Running as fast as I can since '93
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  • 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix

    Posted on August 1st, 2018

    The 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix on July 7-8 was a great opportunity to compete in my first two Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 fields. Saturday was a circuit race and Sunday was a criterium, both 80 minutes long in the hot afternoon sun. Saturday was well north of 100° F in the early afternoon, and dipped just under that by the time we went off at 4 pm. I raced alongside Simple Green teammate Adam O’Camb. Teammate Jason Francia also came down for the race weekend, competing in the Cat 3 field.

    My daughter Lilly came out to watch me race!

    I felt the circuit race, with about 140 feet of climbing each 1.9 mile loop, would suit me better than the crit. I knew I needed to race more conservatively than I had for the lower category races I’ve done this year, so when a break went right at the start, I decided to let it go. However, I spent most of the first half of the race chasing down every move in hopes that it would be the one that stuck. Eventually, it paid off and I got in a break later in the race, but I had clearly put in too many hard efforts by that point. I did get the opportunity to sneak in a $40 prime lap win while in the break. Unfortunately we got pulled in with three or four laps remaining. I finally sat at the back to try to let my heart rate recover from a shockingly high max of 194 bpm. I was ready to sit in the ~20-man pack to the finish to see what the sprint finish was like, when I sensed a lull in the pace with about 1 km to go. I made my final move, got some separation, but it wasn’t enough and in the end the field came storming pass me with about 300 m to go. I ended up finishing 16th. Strava Results

    Always breaking away!

    Sunday was a crit that was still a bit lumpy and not your typical flat, four corner course. The 40-man field was stronger than Saturday’s field and included some real studs like Justin and Cory Williams; Rahsaan Bahati and some Methods to Winning teammates; and a handful of SoCalCycling.com Team riders. After reviewing Saturday’s race with my teammate Jason Francia, I agreed to sit in a lot more. I had a plan not to go for any moves in the first 30 minutes of the race (total race time was 75 minutes). After 16 of mostly sitting in, however, I found myself on the wheel of another rider that was making a push for a break. Since all I had to do was sit on his wheel, I decided this was an opportunity too good to pass up and I went with it. Soon we had separation from the field, and because I hadn’t made a push to get in the break, I was feeling fresh and ready to do some work. Eventually we were a group of six guys and we worked together fairly well to build our gap to the main bunch to over a minute. The hard pace in the heat was wearing on some of the riders, and a couple of the guys dropped out of the break as we started to wind up towards the finish. Going up the hill heading into one lap to go, I was at the back of the group and decided to carry my speed by attacking hard. Going over the top I had a few bike lengths over second place Cory Williams. I knew that he would out sprint me if I pulled him to the line, so I drilled it to the turn on the far side of the course where we turned into a  head wind. Cory knows how to race (he is nation’s number one beast, after all) and he made sure he was on my wheel before that turn.

    Going for it with one lap to go!

    At this point he pretty much had a free ride to the finish. Rather than swinging off and playing games with him, I decided to keep pressing as hard as I could all the way to the finish. I did this for two reasons: 1) I could tell he was uncomfortable by how labored his breathing was and I thought just maybe he’d be too spent on our final kicker up to the line and 2) I knew there were a couple guys not too far behind that could potentially catch us if we really let up. I was assured 2nd place, which would be a great result for my first time race in a P/1/2 field, so I just went HAM for the line. In the end, he came around me with about 150 m to go, just as I predicted. Strava Results

    Overall I was very pleased with my first weekend of racing with the big boys. Can’t wait to get out there on a tough road race course and see what I can do!

    2nd Place Pro/Cat 1/Cat 2 805 Thousand Oaks Grand Prix Crit

  • Road to Cat 2

    Posted on July 6th, 2018

    In March I wrote about my quick journey to upgrading to Cat 3 (check out this post and this one if you want to follow the story from the “beginning”). A few months on and I am now a Cat 2!

    In the Cat 3 bunch during Stage 2 of the San Dimas Stage Race

    My first race as a Cat 3 was a big one — the San Dimas Stage Race. This race suits me well, with an uphill TT on Stage 1, a lumpy road race on Stage 2, and a crit on Stage 3. The goal was to get the lead on the uphill TT and hold onto it, which is exactly what happened! I won the TT up Glendora Mountain Road by 13 seconds over 2nd and 27 over 3rd (Strava). Stage 2 was rather hectic in the yellow jersey, but thanks to some help from my Team Simple Green teammates Jason Francia and Bradley Wiggs, I was able to finish in the front of the group and hold onto yellow (Strava).

    Stage 3 Crit at the San Dimas Stage Race (Photo by: Troy Templin)

    Stage 3’s crit was pretty aggressive, and I looked like I had it all but locked up until there was a crash in the very last turn. Of course the guy that was in 2nd place in GC (Edgar Stepanyan – a former Jr. World Champion on the track, apparently) was in front of the crash and won the stage, earning extra time bonuses. I finished the race without crashing, but there was a chance I was going to lose the overall win because I got stuck behind the crash (Strava). There were some very anxious moments before I found out that the refs “neutralized” the finish, which meant I would get to keep the yellow jersey and take the overall!

    Next up for me was the Dan Point Grand Prix – another crit. This was the first time I tried racing two races in one day. I first competed in the 30+ Cat 3/4 field, which I won thanks to a 30+ minute solo breakaway (Strava)! I was happy to get that win, stay out of trouble (there was a terrible crash in the bunch sprint for 2nd place in that race) and win a bunch of free beer! The next race I did was the Cat 2/3, which was about an hour later, and after that long solo break in the first race, my legs were pretty toast (Strava). Still, I’m happy I did that one because it was my first time experiencing the speed of a Cat 2 field.

    With these two wins, I now had 20 of the 30 points required for the Cat 2 upgrade. I knew the Mt. Hamilton Stage Race would be an excellent opportunity to get the remaining points.

    This stage race was actually four stages over three days, with a hilly circuit race on stage 1, an epic road race that starts with a climb up Mt. Hamilton on stage 2, an uphill TT on stage 3, and then finishing up with a crit. I rode real strong that weekend, with victories in the circuit race (Strava), road race (Strava – 45 mile solo break away!) and the TT (Strava). In the crit I rode defensively to secure the overall victory (Strava).

    Stage 1 victory in Mt. Hamilton Stage Race’s Livermore Circuit Race.
    Photo by: Katie Miu

    I now sat at 35 of the required 30 points for the Cat 2 upgrade. I thought a bit about if I wanted to keep racing more Cat 3’s for “experience” and potentially more race victories, but I came to the conclusion that moving up to Cat 2 racing was what got me excited to get out and train on my bike.

    What’s next?

    In the immediate future (like, tomorrow) I will be racing in my very first P/1/2 field at the 805 Grand Prix, which consists of a circuit race on Saturday and crit on Sunday. I think I’m much better suited to a hard road race, but this will be a great opportunity to see how my skill level compares to the “professionals.” I’m not sure what racing will look like after that. I have my eye on Phil Gaimon’s Hill Climb Worlds up Gibraltar at the end of October, but any serious racing as a Cat 2 may have to wait until 2019.