Through the Eyes of a (Buzzed) Spectator

By: Christina Barton

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Arriving to the race on the last day of Tulsa Tough was a lot less crazy than I had
anticipated. After hearing about this race for years, I almost felt like we showed up on the wrong
day. The shuttle dropped us off about a half mile from the race and we followed a very normal
crowd of people to the start/finish. Everything seemed pretty calm. It was like any other race I
had been to. I actually felt a little out of place with my crop top and beer in hand, that is until I
turned the corner onto Cry Baby Hill.
Watching the riders race through the massive crowd is probably how Moses felt when he
parted the Red Sea, except this was actually real. As we continued to walk up the hill, the party
got louder and crazier with every step. It was what I imagine the Tour De France being like, only
with more beer and grown men wearing diapers. We reached the center of the madness and I
almost could not handle it. The sun was beating down on us and my luke warm beer was not
keeping me as hydrated as I had hoped. So, what is a girl who is sweating on her upper lip
suppose to do when she thinks she might die from a heat stroke? Dance, of course. When the
riders were not present, the middle of the street was more hoppin’ than the gay club my friend
and I accidentally ended up at the night previous. Although, I did get more free beer at the gay
club. As the riders rounded the corner, referees wearing wigs and kilts would shove everyone to
the side. This was my least favorite part because, being short, I almost alway ended up in a
guy’s sweaty armpit.
Off into the distance up the hill I could see my haven. The KHS tent looked so cool and
inviting. I was almost worried it was a mirage. We headed in the direction of the tent shoving red
blow horns and baby dolls on sticks out of our way. I immediately collapsed in a folding chair.
Paul Abrahams, director of KHS/Maxxis/JLVelo, asked me why I was sweating so much and
handed me a cold beer (Thanks Paul.) We decided to head back down to the party. This was
when the torrential downpour started. We were soaked head to toe and I was so happy.
My friend and I traveled back and forth between the tent and the party throughout the
whole race. After a few beers, I really didn’t know what was going on in the actual race, but you
better believe I was the loudest cheerleader on the course.River-Parks-Criterium-39
When the race was over, I was happy to hear Fabrizio Von Nacher of
KHS/Maxxis/JLVelo got 3rd place for the stage and 2nd overall. I waited around with the team
afterward and acted as a security guard when drunk blue haired men wearing shower curtains
as togas would come over and fondle the riders. And how else would we end such an amazing
race day other than to eat barbeque and dance until 2am at SoundPony. Tulsa Tough you have
outdone yourself and I will definitely be there next year, but with more beer, less clothes.

Race Report: 805 Criterium Weekend (Men’s P12)

Words by Willie Myers (Herbalife pb Marc Pro-Strava)

Last weekend, my buddy Garret Hankins (Team Mikes Bikes pb Equator Coffees) and I loaded up the car headed south to Lompoc for the 805 Crit Series. With 3 days of racing and some solid purse money, both of us were looking forward to a full weekend of 90-minute crits. We decided that going down a day early to relax on the beach seemed like the logical decision. We drove down on Thursday, only to discover that the beaches were temporarily closed. Disappointed, but a perfect reason to sit in our hotel room and watch cartoons for hours and hours.

Which is exactly what we did.

Day One: Hancock Twilight Criterium. With strong winds and a subtly curving course, the racing was aggressive from the gun. I found myself off the front for most of the race with a combination of Logan Loader (Amore & Vita), Brandon Gritters (Rock n Road) and rotating door of other riders; some would bridge, then others would get dropped. And repeat. With 5 laps to go, the break had swelled to 9 riders including Garret (who sprints REALLY fast); it was clear we would be staying away.

With two laps to go Gritters put in a haymaker of an attack which got us chasing hard. In our frantic chase effort we managed to lap the field and catch Gritters. 300 meters from the finish Loader launched his sprint as I was coming around when Garret blew by me and posted up for sweet, sweet glory. If you’re going to get beat it might as well be your bro who does it.

