Winters Road Race Pro 1/2

By Adam Switters (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)

 

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

The Winters Road Race has always been sort of a homecoming for me. Living just down the road in Davis for 6 years while attending college, I have ridden the road race course well north of 100 times. The course brings out every type of rider, from sprinters to climbers. The final climb is just far enough that the climbers can hope to hit it hard and bring a small group to the line, but also just easy enough that sprinters are often able to make it over the top for a chance at a sprint finish. This year’s race was the 6th race of the Cal Cup series and one of the last races of Northern California’s Prestige Series.

Team Mike’s Bikes came into the race with a strong squad that included the defending champion Dana Williams. Add in Roman Kilun (second in the Prestige Series), myself (current Cal Cup points leader), on-form riders Brandon Trafton, Nick Newcomb, Shawn Rosenthal and James Laberge; the team was coming to the race with some serious horsepower.

Our goals for the race were three-fold:

  1. Win the race
  2. Defend Cal Cup lead
  3. Premier Series Points

What we didn’t want to do however: Forsake goal #1 for goals #2 and #3. The main objective was to win the race, and if we happened to grab some points along the way, then that was an added bonus. Joining us in our 96-mile adventure would be a strong Marc-Pro Strava team and several strong individual riders.

From the gun, a seven-man break got up the road and quickly gained 2 minutes on the pack. With both Trafton and Newcomb up the road, my Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase teammates and I were able to sit pretty and relax. After 35 or so miles, Newcomb came back to the pack with 3 other riders, leaving 3 riders still up the road, including Trafton.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now out of the break, Marc Pro put five riders on the front of the peloton to close the gap, and with 45miles to go, the race was gruppo compacto. Unlucky for us, we were now down to four riders as both Laberge and Kilun succumbed to flat tires.

The third time up the climb, I helped to push the pace off the descent and was able to small lead along with 5 other riders. We worked hard to push the gap out as much as we could, but the Marc-Pro led peloton pulled us back in a few miles later.

After a quick succession of attacks, Jonathan Teeter (2nd place Cascade TT in Pro 1) managed to get a 30 sec gap. Noting the TT prowess of Teeter, we put Trafton and Newcomb back on the front of the field to keep the gap in check. Despite both riders being in the early break, the rode out of their minds and were slowly brought back Teeter.

Marc-Pro Strava was having none of this however, and they started attacking once again to try and press their numerical advantage. Trafton managed to sneak off the front once again with perennial strong man, Chuck Hutcheson of Marc-Pro Strava. Hutcheson would ride a tiring Trafton off his wheel coming into the final climb netting him a 30 sec advantage over a dwindling peloton. I hit it up the final climb hard hoping to split up the group, but to my surprise, twenty or so riders were able to crest the climb in the lead group leading to the biggest pack finish that I remember in Winters road race history.

The race became very chaotic. With 2 kilometers to go, my remaining teammate, Dana, and I, were stuck in a back group of 10 dangling about 5-6sec off the lead group.

With 1k to go and Dana shot to the inside while I went around the outside hoping gaps would open. Luckily, with 250m to go, Craig Fellers (Red Peloton) jumped on the outside with Hutcheson and myself on his wheel. With 200m to go Hutcheson jumped. I came off his wheel with 125m to go and put my head down, taking a clear victory and managing to miss a crash that took down its fair share of riders right behind me.

Thanks to Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase for their great support and Velo Promo for putting on what I always think of as the best race of the year.

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

 

Winters Road Race Podium:

  1. Adam Switters (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)
  2. Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro Strava)
  3. Thibault  Jeannes (Hennebont Cyclisme)

 

 

 

 

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Adam Switters is a former professional cyclist and currently races for Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase. He is a USA Cycling Certified Coach is the owner of Switters Coaching. You can check him out at his website http://www.SwittersCoaching.com/. Feel free to comment if you have any ideas for workout or questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suisun Harbor Criterium

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Suisun Harbor Criterium ©Alex Chiu

by Adam Switters (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)

Suisun Harbor is the 4th race of the Cal Cup series put on by Velo Promo. It’s part of a great series of end of the season races that helps keep everyone’s motivations high well into September.

Even though I was leading the series, the intention was for Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase to win the race regardless of who won; if we were able to keep the Cal Cup lead along the way, then that would just be an added bonus.

Luckily, after an extended break in May/June, I’ve managed to come back with some form and I was fairly confident that I could pull off a good result for the team.

After yesterday’s first and third finish at the Dunnigan Hill’s road race, the team’s spririts were flying high. We were obviously in good form and were excited to race a hard aggressive race. With Suisun’s short (just (.5mi long), technical and always windy course, the race was ideal for a breakaway. We came up with a game plan that consisted of us racing aggressive and look for opportunities to stack any potential breaks with Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase team mates.

Starting out at the back of the pack, I quickly realized that the front was the place to be. After moving up, I managed to spend a number of laps solo off the front before getting caught and countered by my flying teammate, Brandon Trafton.

Brandon quickly managed to build up a 15sec gap. After following a few bridge attempts, we caught Brandon and I was surprised to see that 10 of us has extracted ourselves from the field.. My team mate, Eric (Riggs), had joined us to make the Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase riders out of 10 in the break. With 25 laps to go, our break had 15 seconds. With the team so well represented, I know it was going to be hard for the peloton to pull us back.

The next 25 laps were a blur: The break maintained a fast speed, not because of good cooperation, but rather because there was a constant flurry of attacks all the way to the finish. I threw in some good attacks myself, while my teammates Eric and Brandon were rock stars, both attacking and covering every move that went.

