Torrance Criterium: Men 45+

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Torrance Criterium: Men 45+

By Steve Strickler (Surf City Cyclery)

The race was on the Telo course–used on Tuesday for South Bay crit training–a one-mile, smooth, 6-corner course with fast, flowing turns. The day was a perfect mild, summer’s day, fairly steady wind, forcing a strong finishing stretch, and a fast tailwind on back side. Our plan from the beginning was to force the pace early (making it hard on our competition, the 3 favorites) and continue throughout the race to try to establish a breakaway, since 3 top 45+ finishers were within the field (Mike McMahon, Armin Rahm, and Craig Miller).

I jumped across, but it only lasted half a lap. [Read more…]

Brentwood Grand Prix

Brentwood Grand Prix

Brentwood Grand Prix

by Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

The Brentwood Grand Prix is considered the last big local race of the year for many of the racers that live and race very often in SoCal. It is one of the toughest races of the year crit wise.  The course is a seven-corner course with two false flat sections, technical turns, and a lot of wind the later it gets in the day. You really have nowhere to hide because it is a full gas race for a number of reasons.  At this time of year everyone is riding well and has plenty of races in his legs, so if you do not come with your A game or with fitness you will be exposed. Many forget how tough this course is because it is so late in the calendar year. There was a lot of build up prior to the race, as many were talking about doing the race and wanting to do well.  It is not often that we get to race in a downtown city, especially Brentwood, because it is not easy closing down streets in a very busy and vibrant city.

The 35+ race started out very fast. Our team plan was to keep things together and set me up for the sprint as I have good legs right now. But a few guys like Phil Tinstman, Michael Johnson, Chris Demarchi, Randall Coxworth, and Rudy Napolitano were having no part in that. They were looking to bust the field in pieces and boy they did.  It hurt very bad in the process. We put three guys in the move which included Pat Bos, John Wike, and Mike Faello, who lasted briefly. I had to bridge to the move as I saw who was in it and knew the race was rolling off before my eyes. There is no bringing a move like that back, it has too much horse power, experience, talent, and these guys are coming off stage racing and a few of them are headed out to do ten days of racing at the Tour of Vietnam, not to mention we all are prepping for Nationals.
Once the move was established everyone was doing his fair share. I was doing the least as I had two of my stronger guys in the move, Pat Bos and John Wike. Even sitting on was tough. I was thinking t’his is going to hurt real bad’ as we rolled off very early, lap 2 or 3 of the race.  I wish I could give one guy credit but everyone was rolling strong. The goal at one point was to get rid of me as I was the fastest guy in the move and the objective is to never take a sprinter to the line in the break.  Kudos to Randall as he was willing to sacrifice his placing to shed me out of the break.  At one point I heard him tell Chris to “roll it,” meaning he would sit up and allow a gap to open on me, and shut the door in the turn. Cycling is all about odds and who can apply the best tactics. It is not rocket science, but it is most definitely a thinking man’s game.  You have to always be processing and paying attention.  That’s a free tip for you new racers.
Although Randall’s tactics did not work, lady luck was not on our side on this day.  Going into one of the false flat sections heading east, MJ and Chris Demarchi touched wheels. Chris got the worst of it and went down hard but was able to get back up.  My teammate, Wike, had to slam on his brakes and was able to save it, but in the process I had to scrub speed and by the time we looked up the break was rolling off into the sunset. Wrong place wrong time.  It sucks.  But, hey, we had to keep trucking. So I thought Randall, Wike, Chris, and I were done as far as having a shot at winning. Since Chris went down he was able to re-join the winning move after getting a free lap, I was upset at first but had to quickly focus back on the race. We tried to bring the break back since the odds quickly shifted to MRI favor after Wike and I got crashed out of the move even though we did not go down. We were never able to bring back the move. Phil Tinstman was the top guy and was able to seal the deal for his team along with MJ taking second, and the strong man Rudy Napolitano from TIME Velo Pasadena rounded out the podium. I was able to win the field sprint and secure a solid 6th place finish. It is never a dull moment of racing here in SoCal.  These guys are talented and when it is go time they do not mess around.
Thank you very much Cycling Illustrated for allowing me to share the race from my perspective.  Hope I was able to take the readers inside the race for a brief moment.
To all of our sponsors thank you for supporting us at Surf City Cyclery and allowing us to be ambassadors for you, we do not take what each of you do for us lightly. Surf City Cyclery, Sterling BMW, Panache clothing, Morey and Upton LLC, Atheltic Recon, Cytomax, Muscle Milk, Supacaz, SRAM, Specialized Bikes, Play Again Now, IRT Wheels, Studio Concepts, PWC Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Advisory, Villa Real Estate, Eat Chow, GU, Health Pro Wellness Center, McLaren of Newport Beach, Oakley, Shafer Massage, Vittoria Tires, Damon Fit, Empower Coaching, and FOX Clothing

