Blake Anton reaches the podium at MBGP

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix


By Blake Anton (TEAM CLIF BAR Cycling)

With a bunch of the normal NCC big guns at Nationals or the NCC Iron Hill race, I was hoping for something that has eluded me so far, a top 20 NCC finish. I had one teammate, Mark Shimahara, and was planning on prime hunting a bit, but really, I was just waiting for the inevitable sprint finish and hoping to place in the top 20. Around 20 minutes in, the field had been getting hammered by a series of attacks and was strung out single file. I was sitting in the top 20 when a prime bell rung. A MRI rider, Diego Sandoval, and I ended up going at it hard and he took it by a couple feet. Brandon Gritters and Jesse Anthony were on us and rolled through HARD. Diego and I were able to jump on by the skin of our teeth along with 2 other riders who we dispatched rather quickly. The 4 of us settled into a hard rhythm and figured out a solid rotation with Jesse and Brandon, who were riding like diesels doing the lion’s share of the work. Diego and I occasionally had to skip a pull or two, but for the most part, the 4 of us worked very well together, putting in longer pulls on the tailwind finish stretch, and rotating much faster into the headwind section.
We quickly pushed the gap out to 25 seconds, but had a hard time getting it further. I didn’t think we would make it until 20 minutes to go, Predator and a couple of the other big teams and big pro riders missed the move and Manhattan Beach NEVER ends with a breakaway. With 20 minutes to go, I thought we might have a shot of actually staying away, and then Brandon lit it up hard on the climb right after I had finished a big pull. His attack put me way into the red zone (where I had already been for the past 45 minutes!!!), and I had to chase solo for half a lap before I was able to claw myself back up to the 3 others. That messed up our rotation for the next two laps as Diego and I tried to recover. We started working well together again and finally saw 5 laps to go with a 40 second gap. At this point, I knew we had it, barring a crash or mechanical. I got quite excited, knowing a top 4 NCC finish was hopefully in my future. With 3 laps to go, Jesse attacked hard into the climb after the start/finish and got a small gap. The 3 of us worked together and were able to bring him back. We finally got the bell and stayed reasonably civil until the final sprint, although I was quite tempted to attack from 800 meters or so out, hoping that Jesse and Brandon would just mark each other. Diego led into the final turn and then Brandon took over with 300 m or so to go. I was third wheel, on Jesse’s wheel. I thought Brandon would just ride away from us because of how he had been riding all day, but he slowed with 150m to go when Jesse and I hit it. Jesse got the jump on me and put a bike length between us, but I started bringing him back. I ran out of road in the end, and Jesse took a very deserved win by a wheel over me.



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…]

Jesse Anthony (Optum)reflects on MBGP


Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Jesse Anthony (Optum)reflects on MBGP

By : Jesse Anthony

Optum Pro Cycling | Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies

I lined up in the field with about 70 riders and planned to race conservatively for the first half of the race. I floated in the field for a bit, while riders at the front unsuccessfully tried to sort out a break away. The race began to split apart slightly only a few laps in, so I jumped across a gap to a large, merging breakaway. My attack sounded the alarm bells and the field was soon welded back together.

I again retreated mid-pack to recover and see how things played out, but I sensed a lack of cohesion and firepower in the field. My teammate, Ian Moir, told me that his legs were taking a long time to warm up, so I stayed attentive of the moves going off the front. Around the 20 minute mark I again jumped across the gap to a pair of attacking riders, bringing 1 rider with me. As soon as the 4 of us got together we began working together smoothly to establish a gap. There was hesitation in the field and we quickly gained 20 seconds.

The 4 of us now settled into a rhythm and I encouraged the guys to keep the tempo steady and see how the field reacted. I wanted our group to stay together because everyone was working so well together and we still had nearly an hour still to race. Our gap grew slowly to 30 and then 35 seconds and remained there through the meat of the race. Coming into the final half hour we twisted the throttle just a hair and our gap opened to 40 seconds with 20 minutes to go.

Our group was still rotating fluidly which ultimately ensured our success. In the last 15 minutes I tried to shake myself lose from my breakaway partners as I was confident the gap would hold. I didn’t want it to come down to a sprint, which I see as comparable with letting an MMA fight come down to the judges. I was unable to get away, though, and settled for sprinting it out. I was confident going into the sprint and came though the last corner in 2nd place. The rider in front of me, Brandon Gritters, led out the sprint from fairly far out and I jumped with 150 meters to go. I had enough speed to hold off the other 2 riders and very excitedly secured my first win in 2013.

