Monthly Archives: May 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Race Report by John Pratt

Day 1 Burlington Road Race

Gearing up for the race, I was excited and a bit nervous to be going for my first 100 mile race of the year. The team plan was to race aggressively and set up Jessie for a breakaway attempt. Our SBR Quantum racing team did a fantastic job setting the pace in the early miles. I was pretty stoked to see Matt Brophy and me make one of the first breakaways of the day. Although it was fun to be off the front, it was a ton of work breaking through the wind and it was a bit of a relief when the field finally dragged us back in a few miles down the road. The attack, recover, rest, and attack again was the way the race played out for me. When Jessie got away about 45 miles into the race, I started marking moves to try and prevent others from wanting to chase down Matt Brophy who was riding in 6th place and Jessie who was riding 3rd on the road. After the turn around, I found myself having to mark a lot of moves from Novo Nordisk, Gateway Harley, and Texas Roadhouse. Nick Grigsby did a fantastic job working to help police the front to give Jessie and Matt the chance they needed to get away. While chasing down moves with him, my legs finally started cramping about 35 miles out from the finish. I soldiered on to the end and crossed the line a tired but happy member of the SBR Quantum team that had scored an awesome 6th place result in the Burlington Road Race.

Day 2 Snake Alley

Long story short, I love snake alley. When I was tooling around the antique stores on main street, I
spent some time looking at the collections of collectibles in the stores. One of the ladies there told me that Snake Alley is super unique because it is the curviest road in the world. I thought that was pretty
awesome and was super stoked to have a chance to race it on my BMC Time Machine. Well, I was at the line ready for the onslaught of 20 assaults of the formidable challenge known as Snake Alley. My race was to be my shortest ever. The whistle blew and in the opening 100 ft. a rider from Texas Roadhouse tangled with my front wheel and blew out my spokes. I stood there all by myself as everyone else rode away to tackle the curvaceous climb and I simply walked back to the car with my one wheeled bike hoping that the day’s rest would give added strength to my legs for the Melon City Criterium.

Day 3 Melon City Criterium

Today was all about Grant. He was an absolute beast in this crit while I was suffering just to stay in the race at all. The climb was ferocious and the wet conditions and speed bump at the bottom of the hill make me unnerved. I missed my chance to stay in the race when Daniel Holloway moved to the front on the downhill about 15 laps into the race. I followed him for a bit, but my recent tangle-up the day before had put a mental block in my head to charging headlong into a fast-moving group. I lasted about half the race before finishing early with a 12 man chase group.

Day 4 Quad Cities Criterium

I began wondering if the people orgainizing these races had ever seen a flat corn field. That’s all I train on and these crits seemed more like the rockies than the Midwest. Oh well, whatever the course, I’m out there to give it my best. After a good team talk from the difficult performance yesterday, I fought as hard as I could to stay at the front no matter the pain. I also just tried to have fun and enjoy the race. I don’t know if others could see it, but I was smiling the whole time. Some of the mental blockage from past crashes and tangle-ups disappeared and I was able to take a flier off the front to try and bring back a chase group that was threatening to catch the incredible Grant. Solo, off the front, eyes dead to the world absolutely unresponsive to encouragement or taunts, he powered his way in a fashion that deserves only the highest praise. After I was dropped 20 laps into the race, I immediately joined the teammates on the hill cheering him on, pouring water on his overheating body, and yelling every sort of encouragement. It was an incredible ride and I’m proud to say that I’m on Grant’s team. Great things are coming and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Snake Alley

2015 Snake Alley Race Report by Jesse Siemen
As the reigning 30+ Master’s champ at Snake Alley, I came in with pretty high hopes. I was racing with the big boys this year, but Nick was able to get us all preregistered early, so we had 2nd row starting spots. It’s crucial to start up at the front in this race. It’s like a cyclocross start where you sprint from the gun to get your position going up the Snake. Otherwise, it becomes a cluster and you lose crucial time on the lead guys.
Unfortunately, my start sucked. I got in my pedals ok, but the guy in front of me botched it. Between that and me being more timid than I should have, I didn’t do a good job of hold my position at all leading up to the Snake the first time. The first time up was crazy trying to pick a line while bouncing off other guys like a ping pong ball.
I really like the course though. A good lengthy power like with a screaming decent. Rinse and repeat.
I was slowly making up spots throughout the race, jumping from chase group to chase group. The lap counter was slowly ticking down from 20 to 10 to 6. As I was coming around for number 5, a couple guys zipped around me through the last corner like they were sprinting for the win. I was wondering what the heck they were doing at this inconsequential point in the race with 5 laps to go. As it turns out, they were notified we were getting pulled that lap. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo and coincidentally finished a couple spots out of the money.
I ended up 27th out of a big field of 100+ high caliber racers. I’ll be looking forward again to this one next year. It’s a big race that I can do well at. I’ll continue to work on those fast, frantic starts during my CX season this year.