Day Two: The Avenue of Flags Criterium. Bigger field, more wind, higher temperatures, and bounce houses.

Plan for the day: make break, win bike race, eat cheesecake. I was hoping we would get a few easy laps before things got lively. These hopes were dashed as people repeatedly threw themselves off the front.

At some point, I decided it would be a good idea to bridge to a dangerous looking move and -Wham! Bam! that was the break. We built a large gap and kept the pressure on; eventually lapping the field. With me, was my Herbalife pb Marc Pro-Stava team mate, Josh Carling.

Coming through bell lap Josh charged to the front and took control through the tight final few corners leading into the finish. Going kamikaze speed into the final corner, Cory Williams (Incycle – Cannondale) dove the inside of Josh, with his teammate Hunter Grove glued to his wheel.

After some bumper boats with Hunter I got a clear line through the corner and sprinted real real hard to victory. With my 2nd place on the first day and my win I was now leading the omnium leading into the final day. I got my cheesecake on the way home.

Day Three: Valley of flowers Criterium. As I walk to registration I wonder to myself, “How is it possible that there is more wind every day. When does it end? How much prerace did I just take?”

With my energy levels all but topped off I lined up for the final day of racing. I’ve never worn a leaders jersey so that was a nice change of pace. I will now sum up the first 45 minutes of racing…ATTACK, CHASE, ATTACK, PRIME LAP, ATTACK, get really tired, realize I shouldn’t have been attacking, hang on for dear life.

At some point Logan Loader and Brandon Gritters got off the front and built a sizable lead over the field- they were gone. I had a healthy lead in the omnium points but I can never say no to a good field sprint. With a couple laps remaining Team Clif Bar had 7 guys on the front keeping the pace high in an effort to deter anyone from slipping away.

Last lap I kept sheltered and out of trouble, knowing thatI could make up a few wheels in the long final straight. I jumped with 300 meters to go and had clear skies to the finish winning the sprint for 3rd.

With three podium trips in three days I sealed up the omnium with Garret in 2nd, Brandon Gritters 3rd, Logan Loader 4th, and Pete Morris (Team Clif Bar) 5th. Huge thanks to Mike Hecker and all of the people that put on an amazing weekend of racing.

Cant wait for next year.

Willie Myers lives in Sacramento, CA.

 

 

Race Report: Red Kite #8: Tri-Valley Criterium (Men’s P12)

Words by Jeff Linder (SquadraSF pb Terun)

Photo Credit: NorCal Cycling Photos http://norcalcyclingphotoscom

Photo Credit: NorCal Cycling Photos
http://norcalcyclingphotoscom

This was my first race back after a month of minor fatigue and that kind of flat feeling of being stuck in a rut.  Incidentally, I’d been house sitting for a friend who lives on the penninsula, so I spent the week leading into the race really building foundation fitness and endurance, forcing myself to climb up in the hills everyday (~5miles @7%).  I don’t use power, so I train by feel, and shifting my focus from anaerobic to aerobic endurance seems to help if I start to feel flat after a long racing block.

Anyway, onto the report:

My SquadraSF pb Terun team lined up with 5 motivated guys – more than any other team.  Three raced in the previous field, and on a hot day that can really zap your legs.  As part of the biggest team represented, I knew the responsibility was going to fall on us to control the pace and inevitable breakaway groups.  I was extra motivated early on while my teammates were still recovering from the previous race. And found myself in the early move with a couple strong dudes, notably Pat Stanko (Team Stand). I was only 3 points down in the season-long Omnium, so I was “that guy” sprinting for prime laps out of the break.

Our group of 5 was never really solidified, and things really fell apart after I took a prime lap about 20 minutes in.  Stanko and a CoreTechs rider (undoubtedly riding in support of team leader and sprinter Randy Bramblett) stayed away, while the three of us drifted back to the pack, where I had 4 rested teammates eager to pounce on any counter.

