

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