I am really happy to win such a prestigious race and one of the oldest criteriums in California. I’m also excited for the upcoming Cascade Cycling classic and hitting the 2nd half of the season with some happy legs.

Big thanks to Acura for supporting us in their home region and keeping us mobile all around North America.

-Jesse Anthony

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, with Confidence



Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, with Confidence

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, with Confidence

by: Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (TIBCO)


I lined up next to my teammate, Samantha Schneider, and showed her my trembling hands. I don’t think this reassured her that our talk about racing with confidence had stayed in my head very long. I looked over and saw my coach, Ron Peterson, and Big Orange buddies Lauren and Greg. They seemed excited and confident that today would be a great race. Whistle, it’s go time. Clip in time, ugh, fail. I’ve been practicing, really, but not with nerves. Straight to the back. I smiled, relaxed, and found my way right back to the front, with confidence. Goal number one, find the front, complete.


Goal number two, stay in the top ten and maybe even be productive up there. Productive as in cover attacks and keep the pace high. Unless Sam was in a break, I didn’t want one to get more than a few seconds on the pack. It is amazing how much more fun a crit/circuit race is when you are expending energy to help a teammate rather than to chase back on after gapping yourself out from the last wheel over and over and over again as you fearfully slow through the corners. Corners are meant to be taken with confidence. As Joy McCulloch told me, “It’s all about becoming one with that machine and trusting yourself!” Every corner that I thought about grabbing my breaks I told myself, trust your bike, trust yourself, and each corner became a little less scary for me and the racer who was on my wheel. Another good friend, Chris Cook, told me “A bike is a lot easier to handle than a horse, bikes do not get skittish, stubborn, spook, get tired etc. You can absolutely be a great bike handler and being confident in that fact is the most important element in accomplishing this feat.” In the last week, I heard that word “confidence” from my teammate, coach, Michael Engleman, Joy, and so many others. And then, I tried it out. [Read more…]

Images from today’s Manhattan Beach Grand Prix…..©Danny Munson

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Jesse Anthony (Optum Pro Cycling) and Erica Allar (CARE4CYCLING powered by Solomon Corp) win at Manhattan Beach Grand Prix

Men Pro-1

1. Jesse Anthony (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)

2. Blake Anton (Team Clif Bar Cycling)

3. Brandon Gritters (Rokform/Rock N’ Road)

4. Diego Sandoval (SC Velo MRI Endurance Elite U23)

Women Pro-1 
1. Erica Allar (CARE4CYCLING powered by Solomon Corp)
2. Samantha Schneider (Team TIBCO/ To the Top)
3. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom Racing)
4. Shelby Reynolds (Helens Racing)

Jenna “Jammer” Kowalski had a solid 4th place finish at Brentwood and talks about how it all went down.

Backyard Jam-Sesh: Brentwood Grand Prix

By Jenna ‘Jammer’ Kowalski


Sunday, August 7th, 2011, watching my teammates from the sidelines of a race called the Brentwood Grand Prix also known as the California State Criterium Championships. In my own backyard, but, here I am on the wrong side of the barriers, with a soon to be diagnosed case of strep throat. Always a frustrating feeling, when so badly you want to be out there pedaling in circles with everybody else. A fun race to watch, but always a better race to race.


Fast forward to this year: Sunday, August 5th 2012. Finally, I would have my first chance to contest Brentwood GP, a course favored by many locals for its technicality. However, after a long month of training for climbing hills in the altitude, I realized that I had not done one single sprint since the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. Thus, I was a little nervous that my legs would be lacking the spunk needed for 55 minutes of sprinting out of corners.


With the course conveniently located in my backyard, my teammate Lauren and I decided to have our daily espresso at the Coral Tree Cafe and watch the mid-morning men’s races to get in the proper spirit. The double Americano certainly did the trick and kept me buzzing for the next four hours. We then opted to ditch our trainers for a warm-up spin down the coast to Venice, to take in the madness of a Sunday at the beach. After a pit stop at home to change jerseys and swap on race wheels, we jammed over to the course just in the nick of time.


As we rolled up to the start line, I was flattered to receive a call-up to join some of the established local racers. After a couple high-fives and fist pounds, we got the countdown to go. The race was animated from the beginning, and a few moves lighted up the first couple laps of the race. The goals for the day were to either get Lauren in a break, or set me up for the field sprint. So, while it was important for me to remain attentive as a teammate to a team of two in a field dominated by team Helens and InCycle, I sat comfortably in the front, following wheels and making sure to cover anything that Lauren could not.


