The San Dimas Stage Race marked the first team race of the 2015 season. The race consisted of an individual 4.25 mile hill climb, an 84 mile road race and concluded with a 90min criterium. Without a time trial specialist, our expectation was for a result in the RR and crit.
Friday afternoon started with the 4.25 mile hill climb. This is a hard discipline to master coming from racing criteriums over the past few years. Our game plan going into the day was for everyone to give it their best shot without digging too deep. Fabio had a great ride and finished in 25th place, just over a minute down on the leader.
Saturday was the 84 mile road race in the heat of the day at 95 degrees. Today it was super important to stay well hydrated and to eat consistently so that the heat would not affect our performance. Our goal for the day was to be a threat in the race and to make the break of the day, but also be ready if it came down to a field sprint.
During the first half of the race there were some threatening breaks up the road with one of our riders always represented. The speed of the race and the heat of the day played a big role on how the race played out. No major break was able to get established all day. As we started the last 7-mile lap of the course, the field was less than half of the size of when it started.
Coming into the final KOM there was a small group of about 5 riders up the road. The team was able to ride the front and have the field all together coming into the bottom of the climb, setting up James and Fabio for a good shot at a stage result. The speed up the last climb was blistering and the field split into many groups. Fabio was position perfectly and was able to contest the bunch sprint and grab an impressive 4th place on the stage.
Sunday was the last stage…a 90min criterium. We knew today was going to be our best shot at a victory. Right off the gun Drew was able to make it into a threatening break with 8 other strong riders. This break stayed away for the first 30 minutes, which allowed the rest of the team to sit near the front and conserve energy. Right as the break was caught Kevin launched a solo attack off the front. His move lasted for a few laps, but with nobody else bridging up to help he realized the field was riding too fast go at it solo.
Next up it was Fabio’s turn to go on the attack and he was able to grab the mid-race prime. In the end the race came down to a field sprint. The team positioned themselves well at the front in order to deliver James to the line. Coming into the last lap James was in great position, unfortunately there was a close call in the final corner and James had to lock up his breaks. James finished a respectable 6th place.
All together this was a great first race for the team. It was the first time all the guys have raced together and we were able accomplish much of what we set out to do. Next up is the Redlands Bicycle Classic starting on April 8th.
Thanks for reading,
So my experience of Guatemala was absolutely amazing! I have done La Ruta years past and I can say that this race reminded me of that except for one major difference; El Reto was FUN! The terrain was very similar to Costa Rica meaning that it was very extreme; you were either climbing or descending some very steep terrain. We had sections of the race, especially day three, where we encountered sections of at least 30-35% grade……..right from the start! The other thing that really stood out as making this a pleasant experience was that it was dry. That doesn’t sound like much, but with all the steep climbing, steep descending and sections of cobblestones, it was much appreciated. Especially when you have to do it for four days.
The first day we arrived we spent the day shuttling from Guatemala city to Antigua, the starting point for stage one. Once we got the bikes unboxed and built up we headed out for a quick night ride with a local tour guide and had a blast. We got a really good, first hand experience of Guatemalan night life while zipping in and out of traffic while trying not to lose sight of the guide, who must have expected us to be familiar with this style of riding. So much for a warm up it was like “stage 0″. It was basically like an “alley cat” race.
The next day we prerode the TT course to familiar ourselves with it was best as possible. The TT was basically 4 miles up and 4 miles down! The climb up was just dirt roads but the descent down was singletrack that the local farmers had cut in, to gain access their coffee, cocoa, and sugar cane fields. Surprisingly it flowed really well and some of the best singletrack we rode while there.
Stage 1. Go Time!
The day began by cruising down from our awesome hotel room (all included in the entry, and 4 star hotels the whole time!) to the dining hall where we had a great breakfast to start the day off right. Then we hustled back to our rooms,and loaded up our gear for the race. I met up with several other Americans who were also doing the stage race and we all rode over to the starting line several miles away. I was one of the last racers to start so I was able to check out some sights and sounds before I headed out.