 

We spent the next ~30 minutes controlling the gap and marking attempts to bridge.  Strongman Jules Goguely (CCB racing) was a standout threat; following teammate Chris Evan’s pre-race words of wisdom, I paid close attention to him.  I marked a particularly hard attack he put in, but by the time we neared the group of 2 up the road, things started to fall apart, and we ended up conceding to the charging field.

Remarkably, Stanko was the final rider to be reeled back in – props to that effort, that dude has diesel V8.

I sat in and rested in the final stages of the race, while my teammates did a good job to control the front.  My teammate Matt Mikul, in his first race back from a gnarly crash at the Memorial Day Criterium in which he suffered a few broke ribs, said he was good for a lead-out. And he sure was.

This guy is always on form.

I sat on his wheel starting with about 3-to-go, and by about a half a lap to go, he started winding up his effort.  I battled shoulder-to-shoulder with Jules in the final corner, and he came into the final straight with a little more speed, which he carried to the line.  I took 2nd, and Bramblett third. Matt managed to hold on for 4th.  Lots to look forward to in the coming weeks leading up to San Rafael.

Links to photos and video below. Thanks for reading.

http://norcalcyclingphotos.com/NCCP/2015/redkite8/lightbox.html

—-

Jeff Linder lives in San Jose, CA.

Zirbel Wins 2015 North Star Grand Prix as Von Nacher Takes Stillwater Stage

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Zirbel Wins 2015 North Star Grand Prix as Von Nacher Takes Stillwater Stage

By Cynthia Lou.

 

Tom Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) won the North Star Grand Prix by finishing in the field to maintain his general classification lead. Fabrizio Von Nacher (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo) won the Stillwater Criterium as fellow breakaway companions Ben Hill (Donkey Label Racing) and Kevin Girkins (Elbowz Racing Team) took second and third respectively.

 

The break formed early in the 23-lap race. Five riders were off the front by the second lap, but within one lap only Von Nacher, Hill, and Girkins were left. They hovered between 50 seconds and one-minute fifteen seconds ahead of the field for the majority of the race.

 

Optum controlled the front of the race, chasing down a few bridge attempts but otherwise holding steady keeping Zirbel protected.

 

“This course is all about positioning,” said Zirbel. “The team kept it as low stress as possible for me, neutralizing the attacks that were dangerous for me by slowly ramping it up. I think the teams here know that my team was really strong so that discouraged any attacks by GC threats. It was about as low stress as I could have hoped for. No mechanicals, no crashes. I was pretty happy with that.”

 

Though Zirbel and Von Nacher came away from Stillwater and the infamous Chilkoot Hill with its 18% average grade as winners, neither consider themselves to be climbers.

 

“I’m a sprinter!” said Von Nacher.  “But I have been losing some weight this past month so, I have been working it.”

 

Leveraging a better power-to-weight ratio worked for Von Nacher, entering today’s stage in second place in the Sport Beans King of the Hill competition. However, he had quite a points gap to bridge to win the King of the Hill competition.

 

“One of the main reasons I went into the break was because Fabrizio (Von Nacher) was there,” said Girkins. “If he won all three (King of the Hill competitions) and I won none he would have passed me by one point. So him going into that break was my motivation. Just being (in the break) alone was my way to seal it up. The first KOH I had to fight for. After that they pretty much let me set pace.”

 

“They didn’t mind me going up the hill first and taking a little bit of a dig,” laughed Girkins.

 

The K’ul Chocolate Sprint Competition, won by Bryan Gomez (Champion Systems-Stan’s NoTubes), was also fairly well sealed up entering Stillwater with a 17-point gap over second placed Ryan Anderson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). Still, Gomez had to finish the stage to win the jersey.

 

Gomez and a small group of riders crashed several laps into the race, getting back in with the help of Shimano neutral. Teammate Fabio Calabria worked with him to chase back to the field after the crash, but the crash took its toll on Gomez and he and Calabria were eventually pulled and given calculated times.

 

Up the road the break worked together smoothly until five laps to go when end-of-race strategies kicked in.

