Written by: Roni

Madera Stage Race is a 2 day, 3 stage race for Cat4 riders. I signed in with confidence after a hard Chico Stage race and a good recovery week. The Journey started with Aria giving me a ride and I thank you so much for driving me around. We met Travis in Los Banos and the next morning Team Mikes Bikes were ready to give it their best.

The crit started early in the morning. A few laps in we had a crash that I barely escaped from and sprinted back into the peloton. Later, 2 riders took off, I pulled a bit to not let them obtain much of a gap; however, no one helped so I stopped my effort and waited for the finish. The last lap was fast and I managed to be third wheel in the last turn. I sprinted as hard as I could ending up third. Having some teammates might have been really decisive here. My time trial was okay. I gave it all I had and lost a lot time therefore my good GC position.

The road race was definitely really fun. Rough roads and a hilly section followed by long flat crosswinds -- just the best recipe for riders like me. The first lap was really fast and some riders really wanted to break away especially on the rough section. After the hills just few riders where leading in the front and I was also there. We tried to fly away but the rest of the group caught up. The second laps on the hilly section, I burned another match to get rid of as many riders as possible and it worked; we had a much smaller peloton. At this point, I just sat in and focused on the final sprint. I managed to stay near the front and got Pegasus (my bike) ready for the sprint by throwing away my water bottle and choosing the right gears. I was 3rd wheel until the last hill and at 200m I was second wheel waiting for the right moment. At about 150m to go, Pegasus stretched his wings and I took off screaming in pain and winning my first race of the season that I proudly dedicate to my mom in this special women’s day. It was a great motivation for me during the whole race. I had strong competitor but the difference was the quality of our sponsors.

Pegasus is a S-works Venge 2012 model, a light and aero bike. Thanks to specialized for designing this baby. I had a set of Zipp wheels, 303 and 404 on the back. Sadly after Chico my 404 wheel was untrue but I don’t have to worry about it since the Mikes Bikes mechanics will take care of it during the week allowing me to race confidently next week. Thanks guys for your support. I used 808 back instead which increased advantages on the flat, despite 88mm width the 808 still one of the lightest wheel in its category. Finally I was cool and well hydrated thanks to Osmo nutrition and Capo apparel. One might say these are not relevant details but it made the difference between winning and losing. Thank you sponsors for putting me on the top of the podium and I know your help will push the entire team to new limits.

To sum up, I had a wonderful weekend after a year of bad luck. I’m on the right track for my main goals next month. Besides riding, we had some food and great time with Travis, Rachel and Aria. Special thanks to Aria who not only drove me around, but also was a great support at mental level and pushed me forward.

 -- Roni