Albany crit with Naveen, Mesa, and Bangor. Fun course new course with Bangor making the winning breakaway in the first 15 minutes. Unfortunately 45 minutes later, with great positioning for the win, he was crashed out in the last corner. He had to run his bike across the finish line to still get 6th. It was a great effort and a great chance for a solid win, but this is racing and thankfully he is okay.
Nice Tahoe wedding/ ride. There’s something really grounding about watching friends solidify their future followed by some introspective alone time to ponder your own.
Ps, I’m cooked!
#britesport #focusbikes #illest
Day 6 - On our way home we split the drive up and stayed in Mt Shasta. For a nice recovery ride we did a 3 mile spin and the 13 ascent up to the old ski bowl at around 7700 ft.
It’s been a great trip and we can’t say enough for the wonderful support we got form our friends at illest - Thanks for letting us represent the Tselli Cycling Team at the 2014 Cascade Cycling Classic.
CCC - Day 5 - Stage 4 Awbrey Butte Circuit Race - This was the last stage of the race taking us on a punchy circuit, 4 times around the outskirts of Bend. The classic 17 mile course started at the local city college this year, quickly making it’s way out of town and into the rolling hills. With some short climbs leading from the The Deschutes River and a new finish on the steep 500 meter up hill drag at the base of summit rd, this was going to be a fun race.
This course seemed to be perfect for a breakaway and as we got ready that morning, Jaffa, Mesa, and I set some plans for making an early move. We took a nice spin to the sign in, checked out the finishing climb, and then waited around in the shade for the start. The one thing we really underestimated was the dealing with the size of the field on such small roads. It almost seemed like the opposite situation of the road race on Friday, but with the same difficulties of moving through the field. So once again, positioning seemed to be the most important thing in order to catch the breakaway. As we rolled out on the neutral start, I made my way right to the front and waited for the green light. Unfortunately Mesa and Jaffa got bottlenecked towards the middle of the field and it would be a little bit until they made it closer to the front. As soon as we got the green, attacks started to go. One by one, people went off the front only to be reeled back in by the field. It was about waiting for the right numbers and the right guys, just when the field seemed to be a little tired, and then BAM, go 100% into a breakaway move. But to my frustration, no one seemed ready to fully commit, and the few moves I did get into, were squashed out by some bigger teams that were really trying to keep it together.
Eventually I met up with Mesa and on the second lap he made a move off the front, but to my disappointment no one went with. I came to the front and started to set a slower pace, trying to give him some time to build a gap and hope some others would bridge, but soon enough some other teams just came to the front and set tempo to real him back in. So as Mesa was coming back into the field I went to the front, railed one of the turns, got a slight gap, and punched it. But again no one wanted to commit and I was brought back by the efforts of the bigger teams. If anything was going to stick, it needed at least 4 riders, but no one wanted to go for it. Everyone was content to just sit in and wait.
So we waited and frustratingly dealt with the state of racing being forced by the field. The consistent surging, the sketchy bike handling just to make up a space even when there was no room, and the chaos of the feed zones. On the third lap Jaffa fell victim to the the feed zone chaos and was off the back. Then as we crested the final summit of the course, I was cut off and pinned between the guard rail and a rider who jammed his chain, which left me off the back and chasing for the last lap. I buried myself and took every advantage I could to get back on. For 2/3s of a lap I was going all out, catching riders and working to close the gap, the whole time knowing that I was burning my matches for the finish, but I didn’t care, I just wanted to get back and help Mesa if I could. I finally got back on right at the base of the climb leading to the feed zone and sadly was dropped from the leaders after some attacks. Mesa stayed up in the front, but was screwed out of positioning on the final climb and had to settle for a finish in the top 1/3. I settled into my rhythm and then started to plug away at catching as many people as possible. I did a good job of really emptying myself and left nothing behind while catching riders even with 100 meters to go. Too bad I had to waist a lot of effort earlier in that fourth lap.
So once again things didn’t work out as planned, but that’s racing, and specifically that’s stage racing. Things get pretty complicated and tactics can get pretty frustrating at times. Overall we learned a lot and really got some excellent training in the legs. Now with some proper recovery we are going to ready for some great racing in the following weeks.