Much to our chagrin, the race came down to a sprint between the 10 of us who were in the break. The last lap was chaotic with everyone trying to position themselves for the last corner to set up for the sprint.

Coming into the last corner, sitting third wheel, I jumped through a narrow gap between Ariel Herrman (Metromint Cycling) and my teammate Eric, managing to pull out a few bike lengths gap immediately as the gap closed. With a 200-meter tailwind finish, I was able to sit up comfortably with 50 meters to go and celebrate the win.

I definitely couldn’t have achieved this win without the selfless work of all my teammates (Eric, Brandon, James Laberge, Travis Lyons, and Rainier Schaefer). I also managed to extend my lead in the Cal Cup, which was an added bonus!

[Read more…]

San Rafael Twilight Criterium by Dana Williams (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)

Copyright Danny Munson

San Rafael Twilight Criterium

by Dana Williams (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)

The San Rafael Twilight Criterium is what Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase considers our ‘home race.’ This is because Mike’s Bikes original store (the 1st of 11) and head office are both within a block or two of the four-corner rectangle course. The energy and excitement surrounding this race each year is something we really look forward to. And this year there was a bit of added pressure, with teammate Eric Riggs being the defending champion. For that reason it felt as though most other team’s crosshairs were directly on us.

Our plan going into the race was pretty simple: be attentive the first 30 of the 90 minutes, then become more aggressive and try to get two guys in a break, with at least one being one of our sprinters. If a break didn’t succeed by five laps to go, then our team would go to the front and line up our train for Riggs or James Laberge (who won the field sprint for 3rd in last year’s race).

Before the race got underway, event organizer Project Sport did what many in their position try to accomplish, but in my view few achieve with as much success. The energy and excitement they create is astounding. Music pumps and resonates through the streets as the sun sets; Dave Towle, the voice of US cycling, calls up riders in a fashion that makes them feel like superheroes; these same riders are escorted to the start line under umbrellas held by beautiful women; the crowd buzzes like electricity. I know I wasn’t the only one with goose bumps.

The whistle blew and we are off. In typical fashion, the first few laps were fast and strung out. Guys who started further back pushed hard to move up. Guys at the front worked hard to stay there without expending too much energy. There were a few close calls, with riders being aggressive and trying to stamp their authority by shooting through tight holes that closed up quick. But thankfully I didn’t hear the agonizing sound of carbon scraping along pavement.

The first real move of the night happened at around 15 minutes into the race. Our team’s newest recruit, Brandon Trafton, who never likes to sit in and watch the race unfold, got off the front and held a 10-second gap for about 10 laps. Guys attempted to bridge on countless occasions. My teammates and I made sure we were on all of these moves. Brandon got pulled back at about 30 minutes into the race. The next 50 minutes were pretty consistent; small breaks formed, getting no more than 10 seconds up the road and then being brought back. I marked a few moves and stayed towards the front, but soon felt as though the race was going to come down to a bunch sprint.

At around eight laps to go my teammates and I started to amass at the front. Then, as I recall, with five laps to go, it was Shawn Rosenthal, Roman Kilun, Adam Switters, and Brandon Trafton rotating in front of me and keeping the pace high. Eric and James were on my wheel. With around three laps to go, guys were coming up and trying to get in our leadout train. Two guys ended up being successful, Eamon Franck and Justin Williams, both slotting just in front of me and behind Brandon. My role going into the race (if it came down to a bunch sprint) was to take over out of turn two on the last lap and get James and Eric into turn three first, just as I had done last year. I was feeling strong and believed I was going to be able to come over Eamon and Justin on the back stretch of the last lap, as they were likely not going to want to leadout the pack from that far out.

As we sped over the finish line with the bell ringing, Roman pulled off and Brandon took over. Everything was going fine through the entrance of turn one, but all the sudden I heard the the dreaded sound behind me: carbon scraping along the pavement. Then in the blink of an eye I was hit from behind and unclipped my left pedal while fighting to stay upright. It all happened so fast. At this time, I was thinking my race was over and guys were going to come by me. I did my best to quickly clip back in. To my surprise, I didn’t get swarmed by riders. The chaos behind me slowed the surging field. I stood up and sprinted to try to get back to Brandon and the other two guys. It’s a bit of a blur as I think back, but I catch them around half way down the back stretch. Instinct kicks in and tells me to go by them on the outside, so I do. I’m first into turn three and four. I’m leading the San Rafael Twilight Criterium with about a 250 meter slight uphill drag to the finish line. I hear my teammate yelling ‘Go, go, go’ from behind. I try to carry as much as much speed out of the turn as possible, no knowing how close the guys are behind me. I put my head down and start sprinting. A gear shift stalls my momentum every so slightly. The lactic acid begins to seep into my quads like water exploding through a river dam that has given away. A wheel enters my peripheral vision, soon followed by the mass of a muscular 21 year old rampaging like a bull running the streets of Pamplona. his name Eamon Franck. Then another wheel and rider; Justin Williams. I was dying a slow death, just hoping the finish line would come soon. And finally it did, to my relief without another rider coming by. Third place it was.

It’s easy to look back at a race like this, where I came so close to winning, and wonder if I could have done anything different. Unfortunately, my team had a bit of bad luck on turn one of the last lap after doing a fantastic job leading out. But ultimately I’m happy to find a spot on the podium. It’s a way to thank my amazing teammates of Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase, who rode such a great race, like so many other races this year, and our sponsors and supporters, who we couldn’t do this without them. Thank you.

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