Charon Smith and The 52nd annual MBGP

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Charon Smith and The 52nd annual MBGP

By Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

On Sunday, July 7th, we raced the 52nd annual MBGP! Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW attempted something very unique by trying to win Dana Point GP, State Crit title, and Manhattan Beach GP in two consecutive years. I believe this has never been accomplished.  We won DPGP and States, last on the list was MBGP!

 

Leading into the race, all of the racers wanted to do well, or have one of their teammates shine on this beautiful day in Manhattan Beach. The race course was shaped like a hot dog with a rise on the front side as well as the backside with the wind blowing south off the ocean, which sat within walking distance. Some racers shy away from this course because it can be risky and very painful if you go down, but hey, this is bike racing, we are built like gladiators; only difference is we wear tights with very little protection.

 

Our team plan, which I led, was simple; the goal was to race aggressively, establish a break and stack the move with some of our hammer heads. We had a few options on the move; the plan was to send two or three guys. We tried early on to establish a move, to feel the field out and to see who was willing to join us in taking on this hot dog-shaped coursed. The field was fresh and eager so nothing was established, but that did not stop our mad man John Wike. He kept attacking, and sure enough, the rubber band snapped; our guy Pat Bos, aka “Double Nickle”, made the split with Wike. Pat was peaking at the right time for us. It was a break of eight or so guys, including a SPY rider, as well Felt Audi rider Travis Wilkerson; riding a break is his thing. Of course MRI made the move with one of their many studs, Chris Demarchi. I believe Derek Brauch from Helen’s was in the split, and he has been rolling strong these days as well. I was thinking ‘awesome that is a solid selection’, and Wike had a great shot at closing as he has a wicked finish; the harder the race the better he rides. I was told a few guys were telling him to ease up in the break, meaning he was hurting guys in the move; perfect that is his job. I thought Time had a guy in the move, but I was told they missed the split, so they were forced to chase along with a few others who missed the move. MRI began setting up for a sprint finish by lining up their train, which meant it was time to get on board for the ride. [Read more…]

SCNCA Masters Criterium Championship: Men 35+

Ontario Grand Prix

SCNCA Masters Criterium Championship: Men 35+

by Charon Smith (Surf City Cycling – Sterling BMW)

The SCNCA masters criterium title was on the line this past weekend, which meant it was going to be a dogfight. Leading up to the event I was plotting how our team could close the deal as we have so much talent based in SoCal. I went through several scenarios in my head as, I am very huge on mental preparation.  The one constant that kept coming back to me was, ‘just relax and race the race.’  I have put in the time to win and had great winter training, which lays the foundation for success in my eyes. Knowing this gave me comfort, along with the fact I race with an amazing group of selfless proven men. We had Kirk Bausch, John Slover, Rob Kamppila, John Wike, Pat Bos, Dan Rebeck, and me. We knew the plan.  It was simple: have fun, race hard, be good ambassadors, and let’s see what happens.   Each week we line up the goal does not change.  It is those three things and typically they work. This bike racing is not rocket science.  The team that executes, race as one, and sets up their best guy typically wins or places very high on the board.

