Cox 6th in a Stacked Field - 2017 USA Cycling National Criterium Championship

Cox 6th in a Stacked Field - 2017 USA Cycling National Criterium Championship

by: Scott Cox

We started out the day with a leisurely morning and a 45 minute spin on the bike path near our perfect cottage that teammate Dana Williams lined up for us.  I started to get pretty fired up thinking about the race that would start later in the evening in downtown Augusta and reminded myself to pace that energy as I knew I would need every ounce of it later.  Great teammates make relaxing easy as we shared a lot of laughs, but we were also pretty bummed for reigning National Criterium Champion, Matt Adams.  Being the stand up guy he is, he made a bee line for home when he was needed there and would miss the opportunity to defend his jersey.   Matt leaving led to teammate’s Rob "Robo' Amatelli, Josh Pizzica and Dana designating me as the protected rider for the crit and the pressure I started to put on myself was motivating for me.  I did not have race result expectations as there are many things that need to go right.  I knew I had put in the necessary work leading to nationals and was only expecting to be in a position to contest at the end if it came to a sprint or not miss an obvious move.  


It was a long day waiting for the race and we passed the time watching a Back to the Future marathon and relaxing while pinning up our sweet Capo Custom skin suits for the big show.  We all took care of pre-race nutrition and hydration thanks to the tasty Gu Energy products.  Robo got the party started by kitting up and being the hype man and the four of us rolled to the crit course in style on our Specialized bikes.  Rain drops started falling as we arrived at the course.  We found some shelter in a parking garage and went over our race plan and were thankful for the Specialized Turbo traction with the potential for wet conditions.  


The course was flat and fast and we thought an early break was unlikely to make it, but a late move could work and we would race defensively for the first 45 minutes and be attentive for the last 30 minutes of the 75 minute race.  We had our hands full with the talent in the field: Emile Abraham (North Georgia Cycling Association - won the RR 2 days earlier), Michael Olheiser (won the TT 3 days earlier and 2nd in RR), Jeromy Cottell (Team Specialized/Touchstone Racing - always a threat), Chad Moston (Santa Monica BMW Helen’s Cycles - reigning SoCal crit champ), Phil Tinstman (Monster Media Racing), Charon Smith (Team Surf City), and Ken Vida (FloridaVelo) were the notables and there are always many other strong racers that are under the radar in championship races.  So we were faced with high caliber sprinters, TT diesels and hard men, but I liked our odds with the strength of our team.


The rain passed and the roads were dry as we staged for the race.  Aaron Patterson (Peet’s Coffee) shared the nationals NorCal love and handed my pump and saddlebag off to his family and the atmosphere was friendly with Charon and Dana making a real estate deal.  We rolled to the line and the “neutral” lap was exciting with pushing and jostling as everyone wanted that front spot.  I love these big races!   The whistle blew and the jitters disappeared.  There were many attacks and counter attacks early in the race and I could relax seeing Josh, Rob and Dana  covering moves.  I made sure to stay up front and marked other known strong riders as needed.  I did not want to work too much, but also knew I needed to take charge of my own destiny and read the race.  A large break formed with Rob and about 8 other riders around the 30 minute mark.  I made a move and got a gap so bridged to the break.  I heard the announcer, Frankie Andreu, say something about Olheiser not having it and we were all back together.  At that point, I sensed there would be 15-30 minutes before a break might go and I had not seen Charon or Emile yet.  I went back to find them and get some recovery from being active early and also thought it would be smart to follow Emile since he has so much experience racing in the pro ranks.  They were having a relaxed conversation, so I figured they were gambling on a bunch sprint and riding easy getting sucked along by the large field.  

A two man break made it off the front and I did not think they had a chance and stayed in the back.  Sure enough, a crash happened near the back of the pack coming out of the final turn with maybe 10 laps to go.  All of the main sprinters and myself managed to avoid the crash with some evasive maneuvering and I chased back on for 20 seconds or so.  The race was neutralized and we restarted after a few minutes with the break having 10 seconds and they hit the gas and the field was looking at each other.

 I knew it was time to race up front and figured I would see Emile and the gang later, so best not to get too focused on any one rider.  This part of the race is fuzzy for me, but I believe we caught all but one rider and then Jeromy Cottell attacked through the start finish with 6 laps to go.  Check out this video from Dana’s on-bike camera (it is pretty sweet to have one of the best amateur racers in the country at any age/level WORKING for you - thanks, Dana!):

Many players were there and I was expecting them to chase Jeromy down, but we all looked at each other and then he was gone.  Nice move, Jeromy!  He quickly bridged to the other rider and I thought there was no way the break would make it with the horsepower in the field, so focused on holding position.  

Justin Little (Simple Racing) made a move to get to the break and he was also let go and I still thought the break would not make it and was 100% in for a sprint - gotta commit to something at this point in the race I believe.  Dana was keeping the pace high and a few other guys were helping and I was waiting for Olheiser, Tinstman and other teams to get involved since they are not known as sprinters and other teams had some numbers.  Simple Racing interfered with the chase by accelerating to get on the front and then slowing abruptly.  A successful tactic, but not one that made many friends in the peloton and probably not the classiest racing, but it is what it is.   The end result was the break was gone and the race for 4th was on and Mike’s Bikes was all in for a leadout.  Championship races often play out like this when no one wants to do the work (understandable) and there are not large teams.  That’s racing and part of what makes it so fun.  

Rob made his way to the front and took a big pull and then Dana took over with one to go.   Dana went into beast mode staying on the front at a blistering pace all the way to about 50 meters from the second to last turn - whoa.  I was second wheel and knew I had some great sprinters on my wheel.  When Dana finally started to slow after making about 500 meters longer than I thought possible, I felt it was a touch too early to start my sprint, but Chad Moston had other plans and jumped us on the inside hard and had a nice gap.  I hesitated for a moment, knowing who was on my wheel and no one came around, so it was go time.  Goal one was to get to the final turn first with something left for a second sprint to the line.  I heard guys coming on the inside fast, but was first to the corner and they had to brake.  We made it through the turn and sprinted again.  Moston held on for 4th, Emile was able to come by me and I held on for 6th.  Jeromy attacked his 3 man break and rode to an impressive victory with clean wheels.  We bugged out before a storm rolled in and capped off the trip with the obligatory trip to Waffle House - another nationals smothered and covered.  
A special thank you to my teammates that gave all they had to help me in the crit and for all of the laughs and good times.  

Zuniga Qualifies for the 2017 UCI World Gran Fondo Championships

Zuniga Qualifies for the 2017 UCI World Gran Fondo Championships

By Luiggi Zuniga

2017 UCI Worlds Championships Qualifier

Jacksonville, Alabama

The Cheaha Century Challenge won the bid to host the 2017 Union Cycliste International (UCI) Gran Fondo World Championship Qualifier for the United States. This is the only qualifier in the United States for the UCI Championship that will be held in August 2017 in Albi, France.

Day before the race:

Weather reports indicated a 90% chance of rain for race day, which made me nervous. The day before the race, it rained for 12 straight hours, with thunder and wind so strong like I’ve never seen before. I kept looking out of the window of my hotel room just pondering how this race is going to unfold.

 

Race Day:

To my pleasant surprise, I woke up to cloudy skies and a few sprinkles, but no sign of thunder, rain or wind like the previous day.

 

The race consisted of 99.8 miles and 9,443 feet of climbing. I expected the race to start at a moderate pace, and pick up as the race progressed.

 

I was wrong.

 

The race started hard from the gun. There were many well represented teams in the race, which allowed them to orchestrate a flurry of attacks for the first 90 minutes or so. I did not recognize anybody in the race, except for fellow norcal cyclist Jonathan Eropkin, racing for Peet’s Coffee cycling team, and racing in the same age category as me.

 

The peloton included a mix of different age groups racing together. For scoring purposes, I only had to mark the guys with the green bib numbers, which represented the 40-44 age group. During one of the attacks, I saw Jonathan grab the wheel of a younger rider who was trying to break away. Once they established a gap, I was forced to bridge. Once I joined them, the eventual age group winner Marco Arocha countered. We never saw him again.

 

As the race progressed, the high temperature and humidity started to take a toll on me. The rolling hills seem harder than before, but we were still gaining time on the group behind us. Once we hit the first long climb, the pace started to pick up even more. As we reached the top, it was just a handful of us left. I noticed Jonathan starting to fall behind, but somehow he managed to catch us on the descent. Jonathan and I stayed together for the second climb, and that’s when I figured it would just be us fighting for 2nd and 3rd place.

 

By mile 65, Jonathan got a cramp and fell behind. I thought he was gone this time for sure, but again was able to recover and get back in the group. But then, with 20 miles to go, my legs started to feel the effects of all the hard racing. To add to my worries, fellow NorCal rider Bryan Hoadley, racing for the Make a Wish cycling team, managed to catch us from behind. In the process, Bryan brought a rider from my same age category. Now it was 3 of us fighting for 2 podium spots. At first, we were all working well together, but a cramp on my left leg forced me to skip a few pulls. With 10 miles to go, the guy in my age group who had joined us had been dropped. Bryan also fell back. The rest of us were working very hard just trying to keep our distance with the group behind. With 5 miles to go, the group was down to a guy from another age group, Jonathan and me. My legs were gone by then, and I eventually found myself getting dropped and riding alone. With a couple of miles left to the finish, I continued to push in whichever way I could. I looked back and saw the guy in my age group closing in. I started pushing harder and harder and somehow I was able to hold him off and finish in 3rd place.

 

I have been dreaming to be able to one day race a World Championships representing USA. I just qualified, and I did it! I’m a US citizen now and I’m going to a Cycling World Championships again, in Albi, France!

 

Thank to Rob “Danger” Fulford the tech Manager at Mike’s Bikes Walnut Creek for keeping my bike top notch for the races.

 

Thanks to our sponsors for their continued support: Equator Coffee & Teas, Toyota, Specialized, Capo Cycling Apparel, Violich Farms, Smith Optics, Gu Energy Labs, Mikes Bikes, Achieve Performance Training & Coaching, Financial Force and Bike Smart.

