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.

http://www.achieveptc.com/about

Interview:Daniel Holloway(Mike’s Bikes) signs with Amore & Vita

Daniel Holloway(Mik's Bikes) signs with Amore& Vita

Daniel Holloway(Mik’s Bikes) signs with Amore& Vita

By Brandon Hale

Brandon: Daniel Holloway, formerly of Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase, just signed with Amore & Vita, a UCI Continental team based out of Ukraine.  He had been in talks with the director of that team last year, but no position on the squad had been available to him so he stayed amateur with Mike’s Bikes.  He stayed in touch with Amore & Vita, however, and they offered him a contract in April to race in the UCI America Tour.

 

Daniel:“My role has always been a sprinter before,” Holloway told Cycling Illustrated, commenting on the fact that Amore & Vita’s director made up his mind after Holloway sprinted for the win on the final day of the Sea Otter Classic this year. 

 

Brandon:His first race with Amore & Vita will be in Philadelphia tomorrow and he’s not 100% sure what his role with the new team will be.

 

Daniel:“I’m not aware of all the riders’ ability on my new team yet,” he said.  “After I speak with [sports director Phil Cortes], we’ll go through that.  If there’s somebody who’s going to be better than me at the finish, then I’m more than happy to use my sprint to get whoever that is to the bottom of the uphill finish.

 

Daniel:“At the Tour de Beauce…that’s a hard one to call because every year it plays out a little differently.   There might only be one field sprint out of a whole week of racing, so it will be very touch and go.  But if there’s ever a field sprint, I’m the go-to guy on the current roster.”

 

Brandon:When he raced for Bissell in 2010, Holloway was the national pro criterium champion. He had been training differently then, focusing on longer races, but his finishing speed served him well at the national championship.

 

Daniel:“Crit nationals was, physically, one of my worst days on the bike.” Holloway said.  “I felt so terrible all day long.  I really had to use my head and I was lucky that I had really good teammates to set that up.

 

Daniel:“This year, my head was in a really different place.  Being an amateur and falling a little out of love with the sport over the past couple years made it hard.  Being on Mike’s Bike’s gave me a home and a chance to get back to relaxing and enjoying the bike rides.”

 

Brandon:The chain of events leading Holloway to the contract with Amore & Vita has been serendipitous.  He trained hard right through Redlands, but then took some time off the bike, sorting out all the life stuff that builds up when riders are locked into intensive training and racing schedules. Following Sea Otter, everything seemed to open up for him.  He’s been having fun on his bike, riding where and when he wants and letting his emotions dictate the shape of his training.

 

Brandon:Holloway plans to keep rolling with the momentum of life for the time being.  Going forward with Amore & Vita, he knows he will have to make some lifestyle sacrifices, but he doesn’t want to stress over his performance every time he gets on the bike.  He wants to learn to enjoy the lifestyle of the professional racer again: the hotels and the crazy travel days, the hard training and the harder races.  Getting burned out on it will get him nowhere.

 

Daniel:“I’m going to race the hell out of my bike and enjoy it,” he claims about the rest of 2013.  “I want results to come and I want to be a pro in 2014–whether with Amore & Vita or with another pro program–but I’m not being that strict with the future right now.  I’m going to take care of myself and get through this year healthy and injury-free.”

 

Brandon: If he can do that, the rest will fall into place.

 

Follow Daniel on Twitter at @The_Hollywood friend him on Facebook.  His blog at danielholloway.blogspot.com chronicles his life as a pro racer.  

Mt Hamilton Road Race by Shawn Rosenthal

Mike’s Bike’s rider and winner of the Men’s 1-2 race, Shawn Rosenthal, takes us through this NorCal Classic
Mt Hamilton.  It’s a hill.  In fact, it’s a really big hill.  The kind you pop your ears for on the way down.
Mt Hamilton Road Race by Shawn Rosenthal
This year we were treated to weather that makes arm warmers and a wind vest worth their weight in gold.  I am pretty sure we would have made it up 30-40 seconds quicker had it not been for the extra gallon of water we were carrying, from all the heavy mist.
In years past, the pace up the climb has varied from “Ok, this is manageable” to “My eyes are bleeding.”  This year leaned more toward the latter than the former.

Memorial Day Crit by James LeBerge (Mike’s Bikes)

Memorial Day Crit by James LeBerge

Memorial Day Crit by James LeBerge

James LaBerge reports on his win in the Men’s P123 Race in Morgan Hill

Memorial Day is a special day for Americans.  I want to give a quick shout out to any and all families and cyclists that have been in the military and on behalf of the entire nation of our great nation, we thank you for your service!!!

Now back to the race. It’s a fast course with lots of wind; it can be very hard if you aren’t in position during the right time. The team’s plan was to be aggressive, go for the primes, and set up for a field sprint at the end to lead out Daniel (Holloway) and/or me. The race started out pretty fast as guys were flying off the front like no other, but I knew it was a 70-minute race so I conserved and planned my attacks  accordingly. Daniel ended up getting a prime early in the race and then there were multiple breakaways that never really got any significant gap, until about the halfway point where a Bear Development rider and Marc Pro rider were away. I knew we had to at least be represented, so I attacked out of the field and jumped across. We worked together nicely for a few laps, but I made sure I was conserving my energy, knowing that we would eventually get reeled in.