[Read more…]

CBR Memorial Day Criterium: Taking the Risk

CBR Memorial Day Criterium: Taking the Risk

CBR Memorial Day Criterium: Taking the Risk

by Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW)

 

Here in SoCal we had back to back days of racing going on. The first taking place up north in Woodland Hills, the Barry Wolfe Grand Prix, which my teammate John Wike won out of a 3 man break the day before. Quite naturally, we wanted to keep the good times rolling the following day. [Read more…]

Dana Point Grand Prix: THE RACE By Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

Dana Point Grand Prix: THE RACE By Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

Dana Point Grand Prix: THE RACE By Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

 

Dana Point Grand Prix: THE RACE

by Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

Sunday, we raced the granddaddy of them all for SoCal. Many consider this the race of the year if you are a local of California. USA Cycling has rated it as the top one-day criterium in America because of the number of riders it attracts, along with the course and the crowds that turn out. The 35+ race had a lot of hype around it for many reasons, but, let’s all be honest, it was because we had a superstar coming out of retirement, Ivan Dominguez aka “The Cuban Missile”.

The race had great build up around it and I am certain everyone had it on his mind for the whole week leading up to it, going through over and over, ‘how can I win DPGP or set one of my teammates up?’

I felt very calm the whole week and I was feeling good, especially since the SCC/Sterling BMW boys and I had just come off a win the week prior. I did not change my approach and kept telling myself, ‘it is bike racing. Just race your bike no matter who lines up and the best guy on that day will win. Period.’ I spoke to my mom on Friday, telling her the rival team, whom she refers to as “that green team,” had signed this really good guy who has won just about every big race against some of the top guys in the world. Her response was, “Can they do that?” I said, “Yes.” On Saturday, she asked, “When is your race? I am coming and let me know what time you are leaving on Sunday. I need to come and pray over your legs.” [Read more…]

Charon Smith-Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+

 

 Charon Smith-Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+

Charon Smith-Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+

Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+

by Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW)

 

The cat and mouse game. Sunday’s race turned out to be a complete chess match between MRI and our team.  The first 3 minutes started out rather chill, until MRI started laying down attack after attack for the rest of the race.  Early on, I knew the game plan.  MRI was going to keep pounding away until they broke the field up or got a mix that they liked.

I got to a few of my guys and said, ‘look, this is the game.  MRI is going to keep attacking, which is fine, but we must be ready and respond properly.  If not, the race is going to slip away.’

60-65 riders started and, for the most part, SCC and MRI had the numbers.  Many of the guys seemed content with letting our two teams do most of the work, which is fine but I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow.  MRI brought 5 of their biggest crit guns to the party: MJ, Chris D, Jamie P, Kayle LeoGrande, and Phil T (who is their hottest rider right now). We lined up with me, Mike F, Patrick Bos, Rob K, John Slover, Ben T, and Mike Carro.

For the most part, we were able to cover or get in every move except for the one that counted with about 5 laps to go.  The gap was not extremely large, but it was large enough that it was tough to bring back the firepower up the road. This was a very flat, straight-up 4-corner crit.  It’s not technical at all, but with the wind picking up and the pace staying steady (along with the attacks coming one after another), it made for an eventful day.

I am going to be honest. I was hurting.  Not sure if it was from my recent crash or the attacks.  Nonetheless, we had to fight on. I found myself yelling more than usual this race, which is totally not my style.  While racing, I find it easier when I remain in a zen state and let things flow naturally.

As we began to line up our train to bring back the group that was up the road, I could see we were getting close but not close enough.  I will say that Chris D and staff did an excellent job of shutting down guys going into turns by closing the door to slow down the momentum and keep his guys’ gap at a safe place.  I must give credit when things are done properly and effectively. Paul V from Rock Sport Racing decided he was going to take matters into his own hands with about 2 laps to go and and he bridged up to the winning move.

It’s funny, you see things happen in a race, but sometimes you don’t respond or you think too much.  Another lesson learned.  Don’t wait for an opportunity, create your opportunity.

