by Eric Anderson (SPY-GIANT-RIDE)
by Erick Sobey
The Barry Wolfe Grand Prix has been an exciting course over the years. Whether it’s the Woodland Hills edition or the new Westlake Village site, it makes for a fast and gritty race. This is one of the few races that are located near my home in Thousand Oaks, so it’s a much easier day to prepare for, logistically.
Last year, I achieved my first P/1/2 podium here behind Rahsaan Bahati and Justin Williams, so I was very keen for a big result once again. It would prove to be a tough task, with the field being large and well represented. Bike Religion had a full squad as well as the MRI goliath. Calimax and CashCall brought some heat. With only three SPY/GIANT/RIDE teammates our job would be tough. We needed to be smart and the intimidating headwind on the finishing straight wasn’t going to make things any easier.
The race started nervous as always. Everyone took his time to figure out the acute first turn and narrow, fast second turn. The final turn was wide, but spit you out into a long finishing straight with a mighty wind and little salvation. Riders were flying all over the place from start to finish, trying to make a break stick. There were several breakaway attempts, a few of which I was involved in, but none would last. It was clear pretty early that this would come down to a sprint finish. So I stayed as safe as possible and made sure to mark the other sprinters: Ivan, Cory, and Ryan, to name a few. My teammate, Steven Davis, was keeping tabs on the teams who were most prone to man a dangerous attack, like MRI, Cashcall, and Calimax. At this point, nothing was going anywhere and the group was hungry for a sprint.
When the lap cards came out, teams started gathering and the battle for position began. At first, Bike Religion manned the helm to set up their sprinter, Ryan Schneider. However, it was hard for any one team to take control as the headwind on the final straight was relentless. This characteristic made for a busy ending. Swarms were abundant on the windy stretch and the group reshuffled right around the finish line on the final laps. The back straight was a different story; fast and physical to set up a tight, swift turn 2.
Before we knew it, the final lap card was out. Steven Davis was near me, constantly giving me a safe wheel to the front. Right as we crossed the finish line preparing for the bell lap, my teammate dropped me off near the front in great position. I was now on the wheels of a surging CashCall squad looking to fight for the front. Although it was quite busy into the first corner, the back straight was strung out and relatively straightforward. The positions were set for the most part and this one was going to be decided by the power on a long finishing stretch. We pedaled hard and focused on a smooth final two turns and came out onto the finish hugging the median gutter. I was about 7th wheel but quite comfortable with my position as I knew the wind would pick riders off in front of me. Unfortunately, however, I was on the outside line and not fully protected from the wind. There was a slight hesitation in front of me for some reason and my momentum was interrupted for an instant. I could have avoided this and slid by but I hesitated and feared I may have doomed my podium chances then and there. No matter, I began to sprint with everything I had. I accelerated quickly and stayed on Chris Barton’s (CashCall) wheel. I wasn’t looking too far ahead but for an instant I got excited as we were definitely catching other riders coming off the front. I gave it all I had for a long 200m+ sprint, but the leaders were too far off. I remained on Chris’s wheel to exploit the draft and hope to grab a final few positions, but I was unable to do much more. I came in fifth, respectably, and exhaled. Although I would have liked to obtain a podium, I finished behind four well respected sprinters: winner Ivan Dominguez, Cory Williams, Mario Frayre, and Chris Barton in fourth. Congrats to those riders for a hard fought sprint.
I was certainly pleased to come out to my home “turf” and race a good race for the second consecutive year. This venue is turning out to be a favorite amongst the riders and we thank Serious Cycling for putting on a great event. Congratulations, again, to Ivan Dominguez for a big win and showing his “Missile” traits. I can’t wait to be back again for Barry Wolfe next year. Thank you.
Spy Giant wins Dana Point GP 45+
By Aron Gadhia
Not just an old man winning an old men’s race.
Dana Point Grand Prix is the biggest crieirium of the year for us here in SoCal. On a good day, I dread racing crits. On a day like this, I am not only dreading it but have had a night of obsessing about as well as visualizing every possible scenario, with most of them being negative.