We did a couple laps later and then Tyler Brandt from Get Crackin’ attacked and got a nice gap. Then a Bear Development rider (Tobin Ortenblad) and David Benkoski (Team Clif Bar) were able to bridge up to Brandt and got a large enough gap where I couldn’t see them on the front straightaway. My teammates Travis, Marcus, Steve, and Michael Foley went to the front to bring the gap down. Unfortunately, they couldn’t bring it entirely back so Daniel had to take a long, hard pull with 4 to go.

By now we could see the break and guys were trying to chase them back, which we did with a 1/2 lap to go! Daniel had to make the final effort to close them down in the headwind section so we had to sit up because we wouldn’t have been able to lead it out from there. Team Clif Bar came by us and Daniel got right on them and we waited until a swarm started to come up with about 400 meters to go. I told Daniel “UP!! NOW!” He surged forward; we were 1-2 around the last corner with Logan Loader right behind us (Cash Call Mortgage).  I took the wrong line around the last turn, going around on the outside thinking that I could carry my speed around it, but it actually slowed me down as I just took the turn wider than needed. Loader took the inside and had the advantage on me at first,  but I slowly caught up to him as the sprint ensued. With a bike throw I was able to win by about the thickness of the carbon on my Zipp 404′s (3-4 inches!).

LaBerge (Mikes BIkes) takes Loader (CashCall Mortage) in the Men's 123 race

LaBerge (Mikes BIkes) takes Loader (CashCall Mortage) in the Men’s 123 race

 

 

 

 

A Win at the Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race

A Win at the Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race  by Daniel Holloway

A Win at the Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race
by Daniel Holloway

A Win at the Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race

by Daniel Holloway

The Circuit race at Sea Otter is always difficult, you are either coasting or pedaling nearly full on. Team Mikes Bikes pb Incase plan for the race was to lay low and the the GC guys chase each other down only going into a move if it has a the GC riders in it and would make it to the line. Roman and Shawn were the ones to keep a look out in the early part of the race for any moves that were noted as dangerous. Eric and myself were to relax, sag climb the hill and save as much as we could for the end. Marcus may of had the hardest job of the day, he was there to shuffle around the group and get any of us four into the position we wanted to be in. It was going to be a tricky day with only a 5 man squad racing against strong 8 man teams.

The race starts off aggressive and doesn’t really let up. Teams are attacking, but we stay calm and collected to not waste energy on moves that will be caught shortly after they start. Roman and Shawn did a great job representing the team in the first half of the race, actually the whole race. They never missed a beat.  After 5 laps or so a 6 man group was up the road with a 15-20 second gap. It contained two of the faster finishers in the race and a couple other strong men. One of the other larger teams missed the move which helped us as we choose not to follow that move. We kept our cool and let the others do most of the grunt work to keep the gap in check. Any time the field slowed Eric would reignite the fire and keep the peleton within distance. [Read more...]

Lessons From A Bad Crash By Adam Switters

Lessons From A Bad Crash By Adam Switters

Lessons From A Bad Crash By Adam Switters

By Adam Switters (Team Mike’s Bike)

All cyclists know the saying, “It’s not if you’ll crash, but when you crash”. Over the last two years, I’ve been pretty lucky at avoiding crashes, but I got into a very nasty crash at the Beaumont stage of the Redlands Classic.

After 95miles of fast racing, we were coming into 1 lap to go of the Beaumont RR. Turning onto the finish straight, we were single file, everyone just trying to hold onto the wheel in front of them. We were going about 30mph when the riders in front of me swerved hard to the right. The rider in front of me made a very hard last second swerve, and I started to follow him when a race motorcycle appeared 2 ft in front of. He was parked on the course and straddling his motorcycle. At 30mph, I slammed into the straight into the back of the motorcycle and flipped over the top of him and his bike and onto the ground.

Here are couple of lessons I learned about what to do next. Obviously, the first instinct is to get back and finish the race, although I knew that this would not be the case for me. Always take a second to analyze your well being before you try to jump back up. The first aid people were very quickly at my side, and it’s best to let them do their thing rather than rush anything. [Read more...]

Merced Cycling Classic Hilltop Ranch Road Race

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Merced Cycling Classic Hilltop Ranch Road Race

by Adam Switters (Mike’s Bike)

 

This was probably my 8th or 9th time doing this road race. I’ve it in the juniors, the 2’s, and been top 10 in the pro race. I like to think I had a pretty good idea how the road race was going to play out: break goes on the first lap, leader’s team rides tempo, big pack sprint. Turns out that I was wrong…way wrong.

 

Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase had been having an up and down race. On the first stage, our sprinter and I had been caught out in the 2 crashes within the final 3km, but we still put 2 guys in the top 20.  We managed to put me and Roman Kilun in the top 25 of the TT (not good, but not bad either), and we finished just off the podium with a 4th in the criterium. [Read more...]

Merced Criterium by Adam Switters (Mike’s Bikes)

Mercedsprint

Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase came into the Merced Criterium hoping to improve upon the previous day’s performance. We were hoping to put some of the main guns on the back-burners and let them work hard to catch an early break, before hopefully having the race come down to a field sprint for Daniel and James.

 

Travis, Rainier, and Marcus did a great job covering the first portion of the race. Just after the 5th lap, I came around the field on the outside and hit it as the field swung inside. I immediately bridged to Willie Myers (Fremont Bank) and were soon joined by a rider in red, white, and blue. I actually thought it was a Leopard rider at first since I looked back and saw the blue and orange on the shoulder, but soon realized it was Ken Hanson (reigning US Pro Crit Champ). It seemed like immediately we had a big gap which would force the other heavy hitters to chase. The only problem was that Ken and Willie seemed to be super human that day. [Read more...]