Going into the bell lap, things got crazy, but that is normal in racing.  The team positioned me great for the sprint, but as I began to kick I felt this pain and realized I was not completely healed.  It happens.  We are all human.  As I continued to wind it up, I passed one or two riders.  Finally, I came up on Paul from Rock Sport Racing just before the line and I was able to nip him and take 2nd place for SCC/Sterling BMW.  Phil was able to hold off the hard charging group and seal the win for his team.  Awesome job by him and his team for racing as one! I was impressed.  Congrats to all the men that came out and gave a solid effort, and remember keep giving an honest effort and never doubt your ability.

 Charon Smith-Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+

Charon Smith-Velo Allegro St. Patrick’s Day Criterium: Men 35+

Thanks again to the promoters from Velo Allegro for putting on this event.  It was fun.  Lastly, thank you Cycling Illustrated for this awesome platform and giving me the chance to share the race from my eyes!

 

 

 

Rosena Ranch: The Race By Charon Smith

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Rosena Ranch: The Race 

by Charon Smith (SCC/Sterling BMW)

 

On Saturday Ben Travis, Kirk Bausch, and Rob Kamppila, and I went out to do a challenging circuit race in Rosena Ranch.  It sat on a 3-mile course, with a 2-5% climb per lap.  The wind usually blows in off the freeway, which leaves little room for shelter in the field, but on this day the we were spared as the wind wasn’t blowing as hard as last year.

As I arrived, I took a count of who had numbers and who was at the race.  I saw those Helen’s boys with a team of 8 or so. MRI had a full squad of 10 or so guys, which I was not surprised by because, after all, this was their backyard.  I saw the always-strong Rudy from Time Velo roll around and knew we had to watch him as well, although he was racing without many teammates. One of my former teammates, the strong man Travis Wilkerson was there with his sprinter Super Dave Koesel and many others. I was like, ‘okay, we will have some fun.  The course is challenging and there are a number of studs here.’ [Read more…]

NOW Energy Bar Criterium

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NOW Energy Bar Criterium

by John Wike (Surf City Cyclery)

 

Masters 35 + crit. 100-plus riders from SSC/Sterling BMW, MRI, Metal Mtn, Velo Pasadena, Helen’s Cycles, Le Grange.  So many teams out there these days.

The start of the race was fast with MRI taking control. My goal was to attack (pound or flail). Special K and I were able to get into a few breaks, but nothing happened until I put in a huge effort to establish separation from the peloton.  That effort brought out Jamie Paolinetti and MJ (Michael Jonson) from MRI. We had a good group that worked well together, but it seemed like we all lacked a little fitness. So, there we were, flailing about, and sure enough the peloton caught us.

Rats! Oh, well.  Lets go back to our race and close the deal. [Read more…]

Unbeatable in 2013- By Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

 

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27th Annual Roger Millikan Criterium

by Charon Smith (Surf City Cyclery)

 

“The Fast and the Furious” was the name of the game yesterday in the 35+ race.  We averaged a speed of 28.5 mph–let’s round it up to 29.  For those of you who do not race, that is fast and means the race was full of attacks. The field was sold out and everyone who was someone in SoCal was there and brought his A-game for sure.  It was not a day for messing around. It felt like a national race; the atmosphere was awesome, tents were lined up, the crowd was great, and the racers meant business.

This race meant a lot more to me and the rest of the SCC/Sterling BMW family.  This time last year we lost our awesome teammate Todd Schooler, so we were racing in honor of him and wanted to do well for our fallen soldier. Earlier during the week, Todd’s son Robert contacted me and said he wanted to come out, but due to work he did not make it. Nonetheless, we marched on and had our team meeting, which was led by Mark Scott.  He is the best at laying out a race plan and they normally work.   He told us, “look let’s have fun.   We have bodies in the field, so let’s race as one.  The team is stronger when we function as a whole versus someone trying to be a hero or control the race on his own.” [Read more…]