 

“Fabrizio not getting the jersey made him really want the stage win so he started to sit on a little bit,” said Girkin. “I just really wanted on that podium so I just drove it the last lap to try to keep that gap open as long as possible.”

 

Hill attacked the break to extend their lead over the field. The trio finished just a few seconds ahead of the field, which contained Zirbel, Nicolai Tanovitchii (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), and Kaler Marshall (Canyon Bicycles – Shimano). Tanovitchii won the Greg LeMond Best Young Rider jersey and Marshall the Luther VW Best Amateur jersey.

 

Chris Winn (GS Ciao) was awarded the Penn Cycle Most Aggressive Rider jersey for his bridge attempts.

 

Carmen Small (Elbowz Racing Team) officially finished the North Star Grand Prix as the only woman to ever race in the Pro Men’s field.

 

“It was a shock, that first lap,” said Small. “I knew today I probably had to dig the deepest out of all the days to make it. The steeper it gets the bigger the difference in power with the men and women.

 

Kids racing and community involvement is a goal of the North Star Grand Prix, as has bringing awareness to women’s racing. Small’s performance was a positive influence across the board.

 

“So many parents brought their young kids to take pictures with me,” Small said. “Being a role model for these young girls is incredible. That’s something that you don’t think much as an elite athlete. You don’t think that you’re a hero of these young kids but you are and you don’t notice it until you are up there doing this kind of stuff so that was really an incredible experience.”

 

The North Star Grand Prix concluded another successful year of racing, showcasing teams with heart, passion and focus while highlighting causes important to the community.

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.

Anderson Wins Uptown Minneapolis Criterium; Hill Extends GC Lead

 

Anderson Wins Uptown Minneapolis Criterium; Hill Extends GC Lead

By Cynthia Lou

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The Uptown Minneapolis Criterium was all about the sprint for all jersey competitions, not just the K’ul Chocolate Sprint jersey competition.

 

Ryan Anderson and teammate Jesse Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) took first and third on the stage as Ben Hill (Donkey Label Racing) took second. Hill secured eight seconds of time bonus for his second place finish and five seconds for winning the first time bonus sprint competition, extending his lead over second-placed Tom Zirbel (Optum) by 13 seconds.

 

Optum stacked their general classification options as Anderson’s 15 seconds of time bonus (12 for the stage win and three for second in an intermediate time bonus sprint) moved him into third overall at 20 seconds behind Hill. Teammate Scott Zwizanski sits fourth overall at 27 seconds back. Anthony moved into seventh overall from ninth due to his six seconds of time bonus.

 

Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes successfully organized to deliver Bryan Gomez to the K’ul Chocolate Sprint jersey lead. Gomez started the stage just one point behind Elbowz Racing’s Stefan Rolfe.

 

Several crashes shook up the field, most notably one that took down over 25 riders. Between the crashes and the fast paced attacks to win intermediate sprints, the field split into two main groups.

 

The day’s notable break formed after the field split  with about 19 laps to go and consisted of Greg LeMond Best Young Rider jersey wearer Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant/Specialized), second placed young rider George Simpson (GS Ciao), Sergio Hernandez (InCycle-Cannondale Pro Cycling Team), George Capelle (Isagenix / SeaSucker / Guttenplan Coaching), and Gabriel Baca (Elbowz Racing).

 

“It was a fight on the sprints today for the time bonus,” said Ortenblad. “I attacked down the back stretch and the second the guys pulled through I knew I was pretty marked because the second placed young rider was there. I was a little bummed he was in the group because I was hoping to pull some time on him today.” Ortenblad was indeed able to extend his lead over Simpson by winning the second time bonus competition from the break.

 

“Everyone worked together well,” said Ortenblad. “Then Optum must have lined it up because they caught us within 10 laps or so.”

 

“We expected that was going to happen,” said Anderson of the break. “We wanted to stay together with the team and commit to the finish.”

 

The break was caught with just under two laps to go.

 

“I’m new to the team so we’re sort of finding each other a bit,” said Hill. “Tonight for the first time we got a bit of organization going into the finish there. We’re starting to work well together. Optum, they’re another level. But we’re doing what we can.”

