Berkeley Hills Road Race with Cameron

Berkeley Hills Road Race with Cameron

This was a new BHRR course, have you raced it or ridden the loop before?

I was particularly excited for this edition of Berkeley Hills. While it was not the classic course, it was a return to Crockett and the site of my first race win as a cyclist, when I won the Cal Cycling Collegiate Men’s C race in 2014. That race was only 3 laps, so 8 laps in the P/1/2 would be a very different challenge! These roads also have significance for me in that one of my first long rides as a cyclist (and my first experience bonking) came from riding out to the Crockett loop from Berkeley in the pouring rain.

What were the defining features?

 The McEwen climb is a true beast, with a brutal 12% grade for the first half. 8 times up the climb was a true test of strength. The wind was also brutal on most of the course, so it was important to stay focused and not get caught out.

What was the plan going into the race?

With Roman, Craig, and Andrew on the start line with me, we knew we had the best depth of any team in the race. We planned to follow moves, have representation if an early breakaway formed, and to have our other guys make it across as the field whittled down midway through the race. Numbers in the final was our intention.

What was the key moment of the race?

Most of the drama came in lap 1. Roman unfortunately was caught up behind a crash onthe one techincal turn of the course and crashed out before the first time up McEwen. Zeke Mostov of Aevolo Cycling hit the front hard on the climb, and the field immediately broke apart, with only 8 of us left after one full lap. Andrew and I were patient and put the hurt on the rest of the guys by trading attacks in the last few laps. With about half a lap to go, and Andrew and I in the front group of 4, I attacked hard a few miles before McEwen and motored home to victory!

Where does this win rank in your career?

After two second place finishes at Pescadero and Tour de Nez, it certainly feels good to be on the top step. Closing it out after the unfortunate circumstances of Roman’s crash makes it all the more special. And the sweetest icing on this victory cake was watching Andrew overpower Cole and Zeke in the sprint to take second! Racing on this team and the work all the guys put in makes these successes feel so much bigger.

Which sponsor's product stood out during this race?

Our new Smith Optics Arena Max sunglasses were perfect for the sunny day. The new colors are fresh!

Did you wear a romper on the podium?

Our Capo skinsuits aren’t so dissimilar from the conventional romper. They are one piece, have plenty of pockets, and allow for some serious mobility. However, if Capo was to make some custom overalls for the team, I would likely wear those on the podium!

Redlands Classic: The Interview with Andrew Shimizu

Redlands Classic: The Interview with Andrew Shimizu

After wrapping up one of the longest running and most prestigious stage races in the US, the Redlands Bicycle Classic, we chatted with Elite rider Andrew Shimizu about his experiences at the race. Andrew is also a keen classic photographer, and all the accompanying photos were shot on his vintage Hasselblad large-format camera.

What stood out the most about this race?

The speed of the field and with the massive size of the peloton was something I had never experienced before. For the Highlands circuit, I was able to hold decent position from the start and be in the front 20 guys for most of the race, I imagine that if I had been struggling at the back like the day before I wouldn’t have made it more than a few laps. The fast technical section through the neighborhood definitely took some getting used to. On the first turn off the downhill we flew over a series of rain channels cut perpendicular across the road, those things were always a crapshoot in terms of timing and making sure you can bunny hop over each section without bottoming out. I must have seen at least 20 people’s water bottles eject out of their cages on this section, one poor guy ahead of me got caught in the crossfire and took a full bottle straight to the dome. He stayed upright, barely.   

What is the biggest difference between racing at the top of the NorCal amateur circuit and these national level Pro races?

The main difference I’d say would be the organization by the bigger teams and seeing them really exert their power to control the race. It was pretty amazing to watch Holowesko take the front from the and control the whole race ensuring that T.J. would stay safe in the yellow jersey.

Cyclists are generally weird, what was the strangest thing that happened on the trip?