After the race we relaxed a bit, ate lunch, packed up the car, and headed to the river once more. Mesa creeped under the bridge and did a flying squirrel attack on some river folk while Jaffa found a fellow Irishman from space. It has been a great trip and we are so incredibly grateful to Joe for housing us and all the support from our friends at illest!!! We are a tight team of working class athletes and the support we have received this trip has made it so much easier for us to focus on the races and leave it all in the road. Thanks again to all out supporters in our lives and thanks to all our sponsorship support on the road. We are already looking forward to our next race.
CCC - Day 4 - Stage 3 Downtown Twilight Criterium - Today was a mellow day of sleeping in and relaxing around Joe’s house until our crit race later in the afternoon. With some good recovery we were looking forward to the race and another chance to get in the mix. The course seemed like a straightforward four corner rectangle, but after further inspection we realized a few things - course ran counterclockwise (all lefts), the south west corner was a tight bottleneck leading into a small rise, the last two corners had a bumpy road surface, and the wind was picking up (tailwind down finishing straight, headwind on the back stretch). Furthermore, the race was only 40 minutes, which meant it was going to be a fast one. With all these details and a field of 100+ riders, positioning was key.
As soon as the masters races ended we jumped on to the course and took one lap only to come up to the finish and see the entire field already lined up. So there went our good starting position and all we could do now is move up every chance we get. Racing a crit from the front can be tough, but it let’s you choose your own lines and avoid the sprint out of every corner along with the chaos of crashes in the field. So right from the gun we just slowly worked our way through the field, either fighting to hold a position or making up places at every opportunity. It was a fairly fast start and it really took a bit to make up some ground. After about 25 minutes we linked up and began to move Mesa up to towards the front. Hammering up through the headwind stretch we got Mesa up in a good spot and tried to slot in and ride out he remaining race in position for the sprint. Unfortunately the chaos of crits hit the field and a few laps after we positioned ourselves well, someone lost it on the outside turn into the bottleneck part of the course. No serious injuries, but it forced Mesa to completely stop and loose any chance of seeing the front again. He tried to get a free lap, but it was too close to the finish and he simply rode out the rest of the race. Jaffa and I missed the crash but due to some sketchy bike handling we lost our good positioning and had to fight to make up ground ASAP. By the time the final 3 laps started we simply couldn’t get through to the front and finished in the pack, boxed in and frustrated. Of course this was not what we wanted from the race, but we were happy to keep the rubber side down and still have some good legs (even though we didn’t get to use them).
After the race we went back to the house, washed the kits, and went back to downtown to watch the pro race. Joe met up with us and we ate some burritos as we watched Optum and Jelly Belly fight it out for the sprint. Funny enough I heard that out cat 2 crit had the fastest average speed, but since it was only 40 minutes it wasn’t that surprising. With a field of 200 racing over a longer time, the pro race looked much tougher and we all can’t wait to be in there. All in good time.
One more stage and one more opportunity remains for us to leave it all on the road and do what we love.
Podium party! At the #colavitagp p123 race. @connorspencer got in the move with @clifbar halfway though the 90min crit. Held off the pack for a 3rd place. @naveenmolloy lead out @digableblankets for the field sprint for 5th. Awesome team work! @morfordmedia doubled up for a solid days work!
#freshairfocus #britesport (at Colavita Gran Prix, Novato)
CCC - Day 3 - Stage 2 Cascade Lakes Road Race - Today was the queen stage of the race, leading us through the Cascade Volcanic Arc of central Oregon. The course was 90+ miles of wide open roads, rolling steady climbs, and long valley stretches along high elevation lakes. We ended with a 10 mile summit finish on Mt Bachelor, a 16000 year old stratovolcano atop a shield volcano that impressively stands out amongst the high peaks of the Cascade Range.
We were ready for anything and positioning was incredibly important for such a large field. The course started with a climb right from the gun and I forced my way to the front immediately so I could catch any early moves that looked good for a breakaway. Dave and Jaffa got stuck behind the field and with a slight mechanical hick up, leaving them blocked towards the back. With the excitement and twitchiness of the field, breaks went off again and again, but always came back after a bit. I made the decision to ride the top 20 the entire race and made it into a good number of these breaks, but as each one kept coming back, I could tell that the vacuum affect of the field flying along was going to make it impossible to really get away. Eventually we found each other in the field and Jaffa put in some solid work on the front to try and motivate the group and bring back the only breakaway that had a chance of success. Eventually we all came back together and our man Dave remained protected in the field and waited for the finishing climb.