Markelz Triumphant From a Two-Man Break Away: 2017 NorCal District Road Race Championship

Markelz Triumphant From a Two-Man Break Away: 2017 NorCal District Road Race Championship

By: Todd Markelz

Event: 2017 NCNCA Championship 35-39

Date: 5/13/2017

Teammates: No masters teammates, Trevor Gilmore from the MB development squad

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/984907751/overview

Conditions: Sunny, mid-60s with a 10-15mph headwind on the climbing portion of the course, strong tailwind for the miles leading into the start/finish.

The Plan

Without teammates the plan was to animate the race on my own. With the strong headwind the thought was that a break would surely take the day. Therefore, my approach was going to consist of early aggression in an attempt to form a select group that was willing to work together. My best chance for victory would come from a reduced sprint in the end.

The Race

There were several key players to keep an eye on. Chris Cain (Squadra), Chris Coble (Olympic Club), Will Riffelmacher (Olympic Club), and Josh Carling (William Cycling) all promised to be there in the end and would be the likely candidates to race aggressively.

The race started out mellow. After an entire first lap of what felt like soft pedaling I decided it was time to test some legs. The second time into the climbing portion of the course I put in an attack to see who was in the mood to race. After about a minute of effort I looked back and saw that three had followed. I kept the pressure on for another two minutes, yes the four of us only had a marginal gap which was quickly washed away by the field during the rapid descent down into the valley. I had fired the first shot, but it was a miss. During the long tailwind section in the lead up to start/finish line everyone regrouped and prepared the climbs again.

The second time hitting the bumps Coble rolled off the front. It was clearly not an all out attack but he easily grabbed bike lengths and then looked back as if to dare people to bridge. Sticking with the plan of early aggression I bit. With a quick jump I sped across the gap thinking he would make a great breakaway companion. Alas, this move was also not to be. By the top of the climb and the subsequent descent the pack was all back together. Several people made charges out of the descent and onto the flats but the headwind was so fierce that all attacks were short lived. The field was approaching the end of lap three all together.

As the gradient toward the start/finish increased Coble once again sped off the front and quickly established 50 meters. Again he looked back, apparently waiting to see who would join. As the hill began to crest the collective pack backed way off the pressure and I saw my opening. With a slight acceleration I bridged to Coble with his teammate Will tailing me. After catching Coble he sat up, but I had other plans. Knowing Will would stick on me I pushed through and in no time both Will and I had established an advantage of 10 seconds and we were rapidly approaching the climbing portion of the loop. It was make or break time. With an all out assault for the next several minutes I was convinced we could open up a significant lead… one that we may just be able to hold to the line if we both were willing to work. I lowered my head and dug in. As we reached the end of the 4th lap the pack was nowhere to be seen behind us. It was time to settle in as we still had 9 laps to go.

Will and I collaborated well. Through an even share of the work load we rode steady for several laps and still the pack was nowhere to be seen. By the time we started getting gaps back to the group we’d already open up a 1:10 advantage. That gap held steady for several of the mid-race laps but then slowly started to increase. With each lap my optimism grew. It climbed to 1:20, then 1:30, then 1:45. With only 4 laps left to race we’d increased our lead to over 2 minutes. Surely we would not be seen again.

Then it happened. Halfway through lap number 11 the motorbike pulls along side me and delivers the one piece of news I was hoping to not hear. While the field was 2:30 back a solo rider had escaped the group and was now charging his way toward us. I didn’t need to ask who it was…  who else could it have been? Coble was coming.

Will was aware of this fact as well and suddenly the tables had turned. My pulls got longer, Will’s got shorter, and I could sense the weight of the race shifting to my shoulders. It was now up to me to try and stay away. The final two times up the climbing portion of the course I expected no help and instead remained focused on maintaining as much of my lead as possible over the now unleashed Coble.

Well into the final lap, a quick look back over my shoulder after the last ascent of the day gave me hope. No other riders were in sight and all that stood between me and victory was a descent, a few miles of tailwind, and Will who had been happily sitting on my wheel.

As the finale approached I started soft pedaling while constantly looking over my shoulder to ensure Coble was still out of sight. Will made it clear that given the race situation he was content with forcing me to lead out the sprint. Realistically there was no way I was going to be able to avoid it. Given this fact I knew the longer I could wait the better. I was only going to have one shot at a kick and I didn’t want Will to have enough time to accelerate up behind me and make a last second charge. The line came into view and the gradient started to increase. With one eye on the finish and one eye on Will I waited to see if he would jump. Well inside of 200m and still neither of us had committed anything. The line approached ever closer and I finally felt the time had come. I poured everything I had into ten hard pedal strokes then glanced between my arm. I saw a gap... I saw victory. With a final kick I shot across the line. I had won!


The field, the climbing, the headwinds, and two hours off the front with Will, had all made for a tough day of racing. But it also meant the taste of victory was that much more sweet!

My Posse Won Districts

My Posse Won Districts

My Posse Won Districts

(Play video above and read along below)


Me and Oli Ryan, my friend the British chap
I’m on the black Venge Vias with the SRAM eTap
I'm calling up the posse, it's time to get racin’
A team full of beasts, to keep you suckas trippin'
Everybody's looking if you're jealous turn around
The 64 wheels keep us closer to the ground
We’re getting good grip from the turbo cotton tires
The GU juice pumping but I need the caffeine higher
Cause the CapoForma team kit makes the girlies get dumb
We're rolling to the start and the jealous wanna get some
Every time we do this sucka masters wanna battle
We’re the team they love to hate, the TMB that you can’t rattle
We headed off the start on Parker Flat Rd
Heading for the win, yes we're in cruisin’ mode
The field’s kinda crowded, the whole pack was kinda stacked
Amatelli’s watching T.V. with two girlies on his lap
On Eucalyptus Rd the set looks kinda dead
We need a new attack so posse move ahead
We all look kinda swass the crew you can't forget
The TMB posse cold rippin’ up the set

 

My posse’s winning Districts
My posse’s winning Districts


Rollin’ in, my posse was getting kinda bored
There's not another posse with more points scored
We don't ride around like pack fodder or flex like big gorillas
My homeboy Oli Ryan is the British blurple killa
Luigi’s on the move his bike dancing like a freak
The girlies see his booty and their knees get weak
Cox is the white guy people think he’s funny
An animal doctor who’s attacks are hella money
Clocking lots a watts, he got a big gap
We cruising in the field and markin’ all the moves
Wheeling past the start, saw nothing in the pack
The competition got mad from watching Cox attack
Cause the Scott man got ‘em and their watts just drop
The teams look depressed cause our crew won’t stop
For lap after lap, the Doc held his gap
Josh shouted Mustard Flowers it's time to get slapped
Oli blew me a kiss he said I looked fit
He’s looking mighty freaky in his TMB kit
The closer that we get, the crazier I feel
My posse's winning Districts, it's time to get ill

 

My posse’s winning Districts
My posse’s winning Districts


Following the chase and my wheels spin slow
Rolling with your posse is the only way to go
The others finally caught him he was looking for a ride
We even picked him up but then attacked the other side
We attacked up the left, we attacked up the right
We attacked up the middle and made them suckas bite
The posse’s getting stronger, the attacks are getting fierce
My brakes ain’t dragging and my tires ain’t pierced
Other racers getting’ tired from TMB’s dishin’
I attack on the left, a little bit of fishin’
But Baker was done, And so was Jer-o-my
They said, "Please stop this racing ‘cause we’re getting too damn tired"
The finish is the place were the cool hang out
The swass like to play and the fast flaunt clout
I get a big gap, so big we count by twos
We're getting dirty looks from those other sucker crews
My gap got big, like over a minute
Skeezer from another crew attacked hard but missed it
The others were illin’, kept trying to close it down
My homeboys TMB cold marked them down like clowns
Cause I never liked a dude who wouldn’t pull through
If you don't have legs then let us crush your world
I help the gap for laps, 2 to be exact
I crossed the line alone and Beardo starts to cheer
Boy I got a def posse you got a bunch a dudes
You're broke cold crying about the TMB blues
Ya couldn’t hang with us and now you got a cramp
The TMB posse just won the District champs

 

My posse won Districts
My posse won Districts

Team Tactics Reward a 1-2 Finish: 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

Team Tactics Reward a 1-2 Finish: 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

By: Dana Williams

Date: April 30, 2017

Teammates: Todd Markelz, John Barbicas, Scott Cox, Luiggi Zuniga, Marcel Appelman & Rob Amatelli

The Plan: The call came in from team captains for a straight up man-to-man marking with each of us placed on an opposing rider we felt were the biggest threats. For one rider in particular, we decided to put three guys on because of his aggressive and strong reputation.

Course: https://www.strava.com/activities/964944367/analysis/1675/4139

Conditions: clear skies, sunny and high 50's rising to low 70's at the finish

Summary
"The fuse has been lit" I shouted in the remaining group of riders as we quickly approached the main climb, Strava-dubbed 'Wente Hill'. It was our fourth and final time up the climb. Teammate Todd 'Sparkelz' Markelz and Team Specialized rider Josh Dapice had just been caught after being off the front for approximately 1.5 laps. This definitely played in our favour as strong riders including Kevin Metcalf, Michael Sayers, Will Riffelmacher and Josh Dapice had to burn matches up to this point. Will wasn't going to sit back and watch. He jumped out of his saddle and attacked at the base of the climb.

But first let's rewind back to the start where the energy was somewhat subdued among the 26 rider field. We, Team Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffee had the largest representations with eight riders. Peets Coffee Cycling team was next with five riders. Team Specialized and Kai Velo had 3 riders each and then there was individual rider team representation. The first lap was pretty casual with a decent tempo set by teammate Marcello and a few others. You could sense the pace was going to be quicker the second time up Wente Hill, and that's how it played out. The field was whittled down slightly and the pace stayed solid up Carroll-Flynn climb. As we started the Flynn descent, Jeromy Cottel pushed off the front and kept on the gas. Gaps started to form and you could sense some alarm bells going off. We all knew his strength and smart race tactics. As we turned onto Patterson Pass Rd (to begin Patterson - Cross climb) and hit the head wind we were all back together. This is where Todd sensed his time to attack and stretched his legs. Josh Dapice jumped on him and followed. Nobody else tried to join them and they were off....for the next 1.5 laps.

By the base of the third time up the Wente Hill, Todd and Josh were in sight and approx 20-25sec up the road. Will attacked hard at the base and went off in pursuit to bridge up. It was a smart move and would make any chase effort that much harder. He put in a commendable effort but ultimately dangled in the middle for 3/4 of the lap.

