Early Bird

Reflections on Early Bird #1

Larry Nolan has a great expression that I’ve heard said one way or another at each Early Bird Crit. It goes something like, “You know how you thought you should get into racing because everyone you rode with told you how fast you were? Well, look around, because everyone here has heard the same thing.” I’ve always loved that line….I think it sums up the feeling of the Early Birds perfectly.

This year’s kick-off, Early Bird Crit #1, was no different. Everyone who comes down to Fremont, from the newest Cat 5 to the most grizzled Cat 1 (I’m thinking Pat Briggs here), all secretly harbors a hope that they’ve brought something to the table that others haven’t. For new racers, ignorance, as they say, is bliss. While for returning racers, that hope may stem from a winter training plan that started in October, a diet that was meticulously adhered to

through the holidays, or even a simple plan to not “show” any real form until later in the year. Regardless of the approach, every real bike racer comes into a race with a plan and a dream.

So what’s my plan this year? Well, frankly, to reveal that gives away too much right from the start, but let’s say that roaming around a race venue with easily the most well supplied and outfitted team in NorCal doesn’t hurt one’s mental approach. Before hardly a pedal has turned in anger, Team Mike’s Bikes is looking at a great year. Somewhere between the Cannondale Super Sixes and the fully custom Capo kits, we know we’re coming in hot!

Early Bird Criterium #1 came off very well. Several of our more experienced members showed up for the morning and afternoon mentoring sessions. Shawn and Maurice guided many new racers through probably their very first experience riding in a fast pack in the morning, followed by Hank spending most of the afternoon doing the same with the 35+ crowd.

To put a special icing on the day, Hank and Tyler got a chance to ride together and show off our amazing new Team kit in the combined P/1/2/3 race. Both showed excellent poise and I’m fairly certain I saw ear-to-ear grins on both guys!

Looking forward to the year doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings that start to swirl around at the EB’s. With a blend of excitement, hope, and passion (mixed with a healthy dose of fear) the year is off and running. It’s gonna be a good one. MBFY!

- John Becker

Early Bird Road Race - Pee Breaks Rule

I love the Early Bird Road Race. I have done this race three years in a row now and each year I look forward to it. Not sure if its the 20 mile promenade that allows you to catch up with fellow riders, the kicker of a climb that sheds the sprinters, or the rolling descent back that drops the weenies, but this race is awesome. Early Bird Road Race

Every time I have done this race, it has played out the same way. On the long roll out to the climb, a few strongmen attempt to attack and hit the climb early. They dangle off the front for a bit, then realize it was a bad idea and get swallowed up. The climb is always a ball buster which creates a natural split in the field and allows a break to form off the front. It's worth it to turn yourself inside out on the climb to make this selection because after the descent, if the break works reasonably well together and holds off the

field, it comes down to a sprint between them in the last 500 meters. My first year doing this race as a 5 I made the selection on the hill but ripped open my front tire on the descent and last year as a 4 I made the selection and sprinted in a break of three for 2nd place.

This year was no different than the past two years. There were a few small attacks leading up to the climb and just before it, but the field wasn't letting anything stay away. Kovarus and other teams sent a few people off but Chica Sexy was patrolling the front keeping everything together for their stud David Mesa who won the San Bruno Hill Climb earlier this month. Paul and I floated around the field until the last few miles before the climb where I worked my way up to the front to prepare for pain. Sure enough right when we got to the base on the climb, riders began to press on the pedals. Sinelnikau Aliaksandr from Third Pillar (one of three P/1/2 riders combined with our field but scored separately) went first and got my attention along with a few other riders. Looking at the garmin data, my heart didn't appreciate my responding to this move, but my legs didn't care. Dancing around my max heart rate, I kept it together to the turn around point and sat last in selection of six which included two P/1/2 riders. After doing my best to not crash myself out on the descent, our break of six got organized and began rotation. Everyone did fantastic work but Aliaksandr and Chris Isley of Webcor really showed some strength. The motorcycle gave us a time update of a 40 second split. As we started to get closer to the finish I noticed Marco Arocha of Velosport starting to leak sand as he reached the front and quickly rotated off to the back. Real subtle but smart. With 1km to go, congratulations on a successful break were exchanged and we shuffled for the sprint. I sat third on Mesas wheel and at 250m he went with Arocha. Mesa faded but I ran out of road and finished next to Arocha for 2nd. I asked Arocha about his sand bag issue and he said that he was getting popped off the break and needed to recover. Sorry Marco, don't think you go from getting popped to leading out and winning a sprint in a few km later but nice tactics. I proceeded to ride back to the car and drove to Mike's in Sausalito for a busy Saturday at work.

6 points in the bank. One other thing to make clear though. Pee Breaks Rule. For all you Cat 3 riders who whined and complained when at mile 10 I went to the front and polled for a pit stop, then proceeded to pedal off even though 10 of us had stopped for a nature break, you suck. Thanks to Dr.Phil (no idea who this is) for apparently going to the front and slowing em down. I went to the bathroom right before the race, but I also drank coffee and a bunch of water. I know it's only a two hour race, but I'm not going to carry a basketball full of Mountain Dew up the hill.

- Hank