But I do love to race, and this will be my first race back since having a new baby girl 7 weeks ago.
The team and I have one plan: get me safely out of the last turn in 2nd or 3rd wheel and let me sprint to a win. Johnny Walsh, Alan Flores, John Nist, Taylor Fenstermacher, Jim Pappe, and our fearless team captain John Hatchitt are all professional riders with lots of experience and confidence. They are the best guys, synergistically speaking, that I’ve ever raced with, so I feel not only lucky, but also determined to live up to their expectations. Johnny Walsh says, “You got this,” and he’s always a person who tells me what he thinks and never sugar coats it. Still, I have doubts.
At the start line, Roger Worthington calls up to the front the many multiple world and national champions in our field. Right after that, the heavens open with the first and only rain all day, making the last turn on the first lap very slippery. I take the turn wide so I can ride thru the apex straight. My rear wheel slides, but I manage to keep the bike upright. A bunch of guys behind me, contenders like Thurlow Rogers (BFC) and Bert Glennon (BFC), aren’t so lucky and a loud crash takes them out with Thurlow suffering a broken collarbone.
Lots of moves driving up the road and sketchy fast turns are all part of crit racing, and Dana Point does not let the spectators down. It is fast and furious.
I have raced 35+ for years and been lucky enough to win a race or two in that field. I can say that the speed might be half- to 1 mile per hour faster there, but the 45+ guys, the sprinters that is, have decades of experience to call on. This makes it a very tough race, particularly in the last lap, which is usually very physical. This particular race had riders like Mark Scott (Surf City), Craig miller (BBC), Michael McMann (Team Velocity), and Armin Ramin (Time) who are famous for riding aggressively and would all be threats in the finale.
In the final few laps Mark Noble (Time), Johnny Walsh, and Alan Flores (Spy Giant) all make their moves, keeping it fast. The rest of Spy Giant; Jim, John Nist, Taylor, and John Hatchitt go to the front and bring back moves without our team in them. The final lap is complete mayhem, with guys yelling and chopping and bumping. I drive up the final rise into turn 3 and 4, staying in 3rd position by floating up and trying to beat the inevitable waves of riders that come around the front in the end of a race if the pace isn’t fast enough. The pace is clearly fast, but I don’t want to take any chances.
Into the last turn, 2 riders crank into the lead. I am 3rd wheel, but have to bump and work to stay there. In the past I might have given up the fight, but from experience I know that giving it up will mean losing the race.
There is a gap between me and 1st and 2nd wheel coming out of the final turn, so I jump hard knowing it is my only chance. A hole on the outside next to the barriers stays open for me and with my legs burning; I sprint past Craig Miller (BBI-SIC) and Steve Strickler (BFC) to win by a solid margin.
The best part of the day is meeting up with the team afterwards. They all executed the plan perfectly. I am once again so grateful to them, as well as to Michael Marx from Spy, Brent Garrigus from Ride Bike shop, Giant Bikes, and Bont shoes!
Pounding Idiots Criterium
by Erik Johnson
Named “Pounding Idiots” for good reasons, I’m sure. It was to be a “fun” day for a few of my teammates and me in L.A. With next week’s Dana Point, CBR was to be a day to race with little in terms of a plan. Instead, Kelsey, Chris, DMac, Josh, and I were going to go with the flow and give ourselves permission to try a thing or two and have some fun.
The race unfolded interestingly. I counted ten MRI guys before the race, a few Helen’s, and a handful of Surf City. Add in a few wild cards, a Paul Vaccari, and a Brett Clare, and I knew the race was going to be active. I figured MRI would be looking for a break, as they enjoy. Because Danny Kam was there, I knew they had a hand to play in the sprint, so they wouldn’t worry too much if their break attempts failed. Oh, and did I mention Charon was there to get the monkey off his back? Enough said.