We hit the final time up the 'Wente Hill' and Will attached again. The pace picked up a notch, and then another notch when Sayer's dug hard and went after him. Others followed. A select group formed at the top including four TMBEquator rider (Cox, Zuniga, Amatelli and myself) and I believe the others were Cottel, Sayers, Riffelmacher, Eropkin and Henderson. We kept on the gas up the climb and down to Patterson Pass Rd. The false flat and head wind on Patterson Pass Rd combined with cumulative leg fatigue was the perfect recipe for Rob to attack. He jumped and quickly got a gap. Cottel went after him and I was able to tuck behind him in his draft. Jeromy caught Rob just before we took the right turn onto Cross Rd. I countered attacked right away and pushed hard up the steep little pitch, down it's back side and up Cross Rd climb to the highest point of the course. I finally looked back and didn't see anybody. But I knew the strength of Jeromy so I had to stay all in, hoping Rob would get a free ride if I was caught, and counter attack again. Half way down the descent I looked back and recognized a TMBEquator kit in the distance. I thought to myself 'is this somebody from a different field, or was it Rob and I couldn't see Jeromy'. A few more double takes and I realized it was Rob solo. I eased off and by the time we hit Tesla Rd we are together. I still didn't know where Jeromy was so kept on the gas. As we approached the finish I finally was able to realize we would stay off the front and had enough time to chat with Rob how we'd finish.

Dana Williams & Rob Amatelli Finish 1-2 at the 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

Dana Williams & Rob Amatelli Finish 1-2 at the 2017 Wente Vineyards Road Race

Jeromy stayed away from the next group and held onto second. Sparkelz finished fourth and Cox rounded out the 'Brodium' in fifth. Needless to say we were happy as a team with the results. 

L-R: Scott Cox, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Rob Amatelli, Todd Markelz

L-R: Scott Cox, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Rob Amatelli, Todd Markelz

Thank you to our sponsors for their continued support: Equator Coffee & Teas, Toyota, Specialized, Capo Cycling Apparel, Violich Farms, Smith Optics, Gu Energy Labs, Mikes Bikes, Achieve Performance Training & Coaching, Financial Force and Bike Smart.

Team Work Gets the Win for Williams: 2017 Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race

Team Work Gets the Win for Williams: 2017 Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race

By Dana Williams

2017 Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race M123 35+

Date: April 21, 2017

Teammates: Matt Adams

The plan: Play off each other (attack and counter attack), mark aggressive moves and figure out the finish when we got there, but the goal was to get the win. 

Course: One of the main attractions of the Sea Otter Classic Circuit Race is that it takes place on the renowned Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. Smooth pavement, wide open roads and no traffic greet all riders. But don't let those ideal conditions distract you from the most challenging part of the course; a climb approximately two minutes long, with the first half averaging 5-6% and the second half, nicked named 'The Wall', averaging 10% but kicking up to almost 20% close to the start of it.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/952165075.

Conditions: High 60’s, a tad windy and sunshine.

Summary

After two warm up laps around the track, I rolled up to the start and chatted briefly with Matt. The plan was to remain the same. I looked around and recognized quite a few of the guys, in particular to note from NorCal was Jeromy Cottell and Chris Cain, and from SoCal, Phil Tintsman. There were others I noted to Matt that looked strong but we didn't recognize them. And being the race took place on a Friday, the field wasn't that big either with 15 riders. The whistler blew, an 'Aloha' by Matt, and we were off.

The first time up the main climb was somewhat casual. Phil and I even had some time to catch up briefly. Thinking back now, it felt like we were in the pacing phase in a duel to the death, just about the draw our guns to see who would fire first. It might have been the second or third lap where the first 'shot' was fired. Thankfully the 'bullets' missed Matt and I as we stayed with the pace. But a few other riders weren't so lucky. The result was a slight decrease in the field size.

A rider I didn't know or recognize pushed the pace towards the top of the main climb (to my best recollection) and opened a small gap. With little reaction from those of us in the main field, his gap grew. A few laps went by and as we crossed the start/finish line the announcer called out 'there's a 30 second gap between the leader and chasing group'. I kept an eye on this rider, as I'm sure the others did, and wasn't too concerned because we would close the gap down by the top of the main climb each lap. Jeromy and Phil made some hard accelerations on the steep part of the main climb, causing the group to thin out even more. I don't recall exactly when we caught the guy off the front but fast forward to five laps to go and the video and my thoughts below tells the story of how the race went down from that point.

We rocketed down the cork screw with me leading the way. Matt soon attacked up the left and I follow other riders. We came back together and I thought about countering but I was a little too gassed so I ease off.  Matt attacked again after the next turn and I followed moves again. We rolled through the start/finish to begin our fourth to last lap. I took over just before diving back down the Corkscrew and lead for almost a full lap. It didn't feel like this long but the video surprised me when I saw this. My only thought is I wanted to race hard rather than accelerate, decelerate, and repeat. We crested the top of the climb, descended down the corkscrew, turned right at the bottom and then left into a solid head wind. As we went under the overpass, Jeromy made a well timed attack up the left. Aware of Jeromy's knack for attacking at the right times, I dug deep and accelerated after him over the crest and down around the next left hander. Matt soon took over, with Phil glued to his wheel (13:54 of the video). The guy who was off the front for a few laps earlier in the race (high vis yellow socks) went after Phil and Matt so I hopped on his wheel for a free ride. Just as Matt and Phil mak=de contact with Jeromy, we caught them and soon rolled over the start/finish line with two laps to go.

This time up the climb was pretty uneventful with Matt setting a solid pace. We descended down the corkscrew and continued to keep the pace at a rate that detered anybody from attacking. That said, it would have been a big ask of one's legs to attack on the flats and hold off the charging group for over a lap.

We rolled over the start/finish line with the bell ringing signifying last lap. Thinking back to last year's race, feeling strong and having a teammate in the group, I decided I was going to attack hard up the wall, try to get a gap and hold it as long as I could. This would give Matt a 'free ride' and hopefully he could get the win if I was brought back by the others. But as you can see in the video, Phil beat me to the punch and attacked hard up the right side of 'the Wall'. Jeromy went after him and I followed. At the same time Matt accelerate hard up the left with Chris Cain on his wheel. To give you a sense of the effort we were exerting, it took me almost 700W for 45 secs to stay with Jeromy. We all came together at the top, with Phil about five seconds ahead. Jeromy slowed slightly to see if I would come by him but having Matt ahead allowed me to be content where I was. Jeromy slotted in behind Chris for the descent. As we made the right turn at the bottom, Phil likely inched out a few more seconds, and Chris and Matt played a little cat and mouse of who would take up the chase. Matt dropped his head and pushed on around the next left turn and into the head wind. Jeromy was content where he was. My hope at this time was that Matt knew I was behind him, was confident that I could finish with a strong sprint, and therefore keep the pace up, not letting Phil get more of an advantage. This is exactly what he did, which was arguably the most critical part of how the race unfolded. This is a perfect example of how effective team work can come into play in bike racing. 

Chris then took over as we went under the overpass and started up a short incline. I was getting antsy and trying to let a small gap open up between Jeromy and I that I could accelerate into and go after Phil. It wasn't happening because Jeromy was slowing ever so slightly as well. I sensed it was time to go after Phil and attacked hard up the left. I crested the roller, stood up again and sprinted down the hill. My main concern now was Jeromy catching me and getting in my draft for a free ride towards the finish. I made the long left turn at the bottom of the hill and accelerated out of it. The gap to Phil is decreasing, and Jeromy wass just out of my draft. Phil's head was down and I know he was just focusing on getting to the line as quick as can, just like me. As I closed in on him just before the last long right hander, I stood up and sprinted to try to get a little more speed, hopefully enough so he couldn't  latch onto my wheel. As I went by him on the left, I believe he looked over his right shoulder to see where I was, giving me time to open up a precious gap. I looked back and he was still working hard. Ahhh, my legs were seizing up but I kept pushing. 

Time was on my side and I rolled across the line, hands in the air, grateful to have got the win for Team Mike's Bikes p/b Equator Coffee for the second year in a row. Of course, hats off again to my teammate Matt for all his strong and tactical riding. 

As much as Matt and I were happy to have got the win, we raced with heavy hearts due to a sever accident we were made aware of only a few hours before the start of the race. Steve Pelaez, the visionary, fearless leader and co-founder of Team Mike's Bikes, had a high speed collision with an SUV while riding his bike the morning of this race. Matt and I questioned whether we should race, but our feeling was that Steve would want us to so we rolled to the start line and gave it our best.

As the day went on we received more updates. Unfortunately the news did not get any better. Steve was severely injured and is fighting for his life. It is a very emotional time for everybody who knows Steve because he is that type of guy who has a positive influential impression on everybody he meets. His spirit is infectious. With all of infected with Steve (his energy and spirit), we are combining it together and making the spirit even stronger.  We are sending this greater force/energy back to him to help heal his injuries.

There's not a time during the day that we are not thinking about Steve and his family. If you want to contribute your energy towards Steve's healing then please join us. It is the hope of his amazing wife Jenna that all of our love, and anything else we can muster up to send his way, will help Steve heal. Updates are posted https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/stevepelaez. 

Victory at Paris-Roubaix of NorCal: Amatelli Wins the 2017 Copperopolis M123 +35 Road Rac

Victory at Paris-Roubaix of NorCal: Amatelli Wins the 2017 Copperopolis M123 +35 Road Rac

By Rob Amatelli

Copperopolis.  A California Road Racing Classic.  Empress to all amateur bike races.  The Queen of the Classics, and for one euphoric moment on the Saturday before Easter, the mistress of one worthy conquerer.  It is written that only champions stiffened by an army of warriors with demigod-like powers possessing the purest of beating hearts and boasting unyielding strength will have the merit to lift her skirt and vie for her spoils.  To achieve such everlasting immortality one must first traverse eighty-five miles of the most cragged and scabrous terrain ever implanted on this terrestrial sphere we call Earth.  Mortal straphangers stand nary a chance against the menacing parcours set out by the Queen, and will be mercilessly crucified as punishment for such unabated insolence.  