Burlington Road Race

View from Jesse Siemen’s eyes
This was my second year doing the big boys race in Burlington. I learned last year that it’s a super fast
race with a very strong field. Like last year, the flat course with many strong teams leads to attack after
attack. Unlike last year, this year I was on one of those strong teams instigating the attacks.
On the way out, the team did a great job, and we had at least one guy in every move and many times
multiple guys. One particular move had three of us in it with good representation from other teams. I
thought that one was going to work, but again the break was chased down.

About a third into the 100 mile race, a few solo riders were able to sneak off the front. As I was catching
a breather in the pack, Nick gave me a good wheel to follow to get back up the front. He ended up
serving as a launching pad for me to get a gap soloing off the front. I was drilling it and checked back
periodically to see if the field was chasing hard. This is where I actually think a power meter is
particularly useful in a race. I know I had about 65 miles left to race, but this was a great opportunity to
get up the road. I just kept myself in a spot where I knew I’ve done a max 20 minute effort in the past
and figured I would worry about the rest of the race later.

After what seemed like an eternity, I was joined by a few guys who bridged up and we starting rolling
well for the most part. Dennis from Gateway was riding particularly strong and doing a good job of
talking and motivating the group. Unfortunately, we had one guy who opted to just sit on. I hate that,
but it’s bike racing. We cruised through the feed zone. Thanks Dennis for the bottle!

As we were heading back South, we were really trying to keep the pace high. Everybody was hurting
and we still had a long way to go. Our group starting to swell a bit though, which was a good thing. We
pick up a guy off the front and were joined by a bridge group that included Brophy. That was pretty
awesome having a teammate in the race winning break. We soon picked up a Drapac Pro dude who was off the front. That just left one guy up the road. We had what I would call decent organization now in our group, but a few folks were missing turns and a couple were just sitting on the back.

As we were getting closer to town, our group thinned out a bit. Brophy dropped back. We caught the
lone rider off the front with about 10-15 miles to go. I thought it was much less than that based on the
mileage from last year. I suppose I should’ve looked at the race map at registration, because it ended up
being about 10 miles longer this year.

The Drapac guy was riding really strong, so I made sure to keep him ahead of me waiting for an attack.
Unfortunately as I was on his wheel, he blew up and I wasn’t able to get back up to the lead group of 5. I
rolled the last 10 minutes or so solo into the finish. I kept on checking back to see if anyone was coming,
but it looked clear. I was pretty happy with a 6th place finish in a race of this caliber. But, like always, I
gave myself a hard time for not finishing better.

Overall, I was really happy with the effort put forth by all the guys on the team. We had great
representation in moves throughout the day. Next up, Snake Alley!

View from Nick Hand’s eyes.
The Burlington RR is a 100 mile out and back in Burlington IA. It is a mostly flat course with just a few rollers being the only real “climbing” in the race. We came to the race with 7 riders, Jesse, John, Brophy, Nick, Grant, Shane, and myself. The goal was to put Jesse into the move, race aggressively, and see what happens.

The move is what everyone here wants to be in. The move always goes, but two years ago it went 10 miles into the race, and since then the move has gone later and later, with very hard racing until then. This year it took almost 50 miles before those who would make up the move go off the front. That made the first hour and a half at 28+ mph the fastest and hardest 90 minutes of my life.

With 7 riders we had a lot of bullets to fire and we wanted to be active and try to stack any move there was. With 70 or so riders this is for sure harder said than done. For the most part we were able to make every single move. The scary thing was there were a few very strong looking moves that we were not in. This made me quite nervous and frustrated that we had done all that work for nothing. Luck would have it that all the moves that we were not in came back.

Every guy on the team did some amazing work off the front today. Nick went so hard again this weekend that he projectile vomited while in the break away, and then kept going!!! Brophy seemed to be in just about every move and started some of his own as well today. He was fearless and always there to try to make something happen.