Between Helens, InCycle, LaGrange, Revolution and solo strong woman Kristin LaSasso, there were a number of fliers that had some serious potential, but the combination of riders in each move was not enough to keep the field from letting anything go. I was pretty certain the race was going to come down to a field sprint, so I just sat tight, at one point finding myself well placed for a prime, thus taking the opportunity to jump around the two riders who set me up perfectly.


After a few last ditch efforts from riders to get off the front, the peloton seemed content for a field sprint with two laps to go. I must admit I was a little lax in setting myself up for the finish; a solid 10 wheels back, I kept thinking ‘it’s a long finish, it’s a long finish.’ Well, l find myself still wishing it was a little bit longer. The last half lap of crits are always a bit foggy in my memory. From what I do remember, riders were single-file going up the backside chicane. I wanted to move up but was hesitant to jump around everyone so early. I hesitate. I see a flag.  And I know I have to go, now. I jump around a few riders and the InCycle lead-out train, my head screaming ‘YOU CAN WIN THIS! YOU CAN WIN THIS!’ I see riders in black, I see the finish line, weirdly wishing it was just a few feet further.’ I’m not going to make it in time and I know it. It feels close, and I throw myself through the line, but it’s not quite enough to edge into the top three, as I hear the excited hollers of well deserved winner Suze Sonye, followed by teammate Shelby Reynolds and Tibco’s Junior National Champion, Alexis Ryan.


I did make it onto the podium for the California State Championship, as Team Helen’s Shelby Reynolds is registered in Texas, however, it wasn’t for the coveted Bear jersey I had hoped for. But, there is always next year (third time’s a charm!?), and as my first California State Criterium Championship race, I am pleased with a top five. Just as well, I am thrilled for the podium finishers – and the entire peloton for that matter, for making for a fun and safe race to cap off the end of my 2012 SoCal road racing season. Many thanks to all of the supporters, sponsors, media and everyone else that makes these events possible! Until next year!


Suzanne Sonye (State Champion at Brentwood Grand Prix) in “The Conversation”

Brentwood Grand Prix

WSWC(State Champion at Brentwood Grand Prix):

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The Off-Season Transfer Scrum by Seth Davidson

The Off-Season Transfer Scrum
by Seth Davidson

My phone rang at 5:30 this morning. “Hello?”

“Hey, WM. Have you heard anything?”

“Who is this?”

“Thunky. Thunky Sneedles.”

“Oh, it’s you again. No, man, I haven’t heard anything since your last call two hours ago. It’s five-thirty, dude.”

“I just thought you’d maybe, you know, gotten some offers or something.”

“No, man. Crickets.” I’d agreed to act as Thunky’s agent in the off-season, and even though the trades had started in earnest, Thunky was still out in the cold, and he was nervous. “Look, let’s go over it again. I know you’re nervous, but you have to be patient. These things take time. When some of the bigger fish get their contracts, it’ll loosen up the purse strings for the domestiques like you.”



“But what if I don’t get an offer from anybody? What if I have to stay with Team D’oosh next year? My career’s too short for that, man. I’ve only got a couple of good years left, and I need to ride for a winner.”

“I know, I know. Nobody said being a professional masters racer was easy.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“Why are you so down on Team D’oosh? You fit right in.”

“They suck and their bro deal is so lame.”

“Really? Even with that bike and those five free kits and the travel reimbursements? And don’t they cut you in on the winnings even if you’re OTB?”

“Yeah, it sounds great. But it sucked this year. I mean, no one ever wins. They suck. And the frame? It was the Specialized SL4 instead of their top of the line Venge. Charon gets the Venge on his team. How’m I supposed to take that dude on riding an SL4? It’s like bringing a set of dentures to a wood chewing contest.”

“Are the bikes really that different?”

“Hell yeah. The Venge has this really cool paint option. It’s so rad.”

“Well, at least getting the whole $8,500 rig with Di2 on loan for a whole season and then swapping it out for a new one in ’13 saves you some money.”

“Dude! It’s not about the MONEY. It’s about the wins. You get the wins, the money flows. That’s how the pro scene works.”

“Even in the men’s 35+?”


“Well, what about the kits? That’s a grand right there, easy, free. You gotta be happy about that.”

“Those kits were so last year. The leg elastic band was at least 1/4 inch shorter than the pro stuff Paolinetti was wearing on Monster. Like I’m gonna take that guy on with short elastic bands? And the design was, like, puke.”

“I guess they screwed you pretty bad, huh?”

“I’ll say. The travel reimbursements only kicked in after you’d done five races. I told ’em that I was gonna do a full schedule, but for me that’s four races, including our Team D’oosh club time trial in January. They have to understand that if you want results, you gotta be rested between races. Real rested. Recovery is just as important as training, prolly more so, even.”