Enlisted and qualified among our ranks that day: Madams, Oli, Sparkelz, Señor Donkey, Rooster, Pizza, and me Robo.  A worthy ensemble comprised of enough majestic force to rip the legs off any and every troll who dare threaten our premeditated barrage on the competition.  Among us forty other dogged and purposeful mercenaries with similar ambitions came prepared for the hostilities, willing to employ their own talents in a bid for the booty.  Though many of them honorable, none possessed the depth and synergy that is omnipresent in our band of hardened marauders.  Though we stood tallest amongst the teams, one man's strength transcended the capabilities of all others, even our own demigods.  According to cycling lore he was once bitten by a cobra, and after five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.  He goes by the name Coble.          

The race commenced and the pace heightened immediately as men fought for position going into the precipitous early slopes of the course.  Cold patches of tar littered the crumbling pave, spraying shards of oily rock at the competitors.  In an attempt to shed the weakest riders and break up the field, several of our adversaries drove a fierce pace through a countryside blanketed in mutilated tarmac.  

Half way through the race, in a cagey display of tactical brilliance, Madams and Oli slipped away from the group.  With the field already decimated, those astute enough to sense the danger quickly reacted and leapt away to join our men.  Noting that Coble remained anchored to the dwindling powers of the chase in favor of letting his mate Will Riffelmacher ride the breakaway, Señor Donkey, Rooster, Sparkelz and I also secured ourselves at the rear of affairs acting as watchdogs over Coble.  Even though Madams and Oli are both proven champions, the combined strength of the men around them made victory less than certain.  Nevertheless they were in a group without Coble and that represented our most prolific opportunity for victory.  They quickly established a ninety second advantage over our group of weakening chasers.  

After a harrowing descent that plummeted down over the most ragged of the courses surfaces, the referee informed us the leaders had nearly two minutes advantage.  Optimistic that my brethren would handle business, I was nonetheless certain my own race for glory was over.  Just as the thought crossed my mind the cycling Gods imposed their will.  The destructive and malevolent roads of Copperopolis had claimed Pizza's machine earlier in the race. as well as many of the others, and now Coble had fallen victim to the same misfortune when his tire punctured and he was forced to stop.  Anyone else would have been out of the race.  But this was a man who wrote an autobiography that later became known as the Guiness Book of World Records.  I knew he would come back to us, I just didn't know when.  I seized the opportunity to improve our chances.  

Quickly I hatched a plan to take Sparkelz and bridge to the leading group of six.  With Coble stalled by his wheel change we were free to attack the remaining chasers and rejoin the front of affairs, giving us a strong advantage in numbers.  After discussing the strategy with Señor Donkey, Rooster, and Sparkelz, we were all resolved to the endeavor.  Señor Donkey rode a hard tempo into the foot of the climb, tiring all but the strongest of legs.  Sparkelz then leapt away from the last of the competitors as if he had wings.  I could see as he rode away he was taking their souls with him.  As they hung their heads in defeat I launched my own attack.  The plan worked perfectly.  Sparkelz had decimated the remnants allowing me to escape in his wake.  He nursed me up the steepest pitches of the hillside over the next several minutes as I imposed the death of a thousand soles on myself.  We would finally reach the summit where the gradient leveled and I was able to contribute to the pace making.  

After catching the breakaway and taking a moment to asses my condition, I caught my breath and prepared to fight.  With thirty miles left to race over such unforgiving terrain against such rugged men, I prepared myself mentally for the rigors to come.  Soon enough we were back on the slopes of the sinister climb to the plateau and right on cue Sparkelz launches another vicious attack that none could follow.  A small group of four formed behind him.  Madams, Jeromy Cottell, Will Riffelmacher, and Dan Bryant.  Dropped and trailing ten seconds behind I gritted my teeth willing myself to make it to the top and regain contact in an effort to help protect Sparkelz's bid for greatness.  My perseverance paid off as we crested the summit and I slipped back into the draft of the quartet.    

Exhausted from the effort, it took an incredible amount of concentration to stay in the shelter of their wheels.  Before long Cottell submitted to fatigue and fell back.  Then Will stopped taking his turns on the front.  The pace slowed and I was all but certain this was Sparkelz's day.  Little did we know the mighty Coble was closing in fast and a mere one-hundred meters behind us charging like a raging bull with steam coming from his nostrils ready to run us over and leave us for dead.  

Then the powerhouse that is Dan Bryant decided he wasn't racing for second and ramped up the pace to an almost unbearable clip of speed.  It took everything I had to stay in his draft.  After fifteen minutes of hell on wheels I look back to see it was only Will and myself behind Bryant, who was riding like he was on a mission from God.  We tore through the remnants of other fields like they were stuck to the ground when suddenly I could see Sparkelz just ahead of us.  Smelling blood, Bryant stayed on the rivet and swept up Sparkelz in an indomitable display of speed and endurance.  Without hesitation Will attacks our group to test our resolve.  Unwilling to succumb to the pain in my body I somehow manage to follow his acceleration.  When it was clear that I still had fight Will wisely slowed to save his energy and the four of us rode defensively into the final hill before the ever treacherous descent.    

When we finally began the short ascent Will attacked again but Sparkelz was ready for him.  Bryant was also able to follow and again, I am dropped.  I struggle up the hill yet am able to keep them within striking distance.  Ultimately I managed to make contact just as we begin the bone rattling descent for the last time.  

Riding into the final two kilometers Sparkelz sees I am on the front and intuitively takes over control, forcing Will to go around me.  I slip behind Will to get his wheel.  I am exactly where I need to be.  Sparkelz rides an even pace delivering us two-hundred meters from the line when Will starts his sprint!  I react instantly and am right on top of him as we drag around the bend shoulder to shoulder.  He takes the shorter inside line and is turning a big gear; but I have one more shift left in me.  I drop the hammer and kick again! I'm pulling away and adrenaline floods my body.  Bearing down I give it everything I've got when excitement overwhelms me as I realize I am about to win.    

Howling with delight I cross the line with fists pumping!  I've won!  I can't believe it, but I've somehow won the race.    

 

Rejoining my teammates after the race we embrace with celebratory hugs, reliving the chain of events that led to one of our own crossing the line first for the second year in a row.  Truly a team victory, it took seven of us and an act from the Gods to defeat Coble, who in a display of pure physical strength managed to finish fifth after repairing his wheel and ripping through the bodies left behind.  His legend grows. 

For now however, the spoils once again belong to Team Mike's Bikes.

Aggressive Racing Nets TMBMasters Victory: Williams Wins the 2017 Santa Cruz Classic Criterium

Aggressive Racing Nets TMBMasters Victory: Williams Wins the 2017 Santa Cruz Classic Criterium

By: Dana Williams

2017 Santa Cruz Classic Criterium

Date: March 26, 2017

Teammates: Matt Adams, Oliver Ryan, Rob Amatelli, Scott Cox, Matthew Sloan, Josh Pizzica and Chris Hobbs

The plan: Make sure we have teammates represented in any breaks. If it comes down to a sprint then the lead out Dana.

Course: https://www.strava.com/segments/609611

Conditions: High 50’s/Low 60’s, a little wind and sunshine.

Summary
Before the festivities got underway, I sensed some pre-race jitters swelling up in my stomach and throat while I waited at the start line for the race to begin. I was reminded that this was my first race of the 2017 season and one of my main goals was to keep my bike up right and all my flesh intact. Those thoughts and feelings quickly faded when the whistle blew to start the race and I stepped down the Look pedals of my Specialized Venge Vias, accelerated and got the first shot of adrenaline.

The race was aggressive almost right from the very start. Your typical NorCal strong men were represented in the field including former world champion, Jeromy Cottell, Thirsty Bear tag team duo of Ariel Herrmann and Jan Weissenberger, and Olympic Club’s Chris Coble (who I like to tag as this seasons NorCal replica of Peter Sagan in the M123 field because he’s been consistently all over podium) and fortunately for me lots of strong proven teammates. There were so many different moves off the front that it's hard to remember them all but I do know that I felt very comfortable that my teammates were marking them and representing us. This took the pressure off to chase so I could wait for the right opportunity. My main goal was to not miss out on a break that included any of the above mentioned pre-race favorites.

At around 30 minutes into the race, as I exited the final turn close to the front, I pushed on the pedals a little harder than usual to see what would happen. I got some space off the front and was quickly joined by Ariel Herrmann. Looking back and having 20/20 hindsight vision, this was a perfect rider to join me. Ariel is very strong and isn't afraid to work, plus his ‘team sprinter’, Jan Weissenberger, was back in the field and wouldn't likely be chasing. I don't recall it being very long before Chris ‘Sagan’ Coble bridged up to us, but to my ‘excite’ in tow was my teammate Chris Hobbs. And I believe Chris Cain of Squadra joined at the same time. From what I recall, we worked pretty well together, with the occasional attack. Fortunately Chris was riding super strong and was on everything I wasn’t able to cover. He too must have been sipping Gu Hydration from his water bottle to keep his energy high. Next thing I recall is looking back and seeing another rider getting close to bridging up. I did a double check and was happy to see another teammate, Rob Amatelli, about to join the party. He also had a rider on his wheel, Jeromy Cottell. Now with three teammates in the break of seven, I felt pretty confident on how things would play out and our chances of success.

Fast forward to halfway through the last lap and Rob is on the front, followed by Chris Coble and me on his wheel. A little encouragement to Rob as we went up the small rise before the final turn kept the pace high enough that nobody took a late lap flyer. We exited the final turn and almost immediately Chris Coble got out of the saddle and started winding it up for a sprint. We crested of the short riser and continued on the false flat. At around 150 m to the line dug deep and accelerated up along the right side of him. As we hit the finish line I had about a half bike advantage for the win.

Thanks to all my teammates for solid racing.

Strava file: https://www.strava.com/activities/915999454

L-R: Rob Amatelli, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Chris Coble, Chris Cain

L-R: Rob Amatelli, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Chris Coble, Chris Cain

A Stinging 60km Solo Ride Gets the Win for Amatelli: 2017 Snelling Road Race

A Stinging 60km Solo Ride Gets the Win for Amatelli: 2017 Snelling Road Race

by Rob Amatelli

As I walked to registration at the 2017 Snelling Road Race, 5 laps of a 12mile course through rolling terrain, rough roads, gusty winds, rabid dogs, and swarming bees, there was a buzz in the air; coming not from the bees, but from the 1000 or so enthusiastic amateur bike racers of varying age, gender, and capability, all excited at the prospect of winning a Northern California Classic, a priceless Velo Promo T-Shirt, and all the prestige that comes with.   