 

There was no change in the Luther VW Top Amateur jersey, which will be worn by Elbowz Racing’s Colin Strickland.

 

Other notable Elbowz Racing rider was the field’s only woman Carmen Small, who stayed comfortably in the front group for the duration of her race.

 

“I made it to my halfway mark, and did a few more laps because it got easier because Optum was trying to collect themselves on the front,” said Small. “The bigger picture is to finish Stillwater, so while it may be kind of weird that I quit the race but I have to be smart about where I put my efforts. Tomorrow’s going to be really really hard. I know the course and the climbs will hurt me more than most of the guys.”

 

“What I noticed yesterday [at Cannon Falls Road Race] is I was fine sitting in the flats but as soon as I would go in the wind it was really hard for me. It was literally 5km/hr faster than any European race I’ve ever done. The sections that were Strava’ed, I was five miles per hour faster than any woman last year so that gives you an idea of the speed difference.”

 

Small, ever the fan favorite, was awarded a crowd prime of over $500 for being the first woman across the line.

 

Racing continues tomorrow with the 100.1 mile Menomonie Road Race, featuring higher classified King of the Hills competitions which are sure to shake up the standings.

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.

Barberi Solos to Win Cannon Falls Road Race as Hill Holds Yellow

Barberi Solos to Win Cannon Falls Road Race as Hill Holds Yellow

by Cynthia Lou

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The skies may have been sunny and clear, but attacks stormed the peloton in the 85.4 mile road race in Cannon Falls. Stefano Barberi (California Giant/Specialized) won the stage by capitalizing on hesitations between fighting teams, attacking his breakaway companions at the start of the 1.9 mile finishing circuits and taking all 4 laps solo. Colin Strickland (Elbowz Racing) and Ryan Anderson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) followed behind to take second and third, absorbing the remaining time bonuses. Ben Hill (Donkey Label Racing) finished sixth on the stage with the same time as the field to keep the yellow jersey for one more stage.

 

After a smooth neutral rollout, teams took turns attacking to find the right breakaway combination. Eventually the decisive break formed, grew 11-riders deep, and stayed together for over half the race.

 

“Optum was going crazy, and a lot of people were attacking as well,” said Hill. “We were mainly just following them because they’re the closest GC threat. I was following, and we missed a move. My teammate John towed me to the front then I just went. It took me a good while to get across to the move but once I got there then that was it.”

 

Once a solid gap formed, team cars were allowed up to confer with their riders in the break, and tactics changed again.

 

“Optum decided they didn’t like [the break], then we started playing games,” said Hill. “That tired me out a little bit but it worked out in the end. I had to make a choice, I couldn’t keep following them all day. I let Will Routley [Optum] go and went back to the bunch with the others, which worked out in the end.”

 

With the break shattered, leaving only Routley, Andres Diaz (Incycle-Cannondale Pro Cycling Team), Chris Barton and Ulises Castillo (KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo), and Nicolae Tanovitchii (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), other teams seized the opportunity to bridge up.

 

“The group split so I jumped across with Joe Schmalz (Hincapie Racing Team) and the two of us along with one other rider just went for it,” said Barberi. “We made it across. As soon as we entered the circuits I knew I had to kind of give it a go.”

 

“I knew they were going to be looking at each other. No one wants to be the guy who closes the gap and then have someone counter attack and then they end up missing out on the split. I knew that by going early there was a good chance I was going to get some hesitation.”

 

Barberi claimed the Penn Cycle Most Aggressive Rider jersey for his bold move.

 

Castillo’s work in the break earned him the Sport Beans King of the Hills jersey. Strickland’s second place finish came with an eight-second time bonus, moving him into the lead for the Luther VW Top Amateur jersey.

 

Stefan Rolfe (Elbowz Racing) earned more sprint points on the stage to keep his lead in the K’ul Chocolate Sprint Competition.

