Early Bird Crit

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


Rand Miller said it right: "…the lack of racing in the off-season makes the Early Bird Crits seem like fun." (I know, never start off with a quote).  They are fun, though. EB #2

After seeing the aftermath of several gnarly crashes, I was easily convinced to race with the P/1/2/3s.  This didn't make me any less nervous, however, and so I got right to what I do best when I'm nervous: attack!  After a lap or two, about 10 guys rolled off the front, and then a Specialized guy and one more hit it off the front of that group.  I jumped hard and quickly bridged to them, and we made quick work of opening up a gap.  Two more joined (an old Specialized guy and some dude in a polka-dot jersey), and we managed to get 45 seconds on the field in the matter of a few laps.  Unfortunately, my power at threshold isn't quite up to par with ex-Lance compatriots or Nate English, and I popped.  I surfed around the pack (so so much more easily than with the 4s) and rolled across the line at the back of the pack.  My inabilities garnered the title "cream puff" from the NorCalCyclingNews blog, but, hey, I picked the right move!  At least I've got my head on straight.

EB #3

Early Bird Crit - Ryan

I had planned on riding down from Oaktown with Nole, but after he hangover'd out of it I ended up driving down solo.  Itching to be out in the sun, I got in a good 2.5 hours around Sunol and over Palomares before the race.  I decided my efforts would be best suited for the 4s race today (okay, I wanted to see how I'd match up against some old foes), so I parked it on the grass by turn 1, ate some mashed potatoes, hung out with a dog, and massaged my legs - I call it "coiling."  We lined up, and as I surveyed the field I began to fear for my sweet SuperSix (I call her Kalika - Indian goddess of life/death; creation/destruction).  Shawn said to "get frisky" or something like that, so after watching a few moves get pulled back I rolled up the gutter and dug deep.  I got 20 seconds solo by the first lap, but couldn't manage to recover, and a lap or so later I was swallowed up.  Palomares was laughing at me.  I recovered, watched more moves get pulled back, avoided the sketchballs, and finally heard "2 to go."  As expected, Dolce Vita's leadout train was forming and I began my poaching.  Last lap on the back straight I was in position, and all I had to do was follow the train, hop on the too-early sprint, and bike throw around for the win.  Hooray!


Early Bird Mentoring Skills Clinic AM session

Our Beloved Maurice "beep beep BEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEEEP!!!" "C'mon, the sun isn't even out yet." "BEEEEEEEP BEEEEEP BEEEEP, WAKE UP!!!" "Ughhh, fine!!! (grumble grumble grumble) Happy now?"

"Welcome back to bike racing season, Shawn."

Well, after having a conversation with my alarm clock I decided it was time to have a conversation with my coffee press.

Fast forward…

In Fremont, heart beating. "Bike race parking." "Yeh-ah!" I get to join the orange vest crews alongside Maurice to help mentor the fresh blood. I swear there were 150 people there. It was amazing. I get paired up to mentor a group of 20 with help from one of my upcoming junior stars, Ellis Anderson. We're off and I'm leading the group down the middle of the road to test out "bike bronco" on the always feared, bot dots. "Yee-hah!"

Our next task, get a group of riders, many who have been afraid of riding in a group to feel comfortable riding inches from each other and rotate in a steady paceline. Ellis was a rockstar, helping control both the front and the back of the group. The pacelines were absolutely beautiful. I swear they were smoother than some of my breakaway companions in the pro/1/2 fields. It looks like the future of cycling is looking bright!

- Shawn Rosenthal