After picking up my number at registration and getting back to my mother-in-law's shitty hand-me-down car that I lovingly refer to as 'The Hooptie', I got pinned and kitted up for a spin.  All went well except for peeing on myself a little bit during a nature break, but hey, pros pee on themselves too, right?

Fast forward to the start of the race and I plopped myself right up front with my Mike's Bikes teammates, Oli, Cox, Sparkelz, Beardo, BBQ, Apple, and the Magpie.  Behind us were 70 other racers from more than nine different teams all with at least five teammates.  We had a few laughs at the start line before following the moto referee through town on a quick promenade to the course.

Five minutes on we arrived at our destiny, er destination, which could easily be mistaken through the eyes of 40 something year old men as a Northern European Classic.  No longer were we mortal men, we were now gladiators of sport, athletes of superior quality and form, easily mistaken for the heroes of the pave and the hellingen of Flanders on a quest to make their mark and earn their spot in eternity at the top of the results page on the Masters 35+ 1/2/3 list on USA Cycling's website.  Yes, this was the stuff of legend.  

The racing began immediately with attacks flying off the front of the race as every racer tried to separate from the field.  Counter-attacks rang out like machine gun fire.  There were screams coming from the captains ordering their troops into battle.  "Hold that wheel!" they'd cry.  "Left, on the left!" the panic in their voices palpable.  Every breakaway attempt seemed to be the one that was going to stick, and those who missed out would have their dreams of triumph struck down and crushed.  

Our Mike's Bikes squad was strong and disciplined, making every group attempting to breakaway as well as instigating moves of our own.  Unfortunately with bike racing and war, there are casualties, and we lost valuable men that day.  One of our strongest lieutenants, Todd Markelz, was struck by shrapnel, a nail piercing his tire and impaling his $2k carbon rim.  David Allen, aka Beardo, selflessly sacrificed his race by giving Todd his own wheel in an attempt to get him back in the race.  Sadly Todd never made it back but he did soldier on and finish the race, as would be expected by any hard man of sport; you simply don't quit.  We also lost Apple and the Magpie to the treachery of the race.  We were down to four men against seventy.  

As the peloton smashed over the broken roads towards the end of the first lap two rabid, barking dogs appeared form nowhere, threatening to strike, seemingly unafraid of a herd of eighty cycling brutes traveling thirty miles per hour.  After the dogs we came to an orchard where swarming bees circled the roads and pelted the cyclists.  This.  Was.  Biblical.

Approaching the bridge towards the end of the 2nd lap, Chris Coble, quite possibly the single strongest man in the entire field, made a forcible move over the short rollers.  I was in position to follow along with a few others.  The group behind scrambled to get on terms with the pace he was setting.  As he eased up and turned around to admire the wreckage he had caused I sensed the opportunity to take an advantage for our team.  I kept pushing and leapt away from the group, forcing the other teams to carry our men if they wanted to rejoin the front of the race.  I glanced back and saw no one was coming.  I pushed on alone.  The mission was to stay out front for as long as possible to give our men more rest and the best chance of winning.  

With more than 2 laps and 55k of racing left, I knew the group was going to eventually bring me back and that the energy I was using to stay away would ruin my own chances of winning, but this is a team sport and to ride as a team you must be willing to sacrifice yourself for the success of the team.  

Before long I finished another lap.  One to go.  

Rob riding solo on his way to the win.

Rob riding solo on his way to the win.

 

I dared not believe for a moment I would make it.  Through the headwinds I approached the feed zone and saw Beardo cheering me on.  Belief started creeping in.  Just then, as I crested the roller and began the charge into the crosswinds, near disaster struck as a bee somehow flew inside my protective eyewear and lodged itself between the lens and my eyeball.  I panicked and ripped off the shades.  The pivlock arm released and my eye shield tumbled to the ground.  Disgusted, I spiked the remaining pivlock arm in my hand to the ground and swiped away the bee that had stung my eyelid twice and nearly ended my race.  Stung and without eye protection, I had 20 minutes of racing left.  I had to make them count.

What happens when you are allergic to a bee sting, and you get stung. Hope you feel better soon Rob. 

What happens when you are allergic to a bee sting, and you get stung. Hope you feel better soon Rob. 

I told myself if I made it to the bridge and over the little bump and could still not see the field, then I would allow myself to believe.  After riding through the orchard and the swarming bees, this time with no protective eyewear, I make it to the bridge.  I make it over the rollers and through the penultimate turn onto the gnarled pavement of Figmond.  The wind is blowing cross-tail.  This is good for me.  I am catching the field in front of me.  Two miles to go I look over my shoulder and see a little black dot.  One mile to go I peek over my shoulder again.  The black dot is bigger.  Coble.  He is coming.  I do the math and know I have to ride it to the end.  I make the last turn and see the finish.  The race is mine.  I finish anonymously with the stragglers from the field in front of me, my victory salute pointing to head and heart unseen and un-captured by film to show my grandchildren as I spin my tales of lore and legend from when I was not young but not old.

No one strikes out alone with nearly 60k to go and makes it on their own strength.  Behind me our diligent and disciplined men, Oli, Cox, and BBQ, thwarted all attempts from the other teams trying to bridge.  None of us were the strongest in the field, but together our collective strength as a team was enough to win the day.  

Chapeau Team Mike's Bikes.

Epic Solo Road Race Victory by Ryan is Enough for the Win: 2017 Chico Stage Race

Epic Solo Road Race Victory by Ryan is Enough for the Win: 2017 Chico Stage Race

by Oliver Ryan

The Chico Stage Race is usually the highlight of the season for me, and TMBM has a pretty solid track record over the last few years, the racing is fun and hard, but the camaraderie of hanging out with my friends and teammates is what makes the weekend, and this year was no exception.

We showed up with a full squad of 8, focused primarily on trying to win stages, but also hoping to keep Matt Adams in a position to contend for the GC. It was a smaller field than in the past, but deep nonetheless with TT powerhouses Dan Bryant, Chris Phipps, Scott Giles, uber-strong men Chris Coble, Jan Weissenberger, Mike Sayers, and speedy finishers like Josh Carling, Chris Baker and Chris Espy.

Stage 1: Circuit Race

This was a new course at Thunderhill raceway, flatter and shorter than in previous years. Racing was fast and aggressive, with TMB riders getting into moves that looked threatening, and reeling in anything that got away without a TMB rider in it. Throughout the race, riders including Sayers, Giles and Coble all put in efforts to get away, but the team made sure we were either represented in those moves, or that they came back. With 1.5 laps to go I followed an attack by Chris Coble, barely hanging on, and with about 1/2 a lap to go Scott Giles bridged up with Rob Amatelli and Matt Adams in tow and the group came back together. Somehow Coble still had it in him to attack again before the final sprint, but Josh Carling came roaring up the middle to take the win by several bike lengths, with our own Scott Cox mixing it up in the sprint for 7th. Same time for our GC rider Matt so we were sitting fine going into the Road Race.

Stage 2: Road Race

I look forward to this race every year, a 90 mile flat-to-rolling Road Race with a 4 mile stretch of gravel (to be traversed twice), and the finish had been moved back close to where it used to be, a few KMs after the gravel exit, making that section of the race critical. Our plan was to be opportunistic, if early moves that looked good went, we would go with, and if it was together going into the gravel on lap 2 we would try to make it hard enough that a small group would go to the finish with at least 1 TMB rider. We marked early moves, and at around the 15-20 mile mark I followed Jason Boynton from Peet’s as he bridged up to a move that Scott Cox had gotten into with Scott Giles, we ended up going through that move and got a decent gap pretty fast. I knew Jason would work hard, and felt confident about my chances out of that break, so pushed the pace pretty hard. The next 60 miles was the two of us working really well together, Jason is a super-experienced rider and neither of us played any games, taking even, smooth pulls and extending our gap out to several minutes. We had no idea what the conditions of the gravel would be, and when we entered it, it was like riding on asphalt, crazy fast, and we ended up taking another couple of minutes out of the field in that section. As we exited, Jason said ‘now we just survive’ and we continued to work together through the windy, flat section after the finish. As we got close to the gravel on lap 2, the moto gave us a time check, 5 minutes with about 8-10 miles to go, pending some kind of disaster we were going to stay away. As fatigue started to set in, I could see that Jason was struggling a little, and as we entered the rough road before the gravel I put in a short effort to see what would happen, and got a gap fast. I put my head down and dug in for a 5 minute effort, looked back again and nobody was in sight, all I had to do now was get to the finish. Despite it being fast, the second half of the gravel was brutal as I felt the effects of being in a break for 3 hours, I made it off the gravel safely and kept pushing it all the way to the finish, taking the win and over 3 minutes on the next closest GC rider. Seeing the smiling faces of my teammates as they crossed the line knowing I had stayed away made it a race I’ll never forget.

Victory salute by Oliver Ryan, winning the road race of the 2017 Chico Stage M35+ 123 Road Race

Victory salute by Oliver Ryan, winning the road race of the 2017 Chico Stage M35+ 123 Road Race


Stage 3: Time Trial.

After some back and forth with Matt on Saturday night about whether or not I should use his Time Trial bike (I didn’t have one), and hearing that the course had been shortened to 8 miles, I decided to ride my Venge Vias with clip-ons, I had almost 3.5 minutes on 2nd place in the GC and figured playing it safe by riding the bike I knew was the smart decision. I warmed up for almost an hour and the legs were hurting a lot, rolled over to the start and I put my head down and gave it what I had, knowing that a steady effort should keep me well in the lead going into the final stage. Despite some bad suffering, I took 7th in the TT and gave up a little over a minute to the winner, giving me more than a 2 minute lead going into the final stage.