I think stage races are special in that they raise the bar for all the weirdness usually accepted as a part of cycling. The amount of silliness from being cracked that is normally present around bike races is dragged out over a series of days and continually raised till seeing things like Brad Huff post-race in nothing but his bib shorts hiked up to the length of a speedo devouring watermelon in the sun glistening in sweat in a slightly erotic manner is just blasé. If you’re into the strange, stage races are the place to be.

Was there a race plan for each stage or was it really "just try not to get dropped"?

Each day we had realistic goals for how we wanted to perform knowing where we matched up compared to our competition, and we tried in earnest to influence the race in some manner. Our plan for the Highland circuit was to try to get some representation in the break and hold out for a decent finish. That being said, I think ole Bob Burns sums it up best when he says that even the ‘best laid schemes o’ mice an' men, Gang aft a-gley.” That Scots for saying “Redlands is really F@&%ing hard, and things rarely go to plan.” We weren’t able to get anyone in the break despite some solid efforts, but in the end Cameron was able to put out a hard fought top 30 result.   

Do you have any Redlands traditions?

This was my first time at Redlands but I’m gonna jump on the haircut bandwagon (sorry Roman) and make Wilson’s Classic Barber shop a staple of my stage race diet. More specifically getting cleaned up by Garay (pronounced Gare-ay) if not just for the spectacular conversation he provides. The man is truly one of a kind, and an amazing barber on top of it. If you’re ever in the area look him up, you won’t regret it.

What was the best stage for the team, and not necessarily because of the placing?

I’d have to say results wise we did our “best” at Highlands, the shorter duration but yet still challenging circuit suited us pretty well. But I think as a team, looking at the week as a whole and how we grew together and worked hard as a unit was really where we shined. We started off with a time trial in over 90 degree heat, and finished with the Sunset circuits in freezing hail and rain. We endured a whole season’s worth of hurt in 5 short days, and I think everyone did a stand up job representing the team as well as our sponsors. We laid everything we had on the table, we all did our best to respect the iconic status of Redlands by giving nothing short of 100%.

Any funny anecdotes from the weekend?

Too many to count and possibly too incriminating to write on here.

Domestic Pros often complain that world tour pros don't give them any respect, is the same true between domestic pros and amateurs?

I have seen this of lack of respect from domestic pros to amateurs in a lot of races, mostly just by the pros giving the cold shoulder or being “too cool.” But I’d be hard pressed to say that I saw much of this at Redlands. Most of the time people in the peloton were pretty friendly. Sure when the going got tough people were short with each other and there would be shouting, but for the most part it was a good vibe.  

You guys get to ride the best products the industry offers, did any of them standout in this race? 

Specialized Tarmac with Di2. Period. When your full body is cramping and shivering from hypothermia on the Sunset stage so much that there’s a steady stream of drool running from our mouth you can’t do anything about, you’ll thank god that you have electronic shifting that requires the most minimal effort to change gears.  

The easy to eat on the bike GU Energy products were a god send as well this week. When you’re pushing the pedals real hard and need to fuel your body but don’t have the time or the oxygen to chew down a fig newton which will likely cause you to choke, a sleeve of Gu chomps will give you the instant carbs to make it through another lap.

What's the next big race for the team?

For those of us in Sacramento the Tuesday night South River Ride is always a big goal for us. If you want to talk about legendary races, this is as real as it gets. But as far as USAC sanctioned races, Elite Nationals in late June and Cascade in July are the next big targets for us.  

 

Wente Vineyards Classic Road Race 2017

Wente Vineyards Classic Road Race 2017

There was little rest between the finish of Cat's Hill, scrambling to get some supplies for our trip down to Redlands on Saturday night, and an early start in Livermore for the Wente vineyards Road Race.

Thankfully, the team had our trusty Toyota Sienna and some strong Equator Coffee to get us the jump start we needed!