One of my favorite moves I saw from the team today was a three-person attack the John was also in!!! This was a move most of us on the team were for sure was THE MOVE. The guys said they were working very hard to make the move work but the pack was able to finally bring it back.

A move that I was in that I was pretty stoked ended up working was one with Jesse. We were about half way down the pack and I told Jesse to jump on me and I put just about everything that I had left remaining into heading towards the front. Just as we were approaching the front of the field the pack was sitting up. We threaded right through a gap and I had a few more pedals left to give. When I was spent I yelled to Jesse to GO!!! He took off like a rocket and quickly gained time on the field.

The field put a few hard digs into Jesse but he was gone, and the next time a lull in the field happened Brophy took his leave to of pack as well.

In total there were 10 riders that made it off the front. For what happened up there I will have to leave that to those guys. I didn’t make it with the field much longer as my legs cramped straight around 48 miles in. I kept going on my own until 70 miles where the wheels finally fell off and I was picked up.

It was so great to see the development of the pro team and how much closer all the guys have gotten and that they are all starting to really get on top of their form. Today they will hit Snake Alley, it’s gonna be great to watch!

Fat & Skinny Tire Festival

Firday nights time trial at Winona Lake Onmium was short, sweet, and set the bar high for the racing that would follow during the weekend.  The Merckx style TT was 5km in length, featuring a quick left-right 100 meters after the start, and roundabout used as a turnaround, and a quick left-right into the finish.  With a start time of 8:22pm, I knew that the caffeine that would help power me through the race would also keep me up into the morning hours. Nick Grigsby and I pre-rode the course twice in order to scout out the corners and turnaround, knowing that in a race this short even a minor error in the corners would cost you multiple places.  I started and took the first two corners like I had planned, and settled into my pace on the way out.  I was fortunate that my 30 second man was fairly slow and I was able to use him as a carrot and caught him right before the last few hundred meters.  I knew I had put up a descent time, right around 6:40 but the results were delayed and I didn’t find out until the following morning that I had finished 5th at 6:41.5, just half a second off 3rd and 3 seconds off first.

The road race on Saturday featured an 8 mile circuit that was primarily flat with a few minor rollers for a total of 100km.  The field was solid, with Texas Road House, Bissel, Upland, and Netherland Rubber all represented by multiple riders.  The race was on from the gun with an attack from SBRs own, Nick Grigsby.  Attack after attack went up the road with no reprieve for the first three laps.  The pace had been quite high, roughly averaging 45kph for the first three laps.  A group of 6 riders began to gain an advantage on the field.  I took the opportunity to jump across with two other riders and the days break had been established.  With uneven representation between teams, there was little organization amongst the break.  Being the only SBR rider in the break, I knew it was not my responsibility to drive the pace.  With half a lap to go, Johnathan Jacob and two other riders attacked the break and got a gap.  Netherland Rubber missed out and attempted to chase for a few minutes but were unsuccessful.  Heading into the final turn before the finish I attempted to jump the remainder of the break, hoping to catch them off guard as the distance from the corner to the finish was short.  Unfortunately the break responded well and caught me before the finish.

Sundays criteruim featured a beautiful course along Winona Lake.  A tight, flat, two corner crit with a long sweeping bend back to the start/finish set the stage for hard and fast race.  The race was on right from the gun and our guest rider, Rudy Peterson, and I took charge of following move up the road.  About 15 minutes in Rudy and I found ourselves in a large break with multiple riders from Bissel, Texas Road House, and Netherland Rubber.  Organization was much better in this break and we began to pull away from the field.  Upland missed out on the move and chased, keeping the gap around 15 seconds for what seemed like 15 minutes.  About halfway through the gap began to rise quickly, and about 40 minutes in we came close to lapping the field.  There seemed to be a common consensus among the breakaway that we did not want to deal with the chaos of lapping so we slowed down and rolled through the closing minutes of the race.  With two to go Johnathan Jacob attacked and I was able to jump on his wheel.  Unfortunately so did the rest of the break and as we were caught a counter attack of two riders went up the road and were able to maintain their gap to the finish.  I rolled in for 11th and Rudy 12th.