Stage 4: Crit

All we needed to do to keep the GC was not give up 2:13, which was well over a lap at the speeds we would ride, and our plan was to do just that, keep it fast, watch for riders in good GC position trying to get away and protect the leaders jersey. It was fast from the gun as it always is, with TMB keeping a few riders close to the front at all times. A move with Giles/Coble went up the road (along with Jan Weissenberger, Matt Adams and I think one other), but 3 of the 5 riders came back to the group, leaving GIles/Coble off the front. Peet’s and Thirsty Bear had the most to lose with those GC contenders (who went into the stage 3rd and 5th respectively) and Dan Bryant (who went into the stage in 2nd) went to the front to try to bring it back, but ended up in no mans land and ultimately came back. With a few laps to go, TMB put 6-7 riders on the front to manage the gap which was holding around 30 seconds, with a lap to go attacks started to fly as riders moved up to contest the field sprint, I surfed wheels confident that we had the GC locked up and cruised over the line ecstatic that we had taken the win.

Thanks, as always to my amazing TMB teammates and friends for an awesome weekend of racing.

Early Season Aggressive Racing Nets Amatelli 2nd: 2017 Red Kite Circuit (the Bumpe) Race

Early Season Aggressive Racing Nets Amatelli 2nd: 2017 Red Kite Circuit (the Bumpe) Race

by Rob Amatelli

Race: Red Kite 'The Bump' Premier Series Race #1

Course: 3 laps of rolling terrain with a few bumps.  25miles/2k' 

Gear and race prep: Specialized Tarmac Pro Udi2 sans water bottles/cages, rolling on S-Works 24mm Turbo tires, S-Works Evade helmet, S-Works 6 Road Shoe, Capo cycling apparel, Smith Optics.  Gu nutrition pre/post race. 

Summary:  Team Mike's Bikes lined up for the first race of the BikeReg Premier Series in Livermore, CA with a strong squad of racers.  David Allen, Oli Ryan, Matt Adams, Josh Pizzica, Scott Cox, Matthew Sloan, Todd Markelz, and myself.  Team Captain David Allen laid out a solid plan with detailed roles for each rider.  

As the riders gathered at the starting line there was definitely a low-key feeling, mostly due to powerhouse teams Specialized, Peet's Coffee, and Thirsty Bear not being represented.  As I looked through the field I saw KaiVelo and Squadra had numbers.  I also recognized Will Riffelmacher from Olympic Club and saw he had a teammate but did not know who he was.  That would change very soon.  

When the racing got underway David and Matthew just kinda rolled off the front and it took a few minutes for the other teams to get their brains and legs working and chase them down.  They were brought back just before the group went through the finish for the first time.  

After the descent there were some breakaway attempts and Mike's Bikes managed to instigate or infiltrate each of them.  I saw each of our men queuing off of teammates and taking turns covering moves and making attacks of their own.  From my point of view the team looked like a well-oiled machine.

Nearing the end of the first lap Chris Evans from Thirsty Bear used the little hill before the finish to make a move and stretch the field.  We had guys on his wheel so I just sat back and looked for a ride across, which I would eventually get.  Just when I reached the front five riders Chris, let off the gas and looked back.  When he did that I upped the power and did a 3min interval through the finish into the decent.  When I looked back to see if I made a dent I saw three other riders were coming across and there was a little gap back to the field.  I sat up and waited for the other three to see who they were.  The first to reach me was Lucas Paz from KaiVelo and behind him Chris Evans was dragging someone up with him.  That someone turned out to be Riffelmacher's Olympic Club teammate, Chris Coble (awesome name for a bike racer).  

It didn't take me long to see that Coble was the strongest.  He wasn't showing off but his pedaling action was impressive.  Chris Evans looked good too. 

Reaching the final stretch of road before the finish we had 40sec on the field and Coble was starting to get frustrated with me for not pulling harder.  He kept barking at me so I went slower. 'Just wait' I thought.  I decided to sell out on the last little bumps before the finish to see if I could get away solo for the win.  It actually worked out well because as we hit the hill I was rolling to the front.  I spun up the cranks the best I could and pulled away.  I looked over my shoulder and had a good gap.  I kept going for another 10 sec and looked back again to see Coble coming across.  He caught me at the top of the second little bump just before the right-hand turn to the finishing hill.  The other two were dropped so I slowed up just enough to keep our gap over them but trying to hit the hill at a slow of a speed as possible to make it a pure sprint and not give Coble any more draft than I already was. Coble easily won the sprint.

The team rode perfect and I'm so thankful for being given the opportunity to ride the break and go for the win.  

Team Work and Strong Legs Kicks Off the 2017 Season with Victory: San Bruno Hill Climb

Team Work and Strong Legs Kicks Off the 2017 Season with Victory: San Bruno Hill Climb

Date: 1/1/2017

Teammates: Marcel Appelman (Appel)

Conditions: Mid-40s with a 10mph headwind for the first half of the climb and tail/cross for the final mile.

The Plan: Have Appel cover any early moves keeping me out of the wind and in contact for the final five minutes where the race is typically decided.

Summary

With only one other team (Thirsty Bear) showing up with a squad that included a really strong climber (Hanns Detlefsen) strategically the race was set up to be pretty straightforward. Because the last several minutes of the climb suit me better than the earlier shallow gradients and rolling middle portion I was content to save my legs for a single attack where it would matter the most. This meant Appel was on duty for covering all the early moves. And Thirsty Bear put him to work fast.

Moments after the group settled into the climb Chris Evans shot up the road on the left and immediately got away. Appel slipped up to the front and started to apply pressure to limit his gap. After navigating through the pack I got on Appel’s wheel and locked into a comfortable pace. After a couple of minutes Chris started looking back and it was clear he was no longer gaining. Appel did an excellent job of taking his time in reeling him in to avoid additional attacks. By the time we hit the first flatter portion of the climb we were all back together and Hanns briefly went to the front while the overall pace slowed.


Jacob (another Thirsty Bear) took over next and led the group through the underpass and onto Radio Road where the real climbing begins. As soon as it got steep Hanns put in an acceleration which Appel jumped to cover. I got back on Appel’s wheel and the three of us separated from the rest of the field. Hanns we pushing hard now and Appel was on the limit. With a flick of his hand he signaled he was done and the rest was up to me.

Todd Markelz climbing away to a win at San Bruno. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

Todd Markelz climbing away to a win at San Bruno. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

I got on Hanns’ wheel as he tapped out a steady rhythm. I continued to bide my time for the final few hundred meters. Nearing the top his pace slowed and I looked back to see that Chris Evans was working his way up to us. Not wanting Chris to rejoin and be outnumbered going into the finale now was the time to attack. Coming out of a corner I stood up and and kicked for about 15 seconds then looked back to see the damage. I’d opened up a significant gap and felt confident in the last 200m that nobody was going to catch back up. On I rode to the first win of 2017!

A huge thanks to Appel for doing the lionshare of the work on the climb! I was just happy that I could honor that work with TMB’s first win of the new year.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/817938345/analysis/1558/2614

Funke Finishes his CX Season Strong: 2nd Place at NCNCA District Championship

Funke Finishes his CX Season Strong: 2nd Place at NCNCA District Championship

by John Funke

Race: NCNCA District Cyclocross Championships
Location: Gibson Ranch County Park, Elverta, CA
Cat: 45+ A's

This was a truly epic race and the last of the CX season so I had to file an actual report. Leading into today I was worried because I've never been a great mud rider, and I knew it was going to be an absolute mess today. Furthermore the field was pretty stacked with not only the guys that have been tearing up the 45's all season like Chris Peck and Matt Shelton, but also Brian Finnerty and Murray Swanson, who have been racing and winning Elite races all season. I have pretty much been doing all 35+ races so I haven't really raced any of these guys this season so I was anxious to see how it went.

Leading up to the race today I was really worried about tires, especially knowing how much off-camber they had advertised on this race. A lousy tire will just keep bumping you down off the high line until you slide off the course. Hobbs graciously offered his bike with some decent tires for me to use today, and this setup, including the disc brakes, proved far superior to my own setup in these conditions.

Mud conditions were pretty much the worst possible - the course was 99% grass (mud), about 200M of pavement, and some sandy sloppy sections by the lake, and wound around in itself up and down hills and u-turns and long off camber sections. This was not a wet mud that slides off, rather it was the consistency of peanut butter but mixed with grass so it clogged up everything. In the Junior race, Liam's bike (old Serotta with very little clearance and canti brakes) was so choked up after 3/4 lap the bike was basically unrideable and he quit in tears. There were a zillion small climbs on the course that were rideable but we're so churned up they were smarter to run because your bike would collect so much mud if you tried to ride it. Hence the race was a balancing act of strategically choosing lines, hammering when you could, deciding when to hoof it to avoid gooping up your bike, and there was even a section along the lake where the smartest line was to ride into the lake about 4 feet from the shore to wash off some of the muck...which I did every lap.

So anyhow, I started in the third row because I haven't been racing USAC and didn't get a call up (3/4 of the 30 or so riders did), but made up for it on the turn onto the grass as some of the more tentative guys slowed down and I squeaked up to the top ten, then worked my way up to Murray's wheel after some other riders dabbed. Brian was already 5 sec ahead by that time and Murray and I started trading places and keeping Brian close. We caught the tail end of the 35+ race within 1/2 lap -way too soon - and the rest of Lap 1 was getting around guys while trying to ride the best line. I lost Murray but got him back and noticed we couldn't see Brian anymore - I thought he'd dropped us for good but it turns out he had mechanical and dropped out (which I didn't know until afterward). I was faster than Murray on the running sections but Murray was clearly superior on the corners and off-cambers - he's a compact guy and l think that helps considerably in these conditions. Plus he was getting fresh bikes every other lap (or more) as he had two identical bikes and a pit crew to wash them off. So I lost Murray in one off camber section and he got some daylight. I held him close for a couple laps but honestly the bike was getting heavier, gears were skipping (understandable if you saw the amount of gunk in the drivetrain and derailleurs), and I just kept focused on riding hard and smooth and minimizing mistakes while passing the 35A's, Elite A's, and Single Speeders - which kept me going because there was always someone to pick off and it felt good to be plowing through the younger kids. I passed Mark Howard in the 35s and even caught Rainier in the A's, among others. In the end I think Murray had a good minute on me but I think getting a clean bike every lap or so was a pretty huge advantage. Hobbs' bike was probably 6-9 lbs heavier at the end and the drivetrain was so mucked up I can't believe the gears still turned.

With 2 to go I caught Justin Morgan and asked what place he was in in the 35's and he said he was 3rd, so I'd managed to get through almost the entire 35 field and most of the A's and Single Speeders, who all started up to 2 min ahead of us.