When I started I figured I had gotten a good warm up in, but the 4 mile climb seemed to disagree. However, I quickly settled into a rhythm and was able to set a good pace picking off many other racers who started before me. Knowing that I was nearing the top, from the pre-ride the day before, I knew that the hard part was behind me and I just had to have a clean, safe descent. As I popped out into the little village at the bottom of the mountain and made my way through sidewalks, driveways and cobblestones, I knew I only had a short climb to the finish.
I rolled in across the line with a time of 37:45.9 minutes and had set a new course record by a couple of minutes! This earned me a ton of respect and popularity amongst the other races which was quite a surprise to all. What a great day of racing! I knew I was having a great ride but I did not know it was going to turn out that good. The spot light was now on me and so was the pressure to be the guy to chase!
Staging was held at the Central Park in downtown Antigua and was followed by a police escort and neutral rollout of town. We cruised for about ten kilometers out of town and regrouped before starting up a steep cobblestone road. Myself and the other leaders were quickly able to establish a gap over the rest of the racers due to the steep, loose terrain. Within the first 30 minutes of racing myself and the leaders of the Open Mens Duo were able to ride away from the rest of the field. We worked together looking for course markings and taking turns pulling/setting the pace. After having succumbed to food poisoning or ingesting something while in stage race Mongolia I was afraid of dubious looking creeks, and decided to dismount for one we just came up on. The two teammates chose to ride and an got a little gap on me that I ultimately spent the rest of the day trying to close. Fortunately I wasn’t under any real pressure to do so b/c we weren’t in the same category. After a long day of seeing the Guatemalan country side I was quickly approaching the end of the stage and one of the most memorable sections of the entire race.
The finish for todays stage was a fun section of singletrack that twisted its way through a forest, gradually growing steeper. As I neared the tree line I could see it was going to open up and when it did, there was a spectacular view of lake Atitlan. The trail carved along the cliff side of the lake, descending quicker the whole time. As I approached the bottom I came out into a little village where the real excitement started! This was “urban assault” riding at its best! The course led down alleyways and between buildings via a sidewalk just barely wider than your bars in sections. To make it more exciting the whole time you are skidding around corners and taking stair drops after stair drops! It was absolutely amazing and most certainly couldn’t have been done without being a race day. The local residents seemed excited to see the racers and didn’t mind having some of their sidewalks closed. For me this was the first time I had ever experience anything quite like this in a race…….or at all for that matter. Incredible experience and what a blast!
The day began with a 45 minute ferry ride across lake Atitlan which was a bit choppy but a gorgeous color blue with cliff side shore lines. Once we got off the boat we had a little ride of a half mile up 25% gradient to the start. When the racers had gotten themselves all up to the starting line and the leaders called to the front it was “go time!”
We began with a quick ride through town and onto dirt roads that paralleled the shore, gradually gaining in elevation. Then we rounded the corner and there was no more “gradual”! It was nothing but solid 30-35% grades for the next 40 minutes of climbing. It was so steep it was hard to keep the front wheel from coming off the pavement. Almost immediately the field detonated and it was every man for them self and had whittled down to just myself and the leaders of the Open Duo.
We spent the rest of the day working together and stretching our lead over the chasing racers. Stage 3 was definitely made for climbers with the elevation topping out around 11,000’! The end of day 3 was significantly different from the rest of the race this far. After spending the day in very remote areas and on mixed dirt, paved, cobblestone and incredible singletrack; we rolled into town and had to negotiate our way through downtown traffic and raced to Central Park Quetzalenango.
Stage 4. Enduro day of stage racing! 2:52:07.5
The profile for the day indicated that it would be mostly downhill but that was rather deceiving; especially from the start. We rolled out of town as a neutral start and regrouped before “go time” and immediately heading straight up! We climbed through a very nice park and then turned off onto single track. After a little more climbing we descended back into another town and then began our climb back out of it. The lead group was rather large compared to the previous days and was comprised of myself and the leaders of the Open Duo team as well as the second place solo rider and the second place duo team.