Vlees Huis Womens 123
by Tracy Tilton (SPY Giant Ride)
The weather was a little colder than anticipated and breezy from the start. After I got in a warm up, I met with my new teammates! We did a little strategic planning, which was all new to me since I have never been on a team before.
Approaching the start line, I noticed the field was relatively small so I knew covering breaks would not be too difficult. Plus, SPY Giant Ride had 6 women to wear out the field. The race began very controlled with the help of our Carine. One attack happened during the first lap by Becky Siegel and she held a solo gap for a while, but we reeled her back in.
The start of the second lap was when the attacks started. Attack after attack was happening but nothing stuck too long. Becky Siegel attacked again and our Kirsten Darley chased. They were able to establish a gap but not for long. The field caught them and Kristen told me to get the next attack. So I was ready when Hannah Swan decided to attack on a climb. I wasn’t going to let that get away, and neither was Jessica Cerra.
San Dimas Stage Race
by Kristabel Doebel-Hickok
When I woke up on Wednesday with a slight sore throat, I figured my “excitement” leading up to SDSR had become stress and hoped I would feel great by Friday. What actually happened, was I became increasingly sick and increasingly determined to race until my lungs and/or legs had nothing left to give and I crossed the final finish line.
Warming up for the 4.25 mile uphill TT, my HR seemed high but my legs were ready to roll. Honestly, I wasn’t particularly nervous because a TT is very similar to a running race in that all you have to focus on is your effort. Well, actually, I was also planning to focus on my line, but that ended up being far more difficult than I imagined. About 3 minutes into the TT, it felt like some poison had been injected into my whole body. I found this slightly terrifying because it was unlike any sensation I had felt in training or racing. My whole body felt somewhere between aching and numb. Pretty soon, I sounded like I was hyperventilating, and after 5 minutes I had hit the heart rate that I said I couldn’t hold for more than a couple minutes. I then watched my HR increase and my speed decrease until I kicked it in for a finishing “sprint” (if you could call it that) and crossed the line after 18’31” of my body asking me to stop and my mind saying you’re not done until you cross that line, that line wayyyy up the road. That placed me 12th in the GC, within a second of 11th and 13th. I wasn’t happy with my time and I wasn’t happy with finding it near impossible to focus on anything but keeping my effort up, but I knew I had found a level of toughness that would serve me well in the future. [Read more…]
San Dimas Stage Race
by Erik Johnson (SPY)
This race is always a must for SoCal racers, and many others who travel from all over the country. The stages are demanding and the competition doesn’t get much better. To finish well in any of the stages is substantial, and so my finish in Sunday’s 35+ criterium was celebrated, even though I finished 4th.
Sunday’s criterium began with just less than fifty racers. For some reason, this year’s numbers were low in the masters field. Couple this with a challenging time trial and fast road race, and we were left with only a few dozen of the best racers around. At the starting line, stars and stripes and state champion status were not uncommon. What seemed to be lacking was pack fodder. My teammates (Ryan Dahl and Peter Anderson) and I knew we would need to ride aggressively for breaks and regroup to help get me to the last corner if it ended with a sprint. [Read more…]
by Kristabel Doebel-Hickok
I overheard a racer in Sunday’s field say something like, “there is no better way to learn than to be thrown into the fire.” That pretty much sums up why I was at the Merco Classic Stage Race. It was my first stage race, individual TT, and experience beyond the local SoCal races.
Stage 1 was the MID road race, which sounded the least daunting of the 4 stages; except that it would be my first glimmer of higher level of competition. I started at the back so I could just watch what happens for a while. Unfortunately, I found that moving up in such a huge field (60+ racers) is not easy and it’s hard to really follow what’s going on from the very back. I spent most of the race moving up a bit by riding on the outside of the pack and then giving up wheel after wheel to return to the back of the pack on the relatively flat sections and trying to climb hard on the steep section although the super rough road made that quite the challenge. I held my own in the first main pack after the break, but felt a bit lost and uncertain of my role among such loaded teams and constant shuffling of wheels. I finished 16th, 3’25” behind the leader. [Read more…]