Murray and I were minutes ahead of the rest of the 45 field, never saw any of the other fast 45 guys...

Approaching the hour point coming up on 1 to go, I saw Tobin Ortinblad coming up from behind as he was destroying the A field. He came by about 500m before the finish and I was done - mercy kill! Murray got to do another lap...

Team Victory at Oakland Grand Prix; The Final Criterium of the 2016 Season

Team Victory at Oakland Grand Prix; The Final Criterium of the 2016 Season

By Dana Williams

Race: 2016 Oakland Grand Prix

Date: Sept 18, 2016

Teammates: Rob Amatelli, Matthew Sloan, David Allen, Josh Pizzica, Chris Hobbs, Scott Cox & Steve Pelaez

The Plan: be aggressive from the start, have fun, and get the W. If it came down to a sprint then David Allen was our sprinter, with me sweeping him. 

Course: 8 turns on pretty wide open streets. Turn 5 was the only tricky one at 150 degrees. A small change in elevation of approx 5-6% up between turn 8 & 1 then back down between turn 2 & 3. 

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/717106731/overview

Conditions: couldn't be better for mid September; sunny and high 70's/low 80's.

Summary: 

Ah yes, the final race this season. Well, at least for most riders that is. Anybody still needing their fix of racing has one more road race next weekend. But it's way the heck up in Henleyville. Thank you VeloPromo, but I'll pass. But in all seriousness, thank you to VeloPromo for the amazing job they do each and every year with all the races they put on. 

 

Steve and I roll up to Oak-town in the teams Toyota Sienna. I have to say it's nice being chauffeured to the race. Thanks Steve! Buzzing from the Equator Coffee I slammed down during the drive, I head over to registration, pick up my numbers and then off for a quick bathroom break. Low and behold most of my #TMBEquator teammates are ahead of me. And I must say they are looking damn sharp in their Capo kits. The only thing going against them is the beautiful aroma of the blue porta potty's. A quick shout out to them and then it's back to the van to get kitted up; Skinsuit is already on, Specialized S-Works shoes, gloves and evade helmet tightened up and in place. Smith PivLock glasses locked and loaded. A quick height adjustment to my saddle before I throw my leg over my bike, and I'm off for my warm up. 

 

At the start line there's around 25-30 guys. The atmosphere is pretty light. We’re happy there are quite a few more riders than we anticipated based on pre reg. The whistle blows and we're off. It's not long before attacks begin. And thankfully most of them come from my teammates. Scott Cox throws in a strong early move. It's brought back and then Rob Amatelli lets one loose. Then Chris Hobbs unleashes his fury. Scott, Matthew and Josh are there to cover bridge attempts. Rob too. This goes on for about 20mins. David is also active and trying to follow dangerous moves, as am I. I'm tempted to put a hard move in and see what happens but I decide to hold back for a little bit longer with hopes that guys legs will soften up a bit more. 

 

The bell rings signifying a prime lap. Three quick turns go by and I exit out of turn four around 5th wheel. I decide to sprint up the right side and go for a long bomb for the prime. I get a decent gap, nab the prime and look back to see two other riders bridging up. I keep the pedals turning and soon we are in a three-man break, Ariel Hermann, Chris Cane and myself. I have to admit I wasn't watching the lap counters but thinking back now I'd say we had around six laps to go. The three of us were working pretty well together. Specialized was not represented and I could see they were on the front of the chase group pushing hard. A lap or so later I look back and I see three teammates bridging up. I think to myself, this is good news. They make the bridge and we continue to push on. Some other riders must have worked really hard because soon the group is back together. 

 

Next thing I recall is rounding turn four and asking Chris how many laps to go. To my surprise he says 'we're coming up on two to go'. Woah, it's game time. Just then Chris marks a move and he and three other riders (Ariel Hermann, Chris Baker, Rick Lawton) float off the front. They cross the finish line with two to go with about a 5-7 second gap. I start to have flash backs to the San Rafael criterium....is the Specialized rider up with Chris a strong sprinter? Can Chris beat Ariel in a sprint? Should we bring them back, or at least try? I believe it was David and Scott up towards the front as we went around turn one with two to go. We shared a few words and decided it was best to try to try to bring them back. As we came into the 150 degree turn 5, I saw a rider had gone down. It was Ariel. But he was back up and seemed ok. The guys continued to push on the front. We go around the final turn and start up the hill with the bell ringing, signifying one lap to go. I stand up and sprint up the right with the intention of trying to bridge up. It isn’t until I exit turn four that I come up to them. I don’t believe they saw me coming so my instincts say to go by as quick as I can. My legs are starting to tighten. I stand up and dig hard and go by on the left, hoping nobody comes with me. I take turn 5 and see I have a gap. I know that if I can accelerate hard and get up to speed then I'll have a good chance of staying away. And thankfully that's how it unfolded. I roll across the line for the win. 

 

Cheers to my Team Mikes Bikes p/b Equator teammates for their hard work and great racing. It was arguably our best race of the year. And of course thank you to the team sponsors and supporters; Mikes Bikes, Equator Coffees & Teas, Toyota, Financial Force, Specialized, Achieve Training & Coaching, Violich Farms, ProBar, Capo Cycling Apparel, Sutter Health Novato Community Hospital, Bike Smart, Smith Optics, Look Pedals, Betwixt Chamois Cream and Zealios Sun Barrier.

'Close, but No Cigar' at the 2016 Giro di San Francisco

'Close, but No Cigar' at the 2016 Giro di San Francisco

By Dana Williams

Race: 2016 Giro di San Francisco

Date: Sept 5, 2016

Teammates: Rob Amatelli, Matt Adams, David Allen, Josh Pizzica, John Funke, Chris Hobbs & Scott Cox

 

The plan: be aggressive from the start to try to establish a break with representation and without a few favorites. If it came down to a sprint then Scott or Dave were to get me first into the 2nd last turn. 

 

Course: 6 turn L-shaped. Downhill between turn 1 & 2. Turn 2 has a old rail crossing diagnol to our line. It’s not that bad actually. Uphill between turn 3 & 4, with the second half pitching up to 6-7%. Slight downhill between turn 4 & 5, which is the back stretch. Turn 5 is rough from bad pavement.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/701884399/analysis/3324/3428

Conditions: Upper 60s with head wind on start/finish straights and tail wind on back stretch.

 

Summary

This is one of the teams favourite races of the season. It’s on the streets just outside of downtown San Francisco which makes for a fun atmosphere. The weather is usually sunny and warm, and this was certainly the case for the 2016 edition. Thankfully for team sponsors like Zealios Sun Barrier we were ready to take on natures forces and the race course. 

 

The pace was pretty quick right from the start. I'm guessing anybody past 1/2 way back definitely felt the effects of the yo-yo. Gaps were forming all over the place. I certainly was thankful to be on my Specialized Venge Vias, one if the, if not the fastest bike in the world. 

Chris Hobbs Pushing Hard Up the Climb into Turn 4. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

Chris Hobbs Pushing Hard Up the Climb into Turn 4. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

 

Fast forward to around 9 laps to go. One could sense the constant attacks had softened up the legs of many riders. Teammate Rob Amatelli decides to push it hard down the back side. A few riders follow and I hop on as well. Next thing I look back and we have a gap. I'd say there's 8-10 guys of which include some horsepower and smart racing skills, Jeromy Cottell, Ariel Hermann, Chris Phipps, Chris Cain and Aaron Patterson. We work pretty well together for the next lap or two and it seems as though our break is established. I look back on the back stretch and see teammate Matt Adams bridging up. Score!! He makes contact and we continue on. 

 

At four or five to go, Ariel attacks hard up the hill going into turn 4. Guys look at each other just long enough for a decent gap to form. Matt soon steps up and hits the front and does an awesome pull for about a full lap.

Matt Adams Leading the Pack. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

Matt Adams Leading the Pack. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

 

This brings back Ariel. As we exit the final turn on the 2nd to last lap, Rob goes to the front and keeps the pace high. He leads all the way through turns one, two, three and four to get us to the back stretch. At around a quarter of the way down the backstretch I decide to try to surprise the other guys and make an early attack. I sprint hard down the right side and get a gap. I dig deep and try to keeping going. As I sweep through the second last turn in the lead, the next thing I know my chain falls off my big ring and into my cranks. Ah oh! That's not good. I fidget with my shifter to the last turn while trying to get it back on. I get it over into the little ring and I am taking the final turn while trying to get it back up onto the big ring. I think I have it so I start to sprint, but luck was not on my side. It's still in the small chain ring. I decide my best option is to keep sprinting and see what happens. I lead until about 30 m to line and then Jeremy flashes by on the right and takes the win. I manage to just hold onto second. It’s a bit unfortunately, especially considering the strong race for TMB Equator teammates, but there’s not much that could have been done. Bad luck was on our side. And 2nd place in a strong field like this is a nice result. 

 

Thanks to all my teammates for solid racing. And of course to the team sponsors and supporters; Mikes Bikes, Equator Coffees & Teas, Toyota, Financial Force, Specialized, Achieve Training & Coaching, Violich Farms, ProBar, Capo Cycling Apparel, Sutter Health Novato Community Hospital, Bike Smart, Smith Optics, Look Pedals, Betwixt Chamois Cream and Zealios Sun Barrier.

A Hard and Fast  Criterium Almost Nets Cox a Second District Championship

A Hard and Fast Criterium Almost Nets Cox a Second District Championship

by Scott Cox

2016 NCNCA District Criterium Championship

September 4, 2016

Teammates - Steve Pelaez and Oliver Ryan.  

Plan:  Race attentive and look for a break as we knew Jeromy Cottell (Specialized) would be instigating things and is on a rampage this season like always.  It was unlikely he would want this race to come to a sprint and has the horsepower to stay away.  Specialized also had Espy, Dapice, and Henderson to help.  

Background

As with most masters championship races, teams were not very large due to the 5 year age cut offs, so the racing is a bit of a gamble and although the stronger riders usually end up on top, things do not always play out like one might expect - a break might get away without teams to chase or a wheelsucker just might get lucky as the stronger riders duke it out.  