It’s funny how the most dangerous part of the race was the feed zones. Imagine 100 riders trying to get into a position to get a bottle, frantically grabbing for water, dropping bottles, and causing crashes amongst all the chaos. Luckily we all made it through the first one unscathed, but unfortunately Jaffa got caught out on the second one and ended up getting detached from the field with a big 30 mile effort remaining. It was a rough situation and Dave and I had no idea he was off until it was too late. Then in the last feed zone just before the finishing climb, there was another bad crash but again Dave and I missed it and were sitting well for the finish.
With about 20km to go the field was pretty much together and all that remained was the long steady 5% climb to the finish. The pace was set by one of the larger teams, and slowly riders began to drop off the back. I positioned myself right at the front and was feeling good along with Dave a few places back well protected from the wind. Then the surges began and things really got interesting. I went from feeling great to hitting the wall. With about 7km to go I was repeatedly dropped from the front group and then crawled my way back through the pain cave only to get popped again on the next surge. While I was in a world of pain, but enjoying it a sadistic way, Dave was riding great and biding his time. Eventually the elastic snapped for me and I had to settle into the second group on the road, which was only about 500 meters behind the lead group, but on a climb that can be a tough effort to close. After a bit I started to come around and started to make the effort to close back the gap, but with about 3km to I was hit with the worst cramp I have ever had. I almost fell off my bike, but somehow I managed to push through and after a bit I was able to hammer through and was able to come back to the tail end of the second group, putting me around mid field for the finish. Dave on the other hand had a great ride, stay perfectly positioned with the leaders, but within the finishing 500 meters, a bit of confusion and a crash ruined his chances for a high finish, leaving him stuck in the group of finishing leaders. Then the ride of the day was Jaffa’s huge solo effort over the end of the course, battling the wind and climbs all by himself. A true testament to his mental fortitude.
Overall we rode a good race, made some good moves, and gave it everything we had. We left it all on the road. With some good recovery and a nice cold plunge in the Deschutes river, we are ready to keep mixing it up for the remaining stages.
CCC - Day 2 - Stage 1 Crooked Creek Time Trial - This was a 16 mile out and back course that rolled it’s way across agricultural valleys and along the Crooked Creek river. As the river carved it’s way through the open landscape, it left behind some amazing rock canyon walls, practically hidden as you stare out to the horizon.
Our start times were later in the day between 1-2 pm and our main challenge was the winds and smokey air conditions due to a large wildfire north of Bend. We took it easy in the morning, watched the Tour de France while eating breakfast, took a nice warm up ride, and prepared the bikes. With the heat of the day we made sure to stay hydrated and filled some pantyhose with ice, stuffing them into the backs of out jerseys and let them melt as we raced. Sometimes the detail of preparation seems excessive, but it’s those marginal gains that make the difference between winning and loosing.
Jaffa took off first, then Dave, and then me. It was a longer course and gauging our efforts was the most important part of putting down a good TT time. With their TT bikes dialed in Jaffa and Dave put in some solid times and strong efforts, placing them around the top third of field. I rode my road bike and used the stage as a chance to put in some hard efforts and open up the legs for the following days of racing, but with this type of course the aerodynamic disadvantage did not give me a great chance for laying down a fast time.
After a cool down spin, we headed to the local second hand store, scope out the local scene in Prineville, and made our way to Bend. We met up with our friend Joe Stevens, father of our buddy Chris Stevens, who graciously agreed to house us for our remaining days up here in Oregon. He is a great guy who always loves to have company and help support us when we come up to race. After a good recovery/preparation meal of some great pumpkin curry and an evening drive to some nice viewpoints on the outskirts of Bend, we called it a day. Now it’s time to put up the legs and relax as we think about the long day in the saddle that awaits us tomorrow.
Cascade Cycling Classic (CCC) - Day 1 - Travel day through the norther California landscape en route to our Central Oregon destination. We payed our respects to the cosmic powers of Mt Shasta, came up with some new hair tie methods, and started at the clouds to pass the time. The drive was smooth and we made our way to Prineville Oregon, the location of tomorrow stage 1 TT, just in time to do a recon of the course at dusk. The rolling course beautiful and the lighting was perfect as we carved our way along the river at the foot of massive canyon walls. This is going to be a great four days of racing over some tough terrain, in hot dry weather, and a against a stacked 123 rider field. We can’t wait!!! Also, a big thanks to illest for helping support us Britesport riders as we represent the Tselli Cycling Team here at the Cascade Cycling Classic.- DB/JP/DM