My strategy for the day was to have a good clean race and stay in the lead group. There was no need for myself or the leaders of the duo team to try and put time on the other riders because since it was the last day our time gaps were large enough to hold.
The most incredible part of the day was all the cobblestone riding we did. We descended on cobblestones for nearly a solid twenty minutes! I can only imagine how long the road was or how long it must have taken to lay all the cobblestones required to make it. And the best part of all the cobblestone riding, it was dry! Had this section been wet I am sure it was have significantly added to our overall stage time.
A couple of other stand out sections of the stage were the swinging bridges we had to cross. One was divided into a couple of sections and we were able to ride, while being careful to not hook our bars on the cables. The second bridge was much longer and completely suspended some 50 feet above above a rather swiftly flowing river. This bridge we had to walk because it was missing wooden planks and some of the ones in place weren’t really all that secure. Another thing that forced us to walk was the way the bridge would pulsate and swing with the six of us crossing at the same time.
Once across this final bridge, we climbed up a steep concrete road that led too a small town. At this point the second place solo rider and second place duo team were getting anxious as the finish neared. The pace quickened and ironically the three riders blew past a sharp turn the course made, we yelled to them and they quickly turned back around and rejoined us. As we turned into the resort where the finish line was I dropped back to a safe distance so as not to get tied up in a crash as the second place solo rider and second place team sprinted for the line. The duo team took the stage win and the solo rider crossed right there with them giving him the stage win in my category. With the significant time lead I had there was no reason for the me to contest the sprint and I figured the younger Guatemalan would appreciate winning the final stage.
Final thoughts for an incredible race.
This was one of the best stage races I have done! The terrain, scenery, people, venues and overall organization were awesome. Everything was very well put together and ran like clock work. I can only imagine all of the logistical nightmares that are involved in pulling off and event like this. The accommodations and meals were second to none! This will be a race I put on my list to attend again for sure.
After the race we spent the next day driving back to Antigua, a couple hours away, and then took a hike up the volcano Pacaya. Pacaya is one of the more active volcanoes in the area and it had actually under gone a rather large eruption just one year ago, filling in a hundred meter wide cavity. While there we were able to walk around this area and actually roasted marshmallows over the hot vents from the magma below. Smores never tasted so good! We also got to spend the day with photographers working with the New York Times doing a feature on the area for a section called 36 hours; where they spot light cities around the world and what to see and do if you only had 36hrs there. The article should be featured in the next few weeks so check back periodically and you might see me roasting marshmallows the proper way!
The next day we spent riding the trails El Zur. The best way I can describe the riding is to say it was one huge downhill run that lasted 3hrs and went through some of the most scenic sections of forest I had seen yet. Here’s a link to the outfitters we used http://adventureguatemala.blogspot.com/2013/05/el-zur-dh-tour-new-trip.html
After spending a week in Guatemala it was time to get back to reality and fly back to the states. What an unforgettable trip, can’t wait to get back!
Thanks again for all the great support and helping to make all this possible!
Wahoooooo, race time again!
This past weekend was the second race of the SERC (Southeast Regional Championship) series held in Conyers, GA. To those unfamiliar with the venue, it was held at the International Horse Park and was also the site of the 1996 Mountain Bike Olympic Games. Though the course has undergone quite a few changes over the years there are some sections that remain the same.
Years past the course included the “otherside” of the race course which is almost entirely comprised of granite. But now, we rarely race on that side due to logistics the high cost of road crossings and having several police officers to man them. That side is really a love hate relationship with most racers b/c it is so unforgiving, but if you can master the rocks you’ll love it. I love it! But sadly, we didn’t get to race any of it this year.
This year, similar to that last couple, was held on the wooded side (no granite) with a lot of tight, twisty singletrack that winds its way around through the woods and over a few wooden bridges. There are a few punchy climbs but non long enough to really break up the leaders. The three of us would ultimately stick it out all the way to the end.