“Look, Thunky. I’m gonna try to get you on Amgen this year. You’ll be a domo for Thurlow, Meeker, Brett, Strickie, Malcolm…the big boys. But you gotta bring something to the table. What do I tell them about you?”

“What do you tell them? Duuuuude! Aren’t you my agent? Tell ’em about what we did this year! Tell ’em how the race went down when Clunky Thunky brought the A-game and stuffed the clowns into the hurt locker! Tell ’em that!”

“Ah, what race are you talking about, Thunks?”

“What race? San Dimas! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten San Dimas?”

“Was that the one where you launched off the road and hit that parked car? At, like three miles in or something?”

“You always gotta bring up the fuckin’ parked car. Fuck the parked car! Dude, I stretched the field out longer than a neck in a noose. Ask ’em, man, any of those dudes’ll tell you about the Thunky Beatdown. Thurlow was there. Meeker was there. Worthingtons were there. Leibert was beggin’ for mercy I had everybody on the rivet.”

“Okay, maybe I’ll remind them of that later, you know, like when we’re talking signing bonuses and stuff. What else happened in 2012?”

“I did that one 35+ race and laid the wood to Tintsman and Paolinetti.”

“Phil Tintsman? You? Really? That’s pretty awesome, cause those two guys are the real deal. Which race was it?”

“Hellz. It was at Ontario, I think. Maybe CBR. I attacked from the gun like always.”

“Then you got in a break with Phil and Jamie? Sweet!”

“Nah, I didn’t get in no stupid break. I’m a sprinter kind of rouleur. You know, a puncheur climber type time trialist, all ’rounder with an emphasis on track and ‘cross.”

“So what happened?”

“It was like on the second or third lap. I was railin’ it, dude, 54-11, hittin’ the headwind section like a freight train. Field was comin’ apart at the seams, everybody strung out in the gutter, dudes frying off the back like fritters in a fryolator. Sick shit. Tintsman and Paolinetti were in the hurt locker. The pain cave. Beggin’ for mercy, they were my bitches, dude. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.”

“Then what?”

“I finished my solid half lap and then Tintsman and Paolinetti and Charon and a bunch of other dudes, I think Brauch and Wimberley, and you know, five or six other Monster dudes, and a few other guys rolled off in a break. There was like sixty of ’em. No way we were bringing them back. But you can ask Tintsman, that shit wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t softened ’em up.”

“Sixty dudes? In one break?”

“Yeah, man. It was righteous. Me and Stimp –you know him? Rides for Soft Longies, he’s a badass. Me and Stimp motored with the field on our wheel the rest of the race.”

“How many guys were left in the field?”

“About seven or eight. Coddles McGee, Woodenhead, Dorcas Johnson, Tubbs, you know. The dudes you can count on.”

“Okay, I’ll make the pitch for you. What should I tell them your goals are for 2013?”

“My goals? Do you even have to ask? Tell ’em this: I’m comin’ for Charon if they can find me a Venge just like his. Black shorts, with the cool elastic thingy like Paolinetti and Tintsman have. And $10k in travel reimbursements. Up front, Jan. 1, like in the pros. And a cut of everything everyone wins, even if I have to miss the race because of my Saturday yoga class, which actually is what gives me extra power but most dudes don’t know about that. And free massage sessions–and I pick the masseuse. Don’t give me some hairy dude named Jacques. I want a smoking babe who only works nekkid or in a thong. Happy ending for Thunky, you got that? And a 401k and a team car. That’s my minimum starting offer. See what you can do from there.”

“And what can your new team expect in return?”

“I’m gonna take Charon down next year. I’m gonna ride Tintsman off my frickin” wheel. I’m gonna give Meeker a sprint clinic every frickin” weekend. You tell ’em that, Wanky, and you tell ’em Thunky sent you.”

The phone went dead.

A few minutes later it rang again.


“Yo, it’s me again. Any offers?”

“Not yet, buddy. But they’re comin’ any minute. Any minute.”

Brentwood Grand Prix by Greg de Guzman 8-5-12 RD 2

The Brentwood Grand Prix came on August 5 over 2,000 spectators watched the race between 7 AM and 4 PM . The 2.3 –mile course will begin in front of the Kaufman Library and circle the median from Burlingame to Gorham in Brentwood. The Southern California Nevada Cycling Association has chosen The Brentwood Grand Prix as the 2012 SCNCA Elite Criterium Championship and racers will be competing for the honor of wearing the coveted “Bear Jersey”.

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