 

Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant/Specialized) finished in the field to hold the Greg LeMond Best Young Rider jersey into tomorrow’s Uptown Minneapolis Criterium.

Race Report: The Mighty Tour de Nez (Men’s P12)

Words by: Max Korus (Team Mike’s Bikes pb Equator Coffees)

The mighty Tour de Nez is striving to return to its full glory, and it is well on its way. My Team Mike’s Bikes pb Equator Coffees team mate, Roman Kilun, regaled the team with tales of his success at this race back in the day, and everyone was excited to be at the re-imagined classic.

The team arrived at the course in Reno after the traffic filled 3 hour drive from the Bay Area and set to work unloading the team’s Toyota Sienna in the searing dry heat. With our mechanic, Caesar, reliably on hand and the A-Frame stand adorned with team bikes, the riders found respite from the high temperatures in the shade and began pinning numbers, preparing ice socks, and relaxing before the start.

With a strong contingent of 8 riders at the event, Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffees had numerous options; Roman and Adam Switters laid out a plan that would set the team up for success. Half the squad would be prepared to follow any attacks from the gun (which has lately become the M.O. of the California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team), while Nate English, myself, and Premier Series leader Colin Daw would try to wait until at least 15 minutes into the hour long crit before making any serious efforts. The goal was to avoid a field sprint and to further Colin’s advantage in the Premier Series.

The temperature had only dropped slightly by the start and many riders were packing ice socks into their jerseys with the telltale bulge that would never be mistaken for muscle on a cyclist. The .6 mile course featured a gradual rise on the finishing stretch and then turned right into the longest straight buffeted by a strong headwind before entering the more technical series of turns that would prove decisive.

On the start line with the pre-race instructions Michael Sayers threw out a $200 prime for the first U23 rider to lap the field; with that the whistle blew and the pedaling was on.

The race was rather calm from the gun with the anticipated cannonball from CalGiant never materializing. The dance of attacks and counters raged on for the first few laps and it wasn’t long before I was off the front with a small group including Brendan Rhim and Willie Myers. With a $200 prime on offer Rhim struck out and collected a nice payday. I countered the move going clear solo. A VuMedi rider from the earlier move clawed his way back to my wheel, but could not keep the high pace and soon drifted back to the field.

With the leash off I put my head down and powered on, using the technical section of the course to recover. As the laps wound down, so did the gap, and I was joined by teammate Colin Daw, and the inimitable Justin Rossi (Herbalife p/b MarcPro-Strava) with somewhere around 20 laps to go. With more horsepower up front, the trio continued to fly around the course with Rossi and I driving the move and Colin sitting comfortably at the back waiting to pounce for the win.

In the dwindling laps of the race, the tail of the field and follow motos came into view and the possibility of lapping the field became a real opportunity. With the gap down to only a handful of seconds, Colin attacked to get across and leave Rossi behind, but the Herbalife rider would not be distanced and so he towed me back to Colin’s wheel as the three rejoined the rear of the field.

Roman was ready and waiting at the back of the field and within 300m had escorted  both Colin and I straight to the pointy end of things.

Max Korus at the end of a hard-fought Tour de Nez

Max Korus at the end of a hard-fought Tour de Nez

There was chaos up the road with a number of riders clear of the field who were not yet lapped. My TMB team handled the situation with aplomb and went to the front to control the race with Roman and Nate spearheading the charge in the thin air of Reno.

The confusion of the frenetic pace was evident as many riders in the field were unaware that a group had lapped the field and the usual jockeying for position began without any consideration for those contesting the win. In the final few laps there was a crash which claimed our breakaway companion, Rossi, as a victim.

The groups off the front continued to be reeled in by the strong work of the Mike’s Bikes train. In the final lap, just before the technical section of the course, the last group was in the cross hairs.

I jumped on the outside and railed the corners to go clear of the scrum confident in the knowledge that I was the first rider on the road. Coming out of the final sweeping right, I opened my sprint only to be nipped on the line by Ansel Dickey of CalGiant. But I had done what Ansel hadn’t and was a lap up on the rider resplendent in CalGiant Berry red. Colin Daw flashed past the line a bike length or two behind to secure a Team Mike’s Bikes 1-2 finish with several other TMB riders closing out the top 10.