FST Fest Matt FST Fest Shane

O’Fallon Gold Cup Masters

Mike Rickey, Eric Finks, and I met up early to get warmed up and talk about our plan. We were all excited to be back racing together. We hadn’t done that since Tour of St. Louis a month ago. Not knowing how our legs would respond to not racing in that long, we discussed maintaining position towards the front and being ready to cover any attacks. Mike and Eric have more speed in their legs at this point of the season so they would be our choice for going after primes. With that being said, logically, I would work to make sure I was at the front to help with a lead out in the end. As we got to within 20 minutes of the race, it started to rain… I mean pour. The three of us sat on our bikes huddled under a big tree, but to no avail, we were still getting soaked. As we were sitting there a new member of our team Mike Bobelak rode up to use the porta potty. It caught the three of us off guard not knowing he was racing with us. With no time to discuss with him what we had talked about, we were lining up. It was still pouring and rained throughout most of the race. The race started controlled, but with a higher pace than we were thinking given the wet roads. This immediately weeded out the field uncomfortable with the conditions and understandable so. The park we were racing at has a lake and ducks were crossing back and forth during the fastest downhill making for an added and interesting obstacle. About 20 minutes into the 50 minute race, our teammate Mike Bobelak rode off the front rather innocently I thought. No on reacted and the gap continued to widen. It would go from 20 sec to around 40 sec from what we were hearing. The first prime came not long after Mike B went on his attack. In usual Mike Rickey fashion, he was up for the challenge and took the 1st prime. ( He took the 2nd prime later as well. ) Ben B / Momentum Racing, Chris H / Big Shark, and Patrick Gribbon / Gateway Cycling seemed to be doing the most work to try and pull the solo break back. Eric, Mike R, and I would take turns covering and exhausting the attempts. Chris’s efforts seemed to be the hardest and with 3 laps to go, the solo break was down to 15 seconds. The other teams seemed tired and without that last bullet to do the last bit of work. That was the case for all but one rider from The Cyclery who went across with one to go. I went to the front at that time to put in just a hard enough effort to keep the rest behind me and setting up a lead out for Eric and Mike R. Right before the second to last turn Eric came flying around me. I was thinking it was perfect timing and was waiting to see Mike as well. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to me, Mike R. had flatted with 2 laps to go. In the end, Mike B got caught before the line and Eric fell just short of taking the field sprint, but it was still a good day. Mike B finished 2nd, Eric 5th in the last money spot, and Mike R took both primes. As for me, I was happy with my race and look forward to the very full summer season ahead with my buddies.
Brian Smith

Cat 1/2/3 O’Fallon Cup Race Report

O’Fallon Gold cup was on the agenda for my first real race in almost a month. I was able to pull off the W as a Cat 3 last year and I knew that this kind of finish was probably my best shot at getting a win out of a sprint so I asked the team if I could go for the sprint. We came up with plan that had me as the man being led out while we also wanted to make sure we were still represented if a break got away. With the weather being off and on strong rain we weren’t sure how many people would turn up but it ended up being 30+ guys on @ a wet start, so not too bad. I was nervous with the team working for me because i didn’t want to disappoint and let everyone down with their hard efforts.

We had a strong group of guys with Myself, Nick, BJ, Rickey, Finks, Brian, Ryan, Austin, and Jesse. The first part of the race was pretty uneventful but felt super fast. Aditionally with the wet roads some riders were letting some big gaps form after turns and some energy had to be wasted chasing back on. Austin managed to get a prime early on for a nice little haul of money. Halfway through two strong riders got up the road and had a max gap of maybe 30 seconds but they were slowly realed back in. The plan was to get together with 5 laps to go and we did have a solid group of 4-5 guys all close to the front. An attack went away that disrupted things a little bit and we had some guys take some big pulls to bring everything back together. At that point a lot of us were pretty gassed but we still had 3-4 guys near the front with 2 laps to go. More than half the team was up there taking some huge pulls and was all over the front. We probably went a little too hard because of the guy of the front so with half a lap to go Ryan was last guy in front of me and after a monster pull was gassed and I ended up at the front. At that point I kind of panicked and sat up and really had no idea what to do. I saw one of the stronger sprints on one of the other teams come by me heading down the hill and I got on his wheel. At that point heading into the last two turns Jesse came out of nowhere (he did a ton of work and I thought he was gone!) came by and I got on his wheel but couldn’t make much of it after to finish in 9th with Jesse a couples spots higher in 7th.

Overall it was a bit disappointing but I think we learned a lot as a team on what we an improve on. It’s definitely at a different level in the P/1/2 races but I feel confident I can keep improving and help out the team in future races this year. It’s great to have a team of great guys willing to work and bury themselves to help you to get a result!