Summary

It is fun racing.  The race consisted of many attacks and counters and it felt like one of the hardest races I have done this year.  Gaps everywhere and drooling commenced.  It may just be the end of the season though, but I suffered greatly at times.  Oli was all over everything and Steve helped considerably as well by showing up every time we needed him.  

With 7 laps to go everyone was pretty gassed and Cottell made his move.  I recall Oli and I being there, but I know I could not react and neither did anyone else.  Now we are chasing him down and many contenders were helping here and there while the Specialized boys sat in.   Oli was doing the lions share as always and Steve made a move to bridge, but Jeromy was gone and earned the win.  

1 to go and things were getting dicey as usual in a crit without a leadout. I found myself on the front to stay out of trouble and Steve came up to shelter me going through the 90 degree turn 2.  I ended up on the front again shortly after turn 2 and held the inside line and went just hard enough to try and make it to turn 3 with something left.  Thirsty Bear’s workhorse (do not know his name, but he worked his ass off) came by me with Scoby on his wheel and they entered turn 3 ahead of me.  Scoby came off his teammates wheel and had a small gap.  I came out of turn 4 in 2nd wheel and sprinted for the line closing in, but too little too late so ended up 3rd overall.  Looking forward to some redemption at the Giro Di SF tomorrow!

Cox Wins the 2016 San Ardo Road Race & Crowned NCNCA District Road Race Championship

Cox Wins the 2016 San Ardo Road Race & Crowned NCNCA District Road Race Championship

Written by Scott Cox

San Ardo Road Race
2016 Masters NCNCA District Championship
40-44 Age Group

A small field of ~15 racers lined up and picked goat heads out of their tires in the staging area while the port-o-pottys were being unloaded.  Everything was right on track for another San Ardo RR.  The field was small, but I had my hands full with Jonathon Baker (Chico Masters), Brian Zimny and Jonathon Eropkin (Peet’s Coffee). 

The whistle blew and we came out guns a blazin’.  Well, not really as we noodled out onto the course and up the short hill.  It looked like it was going to be a chess match and I did not want to miss out on a move with Baker and Peet’s.  An Alto Velo rider rolled off the front early on the first of three laps.  Erik Camacho (SJBC) bridged and our pace stayed slow enough to be passed by the early break from the 45-49s.  Baker came and asked me to come and rotate a little with him to keep things from getting ridiculous and so I did and Peet’s contributed as well. 

We were then neutralized as the main field from the 45-49 field came by.  Baker had a spirited chat with the moto and we were stuck while the two breakaway riders were a couple of bike lengths back from the 45-49 break.  The 45s moved on and we were back to racing a bit with some half hearted attacks and some surging here and there.  We tried to get a pace line going, but that concept eluded everyone so it stayed weird.  We could see the 45s main field had passed the break and I could also see the break hanging a couple of bike lengths back from the 45s. 

We started the second lap and the Alto Velo rider had been dropped from the break and was done.  Camacho was now solo and blood was in the water.  We were on the rolling section of the course and people started throwing bombs.  It was hard with many attacks that I felt needed to be respected.  We were nearing our turn into the crosswind section where I thought Baker would look to cause damage so I hit each of the last 3 rollers hard.  Baker did hit the crosswind hard enough, but it was manageable and we were down to ~7 of us. 

We entered the tail wind section and still had not made up any ground on Camacho.  Wut?  So the bombs kept on coming on the tailwind section.  We finally brought Camacho back at the end of the second lap. 

Back to the chess match and slow pace.  Zellers (Lange Twins) started attacking and I covered quickly to see if I might catch Baker or Peet’s out.  They responded and so it went.  It was hard over the rollers as Zimny, Eropkin and Baker tried to get away a few times and I was able to cover these.  There is a small hill about 10 miles from the finish on the tailwind section where Giles rolled away from us a couple of years ago and I was on high alert for Baker to jump.  The hill was civil and people were actually on the brakes after we crested the hill.  I am not kidding and I thought a track stand could come in handy.  So I attacked and when I looked back no one wanted to chase so I bit down and hit it hard with a nice tailwind and the ViAS y’all.  My gap was growing so I stayed on it a bit until I saw the gap coming down with Peet’s and Baker on the front.  I was being dangled off the front and so I started riding tempo and the gap remained.  I was feeling good so I hit it hard again for a minute or so and looked back to see Baker and Peet’s coming hard and I settled in.   

Zimny came across first and was willing to pull through.  Baker was coming and I waited until he caught on and then Eropkin joined in and a Dominator™ party started.  We hit 2 K to go and Zimny was on the front and Eropkin was encouraging me to pull through.  Nope.  A little reshuffle and Zimny led us home with me second wheel, Baker then Eropkin.  We were heading up the final little hill and I had Baker boxed in on the center line and was waiting for Eropkin to jump or the final turn to start my sprint.  Eropkin jumped hard heading in to the final left hand turn and I was able to come by him quickly on the inside and then sprinted all in.  20 meters to go and I hear Baker coming strong, but was able to hold him off FTW!
 

A Nail Biter at the 2016 San Rafael Sunset Criterium: Williams Finishes 2nd

A Nail Biter at the 2016 San Rafael Sunset Criterium: Williams Finishes 2nd

Written by and GoPro Video: Dana Williams

Date: July 30, 2016

Teammates: Matt Adams, David Allen, John Funke, Chris Hobbs, Scott Cox, Oli Ryan, Rob Amatelli and myself

The plan: Two or three guys mark early moves, with our two designated sprinters being attentive. If there was a break then we wanted to make sure one of our riders had a good chance of winning from it. If it came down to a sprint then I would be sweeping Scott Cox wheel.

Course: 4 corner rectangle that goes slightly uphill between corner 4 and 2 and slightly downhill between corner 2 and 4.

Conditions: sunny and mid/high 80's

Summary
This was one of the teams target races of the season. Not only is it the best criterium in NorCal but our team title sponsor, Mikes Bikes, was the event organizer and sponsor. All the main NorCal teams (Specialized, Peets, Lange Twins, Squadra, Stands and Thirsty Bears) had strong representation. Also of note was SoCal’s top sprinters, Charon Smith.

First priority was the team meeting. We came together in high spirits and ready to race, each on our Specialized bike of choice. I for one know my Equator Coffee caffeine buzz was in a full effect. To add to our excitement, Matt Adams was donning his 2016 National Criterium Championship kit, compliments of Capo Cycling Apparel, for the first time. And I’d say he was looking dam sexy.
 

The race got underway and it wasn't long before attacks started to fly. Thirsty Bear strong man Aerial Herman, who eloquently slipped in at the front of the pack just before the race started, soon took a solo flyer and got up 12-15sec gap. It was a brave move on his part to say the least, but was brought back in a few laps. For the next 20 or so minutes there was a constant shuffling at the front, with nothing really sticking.

The break that ultimately got away was initiated by Jason Boyton as we came up to the start/finish line. In the following video, you can see him accelerate up the left hand side at 13:20. Within a few seconds, wily veteran Jeremy Cottel of Team Specialized accelerated up the right side to join him. The good news for us is teammate Chris Hobbs saw this from the front and jumped on it. Jan Weissenburger was towards the front and was next to join the group. Teammate Rob Amatelli was alert, saw the move forming and followed chase. We had two guys in the break so it was looking good for us. Next to go across was Charon Smith. He likely sensing the growing numbers up the road accelerated just before turn 1 and latched onto the back of the run away train. The final guy to join the party was Sean Henderson of Lange Twins, just as I rode around turn 2.

 

If one didn’t know the strengths of the riders in the break, it could be said that our team had an advantage because we had two strong guys in it. But the fact that went against us was that three of the other guys, namely Cottel, Weissenburger and Smith, were sprinters, while our two guys (Hobbs and Amatelli) were roleurs. Watching the video, I kick myself because in hindsight I should have been more aware of those going up the road and chased either Smith or Henderson.

For the next 12 or so minutes, the gap between the break and chasing pack stayed around 15-20 seconds. During this time neither group was really cooperating and working together. Back in the chase, my teammates and I realized we were at a disadvantage in the break so decided we needed to bring it back. In the following video, this is evident at around 1:15, where four TMB riders are lined up and chasing.

We continue to rotate. Fast forward to 3:20 into the video and Dave Allen finishes his final pull. Oli then takes over and does a strong pull, finishing at 4:15. Then Adams takes over at the front and leads for over a lap, getting us just past turn 1 with just under three laps to go. A rider then comes over the top of me and zig zags a bit, creating a little confusion. There’s no time to waste so I over take him (5:50) and go to work on the front. As I cross the finish line with two to go, I can see the break up the road. I keep on the gas. Half way down the back straight away the break is within striking distance. I stand up and dig deep to accelerate and close it down. As we enter turn 3, Dan Martin comes by and closes down the final meters. We arc through turn four and Dan keeps pushing up the start/finish straight. He rides right through the break and to the front, just as the bell is ringing signifying one lap to go. The break realizes they have been caught.

Teammate Chris Hobbs, also nicknamed the Donkey because of his selfless hard work and strong lead out efforts, does what he knows best and takes the front through turn one. Dan Martin is on his wheel and I'm slotted in behind him. Needless to say, I'm gasping for air and doing all I can to hang on. The hard effort I put in took its toll. In the back of my mind I admit I was questioning whether I'd have enough energy for the final sprint to the line. If I didn't then I was hoping a teammate or two would be able to salvage something. 

Hobbs keeps on the gas down the back straight away, averaging over 600W for 30secs. Just as we are about the enter turn 3, Dan Martin delivers a blow, which ultimately would be the winning move. He jumps hard to go by Hobbs. In that split second my brain said 'GO' but my legs say 'NO'. A gap formed, which wassn't good, especially at this time of the race. I did what I could to keep momentum going forward. We speed through the final turn, Dan still with a couple bike lengths on me. I stand up and begin to sprint. Two thoughts cross my mind; first, I need to dig deep and keep pushing to try to close the gap down, and second, how many riders are going to fly by me before the line as my legs seize up. The line is getting closer and the gap is closing. Nobody is coming by. I begin to become a bit more optimistic. But then within 20-30m of the line, Charon Smith flashes by me on the right, hot in pursuit of Dan. It ends up a photo finish, with Dan taking the win by 4/100th of a second.

What a fun race! A big shout out to all my teammates for the hard work and effort, and to Team Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffee sponsors and suppliers for the continued support.