And quite the jump start we got, with Team Captain Adam Switters attacking off the start line! Two riders promptly joined Adam in the breakaway, and with TMB and Cyclesport represented, there were only a few guys in the field contributing to a concerted chase in the early laps (big props to Cooper Shanks for a gutsy race). 

The temps increased a bit, but I remained cool and comfortable in my Capo skinsuit. Gu Energy Labs had my nutrition covered, with the proper mix of hydration, electrolytes, and tasty treats (I'm talking Gu Stroopwafel, people!). If only I could race with a mug of Equator Coffee to warm up those tasty waffles. Yum yum yum!

After a slow pace up the climb on Lap 4 of 5, my legs felt fresh and I followed some attacks. Adam had dispatched from the break, and some punchy moves reduced the group to about 10, which grew by a few guys into 1 lap to go. 

Team Captain Roman rolled ahead of the peloton with Cooper, leaving the rest to chase and Craig to selflessly cover moves. I attacked hard on the approach to the final time up climb, catching Roman and then pursuing the leading duo through the feed zone. 

My Specialized Tarmac was the stiffest and trustiest of steeds, and I felt like one with my machine as I punched my way up the road, dropped the remnants of the break, and zoomed to a solo victory - my first of the season! I was glad to finish it off successfully after a strong team effort.

The team dedicates this success to our friend and manager Steve Pelaez, who continues to remain in our thoughts and prayers. You were riding with us the entire race, Steve!

San Dimas Stage Race - Stage 1 Time Trial

San Dimas Stage Race - Stage 1 Time Trial

Time trial days always seem to be unnecessarily stressful. Because you’re only racing yourself, you really don’t have much to worry about. Yet, nerves seem to create a myriad of non-existent stresses, so it’s often important to focus on the small victories leading up to those few last heaving breathes you make as the clock beeps 5-4-3-2-1.

First success: we got an AWESOME parking spot. We also had Caesar to pump up our slick Specialized tires so that our 3 pairs of puny climber arms could be spared for our ~ 16 minute uphill grinds. I was certainly thankful for this, as my arms had to do a bit more work than I could have predicted (more on this in a moment).

Aria, Andrew and I were starting within 20 minutes of each other, so we could pretty much roll around together, loosen up the legs and get focused to beat ourselves to a pulp against the steep and winding gradient that makes up Glendora Mountain Road. I was sure to gulp down plenty of GU hydration drink mix before the TT.  Andrew and I even opted to remove our lightweight BikeSmart HydroCarbon bottle cages for the sake of marginal gains!

The first section of the TT is flat, so I was sure to get low and aero on my bike. My S-Works Evade helmet and Capo Skinsuit helped nicely, too. Unfortunately aerodynamic equipment doesn’t do much to prevent punctures, and about two minutes in I heard the most nightmarish sound one could hear during a time trial: Phhhwoooosshhhhhhh.

I reassured myself that I was “going to break this f*#%ing wheel” to get to the top, so I kept my power solid and tried to salvage my race, at least for another few minutes until it was totally flat. Eventually, I stopped and asked a spectator for a wheel, and in perfect timing, Andrew rounded the turn on his way back to the van. I hopped on his bike and away I went. It was in this moment that my arms were finally ready for some real work. Riding a bike that is at least one size too small means that sitting down is less than ideal, so I nearly rode the last 10 minutes of the time trial out of the saddle… OUCH! I still managed to pass my 30 second man, though I finished with a time that was far from what I felt capable of.

It is rather ironic: in 2016, I successfully made it to the top of the GMR, only to have my rear tire explode just minutes after crossing the finish line. In hindsight, that was not such a bad predicament. I guess this Hill has some strange grudge against me. Maybe I’ll have to go the the USAC Hill Climb Championships after all. At least Aria will have some company now!

Much thanks to Brian Sarno for unexpectedly capturing what superficially appears to be positive emotional expression! I assure you: this is pure suffering and anger. Not a bad look, I guess.