Max Korus lives in Palo Alto, CA.

Hill Wears Yellow Jersey as Rothe Wins Lowertown St. Paul Criterium

Hill Wears Yellow Jersey as Rothe Wins Lowertown St. Paul Criterium

By Cynthia Lou.

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Ben Hill (Donkey Label Racing) claimed the yellow jersey by winning the first time bonus sprint, shaving five seconds off his overall time to put him one-second faster than Tom Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies). Stefan Rothe (Elbowz Racing) struck out in breakaway with Bryan Stevens (Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes) and Andrew Dalheim (Canyon Bicycles – Shimano) at 28 laps to go of the 40 lap race. At just over one lap to go, the break was mere meters from being completely absorbed when Rothe gave a final hard effort to hold off the chase and claim the stage victory.

 

Holding off a charging peloton from the breakaway was “something I see on television but that usually doesn’t happen to me, so, I was kind of surprised,” said Rothe. “It definitely wasn’t planned like that. I knew the two guys that were in the breakaway were good sprinters and we were about to get caught and I figured I might as well go for it. If I sprint against them I’d definitely get second or third. It doesn’t happen often to pull it off and I’m very thankful I had my team manager give me splits, stand on the corner, and tell me what to do.”

 

Historically, the St. Paul Criterium has ended in a bunch sprint. However this year’s three-quarter mile (1.2km) course was shorter than previous years, lending itself to quick laps and technical turns that proved effective in slowing down a chase.

 

The peloton slid out of the start, racing smoothly the first few laps while biding time for the first critical bonus sprint at 32 laps to go. Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies held the front of the race guarding Zirbel’s yellow jersey. By 35 laps to go the peloton strung out as riders positioned themselves to launch.

 

“I snuck away a bit, took them by surprise, went hard for a lap and got it,” said Hill of his decisive move. “I went with almost a lap to go, before the sprint through the technical bit. There was one guy that came with me but I lost him through the corners and stayed away.”

 

“It wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t the end of the world for us either,” said Ryan Anderson (Optum) about Hill’s time bonus sprint. “It just happened in the beginning so we just move forward from there. We’re still in really good position so it’s good looking forward.”

 

Anderson finished second on the stage, with teammate Guillaume Boivin in third.

 

“No stress,” added Anderson. “Not yet at least!”

 

Races Within The Race

Bike racing is known as chess on wheels for its myriad of inner games and strategies within strategies, jersey competitions within the overall competition. North Star Grand Prix added another layer of interest to the game with racer Carmen Small, who goes down in history books as the first woman to race in the men’s professional field.

 

Small won the North Start Grand Prix last year in the women’s race, which was cancelled this year. Her appearance and performance made her a fan favorite, with support pouring in over social media and a vocal local crowd. She won a crowd-funded prime of $109 for being the best women’s finisher.

 

About the differences in the men’s and women’s peloton in a crit, Small said, “The guys can just push so much more power than women can. Basically my tactic was to stay in front as long as I could. I got a call up which helped a ton. Right now I don’t have a lot of road racing in me, so I don’t have a lot of high end. I have really good TT form right now because I’ve been doing a lot of that, so it was a shock. I knew it would be, so I knew I just needed to see 20 laps to go and then I could be safe.”

 

“I really think it brought a good morale to the team Elbowz team,” she added. “They did really well today, three in the top 10, it was really neat to be a part of that.”

 

Indeed Elbows Racing dominated the jersey competition after today’s stage. On top of his stage win, Rothe claimed the K’ul Chocolate Sprint Competition jersey and the Penn Cycle Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Teammate Michael Sheehan holds both the Luther VW Top Amateur jersey and the Sports Beans King of the Hills jersey.

 

Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant / Specialized) held the Greg LeMond Best Young Rider jersey.

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