The tight singletrack was fun to ride b/c it flows so well and my D29 tracked perfectly, but it’s hard to get away from anyone there. Other than the occasional crash, from taking a turn too fast, there are little obstacles or opportunities to get away. It’s almost like this section has a speed limit to it. There are only a couple of little climbs too that give riders the chance to drop the hammer and turn the screws to the other riders.
The race course can be basically broken up into three sections; tight, twisty woods, few punchy climbs, and long field section. It was here in the field section that the real race would unfold. Myself and two other riders stuck together the whole time. We took turns setting the pace at the front, but ultimately couldn’t get rid of one another. On the final lap I was sitting in second place and thought I might wait and make my move on one of the last climbs but decided I’d probably catch lapped traffic in the last little bit of woods and loose any lead I might get on the climb. So I decided to sit still and wait for the field where I knew traffic wouldn’t be an issue and passing would be easy.
When we rounded the field there was a short straight away before a deep ditch (half pipe like) that we had to drop into before the final stretch to the finish chute. I decided to make my move here before the ditch. Ironically enough I thought I might loose it here when I rounded the turn to take the drop and came up on a couple of other riders hesitating before this section. I unclipped, skidded sideways and took the drop. The only thing that saved me was, I had enough momentum to carry me up the other side of the ditch where I could clip back in and begin my final sprint.
It definitely made for an exciting finish and I was happy to cross the line first despite the mishap with lapped traffic. So far this has been a really great season and almost every race has been a different type; Stage racing one moment, to endurance/gravel grinder the next, and finally the last was traditional XC style. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and looking forward to more of it!
Thanks again for all the great support!
Introducing our new sponsored pro team, iRT Racing! iRT Racing is a men’s continental cycling team based out of Pasadena, California with the mission to bring back the ideals of pureness in sport and to support developing athletes.
Founded in 2014 by Ray Asante and Lynn Perrando (owners of iRT Wheels) and directed by Haldane Morris, iRT Racing will be competing in its inaugural season in 2015 nationally as well as select international races. The team features a young competitive roster with athletes from both the United States and Mexico.
iRT Racing has created a cohesive environment between the athletes and sponsors, whereby together they can build a program that will be a great experience for not only the spectators of the team, but the sport as well.
The goals of iRT Racing could not only be about cycling and athletics. Asante and Perrando did not want to create a team that only focused on the world of competitive cycling. Both Asante and Perrando believe that growing a sport also involves growing the entire athlete – body, mind, and spirit.
iRT Racing is proud to partner with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, bringing a philanthropic voice to the organization. With the selection of the research being done by Dr. Anat Erdreich-Epstein MD,PhD, iRT Racing is riding in support of research on children’s cancerous brain tumors. By supporting the research being done, iRT Racing hopes to minimize the number of children in the future that have to endure this terrible illness.
Haley Milsap is a graduate from Ole Miss, where she had eight top-20 finishes and two top-10 finishes. She was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll, the Chancellor’s Honor Roll and an NGCA All-American Scholar. Haley becomes the third player from the Ole Miss program to earn her LPGA Tour card, joining Dori Carter (2009) and Bernadette Luse (2000). Haley’s favorite Tifosi’s to date are the Vogels!
Congrats to Aussie Triathlete Nick Souter, who recently finished his first Hawaiian Ironman in Kona last month, finishing in a VERY respectable 179th place out of 2134 competitors. Check out the cool visor!
For more than 33 years, O’Neill Williams has captivated the nation with his extensive knowledge of outdoor sports. As the host, creator and producer, his television show streams into 171 million United States homes each week and attracts a weekly audience of more than 2,000,000 outdoors men and women via TV, radio, Newsletter, social media and website. He also airs an equally popular weekend radio broadcast on Atlanta’s WSB-AM 750 that is currently in its 22nd season and covers 38 states live every Saturday morning. O’Neill Outside TV program airs throughout the week on Sun Sports, NBC Sports, Destination America Network, and FOX SportsSouth. For a complete listing of times, visit www.oneilloutside.com. Tifosi Optics is pleased to be O’Neill’s personal choice for eyewear.